Monday, December 31, 2007

The Importance of Digits

Have you ever realized how much you depend on every single finger, thumb and toe? I recently had the opportunity to gain a deeper appreciation for my digits when I decided to block a spike during a volleyball game. Okay, the hitter was taller and stronger than me, and a man. I broke my thumb instantly, for the second time. Yes, the other time was during a volleyball game too.

I love volleyball!

I can't wait to play again, but in the meantime, I'm becoming ambidextrous. Yeah, I'm right handed and broke my right thumb. Even moving my fingers too much hurts, not to mention running! Not sure how I will survive the next few weeks until I can get a good five mile run in. Oh, and that goal I had to finish my novel by the end of January? I think I just added a few weeks.

Now I better appreciate the use of my husband's fingers as well, for buttons, shoelaces, zippers, cooking, cleaning, etc! And my children ... what lifesavers! I must have really shattered this bone. Perhaps I should go to a doctor this time. Naw. It'll heal one way or the other. It did last time.

Now I'm working on my printing. I can keep my words between the lines as well as my five year old, but my letters are far shakier than my eight year old's writing. Such fun.

Today we try a physical activity much safer than volleyball while I wait to heal. We're going to hike Zion's Canyon.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Spires of Stone

I recently read Spires of Stone by Annette Lyon. I don't usually read much historical LDS fiction as I prefer contemporary LDS fiction. However, I do have to say that I loved Spires of Stone. Before reading it, I was intrigued by the premise loosely based on Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. I had also heard great reviews about it. The story revolves around sisters Bethany and Hannah and a trio of brothers--Ben, Phillip, and Claude. The setting is in Salt Lake City during the construction of the Salt Lake Temple. I love how Lyon weaves in interesting historical facts about the temple's construction into the book. I was impressed with how well-researched the book is, and I enjoyed the historical notes in the back that explains more details about why it took 40 years to complete. I especially enjoyed the interaction between Bethany and Ben. Theirs is a love/hate relationship which is my favorite premise for a book. The insults they sling at each other is just to cover up their true feelings of love. Ben's brothers and Bethany's sister conspire to get the feuding duo back together. Meanwhile, Claude and Phillip are both in love with Hannah. It was a very touching book and very enjoyable. The characters were vivid, each unique and portrayed well. I highly recommend this book, and I just may like LDS historical novels after all. And speaking of great novels, have you nominated your favorite book of 2007 for a Whitney Award? December 31st is the final day to nominate your favorite LDS novel for a Whitney Award. Click here to nominate a novel.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, And...

I'm just chiming in with my own "Merry Christmas," "Happy New Year," "Happy Holidays," and all that! Best wishes to all of you for a joyous and prosperous new year!

And I have some kind of stomach bug, so don't get too close.

P.S. Don't forget to check out our contest, right here on our blog!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Post Christmas Post

by Marsha Ward

I hope everyone had a great Christmas with lots of family and friends and love, joy and good cheer. I did. One of my gifts was an addition to my Christmas Movie collection, Mr. Kruger's Christmas. Thanks, Nyla!

I want to remind you all of our Contest. I've given away a book recently in LDS Publisher's Christmas Contest, and I'm sure the rest of the Ink Ladies are just as eager to experience that joy. All you have to do is match up the Ink Lady with the gift, and enter your guesses in the comments. Easy Peasy!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Just stopping in to wish you all Merry Christmas! I hope you all have a wonderful day.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Caroling

Tonight we went Christmas caroling. It's our third year to go caroling, and it has quickly become our family's favorite Christmas tradition. We went with two other families and the full-time missionaries in our ward. We picked a random neighborhood and went up to homes, signing Christmas hymns.

Our kids had the best time of anyone. There was a total of eight kids, two of them babies. The kids took turns ringing doorbells and giving the people pass-along cards. Everyone that answered the door was friendly and enjoyed the signing. I'm not sure what they'll do with the pass-along cards, but you never know.

It was a little cold, but we all had a wonderful time walking and enjoying the Christmas lights. Luckily, those that came with us have lovely singing voices. Mine is terrible. I am absolutely musically challenged. I do enjoy singing and managed to sing quietly enough so no one could hear how badly I do it.

It was a fun night and we hope to make it a tradition every year. My kids love signing and going to people's homes. It amazes me how courageous they are to go right up to strange homes and ring the doorbell. There is no shyness about giving pass along cards. If only we, as adults, would be so brave about sharing the gospel. Children really are great examples.

