Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Reflecting

By C. LaRene Hall


It’s that time of year when our thoughts turn to new beginnings and we all seek to make new goals. Today I also want to reflect and see if I accomplished those things I set out to do this past year.

Did I write something every day? Did I finish any stories? Did I submit the stories that I wrote? Did I attend any new conferences and classes to learn something about writing? This year I can answer yes to all the above questions.

Besides writing goals, I wanted to improve my personal life. I wanted to let others know that they helped me in some way, and I tried more often to thank those around me for the little things they did. I’m sure I still fell short and I hope to improve this coming year.

During November, I realized how important the two small words, thank you, could be. Since August, I have helped my sisters take care of my mother, but after months of caring for her, she finally started to say those magical words. After hearing this for many days, I found I didn’t mind doing the things I had to do. I actually looked forward to spending time with her. This coming year I’m hoping that I’ll have the courage and courtesy to say thank you more often to those who help me.

For many years, my first goal every year is time management. I can’t function without having a plan. Besides the usual things – keeping a daily log – and prioritizing, I will diligently look ahead to the up coming primary lesson. It’s been a while since I had a weekly lesson to give, and with all my other responsibilities, I can see this part of my life becoming complicated. My plan is that every Sunday afternoon after church I will read next week’s lesson. I will not leave it until Saturday night. I learned many years ago that if you do this, you have all week long to get your thoughts and ideas organized for the upcoming lesson.

It’s not always easy to organize my time but when I do plan, things always go more smoothly. I recently received a stake calling to be the music chairman. This is going to be new to me. Although I have lots of music background, I’ve never been the ward music chairman and wonder how I can do this with no experience. I guess this came my way because I thought I had held every church position that a woman could hold. I’m going to be more careful about the things I think about from now on.

My upcoming yearly goals are
1. Plan every single day, and prioritize what I have to do.
2. Prepare primary lesson early.
3. Fulfill my stake calling to the best of my ability and attend all the meetings required.
4. Be more kind to other people.
5. Say thank you to someone every day.
6. Write something every day.
7. Continue to submit the things I write.
8. Finish writing some of the stories I’ve started.
9. Attend writing conferences.
10. Try writing in a new genre.

I hope you will each make a list of your new goals for the upcoming year, but also take time to reflect on this past year. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

So this is Christmas


by Keith Fisher

In 1971, John Lennon recorded a Happy Christmas song that always haunted me. Here are the lyrics from the first stanza.

So this is Christmas
And what have you done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear ones
The old and the young

Every time I heard, "And what have you done?" I always thought about whether I’ve done my part to end war and poverty. Every year, I came up short. Each year, after the dust settles and the wrapping paper goes in the trash, I look out at the abundance and I know I could do more. There was far less this year than years before, but still, I could do more.

But this year, I was struck by another meaning: Another year over and a new one just begun. I look back on my writing year and I’m happy. I’ve got four books finished one at the publisher, one in critique group and the other two in the wings. I’ve started plotting another book and I’m writing three blogs a week. Getting paid for writing. Things are looking up. A new, year has just begun and I hope that this year will be the one that I look back on as the year it all came together.

Christmas was two days ago, the world is shifting gears for New Years but I’d love to play Nichole’s game.

My favorite Christmas stories are not published per se. They are from family history and bear remembering. Like the time in Southern Alberta when my great grand parents, ordered Christmas from a catalog. Shoes for the kids, it was all they had. Christmas Eve came, and no shoes. They received word there was a package for them in the post office in Cardston, but the storm was too much. The kids would be devastated. My great grandmother prayed. Suddenly a man appeared on the porch. He was completely covered in snow, but he’d brought the shoes for Christmas. He was their neighbor and was coming home from Cardston. He felt inspired to go to the post office.

As for the other stories about Christmas,

A Christmas Carol.
It’s a wonderful life.
Luke II
Polar Express
National Lampoons Christmas Vacation

I know. The last one is a movie. And it’s unusual, but it brings a smile to my face and often, that’s just what I need.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

By Nichole Giles

It occurs to me that today was my day to post a blog. I didn't exactly forget, but I was the tiniest bit occupied...

After not missing a blog for nearly three years, it's hard to go through a Thursday without posting. And today, of all days, I have so many things to write about. But I'm not going to. Instead, I'm spending the remainder of my Christmas day with my family.

Thanks for your continued support. Remember the reason for the season.


Merry Christmas!


From the LDS Writer's Blogck Bloggers.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays

by C. LaRene Hall

Before starting my blog, I will accept the tag and name five of my favorite Christmas stories/movies.
1. Christmas Carol
2. Return to Christmas
3. The Nutcracker
4. White Christmas
5. A Grandpa for Christmas

We all have different traditions and customs when celebrating Christmas. In our home, we have an artificial tree. My husband hangs electric lights, and the grandchildren and I hang the various ornaments that I have collected over the years. They each represent something I care about or places I’ve visited. My daughter Annette, comes each year and arranges my Christmas village. Every year it seems to grow, but she’s getting very good at doing it quickly.

Our family, like so many others, has a celebration together. We exchange gifts, play games, and always eat together. Since our family is so large now we sometimes have a hard time planning a time that is convenient for everyone. In fact, this year, we were missing one piece of our family because he had to work. Since we usually have to do this a few weeks before Christmas, it makes Christmas Eve feel empty to me. All the families are busy with their own small family and the next morning there are no small children at my home sneaking in to see what Santa brought for them. No one wants to leave their home on Christmas Day, so I’m sure glad for those invitations to visit them at their house.

I guess this leaves me lots of time to write. Who ever heard of someone writing on Christmas Eve? Anyway, I hope you all have a happy holiday and don’t eat too much.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

I Found Lincoln on My Couch

By Keith Fisher

I spent a lot of time as a child, lying on my back gazing at clouds. I’d imagine wild animals, odd shapes, and people’s faces. I’m sure you did also. It seems to be a childhood occupation on summer days. How many of you also spent hours making faces out of a floral print on furniture? How many of you looked at wallpaper and saw people staring back at you? I remember the old man with the long nose, and the elephant with square ears. My childhood was filled with images of this kind.

Recently, I caught myself staring at the floral print on our living room couch. There was a hole in my plot, and I sat there brainstorming, when it happened. The image of an old man grinned, and pointed out other images from the recesses of my mind. The experience reminded me of my childhood and the vivid imagination I once had.

I was delighted to see how many faces inhabited our couch, but then, my adult mind began to erase those shapes. The floral print returned and my mind went back to the task at hand. I discovered, however, that every time I used my imagination to solve the plot problem, the images returned.

A week or so later, I sat in the same place at a different time of day. The light had changed, and a different shape appeared. I looked at a representation of Abraham Lincoln, not the man, but the carving on Mount Rushmore. I realized the images change in relation to the environment, and my mindset. I recognized the need to exercise my imagination is essential to good writing.

So how do we tap the wonderful power that turns clouds into creatures? I thought of an exercise that works for me.

Look at the picture I attached here. What’s going on? Well of course, you say, it’s when Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence. But, look at the picture. Why is Jefferson standing? What’s in the clutter on the floor? I see crinkled and torn parchment, a discarded quill pen, and a book. One of those discarded parchments has a seal on it. Is it important?

Why would Jefferson discard an important paper with a seal on it? Books were expensive in those days. Why would these men toss one on the floor? What’s in the book?

Look at the faces. Adams looks distracted. Franklin looks displeased. Jefferson looks almost like he’s going to cry. And why is there a model of a ship on the shelf?

There isn’t much written about the actual writing of the declaration. We can make judgements based on what we know about these men, but if we examine other pictures. Wherever we find them and try to answer the questions, the foundation of a story will take shape. Our imagination will kick in.

It might be as simple as picking a path through difficult terrain in the forest, or finding the best fishing hole in a picture of a mountain stream. Whatever your imagination conjures, the story will be there. Write it down. If it’s really good, and the lighting is just right, you might be writing the next great American novel. Even if it isn’t, remember the satisfaction of spending the day making images out of clouds. That’s what writers do everyday. The satisfaction comes in using your imagination. Each one of the people in the picture below has their own story. What are those stories? Use your imagination.



Good luck with your writing—see you next week

Friday, December 19, 2008

What's Your Favorite?


