Posts Tagged ‘Teaching’


Although I try to keep this blog strictly related to writing, sometimes I like to veer off track a little. A couple of things have combined to inspire this particular post–mainly the passing of my thirty-sixth birthday a few weeks back–which apparently has caused me to ponder some things.

I don’t have children, and that is a choice I made at 22. At that age, doctors (or at least my doctor) refused to give me the snip despite my certainty that I’d never change my mind on the matter. I’ve made no effort since to get the cobra de-venomized–mostly out of laziness–and gratefully, I’ve fathered no children–that I’m aware of–in the meantime. That was almost 15 years ago, and I still haven’t changed my mind–but I will admit to having a kind of biological desire to pass something on.

So… on this long, hot, boring day, I’ve made a list of things I’ve learned–both from experience and from the experiences of others–that I’d like to think I’d take the time to teach my child–if I had ever had one.

Don’t judge me. Raising rhetorical children is no easy task. Why, I’ve spent almost an hour and a half on the little bastard today alone. This is my imaginary child, and I will raise it as I see fit.

But seriously…

101 Things I’d Like to Teach My Child

#1. Never let anyone tell you something isn’t funny. If you’re laughing, it is, in fact, funny.

#2. Age and wisdom are not necessarily synonymous with each other.

#3. Blood isn’t always thicker than water.

#4. If you set out to “get even,” don’t expect it to go as planned.

#5. Anyone who tries to isolate you from your friends and family is giving you the first warning of abuses to come.

#6. Insecurity is the root of the majority of all character flaws.

#7. Next to an absolute refusal to fail, integrity will take you further than anything.

#8. There are just as many people who will help you as there are who will hinder you.

#9. If you have no self-respect, it’s your own fault.

#10. Inspiration is a flake.

#11. Responsibility is a verb. Admitting fault is just the first step. Fixing the damage is key. If the damage is irreparable, accept that and learn from it.

#12. Never let anyone threaten you. And veiled threats are still threats.

#13. The underestimation of others’ intelligence is the ultimate practice of stupidity.

#14. Don’t maintain relationships with people who have no loyalty to you.

#15. Insecurity is absolutely a choice. And it’s a lazy choice.

#16. Yes, there are such things as grown men who need to talk to their mothers every day, and no, you do not need to be one of them.

#17. If you want to be respected, do respectable things.

#18. Before you criticize another person’s behavior, be sure you’re not guilty of the same thing.

#19. No matter how many times you watch a bad movie, it will still suck.

#20. Listen to people when they speak about their relationships with others. People tell you all the time who they really are.

#21. Choosing your company wisely isn’t self-righteous. It’s vital to good health and an industrious life.

#22. People come and go. Let them.

#23. Never think you’re so unique that the rules don’t apply to you, and never think bad people will make exceptions for you.

#24. If you want something, expect to work damned hard for it.

#25. There is a price for everything. Everything.

#26. If someone hurts you and apologizes for it, let the hurt go and forget the incident. If they do the same thing a second time, they are abusing you.

#27. Forgiveness is not saying something is okay. Forgiveness is the choice to let go of resentment.

#28. Sometimes you have to remove a person from your life in order to forgive them. That’s okay, but always forgive.

#29. You don’t owe anyone anything, and no one owes you anything.

#30. Don’t accept gifts from anyone who wants something in return.

#31. Envy is ugly at best and cancerous at worst. Never indulge in envy.

#32. You are not responsible for anyone’s feelings but your own, and no one has so much power that they should be allowed to dictate yours. Own yourself.

#33. Never let anyone tell you what to believe. Be silent, ask tough questions, and trust your instincts to tell you the truth.

#34. Make friends with people who possess the qualities you want for yourself. Step up, not down, and never let anyone tell you that’s arrogant or judgmental.

#35. Never let anyone invade your personal space, not even me.

#36. There will come a time in life when you’re given a choice between doing what others expect of you and choosing to be true to who you are. Choose to be who you are. It’s harder, but you’ll never know personal fulfillment if you don’t do it.

#37. It’s none of your business how people perceive you.

#38. Flattery only works when it’s genuine.

#39. Happiness is a feeling, and all feelings come and go. Acceptance is the closest you’ll ever come to a permanent sense of happiness.

#40. You don’t have control over other people and only fools think otherwise.

#41. There is a different between ignorance and stupidity. Ignorance is the lack of knowledge. Stupidity is a decision to remain ignorant.

