Sunday, October 31, 2010

Gearing Up for NaNoWriMo

Good Sabbath and Happy Halloween!

How lucky I am to be the one to blog today, and not because it's Halloween. Oh, no. It's because tomorrow is the first day of NaNoWriMo. If you, like me when I first heard the term, have no idea what NaNoWriMo is, let me share with you. It stands for National Novel Writing Month, meaning November.

So, how does one celebrate, or at least observe, National Novel Writing Month? Why, by writing a novel, of course! As ambitious as that sounds, many writers actually do take up that challenge and some up the ante by imposing rules like, it has to be finished by November 30, be at least 50,000 words long, and you can't do any re-writes. Wow, talk about a challenge!

Personally, I plan to dust off my much-neglected work in progress and make some progress on it. I am not going to set any word count goals, which may be a little cowardly of me. Instead, I'm going to go on a writer's retreat for a few days and see what I can get done. If I'm feeling really adventurous, I might just start a new project and run with it.

So, set your goals. You only have a few hours left before the advent of NaNoWriMo. You'd probably better raid the kids' trick-or-treat bags and secure yourself a stash of chocolate to sustain you. Best of luck to you and happy writing!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Drawing from My Reserve

By Keith N Fisher

I used to drive a pickup with two gas tanks. Rather than fill both tanks (too expensive), I kept five dollars worth in the back tank. That way, I’d always have enough in an emergency. I could run out and switch to the reserve in order to get to a gas station.

One night, I filled the front tank and went to a meeting at the church. When I came out I couldn’t get the truck started. I tried everything but couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Finally, I switched tanks and drove home on my reserve. I discovered later, the pump in the front tank had malfunctioned. I was glad I had the reserve to run on.

In my writing this week, I hit a wall. I’m writing the ending to a sequel and I have three different ways I could go. The end is clearly set in my mind, but I’m not sure how to get there. It’s frustrating because I’m so close to the finish. Also, I’ve been preparing the first book for submission, but editing doesn’t give me the creative boost I get from free writing.

Like my second tank, I have a project file on my hard drive. It’s full of books in different stages of development along with ideas and drafts. Like switching tanks, I wrote a great chapter for my next work in progress. I went back to editing with my creativity renewed. Now I can figure out what to do with my story.

I think we all have plot ideas and outlines in our heads. We can use them as a reserve like my gas tank. Developing those bits and pieces of plots can help whenever the creative juices stop flowing, and progress slows down. Besides, it’s nice to have a reserve when an editor asks what else you’re working on.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.


by G.Parker

The final countdown is here.  

I mentioned to my daughter that NaNoWriMo started next week and she was so excited I thought she was going to jump up and down.  She has even been planning for it, which surprised me.  I thought she'd forgotten.  That tells you that anyone who has done this madness gets it in their blood and remembers it from one year to the next.

I'm excited.  I think I've figured out what I'm going to be writing - the next book in my series I've written about three women and their lives.  I've been getting the first one ready for it's proof copy - the one that I finished for NaNo two years ago...It's no longer free, but I'm still going to get it done.  I want to hold that proof copy in my hand.

You may not have heard, but one of NaNo's own has gotten a contract with what he wrote last year.  It's pretty exciting when one of us makes it with the 30 day effort.  Unfortunately I didn't create the link while the article was being promoted and I can't think of the man's name - so he had his 15 minutes of fame, I guess.  But the point is, that those who do, eventually succeed.

It's important for you to know you can do it to.  There are thousands of people who participate in this craziness, and from all around the world.  They have begun to include classrooms, encouraging teachers to use it as a creative tool.  There are writing groups all across the nation that meet at the end of each week, commiseratebrain storm and write together.

It's like a huge support group that you never knew existed.

So if you haven't signed up, get to the site and give it a try.  You'll never regret it.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Seizing Opportunities

by Cheri Chesley

Last week, I got the kind of email new authors dream of. An indie bookstore owner was inviting me to their week long signing extravaganza. The catch? The event happens about 2 weeks before my book is actually out.

Disappointed, I emailed her back (knee-jerk reaction--I seriously have to work on that) and said that, while I'd love to participate, I don't have a book for them to sell. Feeling dejected and left out, I went on with my day.

Then my thinking wheels started turning. Duh! Pre-sales! Exposure! What am I doing turning this down?!

Just to be sure, I emailed my publisher's publicist and she gave the thumbs up, so I emailed the owner back and said--hey, I'm a dork, but can I have a space anyway? Can you do pre-orders for customers who want them?

She said sure! They'd love to do preorders for my book, and they'd love to have me there.

Since then, I've had two other similar opportunities come my way. One is a fundraiser at a home school academy. Think about it. These are kids you usually can't reach by doing school visits because they're doing their schooling at home. But, in SLC, there's actually a place where home schooled kids are taught in classroom environments by a collection of parents. Score!

The other is at the local Elks Lodge. I imagine I won't see as many kids there, but I will have access to parents (you know, the ones who buy the books).

I'm still in the learning process, but I wanted to share my experience and demonstrate--through my own trial and error--that we have to seize these opportunities when they arise. I'm spreading the word about my book through three different communities and counties even before the book is even out. That's a blessing.

So, go for it. :)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Time Marches on

by C. LaRene Hall

This year has certainly passed quickly. I can't believe it's already winter. The sad thing about that is I haven’t accomplished near as much this year as I had planned. Where has all the time gone?

Do any of you feel like I do? Has the year passed too quickly for you? Did you reach all your goals? Did you write your novel? What are you going to do for the next two months?

