Thursday, December 31, 2009

Experience 2010

By Nichole Giles


Right about now, probably half the people in the world are talking about resolutions and goals. And if they aren’t talking about them, they’re thinking about them. Why not? We’re about to jump into a new year and what better time to make goals or plans for your future?

But there are some things that are out of our control and as much as we’d like to make goals about publication or acquiring an agent, I think we’re better off planning for the things we can guarantee will happen. For instance, if we’re determined to find a publisher for our manuscripts, rather than make a resolution to get that contract, make a goal to submit to a certain number of companies. Rather than make a goal to lose a certain number of pounds, why not plan instead to do the things it takes to lose the weight? Like exercise four times a week and eat balanced meals. By planning things within our control we have the best opportunity for success. And every little success brings us more in control with the rest.

But enough about resolutions and goals. Instead, I’d like to know what fun things you plan to do for yourself and with your family in 2010. Will you go somewhere new? What new activity will you attempt for the first time? What new skill will you learn? What books do you plan to read?

These are the things I want to talk about right now. The fun things in life. The best things in life. The reason we’re here to live. All of these plans and experiences can be used in our writing.

For instance, the other day I was able to give blood for the first time in my life. The process itself was no big deal to me. I just didn’t look at the needle or the bag of blood as it filled, and I was fine. It wasn’t until after my arm was all bandaged and the nurse leaned my chair up into the sitting position that I passed out cold. And I stayed out for a good thirty seconds or so. Long enough for my husband to jump out of his chair to come over and save me from doing a face plant off the chair and onto the floor, for them to lie me back, and for a nurse to slap me repeatedly without me even knowing . It was an entirely new experience for me. I mean, I fainted once before, but not quite so severely and it’s been sixteen years since then. It was a good thing to experience, and something I plan to use in my writing.



Now on to the next new thing. What do I want to do next? Skydiving? Parasailing? Scuba diving? Swimming with sharks? Maybe skiing since I live in Utah? Climbing a volcano? Hm. Maybe I’ll try writing a whole novel backwards. Well, whatever it is, I have a whole year to figure it out. What about you? What new thing will you experience? I want to know about it.

Happy New Year! Now, go out and experience life and as always, write on.

Nichole

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Resolutions

By C. LaRene Hall

Well, what do you expect two days before the New Year? What else is there to talk about?

Sunday in church, we had a great speaker who began his talk by making ALL of OUR Resolutions. I think he did this to point out the fact that no one can make choices for us. We each have to decide what changes to make in our own life.

As we are setting our new goals for the year, here are a few things that I might consider –
1. Expand my horizons.
2. Preserve my physical health by doing all the things that I should, such as exercise.
3. Be a truer friend.
4. Grow spiritually.
5. Pray to communicate.
6. Read scriptures.
7. Write something every single day.
8. Read a book every week, including some self-help ones that I usually toss aside.

The speaker on Sunday said to remember that we do have the right to change our resolutions if it’s not working. He reminded us to appreciate what little progress we make, and to be kind to ourselves. Also during the year, we should re-evaluate our progress.

I wonder how many days until I break all of my new resolutions. How about you? How soon will you change your mind and declare that it’s just too hard?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

K. I. S. S.

By Darvell Hunt

If you can’t pitch your story to an editor in an elevator in ten seconds, you may need to refine the focus of your story. It may just be a matter of changing the way you look at your story, or it may not be that simple—but it needs to be.

Why? Because simple sells. If your idea is so simple that you can say it in ten seconds, yet is something that has never been done before and you do it well, your book will sell itself.

Sure, don’t forget to be creative, but remember K. I. S. S.: Keep it simple, stupid!

Here are some examples of simple but effective story ideas:

Jaws in Space. (The first Alien movie)

I See Dead People. (The Sixth Sense)

What if your entire life was a TV show and you didn’t know it? (The Truman Show)

What if you were a superhero, but you didn’t know it? (Unbreakable)

What if your boyfriend was a vampire? (Twilight)

What if you found an alien in your backyard? (E.T.)

They have forty-five minutes to save the world. They need forty-six. (Big Trouble)

You probably get the idea from these examples. What’s a short tagline for your story? If you can't write one, maybe you need to refocus your story. Or, perhaps you need to think more on what your story is about. You might have to add something to focus it or remove some things that are making it too complicated.

Remember to keep it simple, refine your focus, and write your pitch with as much passion as you wrote your story—then all you need to do is find some excuse to ride a lot of elevators with book editors.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Day After

By Keith Fisher

Over the past few days on the blogck, you’ve been favored with many Christmas wishes. Since the big day is over, I’ll restrain myself. As the sun makes an attempt at poking through the mist this morning, I’d like to offer my hope for your recovery. Dig yourself out from the pillows and blankets and face the new day.

Okay, move the crumpled wrapping paper aside, lay down and take a nap.

As I mentioned on Facebook this morning, It’s interesting how we can suffer from a hang over without ever drinking a drop. Between the joy in the eyes of a child, and the smile caused by a gift you gave. All the candy and cookies, and Christmas dinner, love and sadness from missing departed loved ones can overwhelm us. Toys shared, and those broken, persuading Aunt Jane to have the last sip of sparkling cider, and the five year old who wants a big piece of meat for dinner, even though you know he’ll never eat it all.

All these things, although, joyful, can drain us. So, when you finish your nap, and assess the damage to your messy living room, take a moment and remember Jesus. He is more than just “the reason for the season”. Jesus Christ, the Savior of all, offers a hand to everyone. Whether we’re rich or poor, bound to sin or free from it. He is there if we will only believe Him. If we take His hand He will lift us.

Then, with our eyes on Him, we will notice a peaceful Joy enter our hearts. We’ll have a renewed desire to serve others, and in the service, we’ll notice the so-called hangover is gone.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, December 25, 2009

And God Bless Us, Every One


by G.Parker

There are many things I love to read during the Christmas season. We have several movies that we pull out and watch only during this time of year, many of which were novels to begin with. I'm sure you've heard of them: The Christmas Carol (the George C. Scott version), How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Polar Express, the Miracle on 34th Street (old version) and many more.

We have several books that we pull out and read as well. Our family's favorite tradition is to read the Best Christmas Pageant Ever, starting a week before Christmas and reading each night till the end.

Our lives are enriched with the writing of others. It brings enlightenment, joy and quiet reflection, helping to focus on the true meaning for the season. I hope your family has many favorites and traditions that revolve around the written word.

We at the Writer's Blogck would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. And to quote from the Best Christmas Pageant Ever; "Hey, unto you a child is born!"

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas from the Blogck!

Posted by Nichole Giles

Since I get to post on Christmas Eve this year, I've decided it should be something profound, something appropriate, something...worthy of this holy holiday. It seems that this year, the Spirit of Christmas has been elusive for many people, including myself. So, I hope this video will bring us back, help us all remember why we celebrate this glorious, festive day.




Merry Christmas from the LDS Writer's Blogck! 

*Video courtesy of Mailman0 on Youtube

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas

I want to wish each and every reader a very Merry Christmas. I hope each of you have a wonderful Christmas day surrounded by those people you love most. Be safe and enjoy your day.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Writing Resolutions

By Darvell Hunt


I know that writing New Year Resolutions is a bit of a cliché, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t helpful. I encourage everyone to make goals for 2010. Here are my top three:

1. Make time to write EVERY DAY. It doesn’t matter if it’s one minute or six hours—any writing is better than none.

2. Finish at least three new projects in 2010.

2. Begin submitting my material to the national market, both to agents and to editors.

What are your goals?

