Saturday, March 31, 2012

Same Game-Different Application

By Keith N Fisher

I sat on my front porch with my eyes closed the other day. I tried to imagine myself into another realm or fall asleep, whichever came first. The neighborhood little kids were playing some kind of war game. Maybe it was cops and robbers, I couldn’t tell for sure.

They pointed toy guns, or other facsimiles, and shouted, bang, bang, bang, at each other. I remembered when I was their age and playing make believe was my favorite game. We did it different, though. We made noises with our tongues. We thought it sounded like machine guns and we tried to imitate explosion sounds. We never shouted bang. That was amateur.

As I listened to World War Three in the neighborhood, I thought of the lyrics to a Rolling Stones song. I believe Keith Richards wrote it. As the story goes, a man watches children play in a park and ponders how much easier life had been, when he was younger. The third verse of, As Tears Go By, reads,

It is the evening of the day,
I sit and watch the children play.
Doing things I used to do,
They think are new.
I sit and watch as tears go by.

My childhood in the sixties was pretty carefree. Life was simple, yet hard in various ways. I learned to love make believe and I never shed that love. Now, instead of playing war games, western heroes, or pretending to be a super hero, I write about them.

I sat on my porch and reflected on the plotting problem I’m having with my latest work in progress. I’m writing a suspense story and I’m having problems keeping up the action. I like my character and I keep wanting to let her rest, but I have to take her from the skillet and drop her into the flames of the fire, then write her out of the flame before she gets too burned.

When we were kids, the action was intense. One of us would say, “Let's pretend that . . .” and another would add more. Before we knew it, the game had changed. We were running around trying to keep up with each other, still enjoying the game. I wish I could plot a book that fast. Writing is harder, because the new stuff has to fit the old stuff. I have to make it relevant. Perhaps I should pretend I’m a sleep on the front porch more often and let the kids plot my stories.

Good plotting is an art form, much like playing make believe. Try to imagine yourself in your story and let your mind wander. What are the possibilities? Don’t worry about relevance, just write it down, but hurry, because the next idea is on its way. Instead of playing let’s pretend, you will be playing what if. Your story will be better.

Good luck with your writing---see you next week.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Writing About Food

by G.Parker

Last week I talked about being 'hungry' for good characters and good writing.  This week I thought I would expound a little on being hungry.  lol

You see, one of my favorite types of book to read is something with cooking.  My next favorite thing next to reading and writing is cooking.  My daughters want me to do a cookbook of all the recipes I've adapted, (I'm big on low fat and low sugar cooking) and I possibly will.  But until then, I like to read about cooking.

A couple of years ago, one of my favorite authors, Josi S. Kilpack started writing a book series with food in it.  I was thrilled!  I was even more excited when they were just as good as her other books, and keep getting better with each one.  My only sorrow is that I'm unable to afford all of them, I've only got two.  Sigh.  Mother's Day is coming, darling daughters...hint hint.

Anyway - another reason I was thrilled with her starting this series is because I've been reading books by another author that are similar, but honestly?  Not as good.  Not even close.  And it's a shame, because they are cute, but it's like she's reaching for subject matter now.  Anyway - I love mixing suspense with food.  Nothing wets the appetite faster and gets the fingers itching to cook than a book with recipes.  My husband always thinks I'm trying to find a way to poison him, since the other series always has the word 'murder' in the title.  I even played around with writing a book series with a specific type of cooking in mind and having murder and mayhem going with it.  (I still need to talk to you about that one, Keith.)  But I've always had other project and now I"m afraid it would be looked at as a copy cat thing.  Oh well.

Stories with recipes in them are a whole different genre than cookbooks in general.  Novels with recipes don't require photos.  Cookbooks -- if they want me to buy them -- need to have large colored photos that make you want to immediately start cooking.and trying out every recipe.

The next best thing is a cooking blog.  There are several hundreds of them on the web, and I have my favorites, which I'm sure you do as well.  They flourish with many photos of how to cook each item as well as the finished product.  It puts my little cooking blog to shame, so I don't post as much as I used to because I don't have the patience to take a picture of each step of the process.  I'm too wrapped up in what I'm making.

Have you ever thought about writing your favorite thing to read?  Or is what you read what you write anyway?  Well...I thought I'd leave you with a favorite recipe from my house.  Enjoy!