Are you already looking ahead to the New Year? I am. Maybe you are thinking that it’s too soon to start thinking about that. For me, I’m anxious to leave this year behind. It’s brought many trials to my life and many new challenges. I’m hoping that in the next two months things will start to even out, and life will somehow become a little bit more normal.

I’ll be gone a lot during November, and maybe even some of December, but by January I’ll be back here full swing. For me I’m glad that time marches on.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Guest Blogger Stephanie Humpreys

Stephanie Humpreys lives in Alberta with her husband and three children. She spends most of her time writing. Finding Rose is her first novel.

From the back cover you read - On his deathbed, Rose Sterling's father asks her to consider Miles Crandall as a suitor. Then Rose is sent to live with an uncle in Spring Creek, Montana, far from her carefree life with her family in Utah. Miles is returning to his hometown of Spring Creek to set up a medical practice, so Rose is certain her being sent there is a setup. Yet Miles doesn't seem interested in her, and after Rose falls ill in Montana, he seems content to act as her physician and friend. When Rose captures the attention of Miles's younger, flamboyant brother as well as the town sheriff, Miles retreats even further from any attempt at courtship.

I loved this book from the first page until the very end. All the characters seemed so real and it didn’t take long for me to care about what they were doing. Rose and her brother Sean had a close relationship, and I could almost hear him telling her, “You don’t marry someone to help him. You marry someone who is equally matched to you.”

My heart ached when Rose had to tell her family good-bye. I can’t even imagine how I would feel if I had been sent far away to live with strangers. Rose encountered many different challenges and adventures. She met and helped many new friends. It took her a long time to realize that she couldn’t marry someone who didn’t share her beliefs and someone she didn’t love. She would rather be an old maid than marry without love in her heart.

Now for the blog from our guest Stephanie

Just Wait Until You See Amazing

Yesterday I played the piano for my daughter when she sang in church. She has had a sore throat and cold over the last week, and as we were practicing Saturday night she was concerned that her voice would crack and she wouldn’t do as well as she usually does. Still, she was confident that she would do fine. Her vocal teacher told her that she already has “very good” down pat and now she has to work on being amazing. But even if she has a less than stellar performance, as long as she puts in her best effort, the audience will still love “very good”.

How often do we do something well, but won’t share with others because it isn’t amazing? When working on a manuscript, I can edit for months and still feel like the words just aren’t cooperating with me. The temptation to hide it in a drawer and never let anyone see it is always there, yet I know that letting the story molder away in a corner defeats the purpose. I write for others. There is nothing more satisfying than hearing something that flowed from my pen has touched someone’s life and got them thinking. That hidden away manuscript doesn’t help anyone, especially me.

I often have to bite my tongue when someone tells me about a scene in my book that they particularly loved. So often the first thoughts in my mind are how I could make it better, because let’s face it, nothing is perfect. When I step back and think about the comments I’ve received, I realize that the stories I tell can touch people’s lives despite their imperfections.

It’s like my daughter’s singing. To most of us, her voice is amazing – clear, sweet, strong. Yet she hears the word that didn’t come out exactly right or the note that didn’t get held as long as she wanted. Despite still having much to learn about the voice and how to use it, she always brings a wonderful spirit into the room when she shares her talent. The rest of us wish we could sing as beautifully.

It’s interesting being imperfect. There is always something new to learn, a different technique to try, a mistake to fix, and a new skill level to reach for. I think if I wrote the perfect book every time, the process would lose something and become boring. For me, part of the joy is the learning I do along the way. I keep reminding myself, if our audiences love our “very good,” just wait until they see amazing!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Rough Road Ahead - Use Caution

My husband and I were driving down I-15 near our Utah home a few weeks ago and I saw a sign posted just before a section of road construction that read, "Rough Road Ahead. Use Caution." I got all excited and pointed it out to my husband, who couldn't figure out what all the fuss was about. I told him I was excited because it was so metaphorical. It could be applied to life. I wanted to go back and take a picture of the sign, but then realized it was an electronic sign and I'd have to take two pictures and that would kind of ruin the effect. So, I didn't.

But let's ponder that thought for a few minutes. Rough Road Ahead. Each of us have rough roads ahead of us. How do I know? Because rough roads are a part of life, and because we have chosen a rough career which seems to be at the mercy of the whims of society and technology. Nobody escapes rough roads.

What cautions should we take? I think the best caution is to be prayerful every day. If God is with us, we can face anything. We can face derision, rejection and self-doubt. Another caution is to remember who we are. We are children of God. He wants us to succeed and He needs us to help further His work in our day. He needs us to be true to our heritage as his offspring.

I have been studying the lives of the Mormon handcart pioneers. They experienced many rough roads on their journey towards Zion. Many of them did not make it. Some turned back. Some died along the way and some died after the arrived. Those who made it to the end were often quoted as expressing the idea that if they had it to do over again, they would. The believed the prize was worth the cost. They found God in their extremity. Our rough roads are our best teachers.

I hope we can all follow their example and face with caution and courage life's rough roads.

Have a good Sabbath.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


By Keith N Fisher

Do you remember Charlie McCarthy? He’s one of the most famous dummies in history. His controller, Edgar Bergen, provided a voice for Charlie that was funny and thoughtful. Burgeon did it so well, many folks were almost convinced Charlie, and his cousins, were real.

As writers, we’re charged with finding our voice. At conferences, in books, and in critique group, I discovered what voice is. If we compare the writing of famous authors, we’ll find examples. Such as: A paragraph written by Kurt Vonnegut, is vastly different than Mary Higgins Clark. Also, there is JK Rowling versus Ernest Hemmingway.