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Great Misquoted Quote

By Ali Cross

Sunday I heard a wonderful talk delivered from the pulpit. The speaker was an energetic, entertaining girl who is new to my ward. I enjoyed her style immensely, and loved what she had to say. She shared the most amazing quote that really struck me.

"We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightening about shrinking so that other people won't feel unsure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us, it is in everyone." ~ attributed to Nelson Mandela's Inauguration Speech.

Wow, I was so impressed Mr. Mandela had said that! I began to hypothesize about the truly great men and women throughout the ages who have been called of God and the power their words can have in our lives.

And then I discovered Mr. Mandela did not say those words.

At first, it seemed he was only quoting someone else. But no, no, that wasn't it. In fact, he hasn’t said those words at all. It's a myth that he said them, one regularly repeated. The real mystery to me is why would someone make that up? Why go to the trouble to put words in the man's mouth, even
citing the source, if he never in fact said them? That I don't know. But I did find out who, in fact, did say them.

Her name is Marianne Williamson and she's the author of several books on spirituality and is the leader of The Church of Today.

However, why is it, that now I know it was Ms. Williamson who said these great words, they suddenly mean less to me? Like I needed someone truly great (read famous) to say them in order for me to give them credence? Thing is, I totally, wholeheartedly, cross-my-heart-and-hope-to-die, believe in these words. It's just that now I don't feel special quoting them. I'm a quote snob. *sigh*

I want to repent though. Because these words have great value—these words are TRUE.

Sometimes people are embarrassed to be around me. They've heard me sing at every Stake thing. They've seen the beautiful little baby outfits I make when I give them at a shower. Many people in the ward have family portraits I've taken hanging on their living room walls. Many know I am pursuing a writing career. They sit beside me during Relief Society when the lesson is on talents and I can feel them shrinking away from me. They say things like "Well, I'm not talented like you."

Thing is, I'm not talented like YOU. I have many observable talents, it's true; and I've worked hard at developing those talents. But I'm really bad at just knowing when someone needs a dinner brought in, or even how to serve when I perceive service is needed. I tend to stand around wringing my hands at ward funerals or the like because I don't know how to just jump in and help. I admire all the women who rush from one thing to the other with such confidence in what they are doing.

I could go on and on about what's wrong with me, about what talents I'm lacking. And I usually do. But that's in part why I love this quote. Why should I try to make myself smaller, just because my outward talents might make others feel insecure about themselves? God gave me these gifts. I am so thankful to Him for them, because they bless and enrich my life. What a thankless girl I am if I can't pay homage to the God who created me by using the talents He gave me.

I also love this quote because it says what I believe and our church teaches—that we are all children of God and we are all blessed with gifts. Most often I think we have in our possession a multitude of gifts if we desire them. However it does take a sturdy shovel and a strong back to dig in and uncover that which we seek. But isn't it that way with most things of worth?

So I guess I've talked myself into accepting the value of this quote despite its not having been said by Mr. Mandela. Instead, I want Ms. Williamson to know how thankful I am for this wonderful piece of wisdom. Maybe it's a good thing Mr. Mandela is getting misquoted so often because this important message is being shared with more people because of it. Ms. Williamson's gift for words and Mr. Mandela's gift for public accolade—together they allow for a sweet message to be heard, to be shared, and hopefully, to be adopted by the hearts of many.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Our Creative Destiny

By Keith Fisher

We have a porch swing in our backyard. It’s just a bench hanging from an old swing-set frame. Last summer, I set down to relax and a slit-second later, I was lying on my back with parts of the swing scattered over me. After the initial shock, I found humor in the situation, but I still wonder if God was teaching me a lesson in humility.

It was old. The wood had rotted, and the nails were rusting through, to the point of falling apart. Using some of the pieces as a guide, I improved the design and built a new, stronger, one.

After hanging it, I sat down and admired my work. My mother came over, and I persuaded her to sit and admire it to. Somehow I got roped into building one for her, for Christmas. So, You might guess what I’ve been up to lately.

I have a problem with my mother’s swing, however, I have to design and build a support frame. Mom’s house is like many others these days. It doesn’t have an overhang big enough to hang a swing from.

My frame will be beautiful, but I worried about it supporting the weight. I used to design houses so I have a working knowledge of board stresses, but how do you figure weight variables for a three-person bench when you have no idea how big the people will be? Needless to say, I’ve been doing some thinking. I finished the bench part yesterday, and while it was on the sawhorses, I sat and admired my workmanship.

I love the feeling I get from building something from scratch with my own hands, but it made me think. Why do we create? Why do writers, write? Why do painters, paint? What is the attraction in writing a song and having the whole world sing along? Hey, that rhymes.

Realists would say it has something to do with ego, and in the case of some authors, that may be partially true. On the other hand, I’ve seen very humble writers who are the first to admit their dependence on other people’s help. Truly humble people are like that, thinking of others first, but what drives them to follow the creative urge?

Is it merely the satisfaction of a job well done? What about those who have a burning desire to write, but their finished manuscript gets rejected? Or the person who sits down to sew a shirt and makes one sleeve shorter than the other? It can’t be easy to hear laughter during a piano recital, after you’ve made a mistake.

It seems like something happens in the mind during creation. It fills the soul with endorphins and taps into what I believe is our creative destiny. A few years ago, I built a deck with an intricate series of angles spilling onto each other. I had some trouble with one of the angles and showed my frustration verbally. The neighbor heard me, and asked if I needed any help. I said, “No this is my therapy.”

In my writing, I’ve had moments when a plot comes together, or when a sudden flash of inspiration hits. We often say these are the times when our characters speak to us. These are the golden moments, the therapeutic seconds when we feel rewarded.

God has given his children many talents. Some of us are better at one thing than others. With hard work, we can develop any talent we choose. If we look at our rejected, finished product, we will see the parts where we reached our moment of clarity. It was the moment when we approached our creative destiny.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Writings




by G.Parker

While some are enjoying moments with book signings (grin) others of us are struggling with the every day. Like Christmas cards. Christmas cards have become a lost art, I think. With the electronic medium, most of us tend to email greetings and forget the traditional route.

Personally, I love snail mail, and I love Christmas cards. I got one yesterday from a fellow blogger, and was so excited...I've only gotten 5 so far this year, which was what brought this subject to mind.

It's the same idea that penmanship has become a lost art. The two coincide in my mind. I do calligraphy, and I like to do it on the envelopes I write for Christmas cards. I think it adds a special touch and lets the person know I'm putting a little extra effort into it. Despite the fact that inside the card is probably just a signature and 'Hi'...I've never been much for the family newsletter.

What is your tradition? Do you spend hours writing personal notes in Christmas cards or do you send simple cards off, just anxious to let people know you are alive? How many cards did you send this year? It was probably less than last year, because -- let's face it -- we don't usually send cards to people who have stopped sending to us.

Well, here's to you, whatever your traditions are. This is my electronic Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you blog readers. Have a good one!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

We Have Liftoff!

By Nichole Giles

I bet you’re wondering about the launch party for Mormon Mishaps and Mischief. Did it go well? Did we sell a lot? Did we have a good turnout? The answer to all three questions is yes. We had a huge turnout, we sold out of Barnes and Noble’s stock and most of our personal stash as well, and by the end of the night, the store manager was practically our new best friend.

I’d say that means it went well.

