Saturday, July 31, 2010

Consistancy Amid Changes

By Keith N Fisher

How do you like the new look? Yes, you’re in the right place. This is the LDS Writer’s Blogck. We lost the use of the other template and needed to make a change. I like what Nichole has done.

She’s the one that holds us all together you know, and I applaud her.

This blog, dedicated to writing tips and the struggles associated with getting published, was created by a group of Authors Incognito Members. At the time, there were few blogs about writing, even fewer discussing the LDS Market. After the LDStorymakers Conference in 2006, Darvell Hunt asked for volunteers and the first post went out on April 26.

C L Beck posted about the name Blogck, and it was off and running. The first posts were by Darvell Hunt, C L Beck, Heather Justesen, Nichole Giles, Connie Hall, W L Elliott, and Danyelle Fergusen. Karen Hoover, and Gaynell Parker were next.

I joined the team on June 24th when Danyelle bowed out due to time restraints. I got the Saturday slot and began to try and spread the message that you are not alone in your writing struggle.

Over the past four years, we’ve had bloggers come and go. I’ve been late a few times, but I’ve never missed a post. Some of my blogs have inspired some did not. It’s been a rewarding experience for me personally.

Now, with the semi retirement of Ali, we have opened up the Monday slot for guest bloggers from Author’s Incognito, and I think it’s working out great, don’t you?

Other writers might come and go in the future, but you can rest assured, the Blogck will be here to encourage you. As I stated in my first blog on this site, we all are standing on a precipice, ready to march forward with stories that will delight and inspire. Many have gone forward, many will follow as God uses his army of writers to bring souls to Christ.

Since we have so many followers, I know we are being read. One thing I’d like to know, however, have we made a difference? Do we encourage you to keep going? Please leave a comment and let us know.

In the meantime, good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Do You Like Obscure Words?

by G.Parker

I belong to several different groups of writers. One such group is LDS and has their own forum for writing (similar to Authors Incognito). Off and on we do a Book in a Month, sponsored by one of the members. It usually involves a virtual trip somewhere, and we all play along with it, usually enjoying ourselves immensely. I've only met one of the people on there in person, everyone else I know by reputation and conversation. Its been another writing support that I tend to lose track of every now and then.

This month was one of those Book in a Month deals, and I totally blew if off. I'd even asked to be part of it! I sat at my computer yesterday and read through each day because the person who was running the virtual tour (which was to Tibet) had put quotes at the top of each day that were amazing little snippets of information, inspiration and humor. The one I wanted to talk about was this one for July 24th:

"Just because you have a thesaurus doesn't mean you have to use the words at the bottom of the list." Alan Kellogg.

Now, I've never heard of Alan Kellogg, but I loved that quote. You see, I've met people like that. They like to use the most obscure words known to man and see if anyone even knows what they're talking about. I tend to have a large vocabulary simply because I'm a voracious reader. My children have become the same way, knowing words that others will likely not -- their teachers were always amazed in school (at least in that area). My hubby, on the other hand, usually will recognize a word that sounds familiar, but doesn't always know what they mean. Fortunately he's not intimidated, he just asks us what we're talking about and we go on.

But when you're writing something you hope the majority of people are going to read, the wording needs to be carefully chosen. If you pick words at the bottom of the recommended word list, most people aren't going to know, understand, or care about them.

For example: This week I have felt so lethargic.

Lethargic is a common word, right? So perhaps I'm tired of using it and want something else. I look it up in my trusty Roget's Thesaurus and find several options. The last word in the list (which is amazingly short, by the way) is stupor. If I were to use that word, it would change the whole perception of my sentence. I tend to associate stupor with drunkenness, or thoughtlessness. Definitely not with a heat related malaise.

So when you're looking for words to use, remember that your reader might not have the same vocabulary or knowledge and write accordingly. It doesn't mean you have to write everything for a kindergartner, but by no means does it mean things should be approached with the idea of a college literacy professor reading it.

Just a thought. Enjoy (or relish) the day!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thinking Smaller

By Nichole Giles

This summer I dumped a 70,000 word novel and started over. I got about 15,000 words in again, and decided to—once again—dump it and start over. Why would I do such a thing and what purpose will it serve?

Both times, I got hung up on the plot. I simply let it get away from me. The truth is I was thinking way, way too big. Not every main character has to save the universe. Sometimes, story can be about just one person, or two. Or a family, or a town. It doesn’t always have to be about the whole world. Ya know?

