Friday, April 30, 2010 | By: Taffy
Wednesday, April 28, 2010 | By: Taffy

Writing & Writing Conferences


I'm trying new hours this week for my writing.
I'll post my non-copyrighted notes from LDStorymakers next week.

Here is an awesome quote that should sustain you through the weekend if not your life:

"You can make a living as a writer."
Dave Wolverton
Tuesday, April 27, 2010 | By: Taffy

I'll Know You By Heart by Kimberly Job


The day Stephanie Roberts met Jared Wakefield, she didn't realize they'd met before. Running from an abusive marriage and trying to safeguard her children, she turns to Jared for support, but he needs more from her than she might be capable of giving. With her abusive husband looming in her past, the difficulties they must overcome to be together seem insurmountable. Is it possible for love to conquer all? I'll Know You By Heart is a timeless romance that explores the possibility that relationships span the entire realm of eternity. A story about abuse, hardship, and betrayal, it is ultimately a story about the healing power of everlasting true love.

'I'll Know You by Heart' is a story about abuse, heartache, faith, forgiveness and love. Stephanie is an abused wife. She finally gets the courage to leave him when he hits one of the children. I was so frustrated and angry with the husband. Humans should not treat hurt each other let alone their spouse or children. I felt for Stephanie as she tried to find a job and a home, keep everyone safe emotionally and physically and take the next step in getting away from her husband.
When she meets Jared, she realizes men an treat women with respect.
Jared is kind, sensitive and thoughtful. He went through his own trials with his wife and is trying to safe guard his daughter against further pain. He didn't expect to fall in love. I wanted Jared and Stephanie to live happily ever after, but life isn't like fairy tales. There are hardships to overcome but those are meant to make us stronger.

Kimberly did a superb job in getting me emotional invested in the story. I smiled, laughed and a couple of time, cried. I developed even more empathy for women trapped in an abusive relationship. I feel for the children as well.
This is Kimberly's first book and a great start of her career.
This book is a good, clean romance.


Rating: PG
S: None
L: None
V: abusive husband hurts wife and two children.

To buy Kim's book at Amazon click here.
Visit Kim's website here.
Saturday, April 24, 2010 | By: Taffy

Whitney Award Winners


Best Romance
"Counting the Cost by Liz Adair






Best Mystery/Suspense
"Methods of Madness" by Stephanie Black (woot woot!)






Best Youth Fiction
"The Chosen One" by Carol Lynch Williams









Best Speculative Fiction
"Servant of a Dark God" by John Brown








Best Historical Fiction
"The Last Waltz" by G.G. Vandegriff







Best General Fiction
"Hotel On The Corner Of Bitter And Sweet" by Jamie Ford






Best Novel by a New Author A TIE!
Gravity vs. The Girl by Riley Noehren AND I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells






Best Novel of the Year
"In the Company of Angels" by David Farland
Thursday, April 22, 2010 | By: Taffy

Writing Conference


I'm off to the LDStorymakers conference tomorrow.
To be honest, I have mixed feelings.
I know I will learn! I know this.
But I have attitude about what will actually penetrate the frontal lobe of my writer's brain.

I guess I'll find out this weekend and report on Monday!

Have a fantabulous weekend!
Monday, April 19, 2010 | By: Taffy

Book Review-The Thorn (Book One-The Chronicles of Gan)


Three tribes are at war on the planet Gan, unaware that the sign of Christ’s birth on an unknown world - Earth - is about to appear in the heavens. During a bloody skirmish with Gideonite troops, Jonathan of Daniel spares Pekah, a young enemy soldier, gaining his trust forever. These two distant brothers from estranged tribes covenant with each other to end the war being waged by a self-proclaimed emperor, and soon discover the intentions of a far more dangerous foe named Rezon - a sinister general bent on ruling those he can bring into subjection and destroying all others. In the end, Pekah’s selfless bravery is the means by which all the tribes are united. But there are dissenters, and Rezon escapes a well-deserved fate. When the promised heavenly signs appear, will there be peace at last, or will the malefactors once again threaten the safety of them all?

