Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Killing Of . . .

By Keith Fisher

I flinched as my finger pulled the trigger. The stolen pistol bucked as the blast made my ears ring. The bank teller fell—no, she flew backward from the velocity of the hollow-point bullet.

Do I have your attention? In order for a new novel to be successful, it must have three things. A great hook to entice the reader, cliffhangers to keep the reader reading, and an ending that makes the reader think about your book for a week.

Did you ever notice the number of new blogs being created? There must be hundreds everyday on the subject of writing alone. I was blog surfing the other day, and discovered something about myself. I have a list of blogs I always visit. But I read them because my friends write them. For the others, I noticed a tendency to skim the first line. If it doesn’t hold my interest, I move on.

So I looked at my own blogs with a cold, critical eye, and I have to admit, most of them would make me move on.

We were in a minority when I began to blog here at LDSwritersblogck. There were fewer sites that talked about writing in the LDS market. Since then, I’ve heard many sources say you must start promoting yourself and you must establish an Internet presence. Consequently most of us blog because we plan to sell a book someday. We’re promoting ourselves in an effort to develop a readership.

So maybe we should hook the reader with our blog. I’m going to try.

Good luck in your writing and blogging—see you next week.

Friday, May 30, 2008

What Doesn't Kill Us, Makes Us Stronger, Right?

by G.Parker

There is lots of talk this week about rejection and so forth in our writing group. Several of us entered the Highlights fiction contest, and are starting to hear back from them. So far, it's only been rejections. One of them stated that there had been 1100 entries this year. 1100??? That's enough to scare anyone off. I mean, how can you compete with that many entries? Unless yours is good, no -- better than the rest of them, what chance do you have? I'm anxious to see who won. I haven't gotten my return envelope yet...so I'm holding a little hope -- just a little.

One person commented, "Isn't it true that what doesn't hurt us makes us stronger?" I guess in one sense, the rejections we get give us a thicker skin to offense, and more able to pick out what will help us. Gradually our abilities overcome the rejections and we are more able and stronger.

In my crit group, it was a hard thing to sit and wait for their comments. I was afraid they were going to hate my book, tear it to shreds and ask how dared dare I think I was a writer?! It didn't happen. They had some very valid points that had not occurred to me, and have helped me evolve the story in a more believable way. It has been eye opening.

I think we need to weed out some of the rejections we get. If they are form letters from publishers, we can accept that perhaps they don't have time to give us an in depth look. If they are slashing comments from family and friends, we can take it with a grain of salt knowing that they are the harshest of critics. If they are positive comments from the marketed age group, we can be uplifted and gratified that we're on the right track.

In our worlds of story, plot and outline, there isn't much shelter from the harsh words of rejection. That's where the writing friend comes in, and we are fortunate to have many of them -- enough to set up a shelter and haven for those who are striving to better their craft.

Here's to all of us -- we will yet win the day.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Too Final

By Nichole Giles

The other day on the Borders website, I watched an interview with best-selling author, Stephenie Meyer. The interview was broken into segments, and in this particular one they were discussing the upcoming release of the “last volume” of Stephenie’s Twilight series, Breaking Dawn.

When the interviewer asked her what it felt like to know she is finished with this story, Stephenie winced. (I didn’t write down her exact words, so I’m afraid I’ll have to paraphrase what she said.) She said that she still couldn’t bring herself to call this the final volume, because calling this the “last volume” would be too hard. It would mean closing the door to this world, and saying goodbye to a friend, or group of friends, you’ve spent years of time with. Friends you really, truly love and will miss.

Stephenie’s thoughts really made me think about my own story, and how it will feel to say goodbye to my characters. When you spend a lot of time with characters, nurturing them and getting to know them, it’s almost as if they are real friends, real people. To say goodbye to those friends forever is incredibly painful, and really hard to swallow—especially if you allow yourself to believe the goodbye is forever. So, while you know this has to be the final volume for now, you have the choice and privilege of knowing that sometime in the future, if circumstance allows, you might get to visit this world and these friends again.

In the same interview, Stephenie pointed out that there are other characters, other avenues, other stories that may need to be told someday. And the words “final volume” are just…too final.

I have to agree. Just because you are writing the concluding volume of one story for now, don’t close that avenue or burn that bridge. Never say never, because the truth is, you really don’t know where you’ll be in five years, or ten. Or for that matter, two.

Those friends to whom you must say goodbye right now might someday be standing in front of you, smiling and waving and begging you to tell another story.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Violated

By C. LaRene Hall

I’m not big on jewelry although before the children era, I wore a lot. Sometimes during special dress-up occasions, I do wear a necklace and earrings. I have plenty in my jewelry box, but rarely buy any for myself.

I’m sure anyone who has traveled to Hawaii has visited the International Market Place where there are hundreds of booths with various souvenirs scattered throughout a large area. During my recent trip, the back entrance to this famous place was just across the street from our hotel.

In the evenings, my husband and I often found ourselves wandering among the many vendors. One day I was walking from one section to another and I made a big mistake. I stopped to admire a necklace. Immediately a woman pounced on me. She started to put a necklace on me, then another one, and another one. She proceeded to put bracelets on me while I kept saying, “I don’t wear jewelry.”

I’m standing there trying to remove them as fast as she is putting them on me. Finally, in desperation I shoved them all at her and ran as fast as I could. I had never felt so violated in my life. No one had ever succeeded in putting so much jewelry around my neck and wrists in my lifetime. Actually, I don’t think anyone ever tried this stunt.

About 10 booths down I stopped to admire a dress and guess what? There she was again, “Name a price.”

That time I left my husband far behind and got out of there. From then on, I always entered the market place from a different direction, and I wouldn’t go near those makeshift stores the entire trip. I bought necklaces for my granddaughters, but not from her.

I never realized that vendors could violate a person in such a way. I also didn’t know they could be sneaky. One night while walking on the sidewalk in front of the market place a man walked up to my husband and put a parrot on his head. He then put another parrot onto the hand of the husband of my friend. He told me, “Take a picture.”

Of course, being a dumb tourist I did exactly what he said. He then told me to stand by my husband and he tried to put a parrot on my hand. I pulled my hand back and said, “You’re not putting a strange bird on my hand.”

He put the bird onto my head (thank goodness I had on a hat) and the other one he put on my friend’s head and reached for my camera. I can’t believe I gave it to him. What if he had stolen it with all my vacation pictures? And a digital camera isn’t cheap. Sometimes I just don’t think. This was one of those times. He took a couple of pictures and to my relief handed me back my camera. Then he said, “That will cost you $20 a couple.”