So. I dumped my months-worth of hard work, simplified by cutting out unnecessary plot lines, and started over, this time, on a much smaller scale. And it’s okay. My plot and characters will thank me for it in the long run, because this time, I’ll be able to finish telling their story, and I’ll do it right.

Have you ever done something like this? And what was bigger, the feeling of dread or the feeling of excitement?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

An Artist or A Writer

By C. LaRene Hall

While on vacation I visited the Precious Moment Chapel in Carthage, Missouri. This was my third trip to see this magnificent chapel. Samuel J. Butcher, designed and constructed it so he could share the joy of his faith with the world as they find peace, hope and promises viewing beautiful art that he created of well known and loved stories from the Bible. The east side of the Chapel has stain-glass windows that depict the Bible’s Old Testament stories; and on the west is stories from the New Testament. In the Chapel is a mural “Hallelujah Square” where he has painted the pictures of real children whose lives ended too soon. In the center of the picture is the Savior, Jesus Christ, surrounded by children. Every time I go this picture has grown because this amazing man returns every few years to paint more children into the picture. I guess I should tell you all the children are angels.

As I toured the museum I realized how much I and many of you are like this great man, Samuel Butcher. He once made some of his drawings on a napkin. I can’t count the number of times I’ve written on a napkin (or other things) because an idea hit me and I didn’t want to lose the thought. How many different types of things have you written on?

Included in the museum were pictures of him balancing between scaffolding while he drew angels on the ceiling. Don’t we as writers also do some crazy things so we can get our message to our readers? There really isn’t a lot of difference between an artist and a writer. We both do what we have to do to give our readers what they are looking for.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Crafting Clarity

By Darvell Hunt

I recently read the following online national news story title:

"Feds tamp down fears leaks mean BP well unstable"

This took me a few times to read to understand what the news writer was actually trying to say. In writing, this is rarely a good thing. You do not want to force people to reread sentences to understand your meaning—this interrupts the reading process, the flow of the story, and often frustrates the reader.

Why was this title hard for me to understand? Well, to start, it's hard to tell if "fears" and “leaks” are plural nouns or verbs. It's also difficult to understand that "well" is a noun and not an adjective.

So, how can we write more clearly and catch unclear writing such as this before it gets out to the world?

First of all, I do realize that news headlines must be short. Often in the news world, clarity is sacrificed for print space—the Headlines section of Jay Leno's late-night talk show should be all the evidence we need to realize this. But, that doesn't mean this title could not have been written to better relay what was meant. Consider this simple revision:

"Feds tamp down fears that leaks mean BP oil well is unstable."

Now granted, this now becomes a real sentence instead of a news title, but by adding three simple words (that, oil, is), the meaning is clearer. But still, I don't think it's quite there yet. I would further suggest that we change "tamp down" to something simpler, like "downplay," which gives us this:

"Feds downplay fears that leaks mean BP oil well is unstable."

It seems to me that "tamp down" is unnecessarily complex—and may even distract from the intended meaning instead of add to it, as "clamp down" more accurately represents physical action, rather than a more abstract term, which I think it what we want here. (If you're unfamiliar with this new story, I apologize, but honestly, where have you been hiding? Under a rock? LOL. Or, more appropriately for this topic, at the bottom of the ocean?)

In any case, it seems that with a very small amount of editing, we can greatly improve the clarify of our writing. You certainly don't need to edit to perfection to get your meaning across to the reader, but it sure does help to spend an extra second or two to think: "Hey, what's my reader going to think this means?"

I believe that understanding our readers is a big part of being a good writer. But maybe I'm just being greatness with oblong words that don't primarily mean what I'm exactly it is my meaning that is obviously supposed to come along toward the reader.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Our Guest ~ C.K. Bryant

Christine (C.K) Bryant has always been a writer. Even before she could compose a single word with a pen, she scribbled her version of cursive along the open page, just to see what it looked like. She spent her teenage years swiping her father's old, black Royal typewriter so that her muse could breathe life into what her vivid imagination had created.

She's spent the last 23 years married to the man of her dreams and raising their 2 sons. After helping run the family restaurant for most of their marriage, Christine has finally broken away to pursue her dream of being an author.

When she's not with her family or tickling the computer keys, she loves camping, reading, scrapbooking, listening to all kinds of music and making new friends. She is currently living in the middle of sage brush and lava rock with a spectacular view of the Snake River Canyon in South Central Idaho.

You can visit Christine's Blog here.

