Tag Archives: ANWA

1st Place Award!

At the American Night Writers Association (ANWA) Conference in September 2017, I received my first 1st place award in ANWA’s BOB (Beginning of Book) Contest. I’ve won 2nd and 3rd places before, but this is my first time winning 1st place. The award was for my submission in the Middle Grade category, Speakeasy Orphanage. My friend, Chanda Simper, won 2nd place in the Middle Grade category.

Here’s my entry:

     “Del, how long do we have to wait?” Danika whispered, squirming a little more into the small space in the armoire where they hid.
     “Shhh.” Del pushed back slowly. “We don’t want Regina to hear us.” Being small for her age usually had its drawbacks. No one ever believed she was twelve, and the nuns at the orphanage gave her children’s clothes to wear. But Adella couldn’t bring herself to regret her size at that moment. Had she been any bigger, she might not have been able to breathe in the tight space. They were so close she could smell the pizza from lunch on her sister’s breath.
      Why’d you have to make her mad again?”
It was a good question, and her little sister deserved a good answer. Adella wished she had one. She just couldn’t help but speak up sometimes. Mom told her God blessed her with a lot of heart, but no height. Dad used to quote Shakespeare about her. “And though she be but little, she is fierce.”
     “I’m sorry, Dan. Regina was picking on Charlie.”
     “She’s always picking on someone. She’s twice our—”
     “Shhh!”
     Footsteps sounded down the hall, outside the orphanage laundry room. Danika and Adella froze, barely breathing. The steps turned into the basement room, echoing with another set of paces that followed behind.
     “Where did they go?” Regina’s voice sounded far away when heard from the bottom shelf of the closed armoire, but Adella knew she was only a dozen feet away.
     “Kate said she saw them come down here.” The next voice belonged to Ashley, Regina’s partner-in-crime and almost as big of bully as Regina. “Bet she’s lying again.”
     “Maybe they’re hiding in a dryer? We could turn them all on and give them a ride.”
     “Do it!”
     Danika gasped. Hiding in a dryer had been her idea, but Adella had pulled sheets from the bottom shelf and pushed them into the nearest machine. Adella had never been happier she’d followed that little voice inside her head.
     Dryers began turning on, amidst hysterical laughter, as more footsteps circled the room in opposite directions. Despite her outward bravery, Adella’s palms began to sweat. Those girls had mean streaks as long as the matching red-punch-dyed strips in their hair. When the footsteps stopped in front of the armoire, Adella pushed farther into the corner of the cabinet.
Something clicked and then squeaked behind her. Adella prayed it wasn’t a rat.
     No. The back panel of the cabinet was loose and flapping out at the bottom. With her rear, she pushed harder against the back panel to silence the sound, but the entire panel shifted. Too far. Adella’s eyes widened as she grabbed for her sister’s arm. 
     Together, they rolled backward into darkness.
     Lying on her back, the smell of dust and mildew almost made Adella cough, but she forced herself to hold her breath. A foot above her, a dim strip of light wavered as the secret panel shuddered to a stop.

Can’t wait to write this book!

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Be a Light!

The theme for the November 15, 2014 Phoenix Arizona Temple Cultural Celebration is “Be a Light.” As part of my responsibilities on the Phoenix Temple Audio Visual Committee, I’ve been gathering historical images of the early Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Phoenix area. I’ve been amazed at the sacrifice and service of the early saints as they built the first group in Phoenix from nine members who met in a room above Donofrio’s Confectionery to more than 50,000 in the area now.

Donofrio's Confectionery, first meeting place of members in Phoenix AZ
Donofrio’s Confectionery, first meeting place of members in Phoenix AZ

Those early saints were truly a LIGHT to the area through their influence, their unity, and their service and sacrifice. Their beginnings reminded me of this quote from the American Night Writers Association’s (ANWA) website:

“What started with six charter members in the basement of the old Gilbert Arizona Public Library is now an organization poised for world-wide growth, with over 300 members in multiple Chapters located within the five Regions that cover the United States and the World.”