Parker Family Killer Cake (no murder

    Water, tap, 1.25 cups
    1 large box sugar free chocolate pudding, (8 servings)
    egg substitute, .75 cup 
    Hershey’s semi sweet chocolate chips, 1/2 C 
    devils food cake mix, 1 box
    Fat Free Sour Cream, 1/2 container

Mix all dry ingredients add wet and blend 2 minutes. Add chocolate chips, blend then pour into greased and floured bundt pan. Bake at 375 for 35 minutes, or until sides spring back - do not over bake! Take out and cool for 10 minutes, then tip over and rest on cooling rack. Can drizzle with chocolate or sprinkle with powdered sugar -- too rich for frosting.   Enjoy!
(alternative - use pudding instead of frosting on top...worked good too)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Write Who You Are

by T.J. Bronley

Hi! Guess what, this is two weeks in a row that I've blogged now. You should all feel honored. And if not . . . doesn't much matter.

I titled today's post "Write Who You Are". What do I mean by that? Well, I'm gonna tell ya, just hold your horses.

Before I get into this, I must announce that not only am I a word nerd, I'm also an numbers nerd. With that . . .

I believe that we are the sumation of all our previous experiences. Some experiences added to a personality trait of ours, while others may have subtracted a piece from us so that it has a lower percentage on who we are. Example, if I have a really humbling experiences about my finances, I may not be so cavalier at spending.

Our characters are the same way. Each of them has had a life of experiences before they enter our book. For me, the more crucial to the plot, the more important it is to know that character's formula leading up to their role in the book.

One of the things that makes me feel like an author is being authentic with me, is when he/she puts a piece of him/herself into the characters being written. For me, it is the most honest writing because, even if writing in a speculative genre, it is still possible to place recognizable personality traits in the character.

Let's say I'm writing a story about an accountant who befriends a teenager caught up in a murder mystery. What about me can I use to make these characters feel real? Well, I'm an accountant. I know a lot of jargon and lingo and so forth that I could put it in the book. Was I ever caught up in a murder mystery? No. But I can use all the ones I've watched (Murder, She Wrote, Diagnosis Murder, Perry Mason, and Matlock) and read (mostly Agatha Christie, but I've read a Josi Kilpack book) to influence how the mystery is written. For the teenager, I could make him picked on or teased, just as I was. I could make him mouthy and rude, just as I was. I could make him athletic and awesome, just as I dreamed of being. But I don't have to make him all three.

Challenge: Give your character a piece of your history. Not all of it. Just a piece that either changed you or changed who you were/are. Now, how does that change your character's actions and feelings about what is going on in his/her life?

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Writers Workshop

by C. LaRene Hall

As a writer one of the things I really look forward to every year are workshops to help me in my writing. I like it even better when those workshops are free. I'm notifying you ahead of time about one such workshop coming up in just a couple of weeks. I'm doing it this week so you can put it on your calendar.

The workshop is called - WRITE HERE IN EPHRAIM – 2012 and will be held on SATURDAY APRIL 14 at Snow College in Ephraim, Utah, at the Greenwood Student Center - 250 E College Ave (100 N). 7:45 - 8:30 am is Registration and from 8:30 am - 8:45 am is welcome and door prizes. Classes start at 8:50 and go until 5 pm. That doesn't mean the fun is over because to me it looks like there's still door prizes and games because we aren't going home until 6 pm.

There are many other workshops on my calendar. The League of Utah Writers has their Spring Workshop in April, and the LDStorymakers has one in May.

I can tell you for sure that I would not be much of a writer if I hadn't been attending these workshops and learning new skills and new ways to do things. It's also where I have met many new friends that have the same interest I have. With the internet there is plenty of ways to search for these workshops. I hope this inspires you to attend as many as you can fit into your busy schedule - and I hope I see you in Ephraim. If so, be sure to say Hi!

I won't be here next week - I'm going to Branson.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I don't write poetry very often, but when the mood hits . . .

It's been a long seven years.

A long time wondering if I was crazy to have a dream.

Many long moments of thinking I should give up.

That it wasn't worth the pain of rejection, and opening myself up to criticism.

Hours of writing till my eyes blured and my wrists hurt.

So many times others thought it was just a hobby or a fleeting fancy.

