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.