Wendy's favorite quotes


"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind."— Dr. Seuss

Sunday, January 27, 2019

My Home on the ShoBan Reservation

Fancy Feather Dancer
Hunter Osborne
I went to the 5th Annual American Falls High School Powwow yesterday and was wowed by the dancers' talent, the splendor of their regalia, and the kindness people showed me. It occurred to me that many of you have not had the chance we've had to experience things like powwows, and I thought you might like a look at ways that living here, surrounded by the Native American culture, has touched my family's lives.

I have lived on the Shoshone-Bannock Reservation for the last twenty years. My husband grew up here, and my children were born and raised here on the Rez. Native Americans are our neighbors, our customers, and our friends. In short, we're surrounded by good people, and we love it here.

At the bottom of this post, I share how the legends and beliefs are part of our lives, but first, the dancers! It's almost impossible to get a good picture with just my phone because it can't focus on everything at once. My favorite dance is the fancy feather dance in this video. 
The young man in this video is Wrendon Osborne, son of the Hunter & Karen Osborne (they served as the head man/lady dancer for our Pow-wow) and is an 8th grader attending William Thomas Middle School.
Traditional Crafts and Celebrations -
 5th AFHS Powwow
Levi Running Eagle & family
*  Powwows - The Shoshone-Bannock Indian festival is one of the biggest tribal celebrations with Native Americans of from many different nations participating. They have bareback Indian relay races, a parade, softball tournament, art show competitions, a pageant, crafts, excellent food, singing, and of course, dancing! The regalia these talented people wear is magnificent. Bells jingle around their ankles and hang from belts. Copenhagen tobacco lids rolled up into cones hang from jingle dresses as beautiful, musical decorations. Angora wool, porcupine hair, and a multitude of feathers make impressive headdresses. While you can buy traditional dress, usually a dancer's family helps them make their regalia. Special dances mean different things and young and old alike compete in many categories, but the round dance, also known as the friendship dance, is welcome to everyone. * The pictures with this post are from the 5th Annual AFHS Powwow which was a senior project for Levi Running Eagle who did an excellent job. (Note, I asked permission before taking pics of people not performing)

Shawl Dancer
--Storytime -- Once a cousin of mine from California (blond, long haired, lanky surfer dude) came with us to the Sho-Ban Festival. When I explained that everyone was welcome to dance the round dance, he grabbed my 4-year-old daughter's hand, ran right out in the middle of everyone, and started dancing his heart out. He had zero rhythm, flailing his arms and legs around all over the place. (Imagine Chicken Joe from Surf's Up dancing to drums) The crowd loved it. Everyone pointed and laughed--not mocking--just sharing the joy of the moment. When the song was over and my daughter and he came back all smiles, the people around us patted his shoulder and said he did great. It's one of my favorite memories.
Fancy Feather Dancer
Hunter Osborne

- Fancy Feather Dance (or fancy dance)- The dancers wear two bustles, one on their back and one on their waist, is believed to be originated from the Oklahoma tribes and has been one of the most popular dance styles across the plains.  It is flashy, colorful and very highly energetic! 
Grass Dancer 

- Stomp dancer- This picture (the boy and his dad) is of a grass dancer or stomp dancer, this style of dance does not consisted of bustles, besides the feathers that may be worn on the porcupine roach.  It consists of bright fringes primarily made from ribbons, yard or sometimes leather, or cloth.  It has been told that the origin of the dance is, prior to a celebration (Pow-Wow) the grass dancers would stomp down and bless the grass, flattening it for the celebration. 

Medicine Bags - Medicine bags are also believed to be a "Protection" of bad thoughts and evil.  It is not uncommon to have medicine bags blessed, and each medicine bag is made only for that particular individual, and may contain various items.


Fancy Feather Dancer
-- Storytime-- Once one of my children went up to a tall, muscular man in full regalia with the porcupine-mohawk head-roach, a tall splay of feathers sprouting from his shoulders, and another from his waist, ribbons, bells, everything--one of the coolest regalia I'd seen. My little daughter was awed by him and asked about the leather pouch hanging on his chest. He crouched down and explained that it was his special medicine bag--that the things inside were special and just for him. (of course she asked to see, but he gently explained that only he could look inside) He advised her to make her own medicine bag with her own special things. I bought her a beaded pouch at the powwow that night, and for weeks afterward, she ferreted shiny stones, beads, feathers and things into her little pouch. I will always be grateful for how kind he and others were to my children. **This interaction was inspiration for some of the conversations my character Sophie has in my novel, A Monster Like Me.

