Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Year Quote

"People are so worried about what they eat between Christmas and the New Year, but they really should be worried about what they eat between the New Year and Christmas." ~Unknown

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas at Arlington National Cemetery

Rest easy, sleep well my brothers.

Know the line has held, your job is done.

Rest easy, sleep well.

Others have taken up where you fell, the line has held.

Peace, peace, and farewell...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

What was your favorite book PUBLISHED in 2009?

I got the idea for this post from Nathan Bransford post(warning: if you look at his post, your 'to be read' list will grow):

This year has sped by incredibly fast-And I didn't get enough reading done.
I looked at my goodreads (become my friend!) shelf to see how many books I read this year.
Looking at my lists, I wondered how many I had read that were published in 2009.
Only 14.

So, here's a question: How many books did you read that were published in 2009?

Another question: What was your favorite??

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The West Beckons

I won 3rd place in Poetry in the Oquirrh Writers Contest.

Here is the piece I entered:

The West!

The cry echoed

Off mountains

And meadows

And streams

The West!

Came the shout

From thunder

And lightening

And gods

The West!

The wind whispered

As thousands poured

Through the rocky gates

Full of dreams

Monday, December 7, 2009

Contests and Freebies

Mary's Great House is giving away a Great book on her blog. Family Record Keeper looks like a great way to keep everything together!

C.L. Beck is giving away a signed 2010 Greg Olson calendar!

Michele Ashman Bell is giving away three great books this week. Go take a peek and leave a comment.

Queen of the Clan is giving away "Missing" by Rhonda Hinrichsen.

My Musical Advent Calendar blog has music and videos plus a prize.

A contest everyday until Christmas on LDS Women's Book Review.

You can win music at Anne Bradshaw's blog She has a rare signed DVD. Take a look!

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is giving away a FREE Christmas DVD called Joy To The World.

Are you a scrapbooker or crafter? There are a few blogs holding a contest to win! Racelle's Writing Spot is having an awesome give away by The Original Scrapbox. Go there NOW! Queen of the Clan and Random-ish by Nichole are also blogs for this contest.

And if you have gotten this far in this l-o-n-g contest post, go over and bug James Dashner for me. Tell him what movies you've seen lately (he's wondering if anyone has seen 'The Road') and let him know you would be glad to send a review of those movies via private email. He'll LOVE it! :)
Or write about football and how wonderful the guys in charge are doing. He'll LOVE that too! :)
Maybe we should be nicer to James. Ok. For reals. Tell him how much you love (pick one or two) his books.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Pep Talk

This email I got from NaNo is long but worth reading:

Dear Writer,

Writing is the easiest thing in the world. Anyone can do it. It's like hitting a tennis ball against a wall. It's like swimming. Anyone can learn. You don't have to be the best. You don't need to compete in anything. On the other hand, you may aspire to be a celebrated star.

Like swimming, like playing tennis, there are people writing at all levels. If you just want to amuse yourself writing the weekends, just keep on keeping on. If you want to bash out a novel, you need no more advice than to keep on keeping on.

But if you dream of making something original and beautiful and true, if you imagine seeing your book reviewed, or in the window of a book store, you're in the same position as the ambitious swimmer—you've got a lot of training to do, a lot of muscles to build, a lot of habits to start establishing right now, today.

If you know what these good writing habits are, there's nothing more I can give you. Perhaps you know what I'm going to tell you—you have to write regularly, every day. You have to treat this as the single most important part of your life. You do not need anything as fancy as inspiration, just this steady habit of writing regularly even when you're sick or sad or dull. Nothing must stop you, not even your beloved children. If you have kids you do what Toni Morrison did—write in the hours before they wake. If you wish to be a like the champion who swims for four hours every day of the year, you will need extraordinary will. You either have this or you don't, but you won't know unless you try .

Let's say you (quietly, secretly) want to be a genius. Then you must teach yourself to be self-critical. Trust me—your own uncertain opinions are worth one hundred times more than the judgments of your friends. Your friends love you and are may be very smart. But they cannot imagine what you have not yet imagined. So don't show them stuff you fear may not be right.

If you feel at all unhappy with your work, there is a good reason for it. Trust your judgment. Write the draft again, and again. This is the strength you must build—to work alone, in solitude, and write and rewrite and rewrite. Even when you finally succeed in making the original work you wished, you will still live with doubt and uncertainty. All writers learn to live with this. In this way you and I feel exactly the same about our work today.

If you ever read one of my books I hope you'll think it looks so easy. In fact, I wrote those chapters 20 times over, and over, and over, and that if you want to write at a good level, you'll have to do that too.

That is the first half of the good habits you must develop.

Here's the second half.

First, turn off your television. The television is your enemy. It will stop you doing what you wish to do. If you wish to watch TV, you do not want to be a serious writer, which is fine.

But if you do pull that plug you've just created time for that exercise which is going to build up your writing muscles like nothing else. It's called reading. Perhaps you are already reading good books for several hours a day, in which case you don't need me to preach at you. Forgive me. I only mention this because I have met an extraordinary number of beginners who don't think they need to read anything too much.

I don't doubt these people enjoy their writing, and perhaps they will even get to publish something. But you can not play the top game without reading every day. There are so many extraordinary books waiting for you, some writing by living writers, the majority by those a long time dead. This is not because writers used to be better than they are now, but because a lot of generations have come before us and we would be crazy not to know what miracles they achieved.

Some of the great books are about people with lives just like you. Some will have characters you can 'identify' with, but some of the very greatest will tell stories you could never have imagined, were written in languages you cannot speak, and tell the stories of people like none we have ever known.

Now you've killed the TV, you should invest in a very good dictionary.

I know it is a major drag to stop reading and look up a word in a dictionary, but it is less of a drag than continuing to read not knowing what the story really means. No-one wants to do it. I never want to do it, but it is always worth the trouble. In my own case I often write the new word down, not because I am stupid, but because it helps me remember it.

So what books should you read if your greatest aim is to lift your game?

Clearly "Goose Bumps" is not going to help you in your ambitions, but where to start, where to continue the adventure you're already on?