~ ♥ ~

Finding Balance

About eighteen months ago I left my job at our family restaurant and decided to give my writing career my full attention. I poured my heart and soul into every word I wrote, taking more and more time away from the important things in my life. For several months, writing was the first thing I thought of in the morning and the last thing that crossed my mind before I went to sleep. Some nights I woke at wee hours of the morning only to get up and sneak into my office to write some more. I was obsessed and determined to get published.

After the highs of getting a contract for my book, and then the lows of losing it, I decided it was time to slow things down and reevaluate my routine and my priorities. Much to my shame, there were a few things and people who were being neglected and ignored. I took a few weeks off, cleaned my house, set up a schedule my family could live with and set back to writing. But after only a few weeks, I realized there was still something wrong. Seriously wrong.

It took a trip to the doctor for a sinus infection for me to realize I'd been neglecting my health. I'd gained more weight than I'd suspected--way more--and my blood pressure was through the roof. I'd forgotten to take care of ME.

Since that time I've taken more time from my writing to concentrate on creating a diet I can live with, added some exercise into my daily routine and continue to take the vitamins and medication I should have been on years ago. I'm feeling better and the weight is slowly coming off.

What I've realized in all this is that we need balance in our lives. I believe that with anything we do, we should create time for other things and people. It just isn't good to consume our entire being with one thing. It's not healthy for our bodies or our minds. So take a walk, go to lunch with a friend, watch a movie with the family or just sleep in until noon one day. Your muse will love you for the break.

~ ♥ ~

Thank you, Christine, for being our guest!

Next week, we are excited to have Deborah Davis as our featured blogger.

If you would like to be our guest, email Ali for information.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Dancing the Limbo

By Keith N Fisher

Willie had held down his job at the Pretty Pelican Bar and Grill, which did not have a grill, for almost three weeks. For Willie, this was a personal employment record.

I changed the names, but I found those two sentences at the beginning of a novel written by my favorite nationally syndicated newspaper columnist, a Pulitzer Prize winner. This writer claims to have been persuaded to write fiction by an editor from a national publishing house.

Now, I’m not an expert, attested to by the fact I’m not published, but I had trouble reading that first sentence. I think the commas saved the sentence grammatically, but it raised some questions in my mind.

Why did the bar not have a grill for three weeks? How could they call it a bar and grill if it didn’t have a grill? The second sentence is totally confusing unless you finally figure out that Willie only had the job for less than three weeks.

Okay, perhaps it would be helpful to know this author is a humor writer. The sentence draws your attention because of the imperfection. It’s funny because of the writer’s personality. It makes me want to read more because I know the writer’s work and there is a promise of more to come.

But what if I didn’t know who wrote the sentence? What if I was expecting a far different type of book? What if I were an unpublished and unknown, wannabe, author who wrote that sentence? Would it get published?

When I read old books and those written by lazy, best selling, authors, A common question comes to mind. Why did this book get published when my manuscript got rejected? As a writer, how many times have you asked that?”

There are several rejected manuscripts sitting in my computer work file, and a bunch more that were never submitted. They wait for me to either rewrite them, or delete them. Meanwhile, I continue to work on new stuff, improving upon the mistakes of the past. Still, I agonize over how to write perfectly, and I know I’m not alone.

Many writers struggle with the craft, knowing there are increasing numbers of people, just like us, who fight for the decreasing resources publishers parcel out for new authors.

It’s just the way it is. Hopeful authors accept the terms, but we never get used to it. We produce well-written books, perhaps better than the books of the past. We should take pride in that fact, but the bar is coming down while we dance the limbo, trying to bend lower with each new paragraph.

Take courage in your ability to dance the dance. You’re getting better with each round. Your writing muscles get stronger each time you bend lower. If you fall, get up, improve your stance, enjoy the music, and try again.

Have you found a favorite sentence blunder written by a well-known author? Make a comment to share it with us, and be proud of your craft. Know you are producing better work than the writers of the past.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week. Oh, by the way, Happy Pioneer Day.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Is It Worth It?

by G.Parker

Why do you write?

I've asked myself that several times during my life, and it always needs answering. This time, however, it wasn't myself doing the asking. It was others that I've come across.

In my co-working world, they were asking, why are we working? In my husbands world he was asking, why am I going to school? In one way or another, all of us ask at one point, why bother? What is the use? My husbands question in particular: why was he going to the effort of getting a degree when these younger men were already smarter than he was, without the schooling? When he graduated they would still be better and smarter, and he would still be playing catch up.

