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1. Quotes, Thoughts and Scriptures

by Cindy R. Williams

Rise to Your Potential
"A gracious woman retaineth honour. - Proverbs 11:16
I feel to invite every woman everywhere to rise to the great potential within you. I do not ask that you reach beyond your capacity. I hope you will not nag yourselves with thoughts of failure. I hope you will not try to set goals far beyond your capacity to achieve. I hope you will simply do what you can do in the best way you know. If you do so, you will witness miracles come to pass."
~Gordon B. Hinckley

"Life is not getting and accumulating. It is giving and becoming"
~Elder Lance B. Wickman, LDS Conference - April 2008

"God hath not given us the spirit of fear; bot of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." 
~2 Timothy 1:7

"The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender.
There are enough women who are course; we need women who are kind.
there are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined.
We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith.
We have enough greed' we need more goodness.
We have enough vanity; we need more virtue.
We have enough popularity; we need more purity."
~Margaret D. Nadauld - Former Young Women General President

". . . serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them . . ."  
~1 Kings 12:7

"When we honestly ask which persons in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving much advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not-curing, not-healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness . . . makes it clear that whatever happens in the external world, being present to each other is what really maters." 
~Henri F. M. Nouwen

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2. Time to Re-invent Myself

by Cindy R. Williams

Writers are inventors. As we write, we invent something new. A book or story that never existed before for others to read. We are also re-inventors of ourselves. We cycle with the seasons of life. By the time you have lived for a half a century--an eerie shiver at the reality of this benchmark just ran through me--you will have lived many rolls in your life.

Walking down memory lane of my first half century I found that I began life as a mermaid, and am now a fairy. Weird but quite true none the less. Follow me here . . . my dad was a P.E. Coach and also managed our local swimming pool. We grew up in the water and often played mermaids.

My childhood home and both my grandparents homes were magical. I lived a life surrounded by lilac bushes and huge peach, pear and apple orchards with a meandering brook and fairy paths over bridges. There was even a Victorian home with goblins living in the cellars. I was an avid reader of fairy tales, including; Hans Christian Andersen, the Brothers Grimm and L. Wizard of Oz series by Frank Baum. I found myself inside the books like Madeleine L'Engle's "Wrinkle in Time" and Amanda Cockrell's "Shadow Castle". Each of these stories became a real part of my conscious world by day and my dreams by night. By the time I grew up and was ready to have children of my own, I was officially a fairy.

I'm now beginning my second century, and as such, all my experiences are coming full circle and combining with my gifts and talents in my many rolls as a daughter, sister, wife, mother, aunt, new grandmother, friend, teacher, writer, musician, mermaid, fairy.

Three months ago, I woke up with a new idea of who I am and how it is time to combine all these things I love and do into one great purpose. I am reinventing myself once again. I can't share with you what it is yet until much of the writing, scripts and production has begun, but I can tell you that I have been inspired to take this next step, this leap of faith, and I will soon be flying on the back of a dragon.

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3. Donnie and Marie

by Cindy R. Williams

 Donny and Marie. What does that mean to you? A little bit country? A little bit rock and roll? Paper Roses? Puppy Love? Mulon? Depends what year you were born.

Sure, I grew up with them. I even attended Marie's wedding reception when she married Steve Craig --the first time.

I will be attending the Donny and Marie Show in Las Vegas with my mom, husband, son and daughter and son-in-law soon. It will be my second time seeing them in the past six months.

My mother is a huge Donny fan and gave us tickets to see their Christmas show at the Gammage. It was incredible. Donny and Marie are true showmen/women/people!  Both have incredibly trained voices and insane stage presence.

Let me tell you a little story about my mom and Donny Osmond. A couple of years ago, my brother took our mom to Las Vegas to see the Donny and Marie show for her birthday. (He always does one-up my sister and me.)  They arrived just in time to unload their luggage in their hotel room and change for the show. Mom was so excited that after she brushed her teeth, she forgot to put her one false tooth back in. It is the second from the top front, so yeah, it shows. She, and said brown nosing brother, hurried to the show.