Merry Christmas to all.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas With Our Neighbors

I have to admit I was skeptical when our bishopric announced that our ward choir would be participating in the Christmas program of our local Seventh Day Adventist congregation, and then they'd join us for ours. It seemed like a strange arrangement to me. Wouldn't we Mormons feel out of place in the program of another Christian faith? And wouldn't they feel kind of weird at ours?

Well, the Seventh Day Adventist program was last weekend. (A nice thing about the arrangement is that since their Sabbath is on Saturday, and ours is on Sunday, neither of us has to miss our own services.) And I have to say it was a marvelous experience.

Regardless of any doctrinal differences we may have (which were never brought up), we share a common love of the Savior and a desire to celebrate the glory of His birth. A couple of the songs they chose were ones that we wouldn't use in our sacrament meetings, like a medley of songs including "Go Tell It On the Mountain." But, to be honest, it was pretty fun to get to sing them. That we wouldn't sing them in sacrament meeting doesn't mean they aren't good songs; it just means that we're very selective regarding the music that we use in sacrament meeting because it is a sacred service.

The Seventh Day Adventists welcomed us with open arms. They were so kind and accomodating. After the dress rehearsal they invited us to stay for cookies and drinks. There was a big coffee dispenser, but there was also a big jug of milk for the Mormons. As we waited out in the foyer at the beginning of their service, before the choir performance, the lady I was standing next to explained to me what was going on in the chapel. I was grateful for her instruction.

I think my favorite part of the event was being able to raise my voice in song with these fine brothers and sisters and sing of our Savior's birth. Now our ward choir is pretty miraculous, to say the least, but there is nothing like being able to sing with a larger number of musicians and fill the room with music -- with the singing of praises to our Lord.

Our new friends will be joining us for our program during sacrament meeting on Sunday. I hope we'll be as welcoming of them as they were of us. And I hope they'll be able to feel the Spirit there. We'll be singing a few of the songs we sang at the Seventh Day Adventists' church, as well as a couple of other selections from our own hymn book. It should be another marvelous experience. What a great way to celebrate Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2007

My New Baby

Just had to share...

Expected "due date," Jan 2008

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Climbing Wall

by Marsha Ward

There once was a man who took his children to enjoy the physical challenges of a climbing wall. He watched from the bottom of the wall, shouting encouragement as each child, in his turn, scaled the sheer wall, bounding from handhold to handhold, until each reached the top and descended, triumphant.

The children gathered around the man and said, "Now, Father, it's your turn to climb the wall."

Reluctantly, the man looked up at the wall. It was so high. How could he ever get to the top?"

Don't worry," said the employee of the facility who was known as the Belayer. "I will hold you with my rope. You will be safe."

Reassured, but with a great deal of hesitation, the man started to ascend the climbing wall. Slowly he progressed, until he was close to the top. But now, his hands seemed permanently curled into claws, his forearms ached so badly. He thought he could not go on.

"Just lean back on the rope for a moment, and rest," came the voice of the Belayer from below.

The man took a few minutes and did as the Belayer suggested. He caught his wind, but his muscles still ached, and he wanted to go down.

He could hear the voices of his children, urging him to finish the course, to get to the top. The man felt the strength seep out of his muscles. He just could not do it!

Then he felt a slight tug on the rope. The Belayer was giving him aid without his children knowing. The man put out one hand and one foot and climbed a step closer to the top. The rope remained snug and seemed to give him heart. Slowly, with the help of the Belayer, the man made his way to the top of the climbing wall. Amid the cheers of his children, he slowly slid to the floor.

Jesus Christ says, "Come unto Me, all ye who labor, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." He will let us rest while He holds us safe, as the Belayer did. He will help us to the top of our climbing wall of life, just as the Belayer with his rope helped the man ascend the recreational climbing wall.

The Atonement of Christ is for everyone who has trouble climbing through life's adversities. Come unto Him!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Language Lessons

I'm learning a new language. I've tried to do it before, in junior high, but this time I think I might just get it. In school I tried French. This time I've opted for a language with fewer letters. French had all the ones we did. Samoan only has 14, but they do use three others they've borrowed from the Palogis.

One thing I have learned rather quickly is that with so few letters, the words get longer and longer. I've also learned that while teaching my daughter to drive, "Turn to the left" is much faster to say than "Liliu i lou tauagavale." She also responds much better to English, but acknowledges that the language lessons will come in handy should her driver's ed teacher ever make a sudden command in Samoan.

I've also learned that "do you understand?" is easily mixed up with "open the window." Oops. After mistakenly teaching my children the phrases backward, I often hear them say things like, "open the understand" and "do you window?"