The difference isn’t in the genre alone or even writing style, it’s the way the author said things. The words they used, and the way those words are arranged. They are distinct like personality. Of course, If that personality spawns catch phrases, or situations that turn cliché, many readers get tired of it and move on to other books.

A few years ago, a new writer gave me a portion of a book to critique. I was honored but quickly discovered errors in formatting. The writer had broken many of the rules we follow in our craft. I began to make notes on the pages, but about halfway into it, I realized I wasn’t correcting mistakes as much as I was restructuring the sentences. I was adding my voice, instead of letting the writer use her own.

Many ventriloquists, like Edgar Burgeon, can cast their voice across a room and make it appear to come from something or someone else. Like the ventriloquists, I found myself putting my words into another writer’s manuscript. I was changing the voice in the name of editing.

Often, we get good feedback from our critique group and others. Even though I sometimes argue, I’ve learned to trust my group. There was a time, however, before I found my voice, when an edit like the one I mentioned above, would’ve set me reeling. I would’ve tried to match the voice of the editor. Since then, I’ve learned a good editor doesn’t mess with voice. They point out grammar errors, and suggest formatting changes.

If you get an edit that attempts to change your voice, don’t let it throw you. Ask a trusted friend if they think the edit corrects voice or if it really is needed. If you’re trying to find your voice, picture yourself telling the story to a large audience. How would you tell it? What words would you use? Grammar and formatting can be fixed later. Express yourself and before long, you will find your own way.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Decisions, Decisions

by G.Parker

I mentioned last week that NaNoWriMo starts soon.  This causes stress, whether I like it to or not.  You see, my whole body just begins stressing out -- the heart rate increases, my stomach feels a little off and I feel anxious that I won't get all the words in.  I didn't think it was that difficult, I mean, I've been doing this enough years that it should be old hat by now, but I guess the whole deadline thing never wears off.

Then you have the decision as to what to write.  You see, the rules are this must be a new piece of work.  You can't continue on something you've already started.  It can be outlined, and the characters fleshed out, but the body of the work can't be started until November 1st.  

Most years, that's not an issue, but this year I haven't got a foggiest what to write.  The couple of story ideas sitting on my hard drive don't fill me with inspiration, though I'll probably end up using one of them if nothing else grabs me.  I just like it better when I've got things fleshed out rather than a vague idea.  (Which is really a switch from when I first started writing.)

I think it's funny.  Authors generally have no lack of ideas for stories - everything inspires the thought of "what if".  But for now, the muse is asleep or getting ready for a long winters nap, and I've got to get it woke up before he's totally gone.

Any suggestions?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Platform continued

By Cheri Chesley

This is a continuation of last week's POST, in case you missed it. Here's where the heart pouring really comes into play.

The public library. For so long, the only real source of books for many people. But, it also became a haven for some. I was one of those.

Growing up, I had it kinda rough. (who didn't?) The truth is, home was not a safe place for me or my friends. And they lived too far away to visit. But, being young, my options were limited. So I started walking. I'd walk within a 1.5 mile radius of my house in any given direction. Sometimes I had a little money, and I'd go to the store, or to the local fast food place, and kill time. But one of my favorite places to go was my local public library, specifically the Acacia Branch of the Phoenix Public Library system.

It took me about 15 min to walk there. And, nearly every afternoon, there was an old man sitting in the chair by the door with his nose in a book. I never stopped to wonder what he read. I wanted to get to my books. I can still remember how it smelled, the old card catalog, the shelves I would frequent for my old favorites. I can even remember the distinct sound of library silence.

I loved that place. Being able to go there saved me in so many ways. It's one of the things that kept me on my writing (and reading) path. I want it to stand forever for the people who come who were like I was then.

And there is the platform. The public library. In the digital age, where everything we need to research can be found on the internet, and we can buy books with just the click of a mouse, how long do you think the public library will last? I know in recent years they've had a remarkable drop in visitation. If it wasn't for the computers most libraries installed to provide internet access, many may have closed already.

I worry about this. I want to do something about it. Call it a passion.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Guest Blogger Tristi Pinkston

Tristi is an LDS fiction author with five published novels – Nothing to Regret, Strength to Endure, Season of Sacrifice, Agent in Old Lace, and Secret Sisters. I’ve read all these books and I can assure you Tristi is a talented writer. She’s a stay-at-home mom, homeschooler, and media reviewer. She also works as a freelance editor.

Now for her blog –

Who Are You Really?
By Tristi Pinkston

“I have to find myself.”

This is an expression we hear all too often, generally in connection with a break-up of marriage or the quitting of a job. The speaker is unhappy with their circumstances and feel things would be so much better if they just “knew who they were.” Feeling the need to start over, they leave, hoping things will improve in their next relationship or job.

There are some basic, eternal principles that go along with this search for self. I’d like to share them with you today, and then relate them to your writing journey.
1. You are a creation of your Heavenly Father, complete with a personality, destiny, and the talents you need in order to fulfill that destiny. Just like we would not send our children off to school without shoes or a shirt, our Heavenly Father has seen to it that we have everything it takes to be successful. But like the child who takes off his un-cool warm sweater as soon as he’s out of his mother’s sight, we need to decide to use those tools to our benefit and that of those around us.
2. God never created anything that wasn’t of the most infinite worth, and that includes you. There’s no such thing as “the good people” and “the castoff people.” Each and every individual who walks the earth is of utmost value. You may not feel it at times, but you are worth every bit as much as Nora Roberts, John Grisham, or any other author you admire.
3. We can’t run away in search of self—those questions will just come along with us. We need to face them, head on, and make the realizations we need to make in order to find peace. This is not to say that if you’re in a bad relationship, you should stay, or that you should remain at the unsatisfying workplace. Sometimes those are changes that need to be made, but make them for the right reasons.