I thought about his complaint and how to respond. I've often thought about how I was going to be a famous writer by the time I was 40. That age has come and gone, without anything of that sort to show for it. I am a published illustrator -- something I'd never dreamed of -- but it's not quite the idea I had in mind. I see these amazing young authors with their mega sales and I wonder if it's ever going to happen for me. I don't know what their personal struggles have been. I know that some of them simply have amazing stories in their heads and some have had good timing.

But there is always going to be someone who has already done it. The story has already been told in a different way. The opportunity will not be quite the same as it could have been 10 years ago.

So it comes down to why you're doing it. Why do we sit and struggle with getting the words on paper day after day, week after week?

It remains that we are driven. This is something that's part of us. Regardless of what others are doing, how successful they become and how far behind we are or see ourselves, we must still push on, because that is what makes us what we are -- inside.

We are writers. 'Nuff said.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Fellowship Among Artists

By Nichole Giles

Recently, a friend reminded me that we don’t all have the much needed personal support we desire in our writing ventures. I think it’s sometimes hard for people who don’t feel the creative pull (to write, paint, draw, act, make music, dance, or a thousand other creative forms of art) to understand what drives us to do what we do.

They might think it’s a waste of time, or that we’re playing games, or pretending to be something we’re not. We know this is not the case, but that doesn’t always help us convince others of what's true for us. Whatever their justification, some choose to not be supportive, and might even attempt to dissuade us from our purpose.

That's why it’s so important that we find support from other avenues, and spend time with other like-minded people. Being part of artistic communities like writing and critique groups is an excellent way to find support we might not otherwise get. Only those who have been there and experienced similar things can truly understand what we do, what we go through, and what drives us. 

And unless you have some kind of hidden super powers that give you a multitude of self confidence, we all need a little extra support now and then.

The following video was posted here a few years ago. While I hate reposting old blogs, I think this video is touching enough, and its message important enough to merit posting again. This is for all my struggling writer friends. (Don’t worry, it’s short, and so worth watching.)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Our Guest ~ Valerie Ipson

Valerie Ipson is an aspiring author and member of both Authors Incognito and the American Night Writers' Association.

You can visit her blog by clicking here.

~ ♥ ~

I have a recurring dream that has baffled me for many years and its become increasingly more disturbing. In it I have a baby. Always at least one, but sometimes two. So in the beginning, it was good--babies showing up in dreams is often delightful--but now in the dream where I have an infant, I realize with horror that I have not been feeding the it.

I have been neglecting my baby, and it is barely alive. I immediately rush to feed it and hold it and thankfully, it lives.

But why?

Why am I having this dream?

I was excited to come upon this in a book titled One Year to a Writing Life by Susan M. Tiberghien. After relating Maya Angelou's recurring dream, she writes, "I also have a recurring dream . . . " and then she proceeds to describe MY exact dream about the baby--including not caring for it and the rushing to feed it and finding it's still alive. This is what Ms. Tiberghien says, "The child is my creative self. I realize that, yes, I have been forgetting my own creativity, my inner child, but that now I am paying attention. The child is still there, still alive."

I was thrilled with this explanation. I've been neglecting my writing baby for too long. It needs my attention, it needs to be fed, but yes, it's still alive.

I've had several baby dreams since I discovered Ms. Tiberghien's interpretation, including one where I even named the baby--definitely a good sign when you consider the baby being my creative self--and another where I actually gave birth to the baby. That one got me excited. It meant I had come so far--no longer was I finding a baby neglected and barely alive, but I actually gave birth to it. I was giving life to my creativity.

I really wish I had written down all the dreams because it's been quite the baby/creative-self journey.

The two most recent installments had totally different tones, though. The first was wonderful. I dreamed I brought the baby in and set it in a bassinet. It barely fit, but the baby seemed okay. The latest dream, though . . . not good. I had to change the baby and it was making huge messes all over. I couldn't do anything to stop it.

I guess these last two indicate where I'm at in my creative writing journey. I've nurtured the baby/creative-self by writing my novel. Now I'm in revisions.

And it's a mess.

Anyone else have crazy recurring dreams that have you scared?

~ ♥ ~

Thank you, Valerie, for being our guest!

Next week, we are excited to have Christine Bryant as our featured blogger.

If you would like to be our guest, email Ali for information.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Dangerous Places

By Keith N Fisher

I was a carpenter for several years in my younger days. I loved the aspect of standing back at the end of the day and gazing on the fruits of my labors. I could stare at the walls I’d built with gratification in a job well done. Later, as a designer of homes, I took great satisfaction in looking at those houses. I still do.