Afterword, there was an opportunity to shake Donny's hand and get an autographed picture. They waited in line and when it was their turn, Mom grinned with her mouth closed but wouldn't talk. My brother is a funny guy. He told Donny that Mom was a super fan, but embarrassed because she forgot her tooth. Mom about melted into the ground. Donny flashed his million dollar smile then quickly grabbed an 8 by 10 glossy, signed it and handed it to Mom.

When they got back to their hotel room, Mom looked at the picture. Donny had written, "To my dear friend. Don't forget your tooth!  Love, Donny.

I am looking forward to the show, not only to see Donny and Marie, but to watch my dear mother act like a kid in a candy shop.

Donny and Marie forever!

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4. Are the ball or the player?

by Cindy R. Williams

My family loves basketball. In fact, my husband says that basketball is the Celestial sport. The rest of the Williams' clan either laugh or step away to avoid a possible strike of lightening.

He may have a point though. Check out this quote I wrote.

Basketball is like life. You can be the ball and leave your fate up to others to control, or you can be a player and take control.

Make your choice, are you the ball or the player?

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By Cindy R. Williams

Line upon line, precept upon precept.
One step at a time.
           One day at a time.
Minute by minute.
           Put one foot in front of the other.
You have to begin to find the end.
            Stay put and fail.

There are tons of cliché’s along these lines. Simple? Yes. Profound YES!

The only way to live is RIGHT NOW! This second.

You would be better off getting up right now and taking care of that thing you know you should be doing rather than reading this. However, if you choose to read on, I hope you will find some food for thought that will help you make the most out of your life.

You only have this moment to change your past. Think about it.

We don't live our lives in chunks. We live it right now, second by second.

"Are we there yet?" How many times have you heard this while traveling somewhere? Many of us think that we will be happy when we finish this, or when this is or that is over. This is NOT TRUE. We can and should be happy RIGHT NOW!

When writer Erma Bombeck was dying from cancer she penned a list of things she regretted and would have liked a "do-over." Here are a few items:

ü  "I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren't there for a day."

ü  "I would have talked less and listened more."

ü  "I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage."

ü  "I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained, or the sofa faded."

ü  "I would have cried and laughed less while watching television and more while watching life."

ü  "There would have been more 'I love you's' and more 'I'm sorry's.'"

ü  "Don't worry about who doesn't like you, who has more, or who's doing what. Instead, let's cherish the relationships we have with those who do love us."

ü  "But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute, look at it and really see it ... live it and never give it back. STOP SWEATING THE SMALL STUFF!!

Good advice Erma!

So CHOOSE to live RIGHT NOW! Stop living in the past. It is GONE. We can't change it. Let's focus on the happy parts, the good things we did, not the mistakes. Let's live right this minute, think better thoughts and toss that rewinding loop of "Why I Can't Do Something" that rattles in our brain day and night. Toss it right out of your left ear or your right one if you prefer. Just banish it from your brilliant mind.

Goals are great. Living in the moment is greater!

Yes, they go hand in hand. We set our goals, and then we do a little something each day to get there. But it's the getting there that is what it's all about.

Let's ENJOY the ride. Let's take each second and choose to live.

Life Is All About The "Ing."

By Cindy R. Williams

Some serving, some writing, some working, some praying,

Some studying, some eating, some sleeping, some playing,

Some giving, some taking, some going, some staying,

Some crying, some singing and some day after daying.

Now here's the thing, the most important "ing",

The secret of life is living and loving.

One last cliché I read in the wrapper of a piece of Dove chocolate, "I am flawed and fabulous!"

Are we there yet? Yes!

 That special day is today! Choose to live this moment well and when you climb into bed tonight, smile. Tomorrow is another special day!




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6. Life is Good #2

 Life is good.
If it's not, I will make it good.
If I can't make it better, I will pause and find the good.
Then I will be grateful, and happy.

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7. Today's Thought


Life is good.
If it's not, I will make it good.
If I can't make it better, I will be happy anyway.

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8. Christmas

by C.R. Williams

I read a blog posting a few days ago that got me thinking. We celebrate the birth of Christ every year. December 25th always comes whether we have plenty of money to try to shower our loved ones with gifts or very little money so we do the best we can and make do with gifts we create.

