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I'm a writer and library worker who wears many hats. I believe a good book and a good piece of chocolate are the keys to a happy life.

Monday, June 30, 2008

The First Year by Crystal Liechty

Ok, first I have to say that I love the cover of The First Year by Crystal Liechty. If for no other reason, I would have bought this book just to have a copy of that picture. It’s just very cute. Oh, and the story isn’t half bad either.

How many of us can relate to those little nagging feelings that crop up every once in a while saying, “Oh man! Why did I ever marry this guy?” Fortunately for most of us, these moments are gradually replaced with more moments when we say, “Wow, what an awesome guy I married!” That’s what marriage is all about—learning about each other and how to work together to make you spouse and family the best they can be. Love is a gradual process over years of wanting that love to grow. That’s the message of The First Year.

Marriage is the jumping off point that throws you firmly into another world you may or may not have felt prepared for. Without any outside factors it can be very hard to get through. Add in the world and things can go from very hard to seemingly impossible. What would happen if at those moments when you’re questioning your sanity for even getting married, the man you thought you were supposed to marry showed back up in your life? What if he was also trying his best to convince you that you were married to the wrong man? What if it started to seem like he was right, like your husband really didn’t love you? What if it seems all of your friends are facing significant difficulties in their marriages as well?

Yeah, you’ve just stirred in a healthy helping of angst into the marriage mix. Fortunately, thanks to Crystal’s fun-loving style, you get a full dose of humor stirred in as well. Though there were a few times when I felt like I’d stumbled over a plot shift, overall I found myself anxious to turn the page. I was involved in these character’s lives. I wanted to see them succeed and find that happier place that can and does exist in married life.

I learned some valuable lessons while still having a lot of fun. For instance, things are not always as they seem. Yes, that first year is very difficult. You need to learn to trust your feelings. It’s also about realizing that you can’t fully understand or see into another person’s heart or life. The best things you can do for yourself, your friends, and your spouse is to turn to God first. If you trust the tiny nudgings from the Spirit that brought you to that point in your life, you’ll be able to find the path that will lead you out safely on the other side. The First Year is about trials, commitment, and dedication. It’s about dragging yourself, sometimes kicking and screaming, through that adjustment period and coming out the other side with a stronger commitment to marriage and your spouse. The First Year is about the best thing in the world: learning how love really can conquer all.

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Friday, June 27, 2008

Can't Wait to Get to Heaven by Fannie Flagg

I’m taking a break from LDS titles today to share a rare gem I found. I hardly ever pick up titles off of the adult fiction section of the library, I blush far too easily. So that’s why this book really surprised and pleased me. Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven, written by Fannie Flagg of Fried Green Tomatoes fame is just a fun, feel good story. The title caught my eye and I didn’t realize that it was actually part of a series until I went to look up its information for this blog. I never suspected or felt cheated while reading Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven because I hadn’t read the other volumes. I just got caught up in the story and let it sweep me away. Now that I know I can re-visit the characters in other volumes they’ve definitely been added to my “to-read” list.

In Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven an older woman, Elner Shimfissle, dies and gets a peek at what heaven is like. The author’s take on heaven is an absolute hoot! Ok, so it’s secular, not gospel doctrine, but you can still see some interesting examples of what life in heaven might actually be like. Quiet honestly, I’d be surprised if they didn’t have tuba lessons and fresh-from-the-oven cake there.

Meanwhile back on earth, Elner’s entire community is spreading the news of her death like wildfire. Each person is mourning the loss of a woman who was just simply living her life but managed to have a lasting effect on almost everyone she knew. Some of these remembrances are very touching and poignant. They’ll make you stop and think about your own life and the lives of those you’ve loved in the same way this town loves Elner.

In the end the woman is sent back with a message to “hang on”, among other things. The announcement of her supposed mistaken death causes more uproar than the original prospect of her loss. Sadly, not many really get to hear her message of hope and a majority of those hearing the tale do not believe she is in her right mind. I say— who cares if she wasn’t! We can all use a little reassurance and nudge to just do our best and look for the good in life. That’s just what Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven is all about.