But that’s not what I really want to talk about. Instead, I think I’d rather think about why it went so well. I’d like to take all the credit for putting out a highly demanded book—well, okay, half the credit. I’ll give Cindy her share too. But really, I think it has more to do with advertising, word of mouth, and loving, supportive people. Not because they bought all the books, but because to spread the word for something like this, it takes many participants. And we had lots of help in that department.

Posters and invitations can do a lot to bring people in, but word of mouth travels faster and has better potential to pique the interest of an individual. Plus, it gives off a personal vibe that paper just can’t accomplish. So here’s what we did. Cindy and I each basically told everyone we knew, and then we kept telling those people, who told other people, who told others and the thing fanned out from there. We Facebooked, Twittered, and blogged. And we promised treats and prizes. (Which definitely helped.)

After three signings in two weeks, I’ve learned a lot. (To read about some of the things I learned, click here.) But of all the lessons I’ve picked up and stuck to over the past few years, one sticks out in my mind. Networking is key. Networking is key. Networking is a really, really, really, important, big deal. I’ve never been to a book signing where there weren’t several other authors standing around chatting. So, other authors will come to support you. Good. That’s how it should be.

But it’s also important to network with other people. At church, at work, in social circles, and within families. Because relationships = bonds, and as we form these, we also form a sense of loyalty and respect, and sometimes even love. This is what happened at our launch. People who know us from church, from school, from conferences, from jobs—our own and our husbands’—and family members all came to help us launch our book into the market. And each one of these people contributed to the success of our party.

Utilize your relationships! That’s what they’re for. And when I say utilize, I do not mean use or exploit. All I mean is invite people, and they will come. We had no idea how many people would heed that call until we were overwhelmed with them. So overwhelmed, in fact, that I missed out on getting pictures with some people who are very important to me. A fact that I’ll regret until I can somehow rectify it.

When you’re getting ready to launch your book, never be too shy to tell everyone you know, everyone with whom you come in contact, and strangers on the street that they’re invited to come get an autographed copy of your book. And then, when lots of people come, you will feel the rewards of all the many relationships you’ve nurtured over the years.

This, I think, is a key to success.

Have a wonderful holiday season, and until next time, write on.

Nichole

PS Click here to visit the humor blog and see a funny video of Cindy and I dancing.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Flight of the Bumblebee

By C. LaRene Hall


I really hadn’t thought much about bumblebees and believing in myself until my granddaughter gave me a beautiful mug this past week. It says the things that I truly believe. The inscriptions on the mug say – Beelieve and achieve, Beelieve with your heart, Beelieve you can succeed, What the mind can beelieve, it can achieve, Bee true to yourself, Surround yourself with beelievers, Great things happen when we believe, and When it is to bee, it’s up to me.

Bumblebee’s are not supposed to fly – their wings are too weak and their body too heavy, but the bumblebee, not knowing this, flies anyway. I guess I’m a lot like a bumblebee, if I set my mind to do something; I do it, even if someone says I can’t. We should all believe in ourselves, and not let anyone else determine what we will or won’t do in this life.

Some of us are lucky and have people standing behind us in our writing, and others aren’t as fortunate to have someone by our side. That shouldn’t matter; we are each responsibility for our success or failure. I know that if I continue to try someday I will succeed.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Let it Snow, Rain, or Sleet. And Bring In the Fairies


By Keith Fisher

I heard groans from some of my friends when they heard it was going to snow. I must admit it wasn’t much fun shoveling the most recent batch of it this morning. While I was out there, though, I debated plot scenarios in my head. Sometimes I argue with myself out there, working out a problem. When I do that, however, I frequently check to see if anyone is listening. I can’t afford to be committed to the booby hatch, (although I bet I could get some writing done).

Also, While shoveling this a.m., I reflected on my childhood and the magic of snowstorms. I grew up in a house next to a hillside vacant lot, so when it snowed, I waxed the runners of my sled and patched the holes in my inner tube. I loved the snow, and I loved winter.

Now I’m an adult and a writer. I still find myself staring at fresh fallen snow with a sense of wonder. I love the way it hides the brown grass and the leaves I didn’t get picked up.
Have you ever sat on a ridge gazing at a forest of pine trees covered in fresh snow? Then, while you watch, the sun comes out. The sparkling splendor of the fairytale world can take your breath away.

I experienced a similar feeling the other day, when, as a writer, I parked in the overflow parking lot of the Provo Utah LDS temple. I set my laptop on the steering wheel as I always do, but I spent fifteen minutes gaping at the view before I could write. The sparkle in the sunlight was fabulous.

The real attraction of snowstorms, or any storm for that matter, is the possibility of being able to write without feeling guilty about taking the time. I can’t do yard work while its raining, and sleet makes it almost impossible to walk outside. I can escape into my manuscript, holding a cup of hot chocolate, and follow my characters into places of their choosing, and not worry about yard work or even hanging Christmas lights. I give myself permission to be a writer.

Now, I’m sure that some of you, especially mothers, will bring up housework, and the many tasks that must be done for a family regardless of snow. Well, in my perfect world, fairies exist, and they like nothing more than to help. In my imagination, my children are fairies and they can’t go outside during the storm anyway. Then when the housework and fighting is finished, the storm clears, drawing the kids outside for awhile, giving you time to climb into the world of your manuscript.

Like I said at the outset—childhood was, and is, a magical time. I hope you can steal a moment for yourself. Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Only Two Weeks Left...

by G.Parker

I was happily working away yesterday when a coworker reminded us that there were only 14 days left till Christmas. Only one week left of work, as we get the week of Christmas off.

I had a moment of panic.

I am not prepared this year. I was so involved with NaNoWriMo, that I didn't get much else done. We have stocking stuffers...but not much by way of presents. Money has also been tight, and so it's a question of how much and when in the world we're going to do it!?

I guess my personal life is much like my writing life. I write better under pressure. I like deadlines. Knowing that there is a limited amount of time makes my brain function better. Perhaps that's why I haven't been able to do much since November and the pressure is off. I'm not sure.

Anyway, I guess it's time to start polling the children because no one has really given me anything to work with and the shopping days are waning...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Demands, Requests, and Rights

By Nichole Giles

The other day I got a strange phone call. Without detailing the entire conversation, I’ll just say that it resulted in me being asked to delete a past post on my personal blog. The post was eight months old, and the reason behind the request was beyond stupid—it was, well, insane.

Needless to say I found myself somewhat incensed. Who did this person think he was to tell me what I can and cannot write about on my blog? (I need to interject here that while the person on the phone was my someone I know, the request didn’t come from him. It went through three separate channels, just to make things more complicated.) The post had nothing to do with any one person and in fact was a silly joke about the people of Utah starting a potato revolution. (I know, right?) But some childish potato heir got his feelings all hurt about it, and called someone who called someone else, who called my caller and demanded (yes, demanded) that I delete that particular post.

The situation brought up a question that is relevant to all writers. At what point do we let an outside source tell us what we can write, or what we should write, or what is appropriate in our writing? And if we do allow this kind of influence, from whom will we accept it? And when we do post a public blog, how will our words affect us in the world outside the writing/ blogosphere? How will they affect the people we love?

I have to be honest. The trouble-causing post used no names, no brands, and nothing that should have been seen as offensive in any way. Yet, someone I’ve never met somehow found the post—which was so old I’m still working on finding out how, aside from absolute stalking—and got offended. That person thinks that because he has oodles of money, he should get to say what I’m allowed to write about. Only he isn’t an editor, or an agent, or even someone I know.