We told him, “No!” We finally gave him a five-dollar bill and hurried away. How dumb can we be? Are all tourists as dumb as we are?

I knew when I returned I would have lots to write about, but this isn’t the type of thing I planned on writing. Instead, I wanted to write about exotic places that I visited. I’ll get to that eventually, so return next week and I’ll tell you about the entertainment in Hawaii.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Mopping the Lawn

By Darvell Hunt

A few days ago, I dreamed that my teenaged son was mopping our lawn with a big yellow rag mop. I’m not sure what would have prompted him to believe that the lawn was dirty or why a wet, yellow rag mop would be an appropriate way to clean it, yet that’s clearly what I saw him doing while I was asleep. The thought of mopping the lawn didn’t seem unusual to me at the time, but that my son had the initiative to mop the lawn on his own certainly did.

Creating truly great LDS stories does not involve writing about things we already know. We, as LDS people, all have everyday lives and experience LDS events. Fiction writing, even LDS fiction writing, should take us away into imaginary or unknown worlds where we see things that excite us, make us think, or make us feel something more than just what our normal LDS lives provide. There may be exceptions to this, of course, especially when dealing with romance in women’s literature, but even with this genre, women seem to be seeking either validation of their own romantic lives or something they think they might be missing.

Unfortunately, what I see being published in the LDS market today are too many stories that are ordinary, superficial, and even sappy or boring. That is not the sort of stories I write, so it’s becoming apparent to me why, after almost twenty years of attempting to write for the LDS market, that I have not yet had a novel accepted.

Frankly, I believe I’m to the point where publishers are reading my stuff and thinking it’s good, that it’s compelling writing, and it's interesting material, but they tell me that LDS readers don’t want to read that sort of thing. Well, I am an LDS reader and I do want to read that sort of thing. That’s probably why I find myself reading more mainstream fiction than LDS fiction.

If this truly the way things are in the Mormon media market, I think it’s a sad state of affairs to be in. I know that many LDS readers are craving LDS fiction that is currently not available, mostly, I think, because the “big LDS publishers” are unwilling to publish it. I have a hope that LDS publishers can expand their search for good, compelling LDS fiction and publish stories that are truly thought-provoking, yet still distinctly LDS. The LDS market can be grown to include those LDS members who do not currently read "our" fiction.

As for lawn mopping, I imagine that you’ve never actually seen a teenager out mopping the lawn with a big yellow rag mop. I am, however, willing to bet that I created a mental image of just such an activity in your mind—and I’m willing to further wager that the image you saw brought a smile to your lips, if not a chuckle.

Mopping the lawn is probably something you’ve never thought about, mostly because it doesn’t make sense—but if you could make it make sense, I would bet it would bomome a good story. Personally, I had never seen anyone do it until I saw my son with the mop while I slept. If you have never seen it either, I probably made you think about something new. That’s a good thing, in my opinion. Is mopping the lawn an appropriate story idea for LDS audiences? Sure, why not? Has this been done? I doubt it. Was it boring and sappy? You be the judge. I personally thought it was an amusing image in my head—that’s why I’m writing about it now. (Although writing about someone mopping the lawn is not specifically an LDS story, even if the mopper is LDS.)

I want to see fiction in the LDS market comparable to mopping the lawn—things that are a bit "out there" compared to typical LDS stories, but not so far that LDS readers can’t enjoy it. Is that too much to ask?

I challenge LDS writers to write stories like this and I also challenge LDS publishers to accept and publish these stories, so the rest of us can read them. That’s the only way really compelling LDS stories are going to end up in our niche market. I further hope that the LDS media market’s current situation doesn’t force these great stories into the national market, possibly watered down or spiced up, as national publishers may require.

I believe that we LDS people are a complex, passionate, and thinking people—so why can’t our published writing show that?

Monday, May 26, 2008

Why Blog?

© 2008
By C.L. Beck

Have you ever wondered why some people have two or three ... or ten ... blogs? I have. In fact, I've wondered if they were nuts. Or at least a sandwich shy of a picnic.

The other day, quite by accident, I discovered something about blogs. Search engines love them.

You don't need to be a computer scientist to know what that means. Well, maybe you do. So, just in case you're like me and you'd rather think about why the sun might explode in its last days as a dying star than to think about why search engines love blogs, I'll try to explain.

There is all this stuff about pings (no, not ping-pong) and spidering (no, not the bugs with eight legs) and technical fru-frau. But basically, search engines find blogs and if your name is in or on one, that goes into its memory. Then, when your name is put into a search box, the engine says, "Ah, ha!" goes to its files and pulls the name of your blogs, along with anything else connected to your name.

Now are you seeing the big picture? The more blogs you own and write, the more often your name can be flagged by a search engine. Free PR! It's something every author loves.

Would you like to know a slick trick? Think about your name and then open several blogs that are variations on that name. Why? Because it insures that others won't be using that name for their blogs. For example, variations on my name are ByTheBecks (my website name), C. Lynn Beck, and C.L. Beck. Here's how I set up a blog page for each variation.

ByTheBecks: Is titled, ByTheBecks: Write Up My Alley 2, and is at http://bythebecks.blogspot.com/.

C. Lynn Beck: Is titled, C. Lynn Beck, and is at http://clynnbeck.blogspot.com/

C.L. Beck: Is titled, C.L. Beck, and is at http://authorclbeck.blogspot.com/

Case in point about someone else having your name—you'll notice that the URL for C.L. Beck is authorclbeck. I didn't really want the word "author" in there, but someone had already taken the name C.L. Beck and so that was the best I could do.

At this point, you're probably thinking, "That's nice for you, but how am I going to have the time to blog at each of them, every day? I'll have a brain meltdown!" You don't have to—there's no law that says you have to blog in a specified way. You can decide to write once a week, once a month or whatever works for you. The only thing you need do is to tell your readers how often you plan to blog there, and then make sure you follow through.

There's also another alternative. You can use one to actually blog, and put a notice up at the others directing your readers to find your thoughts at the other link.

Before I started blogging, my name seldom showed up on a search engine. Now that I blog in several places, it appears all the time. I've had my own website for years, but never had great success at getting my name pulled up by the search engines until I started blogging.

Sites like blogspot.com have made it easy to set up your own blog page. And when I say easy, I mean your average person can do it without pulling out their hair or threatening to blow up their computer.

Blogging is a great way to gain an Internet presence. And that's something publishers look for in an author—so get your name out there!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Captains Courageous—Dead Authors Society

By Keith Fisher


Remember two weeks ago, when I suggested a dead authors society? Well, someone suggested I actually do it. I am reading the old classics, so I think I’ll call it DAS for short and occasionally tell you what I think of an old book.