Best of all you don’t have to read it with your trusty black marker clutched in your hand. Yes, you will need it— approximately twice. One page contains a diatribe by one of the characters where he is arguing with himself. He peppers in a few double-hockey-stick references. Another section contains a woman’s contemplations about her love life with her husband. It is very clean, mainly dealing with the differences between men and women but there is a mild blushing potential.

On the whole, I would certainly encourage you to take a little trip to heaven the next time you need to remember to “hang on because good things are coming”.

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Forged in the Refiner’s Fire by Elizabeth A. Cheever and Candace E. Salima

What is your greatest challenge? What is the hidden sorrow that brings tears to your eyes every time you try to express your worries and concerns to your Heavenly Father?

No matter what trial, station, or stage of life you may be in Forged in the Refiner’s Fire can offer a source of understanding, hope, and comfort. Co-authored by Elizabeth A. Cheever and Candace E. Salima, Forged in the Refiner’s Fire is a collection of true stories. On every page and in every chapter you will read of real people with a variety of very real problems who have learned to rely on the Lord and come out stronger than they were before.

The opening pages of Forged in the Refiner’s Fire include the following quote:

“In the pain, the agony, and the heroic endeavors of life, we pass through a Refiner’s fire, and the insignificant and the unimportant in our lives can melt away like dross and make our faith bright, intact, and strong. In this way the divine image can be mirrored from our souls. It is part of the purging toll exacted of some to become acquainted with God. In the agonies of life, we seem to listen better to the faint, godly whisperings of the Divine Shepherd.” James E. Faust

The book itself is definitely a testimony to the truthfulness and power of those words. It’s a great place to look for understanding and perspective as we each struggle with our own trials of fire.

I carried Forged in the Refiner’s Fire with me to the library in order to snag some reading time while my children were in an activity. Because of my great love for Candace and the poignant way she tells her own story in “Lean Not Unto Thine Own Understanding”, I’m afraid I made a complete spectacle of myself bawling my eyes out in front of a bunch of wary strangers.

“My Journey of Journeys”, “He Loves Me in Spite of My Weakness”, and “Working Under the Hand of the Lord” were also stories that touched the deepest parts of my nature, sharing several messages I personally needed to hear.

If you feel rushed when you begin to read, a couple of the stories might seem to be a little long and drawn out. I don’t feel this is actually such a bad thing. The individual author is just trying, the best way they know how, to help you experience their thoughts and feelings. Just as you wouldn’t interrupt a dear friend’s train of thought as they were sharing such things with you, read attentively. It’s worth it. Though Forged in the Refiner’s Fire shows high quality work, this book is definitely one that is to be read and understood through the heart. Its greatest strength is its ability to portray emotion and support, not literary acclaim. It’s one of those books you want to take a highlighter to so you don’t forget where to find all the little gems of wisdom. Forged in the Refiner’s Fire deserves an honored place on your bookshelf. You’ll want to know you can easily reach out and grab it when ever your heart needs comfort.

I’m thrilled to also provide you with this video spotlight of Candace Salima sharing her own thoughts and feelings about Forged in the Refiners Fire. Take a moment to watch her spirit shine through and inspire you.

Candace is currently doing a virtual book tour. You can follow her progress and gain more insight into Forged in the Refiner’s Fire on her own blog, Dream a little dream with me . . .

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Counting Blessings by Kerry Blair

Several months ago I learned a beautiful lesson from one of the sweetest people I am privileged to know. She taught me about problems and elephants. Yes, that seems like a strange combination but when she explained it, it worked. I learned that problems can be just like elephants: it’s all in the perspective. Even the smallest elephant, held in front of your eyes can become huge and block out everything else around it. Big elephants cause the same problem. Every problem needs to be part of a bigger perspective. If all we ever look at is our elephant, then we miss out on everything else in our lives and in the lives of those we care about.