Okay. I figure with all the rush and bustle of Christmas, we could use something that is a little lighter in fare...so I decided to do a tag. What are your favorite 5 Christmas stories/movies? Or perhaps, your 5 favorite authors? I love Christmas stories and try to buy a new book every year. Last year I think I bought two...

So here's my list:

1. The Christmas Carol. I find the book hard reading, but I LOVE the movie versions. There are several that we have, The Muppet Christmas Carol, The Christmas Carol with George C. Scott, and the Disney version. What I find interesting is how closely they usually follow the book...that' s good writing.

2. The Polar Express. This is one that I haven't read yet, but I love the movie. Actually, I'm torn -- I love the idea at the end, that you have to believe in something for it to work for you, much as faith in Jesus Christ starts with a desire to believe...But I don't like the whole Santa Clause bit. I'm not a big Santa fan, and you won't find a whole lot of it in my house. It's too commercial for me. I love the music too...it's wonderful.

3. While You Were Sleeping isn't a book, but it's one of my favorite Christmas movies. Many people wouldn't think of it that way, but it starts Christmas day...and Sandra Bullock is my favorite actress.

4. The Christmas Box. I really like the way Richard Paul Evan's writes. I think he's only gotten better with each book. I haven't read Grace yet, but I'm hoping to pick it up this year. I read the Christmas Box every year, and I love the feeling I get from it. Although, I have to admit the older woman's grief disturbs me, I wonder if I would wail like that should one of my children die.

5. Return to Christmas. Chris Heimerdinger is another one of my favorite authors. If you haven't read Return to Zarahemla yet, you might want to -- and the movie is excellent. Anyway, Return to Christmas is about a young boy and his twin, but there's a twist, and how he brings it together is just wonderful and heart touching. It was especially fun when we first read it because he wrote it about our neighborhood where we used to live in Salt Lake -- we could really relate.

So, I'll tag a couple of my fellow bloggers -- and then I tag you readers. Let us know what your favorites are!

Tag:

Nichole
Keith
Connie

Thursday, December 18, 2008

T'was the Night Before My Blog

By Nichole Giles

T’was the night before my blog
And all through the house,
Only I was awake stirring,
(There better not be a mouse!)

I had laundry to fold
And presents to wrap
Goodies to make
And ideas to trap.

I’d just come from critique,
And my brain, it was fried
But I had to keep going
Or I’d fall behind.

I glanced out the window,
As I sat at my desk
Wondering when it became
An enormous, big mess.

The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow
Gave a luster of…well, winter
To objects below.

When what to my exhausted eyes should appear
But invisible ninjas, all riding reindeer.
They dropped to the ground, all stealthy and slick
And I knew in a moment they’d perform a neat trick

Over the snow they crept with light feet
And didn’t leave footprints or tracks on the street.
They picked the front deadbolt with nary a sound
And snatched all the junk that was laying around.

A pile of socks, a Nintendo, a game
A sweatshirt, a coat, and some text books (how lame.)
A candy wrapper, backpack, and purse full of fake gold,
Chocolate marshmallow Santa—at least two-weeks old.

They washed all the dishes and mopped all the floors
They folded my laundry, and wiped down the doors.
My bathrooms all sparkled, my dust mites all vanished
One made me a snack—he knew I was famished.

And when they were done, they snuck quietly out.
And sent me to bed without needing to pout.
I snuggled in tightly, my deeds were all done
And I prayed for those ninjas, blessed every one.

Under the piles and lists I had made
Christmas turned into a great-big charade
Now, it was all done, the only thing left
Was spending some time with those I love best.

One ninja, he knocked on my window that night
Crying, Merry Christmas to your family, and take time to write!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Prized Possessions

By C. LaRene Hall

One of my most prized possessions is my 60-year-old violin.

Last week I watched a wonderful program, the Celtic Women on television. The singers were talented but my most favorite performer was the beautiful petite woman who danced and twirled as she played the violin.

It took lots of practice to become a violinist. Maybe I should put in the same amount of time writing as I did when I was a young child to learn to play the violin. Like anything we want to do well, we must practice and do it often.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Off to the Ball

By Cindy Beck

Rejection. It's probably one of the hardest aspects of being a writer. Well, writing revisions isn't really fun either, but at least you eventually feel like you're moving forward when doing rewrites. With rejections, you feel as if you're regressing.

At least, that's how it was for me a few years ago. After mailing out what seemed like a gazillion submissions, and getting a gazillion and one rejections in return—I know that's a mathematical impossibility, but tell that to my heart—it seemed to me there was absitively, posolutely, nothing to be gained from rejections.

Wrong!

Okay, so it wasn't the first time I was wrong. What I've learned is that those works weren't necessarily rejected because they were awful (be still my heart), but because they didn't fit what the editor needed at the time. I started "recycling" the rejects and guess what? Some of them just needed a dab of perfume here and a touch of blush there, and voila! They were ready to go out on the town again.

The nice thing was, I didn't have to spend hours, days, weeks, or months on them. And to my surprise, a few of them even turned out to be belles of the ball ... on their second time around.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

And Do it with Words

By Keith Fisher

I’m a graphics guy. I may have mentioned it before, but it bears repeating. I was a kid at the beginning of the media revolution. Television in all its glory was just getting started. I sat in a dark room with the whole school as we watched parts of President Kennedy’s funeral (at least I think it was) on a black and white screen with terrible reception.

You might say, I grew up with the medium. I remember seeing many of the classic TV shows in first run, not re-run. Add movies, radio, vinyl records, and printed media to the mix and I was a media junkie. It all had an effect on my upbringing. Now we have so much more and the internet. We should be an educated people.

I recently commented on Sariah Wilson’s blog that I look for a graphic example to express my point in a lesson or talk. It’s all because of my media upbringing. I used a clip from the original StarWars to emphasize a point about seeking the spirit. I used Pinochio to show that the Holy Ghost will help—just whistle. I show Church videos that are made for the purpose of illustrating the lesson, and I use those videos, or parts of them, to illustrate other points.

A thought about this occurred to me this morning, when I was reminded of the latest session of my critique group. I often feel the need for further explanation when someone questions some part of my story. At those moments I wish I could use a graphic. If I could use graphics in my novel, the point would be expressed exactly as I wanted.

Alas, you say, I have missed the point. As a writer it’s my job to produce the graphic, and do it with words. If I do it right, my book could be the graphic someone holds up to emphasize their point.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

P.S. I’m giving away a Chuck Wagon Dinner bell at another blog. Come and play.

See, I'm hooked. I used a Graphic.

http://thecampcookinyourbackyard.blogspot.com/

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Suspense is Killing Me

by G.Parker

You've heard of the mad write, the ad lib, or the speed write -- well, we've gone for the group write. As a group of writers at Authors Incognito, we have made a tradition of making a Christmas story, one chapter at a time, one writer at a time, during the month of December.

It's gotten crazy.

Nichole mentioned the general plot yesterday, or how it has evolved to be. What's fun to me, though, is seeing how differently we all write. Some of us are more into suspense, some more dramatic, while some write action. It's great to see all of these come together in one collaborative effort.

It's basically someone giving you a previous chapter, and you have 500 word limit to come up with the next one. Think you could do it? Personally, I love that kind of writing. I've gotten a couple of stories from that idea, and I've found the hardest part is fleshing them out.

That's why this project has been so much fun -- to see what everyone else's imagination comes come up with. So far, I think the only genre that's going to be missing is romance -- although I still have one more chapter to contribute.. .grin.

I think all of us have enjoyed this process, and the suspense of seeing what is going to happen in the next chapter. Who's going to throw another twist to the plot? What is going to happen to the main character? Are we going to be able to wrap everything up by the end of the month? I guess we'll see.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Rough Work and Minor Glory

By Nichole Giles

On Tuesday, Darvell mentioned that our large writer's group is collaborating on a group-written Christmas story. I got to write on the third day, and so had the opportunity to add my portion in the beginning. That meant I was able to introduce an important character to the story. Not that I had the chance to make him important, the people who wrote after me have done that. Now I'm hoping for a second chance to write. Maybe I'll have the opportunity to help wrap it up toward the end.