But the person on the other end of my phone had other reasons for making the request, and the bottom line was that having me delete it would make his life easier in dealing with the person who was dealing with the rich kid. (Are you still with me?) Thus I found myself in a tough spot. On the one hand, to delete the blog wouldn’t mean much to my readers. Sure, I’d lose the few comments on the post, but no one would really miss it, right? I mean, most people read the most current posts unless they’re looking for something specific, which generally doesn’t include potatoes.

On the other hand, the person making the demand (not the one requesting I comply) had no right to be asking, requesting, or demanding any such thing. And my inclination is to say no out of principle. The truth is I absolutely detest having someone attempt to push me around or strong-arm me into doing anything.

So what to do? To tell the truth, I replaced the blog with a scathing paragraph for about two hours—just long enough for the right people to read it—and then I deleted the whole thing (after backing it up on my hard drive). It really wasn’t such a big deal, except that I was extremely angry for even being asked. But… I saved what I wrote and will probably repost it eventually out of principle.

Have you ever been asked to do something like this? Who asked you and what did you do about it? I want to know.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Believe In Yourself

by C. LaRene Hall

The main reason that we, as writers, are succeeding is that we are trying. Behind every good writer is a motive, or reason that we sit for hours at a computer.

I’m sure that all of you had parents who guided you and made you believe in yourself while you were young. When I was in the 3rd grade, my parents put a small violin in my arm. Because of the proud expression on their faces, I tried my best to make something besides squeaks come from that instrument. Without their smiling face in the audience at every concert, I would not have kept trying.

The same thing happened when I sang my first solo, and when I performed group and solo dances. They were always there lending support. I knew if they were watching, I would do my best because I didn’t want to disappoint them.

Since my days of youth, I don’t have to look for their approval. They taught me to believe in myself and I could do anything that I set my mind to do. It’s still nice to have support from your family, your spouse and yes, your friends, but you don’t have to have it. If you believe – you can do anything.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Word Games

By Darvell Hunt

Writers are known for enjoying word games. Some of my favorite writers have them in their books, including Dan Brown’s use of anagrams and Ann Dee Elli’s use of palindromes. I’ve used them in my stories as well. Word games can be an interesting way to interest your reader, as well has have fun writing.

At the below link, you can find a useful tool to help you create anagrams, which are words arranged from the letters of other words:

http://wordsmith.org/anagram/index.html

I used my full name, Darvell Dean Hunt, to create the below anagrams, just for fun. Some of them are stupid, I know, but from this list, I might be able to pull just one that I could use in a story (if I needed an anagram for my name, that is).

Q: Why did your Dad get evicted from his apartment:
A: Dad have null rent.

Q: What would someone have done who jumped over a borrowed Toyota Sienna?
A: Hurdled a lent van.

Q: What does a banker do who likes airplanes?
A: Uh, lend and travel.

Q: Where would you find an uninteresting intelligent dork?
A: Dull nerd at Haven.

Q: Where do purple monsters live:
A: Lavendar Land Hut.

Q: What does someone do who is affectionate toward pre-humans?
A: Luv D Neanderthal

Q: What pet does a valedictorian keep?
A: Nerd have dull ant.

Q: What happened when someone jumped over an insect on the ship deck?
A: Naval ant hurdled.

Q: What did Noah’s wife tell him when he was making a list of animals to take on the ark, but forgot boring black birds?
A: And the dull raven.

Q: Where do math geeks takes baths in a college dorm?
A: Nude nerd hall vat.

Okay, yes, these may be stupid questions, and maybe stupid answers, but they are all anagrams of my name. Try yours and see what you find.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Be True

By Ali Cross

Some of you may know that I recently had to leave Valor, the company I expected to publish my YA paranormal fantasy The Devil’s Daughter. The nuts and bolts of why I’m not going to be publishing with them comes down to being true—to myself, to my friends, to the things that I value and honor.

Though I’m sad that my book won’t be on bookstore shelves in 2010 like I’d hoped, I feel good that I haven’t sacrificed the things that make me who I am. Whatever else, I am me, and always will be.
Sometimes, our drive to be published can stamp out our sense of self. We do what, how and when the market tells us to do. Our agent or editor guides and direct us and, for the most part, we follow along because they are the experts. We cultivate an attitude of gratitude—and the feeling that our publisher is doing us a big favor.

I saw that happening to me, saw myself giving in, folding, capitulating. But before I went tumbling off that cliff and effectively losing myself to the ‘machine’ I dug in my heels and flung my arms backward. Clinging to the edge with the last of my self-respect, I managed to drag myself back up, away from the precipice.

For many people, the slip off that cliff will be a happy journey, like free-falling through cotton candy. But for me, the fall would have meant giving up much of what makes my writing mine.

As you navigate the tricky maze of publishing, remember to be true to yourself and to your work. Don’t be afraid to make the hard choices—because in the end, your duty to self, to faith, to God is paramount. As Shakespeare penned in Hamlet, “This above all: to thine own self be true.”

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Finding Inspiration

By Keith Fisher

There are many places writers go to for inspiration. I’m not talking about ideas that come from outside sources, such as the baby born on a plane coming into Salt Lake the other day. What a good writing prompt that is. Also, a headline on Yahoo intrigued me. I didn’t stop to read, but it was something about an American woman being charged with murder in Italy. In the picture she looked like a nice girl. I could let my imagination soar with that one, but that’s not the kind of inspiration I’m talking about.

Recently, I discovered that every writer has doubts and fears. For some writers it can be debilitating. Even the most talented, are afraid of failure. In Ralph Keyes book, The Writer’s Book of Hope, he writes that on the day The Great Gatsby was published, F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote “I am overcome with fears and forebodings. . . . In Fact all my confidence is gone.”

Keyes also wrote about a condition all writers have, called AFD Syndrome. He calls it the three-legged stool we sit on when writing. Its three legs are Anxiety, Frustration, and Despair. It seems writers are prone to bouts of self-doubt and depression. Who can blame us? When we place so many people in a position of judging us? Not to mention the constant fears that our manuscripts won’t see daylight past the veritable slush pile.

It sometimes doesn’t help to actually get published either, the example of F Scott Fitzgerald illustrates this. We writers are a strange bunch.

It’s normal for a writer to fear the keyboard. But writing is the occupation we have chosen, and we need to recognize our anxiety for what it is. We call it laziness, procrastination, evasiveness, writer’s block, giving up all together, and sometimes arrogance.

The trick is to work through it. To keep going, even though your whole being cries enough! I can’t take it anymore. Keyes told the story of a young man who, after getting many rejections, went to the garage, put a hose on the tail pipe and started his car. After his death, his mother pursued the publication of his book. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and has sold over a million copies.

Perhaps that is an extreme example, but it illustrates the mood of a writer sometimes. The point is to keep trying. I have a tune floating in my head. I can’t remember who wrote it. Essentially the chorus is, keep trying. Never give up on you.

I came away from a writer’s conference, a few years ago, with the feeling of confirmation. I felt I was meant to be a writer. I considered it a sacred calling. To touch hearts and improve lives through my stories. Since then, I have been to the depths of despair over my choice to pursue what, until the conference, had only been a way of relieving stress.