There was one part of being a carpenter, however, I found distasteful. Walking on the top of a 2x4 wall. I began my apprenticeship with a man who used ladders to attach top plating. For the most part, we used ladders to set joists too, although psychologically, hanging joists was easier.

Like joists, setting roof trusses isn’t as bad as top plating, because you have the truss to hold on to. Being a little afraid of heights is a draw back when you’re standing eight feet above the floor below. Then, you have to squat or bend to hammer a nail. It wasn’t until I went to work for another contractor that walking walls became mandatory.

As my career went forward I tried to put it out of my mind. I fell off a roof once, and I fell off ladders, but I never got brave enough to walk walls with abandon. Occasionally, I’d end up working with guys who poked fun at my cautiousness, but I gave back as well as I got. Through it all, though, I envied their confidence in high places.

One time, however, one of those guys was working beside me on the backside of a roof. We were building a house in the foothills with a ground floor at street level, but on the backside, there was a forty-foot drop from the roof to the ground below.

My friend stood up from a squat and momentarily lost his balance. He stumbled backward, toward the edge. I reached out to catch him but he righted himself with that marvelous balance he had. He made light of it, but I saw fear in his eyes.

As writers we promote our career in blogs and other venues. We have a unique opportunity to express ourselves. Sometimes it’s political, other times it’s religion. Often times we use our craft to say things we perhaps shouldn’t. The danger is there, even though we sometimes don’t recognize it for what it is.

We sit back in our righteous indignation, spewing forth. We take pride in having people agree with us, and we don’t stop to consider our words. Words can be like muddy boots on a 2x4 wall they might not make you slip and fall, but they could.

It doesn’t matter how many people agree, what we have written or said is out there for anyone and everyone to see. It resides on the Internet forever. What if in the future, you submit your manuscript to an editor who read what you wrote, and had a different opinion than you? It’s all in the past, right? Many people agreed with you then, but the editor, who probably wasn’t an editor at the time, took offense to what you said. Now, there’s a price to pay.

Writers have the ability to create worlds. To sway minds for good or evil. We walk walls with confidence, when perhaps caution is warranted. Even a carefully crafted blog or group comment can come back and bite you. You could fall off.

Think carefully and choose words with caution. Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

PS Check out my review of Leaning into the Curves by Nancy Anderson and Carroll Hofeling Morris. Click on the book cover

Friday, July 16, 2010

Writing to Lose Weight?

by G.Parker

I read something today that surprised me. There is a book out there that suggests you can lose weight by writing! The premise is apparently there was a study done that when this woman (who wrote the book) helped artists focus on creativity, she discovered they tended to lose weight.

Focusing on their creative side enabled them to find their real selves and overcome bad habits.

I thought that was interesting. So, if we really focus on our writing, perhaps we will lose the desire for chocolate? I'm not thinking that will work. I remember how it goes during the NaNoWriMo month, and while yes, I would momentarily lose appetite in my desire to get my word count up, I still wanted chocolate. But if I kept sugar free chocolate, or only dark chocolate, who knows?

She mentioned that the people she worked with counted words rather than calories. Since I watch calories and percentages, I'm wondering how that would work. Perhaps I would need to double my calories as word count, so I would need to reach 2600 calories a day. But would they need to be quality words? I need to have a balance of 40% protein to 40 % carbs and 20% fat. Would I need to specify that there was at least one solid chapter in those 2600 words? I'm not sure.

Anyway - it's a thought. Anything that combines my creative side with weight loss is a good thing. So perhaps I'll have to see how it works with painting...the problem is, I'm a fast painter. That could run into lots of money for canvas.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Well Written, Action-Packed Story

By Nichole Giles

Last week I saw the movie Prince of Persia. It wasn’t what I expected at all, but not in a bad way. Surprisingly, it was incredibly well written in my opinion.

First, we have the hero, who is misguided, but has an honest heart full of love. We have the heroine, who knows her mission and is willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish her goal.

Then we have a variety of antagonists, one of whom is a betrayer—but whose identity we are left to guess for three quarters of the show. Kind of predictable, but questionable at the same time. And lots of obstacles to get in the way of the goals of the two main characters.

Along the way, we enjoy lots of sexual tension between the hero and heroine in the form of insulting dialogue along with the action (a la Indiana Jones) and a supporting character who provides well timed comic relief, disguised with gruffness.

By the time we discover who the real antagonist is, our hero has lost everything, and only one more sacrifice on his part can stop the bad guy and save the day—or whatever is left to save.

That brings us to the climax and the end. Does the hero make that sacrifice or does he give in to the evil antagonist? I’m afraid to say too much and ruin the movie for those who haven’t seen it, but I feel comfortable telling you that of course the hero does the right thing—it’s a quality that makes him the hero in the first place.