The similarities got me wondering about how we, in ANWA, can BE A LIGHT and apply our forefather’s influence, unity, and service and sacrifice to grow our organization.

INFLUENCE –

My goal for my writing is “Truth and Light in Whatever I Write.” I want my writing to be a positive influence on whoever it reaches. As sisters in ANWA, I believe that is a goal we all share. That common purpose creates a bond, a sisterhood, that’s hard to find anywhere else, and we shouldn’t keep it to ourselves. Reach out. Bring other sisters into ANWA. Spread our influence.

UNITY – kind, positive support, attend, be a part

Early Phoenix Saints stuck together for survival. ANWA sisters meet together for kind, positive support. The friendships we form are almost as important as the writing skills we learn. But that doesn’t happen unless you attend your chapter meetings, join in on retreats and contests, and come to Conference! Don’t miss out on the best part of ANWA—the unity!

SERVICE & SACRIFICE –

Our pioneer ancestors served the community and each other and suffered through Phoenix summers without air conditioning. We in ANWA can’t beat that. But we can volunteer our time, talents, and energy to help ANWA succeed and grow. We can vote in elections. We can volunteer to help our sisters improve and grow their own writing skills.

Give back more than you get, and we will all be blessed as our influence, unity, and service and sacrifice lights the world.

Be a light, ANWA!

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Writing Challenge

You shouldn’t need a megaphone to communicate well. I, I.R. Annie IP. [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Too often novice authors rely only on miscommunication between characters to create conflict in stories. Harlequin editor, Victoria Curran, reminded 2014 ANWA Conference attendees that our conflicts need to be strong enough so that one good conversation between the characters won’t resolve all their problems. But have you considered that your characters can be role models for others, especially children and youth? Have you thought about putting at least one character in your novel, perhaps a mentor or a sidekick, who is an example of a good communicator? We can teach light and truth one word at a time.  Here are some characteristics of a good communicator:

Good communicators apologize when they make mistakes.

Good communicators resolve conflict without confrontation.

Good communicators speak positively and express gratitude.

Good communicators think before they speak.

Good listeners pay attention.

Good listeners don’t interrupt.

Good listeners don’t make judgmental generalizations.

By making one of your characters a good communicator, then the communication errors of your other characters will be more obvious. If the good communicator is a main character, then it will force you to create a conflict that can’t be simply resolved by the characters sitting down and having an honest conversation. Try good communication in your writing—and if not in your writing, try it in your real life!

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Gifts and Goals

By ProjectManhattan (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
By ProjectManhattan (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
In this season of gifts and goals, I’ve been considering how the two things should be related. It’s natural to look at them together; after all, we’ve spent the Christmas season focusing on gifts, and now, a few weeks later, we’re thinking about our goals for the year.

We all recognize that our talents, including our ability to write, are gifts from our Heavenly Father. Just like a gift we receive at Christmas, where the giver hopes that we use his gift, God hopes that we will use the gifts and talents he has given us. However, I believe that  God expects more from us than only using our talent to write. President Spencer W. Kimball said: “God has endowed us with talents and time, with latent abilities and with opportunities to use and develop them in his service. He therefore expects much of us, his privileged children” (The Miracle of Forgiveness [1969], 100).

Three small words, “in his service,” change everything in that quote and prompt me to ask myself a question: When was the last time that I used my talent for writing “in His service?”

Some of you writers are amazing—writing scripts for church productions and beautiful religious music—but I’ve never been given that opportunity. Sure, I’ve used my talent for accounting to help ANWA by serving as Treasurer, but I haven’t used my writing talent “in His service.”

So, I’m hoping that some of you will join me in one of my 2014 writing goals. My goal is to find ways to use my gift for writing to serve God at least once a month. Blogging, writing emails, writing letters, writing family history stories, etc. will all count. Perhaps you’ve thought of others?