As authors, we each have something to say. We tend to downplay our own contribution to the world—“Why would they want to read my book, when there are so many others out there?”—but the reality is this: if you didn’t have something of worth to say, you would not have been inspired to say it. That, to me, is where stories come from—inspiration. It’s our spirits’ way of saying, “I am here. I want to share. I want to touch the lives of those around me.” Don’t ever look at your talent and think that it’s not important. I’ve seen too many talented authors give up their dreams because they fear no one will respond positively to what they’ve put out there. Fear never will feed your soul.

So, who are you? You are a person of tremendous eternal value, and you’ve been sent here with a job to do. That job is to share your thoughts, your feelings, and your deep, internal convictions with others. You’ve been given a tool to use in your quest, and that tool is your talent. Now shine it up and come out swinging!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fifty Years is a Long Time to Be Married

Good Sabbath to you.

This weekend has been a very meaningful one for my family. Today is my parents' 50th wedding anniversary.

My siblings and I are spread out, living in five different states. I happen to live in the same Utah town as my parents, as do two of my siblings, but the other five drove and flew in for the surprise party (that's eight kids, in case you didn't do the math). My parents had no idea we were scheming up a party for them. One of my sisters-in-law baked a wedding cake to match the one my parents had at their reception and drove it in from Nevada. A sister in Kansas collected letters from every member of the family. A brother in Colorado put together a slide presentation from the past 50 years of family living and another brother put together music from the 40's and 50's to play at the party. My niece, who just became an official wedding planner did the decorations and I baked 4 pans of enchiladas for the 30 guests.

Mom and Dad had the surprise of their lives when they discovered all eight of their children came to town to celebrate their anniversary. The party was a big success and Mom said if she'd planned it herself she wouldn't have done anything differently.

There is nothing like being with family. Friends come and go but family is enduring. Everyone in my family loves to laugh, and when we're together someone is always cracking a joke. It got pretty goofy towards the end of the evening, but it left a warm after-glow. We had the usual sibling rivalries growing up, but now, as adults, we are great friends and enjoy being together.

My parents provided a wonderful home environment for their children. They were a united front. I really had an ideal upbringing. They raised us to be independent and hard-working. We girls learned homemaking skills and most of us started working at age 16, even though most of us didn't drive before we graduated high school. That tells you how much taxiing my parents did. They also provided us with music lessons and we had a little family band.

Being married for 50 years is a big deal. Doing anything for 50 years is a big deal, but with so many marriages dissolving so quickly, those marriages that endure ought to be even more applauded.

This doesn't have much to do with writing, but maybe it can serve as a reminder to us about the importance of our families. Don't neglect them. They won't always be around.

Happy writing.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

I'm Trendy

By Keith N Fisher

I watched part of a documentary on PBS the other day. It made me think about my life and evaluate the whole of it. My sense of humor kicked in, and I discovered I’m on the cutting edge of a trend.

I was born at a time before modern educated scientists discovered fancy named causes for genetic defaults, and family tendencies. I always suspected there were certain genes that made one family unit more prone to certain things, while people with other genes had different inclinations. Environment played a part too, but now I’ve learned there is a group of perfect people who claim to know all the secrets and if the rest of us don’t follow their example, we have no hope of ever being happy.

By now, you’re probably wondering what I’m getting at, and I’m trying to figure a way of telling you without appearing to solicit a response from you. Also, I don’t want to offend my dear friends who have found their perfect way to live.

You see I was a fat kid. There! I said it. From my earliest recollection, I was always bigger than my peers. It came in handy, though, while playing football and wrestling, and people learned I was not to be messed with. As I grew up, I gained and lost weight. Sometimes, I exercised, sometimes I didn’t. Life went on.

On the television program I referred to, the narrator tallied huge numbers of Americans who were overweight. That makes me trendy. As a kid, I was out of the ordinary. Now I’m part of the movement. Did you ever hear Barbara Mandrell sing the country music song, I Was Country, When Country Wasn’t Cool? That’s how it feels to be on the cutting edge.

I could live with having so many people join my trend, but the narrator also pronounced a death sentence over us. It seems I’m one of the walking dead. One person said that anyone 100-lbs or more, over normal weight was morbidly obese. Then, that person proceeded to tell us what a healthy lifestyle should be like. Did you catch that word, morbidly? I wanted to ask her what normal is?

In the nineties I practiced a stringent program of diet and exercise. I did pretty well, but I noticed that others did better than me. Still, others weren’t as successful. The reason, I discovered, was because everybody’s metabolism is different. That means there are no, all inclusive, lifestyle directions we can follow. I think, however, if you eat healthy and exercise, you will happy, but you have to determine what that means for you.

As writers, we hear a lot of advice from teachers, mentors and other writers. There are many tried and true routines for writing, but just like diet and exercise, there isn’t an all-inclusive method that works for everyone. If you are struggling, I suggest you take the advice that works for you, and file the rest for future reference.

I had a friend, growing up, who could eat all the wrong foods, all the time. He never gained an ounce. In fact, he remained the same size into adulthood and is still thin. I envied my friend, but over time, I learned that some things came easier to me, than to him. In like manner, I know writers to whom, writing seems to come easy. Rather than begrudge them their talent, however, I celebrate my opportunity to learn from them.

