Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Drat! Foiled again!

A few months ago I won a full manuscript critique from Michelle Argyle. She sent it back with fantastic notes and ideas. Still, I was overwhelmed with the thought of revisions. My critique group suggested I set the story aside for a little while and look at it anew later.
I was going to follow their advice, I really was! Until I listened to a Writing Excuses podcast on foil characters.
What the heck?
The image of Joaquin Phoenix in a tinfoil hat came to mind. But that isn't what the podcast was teaching me.

Foil - a character that is used to enhance another character through contrast, highlighting strengths and weaknesses. Create characters in pairs like the straight man and the comedian or Cinderella’s grace and beauty as opposed to her nasty, self-centered stepsisters.

Here are a few other examples of foil characters:
Batman & Robin
Sherlock Holmes & Watson
Danny Glover and Mel Gibson (Lethal Weapon)
Wise mentor & newcomer

The last example is the one that perked up Le Muse from a sleepy state of boredom. Siblings! I need to add a a sibling.
My story centers around Mandy, a girl who found out her mother is really an alien impostor and her father has been with holding this secret for years. She didn't want to believe there were aliens taking over her town or abducting boys until her father is taken.
Not really intense. But! Add a teasing brother who drives his sister nuts and not only believes in aliens but claims to have seen them. Mandy makes fun of him.  Not until the brother is abducted does she have to face the facts and save the day.
I'm happy to say I'm ready to do revisions now. Well, the job is still overwhelming but now I can move on to the next step and make this story better!

What foil characters come to your mind?  Do you have them in your story?

PS Don't you LOVE Joaquin in The Village? Best. Romantic. Scene. Ever.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Hello?? Where's my muse?

My muse has been absent of late. I think she took a vacation with no notice. For the last two weeks or so the absence of Le Muse has left me without my daily creative outlet. I haven't been able to do much writing or editing. I tried reading articles about writers block and how to get motivated to no avail. I started getting snarky with my family, taking naps and watching "Revenge."
Pinterest stepped in to save my sanity. I found recipes to bake (my family loved me!), crafts to make, and picture ideas to retake. Plus I cleaned and organized a few closets (Mom! What did you do with my broken spy glasses I never play with but now I want to because you threw them out??). 
For a week I've had the song "Hello" by Martin Solveig & Dragonette in my head. Seriously. I could not for the life of me get it outta there. I tried listening to different songs on the radio. Turned Jango up. Even had the kids sing songs to me. Nothing helped.
Then BAM! I got a great idea for the book I'm writing! I sat back down in my comfy chair and wrote it. And. kept. writing.
Le Muse was back and saying hello.
"I could stick around and get along with you, hello!"

I'm back in the groove, my friends, and it feels sooo good!

What about you? How are you doing today?

Here's a song to get your brain cells moving:

I picture Le Muse as the girl singing this song.
What does your muse look like??

Whatever you do, Do Not play the video below. This song was stuck in my head for days. I'll post it just in case you're crazy:

Friday, February 24, 2012

Foto Friday

The new Pied Piper:

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Have you ever Googled yourself??

"I wish my name was Brian because maybe sometimes people would misspell my name and call me Brain. That's like a free compliment and you don't even gotta be smart to notice it." Mitch Hedberg

I think as writers we need to know what's associated with our names out in the wide, open world. Many authors add a middle initial to make sure they get the the credit for their hard earned work and not to be mistaken by another person with the same name.
My name, Taffy, is obviously going to pop up with candy and Taffy Town. And with the last name Lovell, I'm linked to an astronaut and city (there's even two creeks in the City of Austin with both my names: one is Taffy and one is Lovell!). Look at what else popped up: (heehee)

An amazing picture Sarah Eden drew of me (took her hours and hours).

Guy named Taffy

Taffy asleep

Taffy the Golfer

Did you know there's a Yeah. Taffy's on it.

And a cute married couple. Wait. That's me! I almost didn't recognize my younger self.  *smiles*

I'm curious to learn what your name is linked to on WWW. Go Google your name then come back and tell me about it! Or do a blog post and link it back here so we can all read about you.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

LDStorymaker's Conference May 4-5, 2012

2012 LDStorymakers Conference is coming soon!
Lovelovelove this conference.
You should go.
Go to this site and register.
I'll save you a seat!