Then, when we are using our talents “in His service,” our Heavenly Father will magnify those talents and make us “sharper pencils” in His hands.

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ANWA Conference

Have you registered for ANWA’s Writers Conference? It could change your life. The last few ANWA Conferences have changed mine. In honor of the upcoming learning opportunities, I thought I’d share a few of the classes I attended over the last few years that made such an impression on me.
I only remember one class from my first conference, Marsha Ward’s class on indie publishing. I wandered in there with no intention of being interested in the subject. I really was only there for Marsha. We’d never met, but I’d heard her name enough times over the weekend to be curious. Marsha’s enthusiasm for indie publishing caught my attention, even though I wasn’t interested in it for myself. Back then, I was querying my first novel, Master of Emotion. The process was new and exciting, and I wanted to go the traditional publishing route.
I must have learned more than I remember because I went home and revised my manuscript. The changes improved it and made me want to be published even more.
By the time my second ANWA Conference rolled around, I’d finished my second novel, Once Upon a Tour. I finished the novel about three weeks before conference—just in time to pitch! I learned so much pitching, especially about how hard it is to write a catchy, concise one-sentence summary. The whole process was challenging, but fun. Then, I was still in the proofreading stage with my novel when I sat in on Kelly Mortimer’s class on self-editing. I took her eight page handout home and used it to line-edit my manuscripts. By the time I finished, I had removed 5,000 unnecessary words from each novel. I was shocked and excited by the differences I could see in my writing.
When I finished my third novel, Supreme Chancellor of Stupidity, a few months later, I pulled out my editing handout from conference and cleaned up my manuscript before I had anyone else read it. Word’s Find and Replace commands became my new best friends.
You’d think that serving as ANWA’s Treasurer might have curtailed my class attendance at last year’s ANWA conference, and I’ll admit that I didn’t see every class I wanted. But two sessions helped me in my stage of writing. See, by then I had followed Marsha’s advice and dived into indie publishing, and a month before, I had self-published my first novel as an e-book. To publicize my writing and newly published book, I’d also started a blogspot blog. I was struggling with web issues and with the covers for my second and third novels when Conference jumped in to help. A class on cover design issues and another on online/website promotion answered my questions and inspired me to start a web page at www.dogdenhuff.com . My covers improved as well.
It shocks me how far I’ve come in four years and how critical the ANWA Conferences have been to my success. I now have three indie published novels, available in both e-book and paperback forms. I like my website, and I love my chapter meetings which are filled with funny, talented sisters. ANWA, and especially ANWA Conferences, have truly blessed my life.
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Blog Hop Giveaway!!

Announcing the 2nd Annual LDS Authors Giveaway Hop Featuring Books Written by LDS Authors  Hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer & American Night Writers Association  October 8th to 15th
Announcing the 2nd Annual LDS Authors Giveaway Hop
Featuring Books Written by LDS Authors
Hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer & American Night Writers Association
October 8th to 15th

 

What is a blog hop?

A blog hop is a linky list that is SHARED ON MULTIPLE BLOGS.  When several blogs put the same linky list code on their blog, the exact same list appears on each blog. Blog visitors can submit their entries on any blog that contains the list.  The entries will appear on each blog where the list resides. Blog readers see the same list on each blog, and can “HOP” from blog to blog seeing the same list of links to follow: BLOG HOP!

My Giveaway, to one lucky winner, is a set of two books in my Too Sensitive Series:

Master of Emotion (Book 1) by D. Ogden Huff

Supreme Chancellor of Stupidity (Book 2 ) by D. Ogden Huff
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

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“What’s in it for ME?

I’ll admit it. I agreed to run for Treasurer of American Night Writers Association (ANWA – check us out at www.anwa-lds.com) two years ago because my friend, Faith St. Clair, asked for help. She was trying to accomplish the Herculean task of preparing ANWA for the future. I had a certain skill set as a tax accountant that ANWA and Faith needed. I knew the job would be a lot harder without my help.