She was discussing a very difficult elephant in her own life. At first, my heart broke for her. Then, she taught me about elephants and asked those of us who would read her words to help her keep her own elephant in perspective. She asked us to remember that she was more than her problem. She asked us for elephant jokes. My time reading her words started with tears of sorrow and ended with side-splitting tears of laughter. I’ve never read so many dumb elephant jokes in my life. I found a few favorites and a greater love for my friend.

I had Kerry Blair’s latest title on my “to read” list because I loved and respected her. After learning about elephants, I was eager to sit at her feet once again. I soon moved that book from “to read”, to “bought”, to “read” and I loved every minute of it.

Have you ever wanted to have a dear friend take a soul-baring chocolate brake with you? That’s what reading Counting Blessings by Kerry Blair feels like. Her sweet, wise spirit radiates out from the pages and covers your own heart with a comforting blanket of love and testimony. Each essay shares an intimate look at the issues many women face, through the eyes of Kerry. It’s a great place to gain perspective of your own elephants and the blessings hiding behind them.

You can open her book to any chapter and find yourself being gently taught and inspired. It’s a true joy to experience and I highly recommend it for those quiet moments when you need a little chocolate, a gentle touch, and council of a wise woman. Whether you’ll begin with tears of understanding or laughter, I can’t predict. What I can promise is you’ll find both experiences in this special little book: Counting Blessings.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Discovering All-You-Can-Read Happy Hour

Ok, I just learned a very devastating piece of information. You see, my library has added a new feature. I can now read and listen to books from the comfort of my very own computer.

The little link was very deceiving. All it said was "e-books now available". I clicked on it out of curiosity and found literally thousands of titles right there at my fingertips. I searched for a couple of recent titles that are on my list thinking, "Yah, sure, they're probably all things like Missing May and Animal Farm. Not that these aren't fabulous titles, I really like them, but they're not on that infamous "To Read" list of mine (currently at 482 titles).

Searching was a very bad idea. I plugged in a couple of newer releases and a half second later the information would pop up on my computer screen. There were tantalizing tidbits of information like "read the first chapter here", "download e-book now", and "download audio book now" and the most important word of all "free". My fingers began to twitch. My eyes began to bug out. It was like manna from heaven! The kid who feels like she's stepped into an all-you-can-eat candy store every time she goes to the library now has free home deliver service 24 hours a day 7 days a week. I'm shuddering with excitement. I might even piddle my pants (I've had several kids you know).

So, why is this news so devastating? Four words: time management, self-control. I'm completely lacking in both. As I sat there perusing the endless choices I started arguing with myself:
If I downloaded this one I could listen to it while I do the dishes that have been sitting there since yesterday (Or was it the day before? I really can't recall).

My very weak will tried to argue back:
Yeah, but you've only got 2 days to finish your deadlines.

I have deadlines? Dang! It slipped my mind.

I had to physically get up and walk away from temptation, but see, now I know it's there. Do me a favor, if I haven't moved from in front of my computer in 2 days, somebody cut the power.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Spires of Stone by Annette Lyon

Are you a fan of Shakespeare? It seems he’s a guy you either love or gag at the thought of. Personally, I like the guy. He’s old school and can be cumbersome to read, but his writing is full of interesting tidbits.

If you’re like me and have a soft spot for Shakespeare, you’ll love Annette Lyon’s latest book, Spires of Stone. This is the third book in Annette’s historical temple series. The first two, House on the Hill and At Journey’s End are good reads as well, but Spires of Stone is my personal favorite. Why? Yep, you guessed it: Shakespeare.

