LTUE is the symposium at BYU for fantasy and science fiction writers. It is the only free writers conference sort of thing that I am aware of, and it is awesome. Lots of talented artists and authors come together to teach a little of what they know. I am so excited for Thursday’s main address since James Christensen (the artist) will be speaking and I am so in love with his work. I have several signed, numbered paintings of his in my home, but I’ve never been able to meet him. This will be a real treat for me. Lee Modesitt will also be there on Saturday, which will be fabulous because I haven’t seen the guy since my booksigning in Cedar City. I’m also hoping Kevin Wasden will be there since he is, and always will be, my favorite artist. The only downside to LTUE this year is the fact that Jessica Day George won’t be able to attend. I am sad about this beyond words. The symposium will last three days and is on February 11-13 (it looks like I won’t be missing Valentine’s Day with Mr. Wright this year. It’s about time!)
You can find out more about LTUE and get the schedule for the full symposium here: http://ltue.org/LTUE2010.html
Make sure to star the places on the schedule where I’m speaking–you certainly don’t want to miss those
Michele Ashman Bell, bless her heart, interviewed me on her blog last week. Michele is one of those amazing, cool people that you cannot help but want to hug. You can learn more about me and the scary methods of my madness at her blogspot here: Michele Rocks
And finally, I decided to give an update on the family service project of book giving. It’s going well. We have 38 books collected so far, but are hoping for at least fifty. The kids have donated all the money from their chores over the last couple of weeks to the cause and it’s been kind of fun to have them personally make sacrifices so they can be truly a part of this. I told them that their normal allowance from chores was going to this and then asked them to think about the kids whose parents are away and serving our country. They didn’t even complain like they normally do about having to do their chores. I should have thought of this years ago!
For people who may not be aware of the Mormon teaching of Family Home Evening, I thought I’d give a little recap of the concept and the reality of what those words mean. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, we are encouraged to hold Family Home Evening in our own homes with all members of our family every Monday evening. The purpose of this is to strengthen home and family, to bring us closer together, and to help families learn how to interact socially with each other. There’s a little more to it than that, but you can look it up yourself here.
I genuinely believe in Family Home Evening. I think it’s absolutely inspired for families to set aside one night every week to escape all the busyness and time takers that corrode family unity.
Unfortunately, I am not perfect. I am not organized. And sometimes Family Home Evening is composed of breaking up quarrels, raising my voice (to be heard of course, not because I’m actually grumpy or anything), and threatening to kill the offspring I am working so hard to develop unity with.
In spite of all the mayhem, I still think Family Home Evening is brilliant. This is why I haven’t given up on the idea yet. With the daughter living in St. George, Family Home Evening has become much more complex. Thank heavens for technology. We call her and put her on speaker phone and resume business as usual. How kids can giggle, tease, and irritate each other when they are in different cities over the telephone is really staggering, but my children have always been a bit staggering.
Why I’m writing all this is because we decided to do the whole “Give a day of service and get a day of Disneyland” thing. It sounded like another one of those brilliant family unity concepts. I am all for brilliant family unity concepts. So we chose a service project and tonight went over the game plan for the execution of the service project.
Teasing, giggling, and irritating.
But at the same time, it was fun. We’re going to collect books for the deployed soldiers who left children at home so that the USO can record the parent reading from the book, and then send the book to the child(children) along with the DVD of mommy or daddy reading a bedtime story. Seriously . . . this is my kind of service project. Books!
And sending books to kids lonely for parent interaction? I am all over that. Tonight we gave my kids each tasks they had to fulfill. They are all completely and irrevocably on board with this project because they know they are getting Disneyland at the end of it all. Disneyland is the ultimate reward for any good deed.
Yet, even with the carrot of Disneyland dangling before them, it still took ten minutes to calm them down long enough for opening prayer and another ten minutes to get them to stop fantasizing of a world in which their parents could be gone for six months or longer. I’m trying to paint this thing as the sad tragedy it really is, and my kids are finding nothing but benefit in the proposition (ie: we wouldn’t have chores all the time, no one would tell us it was time to go to bed, we could play x-box until our eyes rolled out of our heads . . . ).
I sometimes wonder if the success in Family Home Evening is getting through the night without having actually strangled any of the children. If so, I can count tonight as a raging, riotous success.
So after taking stock of what I accomplished in the last year, I realized I:
- Wrote over 100,000 words
- Read only 26 books (which is really genuinely horrible, but if you count all the manuscripts I edited, I really read something closer to 50).
- Ate at Cheescake Factory only twice (which is also genuinely horrible)
- Lost to my daughter at Dance Dance Revolution more times than I am willing to admit in a public forum
- On 28 separate occasions, bored young Webelos bad enough they wanted to gouge out their eyes (because I’m not a good enough leader to have Webelos every week like I’m supposed to)
- traveled to seven states (two of which I’d never been to before)
- Spent two weeks on book tour with Josi Kilpack and had the BEST time ever!
- realized I stink at word challenge on facebook (which is shaming being that I’m a writer and should be good at that kind of game)
- wished on a lot of stars
- played and read a lot with my kids and felt genuinely sorry to see the Percy Jackson series come to an end
- laughed a lot with my husband and realized that he read more books than I did this last year.
- cried a lot over life in general and had several meltdowns for which my husband had to hold me together.
- broke my foot hiking the narrows with the family
- spent several dollars worth of pennies making wishes in fountains
- signed with my agent
- despaired over my writing career
- rejoiced over my writing career
- and found solace through my family over the insanity of my writing career
- learned to make cheesecake
- learned to bottle jam
- found joy in great friendships
- let my daughter go
- found that my relationship with her didn’t change even though she’s hours away
- found yoga
- found I’m not great at yoga
- but I keep doing it anyway
- felt grateful at the year’s end for all of my friends and family who make my life meaningful. Thank you.
Here’s to a 2010 that will inspire us all to the greatness within us.