Thursday, February 26, 2009

How much time have you taken today?

For Jason, who will go to any length for his girls. 

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Back from LTUE

A brief list of things I learned at the Life The Universe and Everything 2009 Writing conference. (In no particular order.)

1-For every ten dollars spent on books at the BYU bookstore, you get a voucher for a basketball game. (I came home with 17.)

2- Snap! Ferrero Raffello Coconut Almond Treats are out of this world. 

4-That Dashner Dude can really work a room. 

5-The Utah writer talent pool is very, very deep. 

6-My geek rating is higher than I thought.

7-It is possible to laugh tears of joy for three straight hours. 

8-Apparently, Wii Fit Yoga gives the participant a score. I won't even go there. 

9-There is still a cool kids table, I am still not on it. 

10- If you don't sell your book, nobody else will. 

11-False modesty is for fools. 

12. Even if an incredibly famous author says that he/she loved your stuff and would do everything possible to help you get published, doesn't mean they will actually remember who you are six months later after you've finished said book. 

13. You can wait years for a publisher to bite. When they do, set the hook as quickly as possible.

14. The story happens for the reader in the white space between the words. 

And finally, since the LTUE didn't cost me a dime, 

15. The best things in life really are Free. 

Sunday, February 15, 2009

What could be better than Shannon Hale interviewing your favorite writers? 

When one of those writers happens to be one of the coolest people I know. Click here to read the giggle inducing interview with Janette Rallison. BTW if you haven't read My Fair Godmother yet, you are missing out. 

Writing Glamorously

As I was sitting in Church, listening (okay pretending to listen) to the speaker. It suddenly occurred to me that I am close. VERY CLOSE to finishing my book. I am a week, perhaps less to finishing my draft. Holy Crap!

Before you start a collective sigh of relief that I finally finished the *^%$&#*@ book. You need to realize how huge this is for me. No, not because I will finally be able to pay off my house and move into my castle in Scotland (or Tuscany depending on the day), bark commands at the house staff on how I want my book launch catered. Or set out to hobnob with my fabulously rich and famous friends on my private jet.  Of course these are all perks in the fabulous life of a young adult author. But that's not really why I wrote a book. Ahem. Not entirely. 

Okay, I may have entertained such thoughts originally. I might have been under the mild delusion that writers lived fabulous lives. 

Let's be honest. I fantasized big time that novelists had somehow figured out how to avoid bills, a sink full of dishes, and weight gain. I blame the film industry for this delusion because writers portrayed on film live in fabulous houses, with beautiful gardens and small butts, while never typing a word.

Brainstorm in a Screenwriters think tank about upcoming Thriller.

Screenwriter one (working on her third Redbull before 10 a.m.) We need a protagonist that lives in a fabulous house by the ocean and drives a convertable. 

Screenwriter two (takes a long drag on his cigarette)- With a sailboat, oh...and a golden retriever named Tolstoy. 

One- Of course a disposable income is a must--

Two--and a drinking problem, he needs conflict--

One-Oh yeah, and don't forget Angelina Jolie is playing his librarian girlfriend.

Two- Yeah, but we can't give him a real job, not if he's going to have the free time to solve all of those crimes.

One- Let's make him a novelist, they don't do anything. 

Two-It's brilliant! 

On film, novelists are either jet-setting eccentrics or oversexed alcoholics. It's a long perpetuated myth, novelists don't write their books, they just appear in tidy piles by the typewriter. Don't even get me started with female novelists. Apparently we all wear evening gowns and date pool boys. 

Why do novelists stand for it?

Because novelists don't want the public to know how they really live. Sun starved, grazing the refrigerator, for something (anything that isn't two weeks past expiration) to eat, while mumbling about inciting events, messy middles and...why in the hell is the preschooler playing on the front lawn in nothing but moon boots and Disney princess underwear? Ahem. I'm speaking hypothetically of course. 

If you are considering writing a book because you think it will solve all of your problems, consider therapy...lots of therapy, because you have another thing coming. 
Writing is the least glamorous thing I've ever done. My house has never been more neglected. I haven't seen the bottom of the laundry basket since Memorial day, my answering machine has at least twelve unheard messages on any given day and my nickname at my ubiquitous day job is Seldom Seen. 