I read Farewell to Arms until the dialogue put me to sleep. I haven’t given up on Hemmingway though. I loved the movie version of Old Man of the Sea. I will read something else before I make a judgement. I have been perusing Frankenstein by Mary Shelly and I read a collection of Mark Twain’s humor and loved it. I am currently confused with The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but I really loved Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling.


Kipling was a man who knew how to write. He is my new hero. He could write the way his peers wrote, in what we call the classic style. With the twenty-dollar words, the flowery descriptions, and literary prose that is almost poetic. But Kipling had something the others didn’t have—he told a story well. After all, did you read The Jungle Book.

In Captains Courageous, We learn about a spoiled young man who gets pitched overboard from a cruise ship and ends up working on a fishing boat for several months before he returns to his rich family. The experience straightens him out and he gleans many lessons from his experiences. As you can tell, I loved it.


Now for the other stuff . . .


I was writing a blog for this week and then decided to talk about Kipling. I still feel the need to write the other one, so I’ll attach it here.



When upon Life’s Billows


By Keith Fisher


There’s a tendency for a writer in any market to get discouraged. It may not feel okay, but it’s normal. A writer spends so much personal time working and slaving over a manuscript, only to have it rejected by the first busy editor or publisher that comes along.


What about the writer who never finishes? He/she looks at the mountain of edits and re-writes and sees only the task ahead, with no end in sight. Those writers sometimes give up and the world loses the next great novel, hearts that where meant to be touched, won’t be—what a shame.


I looked at the hymnal at church last week and read the lyrics to Count Your Blessings page 241 Hymns of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The second line says, "When you are discouraged thinking all is lost . . . count your blessings see what God hath done." This may help you . . .I hope it does . . . but remember: sometimes thinking of all you owe God can depress you. Do what I did, and glean the right message.

The point is to get on your knees before God. One of the members of my critique group blogged recently about the need to include our Heavenly Father in all we do. If we start by counting blessings, God will help. Discouragement and doubt will not overtake us, and our manuscript will be published—people’s hearts will be touched.


Either that, or God will suggest a different book to write, but you will know how blessed you are. The important thing is to never give up. In the fourth verse of the hymn we read, "Do not be discouraged; God is over all."

Good luck in your writing—see you next week.

Friday, May 23, 2008

It's In the Family

by G.Parker

I went to visit at my brother's house last Sunday (a weekly ritual from when my dad used to live in the same house), and one of my brothers had come that I haven't seen in a while. He made an astounding statement. He said he'd started writing a novelette. I was floored - I had never pictured him writing!

He explained the outline of the story, asking if it would be upsetting, did we think, if he used real names in a fictional story that was pretty much our high school. We teased him that as long as it wasn't obviously our high school, he'd probably be fine. He assured us it was all fiction, and I thought the story line was great. He then told us that he actually had two others either in mind to write or had already written. He figured he'd put them all together with the title "Books that you will never find in print."

I was in shock the whole time. I had never imagined it. I had always been the writer in the family. Well...besides my mom. Mom was always writing poems to go with the photos she took of the grandkids. In fact, she'd created kind of a children's poetry book with photos of the grandchildren acting out various nursery rhymes. There's one with my son playing Little Jack Horner. It's dang cute, if I do say so myself...

The shock wasn't over. My younger sister arrived with her daughter and dog (she brings Jack everywhere -- he's a shaggy barrel with legs) and heard the end of his announcement. She laughed and said she was writing something too.

I felt like I'd been transported to another reality and I didn't know these people. I mean, when did everyone else start writing? She said she'd started as a stress release.

Unfortunately, I have to admit that the first thought through my head was "Fine. Watch - they'll submit something on a whim, and get published." Doesn't that seem the way it is? I was ashamed of myself, and expressed my surprise to my hubby on the way home.

He pointed out that sometimes people take up stuff that their parents had done after they've been gone for a while. My mother has been gone for six years now, and I think he has a point. All her creative energy was always there in her children, they just hadn't felt the need to access it before now. Who would have thought?

So, there might be a couple of writers in my family. Who knows, we could form our own writing group and perhaps they'd actually read some of my work...

Naw -- that's a real fantasy.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Author Interview: Tristi Pinkston

By Nichole Giles

With the recent batch of new books coming out, there are quite a lot of authors who are doing blog tours. What is a blog tour? It’s a new, high-tech way of free advertising, baby! An author will tour from blog to blog, having book reviews and answering questions to the host—all from the comfort of the author’s favorite computer chair.

I am such a lucky girl because I am part of a continuously growing community of authors who are happy to host each other in their blog touring efforts. This week, I had the opportunity to interview Tristi Pinkston, whose newest release; “Season of Sacrifice” has been available for purchase since March.

“Season of Sacrifice” is the story of the Perkins family who were part of the famous “Hole in the Rock” pioneer settlers. Benjamin and Mary Ann Perkins had a good life, and were looking forward to the day when Mary Ann’s family would be able to immigrate from Wales to be near them. They never expected to be called away from their home in Cedar City so soon, and Mary Ann had never dreamed that she might be required to share her husband with her younger sister, Sarah—whom she hasn’t seen in ten years. This poignant story is filled with heartache and love, and the absolute and unfailing faith known only to people of that era.

The following is my interview with Tristi:

1. Since this is a family story, what prompted you to pick this particular piece of history and put it into a novel?

My ancestors lived such incredible lives. From the moment I first heard their story, I knew it would make an incredible book. I didn’t even have to add fictional elements to make it fascinating – I just used the real story. Not every family history story will have enough elements in it to create a novel that will sell – this one did.

2. Did writing the Perkins’ story make you feel closer to them as people as well as family members/ ancestors? How?

I felt like I really came to know them through writing this book. Mary Ann was a little bit shy and insecure, and needed Ben’s love to make her feel valid. Ben was a little bit of a jokester and loved to sing and dance, but he took his responsibilities and his faith very seriously. Sarah deeply wanted to do what was right, and once she discovered what that was, she went for it full on and never looked back. Their personalities became very real to me as I wrote.

3. I’m sure you learned a lot of things you didn’t understand before embarking on this project. Is there one in particular that resonates with you? Why?

Before I wrote this book, I didn’t understand the deep faith that went into the practice of polygamy. I have never really cared for that principle and writing that segment of the book was hard for me until I realized that the people who practiced it weren’t necessarily converted to the principle – they were converted to the Lord and wanted to be obedient. Once I made that distinction in my mind, I was able to go forth from there. Polygamy wasn’t something to get all excited about – it was something to endure for the greater good.