The best part of learning a new language, however, is that one of the first phrase my children learned was, "A'u alofa oa" or, "I love you." They use this often on each other like they'd never use it in English. I think we'll be learning some other phrases soon like, "you're my best friend," and "I'd love to do my chores without being asked."

A Contest!!!

Is everyone up for a contest? Let's find out who knows the Ink Ladies the best! Good luck!
Each of us has answered the following question:

What was the weirdest present you ever received?

Below are our answers. In the comments, write down who you think goes with each number. The first person to get all the answers right wins the novel of their choice from the Ink Lady of their choice!

1. Pepper spray ... I was ecstatic. I'm a runner and dislike dogs as much as dogs love chasing runners.

2. A ream of printer paper. (I actually asked for it)

3. I got a pair of athletic socks from my piano teacher when I was in fifth grade. I was mad because she gave my sister something more fun. They ended up being good socks, though, even though I'm not athletic.

4. Blond bangs (as in hair bangs) with a blue streak in them attached to a blue headband. They were the 80s equivalent of hair extensions, I guess.

5. When I was 19, my mom gave me a cat cookie jar for my birthday... what's a nineteen year old supposed to do with a cookie jar!?! AND I don't really like cats.

6. At a work Christmas party, I got a skimpy nightie (a cute one, not the other kind)-- from a male co-worker, but it was not meant like that at all. I was married and he was engaged, and I'm pretty sure his fiance picked it out. I was surprised, but it was very cute.

7. The purple crocheted skirt and vest outfit my mom gave me for my birthday when I was a kid--about 8 or 9 (I'm pretty sure she bought it at a thrift store--she didn't crochet). I got it first thing in the morning and was expected to wear it to school. I think that was the first and last time I wore it. Oy--it was way ugly, even for the early 70's.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Holly Jolly Traditions

by Elodia Strain

Sorry I didn't post yesterday. Hope Crystal is cool with me sharing her blog day.

Last night I attended a Christmas party at church. The theme was "Christmas Around the World." After eating a yummy Italian dinner, we enjoyed Christmas carols in many different language and listened as presenters spoke about Christmas traditions from various parts of the globe. I learned about the traditions of Lithuania, Portugal, and Tonga. And as I listened, I reflected on my own Christmas traditions.

My father is first generation Mexican-American and thus many of my family of origin's Christmas traditions are derived from this Mexican heritage. I remember travelling to my Abuelita Olga's house and making tamales on Christmas Eve and then waiting until midnight when one of my tias would bring out a cake and we would sing "Happy Birthday to Jesus" and then eat cake until we were joyfully stuffed.

Mostly, I remember seeing all of my cousins and running around my grandmas tiny single wide trailer and feeling an overwhelming sense of love. It didn't matter that we didn't all share the same religion or even that I couldn't understand a lot of what my grandma said, we were there to celebrate the birth of The Savior of the World and to bask in the love that such a celebration brought about.

So tell me, what are your most cherished Christmas traditions?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Passing it on

by Marsha Ward

It's been busy around here the last couple of weeks. Although I've been mostly snowbound since Friday night, I have been able to get out to the mailbox to pick up dues checks being sent to me as the membership secretary of a writers' organization for women of the LDS faith.

I've been involved in administrative duties for this group for most of the last 20 years. Because I'm known as the founder and "mom" of the group, I often get phone calls from women with questions, which I gladly answer.

Doing all this takes a large chunk of my time, but it's a worthwhile service. Mentoring writers is very rewarding, in an unseen blessings sort of way. I've been on the receiving end of mentoring, and it's a joy to pass it on.

Why don't you give a Christmas gift of service during the next year? Reach out and help a beginning writer take first steps. Teach a class. Critique a piece of writing. Lift up a hand that hangs low. You'll be glad you did!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

James Dashner: Changing the World

I stayed up very late last night...and the night before...and the night before. Why? Because the only reading time I have is at night when the kiddos are in bed, and I couldn't manage to turn pages fast enough as I read an Advance Reader Copy of The 13th Reality: The Journal of Curious Letters, scheduled for a March 13, 2008 release by Shadow Mountain Publishing.

With a gift for expression and exposition, James Dashner has created unique characters, compelling conflict, and some downright creepy "bad-guys," and cool gadgets within such a significant story. I won't soon forget "Tick"--Atticus Higginbottom and his desire to stand up and make a difference or Edgar Higginbottom--finally, a father figure to admire in children's literature.

This story was thoroughly entertaining, and so much more--and there will be more! The Journal of Curious Letters is the first book in The 13th Reality Series. Within the first few chapters, Tick may not yet have the confidence he'll need to change the world, but I completely believe that James Dashner and The Journal of Curious Letters are headed for just that!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Can we just skip all the commericialism this Christmas?