Seymore Eagle Speaker
(Traditional Dancer)
*   Drums around the Farm - about four times a year, we'll hear drums and singing. I'll often do extra farm work to keep busy outside just because I like the sound. One of our nearest neighbors takes turns with others to host a Native American religious prayer ceremony; so he cuts a perfect circle in his lawn and smooths the dirt. Then they erect a teepee over it and people gather to pray. Inside the teepee to pray to the holy sacrament, peyote, and sing and beat drums--all as part of their traditional prayer ceremony. I love it when he hosts the event because then we hear singing and drums inside our house. It's very cool.


Jingle Dress

*  Trading - Several times a year --especially during corn season-- folks will stop by with handmade, beaded jewelry to sell or trade for fresh produce. The beadwork is A-MAZE-ING. It takes real patience and skill to turn leather pieces into beautiful works of art. Last year, a gal traded a beautiful bone necklace and my daughter loves it with a capital L. When I asked some neighbors what they thought would be cool to have portrayed in a book with a 12-yr-old Shoshone girl character, they said beading and dancing for sure. ** In my new book, Wishes and Wings, (coming Jan 2020) one of the main characters, Kimana, does beadwork to raise money for her regalia--a very common practice here as regalia dress can be quite expensive.

Funerals - Our farm is quite active with helping the community, and one of
the ways we can give back is to give them last-year's straw for funerals. The tradition is that the loved one will lay on ice in a tent for several days. (Sometimes a teepee, sometimes a normal tent) The direction the deceased faces is important and the long observance gives family and friends a chance to say goodbye. But when the weather turns cold, chill wind blows under the tent and they need straw as a wind block. Not everyone does this kind of funeral. It's up to the family to decide how to honor their loved ones.

Local legends are Awesome: My kids have grown up with stories of water babies, coyote, wolf, owls, and more. It's not all myth and legend here. It's real to some of our neighbors and sometimes feels real to us too.

*  Water Babies -- Our friends describe them as water spirits who can mimic the sound of babies or
women crying to lure people into the water. The advice is to be respectful and give offerings if a water baby frequents the canals by your house.

-- StoryTime-- Being young and stupid kids, we once drove to bridge here at night and rolled down the windows to see if we could hear any water babies. There were no other cars or anyone that we could see. We listened to the water lapping at the bridge below, and then--I kid you not--the most blood-curdling scream I've ever heard blasted from what sounded like right beside the car. It was like a woman had her face right next to the open window and screamed like a banshee. We saw no one. But the screaming was almost right on top of us. It scared the driver so bad, she stomped on the gas (which flooded and almost stalled the engine) and we raced away, never-ever to return at night again. 
   We tried to come up with some logical explanations for what we experienced, like, maybe the water made a weird suction sound on the bridge, or maybe a panther screamed nearby, or maybe some teens were hiding and wanted to scare us. None of that really explained what we heard. Another inexplicable detail: most of us in the car heard the scream at the exact same time and reacted accordingly, but two didn't hear a thing. Regardless, I'm content to never, ever go back and try again. I still get goosebumps when I talk about it. 

*   Owls - Are believed to be messengers of bad news and can be the harbinger of death so it's considered bad luck to hear them hoot, and especially bad to have them land on your house. One of our neighbors came home to find an owl sitting on their roof and the father wouldn't let his family enter the house again until after he'd cleansed the house with sage smudge sticks.

--storytime-- we have huge tall trees around our house that owls love. Once during corn season, a pair of them were roosting in a tree by our corn stand and were hooting like crazy back and forth. An Elder customer pulled pulled me aside and advised I go check all my kids right away because the owls were restless which means someone might die.  Happily, the kids were fine, but I did keep them closer the rest of the day.

*   Spirits - Spirits are believed to be quite active in many areas of the reservation.

 --Storytime-- One of the roads here is Cemetery road, which has a --you guessed it-- cemetery. When I was in high school, I was visiting one of my best friends who lived on Cemetery and I suggested going for a night walk over to a different friend's place not too far away. He refused and said, "If you walk Cemetary at night, you'll hear footsteps behind you. The spirits follow you at night."  Since then, I've asked other friends if they'd heard of it, and most have heard of it, though not everyone believes it.

*   Coyote - with a capital C, as in The Coyote. But we usually only hear people talk about him after something malfunctioned on a day when the person happened to see a coyote. It seems the trickster is around, but subtly and on the sly.



Young Fancy Dancer
Cambri Buckskin
My friend Tonia
Diversity is the norm: Besides Shoshone-Bannock, Navajo, and other tribal members who stop by, we also have a lot of folks with hispanic heritage. I speak Spanish, so I love visiting with everyone. When my kids were younger, they would talk about this great new friend they met, or so & so they played with, and when I'd ask which kid it was, they would say something like, "The boy with the blue shirt," and not use skin tone to describe them. Friends are just friends. Our neighbors are just neighbors. We are all people. 