4. This book obviously required a great deal of researching. Where did you start your research?

I began with the family history books that have been passed down in my family, including some pages from Ben and Sarah’s life histories. Then I read books my dad has collected on the Hole in the Rock, as well as Blaine Yorgason’s historical fiction novel on the topic. Then I went to the Internet to fill in the gaps.

5. About how many hours of research did you put in before you felt like you had enough information for an entire manuscript?

Because this information was already available to me, I spent eighty hours in research. Ordinarily, it takes me much longer than that. But, I’m feeling a little embarrassed to say, I didn’t do quite enough research into my pioneer animals. I was informed today that I depict the driving of the oxen all wrong. I’m sorry . . . but the rest is historically accurate. I promise.

6. When writing a historical fiction novel that is based on truth, I have found it extremely difficult to decide on the best way to approach telling such a story. How did you decide where to start and what approach to take?

You know, the whole thing really just fell into place. It sounds too simplistic to say, “I sat down and started writing,” but really, I did. This book has gone through fewer rewrites than any of my other historicals to date. I really feel I was led to construct it the way I did.

7. You feel so passionate about this book that you took great measures to self publish it. Are you glad you did this? Can you tell us the pros and cons you’ve come against?

I am very glad I self-published this novel. It’s the only way it ever would have come to light. I really feel this is the book I was meant to write. Of course, that’s not to say that it’s perfect—I doubt anyone ever writes a truly perfect book—but the story deserved to be told. Of course, a con is the money – I did pay for the printing and will be paying for any ads, etc, I choose to place, but I would do it again in an instant.

8. As writers, we all tend to learn a new important lesson with every project we take on. What was your lesson that came from this project?

Not to give up, no matter what the odds are against you. Even if people repeatedly tell you no, if you believe in yourself, you have to keep pushing ahead. You owe it to yourself.

9. What advice would you give other authors who are trying to tell similar stories?

Be prepared to face a lot of rejection, but be prepared to do whatever you must in order to tell the story you were meant to tell.

Thanks for your time, Tristi. I have loved getting to hear more about your book and your writing process. Good luck on your future projects!

~I have had the privilege of reading portions of Tristi’s work in progress. She’s taken a break from historical fiction to write a canny, hilarious LDS fiction novel and I can’t WAIT to see it hit the shelves.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

My Favorite

By C. LaRene Hall

I knew this would happen. Yes, I’m home. I have tons of things to talk about, but where do I start? The Hawaiian Cruise was wonderful and all the island tours were great. Which was my favorite? Every one of them. All were different and each added to our vacation. I wouldn’t want to leave any out. As I flip through my photos, I honestly can’t come up with which place I loved the most.

The place that fascinated me more than any other was the ocean. It was always changing. Every picture I took was different. The first thing my husband and I did once on board was immediately go out on deck and watch all the action below as the ship prepared to leave port. The red tugboat had its work cut out for it. How such a small vessel can help a large ship to move even an inch is beyond my comprehension. However, tug us out it did. The last thing I looked at before going below each evening – one level to our inside cabin – was the ocean, and it was the first thing I wanted to see each morning.

The ocean was the one thing I never tired of watching. Even on all the tours, the thing I always enjoyed were the waves crashing against the rocks. On the road to Hana it was the thing that always drew my attention around each curve and across each bridge.

If I were to chose, another thing I enjoyed was the sunsets on the ocean, and the sunrise at the crater. If you haven’t witnessed such a scene with your own eyes, I’m at a loss as to how to describe them. Even though a writer needs to know how to portray such things, I can’t. Some things leave everyone speechless.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Adventures Over the Rain Forest

By C. Lynn Beck
© 2008

CeeLynn tightened the harness to her parachute. A feeling akin to tiny kangaroos bouncing back and forth churned in her stomach, and excitement caused her fingertips to tingle. She wasn't afraid—not a whit. Jumping from an airplane and floating over the top of the rain forest was exhilarating ... adrenaline spiking ... and technically speaking (in case the IRS was reading), research for her upcoming novel.

She stood in the open doorway of the plane and gazed at the blue horizon, where the curvature of the earth arched with the grace of an angel's halo. The sight was so achingly beautiful that for a second, she wondered if she would become an angel when she stepped out the door.

One.

Two.

Three!

"I love being a writer!" she yelled, as she stepped out into nothingness. . . .

Or maybe she yelled "Geronimo." In my writer's fantasy, the wind was whipping past my ears so fast that I couldn't quite tell what she said as we both plummeted to the earth.

Speaking of fantasies, if you haven't figured it out already, a writer's life is not at all like that. Well, not for most of us, anyway. Case in point—the other day I posted a blog for YourLDSNeighborhood.com. It was one that I'd carefully crafted and painstakingly proofed. The link for it went live on Thursday.

The blog disappeared on Friday.

No, I'm not making this up. When that happened, I neither yelled, "I love being a writer," nor "Geronimo." I think what I yelled was more like "Oh, crap!" Then I tried circumventing computer logs, programs, and servers for hours in hopes of bringing that blog back—hours that would have been far better spent writing about CeeLynn and her adventures in the rain forest.

Ah, yes. That is the life of a writer. Not only must we write, but we must also navigate the World Wide Web, build websites and blog pages, and function as a jack-of-all-trades. Sometimes it's frustrating. However, we can't let that stop us. We need to remind ourselves that when we're rich and famous, we can hire someone to take care of the idiot computer and navigate the spidery Web.

In the end, my writer's ingenuity saved the day. In a flash of brilliance (you'll notice I use sarcasm in my writings), I re-posted the blog. Thank goodness for a techie who was around during the weekend and re-linked it.

So, dear reader, I'm hoping that aside from enjoying today's blog, you'll also notice it was a tactful way of announcing that I'm blogging for YourLDSNeighborhood.com. Well, okay, it was supposed to be tactful!

If you'd like to see what the lost blog was about, and whether it was worth all the time I spent trying to retrieve it, you'll find the link for it at YourLDSNeighborhood.com. Click on the building on the right side that's titled "LDS Outlet Stores" and scroll through the block until you find "The Newsstand." My blog link is titled, "What if it's Boring?"

Hope you enjoy it. Drop off a comment and let me know if you think the blog was worth all that work, or if I should have spent my time on CeeLynn and the blood-sucking leeches she encountered (human and otherwise), instead. And while you're there, take a gander at all the cool products and services at YourLDSNeighborhood.com.