I can discover the good or bad ways of my craft. I take heart in knowing I don’t have to follow any example, besides there are things I might do better than them. Both in writing, and in life.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fall is In The Air - and That Means NaNoWriMo is Back!

by G.Parker

That's right, all you insane writing people, it's that time again.  Time to sign up for NaNoWriMo and commit to 30 days of writing feverishly.  

For those of you who don't remember, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month.  This is the month of November, and you have 30 days to write 50,000 words.  Or, basically, a novel.  

This will be my sixth year of participating.  I can't believe it's been so many years.  I wish I could say that it's been productive and I've published all of the novels I've written, but I can't.  sigh.  I can say that I've come up with several books that have promise, so it's a good thing.

Many of us on Authors Ingognito are participating in this project, and we encourage you to do the same.  If nothing else, it gets you writing daily (because trust me, you don't want to get behind on your word count) and sometimes it keeps you writing after November is over, which is the whole point anyway.  I'm still trying to figure out what it is I'm going to be working on, but at least I've re-signed up and am ready to go.

How about you?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Fiction Author's Platform

By Cheri Chesley

You're going to love this. I'm going to do my best to pour my heart out, and still keep it brief. I'm a writer, after all. (here's where I pull out my superhero cape and triumphant music plays in the background)

But, really, I'm just me.

As being a published author has changed from the secluded form hunched over a typewriter in a cabin in the woods, the way an author presents himself/herself to the world has also changed. Once upon a time, if you were a nonfiction author you had to be an "expert" in your field. That could be used as your platform, or your basis on why you wrote the book you wrote. If you wrote fiction, well, then you could just write books.

Not so. If you think about it, you'll realize several fiction authors have platforms. Usually it's a broad one that doesn't require much attention. As a fiction author, I can stand for literacy. I can promote reading wherever I may roam.

But, for me at least, it's more than just reading. As we fought in Heaven to preserve our right to choose, I believe we should have the right to choose what we read. Have you ever wondered, when you encounter a child or adult who says they hate to read, if they really dislike the process or if they just haven't found the book that resonates with them? I have.

My son, wonderful and brilliant, could not get through the Harry Potter series. But he loved, loved, LOVED the Percy Jackson books. This kid is dyslexic. He identified with Percy. AND it improved his reading skills, his articulation and his read-aloud ability. If you put Rick Riordan in front of me right now, I'd probably kiss him in gratitude for what his books have done for my son. My son who hated reading.

There's another aspect to my platform, but I'll get to that next week. :)Oh, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Change of Seasons

by C. LaRene Hall

I’m sure not many writers are up and about in the early am (unless they have school kids or work) because most of us are still awake during the witching hour. That’s when we do our best writing.

This morning after opening the blinds at 7 am, I could see the wind rustling the golden leaves of the tree in the front yard, and my first thoughts were, “Its autumn.”

I took time to look towards the eastern mountains, and was actually glad that the sun hadn’t poked its head up past them yet. Today I could drive to work without the sun blocking my view. On my short drive, my thoughts turned to the book that I’m currently reading. It’s a wonderful story and covers about a two year timeframe. There have been a few scenes about snow, and rain, but nothing significant about the different seasons.

Then I thought back to the stories I’ve written and realized that sometimes I start out describing in detail the beginning scenes, but often as the story progresses, I forget to write about the weather and beautiful sights along the way. When was the last time you read a story that as time progresses the author describes the different seasons?

I love all four seasons that Utah experiences, but autumn is my favorite. I know the stories that I’ve written would be so much better if I had remembered to add these changes as they come about in the life of my characters. There aren’t many days in my life that I don’t ponder and look at the beauty surrounding me. Surely, my characters feel the same.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Guest Blog by Mary Greathouse

Mary Greathouse is a city girl (OK, she’s really a small town girl) who moved to the farm and has only partially adjusted. She misses people, stores and cleanliness.

Mary has published a book - Family Record Keeper that is a family record organizer and personal journal for parents, grandparents and children. It’s a place for you to keep all of your important personal family records from babyhood through senior citizen years.

Family Record Keeper contains pages for: Personal information, education, resume of life experiences, Identification records, medical records, things you'd like your family to know, immunization records, military, financial records, employment, religious activities, marriage and family organization & activities, youth activities, and scouting records.

Now for her blog -

I kept putting off writing this blog because there was always tomorrow. Then I ran out of tomorrows.

`I finally came up with something that I thought was fantastic. I had it all planned out in my head.....stories, details, witty little analogies.

Then I lost my mind.

Well, not really lost my mind. I am still capable of giving someone a piece of my mind. But I did lose my train of thought. Totally.

I am the writer of non-fiction, specifically local and personal histories. Actually, I think that history is NOT non-fiction. After my writing experiences, I believe that all history has an element of fiction.

After gathering stories and facts for my histories, I began the work of putting them together in a logical, complete written form. That is when I discovered that the stories had holes in them, sometimes very large holes.

When a person tells a story, he puts it in his own context. He knows the background well but he keeps that part in his head. The listener (or reader) probably doesn’t have the same background so he fills in the blanks with his own experience. And thus, history becomes a mixture of true history and created history.

That brings me to the subject of writing your own history or memoirs so you can fill in all those holes with the facts as you remember them (not always accurate either.)

A memoir is “a person’s written account of his own life; an autobiography.
Will Rogers put it a little more pithily: "Memoirs means when you put down the good things you ought to have done and leave out the bad ones you did do."
[Marshal Pétain "To write one's memoirs is to speak ill of everybody except oneself"]
Mary Greathouse “A history book gives dates and facts, but a memoir evokes memories and emotions. It connects us to the reader.

