More stuff about me

Sometimes I realize that it’s been a few months since I posted anything, so here I am. Happy Wednesday! Okay, so it’s more like, a couple weeks ago I gave a talk at church and really felt like I should share it with the world. Or at least, my world of influence. Whichever. I’m finally getting around to it, and as far as my “finallys” go, this is pretty good.

For those of you who don’t know, I’m a Mormon. That means that I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Note the prominent display of the Savior’s name. Yes. Mormons are Christians.) I grew up in my religion, but I know that in the others out there, for the worship services, the pastor or priest or preacher (whoever) is the one who gives the sermon or whatever it’s called in the various other religions. In our church, each week different members from the local congregations (called wards) are asked by the local leaders to give short talks. So, I gave one of these the last Sunday in July in my ward. I had over a month to prepare (not typical) and my topic was Faith and Hope. Here’s what I said:

“Good Morning, brothers and sisters. If you’ve been here at all this month, I’m sure you know what I’m going to talk about today. That’s right: faith and hope. Speaking at the end of the month, I felt like I should focus more on hope, but sometimes the Lord has other ideas for us than we have for ourselves. So, we’ll just see where this goes.

I’ll start by sharing my current favorite scripture about faith. It’s in Mark chapter 9. There’s a father who has brought his son to a group of disciples to have his son healed, but they can’t do it. Then Jesus returns and asks what’s going on. The father explains and begs for the Savior to heal his son. Here’s verse 23, “Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” And my favorite, verse 24, “And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”

How often do we believe and not believe at the same time? Sometimes I know it all in my head and my heart just can’t quite get there. Sometimes it’s the other way around. Whenever I have those moments, I remember this scripture and I cry out like that father did, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” And He does. Every. Single. Time.

It’s the little things here and there. Like the call from your daughter’s principal in the middle of summer break to say that he realized they made a mistake in the class assignments for next year and it turns out she’s going to have the spunky, smiling teacher you met briefly at the school’s literacy night after all. The one you really wanted her to have for next year because last year’s teacher just didn’t mesh well, and you don’t want your kid to hate school.

Or the time you finally realize that you want to go to a writers’ conference and find out that there is an awesome and affordable one near you. Then you go and find a whole community of people who actually understand you.

Or the time when you’re half complaining to yourself about always getting stuck with the same calling and never having the chance to grow in different ways and then out of nowhere you’re called as the new ward choir director, which is completely and utterly terrifying because even though you’ve been playing the piano for 29 years, you don’t really know how to lead music and you hate being the center of attention and being in charge. But you say yes anyway because isn’t that what you were just asking for in your prayers? New ways to grow?

So, whenever I ask for it, the Lord builds my faith through these little things. Because little things are important. Don’t believe me? Let me read Alma 37:6 “Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass;…”

And if you need something more recent, President Oaks’ last conference talk was titled “Small and Simple Things.” He said, “We need to be reminded that in total and over a significant period of time, seemingly small things bring to pass great things.” He showed us pictures he had taken of sidewalks cracked from tree roots. And reminded us that all the little things, the simple, daily things we should do will take us where we want to go, but sometimes it’s hard to see our progress now.

Likewise, he cautioned us that other little things that aren’t important will lead us away from our desired destination. He said, “President Wheelwright gave a similar caution to his BYU-Hawaii audience: ‘It is in failing to do the small and simple things that faith wavers, miracles cease, and progress towards the Lord and His kingdom is first put on hold and then begins to unravel as seeking after the kingdom of God is replaced with more temporal pursuits and worldly ambitions.'”

So, what are some of these simple things we should do? We pray, read and study the scriptures, attend church and the temple, have family home evening. We pay our tithing, live the Word of Wisdom, keep the commandments. Repent constantly. Be cheerful and joyful. Help others. Minister to our neighbors. Share the gospel. Make new friends. Smile more. Sing.

Now this led me to an interesting place. And this morning you all have had a peek into the workings of the mind of a writer, and we’re all going to keep going on that journey for a little while longer. The next thought I had was that wonderful quote, which I had to look up to get it exactly right and to properly credit it, about doubting your doubts. It’s from Elder Uchtdorf’s October 2013 conference talk. Here’s the exact quote: “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters -my dear friends- please, first doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.” But what does that look like?

Bear with me. Let’s take a look at a little dystopian series you may have heard of: The Hunger Games. Now, I didn’t rewatch the movies last night to double-check that this made it into them, but I know it’s in the books. So, if you haven’t read them, but you saw the movies, and this isn’t in there, you’ll just have to take my word for it. The main character is a young woman named Katniss. There comes a point where she has been through so many traumatic events that she’s starting to lose her mind. She doesn’t know what’s real anymore and she panics a lot. To help her calm down, she lists the things she knows. She starts with her name.