I have had both. My children --all five -- often mention the most memorable was the one we took most of the money we allotted for Christmas that year and played Secret Santa for some families we knew had struggles. Filling boxes with groceries and presents, then sneaking them onto porches, ringing the doorbells and then running and hiding was a blast. It was like we were world class secret agents. We were partners in fun adventure. My kids loved it.

We also chose to give each other only gifts we had made. I remember worrying about how Christmas morning would be when our children didn't have the gifts they had fantasized about.

But, do you know what? My worries were for nothing. I was humbled by what happened that Christmas morning. Each child was excited to see the reactions to their gifts they had created. They also absolutely loved what was made for them. I pondered this and realized each of us was emotionally and physically invested in the fits we had worked so hard on. It is one thing to give some thought to what you will buy someone, but a whole other thing to take the time to create something. It really does become a labor of love.

My high school son's gifts for his dad and me were stunning. He borrowed a friends snuggy and created his own pattern adding his own improvements like making them longer and with deeper pockets. He also added more material around the top so you could really snuggle in if you wanted. I love it. I wear it often, especially when I'm writing. While he was on his mission, it not only warmed me, but brought me much comfort. I felt him near me. It really was the best Christmas ever.

This year is a . . . well . . . not so lucrative venture. And that is just fine. I finally wrote the Christmas story about a little girl learning the true meaning of Christmas that I 've wanted to write for years. It has become part of my Christmas gifts to some. We are making gifts to share with extended families, visiting teachers, home teachers, neighbors and friends. You really can do a ton of baking using your food storage and some imagination. Christmas cards are being sent on-line.

We are more focused on each other and our Lord rather than the trappings. We will sing praises to the Christ child in our Ward Choir on Christmas Day. I know I will have tears as we sing Mary's Lullaby. I have not been able to get through the phrase, "You are a King, but tonight you are mine," without crying. My youngest son will sing a lovely song with the Primary children too. I have the opportunity to share my heart by playing my harp for the prelude music. It will be part of my gift to Jesus this Christmas. Then we will come home and continue to celebrate the birth of Christ together around the Christmas Tree that was decorated with much laughter, and . . . tossing of ornaments. (I was lucky this year, only one broke.)

I am grateful for Christmas this and every year. Hearts are softened. Families are together.

I wish each of you the Merriest Christmas and may you feel the Saviors love in your heart.

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9. A Short Course In Human Relations

 A Short Course
Human Relations
From an old yellowed newspaper clipping by anonymous

The 6 most important words ~ I admit I made a mistake.
The 5 most important words ~ You did a good job.
The 4 most important words ~ What is your opinion?
The 3 most important words ~ Will you please?
The 2 most important words ~ Thank you.
The 1 most important word ~ We
The least important word ~ I

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10. Dreams

I dream in the night.
I dream in the day.
I dream when I'm happy.
I dream when I'm sad.
I dream to make the hurt go away.
I dream to hide my fear.
I dream of a beautiful and safe world for children and families.
I dream of eternities.

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11. Harping and Writing

by Cindy R. Williams
Two of my favorite people, Tony and Joanni Judd, on their wedding day.

This is my magical harp, Arvilla. Did you know if you are the first owner of a harp, you have the privilege and responsibility of christening it with it's eternal name. Arvilla is the middle name of my favorite, and only dear mother. The name reminds me of vanilla, a yummy taste and a sublime smell. My mother doesn't like the name so much so it's fun to tease her a bit by using the name - not that I ever yanked her chain growing up or anything.

Playing the harp channels my muse and also calms my soul. I often play late at night in the dark. It's not like playing a trumpet so I don't wake anyone. If they do happen to stumble out of bed, they think they are hearing angels so it's all good.

I have found that writing harp music is pretty much the same process as writing stories. Sometimes the notes flow out and they sound wonderful, but other times, nothing comes. Nada, stone-cold dry. When that happens, I play whatever my heart desires and enjoy the lilting music that floats around the lofty ceiling. When nonsense or no sense comes out of my fingertips on the keyboard of my computer, I often dive into the pool and float on my back make cloud animals.