C. Lynn’s other work:
Cup of Comfort for Horse Lovers, "Horse on Lap"
Life is Like Riding a Unicycle by Shirley Bahlmann, "Priming the Pump, pg. 79
Newspaper Column
Ensign Magazine, Dec 2007-Q&A
2007 League of Utah Writer's Award-Historical Fiction
Website

What books C. Lynn recommends:
You Know You're a Writer When ... by Adair Lara
The Writer's Book of Hope by Ralph Keyes
Publishing Secrets by LDS Storymakers (BJ Rowley and others)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Another Stop on the Blog Tour

By Keith Fisher

It’s my honor to review Tristi Pinkston’s new book, Season of Sacrifice, but first I need to make an announcement:

I’ve been asked to blog for the YourLDSNeighborhood.com site. I will be blogging twice a week on the subject of outdoor and camp cooking, with emphasis on Dutch oven and cast iron.

A few years ago, a major cast iron cookware manufacturer said there are more Dutch ovens sold within three hundred miles of Salt Lake City than anywhere else in the world. Don’t you wonder why here, instead of somewhere else? where are those Dutch ovens?

I think a lot of them are being stored with all the seasonal and camping equipment. They get hauled out to warm up cans of stew or chili on the deer hunt. A few get used to make biscuits while camping, but I believe the majority are still in the box in food storage lockers, waiting for the day when the power goes out and the gas gets shut off.

There’s nothing wrong with that, but wouldn’t it be easier if you were already familiar with your cooking appliance? In the blog, I hope to show you how to use your Dutch oven and enjoy the smiles on the faces of your guests and campmates. In the process we may learn some things about throwing back yard and block parties that will make you a legend.

I love to cook outdoors and I hope to transplant that love into your hearts. Stop by often. Put your feet up, dinners ready. http://www.yourldsneighborhood.com/ http://thecampcookinyourbackyard.blogspot.com/

Now for the book . . .

I’m not sure how it happened, but Nichole and I decided to split Tristi’s blog tour between us. I am going to review the book today. Nichole is planning to interview her on Thursday. I’m having second thoughts now. I think I’d rather ask the questions . . . just kidding. It really is an honor.

In an effort to avoid a corrupted opinion I haven’t read the other reviews, so if I repeat something already said, please forgive me.

You may have heard that Season of Sacrifice is a work of historical fiction about the Hole in the Rock pioneers. Tristi used family history, historical research, and gut feelings, to tell this poignant story of her ancestors and their part in a historical event. It’s the story of Benjamin Perkins and his wife Mary Ann Williams, but it’s really a story about Sarah Williams, Mary Ann’s sister and Benjamin’s second wife.

Polygamy was, and is, a hard issue. I think Tristi should be commended for the truthful and respectable way she wrote those parts.

As I read the story, I began to feel a common bond. Some of my ancestors were neighbors with Tristi’s in Wales. They were coal miners too. The Perkins’ were called to settle in San Juan. My ancestors came from Wales by way of Yorkshire England to Utah, and were called to help settle Southern Alberta, Canada.

Also, my wife is a direct descendant one of the sisters who married John Rowley. You must read the book to know what I’m talking about. Find a copy at http://www.tristipinkston.com/books.htm

In my family history collection, I have many books written by relatives that attempt to tell the stories of my ancestors. None of them do it the way Tristi has. Her talent of writing is certainly a blessing for her ancestors.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Mother’s Day Blues

by G.Parker

It was a bit crowded in our little hall of a kitchen, and my husband was feeling a bit stressed. He wanted all of our children (well, the older ones) to help make dinner for me. He started on Saturday because he wanted to avoid doing a lot of work on Sunday. Since he had potato salad on the menu, that meant doing most of the prep on Saturday – although we ended up with stuff cooked and the rest of it thrown together Sunday after church.

While my oldest daughter was washing the potatoes for salad and I was getting the eggs put in a pan to boil, he was trying to make strawberry pies. At one point, I had gone down stairs because they had informed me that I wasn’t setting foot in the kitchen. About half way through the cooking ordeal, he called me on the intercom and asked for my help. PLEASE! Grin. How could I resist?

When I say our kitchen is a hallway, I’m not exaggerating. It is about 12 feet long, and 4 feet wide. Which, if you are walking down a hallway is nice and roomy, but if working in a kitchen with three other people and two younger ones who are curious and just want to walk through – there isn’t any room.

About a half hour later, he was tossing the youngest ones out, and threatening anyone who didn’t have an assignment and came within two feet of the kitchen. He was feeling very stressed, and I felt bad. I was also worried he would end up strangling one of the children if they walked behind him one more time.

I guess I should have thrown that old cake pan with the small holes in it away, but it works for most things, and I’m short on cake pans. It didn’t help that he used it to marinate the chicken and it leaked all over the tablecloth and counter before he discovered the leak and put it on a cookie sheet. He was really ready to go to bed by the time we were finished.

Sunday’s dinner turned out wonderfully. I carefully avoided mentioning the rather brown pie crusts on the strawberry pies, but he pointed them out anyway, telling everyone that he usually manages to ruin one or two items each year. I think he does a great job.

He also mentioned, in the midst of the chaos, that this would be great information for a parenting book – one on how to see the humor in every day things. I thought it would be great blog material, and saved it for you folks.

Whoever said the road to hell is paved with good intentions, wasn’t married. It was my hubby's intention to serve me a wonderful dinner that I didn’t have to cook and could enjoy at the same time. While it was yummy and I enjoyed it (especially the marinated chicken!), he focused on the negative parts, and agonized over the fact it wasn’t perfect. I, on the other hand, appreciated his intentions and loved him more for it – along with my children who made breakfast and helped with all the cooking and setting up at grandma’s house.

Sometimes it is the thought that counts.

While he probably felt like the day was a failure, I enjoyed every minute of it. It made me aware of my many blessings, namely seven of them; and the amazing gift of being a mother.

I can hardly wait till Father’s Day.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Vacation Adventures

By Nichole Giles

The blinking red numbers on the clock read 3:04 a.m. as I sat up quietly in the hotel bed, trying not to disturb my sleeping children. I drummed my fingers on the mattress, feeling agitated and concerned as I tried to adjust our vacation plans around what might happen in the next hour or so.

Today—well, technically yesterday since it was officially Tuesday morning rather than Monday night—had been our first day at the theme park. Being a Monday in the off season, the hordes of people who usually bombard this place were thinner than they could be, so we were able to wend our way around to all the different rides, rarely waiting in lines that were unbearably long. We stopped only to eat lunch at a cafĂ© in the park, and the only shopping we did was to pick up a hat for our daughter, Brittany.

We figured we’d have plenty of time to buy souvenirs later.

But here I was, wide awake at 3:00 a.m. staring at my cell phone as it lay on my pillow, and willing it to buzz with a message that all was well and I could go back to sleep. The only thing I could think was, “What if it’s appendicitis?”