#42. No matter what you love to do, there’s a way to make money doing it.

#43. You cannot control what other people think of you.

#44. Love is as much a commitment, a decision, as it is an emotion.

#45. Being at the mercy of your mood is one of the most self-defeating habits one can adopt.

#46. Never allow your children to openly criticize other adults. It makes everyone look stupid.

#47. Just because you have the constitutional right to express your opinions doesn’t mean you have to. Never let anyone tell you that you’re obligated to any cause.

#48. Life has enough drama. Avoid people who bring chaos and upset into your life.

#49. People who aren’t secure enough to introduce their friends to each other are questionable.

#50. You have control over your actions… and nothing or no one else.

#51. Don’t assume you can disrespect a person because they are in your house, and don’t allow anyone to disrespect you because you are in their house.

#52. You are not responsible for anyone’s actions but your own.

#53. Be leery of anyone who tells you how nice and trustworthy they are.

#54. The choices you make every day–large and small–will determine how your life turns out and who you become.

#55. If there is a devil, fear is his greatest tool, and if there is a god, forgiveness is his.

#56. Sometimes the line between honesty and cruelty is a thin one. Err on the side of kindness.

#57. Open as many doors for other people as possible. This is the best way I know of to get ahead.

#57. Addiction doesn’t die, it simply changes form.

#58. Always sincerely congratulate others for their successes.

#59. Very successful people have worked hard for it. Never assume they got lucky.

#60. Never say you don’t have time to read. We all know this is bullshit.

#61. Never, ever complain about your spouse. It makes you look foolish.

#62. Never assume doctors have your best interest at heart.

#63. There are things you can change about yourself, and things you can’t. Determine the difference and accept yourself.

#64. Never assume anyone is wiser than you.

#65. Figure out who you are before you’re thirty. Being a lost soul at fifty is laughable.

#66. Bitterness is a choice.

#67. If you work hard and accomplish your goals, the fear of age will not own you.

#68. You can’t replace a person with anyone else.

#69. If you feel like no one ever listens to you, try doing what you say you’re going to do. People hear integrity.

#70. The ego is weak, ineffectual, and it cannot sustain you. Go deeper.

#71. Humility is an indication of intelligence.

#72. You cannot be good at everything, nor do you need to be.

#73. Don’t enable others, and don’t allow others to enable you.

#74. Whether or not God exists, prayer works.

#75. Fear lies.

#76. Exercise is not over-rated.

#77. Soulmates exist.

#78. The universe is on its own time-frame. You won’t always get what you want when you want it.

#79. Don’t pick and choose biblical references. If you’re going to bring the bible into it, bring it all.

#80. There’s no such thing as casual sex.

#81. Before you set out to “teach someone a lesson,” ask yourself when the last time was that someone taught you a lesson.

#82. Make a list of daily goals and adhere to them. Over time, you’ll be amazed.

#83. Revenge only works on TV.

#84. Don’t throw the first punch… and don’t hold back once it’s been thrown.

#85. People know when they’re being manipulated.

#86. Think critically before forming an opinion. That way you won’t be that dumb ass who can’t seem to make up his mind about even his most basic perceptions and beliefs.

#87. If someone takes an interest in you, rest assured they want something, but don’t assume it’s something entirely self-serving either.

#88. The world will always want fantasy, glamour and romance. There are a million ways to work that to your advantage.

#89. Know the difference between business and pleasure and don’t mingle with those who don’t.

#90. If you want to go places, find out what people want and deliver it.

#91. Life is approximately 5% chance and 95% free will.

#92. The best way to age gracefully is to make it your goal to be a better person this year than you were last year.

#93. There will always be someone in your life who thinks everything needs to be done their way. Let them. It’s fun to watch them gape in stupid surprise when no one obeys.

#94. “Brushing your teeth” is a figure of speech. You need to clean your whole mouth.

#95. Trying to be unique is anything but unique.

#96. Don’t rush to lose your innocence. Once it’s gone, it doesn’t come back.

#97. People who have no heroes are either entirely without direction, or way too cynical.

#98. No matter the price, never let anyone own you.

#99. There’s always a choice. Always.

#100. Better to be naïve than jaded.

#101. Don’t allow people to misuse you. Simply don’t stand for it.

