Monday, October 20, 2014 | By: Taffy

Good Monday Morning

I'm not sure why, but this advice hit home today.



Hilary Mantel, winner in 2012 for Bring Up the Bodies and in 2009 for Wolf Hall.











“Concentrate your narrative energy on the point of change. This is especially important for historical fiction. When your character is new to a place, or things alter around them, that’s the point to step back and fill in the details of their world. People don’t notice their everyday surroundings and daily routine, so when writers describe them it can sound as if they’re trying too hard to instruct the reader.”
Monday, October 13, 2014 | By: Taffy

Good Monday morning!

Ah! Monday. When the week starts out fresh, you're not behind on your to-do list yet and pumpkin spice bagels are in the stores. :)  Hopefully, you find yourself writing today!


Today I present 10 rules on writing from Teju Cole. Follow the link for more!
  1. There are few things more resistant to tutoring than the creative arts. All artists are after that thing that resists expression.
  2. Keep it simple. There are many who use big words to mask the poverty of their ideas. A straightforward vocabulary, using mostly ordinary words, spiced every now and again with an unusual one, persuades the reader that you’re in control of your language.
  3. Remove all clichés from your writing. Spare not a single one. The cliché is an element of herd thinking, and writers should be solitary animals. We do our work always in the shadow of herd thinking. Be expansive in your descriptions. Dare to bore.
  4. Avoid adverbs. Let the nouns, adjectives and verbs carry the action of the story.
  5. When reporting speech, it is enough to say “she said” or “he said.” You must leave “he chortled,” “she muttered,” “I shouted,” and other such phrases to writers of genre fiction.
  6. Aim for a transparent style so that the story you’re telling is that much more forceful.
  7. Read more than you write. In expressing the ambition to be a writer, you are committing yourself to the community of other writers.
  8. Your originality will mean nothing unless you can understand the originality of others. What we call originality is little more than the fine blending of influences.
  9. Be ruthless in your use of what you’ve seen and what you’ve experienced. Add your imagination, so that where invention ends and reality begins is undetectable.
  10. Be courageous. Nothing human should be far from you.
Monday, October 6, 2014 | By: Taffy

Good Monday morning!

Ah! Monday. Where the week starts out fresh, you're not behind on your to-do list yet and pumpkin spice bagels are in the stores. :)  Hopefully, you find yourself writing today!


Today, I present 8 Tips on how to write a great story from Kurt Vonnegut.

“Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.”


  1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
  2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
  3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  4. Every sentence must do one of two things — reveal character or advance the action.
  5. Start as close to the end as possible.
  6. Be a Sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them-in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
  7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
  8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

Saturday, September 6, 2014 | By: Taffy

SOMETHING ABOUT LOVE ~COVER REVEAL for Elana Johnson! GIVEAWAY

(Isn't that a cute cover??)


About SOMETHING ABOUT LOVE: High school senior Olivia Winging gave up her love of photography when she gave up her boyfriend, Trevor Youngblood, a year and a half ago. She broke things off with Trevor because her mom married his dad, and dating your step-brother? Creepy.

Livvy hasn’t been on good terms with her mother since, and one of her stipulations for staying at the Youngblood’s every other weekend is that Trevor can’t be there. When she gets nominated for the Junior Photography in Excellence award, Trevor insists she enter. She agrees—only if every photo in the portfolio can be of him. Knowing that Livvy can capture a person’s deepest secrets through her lens, Trevor hesitates before accepting the deal.

As Livvy gets behind the lens of her camera again, her love of photography is rekindled. Unfortunately, the time she spends with Trevor also re-ignites the old flame for him she’s kept smothered for so long.

In order for Livvy to finish her portfolio, she’ll have to face her feelings for Trevor as well as deal with the animosity between her and her mother. Livvy’s always been able to capture a person’s soul from behind the camera—but she’s not sure she likes it when the lens is suddenly focused on her. If she can’t find a way to forgive her mother and admit how she feels about Trevor, Livvy may end up losing more than just the photography contest. She could lose her heart. 


Buy Links:

Special Promo: Elevated, Elana’s first verse novel, will be FREE for five days in September as SOMETHING ABOUT LOVE releases! So get your copy of Elevated for free from Monday, September, 15 – Friday, September 19. (Elevated buy link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IGINRFI)


Praise for Elana’s first verse novel, Elevated:
“The taut poetry keeps tension high. The plot is deftly paced, as past intrudes on present, like a photograph emerging in developing fluid.” ~San Francisco Book Review

“Every word Johnson writes carries an emotional heft that lifts readers up to the highest happiness and then sends them crashing down to the depths of despair. It is easy to flow from the first word to the last without ever putting down the book. Johnson shows outstanding talent in this form, and her words are beautiful, important and deeply felt.” ~The Deseret News


GIVEAWAY: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


About Elana Johnson: Elana Johnson’s work, including Possession, Surrender, Abandon, and Regret, published by Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster), is available now everywhere books are sold. Her popular ebook, From the Query to the Call, is also available for free download, as well as a Possession short story, Resist

Her self-published novels include two YA contemporary novels-in-verse, Elevated and Something About Love, as well as a YA/NA futuristic fantasy series, which includes Elemental Rush, Elemental Hunger, and Elemental Release.