Yep. Brittany, our twelve-year old, had been complaining of abdominal pain since about an hour after lunch—right about the time when we had ridden a particularly jarring ride. The pain had persisted, getting worse and worse until sometime around 12:30 a.m. we decided she needed to see a doctor. Hey, we may be paranoid, but we’ve been through a burst appendix before with our son—it was really, really awful—and we had NO desire for a repeat performance.

So, I stayed with the rest of the kids—who were all deeply asleep—and Gary took Brittany to the emergency room. Apparently, our fears weren’t too far off the mark, because the triage nurse worried about appendicitis, too, and whisked her in with a very short wait—despite the fact that the ER was rather crowded that night. Lucky for us, no surgery was required. After several tests, and a few vital trips to the restroom, the pain lessened and the doctors (several checked her—just to be certain) determined she probably had food poisoning and that she’d be better by morning.

When I got the message that all was well, I sighed with relief and adjusted our plans for the next day to allow for Gary and Brittany to sleep in. Then, I lay back in bed, finally closing my eyes for the first time in hours.

After that, our trip went relatively smoothly. We didn’t end up changing our plans drastically, and Brittany felt great once whatever she ate worked itself out of her system. The weather was chilly and the traffic was terrible, but we discovered a grocery store near the hotel where we stocked up on granola bars and Uncrustables. (You didn’t think we were going to take a risk and eat in the park again, did you?)

We visited with some of our favorite fictional characters, rode thrill rides until our legs warbled, boogie boarded in the FREEZING surf with two separate pods of dolphins less than a hundred yards away, bought designer dolls and had our picture taken with the Terminator. The whole trip, I kept thinking, “I should write this down. I can use this somehow…” and “This could be the beginning of a beautiful story line…”

I can’t help it! I’m a writer. And as you see, I am writing it down, and I do plan to use it all, somehow.

All in all, the adventure gave our trip a little added spice and made me anxious to get back to my computer. However, in the end, my son Mckay discovered a very important bit of information that you might want to share with your kids, and anyone else who might have doubts.

The tooth fairy can find you everywhere, even when you’re on vacation!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I’ll Return

By C. LaRene Hall

I’m still away, but I’ll be back soon. This week I’m at Pearl Harbor and then I’m off to the famous swap meet at the football stadium. I guess they expect us to shop until we drop. If you know me though, you know I hate to shop. The tour guide told us this is the best place to buy souvenirs so maybe I’ll look around and take something home to all the grandchildren.

Yesterday we were at the Polynesian Cultural center so I’m sure I’ll be too tired to do much walking today. I’ve written many notes about the things I’ve seen, the people I’ve met, and I’ve taken many pictures. No matter how busy I am, though, I have to write something. Before I left, I had plenty of ideas floating around in my head.

I hope no one asks what my favorite place was. I plan to visit something spectacular every day. With tours to Waimea Canyon , Volcano National Park , Rainbow Falls , and Haleakala Crater at sunrise, how can I not have a fantastic trip?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Multifaceted Gem

By DeeDee Hunt

With Mother’s Day this week, I am reminded of the many facets of life that make our existence so fascinating and so worth living. It’s often hard to catch those special moments in writing, but when you do, it becomes a time when the written word truly shines. Just like the light through a diamond, when writing has many dimensions, beauty can emerge from ugliness.

As I write this, I contemplate the only chapter of a romance novel that I have ever written, which I finished up not more than fifteen minutes ago. That feels bizarre for me to say, as I’ve never even written romance until today, yet the rest of the story I have in my mind speaks powerfully to me, such that I could no longer put it off. I don’t know if I’ll ever finish this romance novel or not, but now I can say that I’ve started it. I’ve had this idea for about five years now and the first few lines of the story hit me last night when I was trying to get to sleep. So, today I wrote the words down—and I like what I wrote. I now have the first chapter of my first romance novel.

I’ve also written an LDS thriller/mild horror novel, an LDS young adult novel, an LDS self-help fictional book, and even a western-style novel that occurs in Utah some 40 years before the pioneers settled its harsh valleys. I’m guess that makes me a multifaceted writer. My stone might still be rough, but if I polish each aspect my writing to be as smooth as I can, then perhaps the whole of my writing experience will shine like a diamond.

That’s the idea, anyway. Maybe it’s just a lump of coal, but until I try my hand at refining the materials I have, I won’t know. With sufficient work and enough pressure from all sides, perhaps a diamond will emerge, much to my delight.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Surf 'n Swim

By C. Lynn Beck
© 2008

Youngsters swim hither and yon in little inner tubes, having a good time. Suddenly, all the lifeguards blow their whistles in one shrill, tweeeeeet, the kids scream in unison, the water in the pool develops waves, and you feel as if you're in the ocean's surf.

Let me back up and give you the whole “Surf 'n Swim,” wave pool experience. You start out in the water, trying to get into an inner tube. In case you haven’t noticed, climbing into an inner tube was easy as a kid. As an adult, the thing flips you over and hangs you upside down in the water so you can contemplate the joys of drowning.

After escaping from the rubber beast, you try belly flopping onto the tube. It works … but only after you manage to bruise both biceps and wonder if you ruptured your abdomen landing on the tube’s handles.

But, at least you’re there … you flip over and slide your backside into the ring. You’re finally sitting in the inner tube. You float here and there, bumping into the pool’s walls and ladders, unable to navigate in any direction because your backside is stuck in the middle of the rubber ring and your legs are sticking up in the air.

That’s when you hear, tweeeeeet! You panic for a moment, certain you should never have attempted this … then the waves start rolling, and you have the time of your life.

It’s almost as good as writing. Almost.

When you start out writing, you encounter belly flops that seem to rupture your ego. You do them over and over again until you think you’ve finally managed to get the hang of it.

Next, with your backside stuck in the chair, you float here and there, trying to navigate the writing world. Sometimes you wish you could get your backside out of that chair. You might actually do it, for an hour or two, but then—crazy writer—you put it right back in again. You bump against the wall of one genre and then another, as you turn and twirl, and try to decide where you really want to go.

The submission process begins. You crash into this editor and that. You push off each rejection, sometimes wondering if this ride is really going to be worth it. However, you know there must be something really great ahead, because look at all the authors floating around you!

Then, one day when you least expect it, a publisher blows his whistle. He says he’s interested in your novel. You scream and cheer, and the waves of excitement engulf you. Like a swimmer in an inner tube at the wave pool, you take off for the ride of your life.

And it's at that moment of heady joy, as you're cresting on a wave, that the realization hits you—it is so worth it to be a writer!