"The Thorn" is full of rich descriptions. The author has a great handle on helping the reader "see" the countryside, towns and the characters.
I must admit, I was a little confused at the beginning of this book about the religion. But as I got more into the book, I understood what Daron was doing.
The story takes place on a planet called Gan where three tribes were warring against the other, each wanting to rule, and many believe owning The Thorn is the key and is only symbolic. But not everyone wants bloodshed.
Daron mixes conflict, romance and religion in a clever way. I clearly "saw" Gan thanks to Daron's descriptions. The mountains, towns, forests and even tents were clearly defined. I also enjoyed the suns and moons.
Each character had their own voice and personality. I really wanted Daron's main characters to succeed at the same time wanting the bad guys to lose and lose big.
"The Thorn" was a good, clean, uplifting book.
I'll be waiting for the second book, Daron!

Click here to buy Daron's book.
Visit Daron's blog here.

Rated G
S: none
V: none
L: none
Sunday, April 18, 2010 | By: Taffy

Library-Loving Blog Challenge

Quick update on the library $$ raised from the blog challenge:

You’re getting this message because you participated in the Library-Loving Blog Challenge by running a challenge, spreading the word, and/or making a flat donation. This message is the final wrap-up report for the 2010 challenge. So, before I say anything else, I must say:

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We had more than 50 participants this year, with challenges running over at least two weeks. The libraries that benefited were located throughout the world.
The final amount is $5148, plus 80 pounds (UK), plus at least $300 worth of new books, plus donations of materials such as used books and audiobooks. This is more than double what we raised last year!

Complete details on who donated what to which libraries may be found at these post:
Library Blog Challenge
Thursday, April 15, 2010 | By: Taffy

Less Is More



Another email about writing:

"This is what I mean when I say that authors must first do no harm. I think authors can write about anything, as long as they do it in a way that helps their reader become a better person in some way. Nothing should go into your book merely for prurient interest, or to shock, or to be edgy. If nothing else, it's just bad writing. Less is often more. Hitchcock is much more suspenseful than Freddie Krueger. The movie romances of the 40s and 50s with their subtlety is much more romantic than most of today's romances. Of modern films While You Were Sleeping is one of the most romantic, and the furthest they go is a kiss at the end.

Edgy will also lose you sales.

So, if you're writing hard things because you want to help kids going through serious issues to get through them and come out on top, great. Books like that are needed.

But if you're doing it for any other reason, you might risk having a more poorly written book that doesn't sell as well as it could. And there's a chance you might encourage attitudes in kids that would actually harm them. And you don't want that."

Here's an interesting list of top grossing movies in the U.S.(in no order): "Avatar", "Star Wars", Pirates of the Caribbean", "Lord of the Rings", "E.T.", "Titanic", "Dark Knight", etc. With the exception of "Titanic" (a few scenes could have been cut and not hurt the movie) there was no sex and few innuendos in those movies. If the movies can make money on "less is more" why can't books?
And most of my favorite romantic movies that I like to watch and again and again are clean. Why not books?
What do you think?
Wednesday, April 14, 2010 | By: Taffy

Contest Alert

Win a copy of Trisit Pinkston's "Secret Sisters" book on Michele Ashman Bell's blog here. Her book sounds fun!

Sarah With A Chance is doing a celebratory contest. Win a partial critique or a query critique or lunch with an editor if you live in NYC. Click here for details.

Over here on Courtney Johnson's site is yet another contest where you can win a critique! 10,000 word critique!

Funny Youtube 'Editing Letter'

Lara Zielin's Video of 'Editing Letter' here!

Lara Zielin's agony and ecstasy as she edits her debut novel, DONUT DAYS. "Editing Letter" is sung, karaoke style, to Corey Hart's "Never Surrender."
Lara's Website: http://www.larawrites.com
More on Donut Days: http://tinyurl.com/cy9tjp
Monday, April 12, 2010 | By: Taffy

Personal Censorship



There are a few websites you can check before you read a book. If you know one I have missed, please let me know.

Common Sense Media-I like the rating system on the site. Members can give star ratings and reviews. It also covers TV shoes, movies, websites and music.

GoodReads-I just find the place on this website where I can see which friends give similar ratings to my ratings.