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When I contacted Jack Weyland, asking him if he’d be interested in doing an interview for my blog, he responded to me the very next morning, apologizing for not getting back to me sooner. I’d expected to spend at least a few days worrying over whether or not he’d be interested in this, so I was pleasantly surprised by his quick, kind reply. He has been a successfully published author since I was three years old, and it isn’t every day that you get an e-mail from someone like that, so this was particularly thrilling for me.

Jack Weyland is the author of more than two dozen novels, over fifty short stories, and with his massively popular debut novel, Charly, he is often credited as being largely responsible for the popularization of the modern Latter-day Saint themed fiction genre. Along with a successful career as a novelist, he has spent much of his life as a professor of physics.

For more about Jack, check him out at: http://www.jackweyland.com/

Q: How did people respond when you first told them you wanted to write LDS fiction?

A: One of my English teachers asked, “You’re not serious, are you?” That was certainly a reasonable response since I was a graduate student in physics, had only taken a couple of classes in college that involved creative writing, and certainly had not impressed him with my writing. (For good reason I might add.)

Q: In your novels, we often meet mismatched couples trying to find middle ground despite their personal and extraneous differences. What is it about this theme that interests you?

A: That seems characteristic of most marriages. Husbands and wives often don’t think the same. It’s bridging those differences that brings greater appreciation of each other. And it’s good for their kids. If you can get a husband and a wife to agree on a set of actions for their kids, it’s probably the right choice.

Q: When I read Charly, I admit it… I cried. Was it as emotional for you to write it as it was for us to read it?

A: It was. At the time I was writing Charly, my dad was battling cancer. By the time I finished the book, he had died. My feelings of loss and grief were transferred into the book. I remember one scene, when Charly was near death, where I was crying as I wrote it.

Q: Charly was made into a movie in 2002. How did you feel about that? Were you happy with the movie?

A: Over the years before the movie was made, I had been contacted many times by people who wanted to do a movie of Charly. But for the most part they’d call, we’d talk, and that was the last I ever heard from them. So when Adam Anderegg contacted me, it didn’t occur to me that he might actually do a movie. He did one thing though that none of the others had done. He drove up to Rexburg and took my wife Sherry and me to dinner. So that set him apart from the others! And that was just the beginning. Adam and everyone at Kaleidoscope Pictures did an excellent job! They had me read sample scripts throughout the process of rewriting the script and always asked for my input. I am grateful to them for preserving the story. Janine Gilbert wrote all the versions of the scripts. I am extremely pleased with what she came up with. That’s why I often say that the movie is better than the book.

Q: Adam’s Story is the sequel to Charly and Sam, where we finally get to learn what happened to their only son. When you were writing Charly and Sam, did you know you would one day write Adam’s Story, or was it something you decided to do much later?

A: The thought that I should write about Adam came to me one time when I was watching the movie Charly. I asked myself, “W hat about Adam? What happens to him? How is his life going to be different having had such a remarkable mom as Charly? Or will he even know anything about her?”

Q: When I was in school, I always used to see these kids walking around with books like Charly, Sam, Stephanie, and Kimberly. I also saw a billboard on a freeway for Charly in Salt Lake City a few years back. What does it feel like to have garnered that strong of a response to your work?

A: First of all, we were at that time living in Rapid City, South Dakota when many of my books were published. Few of the people I worked with at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology knew I wrote fiction. Once a year, I’d fly to Utah to sign books. It was like I had a secret life. When I was in South Dakota, writing was my secret identity. When I was in Utah, being a physics professor was my secret identity. So it all worked out! But even then it did occasionally hit me that my writing had touched a lot of lives. I always cherished the letters I received from youth who said my books had helped them with some of their challenges.

Q: Many people have credited you for being largely responsible for the popularization of the LDS Fiction genre. How do you feel about that?

A: lucky! A few weeks before I sent a copy of Charly to Deseret Book, they decided they would start publishing fiction. However, when they read my manuscript, it was painfully apparent it wasn’t good enough to be published, but since for ten years before that time I had several short stories published by The New Era, I had the reputation of being good at revising. So they decided to work with me. For a brief time I was the only fiction writer for Deseret Book! That didn’t last of course. I’m grateful for the experiences I have had as a writer.

Q: What is your writing process like? Do you write outlines beforehand, or do you just find a starting point and go?