Conference: May 4-5 2012
  • 2-Day Conference: $170
  • Friday-only Conference: $95
  • Saturday-only Conference: $75
Conference: May 4-5, 2012
  • 2-Day Conference: $170
  • Friday-only Conference: $95
  • Saturday-only Conference: $75
The Provo Marriott Hotel
101 West 100 North · Provo, Utah 84601 USA

Friday, February 17, 2012

Show some love to all writers & authors!

This week is quickly coming to an end! Wow. As I post about the writers who have affected me, I realize there's even more than I'll ever be able to post about.

Once I entered the realm of writing a whole new world exploded open. I can not tell you how many amazing/awesome/cool/motivating people I've met.
Here is a shout out to all of you, my friends.
May your computers stay charged, your pencil lead not break, your ideas keep flowing and your story become what you dream it will be.

Loves and hugs to you.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Show some love! James Dashner

I met Dashner, James Dashner at a writing conference in Midway. We had a fun group that weekend with Nicole Giles, Eric Swedin, Heather Moore and a few others that escape my memory. I believe Heather had an ARC of Maze runner that night and I was dying to get my hands on it. (I almost stooped to stealing but I'm proud to say I didn't.)

Our group had a great time that weekend talking and laughing. James told me about his goal to quit his accounting job (can you imagine him working numbers all day?). He had a specific day he would become a full time author. He worked hard on his writing and accomplished his goal. I totally admire his tenacity and talent. We can all learn from him.

He has such an easy, happy way with people. He can put anyone at ease. And he's funny! Be prepared not to be drinking anything while he's talking.
Oh. And just a heads up, he loves horseradish and will steal all of it if given the chance.

Hop over to The Dashner Dude's blog and say hi!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Show some love! Jeff Savage

How was Valentine's for you? Sick of chocolate yet? Yeah. Me either. :)

A few years ago I attended a charity book event in Ogden. I'd never been and had no idea where to go. After a flurry of emails I ended up carpooling with some awesomesauce people like Jeff Savage, Sharon Glens, Kristen Landon and Juliana Montgomery. Jeff was definitely outnumbered and we teased him about being the head of a harem. He was a good sport. Another fun author who is quick to laugh and easy to talk to. Love his laugh.
On the way home Jeff asked me about my writing. He listened, asked questions then gave me advice. He's such a nice guy and gentleman. He is awesome at listening to newbies like me.

If you have a chance to go to any of Jeff's presentations, do it. He's an excellent teacher. He makes newbies feel like they are not alone in this writing world.

Here's a shout out to J. Scott Savage!

Do you have any author or writer you admire? Shout out in the comments!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Show me the love! Tristi Pinkston

Having a good Valentine's Day? Eating an extra piece of chocolate. There are no calories today!

Today I want to talk about the next person who helped me, made me smile and answered all my questions:
Tristi Pinkston

I don't remember when we met. Writer's conference? Book signing? I'm not sure. I'm just happy we're friends.
She wrote a book called Season of Sacrifice about the Hole-in-the-Rock expedition. My hubby's ancestors were in that group and I wanted a signed copy for him. I found Tristi easy to talk to and laugh with. She's clever, witty and brave. She has so much going on with writing, reviewing books, homeschooling and getting healthy. And yet, she still has time for the newbies like me. Even at Wal-Mart! :)

Thank you, Tristi, for everything you do in our writing community!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Show me the love! Heather Moore

First off, Happy Valentine's Week! I hope you do eat lots of chocolate.

This week makes me think of those who show love in my writing world. Those authors who pay it forward. I believe almost ALL writers help other newbies like me. Someone showed me kindness by giving advice or making me laughing or helping me see a better way.

I want to honor a few of them this week.

My first book had a LDS theme. When I finished my story I suddenly realized I had no idea what to do next. I researched the local market and came across someone by the name of Heather Moore. I read her blog, My Writer's Lair, read one of her books and entered one of her contests. I signed up to read and review one of her newer books. She thanked me personally when I posted the review. That's how she is.

We met at a writers conference. She was kind and funny and made me feel welcome. I saw her at a few more conferences (I really hoped she didn't think I was a stalker!), took a couple of her classes and sat down with her to talk. She freely gave advice, answered all my writing questions and basically bouyed me up when I needed it. She's awesome!
I'll be forever grateful to her and her faith in me.

(Show Heather some love by checking out her blog and telling her hi!)

What about you? Do you have someone you are grateful to? Someone who has paid it forward?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Wacky Foto Friday

Huge Rabbit sculpture by Gelitin collective, near Artesina, in the Italian Alps - you can see it in Google maps

Monday, February 6, 2012

What's inside your characters?