Just yesterday there were dragons swooping in and out of thunder clouds along with some slashes of lighting giving me two good reasons to slosh out the pool. The first and most important was to quickly jot down the dragon scene before it slipped away and the second reason was to avoid getting zapped by lightning. Maybe not in the correct order, but both important none the less.

The muse is a tricky little minx at best. I think I will try enticicing the muse with chocolate. Has this worked for anyone? What works for you?

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12. Seeking Self Truths

                                                                by Cindy R. Williams

While Mother's Day shopping at Deseret Book, I came across THROUGH HIS EYES - Rethinking What You Believe about Yourself by Virginia H. Pearce. The cover is a lovely pastel blue with a pearl in an oyster shell. I picked it up and read the inside cover and new it was for me.

The blurb began with, "As anyone who has ever cleaned out a closet or a basement can attest, clutter is a reality of life. And it's not just a physical reality. Our minds can become cluttered too, filled with beliefs about everything from our relationship with God to our feelings about our bodies to our housekeeping methods."

I bought the book and upon returning home, handed it to my husband saying, "Here's my Mother's Day present." He smiled and was thrilled that he had finally gotten me something that I really wanted.

I am reading it slowly so that I can ponder the messages and make the much needed changes. The author, Sister Pearce, is the daughter of President Gordan B. Hinckley. If you have ever heard the man speak or read his words -which I am assuming most of you reading this blog have - you know that he always made you aware of your great eternal worth and that there is hope. Sister Peace has the same ability.

Sister Pearce lays the book out in an easy-to-read clean and concise manner. She teaches us the steps to be successful at discarding the lies and half-truths that may be hindering our progress.

I hope to be more of what I am supposed to be here on this earth as I work through this inspiring book. If you decide to check it out, let me know. I would love to hear other inspired stories.

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13. Firefly

by Cindy R. Williams

I just returned home from spending several hours with three of the most amazing young ladies. Their names are Melanie, McKenzie and Madelyn, also known as the Nashville recording artists and country music group, Firefly!
My eyes watered several times as I listened to their magical harmonies and saw their joy in music close up. Their music surrounded me with life and energy. I had the ultimate privilege to watch as they finished the lyrics and music to a new song. I even added my two cents--or four words, "I give my all," to the song.

These three young ladies have it all. Fabulous voices, music writing talent, showmanship and are gifted musicians and dancers. They have one more thing that other music groups don't have, and that is they have a testimony of Jesus Christ and live their lives so that His light shines in all they create. Firefly will do much in creating joy and lifting hearts along their journey.

Thank you Melanie, McKenzie and Madelyn for letting me watch you dazzle!

For a sparkling treat, check out:

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14. Why I Write

by Cindy R. Williams

I received the ultimate compliment at my last ANWA Chapter meeting. My heart is full just writing about it. Pamela Reynolds shared with me that her little boy with Autism has a special book he loves. It's the first book he has ever read all by himself. That book was Chase McKay Didn't Get Up Today, my little children's picture book I wrote a few years ago. If I never hear another nice word about my writing I'm pretty much good forever. I wrote that book out of love for my own little boy, Chase McKay, and it brings me joy to share it with other little girls and boys. Check this one off my bucket list Pam, and give your little son an extra hug for me.

I could pretty much call it good in the writing department, except characters keep waking me up at night demanding that I tell their story, so . . . I shall do my best to get them out of my head and trapped in the computer for now. Having said that, I will probably start having nightmares about my characters being cramped and smashing into each other in my computer. Dragons will step on faeries. Evil Shadows will smother angels. Goblins will steal ice cream from back yard picnics. Cyclopes will shoot lasers from their one eye at the nice little old grandma. They will all come alive and escape my computer. Alas, the reality or insanity of being a writer.

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by Cindy R. Williams

I took the big plunge into vanity, vanity license plates that is. When it came time to renew my plates, I did it online, which by the way was awesomely easy. (Yeah, I did just use an "ly" word here, but you know how they say you have to know the rule to break it. Well, I know the rule and I chose to break it cause that is pretty much how I talk.) Now back to my vanity plate.