That said, looking back, I’m surprised to see the many ways that serving in a leadership role in ANWA has benefitted ME. I’ve been blessed in many unforeseen ways. Maybe it seems selfish, but with the multitude of demands on our time and energy, it’s nice to realize some benefits to ME for volunteering my blood, sweat, and tears.

Maybe you are considering volunteering your time as an officer, director, or committee member in a non-profit organization. If so, you might be interested in “What’s in it for ME?”

Here’s my Top Ten list:

  1. Associating with truly amazing women – The talented women of the ANWA’s Executive Committee and Board of Directors would fit well in any corporate board room or Council meeting anywhere. Not only are they brilliant authors and amazing organizers, but their kindness and compassion is matched only by their sense of humor.
  2. Networking – I met, talked to and worked with agents, editors, famous authors who knew my name (Okay, maybe it was because I was writing their checks, but they still remembered me later.)
  3. Learning – I’ve learned new skills and relearned many more – My professional resume has greatly expanded as I’ve gained the knowledge and experience this job has required.
  4. Organizing – I like to have a say in how things are run. Every month my wish comes true.
  5. Paying – I wouldn’t have been able to go to ANWA’s Writers Conference in 2012 without my Executive Committee discount. My husband had been laid off and money was tight. I appreciated the chance to work the conference.
  6. Paying back – I repaid a debt to ANWA – Being a member of ANWA has taught me so much. My writing has improved dramatically. Now I feel like I’ve paid back a little of what I’ve received.
  7. Friendshipping – I learned the names of my ANWA sisters and then at meetings and conference I made friends. It’s not easy for me to make friends; I’m naturally introverted, so I appreciate being forced to get out of my box.
  8. Publicizing – More people know MY name – Name recognition and branding is important to an author. If the women I met remember me as an intelligent, capable woman, then my volunteer work has helped me.
  9. Laughing – I had FUN! – We laugh A LOT at our monthly Board of Directors meetings, and lack of sleep at Conference has made us downright giddy.
  10. Bragging Rights – Executive Treasurer and/or Board of Directors of American Night Writers Association looks good at the bottom of a query letter.

As long as you are serving through your volunteer work, isn’t it nice that you are blessed too?

I wouldn’t trade my experiences of the last two years for anything. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could say the same thing two years from now?

You can! Just volunteer.

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Two-time 2013 ANWA BOB Contest Winner!

DDDDDDDDDDDDDrumroll, please!

American Night Writers Association (ANWA) holds a Beginning of Book (BOB) contest at its annual writers conference, “Time Out for Writers.” At the 2013 conference held February 21-23, 2013, both of my 500 word entries won awards.

My entry in the Children’s Book category, “Daniel’s Mixed-Up Sports,” won 2nd place!

My entry in the Young Adult category, “Michael 23,” tied for 3rd place with my friend, Heather Romito’s entry!

This makes two years in a row where one of my entries has won an BOB award.

Here’s the first 500 words of Michael 23:

Chapter 1 –Michael 22

Cyanosis. Fatigue. Dyspnea. Luna recognized the symptoms.

As she watched, the blue tinge of Michael’s pale lips grew more pronounced, and he clenched his teeth together to control the audible chattering.  Struggling against the weariness which seduced his eyelids to flutter shut, Michael blinked heavily once and then rubbed his eyes closed with his fingertips.  Luna always felt helpless at this moment, all her efforts to comfort him in vain.

“Bring Michael another blanket,” Luna ordered the young nurse who sat waiting across the room.  A tiny shake of the head and a narrowing of her eyes were the nurse’s only display of impatience, as she stood and walked toward the blanket warming machine built into the cabinets of the stark hospital examination room.  The machine door clicked open and then closed, while Luna pulled off the blanket covering both her and Michael with her one free hand.

“Lay the warm blanket next to his skin and then place the cool one back over it,” Luna instructed, and then helped the nurse to adjust the blankets.

