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view from the top : Numerous trails of Mount Naomi lead through some of the most spectacular alpine scenery found in the intermountain west./ Photo by Melissa Kamis
Today's word on journalism

Tuesday, September 7, 2004

"The First Amendment gives everyone -- including nuts -- free speech,
but free speech has a purpose: that the people may judge for themselves
and bury the nuts with indignation. We fail our founding fathers if we
let blowhards rage on talk radio, in little magazines and in nasty
books without delivering counterattacks.

   -- Barron's, Aug. 9, 2004 (Thanks to alert WORDster John Mollwitz)

North Logan author writes 'clean' romances, maintains playwright company

By Doan Nguyen

March 6, 2004 | NORTH LOGAN -- "People say to me that I have far too much energy," said resident and author Sara V. Olds as she talks about being a writer, mother, mentor and muse.

"If you're going to be busy, why not do something is fun and constructive?" Olds said.

Olds is recognizes herself as many things -- an internationally published author, a manager of her own playwright company, an orchestra teacher, a mother of three children and a wife to her husband. She doesn't consider herself as the typical housekeeper, yet she does consider herself a stay-at-home mom. Originally from Iowa, Olds has only lived in town for about one and a half years. Her busy life as a writer, mother, mentor and muse in Cache Valley has made it her home.

"We could have lived anywhere in the world but we picked this area," Olds said.

Olds has had an opportunity to live in several different countries throughout her lifetime and many states because of her husband's job with computers.

"We wanted to be closer to my parents, and we didn't want to live in Salt Lake.

She said she thinks it is nice to live in an LDS community: "We felt a lot of unkindness towards to us [in Iowa] because we were Latter-day Saints." She said her experience has made her aware of the need to reach out to other faiths.

Olds gets frustrated when she hears people saying that there are LDS people excluding people of other faiths.

"I know there are a lot of LDS people who are trying to not exclude people from other faiths, and a lot of times you never hear about people who are trying," she said. Olds said her ancestors were from Cache Valley and they decided to live in the area because she loves the mountains.

"It's [living in Cache Valley] great for me, I do my plays, storytelling at Book Table, I also teach orchestra at Greenville Elementary. And I do all these things while my husband is here [at home] taking care of my preschooler. I am spoiled!" Olds said, laughing. Her husband is a computer systems analyst and works as a telecommuter from an office at home.

As a writer and playwright Olds does everything with written words. The irony is the other big part of her life, her children who have disabilities with those subjects.

"My middle daughter has a reading disability and a hard time reading and Julia has a difficult time speaking verbally because of her speech
problem. It's very ironic to me.

"One things that's great for us here is the speech program at North Park," Olds said. The program, designed for preschoolers with a speech problems, helps her 4-year-old daughter Julia.

"They didn't have anything like that where we lived in Iowa," she said.

Olds has a master's degree in British history from Texas A&M, and she attended Brigham Young University where she met her husband. Both were in the theater program, she said. There she received her undergraduate degree in geography, specializing in travel and tourism.

"My son (who is now 15) has probably traveled more than every adult teaching at North Cache. We use to joke when by the time he was 2 he would have at least 20,000 miles on his frequent flier program."

Olds said places she has lived are Canada, Bermuda, England, Israel and Spain.

"I got to London when I was 19. I felt like I had been there before," Olds said. Her favorite place is England.

"I've read so many books about it; it just felt like I was home."

Olds is the author of the recently republished Anna: A Farewell to Juarez, a children's novel. The main character is based on Olds' grandmother's true stories that she experienced as a child. The story depicts an American family living in Mexico in the 1900s. The family experiences the effects of the Mexican Revolution.

"They [ the family] were driven out by Pancho Villa and his men," Olds said. She fictionalized images she had of the stories that were told to her as a child in the book.

The book was published by Zapstone Productions and has been available in bookstores since December. Since then, she has sold more 300 copies.

"We are way on track," she said. Olds' goal is to sell at least 1,000 copies within the year.

She said she hopes it could get reviews by newspapers such as the Herald
, but it is "such a slow process," she says.

Olds is also the author of other books such as Brigadier, Lately in England and Yours in Hast.

"I write clean romance," said Olds. "It isn't LDS [Latter-day Saints] romance it's just clean romance.

Olds said LDS romance has people who hold LDS beliefs such as not drinking and smoking. On the other hand clean romance doesn't hold LDS beliefs but also doesn't contain premarital sex. The clean romance books were written with her best friend Roberta Major. People have asked Olds why she hasn't written LDS romance and it is mostly because she has written stories that take place before the LDS church existed.

Olds also recently sent in a young adult novel to Random House Publishing and is awaiting responses on it.

"My whole life is writing and kids," Olds said.

She independently runs "A Play's the Thing!" which is a playwright company that offers written plays for public classrooms. Most are unpaid or volunteer work. The company works in public schools and even though privately run, she said she makes an effort that every child understands that they are important.

"I don't care if they are green or short or small, Catholic, Buddhist, LDS -- what I want is for them to feel good about themselves," she said.

Olds was contracted to write the Christmas play for North Rich Elementary in Lake Town near Bear Lake last year.

"It got the whole town involved," she said.

"I am doing an after-school program at North Park Elementary," Olds said. Aplay that she has wrote for it will appear three timesand the first performance is March 16. The program has involved first- and second-graders for six weeks and consisted of acting workshops taught by her.

As a child Olds has always been a storyteller and "wanted to crawl inside the books." She said she remembers telling stories when she was 4.

"I had imaginary friends and we would go on journeys, luckily my parents had the patience to listen to me about them," she said. Olds started writing stories in fourth grade about horses.

Olds said she hated creative writing classes in high school and in college and how it was structured.

"The trick is to write the story that is in your heart and let it go and let if fly."

She said that it is important to have correct styles when writing a book -- "It's a part of the game." She said for someone who wants to become a writer it's important to learn the business.

"Oh boy, is it a business! But you get use to rejection," she said.

Moments of successes and many ideas keep Olds actively writing.

"Apart of me is that I can't turn the characters off in my head," she said. "There are times when I get really depressed and I think, why am I doing this?"

Olds said that by the time she paid all her bills last year she made found that she made $14.

"It's nothing, but it meant my family didn't have to pay for all the several thousand dollars that went to conferences I attended. I paid for that myself and I was proud."

Olds said she has ideas for at least six to eight more novels. "I keep saying, maybe I'll quit when I get them done," she said.

A concern that Olds has is teachers in schools teaching to the tests.

"I can't count how many teachers have came to me and said, you know I would love you to come in and do a play but I don't have any time because I have to teach to the tests.

"It is criminal," Olds said. "Children who can learn through experiences of the art are being squeezed out.

"I know a second-grade teacher who was told by the state, not to take time out of the day to read to children, as parents we are told to read to our kids 20 minutes a day."

Olds said the statewide problem scares her a lot.

Olds also said she thinks special education programs aren't getting the credit and funding they need and deserve.

"Of course, I have kids in those programs," Olds said.


Copyright 1997-2004 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-1000
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