My life is anything but glamorous. I wake. Exercise. Shower. Kiss the kids goodbye (because my husband got them ready for school). Bang my head against my computer monitor for three hours. Pick up my preschooler. Bang my head some more. Help the kids with homework. Throw whatever hasn't expired in a skillet for dinner. Listen to my children complain about said dinner. Put the complainers to bed. Grade papers. Go for one more round of head banging. Then, collapse in bed so I can do it all again tomorrow. 

This is my schedule. Every. Single. Day, but Sunday. No exceptions. Okay sometimes I write in the car if I am traveling and occasionally forget to shower. But essentially my life revolves around my book. End of story. 

Guess what? I still love it. I have never felt more joy. I have always wondered, deep down, if it was possible for me, Kristi Bevan-Stevens to actually write a book. (Clearly my overabundance of italics stresses the significance). Since I first read Lloyd Alexander's Book of Three in the Second grade, I have wanted to put my stories on the page. And now five thousand deleted pages later, I've done it! I have created something. It's not perfect.  But sure enough, it's a book, with a beginning, middle and end.  Yipee! 

The finished product might not be what I was expecting, but it's been worth it. Every agonizing sentence. 

If you're still not convinced that writers live exciting lives, watch Princess Diaries Author Meg Cabot here. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Paths--shamelessly stolen from Melinda Morely. Revision

In a recent post over at http//, my separated at birth friend Melinda, has been thinking paths and how each choice leads us in unimaginable directions. I have a path of my own that I've been on for a while that illustrates this beautifully. 

Last year, my husband suggested we take a backpacking trip to Havasupi, Arizona. We backpack regularly so it wasn't at all odd for Jason to suggest this. However, Havasupi Falls has been a trip we have fantasized about doing together since we met. Every year for fourteen years, we have planned on going, but every year, something has come up that has prevented it. Well last year, we finally committed. Besides breathtaking scenery and more people than I've ever experienced on a desert backpacking trip,  I met the fantastic Amy J. (Via, my awesome friend Kim G.) Amy is an artist. And one of the coolest people I know. Which is saying something because I know a lot of cool people. 

We engaged if a fabulous conversation about art and creative expression and before I knew it, I was confessing that I wanted to be a writer. I had written my entire life but never had the courage to pursue it as a possible career. I was a closet writer. The kind that scribbled away furiously but kept it a well guarded secret. Amy, has a measured calm about her that made me feel incredibly comfortable. Before I knew what I was doing, I laid it all out. I confessed that I really wanted to be a writer. It was all I ever wanted. And I meant it. 

She suggested that what I needed was a community. You know, a group of like minded individuals who are actively engaged in writing as a creative expression. I brushed it off. I mean, she had to be crazy to think that I could actually talk to other writers. I wasn't a real writer after all. I was just scribbling. 

I couldn't get her words out of my head. The entire trip. They rattled around in my brain. I needed a community. A community of writers in Utah? Was there such a thing? The day after I got home. I googled Utah writing communities. But I misspelled community and had several hits for Utah writing conferences. One in particular caught my attention. The BYU Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Workshop. My heart thumped a million miles an hour. I felt so amazing, it terrified me. So, I called my husband. This is what a do whenever something scares me. He's on speed dial. It happens a lot. 

He told me before I talked myself out of it to go online that very minute and sign up. So I did. But when I registered, they asked me which writer I wanted to study under. I had no idea. I didn't recognize any of the names. So I closed my eyes and picked one. Okay, I picked the one that looked the least scary. Janette Rallison.

That was it. I signed up for my first conference. For three months I didn't sleep. I was terrified. What had I done? Was I crazy? I won't tell you how many times I tried to back out. I actually called the registration office twice. The line was busy. But when I prayed and contemplated it. I knew it was exactly what I ought to do. It was the right path for me to follow. I couldn't deny it. 

On the first day, I made my way through the auditorium, alone and terrified. Did I have what it took to be a writer?