But, I now have a renewed sense of self-worth. What happened? I finally caught on to what my critique group, and a good friend, has been trying to tell me about a problem in my writing. Also, I heard about a study conducted with writing teachers across the country. Almost invariably, the students who were the most talented, the ones everyone marveled over, the shinning lights on the horizon, quit writing. This is not a hard and fast rule, but for the most part, successful writers are those who keep writing. No matter what, they steadfastly pursue the dream.

So, I ask you, where do you get your inspiration? What motivated you to pick up that pen, typewriter, or sit in front of that computer? Whatever it was, try to remember it. The dream lives. There are myriad stories about successful writers who got rejected thirty, forty, even hundreds of times, before getting that book deal. The problem, however, is dealing with anxiety, frustration, and despair. (Notice I didn’t say overcoming it?)

I read, . . . the depression J K Rowling suffered when writing the first Harry Potter book, inspired her to create the dementors who, vacuum out happy memories, leaving only desperate ones. Recognize anxiety for what it is, and deal with it. Everyone has it. Don’t let it stop you.

On a final note, when a miracle happens, and they do, all time. When the miracle of publication happens, don’t stop. You will be tempted to believe it was fluke, and you couldn’t possibly do it again. Don’t believe it! Your writing voice has resonance, or you wouldn’t have been published in the first place. You have many more stories to write, get busy and write them.

The definition of a “good writer” is one who keeps writing. Even when the barking dogs are seemingly all around you, waiting to take your head off, Keep writing, never give up on you. Then, on a good day when you remember why you started to write, the fact that you are doing, what you set out to do, will bring comfort. You will know why you are a writer.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, December 04, 2009

The Day After Hangover


by G.Parker

Okay, before you look at the screen funny, I don't drink. I'm talking in a hypothetical sense, as in Nano is over and it's the days after.

I don't know about the rest of our group, but I feel kind of washed out. I finished before the end of the month, and thought about reaching 60,000 words, remember? I got to 53,000 and then kind of petered out. Sigh.

It was so great to sit down and have the words pour out again, fun to see characters grow in front of my eyes, a story line take shape. Unfortunately, the moment I reached my goal, things kind of went flat. The story needs a little boost, and I haven't got the desire to do anything with it.

I'm thinking that January needs to be edit and finish month. Anyone with me? We'll finish the stories we started for nano (if it wasn't done) and see how much editing we can get done in one month. January is usually a slow and depressing month for most people -- me not so much. But I do think it would be good to have others with me in the endeavor.

So...get your thoughts in line, and get ready for the first week of January, 'cause words are gonna roll!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

The Gift of Vulnerability and Launch Party News

By Nichole Giles

I have a lot of friends. Not that I consider myself popular, or that I try hard to make friends. The truth is that the people I consider true friends are people I’ve come to know over several years, and who I’ve grown closer to as time has passed. Some of my friends have come because of shared values or goals, some from shared interests, some from common jobs or spouses who have common jobs. Each person has come to me through a different path, a different channel, and a different means.


But while my relationship with every person in my life is different, they all share a common thread for me. They all own an individual piece of my heart. And while that might sound somewhat impossible, I’ve discovered that as each person reaches out for a portion, my heart grows accordingly and makes room.

Call it a character flaw on my part. Or a blessing. Or a point of vulnerability. Depends on the day.

And I’m not complaining. Really, truly, I’m so blessed, so grateful. But this heart of mine, while complete with all the strings and chords stretching from friend to friend, has a downside. Even as I am able to feel and share in the joys of the lives of people who matter to me, so do I feel the heartaches inflicted on them. I hurt with them, I cry with them, and I experience surges of anger when one of my friends suffers from an injustice. See? Point of vulnerability.

I think this is one of the reasons I started writing. Sometimes there’s this excess of emotion welling up inside me, and for the longest time I didn’t have a clue what to do with it. Since I’ve discovered my writing outlet, I realize that all my experiences, even the vicarious ones, have been given to me as a gift. That gift has become material for stories.

My work generally has an emotional tendency, and that’s okay. I write how I feel, and I’m proud of it. The stuff written out of emotion is leaps and bounds better than the stuff I force myself to type—though I recognize that both kinds of writing are necessary in order to finish a piece of work, however short or long. There has to be some balance.

Anyway, this week, I have a handful of friends—all of differing situations and circles—who are hurting for various reasons. I tend to have this crazy urge to fix people’s lives, even though I’m well aware other people's circumstances are out of my control. Still, the instinct is there. And it’s hard to not be able to help.

Except I can. Not by taking away the problems inflicted on others, but by being a friend. Offering a shoulder, an ear, or a punching bag if needs be. And for the times when that just doesn’t feel like enough, I write. And maybe, someday, something I’ve written will help someone else by helping them find a solution to the problems of the world.

And that will have to be enough.


In happier news, the launch party for Mormon Mishaps and Mischief is being held this coming Wednesday, December 9th from 6-9 pm at Barnes and Noble, University Crossings Plaza, 330 East 1300 South, Orem, Utah. C.L. Beck (aka Cindy) and I (aka D.N. Giles) will finally be celebrating this long awaited release. We’d like to invite you all to share in the festivities. Come join us for treats, readings, and prizes, as well as a really fun social opportunity.

If you can’t make it to the opening, that’s okay. We’re scheduled for several signings in Utah over the next couple of weeks. Click here for the updated full schedule.

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

I Made It!

by C. LaRene Hall

As most of you already know, several of us bloggers joined with thousands of other people and wrote 50,000 words during the month of November. Karen, Darvell, Nichole, Gaynell and I all passed the finish line.

Now I’m wondering, was it really worth all that effort? Maybe it was, but I’m not sure. It took lots of effort. I now have a completed novel that needs lots of fixing up. Nichole reminded me that I can fix a bad page, but I can’t fix a blank one.

I wrote the story faster than anything I’ve ever written before. The best part of it is that I now know that I can write that fast. It actually is a good feeling to finish something that huge in such a short time.

Now comes the awful part – the editing. I honestly think that it’s going to take longer to fix the story than it took to write it. At this point, I’m not even sure if any of it makes any sense. I haven’t even opened my story since I wrote – The End. Maybe next month I’ll get brave and face the consequences of opening my story to see what awaits me. However, this month, I’m going to enjoy the holiday season.

Merry Christmas to all of you, and have a wonderful month, and for those of you who wrote so diligently have a relaxing month.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

830,000 Words!

By Darvell Hunt

My writing group, Authors Incognito. wrote over 830,000 words in the month of November.

About 30 members of our group participated in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. The challenge was to write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days. 11 of us succeeded and rest made good progress.

I personally wrote about 52,000 words of an LDS romance novel. I'm going to spend December completing it (I need about 20,000 - 30,000 more words) and then begin the editing process.

Congratulations to everyone in our group and everyone else who participated in the challenge! You can see Authors Incognito actual word counts here: AI NaNoWriMo.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Inspiration? Or Derailment?

By Ali Cross
(Originally posted on Ali's blog, July 13th, 2008)

Sometimes when I read a good book it depresses me.

Shouldn't it inspire me? Encourage me to keep on writing, so that my book too, will one day inspire others?

Instead, it makes me feel like I could never write that well, or make a book that ... complete.

I was mulling over it all and then talking (because really, if I'm not reading or writing, I'm talking, right?) with David about it and I had an epiphany.


I realized that when I read a great book, I believe that the author just went 'blah' and out came a great book. Ta da! Happy Birthday! But after all I've learned about writing, I've got to change that fallacy in my mind. That is simply not how it happens.