In days of yore, only generals and prostitutes wrote memoirs. I don’t know who read the general’s memoirs, but the prostitutes had a vast audience eager for their exciting tales.

Today, anyone can write a memoir. Movie stars wishing for a few more seconds of fame, politicians seeking a bigger voting audience or an ego boost, and everyday people just wanting to tell their stories.

I think most of us ordinary people write our memoirs so that we can connect with our families and friends. We want to pass on to them who we are and what we value. Mostly, though, we think our lives are not important enough to write down, so the next generation is left with the job.

They go about it with the best of intentions, and the worst of knowledge. Bits and pieces of stories that they remember Mom and Dad telling, differing greatly from the stories their siblings remember. That makes my case for writing our own stories. Who do you want telling your story? (The answer isn’t as obvious as it sounds. I have avoided telling my kids about my early dating years so they have come up with a pretty amazing romantic life for me. My version is truer, but theirs is funner.)

Why should we write our memoirs at all? Here is a short list
-To connect with those around you including your descendants
-To relive the memories
-To pass along your heritage
-To pass along your values
-To give your posterity a firm foundation
-To leave your testimony in words and acts
-To iron out differences

The son of a WWII veteran talked his father into writing his autobiography, The father had been emotionally distant for all of his son’s life. In writing the memoirs, the son learned of his father’s horrifying experiences as a prisoner of war in Japan. Finally he understood the emotion pain of his father and why he had not been available to his son for all of those years. They were able to become closer as they worked together and discussed those long lost years.

-As therapy.

Sometimes we just need to get things out of our systems and the only way to do it is to write it down. This is valuable purpose for writing a memoir, but it might not be something you will want to share. Someone reading these entries may not understand the background and circumstance and may misconstrue what you say.

There is more to writing memoirs, but this is enough for one blog. Thanks for listening.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

American Fork Arts Council Writers' Conference

Good Sabbath to you!

Yesterday I spent the day at the American Fork Arts Council Writers' Conference. They hold one of these conferences about every 6 months, but this was my first one. And, it was great!

I enjoyed the workshops and talks by published LDS authors. One of the workshops I went to was about writing non-fiction. It was taught by Caleb Warnock and Annette Lyon. I went expecting to hear about writing non-fiction books and they covered that somewhat, but it really was more about writing magazine articles. Several interesting points were brought out, of which I had been ignorant.
  1. The market for non-fiction is much more open to new writers than that of fiction.
  2. The slush pile for non-fiction articles is much smaller, so your chances of getting published is much greater.
  3. Magazines, including obscure trade magazines, are hungry for clear, cleanly written, well researched articles.
  4. Unlike fiction, the non-fiction writer doesn't have to create a following or "get their name out there" before making money from their craft.
  5. Although it is non-fiction writing, the elements of good fiction writing are still applicable, particularly creative, narrative voice and having a beginning, middle and end.
  6. The turn-around time to get published is much shorter for magazines than for novels, the typical amount of time between submission and publication being about six months.
  7. You can write non-fiction articles while you're working on more extensive projects. For example, you can write some articles and get some money to pay for Christmas.
If, like me, you haven't thought about writing non-fiction articles, it may be worth your time to look into it. A good place to start is

Good luck to you and, happy writing!

Saturday, October 09, 2010

My Brief Visit to the Mountaintop

By Keith N Fisher

I did two days of job workshops and a licensing test this week. Finding time to write and do the things that refresh my soul was difficult. Do you sometimes envy those poor souls who sit on mountaintops? I mean the metaphorical gurus who escaped society and wait for someone to make a pilgrimage to ask the meaning of life. Those guys have nothing to do but ponder the important questions and impart their wisdom.

During busy days when I try and carve out writing time, I do envy them. It seems, however, that whenever the planets align themselves just right, giving me time to write I worry about the future and taking care of the necessary things of life. I long for time with nothing to do but write.

I’m sure retirement (if I can ever afford it) will be a nightmare of epic proportions. Unless I can inherit a box of cash and have all my obligations taken care of.

With that being said, I carved out a morning to write this week and things fell in line. My characters formed a committee and pushed away my worries. We wrote several chapters on the sequel to The Hillside. Now, I have 85,477 words and I only have three or four chapters left to write.

I tell you this, not to brag, (well, maybe a little) but to express my gratitude for the opportunity of artistic expression. Can you imagine life without something to fulfill your need to create?

Some people fill the need by building empires. Some dream of the perfect heist, then after they get caught, they dream of the perfect prison break. I get to do all three in the pages of my manuscript. I’m grateful for the blessing of writing and this week, I’m grateful for the morning when the planets aligned, and I was able to write.

Maybe someday I’ll be that guru sitting on the mountaintop of my front porch or a camp trailer near a lake. I’ll rise in the morning and make perfect paragraphs. Then, if someone comes asking the meaning of life, I’ll hand them the scriptures, and go back to writing. Then when I finish the scene I was working on, I’ll give my visitor a cup of hot chocolate and talk about life.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Birthday Thoughts

by G.Parker

This time of year involves birthdays in my family.  Namely, my husband's and mine.  We were born the same year, five days apart.  He teases me that I couldn't stand he'd come down before me and came early.  I tease him that he didn't want to come till I came because he was born late.  What's fun is we have five days that he's actually older than I am and it's full of jokes and fun about being with an 'older man.'