Does the good guy win? Does love conquer all? And do they somehow stop the madness and save the world?

I’m not telling. You’ll have to figure that out for yourself. What well written movies have you seen lately?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Be Our Guest ~ Cheri Chesley

Due to an overloaded schedule, Ali will be taking a backseat for the time being. As a result, we're excited to bring you a new feature ~ guest bloggers each Monday.

This week, we welcome Cheri Chesley to the Blogck!

Cheri Chesley believes in magic and miracles. When not writing she can be found reading the dictionary for fun or improving her photography. She lives with her husband and numerous children in Tooele, Utah.

You can find Cheri at her website and her blog.

~ ♥ ~

Life is full of little frustrations. Whether it's your children feuding with the downstairs neighbors, your husband dragging you out of bed at midnight to take him his work shirt when you have to get up at 5am, or the job you have to pay the bills--all of these things can detract from the writing experience.

In other words, WHEN do I write? For me, the WHEN is just as important as the WHY.

To answer the why, I'm going to quote someone else; "If I don't write to empty my mind, I go mad" ~Lord Byron.

I know he meant mad in the insanity sense, but I find I'm generally more grumpy when I don't get the time I need to write.

We've all heard it. Writing is not something we GET time for; it's something we must MAKE time for. Sometimes that's where I get stuck. Where do I make time? Do I sacrifice an hour of sleep, knowing I'll be tired and not at my best the next day, or do I try to get up early and write while the house is still quiet?

My biggest handicap in being a successful writer is not my absent-minded husband, or being outnumbered by my offspring. Honestly, I'm a night owl with a morning person's job. And it's hard.

I have to get up at 5am to receive the 2 yr old I watch so her parents can go to work. But, mind, I don't STAY up. I put her to bed, and go back to bed myself. To be fair, I did try--for the entire month of June--to go to bed early and stay up to write after I put the baby back to bed. Let's just say I had the worst month of insomnia in my life. I tend to think creative people are more affected by insomnia because we can't get our brains to shut up long enough to fall asleep.

Or, another of my favorite quotes; "Being an author is like being in charge of your own personal insane asylum"~ Graycie Harmon.

I read recently where another author advised everyone to get up and write first thing in the morning, because that's when the brain is still transitioning from sleep and that's when we're the most creative. I submit that works fine for some people, but, for the rest of us, we operate better when we're transitioning INTO sleep. In other words, we write best in the late hours of the night.

Someday I hope to resolve this timing issue I have. For the time being, I just plod along doing my best because it's all I can do.

And I'll leave you with one more quote; "If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster" ~ Isaac Asimov.

~ ♥ ~

Thank you, Cheri, for being our guest!
Next week, we are excited to have Valerie Ipson as our featured blogger.

If you would like to be our guest, email Ali for information.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

I'm A Storyteller

By Keith N Fisher

As a writer, I go through dry periods for one reason or other. Everyone does—it’s the nature of the craft. Sometimes there’s a block and we just can’t think of anything to write. It feels like torture to put two words together. The metaphor of opening a vein and writing with blood comes to mind.

Time crunches, because of the challenges of life, are another reason for the dry periods. Unfriendly schedules, and sheer exhaustion, force our attention away from writing. Regret over unfinished projects can tug at a writer’s heartstrings, and he asks, “When will I ever get time to write?

I’ve been experiencing the latter. With several projects on the back burner, I’ve been trying to write the sequel to a book I need to submit. Would you like to be a proofreader? Through it all, I have my blog commitments. Deadlines come whether I’m too busy, or not.

With all the turns my life has taken lately, and an uncooperative laptop, my writing has been waiting like an unrequited lover. The wellspring of inviting water goes unused. While struggling to find time, the nagging question has been what to do with the sequel. I knew how to solve the problems, but if only I had the time.

In order to bring something to critique group, I started writing the sequel out of sequence. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem but this time, I’d written the basic scenes with nothing to connect them. I needed to sort it out for continuity, and the chapters needed to be moved around.

Then, as if by magic, I found a way to make my laptop fall into line. And the Independence Day Holiday came up. The weeds in my garden have grown monumentally high, but I used the day to sit on my porch and write. It felt wonderful.

After a couple of hours, things began to fall into place. I wrote the connecting scenes and remembered where I was going. I rediscovered the joy of writing. I found myself lost in the world of my creation, listening to my characters and learning to love them more.