C. Lynn’s other work:
Cup of Comfort for Horse Lovers, "Horse on Lap"
Life is Like Riding a Unicycle by Shirley Bahlmann, "Priming the Pump, pg. 79
Newspaper Column
Ensign Magazine, Dec 2007-Q&A
2007 League of Utah Writer's Award-Historical Fiction
Website


What books C. Lynn recommends:
You Know You're a Writer When ... by Adair Lara
The Writer's Book of Hope by Ralph Keyes
Publishing Secrets by LDS Storymakers (BJ Rowley and others)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Dead Authors Society

By Keith Fisher

There is a popular movie from 1989 staring Robin Williams called Dead Poets Society. It is a heart wrenching story about a group of boarding school students learning about life through appreciation of the great poets. Using that premise, I’d like to start a Dead Authors society. Like the movie, we could meet once a week (probably online) and discuss something (good or bad) we found in an old book. Maybe I’ll start a new blog—I’ll let you know.

I’m almost ashamed to admit it, but I avoided reading the classics in high school. Of course, I also avoided most of my homework in those days, I read Tom Sawyer and Future Shock, but I missed out on Moby Dick, Grapes of Wrath, and others.

To make up for my ignorance, I’ve been reading classics mingled among the other things I must read. I discovered an interesting thing while reading the Great Gatsby the other day. Although there is a good message and the book is a great treatise of the jazz age, F. Scott Fitzgerald filled it with flowery descriptions that probably earned him high praise in his day. Now he is dead, it’s time to take a look at his work under the desk lamp, and analyze it against the fiction of today.

One of my pet peeves is when I read a book written within the last twenty years and find the author committed one of the unforgivable sins. I constantly criticize myself for committing these sins because I know if I don’t change things like weak plot, POV shifts, and too much description, my book won’t be published. So, I’m left wondering how the book in question got published because it’s so much harder for us today.

Here I am, reading a classic—a book that is supposed to be an example of good writing—and those same feelings crop up. How did this guy get published? To be fair, I enjoyed the descriptions. Fitzgerald’s metaphors and similes are fantastic. I may write down many of them for future blogs, but does Gatsby hold the attention of a modern reader?

To be honest, if I wasn’t listening on my MP3 player at work, I might not have ever finished the book. Readers have such a short attention span today, a book must be near perfect to survive. An author cannot allow a reader to set a book down, or it won’t be picked up again. I’m afraid the classics would never hold up under the standards of today’s market. My friend thinks they would, but with all the rules for hooks in the first paragraph, etc, I still think my editor would find many wrong things.

So, high school students hate to read those books, while English teachers point to them as examples of great literature. It’s no wonder that many students quit reading after high school. Lest I give you the wrong impression, I must say it was hard to write during those times also. Readers took more time reading, and they scrutinized the prose. They held a paragraph in their mind for days, twisting it over, marveling at the symmetry.

But, my twenty-first century mind keeps trying to rush the author. It says, "Get to point already—I haven’t got all day." I found the classics are better if someone reads them to me. Don’t you love the way the narrator speaks in DickensA Christmas Carol? I love to listen to it again and again. Words were not taken for granted in those days. But when I read it, I skip over those words in order to get to the meat of the story. Perhaps if we make high school kids listen to the story they might enjoy it more, but then, how would they learn to read?

Since I haven’t made any real point here, you might wonder which side I’m on. Like any good editor, I must offer praise as well as criticism. I hope we all learn to savor classical prose. It may be a better example of good writing than the entertaining stories we write today, but it would never make it on the best seller list. That’s okay though, most of the classics already had their day in the sun.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Back Next Week

By Nichole Giles

If you read my blog last Thursday, you understand that I was planning a vacation. What I didn’t mention was that my vacation started this past Sunday. While you read this, I am either riding thrill rides with my kids (and trying not to be motion sick) or lounging on the beach. Are you jealous yet?

Don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll blog about it when I get back, and I’ll do my best to share some of the good times with my readers.

For now though, here are a few writing prompts to get you through the week. (Taken from The Pocket Muse, Endless Inspiration by Monica Wood.

1. Revisit a story you’ve told many times. Now, tell a different story, beginning with the thing that happened after the story’s end.

2. What if you finally did what you’ve always wanted to do?


3. A woman on a beach, dressed in black, shouting a single word to the ocean. What is the word, and how did she come to this? (My own variation of this one includes white clothing rather than black.)


Good luck! Have a great week, and I’ll see you next Thursday. Oh, and if any of you come up with a whole book from one of these prompts, I want to hear about it!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Painting

By C. LaRene Hall

I have never been a good artist. If I were to draw something, you would laugh for sure. I think most of you have heard that a picture paints a thousand words, but I want my words to paint a picture.

It’s not always easy to do. Sometimes in my mind, I can see the beautiful scene, but the description doesn’t always look like I want it to. I can picture the action, but the words are not always there. I know that if I keep working at it I can capture and manipulate words to create a vision for my readers.

Writing is an art and we need to communicate our emotions while creating suspense. If we use our senses to describe everything we can usually paint a clear picture. Everyone relates to the smell, touch, or taste of things.

Today while you are sitting at home reading this, I’m on my way to see the Volcano National Park near Hilo , Hawaii . After we see the volcano then we are going to the Rainbow Falls . Those of you who have visited this part of the world can picture it immediately in your mind. All it takes is mentioning the place, but if you haven’t been here then the writer is going to have to paint the picture for you.

A good exercise for every writer is to look at a picture and write about what you see. Eventually if you practice enough, you’ll be able to paint a beautiful landscape for your readers.

Monday, May 05, 2008

You Know You're a Writer

By C. Lynn Beck
© 2008

You know how they say good things come in small packages? It's true. My friend, Nichole Giles, gave me a book titled, You Know You're a Writer When .... Its dimensions are slightly bigger than a large index card and it contains 95 pages, some of which have only one sentence.

In the introduction, author Adair Lara says, "If you're a writer, chances are you'll recognize yourself in this book."

Really? Naw, writers aren't that easily classified and categorized. We're unique and mysterious, I thought. However, by the time I read the first several pages, I found myself laughing and nodding my head, because she nailed me—along with all the other writers of the world.

