“Finding Balance in December” / Kerry Parry

(Kerry Parry’s creative non-fiction book about her search for spirituality, Conversations With the Faithful, was published by WiDo in 2017. She posts on all things philosophical, spiritual, thoughtful and creative on her website, kerryparry.com. Her post, “Winter Solstice–Finding Balance” was originally published on her website and appears here with the author’s permission.)

One of my favorite days of the year is approaching. No, it’s not Christmas day. That arbitrary date to acknowledge the miracle of Jesus’ birth has long since been hijacked by the overwhelming pressures of consumerism for me to truly enjoy. The day I really appreciate is the Winter Solstice, which comes and goes almost without notice during the days before Christmas. I can feel my sense of balance returning on this quiet day before the big holiday.

On the solstice, we reach the tipping point between dark and light when day and night are equally in balance. Technically, December 21, 2017 is the longest night of the year. It’s also the first day of Winter, which could be depressing, but I find comfort in knowing that from my spot on the planet (in the Northern hemisphere) the days will get incrementally longer. I find great promise in that.

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Geoffrey Noblitt to Publish Fantasy Series Inspired by His Daughter

SALT LAKE CITY, UT December 14, 2017

When Geoffrey Noblitt’s daughter said all she wanted for her eighth birthday was more stories from her dad, he decided to write her a book. After years of being a devout reader, Noblitt took the leap from story spectator to story creator.

Noblitt has loved reading from an early age. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and Lord of the Flies were early literary influences. Other sources of inspiration have been The Lord of the Rings, the Harry Potter series, the Wheel of Time series, Stephen King’s various works, and Brandon Sanderson’s entire library.

While studying philosophy and religion at Appalachian State University, Noblitt grew creatively. “I learned to write lengthy papers and expositions,” he recalled, “often using imaginative devices to write from the perspective of famous philosophers and theologians.”

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Deanna Johnson’s Mystery Novel Destined for Publication

SALT LAKE CITY, UT November 18, 2017

Fate has played a large role in Deanna Johnson’s life; from the raising of her children, to finding her dream job, to connecting with a man from her past who became the love of her life. Even Johnson’s passion for mystery began with a chance Christmas gift.

“My father gave me Nancy Drew’s The Secret of the Old Clock and I was hooked,” Johnson said. “I read by flashlight under the blanket after I was supposed to be in bed.”

As she got older, her tastes matured to Agatha Christie, John Grisham, David Baldacci, and her all-time favorite, Michael Connelly, as his Harry Bosch novels are based in the San Fernando Valley (Johnson’s home). As a young girl growing up in San Fernando Valley, Johnson’s father would gather her and her siblings as he told stories of mystery and intrigue, always ending on a cliffhanger to keep them in suspense.

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“The Craft of Creativity” / Scott Keen

(Scott Keen is the author of YA fantasy novels Scar of the Downers (WiDo Publishing, 2015) and Rise of the Branded (WiDo Publishing, 2017). He blogs at ScottKeenBooks.com. This post originally appeared on his website and appears here with his permission.)

Creativity is a craft. No matter how much we would like it to be a naturally occurring trait, it often involves hard work and dedication. And it is never easy. It is a muscle, if you will, that needs to be exercised. If it isn’t, it is in danger of atrophy.

I have had conversations with people who say that they’re not that creative. I would wholeheartedly disagree. Being creative doesn’t mean ideas pop out of you at a whim or on command. (I wish it were so).

Usually, it involves a lot of pen to paper, and many discarded ideas before you come up with something that someone might describe as creative.

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​I was rereading a book, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, and I came across a letter he had written on 18 February 1938 to Stanley Unwin. In it, he commented on the difficulty he was having while writing his new novel.

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Beth Daigle’s Travel Memoir to be Released by E.L. Marker

SALT LAKE CITY, UT November 01, 2017

When your whole family says, “Let’s take a vacation to the Mediterranean!” and it nearly gives you a nervous breakdown, how do you respond? You grit your teeth and agree to it. At least, that’s what Beth Daigle did in 2012… and somehow she lived to tell the tale.

Before her Mediterranean adventures, Daigle had been writing for many years. After numerous blogs and articles, she was ready to write a book. She states, “I had toyed around with several book ideas, but none seemed quite right.” Once the impending trip approached, the author grew more focused on keeping herself together than writing a story.

Daigle has harbored travel anxiety for many years, which intensified since 9/11, reaching a point where the very act of approaching a plane brought images of terrorist attacks. But she wouldn’t let her family down.

With a party of nine and a goal of seeing three countries in two weeks, she steeled herself and set off. Daigle recalls, “For me, the struggle to reach our first destination is as much the story as the incredible experience we had once there.”