The CUTEST dancer
I could go on, but hopefully you get the idea. It's not surprising that Native American characters and ideas sometimes end up in my stories because my life is enriched by the people all around me, and Native Americans make up a huge part of my world.
    If you ever have the opportunity to go to a powwow, do it! If you ever are driving through Fort Hall, or any other reservation, stop! Go to the stores, explore the museums, talk to the people, and experience what you can.
   Kindness and compassion is universal to all nationalities and cultures. Offer a smile, be respectful, and don't be afraid to say hello. You just might make a new friend.
**HUGE thanks to Georgette Running Eagle for proofreading this post for me. You're the best!

Here's the littles doing dance in the "Tiny-Tots" category. SO DANG CUTE!



Thursday, January 17, 2019

Podcast & Video Recordings and Book Trailer Storyboards!

Yesterday I went to Salt Lake City for a meeting with my publisher, Shadow Mountain to record some promo spots and a podcast. 
My awesome dad drove me down through a blizzard with jackknifed semi trucks and emergency vehicles all over the place. He's a good sport.

For the podcast, we were in a little room at the top of KSL broadcasting station. It was awkward at first but they say I didn't sound too much like an idiot, so that's good. The video clips were harder. I was so nervous, but we did it so, Yay!




When we finished with that, we went back to Shadow Mountain where Chris showed me storyboards for A Monster Like Me's book trailer! They will be filming on Monday. The same director that did Brandon Mull's book trailer will be directing mine. There will be special effects and everything!

 
 He also said that they are working on my poster with Brandon Dorman (artist from Fablehaven books!) doing the art, and will have bookmarks to hand out to all the kids at the school assemblies I'll be doing in March.  So, hopefully in a couple weeks, I'll have a book trailer to share with you.

It's all pretty exciting. I can't wait!




Monday, January 7, 2019

An Agent, A Book Deal, and A Monster Like Me ARC Giveaway!



WOW what a year!


2018 Was MY year for miracles and big changes.

I am now represented by fabulous Agent Stacey Glick, Vice President of Dystel, Goderich and Bouret.

And I signed a 2 book deal with Shadow Mountain last summer which means......

*Drum roll*

.....That my first full length novel, A Monster Like Me, is coming out March 5th, 2019! My second book is due to come out in January of 2020. **ALL THE HAPPY DANCES!!**
(You can preorder A Monster Like Me HERE)

I have a pretty new website www.wendyswore.com that comes with a blog, but it seems to be incompatible with THIS blog. So, we'll see how my efforts to use both go.

I also have an author page on Facebook where I'll have giveaways, book tour dates, and fun things from my writing career. https://www.facebook.com/authorwendyswore/ I hope to see you over there.



**UPDATE! Winner of the ARC is Jessica L Johnson! Congratulations!

AND NOW for the giveaway info: We took and ARC of A Monster Like Me to CHINA and took pictures with it all over China like a Flat Stanley. You can see all the cool pictures of it all over China HERE.

I will be giving that book away (along with a styling' wooden bookmark from the Great Wall of China) 







Giveaway ends January 21st, 2019.
(No purchase necessary. Not affiliated with Facebook or any other company. US residents only.)

You can enter by: 
* Commenting on this post (1 entry)

* Everyone who Likes my the contest on my Author Page will automatically be entered. (2 entries)

* Follow me on Instagram  or Twitter (2 entries each)

* Or sign up for my quarterly (possibly biannually) newsletter HERE for 4 entries.

* Get an additional entry for each place (Twitter, instagram) you share the contest. Just use hashtag #WendySworeARC So I can find your entry. 

I wish you luck! Maybe this world traveling book can find a forever home with you!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

A Visit With The Awesome Jessica Day George!

 My friend, Jessica Day George, was presenting at a local elementary (Gate City) and we treated her to dinner while she treated us to some writing tips.

She is super talented and writes middle grade & YA. She spilled the beans about her meanest teacher ever and how she decided to become a writer!