So far, our action packed story has allowed the main character to survive a car accident, take trips to China and Idaho looking for her missing husband, and introduced a man who may or may not be an angel. Every day, we all wait for the next installment, biting our nails (figuratively) while we wait to see what happens next. Each chapter is shaped by the writer whose turn falls on that particular day. Because of that, none of us can even guess where our story will end.

The thing with collaborations is that no one person has control over the outcome. We aren't working from an outline of any kind, and it's a total free-writing exercise. Being writers, we hope for a good story, but as people, we're excited to participate in a sort of game that stretches our minds and requires nothing but our random creative thoughts.

If someone decides ninjas are going to jump out of the sky and pull our main character out of the plane to skydive into the ocean where she discovers the remnants of the lost Atlantis, well, that's what will happen. And the group will cheer for the author of that chapter while we wait for the next one to be written.

Our story will never be published (unless we decide to post portions on our group website or something.) That isn't the intention. We're learning to write together, to bounce ideas off other people, and to share our work—however rough—and our glory—however minor—with other writers.

And whatever we expect of this story, no one knows the outcome. Yet!

Sometimes, you don't need any more incentive than to have your peers waiting to cheer you on. Everyone needs a little bit of cheer now and then. That's what this project is about.



(Update: Cindy Beck and I, co-authors, have officially opened the LDS Humor blog, (www.ldshumor.blogspot.com) which will be sort of a ‘pre-show’ for our upcoming book, which will be released sometime next summer. Check it out, it’s always good for a laugh.)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Pearl Harbor Day

By C. LaRene Hall

Sunday was a day of memorial for many people. I don’t remember that day because I was just approaching my 2nd birthday. I can only imagine the terror in the hearts and minds of all the people living in the world on that day, not just those living in the United States. The entire world must have been in shock.

There is sorrow in my heart when I think of the destruction and lives lost on that fateful day. Many changes took place. Children grew up without a father; wives had to learn to support their children without someone by their side.

I’ve visited Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on two occasions. Both times were difficult, and didn’t help me understand why this had to happen.


I’ve always had a hard time comprehending why anyone would want to cause bodily damage to another person. To me it is not natural to be evil. Of course, many people say I’m not normal. It doesn’t matter where another human being lives, I do care about what happens to him or her. When I watch on television the wickedness all around I want to cry.

I love to write, but I can never include an evil protagonist because my mind won’t go that direction. He can do bad things, but can’t be totally evil.

Bad times are coming. Satan is still out there and evil is prevalent through the land. Just because it’s not natural to me, doesn’t mean that it’s not common practice for others. As a LDS writer, maybe I can make a difference to those who read. Maybe I can reach out and help others to know there is good in this world.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Collaboration

By Darvell Hunt

I write best when I’m alone. I don’t like others seeing what I’m doing until I consider it “done.” However, there is great value in four eyes as opposed to just two (and I’m not talking about wearing glasses here).

This month, my writing group is participating in the creation of a group Christmas story. Once finished, this story will have been written by 20 or 30 different people. This is a fun exercise in creativity, but it’s also a lesson in getting your point across efficiently to the reader.

In this Christmas story that we are writing, each person has volunteered to write one chapter of less than 500 words, starting the day after Thanksgiving and concluding on Christmas Eve. Each writer is given a single day to complete his or her own chapter, then they must hand the story over to the next person.

It’s been fun to take elements from other writers and expound upon them in our own chapter, but the most educational part of this process has been seeing what people do with what you have written. In my case, writers who came after me didn’t seem to understand where I was trying to go with my part of the story. It’s kind of fun to see how different hands mold the same story, because the plot goes in different directions each day, but yet, it’s also frustrating to see that your readers don’t always seem to be getting the obvious points in your story.

In my own reading, I get frustrated when I don’t understand what the writer is trying to say. If I read pages and pages of text without absorbing much content, the story gets boring for me and I’m likely to put it down.

I’ve never considered this idea before, but I think there is great value in collaboration by allowing other people to evaluate what you’re writing before you consider it done. This way, you can find out, right up front, if you’re not being clear. It’s amazing what other people may think you mean when you write a particular scene; it may not be what you intended, unless your writing is very clear. Collaboration can help you understand how to clear up your writing, even if, in the end, you intend to write the story solely on your own.

Collaboration is closely related to critiquing, I believe, but is not quite the same thing. I recommend that all writers experiment, if even just a little, in writing collaborative works. As a writer, you just might learn something about yourself, both as a reader and a writer.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Don’t Forget the Shackles and Chains

By Keith Fisher


I’m the kind of person who has many different projects going at the same time, and every project has a pile. I sat down at my desk to write the other day, and began to look around. The piles had grown so high I couldn’t see over them, and I couldn’t remember what some of the stacks were for. Oh what a wonderful excuse for procrastination, and I took full advantage of mine.

My writing time was spent shuffling papers and making to-do lists. I leaned back in my chair and said "Ah, now I can write." I placed my fingers on the keyboard and the great concept I’d planned to write had evaporated from my mind.

As writers, I’m sure we have one thing in common. We all dream of the that perfect writing space. Be it office, studio, or game room. I always loved the television depiction of Dave Berry’s office on Dave’s World. An abundance of space, pinball machines, toys everywhere. I often put a picture on my desktop at work. It shows a castle, perched on a cliff, overlooking the Rhine River. What a great writer’s retreat. I’ve also shown pictures and talked about the oval office on this blog.

In all of my dream spaces, including the tower of a lighthouse, I have a comfortable couch that I can lie down on, and work out plotting problems. It’s also for talking to my kids. At a writer’s conference, Willard Boyd Gardner told the story of his office. He’d written Race Against Time, in pieces here and there at the kitchen table and so forth. When the book was published, he decided he needed an official writer’s office. So he built one. When he went in there to be alone and write, he found he needed the distraction of having the kids underfoot. He dragged the toys into his office and brought the kids in.

Currently I have an office I share with my daughter. It’s one way of keeping an eye on her internet use. There are pictures and plaques and awards on the walls. (There’s never enough wall space.) All in all, It’s cramped, but it’s not bad. I still want that comfortable couch, but it’s not bad. Still, I ask myself, how I can get inspiration for those great, new ideas, if I’m in the same old surroundings?

Don’t get me wrong I write in there. But lately I’ve been cheating on my office. I run away carrying my laptop. I find unusual places to write. I drive up to the mountains and support my computer with the steering wheel. I find parking lots with unsecured networks to post my blogs and check email. I write in cafĂ©’s.

I’ve been reading Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. She recommends several unusual and exotic places to write. If I write in airport terminals, or the mall, I am never in need of a character. If the protagonist needs to talk to a police chief, I look around the room until I find the person I want. Then I describe that person.

When I do family history research, and I write about my ancestors, it often lends credence, if I happen to be in the places where my ancestors had the experiences I’m writing about. The same is true for the mystery novel. It’s hard to describe the smell of a place if you’ve never been there.

Putting authenticity aside, however, It’s great to get out of the office. I could redecorate or add on into the carport, but that would be procrastination. I’m reminded of the lyrics of an old song,

Come Saturday Morning
The Sandpipers Words by Dory Previn and Music by Fred Carlin
Peak chart position # 17 in 1970
Featured on the soundtrack of the film The Sterile Cuckoo starring Liza Minnelli

Come Saturday morning
I'm goin' away with my friend
We'll Saturday-spend till the end of the day-ay
Just I and my friend
We'll travel for miles in our Saturday smiles
And then we'll move on
But we will remember long after Saturday's gone


It’s Saturday morning. I think I’ll take my character friends and run away. By the end of the day, I might have a good first draft of a new novel.

Good luck in your writing---see you next week.

Friday, December 05, 2008

I Won! Now What?


by G.Parker

As you can see from the title, I finished my word count in time to be one of the thousands of winners of Nanowrimo. Winning this competition is not like a lot of other things -- there is no real prize, no worldwide recognition, nothing that would make this really worth it for most people.

It's mainly the satisfaction of knowing that you've accomplished something in 30 days that it takes some people a lifetime to do. You've finished a novel.