First a baby book is born: The story. The author/parent, coddles the baby book and takes care of it. The author/parent is so full of hope for the future of their little baby book, but what it may become is still an unknown, still yet to be discovered.

The baby book then enters toddler stage: The author/parent patiently teaches the little book how to walk, how to talk, and glories in their newfound independance. There is so much joy at this stage! Our hope for our baby book is somewhat realized as we come to see just where our little book may go. What an exciting time! But still, no one would question whether our little book was ready to be out on their own, oh no, not yet! There is still so much to learn, though all the potential is clearly there.

Next, the fun but trying kid stage of our book: So much learning, trial and error, but this is where the rules learned in toddlerhood are put to the test. Does our baby book walk and talk just like we taught it to do? When left on its own, does it touch the hearts of its readers the way we had hoped? Does it tell the story we taught it to tell as well as we had hoped and imagined?

Then, through the teenage years: Our darling books may rebel, and we might grow a few gray hairs, but in the end it will all be for the good of our book. In the end we'll have created and raised a book to be proud of.

And so when it has finally reached full adulthood, that is when we can send our baby book out into the world knowing it is ready. It is full grown. It represents our best hopes and dreams and tells the story we taught it to tell.

For some, this raising up of a story can go smoothly, quickly, perhaps be completed in a year or less. For others, somewhat (or a lot) longer. Nevertheless, it is never possible for a baby book to be born and to walk away from the proverbial womb, ready to live a life of its own. No, there are always countless hours spent raising that book, pouring our hearts and soul and all our hopes into its every word.

So, I've been derailed for the past few days having just read a great book that swallowed up all of my own creativity. But now I'm feeling a bit more hopeful and plan to get back to my little book tomorrow. I figure I'm somewhere in the kid years with The Devil's Daughter ... perhaps it will one day be that glorious young adult I can send out into the world knowing that she will take with her everything I hope to share with my readers.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

What Day Did You Say It Is?

By Keith Fisher

It’s two days after Thanksgiving? So, that’s why we went to Grandma’s for dinner. Unless you live in a vacuum, I’m sure you knew about the day and Black Friday.

I hope you find joy in retrospect. For some people, the day when we pause to thank the source of all our blessings is not always a day of rejoicing. Whatever the reasons, some folks are left with feelings of neglect and abandonment. May we remember those left out, and help bring them into the warmth of blessings unending.

This play on words serves to remind us of the higher purpose in the holiday. Showing thanks by giving makes me happy. Happy Thanks and Giving. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season.

Along with the start of interminably repeating Christmas music, comes the day we call Black Friday. I’ve been known to make a few disparaging remarks about that chaotic madhouse of scrambling shoppers. But in this year of economic upheaval, and loss of hope, I ask the question. What if, after all the hype and preparations. What if nobody showed up? What if people read the door buster announcements, but decided they couldn’t afford anything extra, and stayed home?

I didn’t want go to the store yesterday, but I had to pick up some pictures. Rather than feeling stress, I felt strangely cheered to see people buying things. The checkout line seemed tolerable because, those folks demonstrated their faith in the economy, by purchasing things they hope to be able to afford.

The experience didn’t increase my desire for new toys, I still can’t afford it, but the Christmas tradition brought hope. I’ll try to ignore my claustrophobic feelings, (and no, that’s not a fear of Santa Claus). Who knows, I might even make it through the season without getting sick of the music.

Good Luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thankfully Writing


by G.Parker

This is short, but I couldn't let the day go by without posting. Since yesterday was Thanksgiving, that means today was Black Friday. We've had discussions at my house as to what this day really means, but it occurred to me that there are several meanings. I like the idea that it means for once the family is together -- celebrating this wonderful day of remembrance and thanksgiving.

I have so much to be thankful for, my husband, my children, our home, my job. But for now, I wanted to say how thankful that I finished Nano WAY ahead of schedule, and am now working toward 60,000 words.

Hope you had a very wonderful thanksgiving and enjoy this time with family and friends. I will be...and then I'll be writing. ;)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Today I'm Thankful

By Nichole Giles

I'm supposed to blog today.  But it's a holiday, and my parents, brothers, sisters, grandma, and several little people who are also related to me are on their way to my house to eat turkey, potatoes, stuffing and pie.  So I'm not going to blog about writing or about my journey in the National Novel Writing Month challenge.  Instead, I'm going to take a moment to be thankful.

On this day of giving thanks, there are so many things for which I am grateful. Because of my plans, I'll only list a few.  Today I'm thankful for my family. Without them I would not exist, would not be who I am, or what I am, or in any way whole.  I'm thankful for my husband and kids, because they are my lifeblood and the people who make me most happy in life.  I'm thankful for my friends--all of them--for the contribution each one makes in my life today, in my past and in my future.

I could list things like my house, my dogs, my writing ability (for which I'm eternally thankful, by the way) but today, I'm going to focus on people. I'm so grateful for the people in my life.  So I'm going to log off now, and go check on my turkey and put the sweet potatoes in the oven because on this day, the most important people in my life are on their way over. And I want to enjoy them.

Whether you're spending your holiday with friends, family, or strangers, have a wonderful, memorable time and know that no matter who you are or where you are, someone in the world is bowing their head today and being thankful that you exist. 


Happy Thanksgiving! 

Nichole

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

By C. LaRene Hall


HAPPY THANKSGIVING

I almost forgot about my blog today with all the many preparations I've been doing tonight. I didn't do much, mostly watched my daughter as she put together 8 cream pies. To me that seemed like plenty, but she had to make pumpkin rolls - not just one, but four of them. They are really good. I know because we had to sample one. The turkey is in the oven, and now we just need to wait for the big day to arrive.

I love Thanksgiving and all it represents. When my granddaughter came over tonight I was excited to hear about the feast they had at school today. She knew so many details about what the pilgrims had done when they arrived here. We spent time going through my photo albums so she could see the pictures I took when I was in Plymouth, MA. Instead of me telling her about the pilgrims she told me their stories.

Tomorrow will be a fun day with some of the children and grandchildren gathered around. My wish for each of you is that you have a wonderful day.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Metamorphosis

By Ali Cross
(Originally posted on Ali's blog, May 28th, 2008)

It used to be, I was a caterpillar. Slowly meandering around my writing. Doing a little--doing a lot of not writing. Good intentions and all that, but not a lot of production.





During the finishing of The Devil's Daughter the last couple weeks, it was like I climbed into my chrysallis. Tucked inside the closeness of that cocoon I completed my book and learned a lot of myself in the process.



When I was finished, it was time to truly fly.



Once free of my chrysallis, I spread my wings and man they feel good!

The point of my little wanderings through the wonderful world of analogies (which I know I did very badly!) is that I truly feel like a writer now. I even had a dream the other night in which--well, it was not a tangible dream--but I woke up feeling absolutely like a writer.

I have learned, just in this past month, how to make writing a part of my every day life, how to stay focussed and how to achieve a writing goal. Where once I felt like I hoped to be a writer one day, now I feel like I am a writer. I may not be published just yet, but I feel confident that one day I will be.

And that my friends, is a wonderful feeling!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Perspective

By Keith Fisher

note: when you finish, check out the link at the bottom

Did you ever find yourself relearning things you should’ve remembered? As I get older, it becomes a ritual. I think it’s the reason lessons and sermons at church tend to repeat. Eventually we’ll get it, and incorporate those principles into our lives.