On Sunday, after church I went back out there. My characters suggested ways to make the story more interesting and I found more compelling reasons for readers to like the book. By the next day I was a writer again.

Over the years I’ve learned many things about the writing craft. Through the ladies in my critique group I’ve learned there is much more to learn. All of these lessons help me tell a story, and that, is the most important lesson of all. I love telling stories. Ideas for books float around my head demanding to be written. Unfortunately, I can’t write them all. There are more stories than I have years left to write them.

When I think of the possibilities of touching hearts with my stories, I endeavor to try. When I shed tears over a touching ending, I know I’m part of the way there. You see if the story can touch my heart, then maybe I can change and be better.

After the holiday, I’m a writer again. When I think about all my writing errors, I’d rather be known as a storyteller, at least for now.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, July 09, 2010

A Bookstore Like No Other

by G.Parker

I was watching You've Got Mail this morning while I was riding my stationary bike, and remembered a conversation with my husband the other day. I would love to own my own bookstore. However, my thoughts of what type of bookstore perhaps put a different spin on it.

My bookstore wouldn't carry any of the items published by Deseret Book, Covenant, or other well known LDS publishers. My bookstore would mainly carry self published paperbacks and hard to get published ones from the little publishers, like my former Rosehaven Publishing. It would be a cafe and bookstore, where I sold Postum with all the various flavorings, hot chocolate and herbal teas with all the muffins and cookies you can eat with them.

I know everyone dreams of owning (well, almost everyone) their own business, and we've tried it before in the food industry. I know the bookstore lot isn't much better at this point. With the invention of the ebook, paperbacks and hardbacks have become a second thought item. I know one person that has several different ebook pads because she's looking at a developing a publishing company that would be compatible with all of them. The electronic medium has changed the way many of the consumers in the world approach reading.

I tend to be old school. To me, there's nothing like the physical book in my hands, with papers and ink and the smell of a new book. So, it will be a LONG time before I own any such contraption, if I ever do. I'd always be afraid of dropping it in the water, or any number of things. Paperbacks, for all they are pretty cheaply made, tend to last through mauling pretty well. I only have a couple that are finally starting to come apart at the seams, but they're almost 30 years old.

I know my dream of a bookstore wouldn't fly very high, and it probably wouldn't make much money. But it would sure be fun to have an avenue for all my friends that self publish, or publish with a small house. I'd love to have book signings for them and stuff. Well, who am I kidding? I'd love to sell my own books as well.

But, until I become independently wealthy and can afford to have it be a hobby, it's not likely to happen. If anyone out there wants to donate to the cause, I'd be happy to start a fund. Till then, we'll have to deal with the availability we have and the mediums that someone else puts out.

When I get my dream though, you'll be welcome to come in and have some hot chocolate with me and browse the books. The first cookie will be free.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Spell Check and I Don't Always Get Along

By Nichole Giles

Even though I use it all the time, I’ve heard a nasty rumor that spell-check doesn’t like me. I don’t know why.

Maybe it’s because I sometimes write in fragments.

Or because I make up my own slangish words.

Sometimes I combine two words it doesn’t like me to combine. Like, randomish. Or Awesomesauce.

Maybe it doesn’t like me for using parentheticals—and em-dashes—in the same paragraph (or even the same sentence). I sometimes even use a period after a single, lonely word. Several. Times. In. A. Row. *gasp*

It definitely doesn’t like when I Capitalize Random Words.

And let’s not even get started on really great character names.


I’d break off our relationship entirely, except I really kind of need that spell-check guy. He watches my back. Yes, I admit, there has been stuff that’s gotten by him. By both of us, actually. But. That happens to the best of us. I’m better off with him than without him. So. I think I’ll keep him around.

That is, as long as he can tolerate my style of YA writing habits. Cuz really. I don’t know what I’d do without him.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

The Greatest Experiment

By Keith N Fisher

It began two hundred and thirty-four years ago. The greatest experiment in government undertaken to that point. Well, it actually started with the Colonies objections to unfair representation, but it culminated in the signing of the Declaration of Independence and The United States of America began the long road to a unique form of government.

I’d like to talk about that experiment for a minute. Then, I’ll talk about writing and another declaration of independence.

Like any experiment, there have been try and fail episodes. Compromise and a commitment to the greater good are what kept the experiment afloat for so long. Many people have had their agendas, but realized, no two people have the same beliefs and opinions. Therefore, a give and take relationship has evolved.

Now, we stand on a precipice. There are many, who believe their way is the only way. Compromise is seen as a sign of weakness. Our “Safe Haven” for the downtrodden is threatened.