I'd suggest a wonderful new book by Francine Prose, "Reading Like a Writer."

Go buy this now. You may already be a disciplined, talented original writer but you will not be sorry to read this for two hours tomorrow.

-Peter Carey

You can learn more about Peter Carey's writing at his website.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Contests Around the Net

Want to win something everyday this week? Try Heather Justesen's blog. She's got books, vinyl lettering and cake!

Heather has a trailer for her book: The Ball's in Her Court

Win Baskin Robbins gift certificates on C.L. Beck's blog.

What's on your nightstand? On Michele Bells' nightstand is G.G. Vandagriff's book "Hidden Branch" for you to win!


Cindy Beck! You're the next winner on Taffy's Candy!
Congrats on winning the 'can't put it down' book by Stephanie Black.
Send me your snail mail and I'll get it to you as soon as I can.

Also, Heidi Ashworth! Where's your snail mail address? I need it to send out your book.

Friday, November 27, 2009

I Am A Winner! NaNoWriMo style

List of NaNoWriMo pros and cons:

Finished @ 50363!
Finished before Thanksgiving dinner.
Typed a totally different genre than I have before.
Have another interesting story to work on.
Didn't edit.
Didn't care.

Apparently, the NaNo muse deemed this only Book One.
Have another interesting story to work on.
Didn't edit.

More pros than cons is good!
Have a great week!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Contest time! Books, Music and Food!

Want to win a book from Heather Moore? How about Land of Inheritance from her Out of Jerusalem series? Wander on over to My Writing Lair. Her newest book, Alma, would make a GREAT gift.

Yogurt! That's what you win over on Cindy Beck's blog. Not only yogurt, but a kids insulated lunch bag, place mat and spoon. Need a stocking stuffer? Cindy coauthored a funny book called Mormon Mishaps and Mischief.

I must confess-I've been playing Christmas music. I know. It's not even Thanksgiving yet but I Love Christmas music! Not Entirely British is giving away a Christmas CD: His Name Shall Be Called Wonderful by James Loynes.

And not to be left behind, post your favoritest book ever on my blog and win Stephanie Black's Method of Madness book. I should have given this book away at Halloween! It's scary!!

Queen of the Clan is also running a contest through December called An Angel in Your Life. Write about an angel in your life and win a gift certificate to Seagull Book Or Deseret Book.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Foto Friday

#11 file #20 picture:
Santorini, Greece, perched on top of a volcanic mountain.

Can get there by one of three ways: ride a donkey (better to ride one going UP not DOWN), walk up amongst the donkeys and their droppings or ride a cable car.

Beautiful white and blue buildings and delicious baklava!

(Click on the picture. Hopefully it will open to another window and give you a better view of Santorini)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

NaNoWriMo Pep Talk

Hi novelist!

Lindsey here, Community Liaison for NaNoWriMo.

Last week the love interest in my novel did something kind of abhorrent. He drugged the neighbor's dog and blamed it on his girlfriend. I couldn't believe he did that! It was a completely unauthorized move. But once it was done, there was no undoing it. All the things I had planned for him to do and say in upcoming scenes were all wrong—suddenly my knight was a first-class jerk. Even if I went back and deleted the scene, I'd still know what he was capable of. (It seems I have a "no take backs" approach to my characters.)

So I did what any overly emotional, sleep-deprived writer would do: I broke up with him. And in doing so, I kind of broke up with my novel, too. This started having all kinds of adverse affects on my life. I lay awake at night, puzzling over how my good guy went so bad. I couldn't get to work in the morning for all my distracted agonizing over what to do. I was getting out of the shower with shampoo in my hair, leaving the house in my slippers, and dazedly driving to the grocery store instead of to the office. My character was everywhere, begging to be heard, asking to be redeemed. My word count was getting further behind with each passing day, and I was well on my way to being haunted by an imaginary being. But he didn't feel so imaginary; I'd brought the story to life, and those characters, and that world. It was just dangling there in limbo, derailing my focus and turning me into a bit of a loony.

Though I still had no fix in mind and was far from forgiving his behavior, I returned to the scene of my character's crime and gave him a second chance. And you know, the apology that poured forth was fairly epic. His girlfriend forgave him. It was so good that even I forgave him. In fact, this foray into his dark side has done some really great things for the depth of his character. He is less jerk and more bada##. (I added number signs) The novel has righted itself and everyone seems back on track for the rest of the story to unfold.

In this coming week, if you find yourself mired in a dead end, bored stiff by your protagonist's lackluster performance, or generally feeling that your plot is tripe, don't despair; you actually have the answer. Don't do what I did and shelve your novel. You'll probably go nuts. And you'll have to live with the knowledge that there is a half-dead story out there, haunting you with its zombie characters and shadowy half-world, just waiting for your pen stroke to set it straight. Because that's all it takes: returning to the wreckage and committing yourself anew to the phoenix-like resilience of this world you're writing.

I'll see you at 50K!


Monday, November 16, 2009

Pep Talk by Jeff Savage

This was an email I received recently. I totally respect Jeff (Scott) Savage and his opinions. He takes his time to talk to newbie writers and give them ideas and help. (I added a link to Jeff's recent post at the end of this post).
I thought I would pass along what this emailer (Tobyn) wrote:

Hey Nano team,

I went to Dragon's keep tonight and Scott Savage was there. What a cool guy. He was very personable and has a great attitude about the art of writing. He talked about where he came from and how he got rejected, and how he got his first contract, how he got rejected again even with an agent.

Hearing his story was inspirational. I asked him how to make nanowrimo work in a good way so that we are not churning out just mediocre gunk. His answer was excellent but very long, so I have shortened it for you. He said he doesn't like to outline each chapter. He likes to know where he begins and where he ends. He likes to have a good protagonist who is a hero with flaws or an underdog working his way up. And he likes to know the obstacles that have to be overcome. Now I'm not quoting him, I'm just telling you what I took away from it.
I'm glad I made it down there. It was well worth it.

Now back to work. I'm only just over 10,000 but don't count me out. I'm still working on it.