Shelfari-I like being able to add tags to organize my books. Also, I can see which books have the highest ratings for the day.

LibraryThing-I like that I can give 1/2 stars on this site.

Here is an observation from one of my emails:
I've conducted a teen book group at a public library for a long time now. A few years ago we were discussing genres and I was book talking a lot of books that weren't fantasy in hopes of giving the kids other choices. When they didn't take the bait, I asked them what it was about fantasy that they loved so much and their answer surprised me--They're clean reads. I hadn't thought about this before but realized they were right. And I applauded them for knowing what they wanted and what they didn't want. Some of them also informed me that was why they read books from the general section of the library, rather than the teen section--they didn't find as much of what would be objectionable material in the authors they were choosing.

When I got back into children's lit about 20 years ago, I would often hear authors say that an editor or publishing house had requested they take certain things out of their books because people wouldn't buy the book with those things in it. Now, I hear them say they are encouraged to add those things if they don't have them in their books.

I have been impressed with Common Sense. They don't pass judgment. They don't say "read this" or "don't read this". They simply state the facts AND then give questions parents could use in discussing the book with their children.
Friday, April 9, 2010 | By: Taffy

Janette Rallison on YA Market


In the emails I've been getting and posting bits and pieces for you, I have been learning a lot about myself and habits.

I really enjoyed these emails from Janette Rallison (I asked her permission to reprint her emails here and she said "go for it!"):

This is a soap box issue for me. So many of my fellow national market YA authors put sexual content in their books. Maybe they don't think it's a big deal to have their 16 or 17 or 18 year-old have sex, (sometimes the characters are much younger though. My son picked up a book where the 13 year-old characters had sex) but the fact of matter is that it generally isn't 16-18 year olds who are reading these books. It's 11-15 year olds. Once kids are 16, they've pretty much left the YA market and read adult novels.

Yes, we need to have a variety of books that deal with a variety of subjects--even difficult subjects like date rape and incest. Some kids need those books. But even they can be written tastefully. Personally, I don't want sex normalized for young kids. I don't want my kids to have those images and thoughts in their minds when they start dating--and although it's unfair of me to push my beliefs onto others--I don't want the teenagers my kids date to have those thoughts or images in their minds while they're out with my kids.

But even more, it bothers me that so many authors portray sex as okay as long as you use protection. STDs are rampant in our society. According to several official websites (that I didn't believe until I talked to my gynecologist) 80% of sexually active people over the age of 14 have at least one STD. Protection doesn't stop many of the STDs. No where in these YA books is this fact being talked about. I feel that by normalizing it and making kids feel that everyone is doing it and it's okay to do, those authors are not telling kids the truth and they're putting kids at risk.

Which is why I write G-rated books. For now--I'm sorely tempted to write one where the heroine thinks it's okay because she's in love and then the guy breaks up with her because, hey, he's 17 and has less maturity than blue cheese, and she's stuck with a life long painful disease.

That would probably not be my usual type of romantic comedy . . .

Janette Rallison

Since the subject came up about censoring things in YA books, I thought I'd put in that editors always censor things in your books--it's just a matter of what they are censoring. A lot of times they're things you wouldn't think would be censored. In Just One Wish I had a scene where the heroine lost a pet snake on a movie set. I had to add in later that someone found it because someone who read the advanced reading copy got offended that the heroine had been so thoughtless of the animal's safety. I pointed out to my editor that it was a fictional snake and therefore quite capable of catching mice on its own, but no dice. It had to be changed.

In It's A Mall World After all I had a little girl who sat on Santa's lap and told him, "Say hello to baby Jesus for me." That had to go because the editor didn't want anything religious in the book. (Hello, what is Christmas about?)

Here are things I had to cut from My Fair Godmother:

The sentence where I described Savannah's Snow White outfit. I said it was a simple red gown, thankfully lacking the collar in Disney's version, which made Snow White look like she was wearing a megaphone around her neck. My editor cut that because she didn't want Disney mad at us.

I also had to cut some of the religious references about the Middle Ages. My editor didn't want any mention of religion in the book because religion, at least Christian religion, is a taboo subject in young adult literature. I know, it doesn't make any sense. Especially since we are dealing with the Middle Ages. Is it a surprise to anybody that the people of that time were Catholic? No matter, I cut the scene where she went to church and the mention of her reading in her history book about popes and bishops.