When you renew online, there's a place where you can click to personalize your license plate. On an impulse, I clicked it and decided to see if a few things were available. I tried stuff like "WilliamsFamily", but of course that was way too long, so I tried "Williams" and also Willsfam", but both were still too long. ADOT only allows seven characters. Then I got thinking about having a plate with something to do with my writing on it. "Author" was taken and so was "Writer". I didn't like the idea of using either one of them with some random number, so I moved on.

My middle grade fantasy has occupied the main recesses of my mind for the past three years so I tried "Sparkin" the name of the dragon that takes the young hero on some pretty wild adventures. It could be a good marketing tactic.

Voila, it was available. I thought long and hard --at least for one minute that is --about any possible connections to something unsavory or untoward, but figured the worst thing "Sparkin" could be linked to was going into a dark closet and chomping down on wintergreen lifesavers to make them flash and spark when I was younger. Sparkin was also used on dates by the same couples that ran off into the woods to snipe hunt. Not me of course, but I did witness some pretty slobbery kissing going on do to sparkin and snipe hunting, but that is fodder for another blog or story.

It took about four weeks for my new license plates to arrive. When they did, I felt like a kid on Christmas. I opened the yellow packing envelope and gazed down lovingly, yup another "ly". It was almost like seeing my book in print as I admired the Arizona sunset behind the big capital letters S P A R K I N. Almost like seeing the name in lights.

My sweet husband was delighted for me and promptly replaced my old plate. ADOT sent me two of the same plate so I put the second one in my writing place where I can admire it and dream of how maybe someday I will be driving around in my mommy-mobile-mini-van and someone will point at my license plate and say . . . "Hey, that's the name of the dragon in the book I'm reading."
Here's hoping that dreams come true.

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16. Christmas, Tomatoes and Strawberries

By Cindy R. Williams

Christmas is in the air, even here in sunshiny Arizona. My wonderful tomato plants in my balcony pots actually froze the other night. The strawberries are doing fine. The leaves, stems and fruits of both plants, yes tomatoes are fruits, are decked out in red and green finery, each as holiday festive as the other, but the strawberries win. Why is that? Are the strawberries hardier plants? Were they in a better location on the balcony –one that has less of a chilly breeze and more protected from the elements? The answer is probably a bit of both.

Writing is a lot like my tomatoes and strawberries. Harsh comments, critiques and rejection letters can cause us to doubt our ability to produce tomatoes. Sometimes we feel the cold bite from even those close to us whom lack understanding of how important writing is to our central core or being. Are we sometimes our own worst enemies and let our self-doubt turn our writing ability into ice? Do we allow adversity to freeze our creativity and leave us dormant and fallow for a time?

I challenge each of you to be more like my hearty strawberries and ward off frosty comments, discouragement and despair. This Christmas Season, let’s deck ourselves with the tenacity of these wonderful strawberries and push through the arctic front we all face at times.


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17. Random Quotes from Darbi's Wall

While eating lunch last week with my fun ten year old in my favorite little diner in Pine Top/Lakewood, AZ --Yes, the two lovely pine covered cities have joined together -- I read these quotes posted on the wall.

If you can't be a good example then you'll just have to be a horrible warning! (Love it, and am pretty good at it too!)

Speak kind words and you will hear kind echos. (Use this with my children.)

A Happy Home is but an early Heaven. (Been my goal for forever and a day.)

Housework never killed anyone, but why take a chance. (BRAVO!!!!!)

I started out with nothing and I still have most of it left. (Somewhat true, but working hard to make this one obsolete.)

Each one could be the prompt for a good post, but alas, this is all you get.

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18. Paraprosdokians

By Cindy R. Williams

My sister, Vicky, sent me these. We are not sure where they all came from, but they are a lot of fun. A "paraprosdokian" is a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the reader or listener to reframe or reinterpret the first part. (Note: the two groups of text below have both similar and dissimilar lines.)

How about these?