With a prayer in my heart, that everything would be alright, I picked an aisle and walked toward the center. Two pretty women were sitting there. One of them had her bag open. I noticed a bundle of markers that were required for the writing class. I commented on it. She smiled and commented back. They were sisters, both in miraculously in my critique group. More miracles happened throughout that week than I feel comfortable sharing now. But I can tell you that I met an amazing group of friends that feel for one reason or another that we were led to that workshop. I was exactly where I needed to be. I found my home! I found my community. 

So much has happened in my life since I went on that backpacking trip, misspelled community, randomly picked a writer on a website, slid into an open aisle next to a girl with an open bag of markers. We all have stories on how we find ourselves in a place we weren't expecting. Sometimes the paths we choose, no matter how small, can in fact make all the difference. 

Being Uniquely You--cliff notes

I spoke to my congregation on Sunday. I felt so strongly about the subject, I thought I'd post an abridged version here:

When I was asked to introduce the LDS Young Womens Theme to my ward I felt to say the least, a little bit daunted. The topic? Be thou an example of the Believers.

What does that mean? To be an example? I marvel at the examples all around me. So what kind of example am I supposed to be? As I pondered this, I kept coming back to the same solid conclusion. The best example I can be to the world, Is me.

When I was asked to speak. I nearly burst into tears. Oh great. I thought. One more thing I don't have time to do. And to top it off. I'm supposed to speak on what it means to be an example? Are you kidding me?

My thought process when something like this. Not only do I have to keep an immaculate house, organize my dwindling food storage, plan my garden for the coming season, read to my children, work on the humanitarian project, do my much neglected visiting teaching, care for the sick and afflicted, prepare delicious and healthful meals for my family of five, prep my lecture for my night class, revise seven chapters in my book, exercise, attend the temple, pay the bills, work on my ward calling, be a loving wife, tend to the emotional, spiritual and physical needs of my children but now I'm supposed to be an example?

Of what? The long term effects of sleep deprivation?

Sister Elaine Jack previous General Relief Society President of the LDS Church Stated in the October 1990 session of conference.

"For thirty years, I have wanted to meet the woman against whom Latter-Day Saint women have compared themselves...She is often thought of as a Super Woman, [often] called the typical Relief Society sister--the woman who makes fabulous bread, plays the organ like a professional and dresses her impeccably groomed children in gorgeous hand made clothes.
Where is she? Who is she? What does she do that makes her beyond the reach of any woman?

My dear sisters, for many of us, comparing ourselves to the practically perfect LDS woman is part of how things are. While some of us are motivated and encouraged by such imagined or real life models, others are disheartened and discouraged by the same ideal...I can see that these comparisons may keep you from achieving your potential. Comparison is wrong unless it accounts for things as they really are."

You may say, I'm just average. There is nothing special about me or my life, Who am I to be an example to anybody?

And yet as Sister Jack says "What is manifested plainly to me is that you are extraordinary, you who's average day is lived in accordance with our Heavenly Fathers laws. No greater Heroine lives today than the woman who is quietly doing her part. NO ONE IS MORE IMPRESSIVE THAN YOU."

Each week in church the Young Women recite the LDS Young Women's theme it begins, "We are daughters of our Heavenly Father who loves us, and we love him. We will stand as witnesses of God at all times, in all things and in all places."

How do you do that best? By being you.

You don't have to have an immaculate house or a perfect enrichment night attendance record to be an example of the believers. You need to shine as you are. We all have unique talents and abilities that make us essential to our Heavenly Fathers great work. This great work is a symphony of instruments each with their own unique sounds and characteristics. If we were all meant to be the same, this life would be a solo act and it's not. We all have something important to contribute.

In a world where we are bombarded with hollow messages of what we should want or what we should feel. It is imperative that we are first and foremost, REAL. The world has enough smoke and mirrors acts as it is. We need to show the world that the happiness we have is real, honest and tangible. Our happiness obtainable.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Disney ate us Alive! Pt III--a photographic expose

Forty five minutes of agony. Thirty seconds of pleasure.
Noah less than dazzled by the Disney Princesses. He was suspicious of the whole "Dreams Come True" Philosophy. 
The focus of his disdain. 
Grandma, Noah, Kate, Unknown child and Emma dancing in Animal Kingdom. You should see Noah shimmy. 

