Tag Archives: family

Lynne Snyder

Last week, my dear friend Lynne Snyder died.

When my daughter approached me, her face had this look like–how do I tell Mom? I knew another person had died. But Lynne? She was just diagnosed with leukemia.  How could this be?

Don’t think you know Lynne? She’s the person who commented so often here on the blog. Always words of encouragement. Man, am I going to miss seeing what she thinks of what Ann Dee or Kyra or I have written.

I love Lynne and I will miss her. She was funny, extremely kind, and man, had she hoed the road. I remember she told me she walked around for a week–in agony–having no idea she had a broken leg (had she broken her femur?). Her writing was incredible. I met her years ago when someone trashed her work–along with the work of many other writers–and she was determined to never write a gain. Then I read her stories. I was blown away. So much talent. She painted (watercolor) and made caramels that would make you cry, they were so good. But what she did best was love people. All people. No matter who they were or what they did. She opened her arms to the world. Lucky for me, I made it into those arms.

I asked a dear friend, DeAnn Campbell to say a few things about Lynne. Here is her tribute.

Years ago, when I lived in Utah, Carol Lynch Williams introduced me to Lynne Snyder. “You should be in a writing group together,” she told us. And so we were. Our small group of three and sometimes four met weekly. We wrote, we critiqued, but we also loved and laughed and cried and shared each other’s lives. I once heard an author say that all writing in its heart is about loss. Now we’ve lost our beloved Lynne Snyder.


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What Matters Most

Have you noticed time streaming, screaming past? Like water through your fingers? Like sand through the hourglass?

Yes, these are the days of our lives.

And once again, I have been reminded how sacred and fragile life is.

A late Sunday night when a child announces a friend is dead.

An email with someone telling me the cancer is back.

A call from a dear friend saying the chemo isn’t working.

Mass shootings.

Mass murders.


You know (oh, you know) I could go on.

But this morning, for just a moment, I want to share what my writing life has done for me.

When I mailed that first novel off so many years ago, I had no idea how my world would open up. At the time I had three babies and was so very shy I couldn’t talk to people. (Really.) I’d worked on the novel called Me and Kelly for several years until I’d realized how it needed to end. When it was very nearly ready to be published, I was on bed rest with my 4th pregnancy and I got a phone call from a guy named Rick Walton. He’d heard about me from a writer named Louise Plummer. Did I want to talk about books and writing?

Yes! I did.

Every day, Rick called me. We spoke for a couple of hours. By the time I went to the critique group run  at his home, Rick was my friend. And at that group I got to know several other people who changed my life. Made my life amazing. I wrote books with some of them. Ran the first really successful writing conference in the Provo, UT area with two of them. Became fast friends with nearly all of them.

The other day, after the telephone call from my dear friend, I realized just how far-reaching my writing life has been. I’ve met teachers in other states who’ve become my friends. Other writers from all over the country who have changed who I am. I’ve gone to school in a place hot as hell, watched my writing career completely stop for seven years, lost loved ones, a marriage, hope. I’ve made more and more and more friends, had my heart broken more times than I can count, agonized over family situations, known editors who I’ve known–without a doubt–wanted me to succeed. Who helped me make my books better and better. I’ve gotten letters from adults about my books. From children. Spoken to translators who have lost children. Learned to love people I thought I would never have anything in common with. I’ve run conferences, been to conferences, accepted awards, been passed over for awards, and all along what has mattered most are the people behind it all.

The people.


I am not who I was when I started that lonely process of writing a middle grade novel. I am better because of the people I know and love.

The best part of my life is my religion and my family. But a very close second is my writing world because it has afforded me so much–the friends I would have never met. Those people who have made my life richer. The people who have been my example. Shared experiences. Shared their love. Who have cared for me, no matter what.

How grateful I am for the people I know.

You all have made me better. I am touched to know you. So grateful I do.




Filed under CLW, Editors, Family, Life

Ten Minute Monday–Family

This morning (it’s Sunday as I write this), after I stepped out of the shower, I heard singing. Sort of marching singing. Coming from outside.

It was Ann Dee. We live a couple of blocks from each other (I know! I can go and visit her, like, any time!). Sam was on her back and they were one person. A happy couple. A mom and son.

I couldn’t yell to Ann Dee as I was nekkid, but I watched them turn the corner and I thought, “Ann Dee is a terrific mother.”

And she is. So kind. So good. So always there for her sweet family.

Now that I’m grown I know lots of strong women who have raised, or are raising, their families well. They seem to do it all. But most important are the children they have decided to raise into competent, loving, smart, good, amazing people.

This makes me think of our characters.

Who has raised that character?
What was that history, that we may never see?
What did Momma love?
Who did Daddy tolerate?
Was Gramma a part of the child rearing?
And Granddaddy, how has he helped?

While we don’t need to know everything about the family our characters come from, knowing some family history gives us reasons for the way our characters may do things.

I almost always write my grandmother into my novels. She’s in nearly every one. Nana was a terrific grandmother. This is no lie, I was her favorite grandchild (Sorry, Kel.). Nanny told a story about how my mom and dad and I came back from Nebraska where I was born. I was tiny and scrawny and weak. My mother handed me to her mother to hold and I wouldn’t let lose. I had ahold around her neck and held so tight Nana actually changed my diapers while I hung from her neck. Don’t ask me how. I don’t know. Don’t ask me why. I don’t know that either. But I wonder if it’s because there was something in that baby who knew that for many, many years she would only be safe with her grandmother.

I miss Nana.

The novel due out next year from Simon and Schuster includes the names of my grandmother and all her siblings: Evie, Lucy, Pearl, Carol, Jimmey (this is Nana!), Buddy and Odie (who was a woman who’s real name was Horton. HORTON!). There was also a baby who lived only a few days (I want his name in the book) and another sister who died from throat cancer when she was older. I don’t know her name, but as soon as I do, she goes into the book, too.

For me, my writing is all about family. Always. The bad and the good. The ugly and the joyous. The icky and the sweet.

So think about the families in your characters’ lives, even if they never show up. I promise this information will answer a lot of questions you may have about your character. And as you dig into your own past you’ll find pieces of joy (or sorrow) to help support your work.

The. End.


Filed under CLW, Exercises, Family, Life

Today is the Beginning of Summer

For me, I mean. School’s out. I just have to submit grades.

And, as with any beginning, I have my goals.

The biggest goal of all is to enjoy.


I’ve never allowed myself to just live.


And I haven’t had the best of times the last few months. I’ve let this influence me. The sadness. The heartbreak.

Before me now is five months–with WIFYR (www.wifyr.com) stuffed in the middle–of enjoying being with Carolina. Taking a trip with a few of my girls. Polishing and organizing. Visiting Rick. Catching up with people I haven’t seen in a while. And writing.

How I love writing. And hate it, too.

And how I love rewriting.

How I love sexy new projects.

I’ve got all that before me.

Plus, guess what? I even jogged today. Not very far. And real slow. R-E-A-L slow. So slowly that Carolina walked beside me and said “Mom. ” And I was like, “Run. A. Head. Pl. Ease.”

I have second hand smoker’s lungs (thanks southern family o’ mine) and so I can’t breathe easily. Is this why I’ve had the cough now for years? (This better not be serious–but the allergy pills didn’t help. The asthma stuff didn’t help. The cough medicine didn’t help.)


What’s before you?

Is it dark?

Can you find light in that darkness?

Is it joy?

Does it include children? Lovers? Books? Friends? Food? Serving? Being served?


Perhaps is should include all of that.

And a good dog.



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Filed under CLW, Depression