I realized the implication one day, when I read a repeated blog, here on this site. I knew it was repeated, because I wrote it the first time. Never mind, that it was better than mine. At first, I felt miffed. Then, I realized I repeat myself, all the time, in this blog.

As I said above, its good to repeat lessons, and review notes from classes, workshops, and conferences. Today I'm going to repeat. But I have a new twist.

While going over edits from my critique group, I remembered the comments made about a particular part. I wrote.

The razor blade was new and cut well. Brady could hardly tell he was shaving.

The comments directed me to remove it because it’s not important to the story. I listened, considered the counsel, and agreed with them.

Later I reflected on why I’d written it. Let me try and explain. To a man who shaves with a blade, the statement indicates it’s a good day. It says life is good and I feel great.

Considering my critique group are all women, They wouldn’t get it. Although they shave their legs, they’ve probably never faced a new day by staring in a bathroom mirror, lathering their beards, and dragging a dull razor over a tender chin.

Then, I thought about those men who’ve never used anything but electric razors. They wouldn’t get the point either. Of course there are children, and men who never shaved. Many people could read my book, and never get the point.

The image is powerful to me, because I know how it feels to have a good, clean, shave. It’s even more powerful, when I consider how hard it is to shave a full beard without cutting myself. It can be done, but it’s not a great way to start a day.

So I realized imagery is subject to interpretation, and an individual perspective. If I want you to know that Brady was having a terrific morning, I need to find a universally understandable way of writing it. It’s all about life’s simple pleasures. The feel of warm water on your skin while taking a bath, the taste and feel of sugar as it melts on your tongue, and sitting back on a soft recliner after a hard day of strenuous work. Your muscles begin to relax, and your whole body feels like it would drift away.

If your reader has never experienced these things, he/she won’t relate. Considering perspective is vital in our work of showing, instead of telling.

Good luck in your writing—see you next week.


PS check out my review of An Angel on Main Street by Kathi Oram Petersen at A Writer’s Eyes

Friday, November 20, 2009

This Time Last Year...

by G.Parker

Well, in trying to come up with something to write about this week, I went back and viewed the blogs I wrote during the month of November last year. I wrote about Nanowrimo, big surprise.

At this point last year, I was stressed because I wasn't as far along as I wanted to be. I was looking at the idea that there were only six more writing days left in the month.

What a difference a year makes.

This year I've been sick a couple of days which has given me a little more writing time, but not only that, the story has been flowing. It's been fun and I'm enjoying myself. For the first time in a long time.

I guess I just wanted to tell anyone who's wondered if they could do 50,000 words in thirty days, yes you can. There are lots of people who will agree with me. Just go look up the site.

And by the way...I'm already at 43,220. For the first time in my years of participation, I'm contemplating doing 60,000 words. Miracles do happen.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Homage to the Village

By Nichole Giles

When I first decided I wanted to participate in this year’s National Novel Writing Month challenge, I had no idea what this month would bring. The intention was to seriously force myself into productive writing, even though I knew I’d be extremely busy.

And it’s paid off in spades.

First and most important, as of posting this blog, I have written 43,138 words in a novel I’ve been excited to get started on for months. That alone is great motivation.

But then a whole lot of my writer friends jumped into the mix, and our group got bigger and bigger, and as we all pushed each other to take this challenge, our buddy lists grew to contain close to thirty people. All of us writing a novel during the month of November. Now, I don’t know about you, but having that many people watching my progress gives me a big push too. Because suddenly it stops being just about me and my novel, but about all of us, and all of our work, and how we can encourage each other to push past our boundaries and just write what’s inside us.

Now I’m seeing benefits I hadn’t anticipated. A lot of my friends are working on projects that they’d previously planned, but had been putting off writing for years. Some are taking journeys into new territory by writing in a new genre or age category. Some are pushing themselves to write more than they ever normally would, just because everyone else is doing it. Isn’t peer pressure grand in this form?

For me, it means I’m giving up a lot of sleep, my house is a mess, and Thanksgiving is a week away and I still haven’t made food assignments to all my family members. (I should at least go buy a turkey and cook it before they show up at my house.) And it’s all okay, because by the end of the month, I’ll have accomplished this huge thing. And maybe once the editing is done, my friends and I will swap our works, so we can see the fruits of our laborious November.

Once again, I must pay homage to my village people, for they give me strength, endurance, and healthy competition. With their support, there are no boundaries, no limits to what I can accomplish.

This week’s writing prompts are also a village competition, made up by me and my good friend Danyelle.

1.Use the word toenail clippers, or a reference to them, somewhere in the text of your story.

2.Make use of any of the following words, in honor of our upcoming holiday:

Christopher Columbus
Pilgrims
Pecan Pie
The Santa Maria

Good luck with weeks three and four, and over the holiday, don’t forget to write!

Nichole

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

November Gripe

by C. LaRene Hall

I don’t usually complain about much, but it really makes me angry when all I can listen to on the radio is Christmas music at the beginning of November. Don’t get me wrong. I love Christmas music, but not this early. The two stations that I usually turn on during my commute to work is 100.3 or 105.6. Well because they started playing holiday music so early this month, I’ve turned to country. I’m now listening to 104.3 or 107.5. Of course, if they start playing Christmas music too early then I’ll object and change stations again.

It makes me wonder what all my writer friends are listening to. How do you write a good story with Christmas music blaring in your ears? Since the Novel that I’m writing for the month of November isn’t about Christmas I better just keep turning on the country stuff. By the way, last Wednesday I reached the ½ way mark of my 50,000 word goal. It feels good to be on the downward swirl.

I love Christmas, but I also love Thanksgiving. I’m not sure if my biggest protest is because I had ancestors than sailed on the Mayflower and I hate leaving the thankful part out of the month, or if I’m just a Scrooge. I know that my moaning and groaning isn’t going to change anything, and come December I’ll be excited to listen to the beautiful Christmas music. Until then I’ll just stay country.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Half-Million Words!

By Darvell

My writing group, Authors Incognito, has written over one-half million words in the National Novel Writing Month challenge. While this is quite an achievement, our goal is to write one million words during the Month of November.

You can check out our individual word counts at this link (thanks to John Ferguson):

Authors Incognito NaNoWriMo Counts

Go Authors Incognito!

(For more information on this writing challenge, click here: NaNoWriMo.)

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Thank You to Valor Publishing Group

By Ali Cross

Authors Incognito is a group of LDS writers who have all attended an LDStorymakers conference. Storymakers has provided many of us with the education and guidance to help us keep writing—and to improve our craft along the way. Many AI members have recently received publishing contracts through Valor Publishing Group.

Valor is a fledgling company intent on publishing books in the national market, but with values and ethics dictated by their faith. National publishing coupled with down-home values? It might seem like an oxymoron, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if they succeeded? What an opportunity for LDS writers, and others, to write and sell books that are a benefit to readers everywhere.

Valor is putting a toe into virtually every genre this next year. If you are publishing with Valor and I’ve failed to include you in my list, please comment and I will correct it.

Michele Ashman Bell, Summer in Paris (YA)
Daron D. Fraley, The Chronicles of Gan: The Thorn (Speculative Fiction)
Karen E. Hoover, The Sapphire Flute: Book 1 of the Wolfchild Saga (YA Fantasy)
Kimberly Job, I’ll Know You By Heart (Romance)
Alison Palmer, The Prodigal Son (General Fiction)
Tristi Pinkston, Secret Sisters Mysteries: Secret Series (Mystery)
Mark Shurtleff, Am I Not a Man? The Dred Scott Story (Historical Fiction)
Christine K. Bryant, Blood Bound: Keeper of the Crystor (Adult Fantasy)
Danyelle Ferguson, (dis)Abilities in the Church: A Guide for Families and Church Leaders (LDS Non Fiction)

Now, I can add myself to this list. The Devil’s Daughter (YA Paranormal) will be released in July.