There are many of us who didn't finish a novel, which would include me -- even though I reached the required words. This wouldn't be the first time. The very first year I did Nano, I didn't finish the story when I reached the word count. I don't think I did the second year, either. By the third year I was informed I would finish the story within the 50,000 word count, or I would have a very frustrated spouse on my hands. It was his opinion that I was supposed to have finished the book with the 50,000 words. Well...that is part of the goal, though many of us write much longer works than that.

This year's story was a sequel to the one I wrote last year. I hadn't finished last years within the time frame either, but I was able to within two weeks or so afterward. I'm doing the same thing now. I'm trying to continue my new found habit of writing every morning so that I get it done.

Which, if you know nothing else about Nano, is the main point. To get people writing, every day. Once writing becomes a habit, then you are more likely to continue it and do something with it. Most of my works for Nano are items that I want to publish. They are currently in the editing process.

But for now...I have one to finish and it's almost there. I can say proudly to the world again, that I have met the challenge and come away victorious!

Next year I want to see if I can do 60,000 words. Hey...it's a goal!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Stretched Too Thin

By Nichole Giles

Do you ever feel like you want to do five different things at once? Or ten? I do it all the time. Usually, I’m able to pick out one or two as priority, and once those things are done, I work my way down the list. Unfortunately, my writing life has evolved into this type of problem—in addition to my personal and family life. It’s not a bad thing, but it does wear on me, and at some point, I have to start giving things up.

For instance, because I’m trying so hard to keep up with four different public blogs, and another private one (for family members living far away), I continually put off editing chapters to the book I’ve been working on, and am anxious to get submitted. The blogs I get paid for take priority—always—because meeting those deadlines means money. My other blog—the one on which I often post articles—comes next, except I rarely have a deadline for that one, so it sometimes slides down the list. Then there is this blog, that I’ve participated in for nearly three years, and have enjoyed tremendously.

Originally I began participating in this blog for the experience, and to give myself a weekly deadline so I would learn how to write toward it. And I was nervous. So, so nervous that I would not be able to find things to write about every week, and that my blogs wouldn’t be good enough, that no one would read them or make any comments. But as time has passed, I’ve gained confidence, learned a lot about editing from my fellow bloggers, and been a participant in a wonderful and talented group of soon-to-be authors.

I’ve never once regretted being a part of this group of bloggers. And even though I’m starting to feel a crunch of time, I ask myself what I’m willing to give up in order to make more room in my writing life. Am I willing to give up blogging here—or even cut back to occasional posts like others have? I don’t know. There are days when I feel like that would be the best solution. Cut something out. But what? I can’t cut out the paying jobs—that would be crazy. And I can’t cut out my personal writing space, because that would be like suicide. But I’m not sure I want to give up posting writing blogs either. Truth be told, I learn as much from them as anyone.

Still, I can’t do everything all the time. But I love it here, so I’ll keep trying until I can’t keep up anymore.

On another subject, it was my idea to change our look. Being a woman, and one who is big on style and personality, I am of the opinion that it’s important to “redecorate” every once in a while. And after two and a half years, I felt we were over due for a change. If you read my other blogs, you’ll know that I change my backgrounds with the seasons. Mostly, this is because of my desire for a new look, but also I feel like these kinds of changes are pleasing to the eye of the reader. But I am well aware of the fact that not everyone agrees with my opinion.

Unfortunately, because we have so many contributors, it has been very difficult to make the change and please everyone. Still, it was important for us to update our template to make it easier for us to fix broken links and add or change our personal information on the sidebars. After all, what good is it for us to gain a name writing on this blog, yet not be able to personally add our blog addresses as links in the sidebar so our readers can find the rest of our work?

So, now that our template is updated, it’s possible our look will change a few times until one can be found that suits everyone. If we happen on one you like, please speak up. And if, in the future, you stop seeing my work here, don’t fret. I’m simply prioritizing my work elsewhere because one person can only do so much. No matter what happens, I’m writing somewhere. And that is the most important thing.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Clicking A Button

By C. LaRene Hall

Getting an idea should be like sitting down on a pin; it should make you jump up and do something. That sounds easy enough, but rarely does it work that way.

On the computer if you look up book writing ideas, there are 70,100,000 results. I can narrow my search by putting in story ideas, and get 22,100,000 or fantasy writing ideas and only get 474,000 places to look.

No one with a computer should ever lack an idea. They are as close as the click of a button. It’s what you do with the idea, that really counts.

I have pages and pages of ideas, but sometimes I don’t know what direction to go with it. Writers block is not my problem. I noticed Keith is having as much trouble getting inspired as I am. One idea can take just too many directions. I honestly can’t think of a topic we haven’t already covered. I think I’m like Darvell and just need a brain jumper cable. Since I haven’t missed a week since we started this blog. I had to write something.

Sorry this one isn’t more inspiring. My best advice today is to keep writing.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Twilight

By Darvell Hunt

I’ve resisted the temptation to read Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. I’m not sure why, probably because it’s considered fiction for teen girls. That’s not usually my cup of tea, or, um, hot chocolate.

But add vampires, and hey, maybe it is something I could get interested in.

My wife likes the Twilight series. But, to be fair, she likes a lot of women’s fiction. As you probably know, the movie for the first book came out last week. I like movies—even chick flicks, sometimes—so it wasn’t hard for my wife to convince me to go.

I liked it. I mean, I really liked it. It was a great story with believable conflicts, even if it’s a vampire romance novel for teens. For what it is, it really worked.

I’m finding myself feeling compelled to read the books now. I’m actually excited about the prospect. It isn’t LDS fiction, but it was written by an LDS writer, so that’s close enough, I think, to be discussed on a blog about Mormon writing.

So, here’s how I described what I saw to my wife, which she found amusing—and it's probably not too terribly inaccurate: If you combine Stephen King and Nicholas Sparks, you get Stephanie Meyer.

An exageration, to be sure. But not far off, don't you think? Oh, and wait, let's not forget that she added a little Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon action, thrown in for fun!

Monday, December 01, 2008

You Might Not Want to Read It

In my post I talked about starting Pontoon. Just a word of warning. It's a good story, and I love the way Keillor developes his charactors, but there is some language and subjects that might not be appropriate. If I had known, I wouldn't have started the book.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Few Thoughts

By Keith Fisher


In thinking of subjects to write about, I had many things come to mind. Now that Black Friday is over, it’s Christmas. I wondered if I should write about that. I could write about politics and the feeling of being singled out and excluded because of your political views. I read an article about a man who was fired because of his support of Prop 8. The article raised concerns about making people feel they can’t have a dissenting opinion. I understand that feeling, and I want to tell you it’s nothing new. But this is a writing blog.


I could write about the economy and the bait and switch that retailers use on Black Friday to get you into the store. What’s next with them? Will they lock the doors once you pass though, and not let you out until you buy something? Then there is the person in the store who knows they have financial problems but they buy anyway, putting it on a credit card, adding to their financial woes. But this is a writing blog.


I finished reading the Summons by John Grisham this week and I’m reading Abinadi by Heather Moore. I also started Pontoon by Garrison Keillor. Maybe I should write about those books. I liked the Summons although I figured it out in the first chapter. Maybe that’s what Grisham wanted us to do. Abinadi is all I expected it to be. Moore has a talent for bringing scriptural characters to life. Keillor is the master of the complete character, and he writes almost poetically. If it weren’t for his adult language and descriptions I would recommend him.


I had a friend ask me how my blog is going and I said I was stewing about it. She suggested I talk about stew and the analogy of a plot. You know, like a stew, a plot needs to cook a long time in your head for the flavors to blend together. So the subplots mesh and the characters know their place in the plot. Good analogy, but not what I want to write about.


I finished, and sent one of my manuscripts to a publisher. I’m waiting to hear back while I edit another. It seems the edits never end, but I don’t want to talk about that either.


I dreamed a book the other day. I woke up and drafted it. It’ll be a good story when I write it. Life is like that you know, plots and characters stand in front of us everyday, and many of us are too busy writing to notice. Also, an old friend contacted me and told me her story. What a great plot her story makes. She said she will write it, so I promised myself I wouldn’t steal it. I seem to be getting more ideas than I could write in a lifetime. Still, I have resolved to write every one of them. Life is good when you can find bits, pieces, and whole plots in the scenes that pass in front of you.


I still don’t know what to write about this week. But when I look above, I find Ive already written my article.