1. I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn't work that way. So I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness.
2. Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.
3. I want to die peacefully in my sleep, like my grandfather, not screaming and yelling like the passengers in his car.
4. Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.
5. The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list.
6. Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
7. If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong.
8. We never really grow up; we only learn how to act in public.
9. War does not determine who is right - only who is left.
10. Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
11. Evening news is where they begin with 'Good evening' and then proceed to tell you why it isn't.
12. To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.
13. A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station.
14. How is it one careless match can start a forest fire, but it takes a whole box to start a campfire?
15. Some people are like Slinkies ... not really good for anything, but you can't help smiling when you see one tumble down the stairs.
16. Dolphins are so smart that within a few weeks of captivity, they can train people to stand on the very edge of the pool and throw them fish.
17. I didn't say it was your fault; I said I was blaming you.
18. Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars but check when you say the paint is wet?
19. Why do Americans choose from just two people to run for president and 50 for Miss America ?
20. Behind every successful man is his woman. Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.
21. You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.
22. The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some good ideas! (This is my personal favorite and I plan to use it often!)
23. Always borrow money from a pessimist. He won't expect it back.
24. Hospitality: making your guests feel like they're at home, even if you wish they were.
25. Money can't buy happiness, but it sure makes misery easier to live with.
26. Some cause happiness wherever they go. Others whenever they go.
27. I used to be indecisive. Now I'm not sure.
28. When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water.
29. You're never too old to learn something stupid.
30. To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target. .
31. Some people hear voices. Some see invisible people. Others have no imagination whatsoever.
32. A bus is a vehicle that runs twice as fast when you are after it as when you are in it.

by Cindy R. Williams

In 1922 my grandmother, Alice Rupp Sample, was a school teacher in Utah. Her career lasted all of one year because she got married the next year, and believe it or not, married women were not allowed to be teachers according to the Female Teacher's Contract which came into effect in 1923. My dear mother, Verlayne Sample Richardson, found the contract a few weeks ago and gave me a copy.

Here are the 12 rules:

1.  Teacher is not to get married. This contract becomes null and void if the teacher marries.
2.  Teacher is not to keep the company of men.
3.  Teacher must be home between the hours of 8:00 PM and 6:00 AM unless in attendance at a school function.
4.  Teacher must not loiter downtown in ice cream parlors.
5.  Teacher may not leave town at any time without permission of the Chairman of the Board of Trustees.
6.  Teacher is not to smoke cigarettes or drink wine, beer or whisky. This contract becomes null and void if teacher is caught smoking, or drinking wine, beer or whiskey.
7.  Teacher may not ride in a carriage with any man except her brother or father.
8.  Teacher is not to dress in bright colors.
9.  Teacher may not dye her hair.
10. Teacher will not wear dresses more than two inches above the ankle.
11. Teacher is to wear at least two petticoats.
12. Teacher is to bring a bucket to school to clean and scrub the building every week.

My, my, my, I wonder what bloggers or "light year word writers" "space word floaters" or cyber writers" whatever they will be doing or called in 2110, a hundred years from now, will think about the rules for female teacher of our time.

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20. I DID IT!


What's a query letter you say? It's a letter that is meant to convince an editor that your story is the greatest story ever told and that they absolutely have to have it even more than chocolate. A query letter is your proposal of sorts, your calling card, you’re desperate plea to "PICK ME! PICK ME!" without sounding the least bit whiny or desperate.

I have been flying on Sparkin, the dragon's, back over Arizona for three years now and yet found the query letter about as much work. Wait a minute, hold the phone, and your horses or whatever it is you hold. I actually found the book an absolute delight to write. I love the characters, even the sinister ones and many times had to be called back to this planet to fix dinner, and attend to the worldly needs of my wonderful family. The query letter was more of a tear out your hair exercise that lasted through several months of research and 42 --this is not a typo, different versions, one to please each query letter expert. I studied the blurbs on the back of a gazillion books, and finally had an epiphany. Why not complete the exercise outlined by one of my most favorite agents that I was blessed to attend her presentation last April at the LDStorymakers Writers Conference?

So after the "why did it take you so long to figure it out?" moment, I finally hit upon what the heart of this book is about and what makes it unique. I realized it's a story of youth learning that they can do hard things, and learning that it is okay to be yourself even if you are different than others.

As Sparkin, a very noble dragon, would say, "It is ever so sweet" to have it complete.

