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That’s Literally NOT What We Believe

Oh, I get it. I do. I’ve fallen victim to the idea. Even as a child, I worried for the salvation of those around me. You know the drill, that in heaven, our family table might have an empty seat.

That someone we love won’t make it.

This concept is so messed up that it’s hard to know where to begin. For starters, how sad of an excuse for heaven would it be if we’re sad there?

Having that kind of misunderstanding of the Plan of Salvation and Latter-day Saint beliefs in the afterlife are understandable . . . …

You Really Do Want the Pages Covered in Ink

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Over the years, I’ve judged various writing contests, from a local Halloween-themed contest, which I judged for over a decade, to an international contest, and a bunch in between.

Over the years, several commonalities stood out about the entries.

I could almost guarantee that relatively new writers would have many of the following problems:

  • Point of View issues: No point of view. Or poor execution of point of view. Or some funky version of an omniscient narrator. None of which worked.
  • Telling instead of showing, which is especially weak when it’s during moments that should be tense or emotional.
  • Punctuation mistakes. Not only are sentences punctuated incorrectly (which editors hate)…

Knowing How It Works Is Crucial

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Back in the 80s, I attended elementary school in a country with a state religion, which meant Christmas and Easter services at the nearby Lutheran church, weekly messages from a pastor piped through the school’s PA system, and regular religion classes. All very foreign to me as a child used to the U.S. system, where church and state are strictly separated.

(My mom loves to tell the story about how I said that the Lutheran services were really weird to me, and after I understood the language, they were even weirder. …

And How to Avoid Them

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Several years ago, I pulled out an ancient manuscript of mine and read through the first few pages. At first I was pleasantly surprised; the writing and dialogue weren’t too bad. I still thought the language was fresh and fun.

One big problem, though: the point of view was nonexistent.

While some of my favorite authors, like L M Montgomery and Charles Dickens, could get away with either not having a point of view or using an omniscient point of view, that method is far less likely to work today.

Omniscient POV went so entirely out of fashion that even…

(And What’s a Pantser?)

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You’ve likely heard the debate between two basic camps of writers: those who swear by outlining and those who shun it, instead discovering their story organically as they go.

Which is right?

Well, both. And neither.

Outliners swear by the idea that if you think through the entire story from start to finish, you’ll be able to write a pretty solid book in your first draft. The story will have a better shape, it won’t be directionless, and you won’t waste time wandering around and driving into ruts and having to back up. …

A Simple Tool for Ratcheting the Tension & Keeping Your Readers

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I’ve read countless manuscripts from beginning writers that go something like this:

Mary and Steve sit around talking and talking and talking. Maybe they’re eating something and they talk about the food. Great cookies, he says. Thanks, she replies. I tried a new recipe.

They might be walking around the streets of some city (often New York, maybe San Francisco), and we get the surroundings described a lot. (Honking cars, smog, whatever.)

We have background information on the characters’ lives dropped in from the sky — what’s often called an info dump.


I yawn. At this point, I keep reading…

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A few weeks into the pandemic, a friend (F1) caught COVID. She lived about a one-minute drive from me, and we’d gone on weekly walks together for a couple of years.

Because of lockdown in March of 2020, our walks stopped, and I didn’t know F1 had gotten sick until I saw a post on social media about a mutual friend (F2) — one I met more than a decade before my walking buddy — who’d driven about an hour and a half round trip to bring F1 something to cheer them up during the illness.

Until that moment, I…

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How Does Jail Time Sound?

I’m a big fan of shows like Dateline, especially when they get into legal nuances.

Consider involuntary manslaughter and negligent homicide. I won’t parse the differences; for the moment, they both work as a crime where someone is criminally responsible for another person’s death. That means the charge carries jail or prison time.

Remember, these aren’t premeditated, coldblooded murders. Rather, they’re situations where someone’s action or inaction led to another person’s death. Even though that death wasn’t something the first person intended, wanted, or planned, they’re still responsible for causing it.

And they usually end up with jail time.

Some examples:

If a driver is texting and hits a pedestrian…

And You’re Using Them Wrong

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Senator Mike Lee has been in the news a lot of late, and one of the reasons woke my inner word nerd right alongside my inner American, and I must set things straight.

No, this isn’t about how he attended the Rose Garden ceremony and later tested positive for COVID-19. It’s not even about how he whined on Twitter that no one was mentioning that all attendees had tested negative before the event.

Caring for Sick Family & NOT Getting Sick Yourself

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The pandemic is far from over, despite promising signs in May and June of lower trends. The virus is raging back worldwide as autumn arrives and school is back in session (in some format).

And things won’t be getting better — not with flu season around the corner.

When my husband and 21-year-old daughter came down with COVID-19, we had a lot to learn on the fly, especially in hopes of keeping myself and my high-school daughter from getting sick too.

Here are some of the things we did that worked.

HUGE CAVEAT: I’m very aware that we are in…

Annette Lyon

USA Today bestselling & award-winning author of women’s fiction & romance. Word nerd. Chocoholic. Mom.

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