I did want to say few words to those who read our blog, and comment. Thank you for taking the time to read. I hope I can strike a nerve inside that will please you. To those who read and don’t comment, thanks for stopping by. Because of your visit we know we do not write in vain. To those who are struggling to become an author, Come in, sit down, and take your shoes off. You are the reason why write this blog. If we can write anything that will inspire you, and build you, then we have accomplished our goals. As a popular television character, Red Green, is fond of saying. "I’m pulling for you. We’re all in this together."


At this time of giving thanks and remembering our Savior, I’d like to pause a second and thank Him, the giver of all blessings, for a desire to write. To tell stories and create worlds. It’s the best job there is.


Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Almost There...

by G.Parker

There's a scene in the original Star Wars Trilogy (I guess it's #5, where it's the brave new hope thing -- I'm not good with the first three being the last three...lol) where they are trying to shoot a missile into a small hole that makes it possible for them to blow up this huge death star. They do the first run, and there's a guy in the back panicking, and another guy flying a ship and saying "Stay on target." That's what most of us need, I think. Someone in the background reminding us to stay the course. But the next run, there's another guy doing the shooting, and he say's "Almost there..."

I figure that's appropriate for today. I'm almost there. Not quite as far as I'd hoped to be, but you know how that goes. I didn't get any writing done yesterday, but I have gotten quite a bit done this week. I'm only 11,000 words short. I figure I can get that in today and tomorrow.

What really amazes me, are those who are already finished -- have already gotten their words in and are resting on their laurels. I know of at least one person (there are usually a few of them) who has over 100,000 words!! That just blows me away. How in the heck do you get that many words done in a month and still get anything else done?

That's probably the point. They probably don't do anything else. I'm almost certain those people aren't parents, and possibly not married...or else their spouses are very patient. (Mine tries really hard to be patient...lol)

Well, the end is in sight and I'm fairly confident I'll reach my goal. Trouble is, unless I can wrap things up pretty quick, the story isn't going to be finished. Again. Sigh.

Oh well...there' s always next year...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thankful for Email

By Nichole Giles

I have some friends and family members who love to forward me emails. And I love getting all their jokes, and poems, and pictures. Nothing makes my day more than opening an email to a funny joke or a beautiful picture. Plus, it’s a great way to waste time when I’m supposed to be writing a hard scene.

I generally get several of these a day, and even though my inbox stacks up awfully quickly this way, I don’t mind. I adore the people who remember me every day, and take a few seconds to show it. Anyway, there’s one poem I’ve seen probably a hundred times or more. But every time I open it, I love it as much as I did the first time I read it.

I’ll quote a little bit here:

People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.


When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed. They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually. They may seem like a godsend and they are. They are there for the reason you need them to be. Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away. Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand. What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled, their work is done.The prayer you sent up has been answered and now it is time to move on.

Some people come into your life for a SEASON, because your turn has come to share,
Grow or learn. They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it, it is real. But only for a season.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons, things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, Love the person and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life. It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.


I got this one again the other day. As it happens, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to this very philosophy. See, I’m feeling especially lucky this Thanksgiving. Lucky because of the people in my life. All of them. Those who have passed out of it already, those who are here temporarily, and those I haven’t met yet but who will add something special to my life. Especially, though, I’m thankful for the people who are here to be my friends and family for life and longer.

This week was my late mother-in-law’s birthday. It has been a little bit of a tough day for all of us since she died five years ago. I miss her. But while I knew her, Carol taught me a lot about being a mother, and a wife, and a good woman. She was a wonderful grandmother, mother and wife. I only got to spend ten years as her daughter. Only a season.

There are other people, important friends, who I’ve long since lost touch with for one reason or another. People who came into my life for a reason—even if that reason was to simply make me smile for a day or two.

The people with whom I share lifetime relationships make me smile every day. They teach me about life, and love, and—okay, I know it’s a total clichĂ©, but I’m going to say it anyway—the pursuit of happiness.

No matter what role these people have played in my life, they’ve all given me something to write about. I am a writer, and I am able to write because of the people who have come in and out of my life like pebbles at the bottom of a stream, or sand on a beach, or leaves falling off the trees in a meadow.

So I’m thankful for the contributions of all those people. They are my inspiration.

I could bore you to tears with a list of the hundreds of other things for which I am thankful for today, but instead, I am going to thank you—the reader—instead. Thank you for reading our blog. Without readers, writers would be nothing but people chained to computers living in fantasy worlds that would never be shared with anyone else. Well, except by email. Which reminds me…I’m thankful for that, too!

Thanks for reading!

Happy Thanksgiving from the LDS Writer’s BloGck!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Gratitude

By C. LaRene Hall

With it being the day before Thanksgiving, there is no other topic on my mind to write about. From the time that I was a young girl, my parents taught me to appreciate the things I had. Believe me, when I say we didn’t have much. I was born three and one-half months after the beginning of World War II, and I was almost six went it ended. I’ve always been glad that I was too young to remember any of the horrors of what the people were suffering or the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Year after year, I always celebrated Thanksgiving with my family, and year after year, I was thankful for my family, home, church, school, clothing, and food. It wasn’t until I visited Plymouth, Massachusetts in 2002 that I fully understood how fortunate I truly am.

I’ve read many stories about the Pilgrims, but seeing with my own eyes the replica of the Mayflower and climbing aboard brought it into perspective for me. There is no way I would have wanted to sail with 102 other people in that small ship in a world of rolling waves for more than two months. I’m sure many of them were seasick, and they didn’t even have a toilet you could flush. The day I was there, only a few dozen people were aboard and to me it seemed crowded.


In the Pilgrim Village, it really opened my eyes to see how they lived 375 years ago. I could hardly believe how small their homes were. There were people portraying the pilgrims, dressed in authentic clothing, and actually cooking over the hearth with the same type of pots and tools they used. Many were working outside preparing the ground to plant. If you asked questions, it had to be about things in the 17th century.


Since the day my mother and I visited Plymouth, I’ve appreciate my pilgrim ancestors much more. I’m grateful that they sacrificed all they had to come to this new land, where we can worship as we please. I may not have been as brave as they were, but I can retell their stories and write about the things they endured.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Brain Jumper Cables

By Darvell Hunt

I've been so busy at work, my brain seems fried. I think it completely shut down this week, because I forgot to write a blog entry. Maybe I need to jumpstart it somehow. Anybody know where I can get some brain jumper cables? Or would that fry my brain even more?

Anyway, as you can see, we are experimenting with change. If you like what you see, let us know! If you don't, we're open to suggestions. After two and a half years, we wanted to try a new look here at LDS Writers Blogck. We males are not accustomed to occasional makeovers, but the female side of our staff is helping us along. Let us know what you think!

Have a great Thanksgiving break! Hold off on those Christmas songs until Friday, eh?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Giving Thanks—Getting Blessings

By Keith Fisher

How do you like the new look? Some of our group felt we were in need of change. Leave comments and tell us what you think.

Over at another blog, I’ve been talking about giving thanks in a series of blogs about Thanksgiving. Since the big dinner is this week, I thought I’d mention a promise. "He who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold" (D&C 78:19).

Is there a specific blessing you are supplicating God for? Show gratitude to Him by giving yourself to others. I know it’s hard to look past the turkey and stuffing, but there are people in need in your life. If your kids asked you for a dollar and didn’t thank you for it, how eager would you be to reach for your wallet next time?

May all the joy and happiness of the season be yours this year, and may all your associates be blessed because they have known you.

Now,

Just a quick note about last week’s blog then I’ll stop talking about it. I received a comment from Kent Larsen (here are his credentials). It was a great comment. I would like to clarify a few things.

Thanks for sharing Kent. You asked if I remember John Jakes. Yes, sir, I do. In fact, I loved The Kent Family Chronicles when it was new. It is a wonderful treatise on the birth of America and early US history. Im sure you know he is still selling new books.

I'm sorry, if I gave anyone the impression that I want to "throw out classic literature." Nothing is farther from the truth. In fact I want people to learn about, and have access to every book ever written. In the sixties I read Child's Garden of Grass, Breakfast of Champions, Catcher in the Rye and many other books of the time. Have you read Kurt Vonnegut? His books are full of, in your words, . . . "great ideas--social criticism, messages about how society should form itself and act".