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Welcome to our second annual “Summer Treasure Hunt: Dig for Clues and Win” Contest! Last year, some author friends and I put together a month long contest where we gave away a prize a day for the entire month of June. The contest was so successful that my friends and I have decided to do it again…only this time we’ve gathered together enough prizes to last through the first week of July! Again, we have something for everyone: romance, fantasy, mystery, suspense, historical, contemporaries, young adult and middle grade fiction; children’s picture books; and a variety of non-fiction titles. We also have some exciting non-book prizes: a hand crocheted book tote and cell phone case; a book/jewelry combo; a Mary Kay cosmetic assortment; a The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe DVD; and (you aspiring writers won’t want to miss this one!) a free edit/critique for the first 50 pages of an unpublished novel by a three-time published author!

How can you enter to win one of these awesome prizes? Just follow the rules below!


You can send in an entry for each day’s prize, or only for those prizes that strike your fancy. The rules are simple:

(1) Go to the website or blog indicated for each day, find the answer to the question for that day, then email the answer with your name and AND MAILING ADDRESS to [email protected]. I promise you will not wind up on any mailing lists. This is only to facilitate the receipt of your prize. All entries will be deleted at the end of the contest.

(2) Please send a separate entry for each day and type the day you are entering in the subject line. (Such as: Summer Treasure Hunt, June 1; Summer Treasure Hunt, June 2, etc).

(3) Deadline for each day: Midnight PST

(4) The winner will be contacted and announced on the day following the deadline.

All winners will be “drawn” by WWW.RANDOM.ORG.

You do not have to wait until the designated day to enter. You can start sending in your entries right now, or begin entering at any point along the way. And check back here each day between June 2nd-July 9th to read the names of the winners.

If you have any questions, feel free to email Joyce DiPastena at [email protected].

And now…let the treasure hunt begin!

SPONSOR: Donna Hatch
PRIZE: Queen in Exile, (fantasy romance), autographed by author
QUESTION: The princess must rely upon her magic to save whom? (Hint: Look under “Bookshelf” tab)
WEBSITE/BLOG: http://www.donnahatch.net

SPONSOR: Laurie Lewis
PRIZE: Awakening Avery (women's fiction), autographed copy
QUESTION: Avery's signal that she isn't handling her husband's death very well comes to her when she tosses what into what? (Hint: Look under books & reviews, then click on the cover to Awakening Avery and read the first chapter)
WEBSITE/BLOG: www.laurielclewis.com

PRIZE: Riley's Mission (PDF: romantic suspense)
QUESTION: Where does Jade sit after she sees Aziz Khadoul? (Hint: Click on “Books” tab, then on “excerpt” link for Riley’s Mission)
WEBSITE/BLOG: http://eawest.mcph

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22. FOOD of LIFE

Wheat for man D & C 88:17
Chocolate for woman  M & M 24:7

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23. Ramblings of Preparing for the Writer's Conference

By Cindy R. Williams

I'm stressing and obsessing about my trip from Phoenix to Provo, Utah, for the upcoming LDStorymakers conference. Anywhere I go I tend to bring tons of stuff with me and have to set up house. At Church, my bag is heavy enough that I lean to the side and walk with a limp, almost Quasimoto style. When I attend a writing class I arrive at least five minutes before the other students to set up my space. When I play chauffer for my kids, I can't seem to just slip on my shoes, grab my purse and keys and off we go. No, I always forget something and have to run back into the house several times. As I write this I'm beginning to see that maybe I have a Hoarder and/or Over Planner Syndrome. Maybe I've taken "Be Prepared" too seriously. Those of you who know me well, I see you nodding your heads. STOP IT!

So back to the upcoming trip to the writers conference. Here's my simplified plan, and I really mean simplified.

1. Make arrangements for my children, and husband to survive. Make sure there's plenty for them to eat and clean clothes to wear while I'm away. Maybe I'll make a list of things they could get done if they really wanted to while I am gone. Maybe not. I can paint the scenario that although I'll be the one partying and swinging on the Marriott's chandeliers, they too will want to party and have a mini-vacation from "Sergeant Nag." By the way, Mom, when did I take over your title?

2. Leave the house spick and span. Ummm . . . a mute point since the house is likely to be in major disarray when I get home anyway. Sigh.