"...it's easy after all not to be a writer. Most people aren't writers and very little harm comes to them."
Julian Barnes, Flaubert's Parrot

NaNoWriMo Pep Talk

Hi novelist!

Lindsey here, Community Liaison for NaNoWriMo.

Last week the love interest in my novel did something kind of abhorrent. He drugged the neighbor's dog and blamed it on his girlfriend. I couldn't believe he did that! It was a completely unauthorized move. But once it was done, there was no undoing it. All the things I had planned for him to do and say in upcoming scenes were all wrong—suddenly my knight was a first-class jerk. Even if I went back and deleted the scene, I'd still know what he was capable of. (It seems I have a "no take backs" approach to my characters.)

So I did what any overly emotional, sleep-deprived writer would do: I broke up with him. And in doing so, I kind of broke up with my novel, too. This started having all kinds of adverse affects on my life. I lay awake at night, puzzling over how my good guy went so bad. I couldn't get to work in the morning for all my distracted agonizing over what to do. I was getting out of the shower with shampoo in my hair, leaving the house in my slippers, and dazedly driving to the grocery store instead of to the office. My character was everywhere, begging to be heard, asking to be redeemed. My word count was getting further behind with each passing day, and I was well on my way to being haunted by an imaginary being. But he didn't feel so imaginary; I'd brought the story to life, and those characters, and that world. It was just dangling there in limbo, derailing my focus and turning me into a bit of a loony.

Though I still had no fix in mind and was far from forgiving his behavior, I returned to the scene of my character's crime and gave him a second chance. And you know, the apology that poured forth was fairly epic. His girlfriend forgave him. It was so good that even I forgave him. In fact, this foray into his dark side has done some really great things for the depth of his character. He is less jerk and more bada##. (I added number signs) The novel has righted itself and everyone seems back on track for the rest of the story to unfold.

In this coming week, if you find yourself mired in a dead end, bored stiff by your protagonist's lackluster performance, or generally feeling that your plot is tripe, don't despair; you actually have the answer. Don't do what I did and shelve your novel. You'll probably go nuts. And you'll have to live with the knowledge that there is a half-dead story out there, haunting you with its zombie characters and shadowy half-world, just waiting for your pen stroke to set it straight. Because that's all it takes: returning to the wreckage and committing yourself anew to the phoenix-like resilience of this world you're writing.

I'll see you at 50K!


Contest Time! Twilight Perfume

Want to win a Christmas book? Ho-ho-ho on over to Joyce DiPastena's blog for a festive quiz.

How Can I Keep From Singing? That is a question my daughter asks. But over on Anne Bradshaw's blog it's a music CD contest!

Over on Write Up My Alley is a contest for Twilight inspired perfume.

Good luck!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Winners! Becky & Heidi

Becky Irvine, Come on down! You're on the next winner of a free book! Pick a book! Send me an email with you snail mail address and book you would like and I will send it out as soon as I can pull myself away from the computer. :)
Here is the list of books I am passing on; some are freebies I won, some are books I have doubles of:

Women of Virtue by Jodi Marie Robinson

Loyalty's Web by Joyce DiPastena

The Craft of Revision by Donald Murray

Pick Up Games by Marcia Mickelson

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg

Heidi Ashworth! You are the second winner! Choose a first and second favorite from the above list, give me your address and I will send one of them to you!

Also, I would love to link from here to your blogs. Leave the link you would like me to use.

Thanks ladies for your support and comments. You are amazing!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pep Talk From Lynda Barry

(Lynda wrote her pep talk with a pen.)

Dear Writer,

Reconsider your hand. Reconsider writing by hand. There is a kind of story that comes from hand. Writing which is different from a tapping-on-a-keyboard-kind-of-story. For one thing, there is no delete button, making the experience more life like right away. You can't delete the things you feel unsure about and because of this, the things you feel unsure about have a much better chance of being able to exist long enough to reveal themselves. And the physical activity of writing by hand involves many parts of the brain which are used in story making such as time, place, action, characters, relationships, and moving forward across an entire connected gesture. And that's just what goes on when we write a single letter by hand.

Although word count goals may be harder to reach, your body will not feel as tired as it does after a day spent tapping buttons and staring at a lit screen, especially if you write a bit longer than you usually do.

Another thing to reconsider is reading over what you have written. If you can stand to wait 24 hours before you decide the fate of what you have written either good or badyou're more likely to see that invisible thing that is invisible for the first few days in any new writing. We just can't know what all is in a sentence until there are several sentences to follow it. Pages of writing need more pages in order to be known, chapters need more chapters. The 24 hour period will give you time to create more of the things the writing needs. 48 hours is even better, and a week is ideal.

Can you keep your story going for a week without reading anything over? You'll find you can. You'll find that being able to rely on this ability will help you let one word follow the next without fussing as much as you do when you believe it's the thinking and planning part of your mind that is writing the story. There is another part of the mind which has an ability for stories, for holding all the parts and presenting them bit by bit, but it's not the same as the planning part of the mind. Nor is it the thing called 'unconscious '—it is without a doubt quite conscious when we are engaged in the physical activity which allows it to be active. This something is what deep playing contains when we are children and fully engaged by rolling a toy car and all who are inside of it toward the table edge. The word imagination isn't quite right for it either because it also leaves out the need for moving an objecta toy, a pen or pencil tipacross an area in the physical world. It's a very old, human thing, using physical activity along with thing 'thing' that is neither all the way inside of us nor all the way outside of us. Stories happen in that place between the two. The Image world isn't anywhere else. A computer can give you a neat looking page, higher word count and delete and copy and past abilities, but they are poor producers of the thing the hand brings about much more easily: Right here, right now, the pane of paper that the paper windows and walls require to give is the inside view, the vista.

You can't know what a book is about until the very end. This is true of a book we're reading or writing.

Writing by hand is like walking instead of riding in a car. It's slower, to be sure, but you'll smell the smoke if you're near a house that is about to burst into flame. You'll hear the shouting from a fight about to break out in a back yard. You'll be able to help the dog who comes running by with his leash attached and dragging behind him, and be able to help the person who has lost him calling his name. This will make writing more like living and less like watching television.