 -       Jessica Day George  –
-       School presentation given to kids at Gate City Elementary
           
Jessica read 165 books in 2015. Her goal is to read 170 books by new years eve this year.
            Books were a big deal in her family. Her dad holds a book while watching TV so he can read during the commercials.
            She was so excited to learn to read and see what all the fuss was about. So she learned…and it was awful. Run Pug, run! Seriously? Who cares if pug runs? She hated to read.
            When she was little, there was no such thing as Harry Potter or Maze Runner. No Percy Jackson. No fun books. We had Hardy Boys and the Babysitters club. Always boys were getting to find treasure—but they gave it back! They don’t even keep 1 doubloon. Also, we had horse and dog books—but the only point to reading these books was to teach people to be responsible animal owners, so all the animals died.
            Her meanest teacher ever made her do a book report. She decided to reuse her old book report and wrote a fake report. Her made-up author was named after the kid in front of her (very sneaky). When she was caught, her teacher made her do it again and gave her one night to read a book and write a report. (Or else she’d call Jessica’s mom) She chose Robin McKinley’s The Hero of the Crown—which changed everything. Dragons! A girl with long red hair! Adventure! (And no stupid babysitting.)
            Her next project was to do a report on a real person. She chose the author Robin McKinley. That was when she learned that writing about dragons was a job you could have. She decided then in 5th grade that she wanted to be a writer.
            She went to college and had amazing teachers…except for one professor. (Fred Finnegar, a red head with mustache who was the #1 expert in the world on Moby Dick) Seriously, the meanest teacher in the world. He asked them to go home and write a story and bring it back the next day.
            After class, he asked her to stay. She was excited at first, thinking he liked her story, but after a long, awkward pause, he said,
“You have a little bit of writing talent. I don’t want you to throw it away writing trash for children.” She spent the rest of the semester writing serious, hard core stories, and got straight A’s. She graduated and continued writing all those serious books. She hated it.
            She sent her serious grown up masterpiece to a literary agency and 220 rejection letters later, some were nice and said her writing is good but the story is awful. Some were mean.
            5 books later, a friend told her, “Anyone can write a romance novel. So write one and get it published.” She wrote romance novels, but was rejected because she didn’t have enough kissing in the books.
            Her oldest child (now 11) didn’t sleep through the night till he was 4 years old. She got the 220th rejection letter at this time. It said something like, “I really hate your writing please never bother me again.” She began to doubt whether or not she could be an author. She told her husband that she wanted to quit. He said, “Oh, thank heavens!” He said, “You’re funny, but your books are not. You cry over the books and over the mail with the rejections.” Reluctantly, she agreed. Time to quit.
When she went to close her laptop, she started to cry because the line popped into her head, “It was my aunt who gave me to the dragon.” And this whole storyline popped into her head. What if you went into the dragon’s cave and it was all full of shoes, and another dragon collected only stained glass, and another collected dogs?
            Her husband was confused, “What? Why are you crying?”
            “I just came up with a story, and I want to write the book!”
            “No! We’re quitters, we’re quitting, remember?”
            “But if I don’t write it down, I’m so tired, I’ll forget!
            “Fine. You can write one more book.”
She decided to write this book for HER SON. It had everything fun in it: her candy-eating dog, fancy ball gowns, etc. She put everything she’s ever loved in it, and told no one. She was afraid to tell people and have them hate the book that even had her own dog in it. She was so excited! She loved it! She laughed and loved writing it.
            Finally, she sent her first chapter and a description of the story to a friend. Unbeknownst to Jessica, that friend sent her chapter to a New York editor (who also did Shannon Hale’s books).
            That editor wanted to meet Jessica so, Jessica’s friend tricked her into coming to meet her. Suddenly, the editor pulls out Jessica’s story and said she loved the books and wanted to talk contract. Afterwards, Jessica grabbed her friend and said something like “I love you so much and hate you at the same time!” while shaking her affectionately.  
            Suddenly someone was giving her money for her books!
            Then editing time! She got the manuscript back, and it was all red. Circled, loads of lines, and whole chapters X’ed out. She was shocked. She didn’t know what editors did and wondered if the pages bleeding all over the place meant that the editor hated her work, but nope. This is part of the process. They worked on it back and forth for a year. She had to read Dragon Slippers 16 times while editing it.
            Finally, she was finished.
            Her editor wanted to see the other 8 books and Jessica wouldn’t even tell her about them. “Don’t even worry about them. They don’t exist!” She felt confident saying this because she had found the key; write about things you love!
            By the time Dragon Slippers came out, she had written three more books, and she wanted to write about her favorite fairytale. It had The North Pole, Norway, and Polar bears. She speaks German, Norwegian, and Old Norse. When you study those things, fairy tales are a big part of learning.
            So she began writing improved versions of fairytales—without the brutal things, like decapitating 25 princes who couldn’t figure out where the princesses were dancing at night.
            She found out that you can write about whatever you like to think about. What is it like to have a secret pet? What’s better than a hidden little thing? How about a griffin hidden in the castle?
            If you don’t like to read, or if you do like to read, the book is out there that is right for you! When you find it, “I promise it will be awesome!