School teacher by day, Query Ninja by night, you can find her online at her personal blog or Twitter. She also co-founded the Query Tracker blog, and contributes to the League of Extraordinary Writers.


Social Media Links:
League of Extraordinary Writers: http://leaguewriters.blogspot.com/


Friday, September 5, 2014 | By: Taffy

THE END OF THE LINE by Sharon McKay

Ordinary citizens risk everything to save a young Jewish girl in wartime Holland.

Five-year-old Beatrix looks on in horror as the soldier forces her mother off the tram. It is 1942 in Amsterdam, and everyone knows what happens to Jews who are taken away by the Nazis. The soldier turns his attention to Beatrix, when suddenly, the ticket-taker, Lars Gorter, blurts out that she is his niece. With his brother Hans, the tram conductor, they manage to rescue the child from the same fate as her mother.

The two elderly brothers realize that they are now in charge of the little girl. They are at a loss -- after all, neither one has ever married, let alone has children. They know that harboring a Jew could cost them their lives, but in desperation, they turn to a neighbor, Mrs. Vos, for help. But even these kindly rescuers cannot shield Beatrix totally from the horrors of war.

Based on real events, this suspenseful novel vividly portrays the fear, uncertainty, and terror of the Nazi occupation in Holland. It is a story that reflects both the worst and best of humankind. A worthy addition to children's books about the Holocaust, "The End of the Line" will leave young readers to ponder how the most dreadful conditions can lead ordinary citizens to perform the most heroic acts. People like Lars, Hans, and Mrs. Vos, who risked their own lives to save Jews in wartime Europe, were later recognized and honored as "Righteous Gentiles.


I don't normally read Holocaust books, maybe one every two years. The stories hurt my heart and spirit. Even though amazing stories of strength and courage come from this terrible era, it is still hard to read. THE END OF THE LINE is different. Being a middle grade book, I think the author and publisher did very well to teach the horrors of war without overwhelming the reader or giving them nightmares.

From the little that is gathered, Beatrix is five-years-old and she and her mother have been running away from the Nazis. Until the fateful day in Holland when they are caught while riding the tram. Jews aren't suppose to ride the tram. The soldiers yell at the mom then turn on the daughter, Beatrix.
Lars and Hans are brothers and have been running the tram for years. One takes the tickets while the other drives. They are pretty good at being able to read their passengers too. Like the nun who probably isn't a nun.
Lars panics when he sees the Nazi turning his attention to Beatrix and tells the soldier she is his niece. Now these two older, single brothers are in charge of a little girl. And a Jew. What can they do?
In steps a couple neighbors to help--an older grandma and a younger German.
I really enjoyed this book. I loved watching the story, and characters, unfold. The brother have kept their heads low and lived their lives. They don't care about the war because it doesn't involve them. Now, they have a little girl to keep fed and clothed and protected. It was a joy to watch them grow and reach outside themselves.
Ms. Vos is another character who turned from crotched old maid, to a loving grandmother-type for Beatrix. Every character introduced had a line of plot.
The whole story I wondered what would happen to these kind people who took are of Beatrix, and would she ever be united with her mother again?
I think this is an excellent book for children to learn more about the Holocaust without introducing too much pain and suffering and death.

Thanks to netgalley for the read.

5 STARS
Tuesday, August 26, 2014 | By: Taffy

Utah Book Month with Sharks, Pebbles and Julie Daines

When I first started writing, I thought I was hot writerly stuff. I was sure my writing was pretty awesome and perfect coming out of my head. My writing was so good, agents would be fighting to hand over million dollar checks and movie deals.
A friend offered to read a chapter and give advice. I happily handed over my words, knowing she too would be astonished.
She kindly read.
She smiled.
She asked, "What's the dog's breed? Or name?"
I jokingly replied, "Can't you read my mind?"
Yeah. My baby story was not ready to join the real world. I was not as good as I thought.
Now what?
I wasn't sure where to turn now. League of Utah Writers happened to have a writer's conference that weekend that I attended. Josi Kilpack spoke about her critique and how many books they had published between them (25?) and that is when I knew I needed a critique group. I wanted to be a better writer. I needed a few fresh pairs of eyes on my writing. I hoped I could find such a group.
And I Did!
We nicknamed ourselves Shark&Pebbles (every group needs a nickname!) and have been together for FOUR years. We have SIX (?) books published between us with many, many more on the way. I seriously love my group.