When writing by hand, when the story dries up temporarilyas it always does, try keeping your pen in motion anyway by writing the alphabet a b c d e f g in the middle of the sentence a b c d e f g h i j k until the sentence rolls forward again on its own. Just keep your pen steadily rolling along through time, for a good time.

Best! Love!

Lynda Barry

To learn more about Lynda Barry's work, visit her website


AuthorsIncognito Award

Thank you!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Pep Talk From Gail Cason Levine

Gail Carson Levine's first book for children, Ella Enchanted, was a 1998 Newbery Honor book. You can learn more about her writing at http://gailcarsonlevine.blogspot.com/

This is an email I got this week:

Dear NaNoWriMo-ers,

I'm not even the tortoise of writing. I'm the slug. And you are more than hares, you're cheetahs — writing at seventy miles an hour. I have to fictionalize even to talk to you.

So it's October 31st. I’m back from trick or treating in a robot costume, worn to honor Isaac Asimov, who wrote or edited more than 500 books in his lifetime. After removing my tin head mask and my metallic gloves, I pig out on candy corn and think about today's accomplishments.

I dug a shallow grave in the backyard and buried my print thesaurus (starting tomorrow, the first word I think of is good enough, even if I use it seven times on every page), dictionary (who cares how ophthalmologist is spelled anyway?), usage books (I can figure out the difference between lie and lay later), encyclopedia, atlas, and my beloved books about writing. I taped blackout curtains over my windows.

My techy friend spent hours tinkering with my computer. She's assured me that it will combust if I try to reestablish connections to the internet and email. The single thing I'm keeping is my cell phone in case I start to go into cardiac arrest, but the keys are smeared with battery acid, except the 9, the 1, and send. My family and friends and Meals-on-Wheels have sworn to deliver food to my door, which will be kept closed to protect the world from my intensifying body odor.

Now I tape my list of rules and advice (culled from friends, my mom, the buried writing books, and, mostly, my own hyped-up imagination) to the wall next to my desk.

-Sleep at least once a week.

-Eat at least once a day, but not constantly. Don't forget the essential fatty acids (Mom).

-If my fingers freeze from carpal tunnel syndrome, I have ten perfectly good toes, a nose, and quite a few teeth.

-When I'm not happy with how things are going, turn off the screen and keep typing. Don't turn it back on until the crisis is over.

-Don't check my word count more often than every fifteen minutes.

-Dream sequences can eat up a lot of pages, and they shouldn't be logical.

-Short words count just as much as long ones.

-The perfect is the enemy of the fast. The good is the enemy of the fast. The halfway decent is the enemy of the fast.

-When I run out of plot ideas, write about setting and what each character is wearing, in exquisite wordy detail. When I run out of setting and apparel, write about the voice quality of each speaker, speech mannerisms, facial ticks, body language.

-Keep my music loud enough to drown out my thoughts. Thinking is the enemy of speed.

-Remember the infinite-monkey theory: Endless keystrokes will eventually produce Shakespeare or at least words and maybe a story.

-Never edit.

-Never ever go back.

It's time for bed. I must get a good night's sleep, my last for a month. So of course I toss and turn until 3:00 am, when I realize the month has begun. I get up, stagger to the computer, and type, "It was a dark and stormy night." I’m on my way!

Now, seriously, not fictionalized, with all the earnestness I can command, here is the only important piece of advice, which is crucial for any speed of writing, any kind of writing: Do not beat up on yourself. Do not criticize your writing as lousy, inadequate, stupid, or any of the evil epithets that you are used to heaping on yourself. Such self-bashing is never useful. If you indulge in it, your writing doesn’t stand a chance. So when your mind turns on you, turn it back, stamp it down, shut it up, and keep writing.

Good luck!

Gail Carson Levine

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Interview w/ 6 yr old

Mom, I know where God lives.
You do?
Yea. In space.
Are you sure about that?
Yes. Then he can get close to the sun and make it brighter if he needs to.
And he lives on a star with the others and if the star goes out, they can move to the next star.
Yes. Like this star (pointing to a dot he made on paper) and this star (making more dots) and all these stars. But it's gotta be a star that is close so they can jump.
Where did you learn all this?
First grade.

Writing prompt via Sunday Scribblings

Friday, November 6, 2009

Rewrite, Restart, Redo

I was reminded today that NaNo rules are that the participants start from scratch. I did last year and was amazed what came out of my brain with no thought given to the writing. I put on loud music and just let my fingers type. Usually, I write out my thoughts and story but for NaNo I just type. It was a very interesting process.

This year I had an idea and a few pages hand written so that is what I used for NaNo. I don't feel the freedom to just go without thinking because I already have a preconceived notion where the story and the characters are headed.

But today, today, I let guilt get me. I sat down and just let my fingers go. The first page was utter nonsense. Kinda like my brain was spring cleaning. Then the story started to flow. I have no idea where it came from, but now I have over 5000 words in two hours! WOWSERS!

So I am starting my word count over. The story is strange; not one I would have thought up by myself! The creativity is just flowing and I take absolutely no credit for it.

I feel like I am on a high or like I am free from any constraints. It's fun! It's invigorating! And exciting.
Here is a shout out to my NaNo buddies! The word count for my NaNo 'buddies' is AMAZING! Keep up the good work!
And for those who are working on other writing goals, You Rock!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Pep Talk from Jasper Fforde

Jasper Fforde is the best-selling author of the Thursday Next and Nursery Crime books. He has been writing for twenty years, but only published for ten. His training took a while. His eighth book, Shades of Grey, will be published in January 2010. He lives and writes in Wales, has a large family and likes to fly aeroplanes.

Dear Writer,

I once wrote a novel in 22 days. 31 chapters, 62,000 words. I didn’t do much else—bit of sleeping, eating, bath or two—I just had three weeks to myself and a lot of ideas, an urge to write, a 486 DOS laptop and a quiet room. The book was terrible. 62,000 words and only twenty-seven in the right order. It was ultimately junked but here’s the important thing: It was one of the best 22 days I ever spent. A colossal waste of ink it was, a waste of time it was not.