We celebrate the signing of a great document this weekend. The day we declared our independence from an oppressive king and a group of elite society who felt that their way was the only way.

While you watch the parade, fireworks, or barbecue. Take a moment and drink a toast to the grand experiment, the monument to compromise that has lasted so long.

How is your writing going? That is the question asked of me often. I find myself asking the same question of others. When asked, I think of all the wonderful In the Zone Moments when words seemed to flow from my fingertips. The times when tears filled my eyes because of the touching scene I’d just written.

I often say, “Good,” and develop a sense of apprehension over justification of my chosen occupation.

The next question is usually, “have you got anything published yet?”

I answer with a noncommittal, “Just articles, and blogs.” I am left with a feeling of being judged, a time waster.

So, today, in honor of Independence Day I’m declaring my independence from feeling like a time waster. When I write, I’m creating something. What are you creating by wasting so many hours on the golf course?

When I write, I come closer to my Father in Heaven. For it is He who gave me this gift. It is He who sustains me while writing. Can you say the same about water skiing?

I am not a time waster! Sometimes I feel like making a living, gets in the way of my real avocation of writing. So am I wasting time at work?

Have a great holiday. Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, July 02, 2010


by G.Parker

During the summer, I have a great way to motivate my sons to get yard work done. I've been able to keep several flower beds weeded and our garden area, that became overrun with weeds before we could plant, partially reclaimed due to this ability.

It's called video games. You see, our children do not have free run of the video games and or computer. They have to earn the time. Certain tasks earn them a certain amount of time. My autistic son is particularly motivated because he has a favorite game he plays and is trying to reach the end. A half hour of time doesn't do it - so he works for more and more time. Today he asked how to earn a hour and a half. This opens up all types of opportunities.

I wish there was something as motivating for me. Yes, I want to be published, but that doesn't seem to push the day to day writing. That has to come more from within. Determination has to be the bedrock of your foundation if you want to find motivation for your goals and that's different for everyone.

When I was a teenager, my little sister and I played a game where the smaller I could write on a page, the more chewy sweetarts I'd earn. I was able to get a thousand words on a page before we decided it couldn't go any smaller - I mean, we had to be able to read it. That was her way of motivating me to write, although I didn't need much encouragement at that age.

It's one of the reasons I belong to a critique group. They want to have something to read. It's okay if we don't bring something every time, but if it continues for more than one or two meetings, then they start bugging. I think I've mentioned before how helpful they've been in getting me going.

Well, today's a gorgeous day and the boys are out pulling weeds (I'm able to watch from the window by my desk). I guess I'd better get some other things done so that when they're playing games, I can write uninterrupted.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Queries, Rejections, and Kind Words from the Pros

By Nichole Giles

In case you ever thought otherwise, in all my experience with rejection, I’ve discovered that the majority of agents and editors are kind people who absolutely detest having to reject authors. Really.

The problem is that there are so many more authors in the world than agents, editors, and publishers, combined. So yes, more often than not, the professionals of publishing are forced to say no or reject good work. Probably way more often than they like. They have to be selective and pick only the manuscripts that rise above the rest, and that won’t be lost in the sea of other great published works.

But mostly, they have to pick the manuscripts that resonate the most within them. Which may or may not be my manuscript or yours, or his or hers or theirs. Depending on the day, and the agent or editor’s circumstances, mood, current life path, and whatever emotional turmoil from which they’re suffering. It’s about striking an emotional chord. And timing. And very often, luck.

Regardless of whether you end up with a yes or a no, though, the agent or editor is a person, and for the most part, these people are genuinely nice. They might teach classes or give speeches at conferences. Some have blogs with writing and querying tips. Some even host twitter chats and other online opportunities from which you can participate and learn.

Even so, they might reject your manuscript because it just wasn’t right for them. That doesn’t make them any less of a nice person, or less encouraging or inspiring. It doesn’t, in fact, make them evil. (Well, you know, unless they tell you to quit writing because you’re terrible, terrible at the craft. That’s pretty evil.) It makes them human, with individual tastes and thoughts and preferences. They’ve been hired for those qualities as much as their skill sets. And the world of literacy applauds them for those choices.

So here’s the thing. Query them. Learn from them. Interact with them online and at conferences. You may not end up working with them, but you could have one more friend in the world. Everyone needs more friends. And who knows. Maybe someday that connection will lead you to another connection, one that will hook you up with an agent or editor who absolutely falls in love with your work.

It’s kind of a win-win. Right? Right. Okay.