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WiDo™ to Publish Raymond Spitzer’s Third Mystery Set in Ajo, Arizona

SALT LAKE CITY, UT October 11, 2017

When Raymond Spitzer first submitted his cozy mystery set in Ajo, Arizona to WiDo Publishing, he said it was the first in a three part series. That first book became Arizona Guy (WiDo Publishing, 2012).  The second, Playing with Fire, came out two years later. The third Ted White mystery is now under contract with WiDo Publishing,™ set to be released in 2018.

Spitzer’s wife Susan was instrumental in helping him write and edit the books. She thought this one lacked the pizzazz of the first two, however, and encouraged him to do better. They discussed the problems she saw and brainstormed possible solutions. But before it was finished, Susan passed away.

For months after the funeral Spitzer could not get back into writing. “I threw myself into reorganizing the home, relocating garden boxes to a more secure area (javelinas had been regularly breaking through the fence), and in general not wanting to write,” he states.

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Local Author Natalie Johanson Finds Magic with WiDo™ Family of Publishers

SALT LAKE CITY, UT September 29, 2017

What magic power could be more appealing to a law enforcement officer than the ability to travel through shadows and bring foes to their deserved end with wolves that appear out of mists? Clearly such magic was pretty exciting to Officer Natalie Johanson, and it became the premise of the fantasy novel she penned.

From a very young age, Natalie had a passion for reading and writing. “Books have always been a thing I love. The escape into a new world. The adventure they bring. The people I can meet,” Johanson explained. “When I read, I have no self- control and tend to binge read. If I’m into a book I’ll read it straight through if time permits.”

Her writing aspirations began in the 6th grade when she finished the Green Rider series and wanted to improve the ending. She held onto her 6th grade ideals and years later, when she had a dream about wolves made of mist, she felt inspired to begin writing a novel.

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E.L. Marker™ signs Margaret Bagley’s Historical Fiction

SALT LAKE CITY, UT September 21, 2017

As a little girl, Margaret Bagley watched as her father uncovered a faded blue wooden chest from a shed he was cleaning out. Years later she would discover what treasures were hidden within.

The blue chest had belonged to her grandmother, accompanying her as she crossed the plains as a pioneer. Inside, Bagley found letters exchanged between her grandparents from 1883 to 1907. As she read and organized the letters, she found pieces of a family story that left her with unanswered questions.

“They detailed teenaged angst, early courtship, marriage in 1890 and eventually disillusionment,” Bagley said. “I questioned what motivations, events and activities led to the comments and questions they exchanged.”

The storyteller in Margaret wanted the whole picture, even if she had to make it up. She filled the gaps in with her own fictionalized account of the story to weave the letters into a logical and interesting series of events. She added plot twists and fictional characters as needed, but stayed as true to historical events as possible.

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“When will you move?” / Lisa Kusel

This post was originally published as a first-person essay on parent co., May 3, 2017. It also appeared on the author’s website On Monkey Forest Road, under the title “Mother, May I?” It is used here with the author’s permission.

When my husband, Victor, was offered a teaching job at a new school in Bali, I held off sharing the news with my mother for as long as humanly possible. I knew that when I told her we were moving her Jew-ish granddaughter to a predominately Muslim country, the arrow on her paranoia meter would swiftly catapult beyond the red zone. I expected her to fret and cry and do all she could to change my mind.

What I didn’t expect, though, was that she would be so wise.

I called her on a Tuesday morning. She listened silently as I recapped the events of the last few weeks: from reading about the school in a magazine, to convincing Victor to send a resume, to his Skype interview, to him flying to Bali to check it out, to him coming back to California with a signed contract.

When I finished speaking, I tensed, waiting for the emotional storm to blow through the phone line. “When will you move?” She asked so calmly I thought perhaps I’d called someone else by mistake.

“In six weeks. We have to find renters and pack up the house and deal with the cat and get a million shots and—” I got so anxious thinking about the list that I cut myself off. “Anyway, we’re really excited. It’s going to be amazing.”

“Loy is only six years old.”

Here it comes, I thought. She’s going to let loose her worries bit by bit, like an IV drip. “So what, she’s six? She’s going to love it. I mean, come on, Mom. It’s Bali!”

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Jo Ann Simon to Partner with E.L. Marker™ to Publish her Memoir of Hope

SALT LAKE CITY, UT September 13, 2017

Jo Ann Simon has led a full and fulfilling life. But the parts that mean the most to her are the memories shared with her husband Tom. She wanted to remember every detail: from the way they met, to the love they shared as they worked and raised a family together.

Even the heartbreaking times as Lyme Disease and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis worked its way through Tom’s body and took his life were not to be forgotten. So she began to write.

Though her initial purpose was to record as many details as she could about their lifelong love, she discovered new truths as she did.

“As I wrote our story, I did not feel alone,” Simon revealed. “I was back in our life together and felt close to him even though he was no longer on this earth. The writing helped me to move forward in my life and to realize that I could continue to live a full life again.”

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