This past Monday we had a combined birthday party because our birthdays this year are of a 'milestone' variety.  Picture 25 people (or more) packed into a house because it's threatening to rain with a large dog, a mini dachshund, a little baby, food and 50 balloons.  It was great.  Not only was it fun because we had time with family and friends, but it was loads of story fodder.  

There was the argument between my mother-in-law and my brother about whether a grocery store used to be in a section of town eons ago (yes it was, but she didn't remember it) and everyone's determination to be right.  My father-in-law sleeping most of the evening in the comfy chair.  My daughter, her boyfriend and my granddaughter all in the other room, with everyone wanting to admire and hold the baby.  

My husband's friend and his wife from work who were happy to be there, but didn't know a soul and stood to one side with patient smiles while the crowd flowed around them.  The neighbors that my husband grew up with and their three cute daughters, the middle one of which decided my oldest daughter's dog was perfect and wanted to take it home.  

My sons outside with the fire pit, practicing lighting fires with wet wood and asking repeatedly if we're lighting the tiki torches. (No, we're not.)  My brother, while trying to keep from falling asleep where he stood, (he works graves and just got up) giving them a bad time because all three are Eagle Scouts but they weren't having much success with the wood...big surprise.  Loads of newspaper went into that.

The poster in the front room that everyone signed and had to add their 'two bits' to.  My hubby came up with a marketable quote, I think.  "I'd rather be older than dirt than be dirt."  But his oldest brother and mom felt it needed more.  (funny...she seems to think that with most things...grin)  And to top it all off, the wonderful cakes my daughter made with all her love - chocolate for me, carrot cake for my hubby.

It was enough to warm the heart and remind one how great the memories are.  The moments that we capture with our heart camera, so to speak.  These are the same feelings we try to bring to our writing.  I hope to capture some of those thoughts and convey them to the words I'm writing now and in the future.  

I hope you have as much fun as I do with your family...and your writing.  Until next week...

Thursday, October 07, 2010


By Cheri Chesley

After Book Academy last week, and especially Julie Bellon's class at the end, I have worked on prioritizing my writing. It's been especially difficult for me to write daily. I have 5 children, each with their own distractions, and I also babysit. Today I have a handful of kids in my house. While fun, toddlers do NOT let you simply sit at the computer for hours at a time. They require--and deserve--my attention.

But Julie's class was brilliant. And she really made me feel like I can do it. While I haven't put anything into practice, yet, I have a purpose and direction. I just turned in my author proof with my corrections for THE PEASANT QUEEN, and I have great plans for the rough draft of THE TYRANT KING--my next book.

What I found really great was having Book Academy right before General Conference. Mingling with other writers and feeling the energy of all of that, and then submersing myself in that spiritually charged weekend equals wondrous inspirations. Definitely a good mix.

Add to that a week of good reading. Sigh. How do you spell contentment? :)

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

It’s Not Too Late

by C. LaRene Hall

Last week I had the opportunity to spend an afternoon with my daughter and her two children. She spent time talking with her son about his report for school. I think most parents wonder how much of what they tried to teach their children really stuck. There was no doubt in my mind that this daughter had certainly learned the lesson –Satan would have us waste our time in activities that impede our progress on the pathway to perfection. She was furious that this son instead of writing his report for school kept using his computer for other things such as playing games and watching movies. She wasn’t happy with him because of the bad habits and addictions that he was picking up. My grandson now realizes that it’s not okay to play games instead of fulfilling obligations. He knows he needs to be careful where he puts his priorities.

Sometimes I find myself making excuses for why I’m not getting any writing done, or why I can’t do something. This was a great reminder for me. Often I find myself wasting time and not always doing the things that will make me progress towards my goals.

Now, before the year is finished (there’s only three more months) I need to take an accounting of my goals. How am I doing?

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.

I am right on the right path with some of them, but others I’m going to have work harder to even come close to fulfilling them. Sad to say, but number 5, and number 7 are the ones that I’ve fallen down on achieving. I think sometimes when the goals aren’t right in front of our noses; we sometimes forget where we are going. I have three months left to reach all of my goals. How are you doing on your goals for the year?

Monday, October 04, 2010

Guest Blog by Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen

Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen, a mystery, suspense and romance writer.

Her novel, Missing, kept me on the edge of my seat until the very end. It was hard to believe this was Rhonda’s first novel. Trapped, a book about family secrets, and magic was well written, and I had to keep reading to know what would happen next.

Now to hear from her -

By Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen

While helping out at the Middle School, I heard a teacher tell the students that the secret to writing is to talk on the page, to write your story the way you'd tell it to someone. This teacher didn't go into any more details than that, but what she was really talking about is Voice.
Voice is one of a successful writer's most important skills. It is what sets him or her apart from other authors and is part of what keeps their readers coming back for more. It's the all-important YOU in your writing.

But how do we develop a "voice?" I have two suggestions:

First, write A LOT. And I mean A LOT. Writing A LOT, such as on this and my own blogs, has forced me to put a bit of myself and my personality into my writing, because, as the aforementioned teacher said, I'm not just writing, I'm "talking" to you. Writing A LOT has also freed my sometimes debilitating, inner critic, because when I write A LOT, I simply don't have time to sit and think about every word or sentence. Not during the first draft, anyway. Not when each day I have high writing goals to meet.

Second, tell a story to someone. Even to yourself, if you're too shy. And tell it like you really want to entertain them (or yourself). Doing this will bring out your natural pauses, the words you use, the effects you implement to convey your meanings. One of the storytelling opportunities that helped me "see" my voice came waaaaay back during my babysitting years. I used to tell the kids a bedtime story about Jack and the Beanstalk. Not an unfamiliar story, but they loved it because of the way I told it. That has been key to me: knowing and recognizing what my audience loved about my storytelling.