I spent one week on the island of Upolu, but it's affected me for the rest of my life. After seeing the people there living in tiny huts with huge smiles on their faces, I'm struggling with the image of those closer to home.

People push and shove through the stores to buy everything on their lists with scowls or worrisome frowns only to pile their "frivolous" gifts into the back of their new SUVs and drive back to their big homes full of "useless" clutter.

Okay, negative? Maybe. I just know that more than anything, I want to capture the feelings we had while sitting in a fale listening to island Christmas music. The people there knew there would be no gifts this year as there are no gifts any year, but they are happy. They smile, they love one another and they serve one another. They don't fight over items on the day after Thanksgiving sales.

The Samoans are called the happy people, and they are. They're happy to be alive. They're happy they have the ability to dance and sing. They're happy the island produces everything they need in life.

How would it be to teach our children through that example that true happiness is not found in the new XBox or shoes or dolls? We've shown our children pictures and told them about the people there, but we want to take them so they can experience it for themselves. I look forward to the day when we can spend the Christmas holiday with our new "family" in Samoa, having Christmas the Samoans do.

Until then, I will avoid the stores and ignore the advertisers' calls to buy everything possible to clutter your home and stifle the imagination of our children.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

It's (Not) Beginning to feel a lot like Christmas

By Marcia Mickelson

Christmas is only a few weeks ago, but it doesn't feel like it in San Antonio. The day we put our Christmas tree up, we were blasting the air conditioner. It was hot! This weekend, we've been playing outside with shorts and flip flops. How can it feel like Christmas when it's hot? We should be wearing sweaters and winter coats. I'm from New Jersey and my husband is from Idaho, so we're used to colder winters.

I hope it gets a little cooler so it will feel more like Christmas time. In the meantime, I'll keep wearing my shorts and flip flops when I play outside with my kids. And I'll still be blasting the air conditioner, especially when I start making Christmas cookies and the oven warms up the whole house.

Here's a little reminder:

I'm still doing a contest on my blog. Tomorrow, I will post the final question. Come by for a chance to win.

Saturday, December 8, 2007


Well, I'm stranded. You would not believe where I am right now. I am at a Krispy Kreme in Kahului, Hawaii, because they have internet access here. I was supposed to fly out of here last night, but my flight was canceled and my new one is officially for 24 hours after the last one was supposed to be. Before this flight this evening was scheduled, I was supposed to fly out this morning. Anyway, I've been officially stuck at the airport all day. But I escaped and went to Krispy Kreme. (It's a good place to escape, right?)

I could get really irate, and I do intend to send a very long letter to the airline. But getting really mad doesn't do any good. It won't get me home any faster. (By the way, my family was also here with me last week. They flew out last night, because their flight -- different from mine -- left on time. They're home now.)

At the risk of sounding like a complete goody-goody, let me share something that helped me through this day this morning. Those of us on the canceled flight had to wait in a big long line bright and early at 7AM this morning to get reticketed. After standing in line for quite a while, I had the thought to read my scriptures. I wasn't planning to carry on my scriptures, but they were packed in the big bag I was going to check.

So, as I pushed my cart piled with suitcases through the winding snail-paced line, I placed my scriptures on top of my pile and read them. As a home study seminary teacher, I like to work the questions in the student manual as I read. So I did that, too.

And for several near-blissful minutes, it didn't matter that I was in a big long line or that I was stranded on an island in the middle of the ocean. What mattered was that I was studying my scriptures, and it brought me peace.

I think that peace has helped me throughout this day, which has been more difficult than I expected. I was supposed to be reticketed for a flight that went out this morning, but the airline's arrangements fell through and I am still here. We'll see if the flight leaves tonight.

It's all frustrating, and don't think that I'm not frustrated even though that's not what I'm writing about. But the big picture is, I've talked to my family and they made it home safely. They picked up our dog from the kennel, so he's back home too. I had a nice trip with my family last week (even though there was a huge storm and the power was out for over 24 hours and most of the beaches were closed). I'm here where it's warm instead of home shoveling snow. And I will be home soon. The airline staff has been helpful in a very difficult situation. And there are people in my family circle who have been experiencing greater trials than being stranded someplace warm. I know the Lord is mindful of them, and even of me in my relatively small trials.

I have to stop here because I don't want to start bawling in the middle of Krispy Kreme. Oh wait, I'm sitting facing the front window. Even bigger incentive not to tear up. Having a customer in tears at their front window would not be good publicity for Krispy Kreme.