A: I’ve done it both ways. When I’m looking for something to write, I often sit down and write dialogue. No descriptions. No plot lines. Just dialogue. It’s like getting to know someone by sitting next to them in a café and listening to them talk (which I also do). Occasionally I realize these fictional characters are interesting people and I should get to know them better. So I start a rough draft, again, mostly dialogue. Here are some novels came from that process: Jake; A New Dawn; As Always, Dave. Some of my books came about when a young woman who’d gone through a difficult experience wrote and asked me to write about her experience I’d hire her as a consultant then built a fictional story around her experience. Here are some in that category: Sara, Whenever I Hear Your Name; Megan; Emily; Brittany; Ashley and Jen.

Q: You are a best-selling author, as well as a professor of physics. Are there any similarities between those two lines of work? And which field of work do you prefer and why?

A: For me the good thing was that physics doesn’t tire me out for writing, and vice versa. They seem to require different parts of my brain. One carry-over for physics is that I wrote silly songs for every physics chapter that made it more fun for the students. The truth is I can write only about two hours a day, so the physics gives me something else to do with my time. Also, I was found that I was able to explain the principles of physics so that anyone can understand. Besides that, physics can be fun! I loved doing demonstrations in class. It’s like bringing a new toy to class every day.

Q: Who are some of your favorite authors?

A: Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, Neil Simon and David McCullough. Neil Simon especially was a big influence in my life. The decision to write every day came after seeing a Neil Simon play on Broadway while in New York for a physics conference. I decided, “I think I’ll write a Broadway play.” It never occurred to me that seeing a Broadway play isn’t usually considered a preparation for writing a Broadway play. I tried to sell the play with no success and then decided to turn it into a novel. That novel is Charly.

Q: Of all your characters, do you have a favorite, and why is he or she your favorite?

A: Charly. Why? Because my wife Sherry is a convert from New York, just like Charly.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: I have written a Dr. Seuss-like Christmas poem called “Gerald Giraffe.” Natassia Scoresby, a talented artist, has illustrated the book. We are in the process of finding a publisher. Also, I am working with Steven Spiel to adapt my novel “A New Dawn” into a stage musical. I have also recently written a novel for married couples. “Heather 101″ can be downloaded from the Deseret Book website. In addition, I have a new self-published novel called “Mackenzie for Congress.” It can be downloaded from Amazon.com

Q: What do you consider the highlight of your writing career?

A: One of the great thrills has been to be in the audience when the movie Charly was being shown. Also, BYU-Idaho once did a comedy stage play of mine called “Jack Weyland’s Home Cooking.” I love to hear people laugh because of something I’ve written. Sherry and I attended every performance of the play.

Q: When you look back on your life, do you feel like your journey as a writer was pre-destined/meant to be?

A: I have no other explanation for what has happened to me than that. It seems so improbable to me even now.

Q: What makes you laugh out loud?

A: That’s not the right question. The right question is what do you most enjoy from your writing. The answer is: to be near Sherry when she is reading one of my manuscripts. I love to hear her laugh!

Q: What is something about yourself that people might be surprised to know?

A: I once had the calling of being the assistant stake bee-keeper in South Dakota. I loved it! It’s a great church calling because you didn’t have to call the bees together and tell them that the month is nearly over and they need to get out there and collect some pollen. Also, nobody came to check up on us when we were in the field with the bees. To this day I love bees!

Q: If you could pass on one piece of wisdom that life has taught you, what would it be?

A: “Men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves.” (D&C 58: 27-28) It’s good to know that the power is in us to do the things we want to do which may be of some help to someone.


C.J. Cherryh is one of the most prompt, and easy-going people I’ve ever met. When I asked her if she’d like to participate in my recent author interviews, she said, “Sounds great.” I sent her some questions, and within fifteen minutes she’d responded to them all!

She is the author of more than 60 science fiction and fantasy novels, which in and of itself, is astounding. She has several Hugo award-winning novels, and even has her own asteroid: 77185 Cherryh. The folks who discovered the asteroid had this to say about her: “She has challenged us to be worthy of the stars by imagining how mankind might grow to live among them.”  To learn more about C.J., check her website out at: http://www.cherryh.com/

Q: Was there a defining moment in your life when you decided you wanted to be a writer?

A: Pretty well when they canceled my favorite TV show [Flash Gordon, the old serial] and there were no books like that in the library. I was 10.

Q: When you did start writing, were the people around you supportive of you?

A: My mother heard my ambition of the week and said, sternly, a very eye-opening thing: “Do something to eat.” This made me, at 10, wonder how writers got paid, and how they got to be writers. I decided publishers wouldn’t come to me, I had to get to them somehow, and meanwhile I had to eat. Teachers, I thought, had summers off. So I planned to be a teacher, so I could write.