So that's my two cents, er, two suggestions. Hope it helps. And if you have anything else to add, don't be shy. Leave a comment. :)

Sunday, October 03, 2010

How We Use Our Gifts

I hope most of you were privileged, as I was, to view General Conference today and yesterday. I always am interested in recurring themes in General Conference. Knowing that they never have assigned topics, it always seems to be that several talks are given on the same or very similar topics. This conference was no exception. I heard several talks on the Holy Ghost, and several on faith and following the prophet. To me, the repetition tells me it is something I ought to sit up and take notice of.

Another thing I heard several times was about our part in the continuing war against Satan's influence. I thought about this and how it applies to LDS writers. Maybe this is obvious, but it seems to me that since we are LDS and have the gifts we've been given to express our thoughts in writing, we are duty-bound to use these gifts and others we've been given to help the Lord fulfill His purposes at this time in the world's history.

The ways we can do this are many. Perhaps it is through a calling. Once I was the ward newsletter editor. My approach was that my newsletter may be the only "scriptures" some people read. So, I filled it with quotes of the prophets in addition to the other newsy items. Maybe you're asked to write a play or a poem for some local production. Maybe you will submit an article to the Church magazines. Maybe you will simply keep a journal that details how the Lord has blessed you and how you have faithfully overcome your challenges.

Maybe what you will do is provide the world with literature that is a cut above what the rest of the world has to offer. Or several cuts above. We can have great influence by spreading, through the written word, goodness and hope in a world full of evil and hopelessness.

I think we should all take the time, if we haven't already, to prayerfully find out how the Lord would have us use our talents and gifts to help Him. Isn't that the reason we have gifts in the first place?

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Are You Writing?

By Keith N Fisher

I attended the Book Academy writer’s conference this week. It was good to see old friends and meet new ones. The classes were great, but I gravitated to the ones designed for those who are already published and those about to be.

It was great to make notes from Josi Kilpack’s presentation about launch parties. I believe she was the first author to initiate that venue in the LDS market, and I enjoyed listening to her experiences.

Because of a nerve in my leg, I couldn’t sit very long on those chairs. So, I spent the last breakout session in an armchair downstairs, writing a chapter for my work in progress. It felt good to get that one finished.

When the time came for the prize giveaway and final send off, I sat down at a table and continued writing. Being interrupted wasn’t surprising. I enjoy the networking that happens at those events. I was, however, surprised by a few writers who asked me what I was finding on the Internet.

“I don’t use this computer to get on the Internet.” I said. When I explained I was writing, many of them seemed shocked. On man was particularly fascinated that I would use the time at a writer’s conference to write.

Isn’t writing what its all about? My friend even brought a laptop. He said he did his writing on his other computer. One man said it was a good idea and he would have to bring his computer next time.

I couldn’t believe there were writers who didn’t carry scraps of paper with them to write down a paragraph that pops into their head. Moreover, I felt sorry for writers who are chained to a desk. Writing must be drudgery for them.

I’m blessed to have my laptop, even though it’s a pain sometimes, but I can also write anywhere with pen and paper. I’ve written segments on napkins and the backs of instruction sheets. I wrote between the lines on a meeting agenda once. I’ve found I must write whenever inspiration strikes or I lose the thought.

Last year, I posted a blog here, about writing places. Go check it out. In the meantime, good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Taking Critique Graciously

by G.Parker

I may have mentioned before that I have a couple of children who have gotten the writing bug.  One in particular writes all the time, even when she shouldn't be.  Although, she has a problem finishing any of her stories...  
The other day she brought the first chapter of a story that she'd written several years ago for her younger sister to read through and give her thoughts on.  Her brother joined in (he's addicted to the written word as much as the rest of us, unable to resist anything that's printed) and a couple of days after her bringing the chapter over, they finally got around to discussing it.
It wasn't pretty.  It reminded me of some of my critique meetings, only we know what's coming and there are rules governing our listening and accepting the information.  My daughter immediately began defending her work, and I intervened.  I reminded her that she had asked them for their input, she needed to just listen to what they had to say.
She followed my suggestion, but she was still frustrated by the feedback.  It wasn't what she had hoped to hear.
I know the feeling, having been through many critique group meetings where they've lovingly torn my work apart.  It's not a fun feeling, but it's usually what's best for the story and the author.  It reminds me of the movie Pride and Prejudice that someone in the church made a couple of years ago involving a 'pink bible'.  The main character was meeting with a publisher, someone whom she despised no less, and he began giving his impression of her work.  She was instantly offended, defending her work, and got up and left.  Her statement that "It had been rewritten ten times" always makes me laugh.
There are some authors that continue editing and rewriting until the book has been submitted for publishing.  There are some who are never fully satisfied with their work.  And then there are those willing to let it go without it being 'perfect' because it really is never going to be.  But if there's one thing I have discovered through my years of writing, it's that just because you've rewritten something so often you are sick of it, doesn't mean you're done or it's ready to submit.  Hopefully it is, but not always.
So in case you are seeking someone's opinion on your work, I have advise for you:  Accept what they say graciously and with a grain of salt.  Get several different opinions, not just one.  It's pretty much useless if you have a family member read it because they either 1, aren't going to want to hurt your feelings, or 2, think anything you write is wonderful.
And last of all - remember that the final say is up to you.  It's still your story, so despite what anyone else says, you do have the last word.