My last example of cuts: I had to cut all the parts that dealt with leprechaun drinking. Originally I had a leprechaun who'd accidentally come to Virginia with Savannah's Irish neighbors. He had one too many Guinnesses and crawled into a box to sleep it off. When he woke up he was in an airplane cargo box, wedged between a bunch of knickers, and flying over the Pacific ocean.

Really, now that I think about it, he was sort of a lush.

My editor didn't want any mention of alcohol in the book. Which is ironic because I don't drink at all. So yeah, you'd think I'd be the last one to encourage any young, impressionable leprechauns to start downing whiskey. Plus, it was probably a good idea to cut those parts because the drinking-leprechaun is sort of a stereo type, and I wouldn't want a bunch of angry leprechauns banning my book.

Censorship is just part of the writing process

Janette Rallison
Wednesday, April 7, 2010 | By: Taffy

Writing Marathon-4 Hours!

Come try the next writing marathon I found!

Writing on the Wall Write-A-Thon

YA Books-Should they teach?

Here are a few more emails/opinions from a discussion on writing YA:

"I strongly feel there is a huge difference between YA that connects with
teenagers' strong emotions and possible past trauma and YA that simply
employs edgy (and downright explicit) topics to gain an audience and be
considered cutting edge. I completely agree with Barnes and Nobles'
assessment of Living Dead Girl when it says:

"Reading this novel won't help girls or women who are victims of sexual
violence."

"This book does nothing to empower, empathize, strengthen, or connect
with its reader, nor do many books like it in this genre. Not liking the
repetitive description of sexual abuse in a book has nothing to do with
the fact there are lots of LDS people in Utah and we aren't used to this
sort of thing. It has to do with the fact that the plot focuses on the
actual abusive action and not on how the victim overcomes and heals from
what she/he has experienced. BTW, abuse of children in Utah is right up
there with the rest of the nation, give or take a few percentage points
either way depending on who did the study. The number one predictor of
whether there is abuse in a home is poverty. Religion has very little to
do with it.

The best way to approach these types of subjects is education,
education, education. Does education of a child or teenager happen when
he/she find a graphically explicit book in the library, reads it, and
then has to make sense of it in his/her head? No. Despite all the talk
of "you just have to have an open and frank conversation with your
child," that is rarely the case and parents who think their teenager is
coming to them with all her/his questions about disturbing things she/he
has read is mistaken. There is an effective, open way to tackle these
problems. Books about abuse and sex can be helpful. Some simply create
curiosity and can be damaging.

In addition, the book that began this discussion wasn't about sexual
abuse but it was about a frivolous sexual encounter between two
teenagers on the beach. I have not read the book. However, these are the
questions I would ask myself if I were to make a judgment on it. Does it
teach the repercussions of such an action? Does it show the physical,
mental and emotional grief that happen to teenagers who participate in
this type of behavior? Studies show (and not just those from Utah)
that early-teen sex often leads to many other problems in life including:
STDs, emotional abandonment issues, teenage pregnancy,which often leads
to no education and poverty, etc.

I fully believe a responsible author and publisher SHOULD be very
sensitive if their material is age appropriate. This type of adult
responsibility is completely different from the overused cry of censorship."

"I'm more concerned when teens are reading things for leisure that can
teach bad habits, foster poor self esteem and define an unrealistic
sense of self worth and ability." - Well said!

From another email:
"My parents tried to shelter me from everything. Instead of talking about
things like sex we were simply told not to do it. I got into a lot of
trouble as a teenager and while my parents wanted to shelter me from the
world they didn't have a whole lot of control over what I checked out
from the library. I remember reading books that talked about suicide,
drugs, sex etc... None of these books influenced me for good, perhaps
they would have if I would have gotten some adult commentary to go along
with it. I sometimes think that these books were not helpful in
understanding the real world or my volatile feelings but more like "how
to" manuals. So while I don't agree with the way my parents addressed
this issue I will be very careful about what I let my children be
exposed to."