Perhaps he’s not a classic author because he is also a little controversial, and not to everyone’s taste.

In my short life, I’ve discovered people are either interested in something or they aren't. I totally agree with you about Dickens. I love the way he talked about people in need. I love Victor Hugo for the same reasons. It never ceases to amaze me, however, how many people love to watch Les Miserables in the play, but they never catch the spirit of it, and they never begin to use their blessings to help others.

The point I’ve been laboring over is not bashing classic literature. The point is that literature shouldn't have to be literary. I want people to stop judging popular fiction by the yardstick of the English teacher. During the time that many of the "so called" classic authors were writing, Mark Twain wrote popular fiction. Plain and simple—you don't have to search between the lines to find the social lessons. They hit you square in the face.

Twain was compared to the authors of his time and found lacking, but many people read his stories because they liked to read them. For whatever reason, they liked them. I don’t like Mary Shelly’s Frankenstien, and I don’t like much of Ernest Hemmingway. I have friends who love Twilight, but I don’t. I have friends who hate The Children of the Promise, and Hearts of the Children series’ but I love them. The point is everyone has different tastes.

As for the question, will reading popular fiction lead to reading the classics? Maybe not, but forcing a kid to eat Green Beans at the dinner table probably won’t teach that kid to love green beans. Likewise, forcing a kid to read classic literature because of the great life’s lessons contained therein probably won’t teach them to love the beauty of it, or even teach them the lessons.

Thanks again for letting me rant, and Thanks, Kent, I like the way you think.

Good luck in your writing—see you next week, and don’t eat too much on Thursday.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Week Three

by G.Parker

It always seems like I've got things under control, and then life steps in. Ever feel like that? Best laid plans and all that...

I was doing great the first week of Nano. I wasn't even doing too bad on week two -- and then we hit week three. sigh. I had to seriously do some writing yesterday to even catch up to where I'm supposed to be. What's kind of fun, is they have the word verifier up at the Nanowrimo site, and I ran my story through yesterday. I had 200 more words than I thought I did! So...small blessings.

Nichole mentioned how swamped she is with other work so she isn't doing Nano. There are many other more sane writers out there -- those who don't need a hard core month to get their writing done. They are able to be more consistent, driven in their craft.

I wish I was more like them. Nano has become something of an addiction for me, so perhaps it's time to end it. Maybe this will be my last year...nah. I have too much fun cranking out a novel every year, driving my hubby crazy, and meeting the deadline.

In some ways, I've discovered I'm a procrastinators dream. I work better under pressure and with a deadline. It's pathetic, really. I should be better at this by now. And I am...I'm fully confident that I'll be able to add 20,000 words to my story before the end of the month.

And I might even do it before Thanksgiving...wait, that's only a week away now...less than seven days? And I don't write on Sunday, so that's only six days, and we're way busy on Saturday -- that makes it five days. ARGH!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Plot Structure of a Fake Tree

By Nichole Giles

It’s that time of year again. People all over the world are getting out their holiday decorations and dusting them off. Untangling miles of lights, hanging stockings, stringing bows and garland and holly all over the…well, everywhere. The holidays are upon us, people.

I didn’t participate in NaNoWriMo this year. Sad, I know. But the thing is, I couldn’t consciously devote an entire month to writing another novel when I have two other major projects ALMOST done. (I know, I’ve been saying that for a long time, but really, I’m just so, so close…) And to be honest, November is not a good month for me to take on a project of that size anyway. Not with all the holiday preparations that hit me; the shopping and baking and cooking and cleaning. And lets not forget about the decorating.

I love real Christmas trees. There’s nothing more Christmas-like than smelling the freshly cut real-live pine tree that you hauled inside and piled with lights and tinsel. Except that I haven’t actually had a real tree in years. Lots of years. For one thing, they always die. It doesn’t matter what I do, they die. And then the lights—that I spent hours wrapping meticulously around every branch, ignoring the cuts and scrapes all up and down my arms, and the tree-gum in my hair—in all their blinking glory, turn out to be blinking because you plugged in too many at once and they’re about to start your tree on fire. And the pre-strung tinsel melts all over your carpet, leaving a puddle that you swear artificial icicles could never make—so they must be real. And lets not even talk about the wildlife possibilities. We’ve all watched that Disney cartoon where Donald Duck cuts down Chip and Dale’s tree house and takes it home to decorate, right?

Anyway, I have a fake tree. And even though it doesn’t smell as awesome, there are a lot of advantages. First, it can be reused. Each year we get it out, and dust it off, fluff the branches and restring the lights that don’t work. And we always know exactly how tall it is, and how wide. Second, it comes apart piece by piece. My current tree is in five pieces, so we get them out, fluffing as we go, check the lights, clean the dust and work our way to the top, making sure each piece fits just right. And because it’s built on a strong metal pole, I know it will hold all my thousands of ornaments.

Third, unlike a real tree, this one doesn’t need water, doesn’t drop needles everywhere, doesn’t ooze gum out of broken branches, and nothing lives in this one—I guarantee it. Last, whatever I do to decorate the fake tree, however I bend the branches and restring the lights, the original structure will remain solid, sure and faithful to its mission as a tree.

This does actually have something to do with writing. If you really think hard, you will find the same qualities in a good piece of fiction writing. (I say fiction, because we’re discussing an artificial tree.) Your story will come in parts—usually an odd number—that will need to be fit together in just the right order, with certain elements of fluff and stretch. Don’t forget to clean it up—whether as you go or after you’re finished is a matter of personal preference.

If your structure is sound, your story will hold all the subplots and ornamental elements that are necessary to strengthen our bond with the characters.

With all these things, you won’t need to water your story down. Sometimes, simplicity is far more nourishing than complication. You’ll find yourself cutting out chapters and scenes that oozed with beautiful wording, but rather than adding to your story, distracts the reader into another area in which you never intended to go.

That said, don’t be afraid to experiment. Twist the plot, bend the characters, restring the sequence of scenes. And when you discover you’ve cut something important, don’t be afraid to dust it off and put it back in where you need it. As long as you remember the pole in the middle, your structure will remain solid, sure, and faithful to its mission as a story.

So get out that manuscript you set aside last year, dust it off, and look at it again. Look for the plot structure of a fake tree, by sifting through all the branches and needles to look for the pole. When you find it, pick it up, put it together, clean it up, piece by piece, and get ready for another year of submitting. Because you’ll never get a contract if you don’t submit.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Greatest Teacher

By C. LaRene Hall

In 2006, I visited the interesting English town, Glastonbury, which is located 125 miles west of London. It’s full of myth and legends, and has been a pilgrimage place for many years attracting travelers from all over the world. Some people believe that the greatest teacher of all time, Jesus Christ, with his uncle Joseph, once visited Glastonbury, and the Chalice Well, that is a timeless and sacred place. It’s full of legend, symbolism, and atmosphere, where history has no beginning. Christian mythology suggests this is where Joseph of Arimathea, placed the Holy Grail – the cup used by Christ at the Last Supper and later by Joseph to catch the blood of Jesus at the crucifixion.


I felt peace as I entered the garden, and walked up a cobblestone path under an archway of plants entwined around the gazebo. The well is a pure natural spring, rich in iron, that rises from deep in the ground. Its red water emerges for the first time directly from its source at the Lion’s Head, and flows down through the waterfalls and pools of the gardens to King Arthur’s Court. Some Christians say that this water represents the rusty iron nails used at the crucifixion. Others believe the water has healing power.


Throughout the garden are many wonderful old yew trees, standing as ancient sentinels. Usually they plant these trees in churchyards, but sometimes their presence provides the reason for the location of a church. In ancient tradition, the yew is a symbol of longevity and rebirth. There are several Holy Thorn trees in the garden, one is located above the Lion’s head, and a larger one is beside the Vesica Piscis pool. This famous tree descends from the original tree that sprouted from Joseph of Arimathea’s staff when he came to Glastonbury.

As you can guess, I didn’t want to leave because I felt total peace. I had left a hot almost unbearable street to come into this beautiful garden, and I hated the thought of leaving it behind. Now I know why many authors visit Glastonbury and this very garden to relax and write. I doubt I’ll ever get back there again, but I’m grateful for the memory, and wish I could return.