If/when you have doubts of any kind, doubt them first. Don’t doubt your faith. Don’t doubt what you already know. Start by listing the things you know, maybe even your name. You are a child of God, after all. Children have names. If you were born in the Church, chances are high that you were even given a name and a blessing as a baby. There’s one name. If you’ve been baptized, you’ve taken upon you the name of Christ. There’s another name. Just like that, you have two different names and you know you’re a child of God.

That brings us to hope. (Finally) The Guide to the Scriptures defines hope as “The confident expectation of and longing for the promised blessings of righteousness. The scriptures often speak of hope as anticipation of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ.” Hope and faith are so intertwined that you just can’t have one without the other. And so, I’ll leave you with this last scripture. 2 Nephi 31:20 “Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.” In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.”

Not sure why I needed to share this with all of you, but every day I try to be better about actually doing the things that come to mind. So, if any of you want to know more about Mormons, you can ask me, or any other Mormon you know (you probably know at least one). Or you can flag down a pair of missionaries. Or you can visit this awesome, friendly website: Mormon.org

 

Who am I?

Around Christmas, my brother-in-law sent me a link to a personality test. Honestly, I’ve always been a sucker for those, so I decided to try it out. This one was a Myers-Briggs type. You know, the one with the four letters? I did one my first semester of college as part of my communications class a million (or 17) years ago. I hadn’t really been feeling much like my same self lately, so I was very curious to see what the results would be. Had my personality changed as I had grown and matured? Did it transform through the experiences of my life? I was a little nervous. I view my personality as the very core of my personal identity. It’s what makes me, me. And so, with a mix of excitement and trepidation, I started answering the comprehensive list of questions about myself.

It took me a good amount of time to go through them all (because I put a lot of thought into them) and one question has crossed my mind often since then: “You rarely worry about how your actions affect other people.” My initial thought was that I strongly agree because I don’t care what other people think about my choices, as in, I don’t let other people unduly influence me. I am my own person. But then there was this one: “You often feel as if you have to justify yourself to other people.” Obviously not. But it made me think about the first one more. And maybe it was in something else I read later, too, about my actual personality type. Because when it comes down to it, I do care about the effects my actions have on others, which is why I tend to think before I speak and act.

By now, I’m sure you’re dying to know my results. Good news. They were the same as in college. Hooray! I’m still me. I am an INFJ. That happens to be the rarest of the Myers-Briggs types, less than 1% of the population. Here’s what the letters stand for: I=Introverted, N=iNtuitive, F=Feeling, J=Judging. If you want to read all about what it means to be an “Advocate”, click on this link: 16personalities.com/infj-personality. While you’re there, you can also take your own free test. Maybe you’ll be an “Adventurer” like my brother-in-law, a “Commander” like my husband, an “Executive” like my father, or even an “Advocate” like me.

You’re probably wondering what brought this on five months after the fact. Well, this weekend I’m going to my first writers conference. I never wanted to go to one before. I like doing my own things by myself. (ahem, introvert, perfectionist, etc, etc.) BUT, I’m a Mormon. Have been my whole life and I have a deep, strong testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. One of the things Jesus taught was a parable about talents. In an effort to share and further develop my talents, I have been doing new (and sometimes terrifying) things. For example, a couple weeks ago, I sang a solo during Sacrament Meeting in my ward (local congregation). It wasn’t the first time I’ve ever sung a solo (it’s a super rare thing for me to do, though), but it was the first time here. I usually share my musical talents by playing the piano. That way I don’t know that people are looking at me, and I can pretend that I’m not the center of attention. The next talent I needed to focus on developing was my writing. I’ve felt, for a very long time, directed by the Lord to write. (And just sharing that one sentence with you all is a huge deal for me. Did I mention that I’m an INFJ? An intensely personal person? I don’t like sharing my deep thoughts and feelings with others.) To write my books. Really whatever I imagine, because my imagination is a gift from God. I feel that it’s how I have been called to share my testimony of the Restored Gospel with the world.

But how could I do that if the only people who read my books, are the people who already know me? The people who know me already know how I feel about God. I have to find a way to reach a wider audience. Enter the dreaded writers conference. The thing I never wanted to do. In February, I found one that would be held twenty minutes away from where I live, for less than $300, including meals. Price and location were perfect. Dates were good. I looked at the schedule. Holy cow. People I’ve heard of. Presentations by authors whose names I remembered. (It’s possible that I read too many books and don’t remember the names of the authors that I read. I remember book titles.) Now I was actually excited. Now I wanted to go. All I had to do was wait a few days for our income tax refund to get in so I could pay for my registration. Dun dun dun. Devastation awaited me. The money came. Excited, I opened the website and clicked on the registration page…sorry. Registration is full. Please join the waitlist. I did. Immediately. And waited. And waited. And the money went to pay rent. (My husband is currently a car salesman which is an incredibly financially stressful job. I can tell you, the only way we have survived is because we always pay our tithing. And I mean that more this month than any other month before in my entire life. We paid our tithing on our latest paycheck just before rent would be due. And the amount of tithing left us short on rent. But that same night, finally someone bought my keyboard for that amount.) Now the money was gone. I was sure I wasn’t going. Then amazingly, after two months of waiting, after giving up hope, I got an email that a one-day slot had opened up. Even more amazing, there was money to pay for it. If I took that slot, my name would stay on the list in case a full two-day space opened. You better believe I jumped right on that as soon as possible. Then about a week and a half later, I got the news about a full slot being available. I was in!! I couldn’t believe it.