Disney Ate us Alive! Part II

Two years ago, on a whim, Jason and I took the kids to Disneyland. We didn't plan ahead, we just booked a hotel, pulled the kids out of school and drove to California. We had a tremendous time. Which was a surprise actually. My childhood memories of Disney vacations were less than golden, so I was expecting nothing short of heart-wrenching misery. I was so pleasantly surprised, I became a Disney convert. You know those annoying people who talk up their Disney vacations with all the religious fervor of Born Again Christians?

Yeah, I was annoying. Especially because it was so out of character. I am not a Disney princess fan. I always side with the villains. "Eat the warbling bubble heads" is practically a mantra for me.

Alas, Disneyland totally sucked me in. So of course in typical Kristi fashion, I reasoned, if Disneyland was great, DisneyWORLD has to be better. Heck, while we're at it, why don't we top off the whole thing with a four day Disney Cruise.

Overdoing it, is kind of a personal flaw. I apologize to all of you who witnessed my crafting housewife phase. You can burn the precious moments cross stitched hot's okay.

After a year of careful planning, we pulled the kids out of school and flew to Orlando. The fact that I planned for an entire year was my first mistake. I am at my best when I am spontaneous. Anyone who's suffered through one of my overwrought chapters knows how true that is. (My apologies Mel, Jas, and Courtney I owe you all lunch.) First lesson learned. If it takes longer to plan than to do, it's not worth it. Run away!

Note to future travelers to anything Disney, do not plan your Disney extravaganza the same weekend as the Superbowl in Tampa. DON'T DO IT! Second lessoned learned. Not Watching T.V might be a bad thing.

So it was crowded. I think it was incredibly crowded. The Disney Castmembers disagreed. Still, it was crowded to me, I'm not used to crowded. My town only has three thousand residents and I'm related to half of them. I never have to wait at the grocery store unless it's the day before something huge, like Thanksgiving. We only have two stop lights, in the entire county. So waiting in line for an hour to ride Dumbo for 45 seconds, was a bit much for me. Third lesson learned--twenty thousand people can fit in two hundred square feet.

It's also important to remember that just because a food has an exotic sounding name and has the price tag larger than the gross national product of Bulgaria, doesn't mean it tastes better. Escargot does in fact taste like snails swimming in butter. Fourth lesson--The more it costs, the less you'll enjoy it.

Which goes along with the fifth lesson--I'm a darn good cook. I can and do make many of the foods we tried on the cruise ship but better. I'll have to wait until the garden thaws to test that theory on the snails. I'm kidding. (Jamie, seriously you should open a pastry shop, your carrot cake and coconut cookies ARE the best in the world.)I do have to shout out to my children who were willing to eat everything. Forcing them to eat Flax seed, tofu and taboleah and feta has made them fearless eaters. Even the Disney staff commented on that. Lesson five--forcing your children to eat tofutti tacos with edamame is a good thing.

We decided to go all inclusive. This sounded so great. We wouldn't have to drive anywhere. We wouldn't have to worry about paying for our meals or bringing towels to the pool. It was all taken care of us. I didn't even have to turn down my sheets at night. I had a room host for that. I admit, I have fantasized about this kind of treatment. It always looks amazing in the movies. I. Hated. It. There is no freedom. You are at the mercy of Disney. A very scary place to be. If they tell you, you're going to eat at 5;45 you better listen, or you'll be eating cardboard pizza out of a vending machine. Lesson six--All inclusive is another word for Socialism.

And finally the most important lesson. Lesson Seven--Family Vacations are like childbirth. They are hard, blood and sweat labor. There will be tears, and whining--more whining than you thought possible from people so small. You'll wish you had strong drugs or hard liquor or both mixed in copious amounts together. You'll question the meaning of life, love and humanity and how it could have all go so terribly wrong (that's just on It's a Small World). But most of all, when you've finally finished the laundry, chucked the Disney crap in the toy box, and the last suitcase is back in the attic, you'll forget how much you really, really hated the experience and only remember the joy.

It's great to be home.

Disney ate us Alive! Pt I