Anyway, how's that for positive thinking? We'll see if I get out of here tonight.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Mushy Writing

by Elodia Strain

Last night my sister and I visited Salt Lake Temple Square to see the Christmas lights. We were looking at the nativities from different countries when something caught our eye: A young woman standing on the round stone where couples pose for wedding pictures and a young man on his knee holding a small, open ring box.

My sister and I shamelessly watched (and yes, I'll admit it, I got a little choked up) as the girl threw her arms around the guy's neck and he twirled her around in circles. We didn't hear the words, but we assumed he had asked her to marry him and she had said yes.

Witnessing this proposal made me think about a conversation I recently had with my husband. I read him a passage in a book I'm working on where the hero proposes to the heroine in a very over the top romantic way. After I read the passage, I asked my husband if it was too mushy. He said, "No. But it makes me sad. I just took you to a park and we sat on the ground on an old poncho."

To me the park and old poncho were a million times better than what I had written and what I had witnessed at Temple Square, but this got me thinking. Is it true what some people say about books with over the top romance, do they really paint an unrealistic picture of love? And if they do, is that really a bad thing?

What do you think? I'd like to know.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


by Marsha Ward

Since we're fast approaching Christmas, I thought I'd share with you a poem that made the rounds of emails a couple of years ago. I did not write it, mind you. My custom of praying differs from the writer in that I pray to the Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ, but the right sentiment is all there.

Ponder and enjoy!

Christmas Poem
Author Unknown

'T'was the night before Christmas
and all through the town
Not a sign of Baby Jesus
was anywhere to be found.

The people were all busy
with Christmas time chores
Like decorating, baking,
and shopping in stores.

No one sang "Away in a manger,
no crib for a bed".
Instead, they sang of Santa
dressed-up in bright red.

Mama watched Martha Stewart,
Papa drank beer from a tap.
As hour upon hour
the presents they'd wrap.

When what from the T.V.
did they suddenly hear?
'Cept an ad.. which told
of a big sale at Sears.

So away to the mall
they all flew like a flash...
Buying things on credit...
and others with cash!

And, as they made their way home
From their trip to the mall,
Did they think about Jesus?
Oh, no... not at all.

Their lives were so busy
with their Christmas time things
No time to remember
Christ Jesus, the King.

There were presents to wrap
and cookies to bake.
How could they stop and remember
who died for their sake?

To pray to the Savior...
they had no time to stop.
Because they needed more time
to "Shop till they dropped!"

On Wal-mart! On K-mart!
On Target! On Penney's!
On Hallmark! On Zales!
A quick lunch at Denny's

From the big stores downtown
to the stores at the mall
They would dash away, dash away,
and visit them all!

And up on the roof,
there arose such a clatter
As grandpa hung icicle lights
upon his brand new step ladder.

He hung lights that would flash.
He hung lights that would twirl.
Yet, he never once prayed to Jesus...
Light of the World.

Christ's eyes... how they twinkle!
Christ's Spirit... how merry!
Christ's love... how enormous!
All our burdens... He'll carry!

So instead of being busy,
overworked, and uptight
Let's put Christ back in Christmas
and enjoy some good nights!

Merry Christmas, my friends!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

LDS Authors Make a National SPLASH!

By Tamra Norton

Have you noticed lately how many LDS authors are making a huge splash in the national market? If you live in Utah, maybe it's not as noticeable, but out here in "the mission field" is obvious.

The other day I was in my local Wal Mart (I live in a suburb north of Houston) and on the main aisle I was stopped in my tracks by the following display. (Aren't camera phones great? Click on the picture to enlarge it.) In the handful of high profile authors listed here, FIVE of the books were by LDS authors--two by Obert Skye (Leven Thumps books), one by Brandon Mull (The Candy Shop War) and two by Stephenie Meyer (from the Twilight Series). And this just scratches the surface of what's hot right now!

Very exciting, eh?

Oh, and don't forget to nominate your favorite LDS author for The Whitney Awards. The deadline is almost here--Dec. 31st!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

My Book is Out!

By Marcia Mickelson

I'm happy to announce that my book, Reasonable Doubt, is officially for sale. It is currently available at my publisher's website- Cedar Fort. I hope it will be in stores soon, but that takes a little longer.

I still don't have a copy in my possession, so I haven't seen it yet. I think I'll get it this week.

My husband is such a dilligent salesman. He's already received 14 orders from his co-workers. None of them are members of the Church, but most of them read my first books, and I guess enjoyed it enough to want the second one. He's my biggest cheerleader. He talks about my book to whoever listens. He's wonderful.

Come by my blog for a contest where you can win a copy of Reasonable Doubt.