Set against a backdrop of the construction of the Salt Lake Temple, Annette Lyon tells a story of love, pride, and the blessings of forever that result from living the gospel. In Spires of Stone, Annette puts an entertaining modern-historical twist on the play Much Ado About Nothing, which is just plain fun stuff in any form. You’ll meet Beth, who loves Ben but doesn’t want to forgive him for past wrongs. Ben has just returned from mission and finds Beth is still very much on his mind but he refuses to see a different side of the “truth” he knows about her. True to their predecessors Beatrice and Benedick, their only recourse of action is not to actually talk to each other about it but rather exchange witty and hurtful barbs at every turn. Enter Hannah and Phillip who are determined to set things right between their estranged siblings, while falling into their own set of contorted problems of the heart.

You can get a sneak peak at the book by going to Annette’s web site. You can even take a quiz to see how much you know about the Salt Lake Temple. You’ll find yourself laughing, crying, and cheering these character’s on far into the night. There, you have been forewarned. Schedule your reading time accordingly. This one definitely deserves to be coupled with candles and a bubble bath if you ask me. (By the way – when are they going to make waterproof books for us bubble bath and pool side readers?)

Spires of Stone has been recognized with the Utah Best of State 2007 Medal for Fiction and as a finalist in the category of Best Historical Fiction for the 2007 Whitney Awards.

As mentioned, this is Annette’s third novel based around a temple construction theme. Don’t let the fact that Spires of Stone is number three bother you. These books are not parts of a traditional series. You don’t have to start with House on the Hill, the books can stand independently. You will, however, get to say “hi” to other characters you’ve grown to love if you read more than one book. So, have a good time reading Spires of Stone, then be sure to pick up the other two. You’ll like them just as well. I do recommend reading House on the Hill and At Journey’s End in order however, as that follows the natural progression of the over-lapping character, Abe. But hey, if you’re one of those people who reads the end of the book first then swap them.

For me, I’m anxiously awaiting a peek at the next temple book.

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Tooth Fairy

The tooth fairy assigned to our house is totally incompetent! Oh, we used to have a good one years ago when my older children were wandering around toothless, but there must have been some lay-offs in the poor economy so that the fairies could still afford the rising cost of teeth. The current tooth fairy seems to be fairly over-worked and more than a little scatterbrained.

So here’s the deal. My son lost a tooth Thursday. He put it in the designated tooth fairy spot (you can’t put things under his pillow because he “nests” under and beside his bed with a huge pile of blankets and pillows). Yep, you guessed it—it was still there in the morning.

The accepted excuse for this occurrence is that the child must have pulled out the tooth early and the Tooth Fairy didn’t have them on the schedule for that night. Yes, this has happened several times before. I mentioned her incompetence, didn’t I? The procedure is repeated for a second night and usually the Tooth Fairy gets her act together and takes care of things. To help the process along, I suggested the child draw a couple of pictures for his door and window asking her to please stop by. He found this a very embarrassing solution. Huh. It made perfect sense to me. Well, without a posted reminder this time the old gal didn’t remember she had something to do until last night—Saturday.

She looked around. No tooth. She dug around. No tooth. She shifted all of the covers and miscellaneous implements of sleep around the boy. No tooth. It was very frustrating, but I guess this particular child had given up any trust and faith he had left for the Tooth Fairy because the little bugger simply wasn’t there.

She left him a note and all, paying him but insisting he leave his tooth for her to pick up the next time she had to fly through his neighborhood. Yes, she covered her tracks this time.

The child quietly brought me the note this morning. I asked him where the tooth was if he hadn’t left if for the Tooth Fairy.

“I dunno.”

Great. Now what? Are there Tooth Fairy bandits out there that go sneaking off with the porcelain treasures before the real Tooth Fairy can even, ahem, remember to pick it up?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Please, No Zits by Anne Bradshaw

Want a reminder that we are a world wide church with youth that struggle, no matter where they live? Then pick up Please, No Zits by Anne Bradshaw it covers the problems of the average teenager and those that are down right scary.