Since I enjoyed it so much, I thought you might like to read a few of the selections. So, here are a smattering of passages for your enjoyment, along with a peek or two into your own psyche:


"You know you're a writer when ..."
  • You'll never forgive your parents for your happy childhood.
  • People still talk about your letters from camp, or the navy, or jail.
  • You wonder if there's another word for "thesaurus."
  • You know more than ten synonyms for "blue."
  • The doctor tells you that you have terminal cancer and you think, "I can use this."
  • Writing is the only thing you do that doesn't make you feel as if you should be doing something else.
  • A cop gives you a ticket and you realize he's sort of a writer, too, and want to say to him, "Can I just say your work really has an impact on me?"
  • You are shipwrecked on a deserted island but can't send the rescue note off in the bottle because you have no access to spell-check.
  • When driving alone on a stormy night past wind-tossed trees, you think, She swerved to avoid the deer but its hooves shattered the windshield into a cobweb of cracks, and then the car tumbled down the cliff. It rolled several times and came to rest at the bottom of the canyon. She was still alive.

That last one makes me laugh every time I read it. Only a writer could take a potentially terrifying experience and turn it into a novel in his/her head. And that's what I love best about being a writer—everything is a story.

C. Lynn’s other work:
Cup of Comfort for Horse Lovers, "Horse on Lap"
Life is Like Riding a Unicycle by Shirley Bahlmann, "Priming the Pump, pg. 79
Newspaper Column
Ensign Magazine, Dec 2007-Q&A
2007 League of Utah Writer's Award-Historical Fiction
Website

What books C. Lynn recommends:
Publishing Secrets by LDS Storymakers (BJ Rowley and others)
Writing for Story: Craft Secrets of Dramatic Nonfiction by Jon Franklin
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Rennie Browne & Dave King

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Writing Out of Time and Place

By Keith Fisher

While thinking about what I want to share with you this week, I analyzed my activities for last week. I hoped to find a lesson I’d learned that would help you in your quest to be published in the LDS market.

It was a busy week. I wonder how I survived. My wife and I cooked in Dutch ovens for the whole fourth grade, teachers, and parents as part of the Utah History unit. We made about six gallons of beef stew, six cobblers, and five 14-inch diameter cornbreads. There were 130 people, and I’m still sore from all the hard work.

Of course I learned a few lessons at the LUW spring workshop on Saturday, but my friend is going to blog about that and I don’t want to compete.

I think the big lesson for this week occurred to me in my critique group. I learned about perspective.

How many of you remember bench seats in cars? Did you know that bucket seats used to be a luxury? Unless your car was a sports car, bucket seats had to be ordered special. It never occurred to me that my readers might not know that, when I had a character slide next to my protagonist and put her arm around him. "What is she sitting on?" was the question someone asked.

Later in the week, I asked a friend to review a short piece for me and it became painfully clear that my frame of reference came from events that happened before she was born, therefore she didn’t understand my point.

I realized my writing should be tailored to the understanding of everyone. I must never assume that everyone understands. I don’t have the figures, but I bet that more than half the population has never heard a vinyl record played, or even seen one. (What’s a vinyl record? Ask your grandparents.)

I was listening to MP3’s at work today and realized I was rocking out to music that was recorded ten years before most of my co-workers were born. Yes, I feel old, but more to the point, I can’t write about Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band without explaining who they were. Or talk about Gerald Ford without bringing up Richard Nixon. Time seems to forget impotant connections and events which will be forgotten in future generations.

Before any of you youngsters start feeling superior because your language and references are cutting edge, I have some questions for you: What will happen to the colorful expressions of today? Will anyone understand them in ten years—what about twenty? Chances are, very few people will remember Hannah Montana, or understand why her concerts sold out so fast. If we want our books to survive through the generations, perhaps we should consider our words carefully. Or at least watch out for dated material.

Good luck in your writing—see you next week.

Friday, May 02, 2008

The Blank Page

by G.Parker

Last week in my critique group, I got my first round of 'red marks' on my story. They were kind -- everyone said they liked the story and that it was great, BUT...

Yeah, that's when it comes down to bite the bullet and listen or chicken out and leave. So...I brought the suggestions home and haven't been able to look at them. The biggest suggestion was that my story needed more information at the beginning. They wanted to know what heaven looked like, what angels looked like, and why one angel was doing one thing when I'm talking about a completely different one for the rest of the story. Basically, it was a rewrite of the prologue.

At this point I'm wondering if it should become chapter one and forget a prologue. I'm not sure what the benefit would be of either at this point, I'm just scared to change it.

Have you ever looked at a chapter and realized it needed to be reworked but were too afraid to touch it? If you haven't ever lost a story or plot outline, you wouldn't know the fear. I've lost a couple, so now I'm really paranoid about rewriting because I'm not sure I'm going to like the change. What if I like the original better? This isn't something that has happened recently, this was back before the time of computers and everyone had a word processor with access to a printer. Fortunately there are many ways to save work and do rewrites with copies. Unfortunately the fear of loosing chosen words lingers.

People think that since you're the one that wrote it in the first place, you should be able to remember what you wrote -- word for word. Well, perhaps some writers are able to do that, but I'm not one of them. Once it's down on paper, I can remember bits and pieces and the general idea, but specific conversations? It's gone -- never to be remembered.

The blank page becomes intimidating at that point. I'm not sure if I'm ready to commit to the drastic change that it represents. But today I forced myself to get on with it and rewrite the idea, incorporating some of their suggestions. It became fun and interesting -- I don't think I'm worried about it anymore.

Don't let the fear of change ruin your story. Remember it's the richness of the mind that brings it (the story) to life. Everything changes in time -- until it's in print.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

The Doctor is In

By Nichole Giles

The other day, my husband and I booked theme park tickets for a trip we’re planning. In the process, the web page expected personal information. So there we were, filling it out, and up pops this option for a title.

Now, most normal people don’t worry about titles when booking theme park tickets. Do they? But just for fun, we scrolled through the options and had a good laugh trying to decide which one to use. See, this option—usually used for Mr, Ms, Mrs, etc—had given us an opportunity.

The best part was that this list of options was more extensive than any I’ve ever seen. For instance, besides the usual Mr. or Mrs., we were offered the title of Rabbi, Father, Sister, or Vice-President.

To my great consternation, they did not offer the title of President—otherwise that would have been the title we chose. It’s possibly the only opportunity we might have had for Gary to be referred to as “Mr. President”. I suppose I wouldn’t have minded being called, “Madam President” myself, but my daughter—who is the president of her student body—claims it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

We ended up deciding on Doctor, since that is what Gary decided he wanted to be that day. Though I’m sure he knows about as much about appendicitis as a doctor, that isn’t his chosen profession. Not even close. But now he gets to be a doctor for a day.

In the event of an emergency, I hope the people at Universal Studios will understand—as many of the people who work there are actors or artists of some kind—that though my husband has added the title of doctor to his name, he doesn’t actually know how to sew on severed limbs or drill holes in the brains of people who have passed out from too much brain pressure.

Hey, if that were to happen, at least it would give me something to write about!