I don’t know what miracles or tender mercies the Lord has in store for me this weekend, but He definitely made it possible for me to attend my first writers conference. And if you don’t hear from me again for a while, just know that this INFJ is probably recovering from a weekend of peopling. 😉

A little interview to get things rolling

Lucina M. Huff

The extras page is where I’ll share stuff about me! So, if there’s something you’re dying to know about your new favorite author, go ahead and ask me. I just might answer. In the spirit of this, here’s a little interview I gave myself:

When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?

Well, I’m a stay-at-home mom, so most of my time is spent taking care of my girls. Other than that, I read a lot of books and watch a lot of Netflix. I crochet various types of things and make beaded and chainmaille jewelry, mostly bracelets, necklaces, and earrings.

What do you read for pleasure?

Novels. Mostly of the young adult variety. They’re usually a safe bet for cleanliness. But I also really like fantasy stuff, and paranormal stuff. And Jane Austen and Charles Dickens.

What is your e-reading device of choice?

Kindle, all the way. I have a Kindle Fire. What I love the most is that I can read my book on the Kindle, or my phone, or my computer, or my husband’s phone, (you get the idea) and I don’t have to find my place again.

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?

I grew up in Tacoma, WA, a beautiful place in the Pacific Northwest. It’s a decent-sized city, just south of Seattle. I don’t know that the city I grew up in had a big impact on my writing, but the home I grew up in totally did. I have two older brothers, and a mom and dad who are still married. My mom was able to stay at home and raise us kids. We all read a lot of books, and pursuing your dreams was always encouraged. I was never laughed at for wanting to be a writer. I was never told “That’ll never happen.” But probably the biggest influence my home had on my writing is our religion. I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I’m a Mormon, and I write according to my values.

What motivated you to become an indie author?

Heh, well that’s an easy question to answer: control. As an indie author, I get to choose how to present my stories, what to edit, and how to write. I get to choose the available formats and the price. I don’t have to put up with anyone telling me I need to add some sort of smut to my stories to make them sell. It’s my story; I want to tell it my way. Being an indie author lets me do that.

How do you approach cover design?

In the past, my friend did my covers for me. She’s taking her art in a different direction these days, so new covers will be coming. More details out soon.

What are you working on next?

The sequel! Although, it’s not your traditional sequel. It’s more like the story from Alekzander’s point of view.

What’s the story behind your latest book?

*gasp* if I told you that, I’d have to kill you. Just kidding. No spoilers! Way back when I was in middle school, I had this idea about a girl who was from a different planet , but living here. The story was really cheesy, but my friends played along with me, all choosing different characters. Then when I went to college, I was like, this story has great bones, but really, it needs a make-over.

What is your writing process?

Writing process? What’s that? I’m kidding. I have a very analytical mind, so I have a lot of charts and notes. I have a really hard time writing out of chronological order, so I have different files for when later scenes come to mind. Then when I catch up to them, I add them in. I reread a lot of what I’ve written. It makes me happy. I’ve read that you really shouldn’t do that if you ever want to finish what you’re writing, but that’s my process. I like it, so I’ll probably stick with it.

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?

Seeing the stories from my imagination come to life for other people to enjoy. I mean, I like them, but sharing them with others is really special. Plus when I write, I’m actually living one of my greatest dreams. (The other one is to be a mother, which I get to live everyday.)

Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?

I don’t remember the very first story I ever read, but one of them was Charlotte’s Web. I think it was my first chapter book, and my dad read it to me at bedtime. My dad impacted me more than any book (besides scriptures). For the longest time, the Christmas present that I knew was chosen by dad was a new book.

Describe your desk

I used to have a desk. Then my husband got this mini computer and hooked it up to the tv. Now I have an Ikea desk chair and a laptop stand that I use for my keyboard and notes.

When did you first start writing?

I’m pretty sure I was in second grade when I started writing stories. And I haven’t ever stopped.

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?

My family. And my alarm clock.

How do you discover the eBooks you read?

I find most of my eBooks on my Kindle, particularly in the Kindle Unlimited library because I read like I watch TV.