Q: How long after you wrote your first novel did you get published?

A: Twenty years.

Q: How did you celebrate when you first got published?

A: Nobody I knew was home or would be for a week or so. So I went down and spent 200.00 completely redecorating my little office, repainting, putting up a mural, new carpet. And furniture. It wasn’t much. I invited my relatives in to admire it. They were amazed. My mum asked, “What prompted this?” I said: “I sold a book.”

Q: Is it true that early in your career you had to rewrite several manuscripts because the publishers misplaced them?

A: Yep. Moshe Feder found one at Ace, fallen down behind a cabinet, years later, and took it to an editor, who recognized it had long since been published in more than one language. I received it in the mail and couldn’t think what sort of fan would give you such a gift—I didn’t even recognize the typing: it was that old. Then I realized it was one of the old ones. I didn’t hear the whole story until Moshe told me his half of it at a convention. They lost that one 3 times.

Q: When you first began writing science fiction, was it difficult for you due to the fact that the majority of sci-fi writers were male?

A: I had no idea. I’d never been stopped from being or doing anything because I was female, except being shunted into a detestable home ec class instead of shop (but I still have all my fingers) and realizing I couldn’t fly fighter jets (but my vision wouldn’t let me do it anyway.) I write under initials because that’s the way my addy stamp was made up, because (the third reason) I lived in a rough neighborhood and didn’t like having a solo female name on the door. I’d have met them in the hall with a Persian saber—I competed in fencing—but I didn’t intend to let rascals even get the idea.

Q: Your writing voice is unique and especially powerful. What can you tell us about how you developed your style?

A: The key is viewpoint—understanding how to ‘be’ the person you’re writing about.

Q: You have won the Hugo Award for Best Novel two times, and the Best Short Story Hugo. What has that like?

A: Really, it’s hard being up for something: you do get nervous. And then I felt bad because I’d beat out some friends who also wanted it really badly.

Q: What does your writing space look like?

A: I have a little recliner beside a window in my bedroom, and I face a telly which provides white noise. I am frequently assisted by a cat.

Q: How many languages do you speak?

A: I know Latin, Ancient Greek, my best ones; can get along in French, once I get it going; and Italian [a Latin student is cheating on that one.] I know a little Russian, can muddle through several Romance languages in Latin, as long as it’s not too wild; and a couple of others.

Q: Do you write anything outside of the Science Fiction genre?

A: Fantasy. Jane and I are talking about collaborating on the next vampire book.

Q: What has your greatest moment as a writer been?

A: I think when I went to my first convention and met people who’d actually read my books.

Q: What is your writing process?

A: I outline a little, because I have a life, and travel, and need to pin the bare bones down so I can remember it. Then I don’t look at that unless I need it and just go forward. If I get stuck I start editing from the beginning. A good shower is really essential to the process, too. If you get stuck, shower.

Q: Which of your own books is your favorite and why?

A: Gate of Ivrel remains dear to my heart; Cyteen is one I’m quite proud of.

Q: What is the best novel you’ve ever read?

A: Hard to say: that varies by my mood. Jane and I read each other’s, and of course we love what we’re working on. Vergil’s Aeneid occupied a lot of my college study: he had a great influence on my sense of expression—Latin’s impressionistic and tricky. He was a great ‘sensory’ writer and it doesn’t come across well in English.

Q: What is the most discouraging thing about being a writer?

A: Isolation. There is NO instant gratification in the writing biz. It’s a long battle with white space. But it’s wonderful when it’s going well.

Q: How large of a role do you play in the marketing of your novels, and what are some of the best marketing strategies you know of?

A: Since NY has not been able to keep up backlist—Jane Fancher, Lynn Abbey and I formed our own e-book company for just the 3 of us, to keep our backlist in print and to experiment with books and stories that the bean-counters who try to dictate to publishers what they CAN buy — might not like.

Q: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

A: I garden, I do fish tanks, I figure skate, I travel, I hang out with my friends.

Q: When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A: In the same month I wanted to be a writer? An astronomer and a fighter pilot. Astronauts weren’t on the horizon yet.

Q: Are you working on anything now, and can you tell us about it?

A: I’m working on a Foreigner book, I’m putting out the Rusalka books (3) as e-books, I’m advising the Audible people who are doing some of my books, I’m talking with Jane about that vampire novel, and meanwhile we’re doing our own covers and conversions, and thinking up other stories.