Later at dinner, Jessica said that she doesn’t actually outline her books. She usually has the beginning and end in mind and might jot down a few things in between, but big outlines are not her thing.

In short, I’m happy to report that Jessica is every bit as funny, kind, talented, and awesome as the heroines in her novels. Maybe cooler.

Thank you, Jessica!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Writer Friends Are Awesome! (A quick peek back at 2015)

As you should know by now, the name of my blog isn't just a catchy line; I'm really a farmer. Here's some corn the kidlets and I picked. (This is one of many loads every day.)
And here's my maze. It's 1.5 miles if you take zero wrong turns. Most people take almost an hour to get through it.
(Remember, I make it all with a weed wacker.)
 I love to give things away to people who need a lift, so we created the Pumpkin Fairy--a mischievous sprite who drops loads of pumpkins off to people who are struggling. 
You get the idea. The farm can be fun, but it's also a LOT of work. Writing and visiting with my writer buddies is the highlight of my year. First, I attended the iWrite Network writer's retreat in March. Donna Weaver, Candace Mortenson, Cindy Hogan, & a bunch more did an excellent job.
And then of course there was the LDStorymakers Conference--hands down my favorite event of the year. Here's two of my favorite guys, James Dashner & J Scott Savage. Seriously, these guys are awesome. James talked about wanting to give up, and how his friends were the motivation that kept him going. Totally made me teary-eyed. 

My writing group at home meets twice a month, so we keep each other motivated and accountable. (but alas, I have no pictures of our little group)
In December, Jeff Savage and his wife, Jennifer, came up to Idaho Falls for a dinner with a bunch of us. He explained his outlining strategy for us. 


I am the Activities Director of Author's Incognito, the sister group to LDStorymakers. This year, our group underwent a huge change including a name change. AI is now Storymakers Tribe! My good friend, Marcy Curr, took my initial sketch and computerized it into this new logo for the group. I think it turned out pretty cool.





In November, I hosted the Storymakers Tribe writer's retreat with a special guest, Kevin J Anderson! We were very excited to listen to his advice and tips on writing. Everyone had an extremely productive and rejuvenating weekend.


Tada! So now you're caught up with my 2015. What was your favorite part of last year?

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Writer Retreats. Are they worth it?

In a word? 
YES!

Retreats vary according to who organizes them, but usually, the best parts are universal:

* Time to write. -- Away from your family, friends, job, house, chores, farm, pet dinosaur, and anything else that interferes with your writing time.

* Little or no responsibility for meal preparations -- As a mother of five children, let me just say how awesome it is to have people make food and feed me. Not mac and cheese either. We're talking crepes, Hawaiian haystacks, salads, fruit, roasted chicken. Heavenly.

* New friends! -- even the most introverted of writers comes away from retreats with a few new friends. Writers usually get along famously when tossed in a room together. Don't be surprised if you hear snippets of conversation like, "Would a body be harder to find in a lake or in the ocean?" Plotting murders make for great bonding time.

*  Free help. -- With a house full of writers, it's no biggie if you get to the end of your novel and can't figure out how Joe rescues Fifi from the White Lord, because you've got a captive audience that loves to brainstorm! With all these brilliant minds bouncing ideas off each other, there's bound to be something that sparks the idea to get you over the block. (this feature is also extremely helpful for spelling and punctuation advice. Don't fear the Grammar Nazi's, they are harmless as long as the chocolate doesn't run out.)

* Nice rooms -- Most retreats offer nice accommodations, though you might be expected to share a bed. If that is a deal breaker for you, consider bringing your own cot and/or mattress.

* Bonus Prizes! -- At many retreats, there are door prizes or swag and awards for the highest word count, early birds, night owls, best quotes, or most pages edited.

* Classes and/or Workshops. -- Sometimes they offer classes on marketing, brainstorming, or any number of other subjects. They can even watch and analyze movies and discuss plot points as they come up.

As I write, it's the last night of the iWrite retreat in Heber, Utah, and we're all up late to savor the last of our freedom here. I won the award for being most cheerful (I think it's probably my funny writer shirts). It might be silly, but I almost teared up that people enjoyed being with me as much as I loved being with all of them. Alas, it's time to go, but I'm already looking forward to the next one in the fall.

If you can swing it, GO. Retreats are wonderful!
I'm in the hat next to Canda Mortenson, as we roast marshmallows over the fire. Cindy Hogan is the one photo-bombing in the back. This was taken during a break the last night. So. Much. Fun!