Because here’s the thing: Writing is not something you can do or you can’t. It’s not something that ‘other people do’ or ‘for smart people only’ or even ‘for people who finished school and went to University’. Nonsense. Anyone can do it. But no-one can do it straight off the bat. Like plastering, brain surgery or assembling truck engines, you have to do a bit of training—get your hands dirty—and make some mistakes. Those 22 days of mine were the start, and only the start, of my training. The next four weeks and 50,000 words will be the start of your training, too.

There’s a lot to learn, and you won’t have figured it all in 50,000 words, but it’ll be enough for you to know that you don’t know it all, and that it will come, given time. You’ll have written enough to see an improvement, and to start to have an idea over what works and what doesn’t. Writing is a subtle art that is reached mostly by self-discovery and experimentation. A manual on knitting can tell you what to do, but you won’t be able to make anything until you get your hands on some wool and some needles and put in some finger time. Writing needs to be practiced; there is a limit to how much can be gleaned from a teacher or a manual. The true essence of writing is out there, in the world, and inside, within yourself. To write, you have to give.

What do you give? Everything. Your reader is human, like you, and human experience in all its richness is something that we all share. Readers are interested in the way a writer sees things; the unique world-view that makes you the person you are, and makes your novel interesting. Ever met an odd person? Sure. Ever had a weird job? Of course. Ever been to a strange place? Definitely. Ever been frightened, sad, happy, or frustrated? You betcha. These are your nuts and bolts, the constructor set of your novel. All you need to learn is how to put it all together. How to wield the spanners.

And this is why 30 days and 50,000 words is so important. Don’t look at this early stage for every sentence to be perfect—that will come. Don’t expect every description to be spot-on. That will come too. This is an opportunity to experiment. It’s your giant blotter. An empty slate, ready to be filled. It’s an opportunity to try out dialogue, to create situations, to describe a summer’s evening. You’ll read it back to yourself and you’ll see what works, you’ll see what doesn’t. But this is a building site, and it’s not meant to be pretty, tidy, or even safe. Building sites rarely are. But every great building began as one.

So where do you start? Again, it doesn’t matter. You might like to sketch a few ideas down on the back of an envelope, spend a week organizing a master-plan or even dive in head first and see where it takes you. All can work, and none is better than any other. The trick about writing is that you do it the way that’s best for you. And during the next 50,000 words, you may start to discover that, too.

But the overriding importance is that the 50,000 words don’t have to be good. They don’t even have to be spelled properly, punctuated or even tabulated neatly on the page. It’s not important. Practice is what’s important here, because, like your granny once told you, practice does indeed make perfect. Concert violinists aren’t born that way, and the Beatles didn’t get to be good by a quirk of fate. They all put in their time. And so will you. And a concerted effort to get words on paper is one of the best ways to do it. The lessons learned over the next thirty days will be lessons that you can’t get from a teacher, or a manual, or attending lectures. The only way to write is to write. Writers write. And when they’ve written, they write some more. And the words get better, and sentences form easier, and dialogue starts to snap. It’s a great feeling when it happens. And it will. Go to it.

-Jasper Fforde

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Gift idea and Contests

I love to give books as gifts!

"Altared Plans" by Rebecca Talley promises to be a witty, clean, LDS romance anyone can enjoy.
Twilight inspired perfume/cologne anyone? Try Custom Scents Online! Not only can you buy some perfume, there is a contest to win some!

On the contest front:
Tristi Pinkston is also doing a contest on her blog to win one dram of Twilight inspired scent. (dram...that's a funny word to me.)

Queen of the Clan is giving away the aforementioned book! Good luck to all.

And who doesn't want a hot bowl of soup now that Old Man Winter is here? C.L. Beck is having a contest and giving away soup bowls. Invite me over for lunch when you win them :)

And I want in on the contest! I have a couple of books sitting around that need someone to read them. That lucky person could be you! Just leave me a comment about your favorite genre to read and why.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Names, Characters & Eternity

In the LDS church, we believe that families can be together forever. These 'ordinances' are performed in our temples. Worthy members of the church can enter the temples to be married and hopefully, reunited after death.

We also believe that many of our ancestors who have died before they were married in the temple still have the opportunity through us, the living.

Today, many members of church went to the temple with over 140 names of my ancestors. I was unable to go but many stopped me and told me how much they enjoyed helping my ancestors.

And how much they enjoyed the names:

Margaret Coke
Dorcas Benedict
Phebe Earll
Fawn Price
Matilda Gleed
Elizabeth Cotton
Thomas Howard (Duke of Norfolk)
Sir Knight Tomas Howard (1st Earl of Suffolk)
Lady Mary FitzAlan
Capt. John Benedict
George II Count of Hesse-Darmstadt
And my favorite! Christmas Poll (male)

I have found the mother lode of names for any books or stories within my own family!

What about you? Any interesting names in your family?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Writing Prompt

Thanks for stopping by today.
I took a writing prompt via LDS Publisher.