Okay. For me personally, the name and cover aren’t really to my taste but I’m not that young anymore, thank goodness. I asked one of my own teenage girls what she thought of it and she reported that the cover was too busy for her and didn’t really tell her what to expect from the book. She said it was a little too random with lots of stuff on it that didn’t say a whole lot (uh, sounds like a teenager to me). The cover does actually pertain to the content, but because it’s pulled from a variety of the stories, it’s hard to interpret what it all means. (Her words, sophisticated by mom.) The title helped and caught her interest more.

Now on to the real meat of the book.

I have to admit, I had fun with the fact that it seemed everybody had a lounge. . . I’ve always wanted a lounge. It just sounds so relaxing and non-cluttered. Too bad Please, No Zits didn’t have instructions on how to get one.

On the serious side: I especially enjoyed “You’ll Never Get a Banana Tree” for is simple, sweet message of the good on young man can do, just because he is willing to talk about the gospel even when it seems uncomfortable.

I also recommend “Rock Bottom in a Jail Cell” for reading by the parents of any child suffering from a drug or alcohol addiction. It offers some realistic insight and some hope-stirring options such as Wings of Glory.

In its entirety this book of short stories, the majority of which are set in England, is uplifting in a
down-to-earth way. I know it may be hard to get a teenager to pick up any book that appears to have a message, so here are a few suggestions for helping them get the most out of Please, No Zits.

Make sure they realize it’s a book of short stories. Meaning: they can open it anywhere, read a chapter and be done.

Make it bathroom reading literature.

Use it as a series of family home evening lessons.

Give it to those who would love to travel to England themselves.

Suggest it as a reference for their next youth talk.

Ask them to read it to a younger sibling at bedtime or to the family at mealtime.

Offer it as an alternative to a hated chore.

In short, any way you can get them to pick it up and read something inside will probably get them hooked. There are no guarantees with teenagers though.

Join the Neighborhood Newsletter . . . Subscriptions are free and joining is easy. Just by signing up and maintaining your subscription to receive the yourLDSneighborhood.com newsletter, you become eligible for our "Thank You" prizes. Our dozens of giveaways range from a trip for two to China, to iPods® (each with a $50 gift certificate for LDS music), cruises, and more.

Learn about our amazing monthly, quarterly, and annual giveaways by clicking here

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

My Creativity Flexes Its Muscles

This Sunday my son and I put the finishing touches on his new quilt. This is a partial picture of it on the frame ready to be tied.

Here's how it is. This particular son is autistic. Part of this means that he is very picky about a lot of things and grows extremely attached to the items he deems "acceptable". Another part means that he has a set of nervous habits that he uses as comfort measures. One of those happens to be chewing on his clothes. His collars particularly. He has over come most of this and now only chews the sleeves which are less noticeable.

When you combine all these aspects of my wonder boy you have a problem when it comes to trying to throw out the clothing he's ruined. Especially his shirts. This quilt was the result of that. Over the past two years I've had him set aside those shirts he can not wear any more but doesn't want to part with. I gave him a special saving place for them. Then last month I talked him into helping me make himself a new blanket with them. (Another of his attachments)

He was skeptical at first when he saw me pull out the scissors and begin studying his clothing, but when I handed the scissors he was all for it. He help me cut out all his shirt fronts. He helped me choose fabrics for in between each and the backing. He placed them where he wanted them on the quilt. His dad and I constructed the actual quilt over two nights, then he helped me tie it.

It stays with him whenever he's in the house. He says it works great and he loves looking at his favorite stuff and his handy work.

Ten points for the mommy. It's not often my brain comes up with something that actually works so I'm pretty proud of my son's t-shirt quilt.

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Peacegiver and The Holy Secret

Have you read The Peacegiver by James L. Ferrell? This book quickly became a bestseller among LDS fiction and rightly so. It’s a sweet book of redemption. It tells the story of a man, a simple man just like many of us, who needs to understand who his Savior really is. He needs to learn what Christ is capable of accomplishing in his life if given the chance.