I'll introduce each person in my group and what they say about our group:

JULIE DAINES~ When trying to get published, submitting a clean, polished manuscript is of utmost importance. My critique group is so good at finding what’s wrong with my writing and helping me fix it. They can spot everything from repetitive sentence structure to serious holes in the plot. They help me brainstorm how to make my story and characters stronger, and are incredibly supportive. Without this invaluable input, my writing would not be where it is today, and I doubt I would be a published author.

SCOTT RHOADES~ After a while, the help expands beyond critique sessions. When I write, i think of each of you and what you're going to call out if I don't change it.

YAMILE MENDEZ ~ respect, commitment, and support. You guys know what to say to make me feel better when I'm in my lows, and you know when to push me when I can take the extra critique. I love you for it!


JAIME THELER~ Jaime LOVES us but she is so busy finishing her amazing book that she can't come out and play right now.






Also, because Julie has the most recently book published, I decided to spotlight her here!


Julie Daines was born in Boston, Massachusetts, raised in Utah, and educated around the world. As a high school student, she spent her summers hiking the deserts of southern Utah, drawing inspiration from the various plants and animals to write children’s stories and legends. 

She studied Zoology and Secondary Education at Brigham Young University, paying her way through college by performing live reptile demonstrations at the university’s life science museum.

She spent eighteen months living in London where she studied and fell in love with English Literature, Sticky Toffee Pudding, and the fellow who ran the kebab store around the corner. 

After editing for other authors, she decided to take up writing again--this time in the young adult genre. She feels qualified to write for teens because, as a young adult, she mastered the art of drama. Oh, and she has some skulking around the house.

Julie is a member of SCBWI, the League of Utah Writers, and Utah Children’s Writers. She frequently attends conferences where she has won a few awards for her writing, and is part of a superb writer’s group.

Enough of me in the third person. If your curiosity has still not been sated, then here’s a little more of the interesting stuff:

Things I’ve done:
    
  1. BulletThrown a frisbee off the top of the Eiffel tower.  It was a group effort.  

  1. BulletRemoved my own stitches.  The nurse was doing a terrible (aka painful) job, so I demanded the scissors and finished it myself.

  1. BulletKilled a rat with my bare hands.  Desperate times call for desperate measures.

  1. BulletPulled a snake tooth out of my finger--on my honeymoon.  True story.  The snake (a Rainbow Boa Constrictor) bit me a few weeks before my wedding.  I couldn’t figure out why it was taking so long to heal--until part of the tooth started sticking out.  Did I mention it was on my honeymoon?  

  1. BulletTalked my way out of three speeding tickets.  Seriously, it pays to go to the judge and argue your case.

  1. BulletTaught myself to play the Irish whistle.

  1. BulletSnuck out of the hotel (age 18--three girls--alone) in Moscow to meet some strange (but hot) guys at a local disco.  Did we ever find them?  No.  Did we ever find the disco?  No.  Did we get lost on the subway system and find ourselves wandering deserted streets late at night in Communist Russia?  Yes.  Were we stupid to try?  Absolutely.

  1. BulletStole a flashing barricade from a road construction site.  It’s important to note that they put those barricades up for a reason--to warn sneaky teenagers of the deep and dangerous hole.  Picture roadrunner slapping down a black circle-hole.  Picture Wile E. Coyote walking along then suddenly disappearing into the aforementioned hole.  As a follow up, I’d like to say that, riddled by guilt, we put it back about an hour later.

  1. BulletHeld a scorpion in my bare hands.  A live scorpion.  

  1. BulletGot car sick on the way home from Disneyland.  I was trying to finish my math homework in the very back of a station wagon.  To this day, any mathematical work still makes me a little queasy.

  1. BulletBeen chased by a moose.

Things I’ve Never Done:

  1. BulletHad a facial, pedicure, or manicure--or been to a spa. 

  1. BulletEaten sushi--I just really can’t stand seafood!

  1. BulletTired of seeing the full moon through wispy clouds as it rises over the mountains near my home.

  1. BulletBeen to Hawaii. *Update* Hawaii family vacation 6/13

  1. BulletChanged a flat tire on my car.  My awesome husband always does it for me!  I am, however, pro at changing my road-bike tires.

  1. BulletBroken a bone.  Or had my tonsils out.

  1. BulletBeen stuck in an elevator.

  1. BulletBeen stung by a bee.  A wasp, yes.  It was hiding in my pants and when I put them on--yeow!

  1. BulletHit an animal while driving.

  1. BulletCheated on a test.

  1. BulletEaten brains.  They tried to serve me some in South America.  But I started having a nervous breakdown and told them, in my not-so-fluent-spanish, that I didn’t want to eat any “mind.”

  1. BulletJumped off the high-dive.  

  1. BulletWon the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes.




Amazon Buying links:

Julie Daines | Author
A Blind Eye
Unraveled