Renn (person's name), Seattle, divorce, tire iron, 3 inches

"Renn! I need you!" her shrill voice shattered the peace that had prevailed for all of 5 minutes.
"Just a minute, Ma," he shouted back.
"I need you now!"
"I'm in the bathroom, Ma!"
"Fine. I could die here on the couch and no one would know. Die here watching that fat guy on 'Price is Right'. Why did they get him anyway? Where is Bob. I liked Bob so much better. He was nicer and..."
"What do you need?"
"Would you be a dear and get your mother a drink of root beer?" She handed the glass to him, ice clinking.
He held in the breath that wanted to escape as a groan. She had him over a rock and they both knew it.
Renn took the glass into the dirty kitchen, opened the door to the fridge and stifled another groan. The fridge stunk of rotten food. He looked at the butter, a bottle of root beer and a plate with water bologna on it.
"We need to go shopping," he said as he handed the glass back to her. He started to sit down.
"No, don't sit there. It blocks the sun."
Renn looked outside. It was a normal Seattle day: rainy, no sun. Shaking his head he lowered himself into the rocker.
"No there either. That thing will break under your weight. Grab a chair from the kitchen."
Instead, he stood. "We need to go food shopping."
She waved her hand at him. "After my shows."
"But your shows last all day."
"Right before dinner, we'll go." She sipped the root beer. She never took her eyes off the T.V. "I know I would win this show. I know every trick. But I don't want to go clear to their studio."
"Ma, I have a date tonight."
She looked at him. "So soon after your divorce? Are you crazy?"
"It's been two years."
"Where will you ever find another girl who will take care of you like I do?" She turned her eyes back to the T.V. "You can't go out tonight, we have to go food shopping."
"I haven't been on a date for two years!"
"Another day won't hurt."
"I have to get out."
She set her glass down on the floor and clutched her chest. "My poor heart can't take all of this abuse. Please, for me. I need you tonight. I can't be alone. Your dear father would never leave me alone on a rainy night like this." She watched out a shaky hand towards him. "Please."
Renn moved slowly toward the outstretched hand. "For you."
She tightened her gripped then released his hand. "Now, will you hang up that picture." She picked up her glass and took a long sip.
Lowering his head, he walked out to the garage.
A few minutes later Renn walked back in with a tire iron.
"What are you doing with that?" His mother asked, her eyes big.
"I've made a decision. I'm tired of you telling me what to do." He took a step closer. Her hand flew to her mouth. "You are a bully. I've had to learn to deal with bullies all my life." He took another step toward her, tire iron held high. She dropped her glass and it spilled its contents on the rug. "It stops now."
He abruptly turned, pulled a nail out of his pants pocket, drove it into the wall with the tire iron, leaving a 3" gash. He shoved the picture onto the nail and turned to his mother.
"Clean up your mess."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

To Be Or Not To Be...In A Critique Group

I attended Josi Kilpack's class @ UVU on Critique Groups. It was enlightening and pushed me over the edge of wanting to be in one. Especially when she guarantees I will be published if I don't quit! Can't beat that!

Here are a few ideas/questions for creating a critique group:
  • Do want the group to be genre specific or general? Fiction vs. nonfiction?
  • 4-5 people are a good start on a group. The group needs to have rules for adding members or bringing people to the group.
  • Pick a day, time, how often and how long to meet.
  • Does everyone need to bring a chapter each meeting? Do you want to focus on one piece or give everyone a turn? You might need to set a time limit for each piece as well. Do you want everyone to email their work to the group ahead of time or bring a hard copy and read aloud?
  • What is the commitment level of the group? Be there every meeting? Is everyone okay if someone doesn't show up for months?
  • Pick a location that works for everyone. At a home or restaurant or library, what your group decides.
  • Have phone list including cell. Also, Facebook, Yahoo or Google list is a great way to stay connected. Work can also be sent through a couple of these groups to the critique group.
  • Don't talk about others work outside of the group.
  • Critique the writing, not the writer.

More later on how to give and take critiques.

Monday, October 19, 2009


If any of you have noticed my WIP count in the side bar, the numbers are down.
Yup. I cut a bunch of scenes.
But! I have finished editing!
AND found I have not written an ending.
How did that happen?? (Will this nightmare called 'book' ever end?)
So in the next few weeks my #s should go up. Right?

This weekend I also wrote 3/4 of a short sci-fi story.
And yes. I do have an ending; they all live happily ever after :)

Rejection Humor

I tried to post a comic strip today but it was too big to fit.
Here is the link instead:

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

BOOK REVIEW Alma by H.B. Moore

King Noah is thundering with rage. On Amulon’s watch, the former high priest Alma disappeared from the city of Nephi, and every night more believers manage to escape. The king threatens certain punishment unless Amulon recaptures Alma—a seemingly impossible task.

But Amulon has a plan. An equally valuable prisoner is at his fingertips: Noah’s wife, Maia, whose newfound faith means bitter humiliation for the king and an opportunity for Amulon to seize power.

Amulon’s disavowed daughter Raquel is making plans of her own. Alma and his followers are building a colony by the waters of Mormon, and she’s determined to begin a new life there despite the deep grief she suffers daily as Abinadi’s widow.

Abinadi’s watchful brother Helam deems the journey to Mormon too risky, but when Lamanites plunder and burn the settlement, Raquel has no choice but to flee with her young son.

Drama and danger escalate as Alma the Elder organizes the Lord’s church and baptizes its members, bringing an outpouring of divine grace and power. But even as they rejoice, the believers have profound and perilous trials to face, from the outward threat of Amulon’s treachery to the inward threat of pride and disobedience.

With poignant emotion, gripping suspense, and rich inspiration, this new epic story from H.B. Moore vividly brings the Book of Mormon to life.

I am not one that usually reads novels based on scripture for two reasons: first, many times the stories are not accurate and second, I tend to internalize the story and it mixes up in my daily scripture reading.

But Heather's books are different. Heather's writing is descriptive and accurate which keeps me IN the story. I can almost see, touch and smell the areas where the story takes place. She brings the scriptures alive in very readable way.

Heather is good at making her readers root for the good guys and boo the bad guys. A few story lines made me angry and wonder how things could get better. Other story lines gave me hope.

I see Alma different in my studies now and feel I have internalized him possibly in the way he really was 'way back then'. I've hopefully come to see Book of Mormon heroes as real, third dimensional people, thanks to Heathers writing!

Check Heather's website and blog!

Want to buy her book? Try Barnes & Noble, Deseret Book, Seagull Book or Amazon

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Writing Poem

Here a little

There a little

Until I am done writing

Editing is dumb

And I talk in run on sentences

Here a little

There a little

Until my story is bold

To unsuspecting readers

And it reaches gold

Here a little

There a little

Until I see you

And fit you in my story

Or you find the story for me

Here a little

There a little

Until my brain is full

And I can’t think

My story is incomplete

Here a little

There a little

Until my story is complete

I work on my story

No- My story works on me

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

One More...

One more writing conference this year...
I went to UVU's Book Academy last Thursday. Many, many, excellent classes and talks were given. This writers/readers conference is worth your day.
One class I really enjoyed was Josi Kilpack's on critique groups. I'll post my notes later.

To all you writers out there: KEEP MOVING! Don't stop writing!