Many people have asked me why I chose to publish with Valor when I could have gone with a national publisher. One of the biggest reasons is because Valor didn’t require me to compromise my values in order to publish my book. Writing for the young adult market can be challenging in a world that thinks teenagers want darker, dirtier, grittier books. Personally, I don’t believe the world is right on this—I think teenagers read books like that because that’s what there is, not because that’s what they want.

I’m grateful that I’ll be able to hold my head high in Relief Society, speak to young women without having to apologize for my stories, and especially to face my Heavenly Father one day knowing that I didn’t sully the waters any further by contributing more muck. Instead, I am so glad I have the opportunity to publish with a company that supports me in writing clean stories.

Thank you Candace, BJ and Tristi for establishing this company and giving so many LDS writers, many of whom are AI members, an opportunity to publish quality clean literature in the national market.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Blog Tour Stop and Other Stuff

By Keith Fisher

Good Morning Dear Readers! And that is not just a greeting, All my readers are dear to me. It has been an interesting week, and, I’m sure, you can say the same about yours.

I have a couple of things to write about today, but first, let me get the blog tour stuff out of the way. Oh, by the way, what do you think of the new portrait?


As many of you know, Heather Justesen, (who used to blog on this site), has a new book out. I reviewed it on my other site A Writer’s Eyes. Go and read what I said, BUT, wait until you finish reading this blog.

Heather is holding many contests and give-away events to kick of the launch of the book. Visit her website and blog for more info. She also has a cool trailer out. Her book, The Ball’s In Her Court, published by CFI, is now in Deseret Book, Seagull Book and Tape, Barnes and Noble, And many other fine book stores and websites. Go see my review, and pick up your copy today.


Now, let me thank you for reading. Let’s be honest, there are times in a struggling writer’s day when we get discouraged. It’s normal, part of the game, but knowing someone is reading makes it all worthwhile. Having those readers come back, is like putting frosting between two Graham crackers. (Did you notice the way I avoided a cliché there?)

I would be terribly ungrateful if I didn’t say thank you dear reader.

Recently, while posting my status on Facebook, I thought of a metaphor that helped me. I had grudgingly decided to take my novel apart and put it back together. I remembered the time I rebuilt the carburetor in my truck. I was in high school, and took it apart, more out of curiosity, than anything.

I put all the pieces in a parts washer, and made them shine. I needed new gaskets, so I bought a kit. When I attempted to put it back together, I found I couldn’t remember where everything went. I panicked when I found the kit instructions weren’t clear enough to understand. To make matters worse, I found new pieces in the kit that didn’t match anything I’d taken off the part.

It took a full day to figure it out, and it helped to realize the kit was universal for many different carburetors and the extra pieces weren’t needed. I learned many other lessons that day. Perhaps the most important was, the order in which the pieces go back together makes all the difference.

My current work in progress has some great elements. The concept is sound, the characters are growing, but but unlike the carburetor, there are problems and I need to take it apart. there are extra pieces I don’t need. Also, by writing important facts before establishing groundwork some of it needed explanation. In some places I tried to cheat the assembly, by leaving parts out. I also had problems with charactor motivation.

Now I have all the parts strung out in my head, and on my spreadsheet outline. I have the instructions I get from critique group, and books on writing to help me. I’m cleaning the parts by going scene by scene, character by character. Adding and subtracting. Hopefully, I’ll end up with a carburetor (book) that will function. Like the carburetor, my book will feed the fire of propulsion. My readers will be driven on a voyage of discovery. The plot and concept will change their lives.

Good luck with your writing, and don’t be afraid to take it apart. The pieces were made to fit. Our job is to examine, experiment, and put it together the right way. Like my carburetor, long ago, it will function, but unlike my truck, your book will last forever. See you next week.



Friday, November 13, 2009

You Have More Strength Than You Know



by G.Parker

Last week I had my first weight training with a personal trainer. She had me lifting 20 lb weights in a back rowing thing. I almost couldn't do it -- in fact, I had to finish my last reps with a lighter weight. I was supposed to do it three days later, and the idea filled me with dread. I knew how hard it had been to do it, and figured it was only going to be harder. My arms still ached so badly that it seemed ridiculous.

The whole day I planned to use lighter weights, and justify it when I saw her next. Then I reminded myself that paying someone to train me and then not doing what they told me was pretty much as waste of money -- so I decided to try it with the original weight.

I actually did all three sets with the weights...and it was easier than it had been the first time. I mentioned it to the trainer that was there, and he congratulated me, saying that it does get easier with time.

It made me think of writing and the Nanowrimo we've been talking about. This is my sixth year of doing this craziness, and you'd think it would be easier each year. Last year was a struggle, but this year, the words have just flowed. I'm finally ahead of my scheduled word count, and I guess I should be thankful that I've been sick...grin.

My count is up to 28229 words and I'm not worried about finishing within the deadline for the first time in several years.

I've discovered that I am stronger than I thought I was. And so are you.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Covers and Galleys and Parties: NaNo, Week Two

By Nichole Giles

In all the craziness of this week, I nearly, almost, possibly did, forget about writing this blog. Not that I could ever forget my faithful readers, mind you. After almost four years of never missing a Thursday, it's kind of hard to forget completely.

But lots has happened and I'm dying to share.This week, my coauthor Cindy and I (aka C.L. Beck and D.N. Giles) got a few happy emails.  The first one was the proofs for our humor book.  This was really good news to us because it means we're getting close to publication time. Just how close we had no idea. The proofs came on the last day of October, but we turned them in on Monday, along with pages of editing requests.

Then the very next day, we got another email with a few jpg attachments. OUR BOOK COVER!  Along with the cover, we were given a kind of, sort of release date of early to mid-December, and told the book goes to press on November 16th. (That's this coming Monday.)  Hooray!


The day after that, we got final galleys. Galleys are the layout of what the pages look like when they're actually in the book. Only ours were in computer format to speed up the process. So most of my day yesterday was spent going through and finding the final, final last minute changes that need to be made. And yes, there were several.

Partway through the day, we got the happy news that our launch party has been scheduled for December 9th. Yes, that's right kids, we're talking less than a month away. One month to order bookmarks and posters and plan for all the fun things we want to do. Can you say eeekk?  (But in a good, happy, excited way.)

Here's the information:

Launch Party for  
Mormon Mishaps and Mischief, Hilarious Stories for Saints
by D.N. Giles and C.L. Beck

6:00-9:00 PM
Barnes and Noble
University Crossings Plaza
330 East 1300 South, Orem, UT 84058
(801) 229-1611


And on top of all that, I'm still trying to keep up with all my NaNo buddies with a current word count of 28,265. Yesterday, Darvell passed me up, but I don't intend to let him stay ahead for long! 


Writing prompts for the week, borrowed from The Pocket Muse, Endless Inspiration by Monica Wood


1.What's the most you ever paid for something you didn't want? Write about why.

2. Write about your most unloved possession. How did you aquire this thing? Why did you think you needed it? How did it disappoint you?

3. Write about the day before the disaster.


Have a great week, kids.  Put the launch party on your schedule, because I hope to see you there!


Nichole