That’s a lesson most of us need to learn. It’s easy to forget, or feel unworthy of what we see or read about the Savior. It seems like another place, another time, another more humble and deserving individual. That’s the place the main character, Rick Carson, finds himself. He is lost in his own sorrow and bitterness for what feels like a failed marriage and a failed life.

At least for me, there some moments in the story where the descriptions of Rick’s feelings and memories become a little cumbersome, but I think Brother Ferrell does this for specific purposes. I think he wants to make sure we can see ourselves in the life of his character. He wants us to notice our own feelings of despair and worry then discover our own path to the Savior. Brother Ferrell wants us to come to the end of the book with a renewed sense of hope and faith in the Savior’s ability to heal our homes and our individual lives. In the end, that’s what he accomplishes.

The Peacegiver is a story about trying to heed Christ’s call to “Come Unto Me” that gently guides the reader through eternal gospel truths that can uplift and replenish anyone’s spirit. For this reason alone, it’s worth the read for anyone who wants to develop a closer relationship with the Savior.

The Holy Secret is James L. Ferrell’s second book along these same tones. This time the reader is drawn into the life of another Latter-day Saint with some questions. These are questions many of us probably entertain at sometime time on our spiritual journey. In The Holy Secret, Michael is pricked by the words of an older gentleman in his ward. The man states with such clarity and firmness that he loves the gospel and the tools of holiness Heavenly Father has given each of us. Michael wonders why his faith own seems to be void of such conviction and passion for righteousness. He goes through the motions, knowing at some comfortable level that the church is right and good, but not really feeling the depth of testimony he would like.

The Holy Secret is another book full of thought provoking questions and gentle instruction that can lead each of us on a spiritual quest to truly love the gospel of Jesus Christ and find its true place in our lives.

Now, do you want to know the best secret about The Holy Secret? It’s available to read online, for free. Yep, free. Just follow this link and read along.

If you have yet to read either of these books, this is a good place to start. The chapters are short, easy reading. It only takes a few minutes each day to give yourself hours of thought as you go about your life. A new chapter is posted every Wednesday, so pencil it in. I encourage you to add this bookmark to your weekly “surfing” session. See if The Holy Secret speaks to your heart. If is does, make sure you read The Peacegiver as well.

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Friday, June 6, 2008

Jaroldeen Asplund Edwards

Have you ever heard of the Daffodil Principle? I’d almost be surprised if you hadn’t. Just for fun I did a quick internet search for just those words and came up with 165,000 results. The Daffodil Principle is a way of looking at our lives and goals. It helps us see what we can accomplish with just two hands and two feet. It helps us see the beauty of what we do accomplish every day. I love daffodils and I love the principle behind this message.

I was first introduced to the Daffodil Principle in its smaller form as a sweet chapter in Sister Edward’s book Celebration! As a young mother, it was one of the few resources I read that actually made me feel good about where I was on my journey of life and my ability to do just exactly what the Lord needed me to do. I picked it up at the bookstore in a moment of discouragement thinking, “If a woman with 12 children can find ways to celebrate every day, I want to know her secret.” Truthfully, the two children I had at the time seemed very overwhelming, sometimes depressing. The children themselves were sometimes sweet, but often sticky and stinky. I was aghast that Heavenly Father didn’t have enough sense to say, “That woman should never have children.” Celebration! Helped me understand I was wrong. Not just about the children, but also about myself. I began to understand my own place in a field of daffodils and figure out how to plant my own bulbs of joy along the way. I didn’t suddenly plant 50,000 bulbs but I did begin to plant. When it’s all said and done I hope I can look back on my life and see that I’ve left a trail of beauty and color instead of dirt and thorns.

Several years ago, that simple chapter was transformed into a beautiful gift book of its own. Plus, as I mentioned earlier, its message has been extensively shared and has touched many lives since it was first introduce in 1995. Because of her words, the actual daffodil garden has gained attention and inspired pilgrimages for many others to see such a wonderful site. The next time you visit southern California you can visit the garden that inspired this timeless message.