This ends my travel stories to places that many writers lived or visited frequently. However, I’m still telling other adventures I’ve taken on my personal blog at http://www.clhall.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Get Your Man!

By Darvell Hunt

My daughter recently started playing girls’ basketball for a local city league. She plays ball with eight and nine year old girls, but no boys. Strangely, though, her coach was calling for each girl to “get your man” during defensive plays.

I thought telling an 8-year-olds girl to “get your man” seemed a little premature. I mean, they won’t even be dating for another 8 years. I snickered when I heard the opposing team’s coach yelling out the same phrase.

On the way home from the game, I asked my daughter why her coach told her to “get your man.” I reminded her that all the members of her team were girls. She quickly responded with, “Because it sounds funny to say ‘Get your woman!’”

Indeed, it would; she was right about that. But why? What makes certain combinations of words acceptable, while others aren’t?

When I’m writing dialogue, I try to capture this idea. I attempt to put unique word usages into each character’s mouth so they sound real. I think to myself, “How does this person’s speech differ from the other characters? Can I tell which person is speaking if I don’t use dialogue attribution tags?”

If I can get their word usages unique enough to recognize, the characters might seem more realistic to the reader. That’s what I'm shooting for, anyway—a story about real people, not a story about two-dimensional, flat characters who all speak the same way and use the same words.

On the way home from the game, I commented to my wife that I found it amusing that “man on man” sounded appropriate, but “woman on woman” didn’t. Or, since my daughter is only eight, it seemed we should be saying “girl on girl.”

Oh, wait. I don’t even want to go there. See what I mean?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Judging a Book


By Keith Fisher

There is an author’s event today. Several LDS authors will be on hand to sign their books, offer encouragement, and be your friend. Most of these authors have never been recognized nationally, like Stephanie Meyer, or J. K. Rowling. I very much doubt any of them will be compared to Herman Melville, Mary Shelly, or Rudyard Kipling. Although, some of them should be compared to Mark Twain, he’s one of my favorite authors.

I’ll tell you about the event in a moment, but first, I want to talk about an argument that ensued at work the other day. My friend is an English major and has strong opinions about many things, but so do I, so we get along. I got involved after overhearing a discussion about Twilight. The movie, by the way, comes out in 5-days 19-hours and 8-minutes (according to Nichole’s counter at the moment I write this).

Anyway I believe his statement was, "No LDS author has written good literature." Or something like that. I thought about all the national market authors I’ve heard about who make six figures a year, and many people don’t even know they’re LDS. Of course, his response condemned the use of a monetary yardstick. He wanted to talk about "literature".

I’ve written before about a Dead Author’s Society. And I’ve been critical of the so-called classic literature that school kids are forced to read. My friend wanted to compare all fiction to Moby Dick, because the lessons learned about life are priceless. Then he went on to condemn Twilight.

I tried to persuade him to realize that a book is worthwhile if it gets people to read who never would have before. The discussion turned to Harry Potter and others. We went around and around, as you might guess. I asked him how he can discount the fact that J. K. Rowling probably single handedly influenced thousands of people to turn to books instead of movies. More people are reading today than before, none of them, I’m sure, would’ve considered reading the classics.

So, if we judge a book by the yardstick of how it changed or helped the lives of those who read it, Stephanie Meyer, J. K. Rowling, Brandon Sanderson and Janette Rallison along with dozens of LDS writers, should be ranked with all the so-called, classics authors. When all is said and done, the classics of the past were popular fiction in their day. Maybe in 75 years Harry Potter will be a classic too.

LDS writers, although sometimes not celebrated as such, are writing books for the masses. Books that can help the readers improve their lives. Thanks to popular fiction, those readers are more inclined to read Moby Dick than ever before. The classics are coming back. People are reading them because they want to, because a popular fiction novel persuaded them to make the journey into the satisfying world of reading.

The event I spoke about is at a new independent bookstore. Provident Book/Humdinger Toys. 661 W State Pleasant Grove, Utah There will be drawings and fun stuff. Look here for a signing schedule.

By the way, when pressed, my friend admitted he had never read Stephanie Meyers books or J. K. Rowling’s. Also, the counter now says 5-days 17-hours 18 minutes, but I don’t like vampire books, just thought you’d like to know . . .

Good luck in your writing—see you next week.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Fingers Are Moving

by G.Parker

Well, here it is, officially week two of Nanowrimo. It's been great so far -- I've had it easy. I had outlined the first several chapters and now I've covered all of them and have found myself into uncharted territory. Oh boy. But isn't this what writers dream of? Isn't that why we write? Well...that' s what I tell myself when I end up staring at the computer screen and wondering "what's next..."

Writers block is a whole different ball game when your doing Nano. You have to work through it. If you let yourself get too far behind, it becomes a very stressful affair to catch up to the numbers where you're supposed to be.

By the end of tonight, everyone that's on track, should have about 25,000 words. I'm pretty much there, so I'm feeling okay for now, but my ease time is over and it's time to put in some serious work.

I'm finding that my morning time can be the most productive while I listen to my boys eat breakfast and get ready for school. Everyone has to make their lunches the night before, so mornings are pretty casual; breakfast and showers. What is there for a mom to do except remind them of the time and what their next task is? So I get lots of writing done in the morning if I'm able to focus.

So...onto week three. Are you ready?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Blog About Nothing

By Nichole Giles

You know what’s funny? I have lots of blogs, and there are days when I want to post on every one. I have all these topics floating around in my head, and I think, “Hey, I should blog about that.” But usually this happens as I’m driving around, running errands, and well, really when it’s just not convenient to sit down and write.

I know, I know. You’re wondering about the location of my handy dandy notebook at this point. Well, I do write down my ideas most of the time. But the problem is, when you have sentences in your head, sometimes you have to write them as they’re thought, or else they’re gone by the time you grab your pen. And then it’s lost forever.

And the problem with keeping several different blogs is that it’s so easy to spend all my writing time blogging instead of working on my novel, or editing, or doing other important things. Seriously, whenever I know I need to edit another chapter of my book, I suddenly think of four different blog topics, and have to hurry and write them before I forget. Is it convenience or an excuse? Or is it my muse banging on the door of her cage insisting I let her out so she can speak?

Yesterday, I had ideas for about five blogs. But it was bedtime, and I’d had a long day. So, I wrote a few prompting ideas and went to bed. And now, here it is, my day to post—usually I write my posts a few days in advance, just FYI—and I have nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

How did that happen? So here I sit, staring at a blank screen thinking, “Hey, it’s my day to post! Muse? Hello? Are you there?” But she’s strangely silent. She won’t speak to me. What do I do now? Well, I suppose I’ll go get her some lunch and see if I can coax her out of hiding.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Inspirational Town

By C. LaRene Hal

In the year 2000, I took a trip with my mother, and my sister, Lillian, to one of my favorite places, Hannibal, Missouri where Mark Twain found his inspiration for the Adventures of Tom Sawyer. I loved this place so much that I had to show it to my husband, so in 2004 we took my mother, and another sister, Dorthea and visited the inspirational town.

Between these two trips, I’m sure I’ve seen every nook and cranny in that town. During the first trip, we rode the trolley on a sightseeing tour, and of course, they told the history of Hannibal. We saw the sights as they drove past the Mark Twain Cave, Sawyer’s Creek, Treasure Hollow, and The Rockcliffe Mansion. Then we drove through a beautiful park and saw the Mississippi River from high upon the cliffs. Next, on the list was a tour of Mark Twain’s childhood home on Hill Street, J.M. Clemens Law Office, and Grant’s Drug Store. To complete the day, we went to the New Mark Twain Museum and saw many of the original Norman Rockwell paintings. We viewed the large river from a replica of a pilothouse, and we each took a turn tugging on the steamboat whistle.

That evening we climbed aboard The Mark Twain, a triple deck boat, and enjoyed a two-hour riverboat dinner cruise. We saw sights such as Jackson’s Island, and Lover’s Leap as we cruised along the great Mississippi River. On board, a look alike Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher mingled with the passengers.

On my second trip, we visited some of the places I had been before, including the riverboat. This time we went during the day so we could see everything. I wanted to do something I hadn’t done before so we explored the Mark Twain Cave. In the evening, we attended a Mark Twain one-man show, and listened to him telling us about his many adventures.