To all you readers: READ! We can all support our local authors; Buy and read their books.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

League of Utah Writers Conference


I met Richard Paul Evans.

Amazing speaker and motivator.

And Yes.

I met James Dashner.

Funny and all around good guy.
But I can't get his picture to load so you'll just have to trust me.

Plus, I met many other great people like: Clint, Eric, Leslee, another James, Luann, and more this weekend.
Thanks to all the presenters and LUW for a fantastic writing conference.

See you next year when I win an award and not a stapler...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Author Interview: Joyce DiPastena

I am excited to have Joyce visiting my blog today! Leave a comment and your name will be thrown in the jester hat to win Joyce's book!

Let's jump right in:

Joyce, did you want to be a knight or a princess when you were growing up?

A princess. Or at least a "noble lady". I used to imagine myself in this beautiful, flowing "old fashioned" dress. I'm not sure what time period that dress was from, since I really didn't understand what the Middle Ages were at that point. It's possible I was dreaming more of a Renaissance-style dress than a Medieval one at that point. But the gown was always a deep crimson velvet covered with beautiful embroidery. Which is odd as I think about it, because my favorite colors are more in the blue/blue-green family, so I don't know why I chose those colors for my "dream gown". Maybe at that early age, I subconsciously knew that crimson was a "royal color"?

As for the knight. I've never wanted to be one, but when I visit the Arizona Renaissance Festival, I love to visit the booths where they make or sell armor, and pick up a piece of mail ("a flexible armor made of small, overlapping metal rings", if you've read the glossary to Illuminations of the Heart ;-) ) and just run the mail through my hands. For some reason, I absolutely love the feel of it! I'm going to buy myself just a little piece one day.

Do you like to wear dresses/skirts?

To be honest, not particularly. I'm from the generation that still equates dresses/skirts with required nylons, which I don't enjoy wearing at all! I much prefer the freedom of wearing pants. (So I guess it's a good thing I was born in the 20th, and not the 12th, Century, huh?)

Have you tried to make any of the foods mentioned in your book? Do you have favorite?

I'm a terrible cook and am too impatient to spend much time at it. To be honest, my preferred meal (unless I'm eating out) is anything I can throw in a microwave oven and zap. I do have several books with medieval recipes in them, though, so I may give some of them a try one day yet.

Have you ever used a trencher?

Once, at the Excalibur in Las Vegas. We also had to rip apart and eat a capon (small chicken) without any silverware, only our bare hands. One more experience to make me appreciate my 20th/21st Century life!

Have you visited England, France or Italy? If so, what is your favorite place? If not, where would you like to go first?

I visited Italy with my sister a few years ago, but we didn't get a chance to visit Venice, where my heroine Siri was born and grew up. And our flight stopped overnight in England on the way home. We were THIS CLOSE to where the Battle of Hastings was fought and there were tours and everything! But my sister didn't know about it when she booked our trip (she's not as "up" on England as I am ;-) ), so she didn't build any touring time into our stop in England. Basically all I got to see was the inside of our motel room, a little scenery during the taxi drive to and from the motel room, and the inside of the airport. (Let me tell you something. European airports are HOT!!! I'm not sure they believe in air conditioning inside them. Or maybe I'm just spoiled, because living in Arizona, EVERYTHING has air conditioning!)

Anyway, although I'd like to go back to Italy, if I could only choose to visit one place, I'd want to go back to England and visit all the medieval castles there! (AND the location of the Battle of Hastings!)

Have you ever visited a bailey? Where?

Sadly, no, I've never visited a bailey, because I haven't yet gotten to visit a medieval castle. I'm still hoping, though!

Do you have a special place you like to hide away and write?

I recently bought a laptop (MacBook, to be specific ;-) ) and have been enjoying the freedom of writing while lounging in my living room, rather than chained to the ol' computer chair!

Do you snack while writing?

Not usually. Once in a while, I might grab a handful to Hershey Kisses to "keep me awake", but I haven't done that for awhile now. (I'm trying to be good!)

Do you have a muse?

I adopted a gray tabby kitten about 7 years ago and named her "Clio" for the Greek Muse of History. I told her when I brought her home that she was going to be my Muse, but for the first seven years of her life, she seemed much more interested in biting and scratching me, so that didn't work out very well. Somehow she's now grown into the sweetest cat you could ever want to meet, so maybe there's hope that "Muse" thing will work out yet?

And good luck with your virtual tour

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Illuminations of the Heart by Joyce DiPastena BLOG TOUR

"Clothilde." He spoke the name on a breath like a prayer. Then he lowered his head and kissed her.

Her heart is lost in that first embrace, her world is shaken to its foundations. There is just one problem; her name is not Clothilde. It is Siriol de Calendri. Trained in the art of illumination in the far-off city of Venice, Siri is directed by her late brother's will to the county of Poitou in France, where she enters the guardianship of her brother's friend Sir Triston de Brielle. Once in Poitou, Siri hopes to find employment in an illuminator's shop - until Triston unexpectedly snatches her heart away with a kiss.

Triston is a man of quiet honor and courage, but the guild he carries for the death of his late wife, Clothilde, has left him numb and hesitant to love again. Worse yet, Siri bears an uncanny resemblance to his lost love. Or does she? Her merry laughter and twinkling eyes are very different from his late wife's shy smiles and quiet ways. Yet when he gazes into Siri's face, all he sees is Clothilde.

Then Triston's past returns to threaten them both. Will his tragic life with Clothilde be repeated with Siri? Trapped between the rivalry of the king's sons on the one hand and a neighbor out for vengeance on the other, Triston realizes it would be safer to send Siri away. But how can he bear to lose her again?

Siri is determined not to be cast off and not to live in another woman's shadow. She has illuminated many a priceless book with pen and paint. But can her own vibrant spirit illuminate the darkness in Triston's soul and make his heart beat for her alone?

Joyce delivers another great romance set in an entirely different time period from. And you know what? I learn new words from those time periods every time I read her books! In this book, the reader will learn what an 'illuminator' is and no, it's not someone who lights fires.