Today I’m honoring the loss of the author of The Daffodil Principle. Jaroldeen Asplund Edwards passed away Friday, May 30, 2008 at the age of 76. Her funeral was held the last Monday. If you haven’t yet, you can read her sweet obituary here.

I can not say that I knew this great woman personally, but it certainly felt like she knew me. Or at least she had that special kind of spirit that lets Heavenly Father speak through them to share how He knows and loves others. For that, she has been influential in my life and many others.

I don’t live where I could have attended her funeral, but this week I’ll plant another row of daffodils bulbs and think of her.

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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Specialize or Diversify?

When people find out I’m a writer, the question that inevitably follows is, "What do you write?"

This is always met with a confused look when I reply, "That depends on what day of the week it is."

I'm one of those that let my imagination visit many different camps. I'm commonly referred to as a diversified writer. OK, some call me eccentric but we'll not even go there.

Depending on what day it is (very literally) I could be writing medical professional study materials and articles, consumer health articles, children's nonfiction, children’s and adult fiction, and many different types of religious nonfiction. Every once in a while I'll throw something else in the mix as well. Yep, I'm definitely diversified.

Every once in a while I'll try to follow a more "prolific" (read- makes more money than me) writer's advice. I’ll try to go the other way and specialize. I get too bored. There are many writers who do specialize. They choose one field as their area of expertise and write only in that area, building a specific name for themselves with a specific clientele. They argue that doing so gives you "expert" status in your chosen area and keeps your name and talent in front of a specific group of clients. There's less fighting in the submission pile when the editor recognizes your name as someone who has written for them before. Your name comes to mind if they need someone to write specific content in your area. (You wouldn't ask a sports writer to do an article on unique spices from around the world; you'd also be a little more wary of the sports writer who pitched that topic to you.) Plus, specializing means you already have a set number of places that you know to look for work and a set number of places that will take your work. You don't have to go searching every time for a market that fits what you want to write or be constantly searching for new markets to write for. If you have to research a certain topic for one client, odds are you'll end up with more information than you need to write that article. For the diversifier those notes may be tucked away for "future reference". For the specializer you already know 6 other places that carry the same type of content and could very quickly provide additional articles to them as well. It saves time and appears to make more money.

On the other hand I've heard arguments for diversification as well. I mentioned the boredom thing, right? There is also the nasty fact that our economy stinks right now. What happens if your target market area has to down-size, cut back or completely dissolved? If you've built a niche wall around yourself it can be more difficult to break in somewhere else if you should need it. Yes, you could probably take your focus area and find a slightly different vein for it. Many do. The other factor in the diversify argument is money. There are very few specializations that offer a big enough paying pool to meet the writer's bills every month. (Well, sure if you are Cosmo’s number one time management expert you’ll do it, but for the rest of us…) Diversifying means many different people are willing to pay you for your work, it means that they know you can take any type of work that can be thrown at you and turn it into something readable and interesting.

Here's how the diversification money factor works out for me. I write for clients who pay me within a week of my work. I write for clients who pay me within a month of my work. I write for those who pay me in three months and in six. I write for those who pay on acceptance and those who pay on publication (two very different creatures). I write books that I don't see royalties from for a year or more after it's written depending on the publisher and content. All that means is that in any given month my money can come from a variety of sources, it may not be huge but it always comes. I can't imagine holding my breath waiting for one specific type of pay to come through. If I have a long term goal, I can look at larger markets with bigger payoffs after a long delay. If I have an immediate need (like having to replace the washer last weekend). I can focus on those who pay more immediately. If a project completely bores me to tears I can reward myself for working on it by spending some time with a more fun project. I have options, depending on what day of the week it is.

So, what about you? Do you specialize or diversify? Tell me why, I’d love to know what the experts think!