For the purpose of this post, you must have seen the Breakfast Club. Just kidding.
You just need basic knowledge of the characters. Do you remember them?

Basket Case

 What made them memorable?
One great scene we get to know the Breakfast Club was lunchtime. The Athlete had a humongous lunch; the Princess had sushi; the Basket Case had a Capn Crunch sandwich.
What else? The way they dressed. Language. Who they sat by. The way they walked and talked.

How can we make our characters stand out in our stories?
I found one worksheet that I LOVE. A big shout out to Josi Kilpack! I'm using her characterization worksheet today.  I've been able to flesh out my characters so much more internally and externally. If you can take a class from her on this, I advise doing it. I learned a ton from her.
I'm not going to give everything on her worksheet here but I will tell you the main things I do with my characterizations.


What is the primary goal of your character? Love, money, power, security, absolution, revenge or justice. Everything your character does is affected by one of those. If their goal is to have security, everything they do will be geared toward this goal. Every path taken will be aimed at having security.
If security is the primary goal, what is the secondary? The character might believe that money gives security.
NOW! How do these two goals clash or create conflict? Maybe the character has money but trusts no one and therefore, doesn't feel safe and secure (because he got the money by robbing a bank).
Does your character have a motivating fear? They might fear they aren't lovable. Or they are a serial killer. That would take away a little bit of security, wouldn't it?
What happens to your character to change them? What is the point of change? Do they learn that riches come with a price?
What do they discover about themselves? The might learn they are a good person and don't need money to be secure so they turn themselves in.


What does the character do that contrasts with their inner goals? He wants money but can't hold down a job. Gets mouthy with the boss or steals time.
What do they do to compliment their inner goals? When he does get paid, he invests wisely.
What is the characters stand out physical feature? Good posture
What is the physical flaw? Big ears & two different colored eyes.
Do they have scars or tattoos? Scar cutting through eyebrows.
What are they hobbies? Sudoku
Nervous habits? Rubs neck.
Favorite music? Blue grass.
Who is the most important person in their lives? Father.

You should know: eye & hair color, age, weight, height, birth date & place, birth order, etc

How do you make sure your characters are unique? 
Do you have a work sheet? Character bible?

Friday, February 3, 2012

2011 Whitney Finalists

2011 Finalists

Click HERE to download a PDF of the 2011 finalists
Click HERE to purchase tickets to the 2011 Whitney Awards Gala on May 5th at the Provo Marriott


Before I Say Goodbye
Gifted The Evolution of Thomas Hall The Walk: Miles To Go
The Wedding Letters
Rachel Ann Nunes Karey White Kieth Merrill Richard Paul Evans Jason F. Wright


Daughter of Helaman
Fires of Jerusalem
Isabelle Webb: The Pharaoh’s Daughter Letters in the Jade Dragon Box
Miss Delacourt Has Her Day
Misty Moncur* Marilyn Brown N.C. Allen Gale Sears Heidi Ashworth


Borrowed Light
Captive Heart
Count Down to Love Not My Type
The List
Carla Kelly Michele Paige Holmes Julie N. Ford Melanie Jacobson Melanie Jacobson*


Acceptable Loss
Bloodborne If I Should Die
Rearview Mirror
Anne Perry Gregg Luke Jennie Hansen Stephanie Black Traci Hunter Abramson


A Night of Blacker Darkness
I Don’t Want to Kill You
No Angel
The Alloy of Law: A Mistborn Novel
The Lost Gate
Dan Wells Dan Wells Theresa Sneed* Brandon Sanderson Orson Scott Card

Youth Fiction—Speculative

My Unfair Godmother
Shifting Slayers Tuesdays at the Castle
Janette Rallison Bethany Wiggins C.J. Hill Jessica Day George Robison Wells

Youth Fiction—General

Girls Don’t Fly
Miles From Ordinary
Pride & Popularity
Sean Griswold’s Head
With a Name Like Love
Kristen Chandler Carol Lynch Williams Jenni James Lindsey Leavitt Tess Hilmo*

Of these finalists, the following titles are also eligible for Best Novel by New Author 2011:

  • Daughter of Helaman by Misty Moncur
  • Gifted by Karey White
  • No Angel by Theresa Sneed
  • The List by Melanie Jacobson
  • With a Name Like Love by Tess Hilmo

A few of my favorite things I'm doing

I'm reading: Fiction: The Light After the War by Anita Abriel  It is 1946 when Vera Frankel and her best friend Edith Ban ...