I enjoyed this story from the beginning, especially Siri; she's feisty and smart. I rooted for her through the book and really wanted her to get her man. And dang it Triston! I can't say any more about that person...
Joyce's book is smart and full of 'clean' romance, sword fights, bad guys, mystery and castles.

Visit other blogs around the 'net' through September 18 with more reviews and possible author interviews. Leave comments on any of the blogs and be entered in a drawing for the book!

September 11
Writing Blocks
September 14
Why Not? Because I said so!

Walnut Springs Press
Joyce's Blog

Want to buy the book?? Illuminations of the Heart at Amazon Or at Dessert Book

Methods of Madness by Stephanie Black

Stephanie Black, you scare me, in a good author way.

It's been three years sincethe terrible night Emily Ramsey suffered a double tragedy-the death of her sister and the disappearance of her fiance. She deserves another chance at happiness, and gentle, adorable Zach Sullivan is the perfect man to mend her shattered heart. But from the moment Emily opens the hand-carved box holding a glittering diamond solitaire, she's seized by an unshakable fear: she's going to lose Zach.

That's exactly what Monica, Zach's es-girlfriend, is banking on. Bitter with envy, Monica will stop at nothing to sabotage Zach and Emily's romance. a troubling note shows up in Emily's mailbox, fanning the flames of suspicion. a bloody photograph sends her reeling. But when someone is brutally murdered, will Emily be able to escape suspicion and the possibility that she might be next?

I have been humbled in my claims to pick out the bad guy(s) in books. I sorta guessed in Stephanie's book but she always threw in some reasonable doubt and I couldn't quite place the murderer. I was getting annoyed with a few characters which shows Stephanie's ability to craft her characters; each had a unique voice (and something that annoyed me). And she weaves them through each other, which twists and turns the plot until I was unsure of myself solving the mystery. The mystery is intriguing and the story moves along quickly. I wanted to keep reading to see WHO DONE IT! Stephanie kept me hooked from the first page.

When I thought of Stephanie writing this story, she scared me. I wondered if it scared her to write some of the story? Maybe I will interview her and we will find out together!

Good job again, Stephanie!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Thanks for your time and thought on these questions, Rachel!
Does anyone else have questions for Rachel? Leave them in the comments and I bet she will answer them...

Q: I remember the story of the child swallowing drugs. I have to admit, it made me look closer at the homes my children might go to. I think mothers are blessed with 'gut feelings'. What do you think?
A: Absolutely. There have been far too many times in my life where my children have been protected because I followed my gut feeling. I always look closely at any home where my children play, and quite frankly, I do everything I can to encourage them to invite the children to my house. I want to know what they are doing. The trick is to have food. Have food and they'll come.
Q: Can we do more to protect children?
A: There's always more we can do. We can look for problems in our neighborhoods, get to know the children who live near us. Ultimately, the responsibility lies with parents, where it should be, but when you have parents who are not responsible, things become more difficult.
Q: Is there a place to turn if someone feels a child is endanger?
A: You can call child services, you can talk to your clergy/bishop if they attend your church or congregation, and they have counselors at school you can see and who will interview the child to determine if there is a problem.
Q: How long did it take to get this story from idea to publisher?
A: I first had the idea for Saving Madeline about three years ago, but I was working on another series at the time. I finished the book about two years ago after about five months of writing. I let it sit for a few years before rewriting and submitting to my publisher, which is always the best thing to do if you have the time. Usually, I'm less than a year from idea to published book
Q: Which of your books was the hardest to write?
A: Without a doubt A Heartbeat Away was the most difficult because of the subject of the book (kidnapping). I couldn't sleep for five months.
Q: Which was the quickest?
A: Ariana: The making of a Queen, which took about six weeks. But it's a lot shorter than most of my novel, and I had fewer children back then.
Q: Do you set writing goals? Would you share them?
A: Yes. My goal for first draft is 2,000 words a day or 10,000 words a week. But that may change now that all my children are in school.
Q:Do you listen to music while writing? What about eating?
A: No. I very rarely do. In fact, my husband bought me a nice CD player for my office, but when we moved I set it up elsewhere. I like to listen to music for mood, but when I'm working I don't want anything to interrupt me.
As for eating. I try only to have those meal shakes, fruit, or vegetables at the computer. Anything else is just wasted calories because I'm not paying attention to the food but to the words. I keep the shakes handy to make sure I get a pick-me-up when I'm too busy to make a lunch.
Q:What is your favorite book? Why?
A: I love a lot of books. I really liked Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen, The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver. These two books are definitely not for teen readers, though, because of the subject matter (spousal abuse, abuse). I don't think I have a solid favorite yet. I read avidly, though. I loved the classics, To Kill a Mockingbird and David Copperfield. I also enjoyed the first Harry Potter. :-)
Q: Do you ever reread books? If yes, which ones?
A: Rarely, because there are so many books I have yet to read. I read Black and Blue twice. I probably reread a few more books in my collection again when I next go to Portugal on vacation. I've also read Ella Enchanted and Dave at Night twice to my children. I'll be reading Holes to them again when the younger ones are a bit older, as well as Levine's Princess series. As a general rule I don't reread books, but that means I spend far too much money on them. I've given away twice the amount of books I own, which is no small amount. Every Christmas, I spend more on books for everyone than just about anything else.
Q: What is your favorite movie?
A: There are only a handful of movies I've ever willingly watched twice--A Beautiful Mind, Cinderella Man, Gattica, Pride and Prejudice, and Sixth Sense. Sixth Sense was only because I wanted to see all the hints I'd missed the first time, but the others I watch just because I really liked them.
Q: What is your favorite color?
A: Red. I like black and hot pink, too. Baby blue is nice.
Q: What is your favorite treat/snack?
A: I love strawberries, grapes, cantaloupe, peaches, watermelon. I also enjoy Dove chocolate or those wonderful milk chocolate Utah Truffles.

Q: And finally, do you have a favorite lipstick color?? :)
A: No. I'm fickle. I use whatever matches my outfit that day! But I like to use Arbonne lipsticks as a base because they don't rub off, and then I put a shiny regular store-bought one over that.