With Luna’s movement, Michael’s eyes fluttered quickly open, the deep midnight of his pupils accentuating the purple circles lying under his dark lower lashes.  Even so near death, his face was full of colors—just the wrong colors—not the normal red of his lips, melting chocolate brown of his eyes, or the warm, natural tan of his skin.  The colors of his face were gone, washed with the purples and grays of an over-watered watercolor.

“I’m not going anywhere,” Luna answered the panic she recognized in his eyes.  With the warm blanket wrapped firmly around them, she readjusted her position more securely against him.  Luna leaned her forehead against his as she stroked his too cool cheek with her free hand.

A day’s worth of stubble scratched her hand comfortingly, despite the fact that she had shaved Michael only an hour earlier.  It was oddly comforting that Michael’s hair follicles didn’t realize he was dying either.  She didn’t think Michael understood.  Hopefully, he never would.  It was already too much that she knew.

“Luna,” Michael’s voice rasped, although his eyes never opened this time.

“Yes, Michael?”

“I … like … green.”  Each word was labored and a whisper.

“I know, Michael.  Don’t talk, dear one.  Save your energy.”

A barely perceptible shake of his head and a tightening around his eyes told her he wasn’t finished with his thought.

“What is … more than … like?”  Every phrase required its own labored, shallow breath.

“What is more than like?” Luna repeated.  “Do you mean what word means ‘more than like?’”

The sparse movement of Michael’s head was a nod, yet his eyes were a sealed tomb.  Luna hesitated.  She knew the answer, but the question surprised her.  In the previous five years, she had answered thousands of questions.

Never that one. 

But Michael was dying—why hold back now?

“Love.   Love means ‘more than like.’” Her voice cracked nervously.

Hope you enjoyed this glimpse into one of my future novels. Check out my progress on the Michael 23 page.

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“Award-winning” MASTER OF EMOTION!

MASTER OF EMOTION won 3rd Place in the ANWA Beginning of Book Contest (Young Adult Category)! Here is my entry if you want to read it.

Chapter 1 – “Sorry.”

It was the same feeling every time. My legs wouldn’t move.

He stood at the end of the crowded middle school hallway, his lifeless eyes boring a hole into me. Eyes of the walking dead. Body of any other pre-teenager. Everyone around us hurried and bustled, completely unaware of him.

He staggered toward me, his head hung low and the hood of his sweatshirt now shrouding his face. Methodically, his feet dragged with every step, as if he forced them on, using perpetual motion to push down the hall. He walked like a pallbearer carries the casket of his dead mother.

I wanted to run, to hide, to get as far away from the school as I could, but my feet had sunk down into the tiles of the hallway as if I wore cement shoes. They wouldn’t even budge. Not even a single crack.

He adjusted the strap of his backpack as we passed. I stood there, unable to move, as the boy’s exposed hand brushed against my bare shoulder. The touch only lasted a millisecond, but it hit me with the force of a collision that ripped through me and doubled me over.

My chest was imploding. Darkness filled my head and my limbs, the pit of my stomach, and choked down my throat.

“Sorry,” he mumbled as passed.

The hallway pushed in on me, squeezing me like a python suffocating its prey, but the world felt distant, like all its inhabitants had turned their back on me. The darkness consumed me, seeped through my skin like thick, cold tar. It filled me with uncontrollable grief and isolation that weighed down my whole frame and soul. I could feel my eyes drying, cracking, from the months of crying the boy had endured. My whole body wanted to escape itself.

I couldn’t live like this. There had to be a way out. I would do anything to make this feeling stop.

I clutched my chest, holding my insides in.

Anything.

 

I sat up in bed, panting, my shirt soaked with sweat. The nightmare seemed as real as that evening, six years ago, when my twin brother found me curled up in the corner of an abandoned classroom, still sobbing and wanting to die.

But I was alive. He had found me in time.

Unlike the boy from the hallway, who they found the next morning, sprawled on his bathroom floor with his stomach full of pills from his mother’s medicine cabinet.

Me? I’ve hardly touched anyone since.

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