Monday, April 5, 2010 | By: Taffy

My Post @ Utah Children's Writers



We have two cats and they are fun and funny. Sometimes, one will be in the garage sleeping and the other in the backyard like he's patrolling for mice. I got out in the garage later and the patrolling cat is home taking a nap and the other is gone. It's almost like they have a system: scout out the backyard and surrounding areas (tease the big dog next door); make sure no rodents or other enemies get in our yard; come back for R&R; start over again.

That's how I came up with the idea for my short short over on Utah Children's Writers.
If you have a minute, check out 'Cats'.



P.S. NouveauWriter is giving away a cool book : 'The First Five Pages: A Writers Guide to Staying Out of the Slush Pile'. Check out the contest here.
Friday, April 2, 2010 | By: Taffy

Happy Easter

Women of the Book of Mormon by Heather Moore

Explore the lives, circumstances, and choices of women in the Book of Mormon in this uplifting and inspiring volume that illustrates the parallel between the lives of the women of the Book of Mormon and LDS women today. With new insights on practically every page, author Heather B. Moore explores the written and unwritten stories of the prominent women in the Book of Mormon—taking familiar material and providing vivid details about family dynamics, domestic practices, and other aspects of daily life. By applying historical and cultural contexts to the situations of women like Sariah, Abish, Eve, Mary and the faithful mothers of the stripling warriors, you will peek beneath the surface of the scriptural accounts to better understand both the righteous women of the Book of Mormon—and the women who didn’t use their agency wisely.

After I finished reading Women of the Book of Mormon; Insights and Inspirations, I made a mental list of all the extraordinary women in my life I wanted to give this book to: my mother, mother-in-law, sisters-in-law, one for each of my visiting teachers, the women I work with in my calling and a few extras for friends. The ideal day to give this book as a gift would be Mother's Day since many of the women in Heather's book are mother's. But this is a book to give all year long.

I didn't realize how many women were actually in the Book of Mormon. We don't know all their names but they play a role in history from Sariah to the wife of Lamoni to the Stripling Warriors mothers.
Heather shows us how each of these women lived in their time and gives us a look at what they may have felt or acted according to their era.
For instance, Sariah most likely lived on a big estate with servants. Then her husband tells her they need to leave their home and she lives in a tent. What was that trial like for her? With no servants, Sariah and her daughters were now in charge of gathering, cooking, and running a household in the wilderness.
This is just one example Heather shows us. There are eleven more in her book for us to get to know and maybe understand better.

As I read Heather's book, I was expecting all righteous women but there were a few that weren't. How about the story of the Daughter of Jared who danced for a man so he would kill her grandfather who sat on the throne. How was she to know that her new husband would also kill her father and eventually her son?
But Heather also taught me that we are ALL daughters of a Heavenly Father who loves us unconditionally. We can all strive to do what's right and return to Him one day.

Women of the Book of Mormon: Insights and Inspirations is a well-written , well- researched book with a look into the lives of the twelve women in the Book of Mormon. Each woman has her own chapter, which makes it easy to pick up and read again and again. Heather's words weave a story and history together that helps any reader understand what is written without feeling overwhelmed by facts.
I also looked forward to each picture at the beginning of the chapters. They were beautiful!
This book is very appropriate for anyone to read and another great book from Heather Moore.

Check out her author website here.

Book of Mormon women can be pre-ordered at Deseret book here, and Barnes and Noble here.
Thursday, April 1, 2010 | By: Taffy

Poetry Month

Have you ever wanted to write a poem but were too nervous? I mean really, there are amazing poems out there. And then, there are some poems that I just don't get.

There are a few poets I LOVE:
Shel Silverstein: “If you are a dreamer,come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a hoper, a prayer, a magic-bean-buyer. If you're a pretender, come sit by my fire, for we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!”
Dr. Suess: “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You."
Emily Dickinson: "A word is dead when it is said, some say. I say it just begins to live that day."
Eliza R. Snow:
"In the heav’ns are parents single? No, the thought makes reason stare!"

There are many, many more but I don't have time and space to give them all credit.
Brimful Curiosities has a great list of poetry sites. Click here.


Do you have a favorite poem/poet?
Have you ever written a poem?