3. Make sure all is ready for Primary, since my flight won't get me back in time. As a humble and tired President, I miss and worry about my favorite little people. Get my Visiting Teaching done so I won't harbor a ton of guilt. I already harbor a semi-truck load of guilt about far too many things.

4. Pack: This means I must bother to shop for a few new things to wear, and I detest shopping. I would rather be home writing any day. But, alas, my fashionable "Mommy Look" consisting of sweats and t-shirts isn't going to cut it. I want to dress at least business casual. I'll actually settle for presentable. Should I take two pairs of slippers just in case the hotel toilet clogs and floods soaking my sllippers. Hey, it's happened before, and I want to be ready and prepared.

5. Remember to bring my cell phone charger. Even though I hate cell phones, I want to call my family. Plus one of them might break a leg or some other appendage while I'm gone, and need my comfort. If you know my family, you know that this isn't much of a stretch for my dare devil offsrping. A few quick examples: one son broke both arms on the same day, but at two different times while snowboarding. My missionary son torqued his finger almost off when trying to jump over another friend while being pulled behind our boat on tubes. Several pins and a zillion stitches later, they saved the finger. Then he broke his collar bone two months before his mission while standing on a garbage can lid and sliding down a snowy hill, in Utah. Since that wasn't enough excitement before his mission, he broke his foot five days to departure to the MTC while playing Church basketball. Truth is better than fiction. No, never mind. Truth is much worse than fiction. So good luck to my sweet husband while I'm gone.

6. Plan and pack and re-pack all my stuff. Then do it again. I'm not like my husband and sons who can come home from work or school on Friday and within five minutes are packed and out the door for a Scout Camp.


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24. The Dreaded Query

by Cindy R. Williams

I finished what I thought was the first book of my Thundertail's Tale Series. It came in at 200,000 words. YIKES! I immediately found a good halfway point, and it divided it into two books. I did have to beef up the climax battle scene, and then spin some new threads but it works great. I also chopped words because I'm not of the mind that I will be able to publish a 100,000 first book in a series. In fact, I don't really have much of a mind anymore, but back to the topic at hand. After writing essentially two whole books why in the world can't I write a dazzling one page single spaced query?

I have agonized over this query for three weeks. I have research and printed off and studied blogs and articles on queries from successful authors, agents, and writing friends.

I have woken up in the middle of the night with what I thought were brilliant ideas for my query only to jot them down and read them in the light of day to find they were horrid.

Why in the world is this sooooooo hard? I have my two protagonists, one, a 10 year old boy with acrophobia who loves dragons, and the young dragon with his own issues of being the only dull dragon of the clan. The boy rescues from the sinister, bad guys. There are fairies, mermaids, goblins, shibber goyls, bodochs and cyclops. He and the dragon must forge a friendship and go on a quest to battle the bad guys and save the world. Now why can't I write a brilliant pitch that will impress an agent and convince them that I am the next big thing?
I'm going around and around in "Query Nightmare Circle" where it has all become a blur and I just want to go for a walk around the block, eat chocolate, take a nap, preferably all at the same time and just plain forget about it.

I looked up Query: It's both a noun and a verb. It says: query is a request for information, a doubt or criticism, same as a question mark, to express doubt or objections about something, to ask something or ask a question. Okay, my question is "Will you please represent my novel about a boy, a dragon, magic and choices." There, I said it, now I'm done right? Wrong!

Jeff Savage, or J. Scott Savage as he's known to his fans, told us at our ANWA Writers Conference to make a list of 20 agents, then send your query to the bottom five. When you get responses back, tweak your query, then send it to the next five. Keep it up until you have a compelling query to present to your top five agents. Novel idea, pun intended, but I'm afraid you have to have some kind of a coherent query to start this process. If you read this Jeff, HELP!

I have come up with ten different versions of my query, and am not completely happy with any of them. I'm going to send them into the query boot camp at LDStorymakers Writer's Conference in April to be analyzed and shredded. I am actually looking forward to this and I'm willing to shelve my ego, or what is left of it for the sake of making some sense of my query. One good thing has come of this. One of my queries was so detailed and so long that I think I have my synopsis, or at least the first full draft. Uhgggg, my synopsis. That's another can of worms

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I am too blessed to be stressed
too anointed to be disappointed!

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