I wanted to pick a quote from him, but because there are so many I like, I decided to pick those about books –
Classic: A book which people praise but don’t read.
If books are not good company, where will I find it?
A man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them. Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.

Walking the same streets Mark Twain did, has inspired me. Maybe I might become like him a little, and you could do the same.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Change is Good

By Darvell Hunt

Barak Obama ran his campaign on the theme of change. I think change can be good, though I don't feel like discussing politics here—it seems you can get that sort of talk on too many blogs already. What I would like to say about change is that it's nice to read a new type of story or try putting into words something you’ve never written before. That sort of change can be rewarding.

I’ve been writing for a number of years now, mostly targeted toward an LDS audience, but not all. I’ve written a Book of Mormon novel, a historical novel set in Utah in the early 1800’s, a young adult contemporary fantasy novel, an LDS thriller, and even my share of inspirational poetry. I’ve also started work on an LDS romance novel, a Dan-Brownish-type suspense novel, a children’s chapter book that plays on words and language, and now an LDS non-fiction book that I hope to finish this month or next.

Some might say I’m spreading my writing too thin, but I like to think of these as all experiments in personal discovery—to see what I really enjoy writing. I suppose when one of these gets accepted and published, I’ll concentrate my writing career in that genre and see how it goes, but I will probably never ignore my other interests.

Change can be scary, but it can also be helpful. If you’ve been writing the same ol' thing for years, perhaps it’s time to try something else. You just might find your true genre.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Writing is Continuing Education

By Keith Fisher

In the interest of being accurate, and not wishing to have my manuscript rejected on grounds of doctrinal correctness, I did some heavy research this week. To say I learned a lot would be an understatement. I discovered so many things about the subject that I’m beginning to think of myself as knowledgeable.

After a while, I began to reflect on the things I know, and how I acquired that knowledge. I, like all of you, learned the basics at my mother’s knee. Crawling around the floor of the house helped too. I went to grammar school and learned my readin, writin, and arithmetic just like everyone else. There were other lessons I learned there too. Lessons like, how to play sports and how cruel kids can be to each other.

All through our lives we force knowledge into the onboard, computer hard drive we call our brain. Some of the learning, we considered useless information, but we crammed it in, and regurgitated it on a test paper. Some of that knowledge remains, some of it leaked out years ago, and some of it resides in our head, just out of reach. "Why can’t I remember that?" we ask.

The scriptures, and the prophets, have admonished us to be constantly learning. Most of us, however, can’t afford the time and money it takes to attend college or adult education classes. We end up collecting facts from the media, or office gossip. Many of us read books. Whether we read fiction or non-fiction, we learn things.

What a great advantage we have as writers. Even if the stories we write are pure fantasy, there is always some degree of research involved. I remember writing a scene once, where a man accosted a woman while she was holding a baby. I became concerned that the baby would be crushed. Also, I wondered if it were possible for her to extricate herself from him in the way that I had written. Using my wife and a teddy bear, I conducted some experiments to find out. I had to rewrite the scene, but my research had shown me an answer.

With all the research we do as writers, isn’t it great that we can continue to learn? Facts go into our hard drive that we later call up and use as an obscure fact somewhere in our story. If, in our writing frenzy, we have a character quoting from the bible but later, find out the quote was really from Shakespeare, we can be glad for research. If your character gets arrested, isn’t it nice to know that at some point before the cops take him away, they must read him his Miranda Rights?

After all the research I did this week I have developed a new appreciation for study and for the hard drive in my head. I’ve filed and categorized facts up there for later use. I just hope I can retrieve it all, when in the coming years, I get old and scary.

Good luck in your writing—see you next week

Friday, November 07, 2008

It's That Time Again


by G.Parker

You know when the leaves turn and the air turns cold that it's that time of year again. Yep -- Nanowrimo has arrived!

Once again, thousands across the world join together in writing a novel of 50,000 words in 30 days. I talked two of my daughters into joining the effort this year. The one that did it last year didn't finish...sigh. I guess she wasn't really motivated. This year she seems rather determined, but my youngest daughter has really been going for it. I've felt rather relaxed about the whole thing.

Believe it or not, I've been doing this for five years. What surprised me, was the fact that Nano has now been going for ten years. I'm still not quite sure of the draw. I think it has to do with a challenge, a gauntlet -- so to speak -- being thrown down for all writers, be they imagined or otherwise. Just to get out there and put words on paper. Find that inner voice. Follow the dream.

The most difficult part of the month is not editing. I'm so used to going back and re-reading what I've written so I can be editing as I write. Nano discourages that. Just write, is what they say. The editing comes later, after the month is over.

I still get the same complaints from my husband every year..."Why do they pick November? What about the family? I'm going to disconnect our internet..." lol. He suffers very little from the time I spend on this endeavor, but I think it's his way of letting me know he doesn't want to be neglected.

This year I had the story ready to go, background and all fleshed out. I just don't have a title. What do you call a modern day wagon train story with a girl and guy falling in love? I mean...I don't want it to be sappy. Grin.

It's recommended that everyone write an average of 2000 words a day to make the end without stressing. At least I'm on track so far...I'll let you know how it goes at the end of the month. What about you? It's not too late, you can still sign up and throw yourself into the wild frenzy that is known as Nano.

Just be sure to keep lots of chocolate (or your favorite candy) handy -- it's necessary for those days when you're staring with an empty head at a blinking screen and you are several thousand words behind the goal...

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Foresight for Change

By Nichole Giles

With all the political discussions and commercials going around, I have no doubt that everyone has had more than enough. I’m tired of listening to the slander and the fights, and seeing the way we treat our neighbors just because they don’t agree with our views. It makes me sad to see people being so hateful.

We live in a great nation. Not only do we have certain freedoms and liberties that many other countries don’t allow, but we also have the ability to choose who will lead us. We then give those leaders a period of four years to make a difference, to show us that they can actually handle running the country, and that they aren’t tyrants. If they do, we are then given the choice to elect those leaders for a second period of four years, or choose new leaders.

Our founding fathers were brilliant in many ways, and that they had the foresight to put a time limit on how long one person is allowed to be in charge amazes me. The time allows for each new leader to make an impact on American society, to do some good things and make changes for the better. (Whether their ideas of what is good or better work out the way we all hoped or not.) And because there is a limit, they have to enact their ideas and policies quickly enough for the people to see some kind of effect to the positive or negative.

It’s all about choice. Choice is a beautiful thing. We—as a nation—have choices. That doesn’t mean we always agree on which choices are best, but in our country—where the majority rules—those who aren’t happy with the results will have the opportunity to push for changes a few years later.

Yes, our forefathers were smart men. They weren’t afraid of change. In fact, they set up the constitution to ensure that we, the people, would be required to make changes every few years. Because change is good, whether we want it or not. It moves us forward and helps us to progress not only as a nation, but as families, and individual people. We progress within our spiritual selves.

Take, for instance, a change in my writing life. Two weeks ago my co-author friend, Cindy Beck, and I received a contract for a project we’ve been working on since last December. Our compilation of humorous, LDS stories has found a publisher. This book has been a great project, lots of fun, and a learning experience. But it probably won’t be the thing that puts either of our names in history books. And we’re okay with that. Instead, it will be the thing that puts a lot of names—our twenty plus contributors—in print.

It’s a change for all of us, and that is a wonderful feeling. My writing career has taken a step forward, and as I take that step, I’m bringing friends. This change is good.

The changes in our economy have given us all cause to re-evaluate our finances, to take a hard look at our plans for the future, and to take steps toward being prepared for disasters and eventualities. It’s important to be prepared. The changes in our leadership and laws will likely cause us to do more thinking, more preparing, and maybe spend more time helping others.

Regardless of where you stand politically, the truth is that change is inevitable. Our leaders of the past have shaped the country we know and love, and the leaders in our future will help us forge ahead to continue being one of the greatest, most powerful nations in the world. In the past, America has been called the place were dreams come true. Lucky for us, it still is.

We are America, and it is us. Ever growing, ever changing, ever lasting. And no matter what changes are made, this is still the best country in the world in which to live.

In short: Can’t we all just get along?