Repeated rewrites, countless revisions, hours of editing.

But I wanted it, I wanted it real bad.

I dreamt of holding my book in my hands.

My book containing the words that poured out of me.

Often resembling a bleeding headwound.

When times got tough I turned up the radio real loud.

Let the lyrics of Shinedown or Blue October soothe my soul.

Then I sat and pounded out more words.

Millions of them.

Until at some point in time it began to resemble a story.

Something magical and sweet.

Something people would stay up at night reading.

Something ready for the world to see.

A story ripped from my body and soul called Emergence.

About a bad boy that has a chance to change.

And it was good.

Just give it a chance I begged.

Not for us they said.

Over and over for years.

Still I held it out for others to see.

Until one said yes.

The story without a home for so many years now had someone who believed in it.

Just two weeks ago I made an agreement with Walnut Springs to publish Emergence. The book will be out this fall.

Stay tuned for more information and news as I recieve it.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Generating Story Ideas #1

by James Duckett

I believe the genesis of a story is the idea, therefore I'd like to do a series on generating story ideas. Therefore I posted a question on my blog asking how writers find their story ideas, and I noticed one common element appeared in most of the answers. It was dressed up in words like, "ponder and wonder" (via Jessica Foster) and ridiculously inquisitive mind (via Shelly Brown), but fellow blogcker Donna K. Weaver summed it up perfectly: "Ask lots of questions." While this series will approach different methods of generating story ideas, all of them are going to be rooted in the concept of asking questions.
Several years ago I attended a writing workshop with the master, Orson Scott Card. We had one session where we developed a story idea as a class. He started by putting a stick figure on the board and asked, "What is the gender of this person?" The classroom settled on male. And Scott continued asking questions. Not once did he interject any of his own ideas, he just followed the direction of the class. "What does he do?" "Is he married." "What is special about him?"

As things progressed we actually started focusing on his girlfriend who was pregnant with an alien baby. "How did this happen?" "What was the guy's impression of the pregnancy?" "How did she first meet with an alien?" "Does she know?" "Will the birthing process be different?" Question after question after question. We did this for about an hour and before we knew it we actually had the basis of a pretty good story.
Can you see the power of asking questions? Do you see how it can tap right (write) into the creativity center of the brain?

As you look for inspiration, ask yourself questions. After answering them, ask more questions. Of the main question types (How? Why? What (if)? Where? When? Who?) the two that are most important are "Why?" and "What if?"

The other day I was pondering the fact that my neighbor has been digging a hole in his yard for the last few weeks. Go ahead, ask yourself some questions. The first obvious question I asked is, "Why is he digging a big hole in his yard?" and that lead to a lot of "What if?" questions. Some of the "What if's" may change based on your genre of writing:

Mystery: What if he is trying to bury a body? What if he is trying to hide some evidence? What if he is digging and finds a pile of bones?
Science Fiction: What if he is digging and finds a radioactive meteor that gives him super-powers? What if he digs up an alien artifact with instructions on how to cure cancer but it turns out to unleash a new disease on Earth?
Romance: What if he buried his mother's wedding ring as a teenager and is now trying to remember where he hid it so he can give it to his girlfriend during a proposal?
Fantasy: What if he finds a gateway to Narnia if he digs too far?
Horror: What if he unleashes a demon on the neighborhood? What if a demon possesses my neighbor and at night he turns into the boogeyman?
Action/Adventure: What if he finds a map to a buried treasure, and the ancestors of the map want to take it from him?

See, all of these "What if's" stemmed from one simple question: Why?

Try it yourself! Look around and see if something stands out. Start asking questions. See if something germinates from the experience. Share it with us if it does.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Fiction and the Brain

by Donna K. Weaver

There was a fascinating article in the New York Times on March 17th entitled Your Brain on Fiction by Annie Murphy Paul. It's not a long article, and I would strongly encourage you to go and read it in its entirety.

I've always loved fiction. I can read nonfiction, but it doesn't generally have the same draw for me that fiction does.

Perhaps it has to do with the writing. Nonfiction, if not handled well, can end up reading like a textbook. And unless you're Hermione Granger, you probably don't read textbooks for leisure. People who write textbooks may be very gifted in their fields, but that doesn't mean they're good writers.

But I digress. This isn't meant to be a diss on nonfiction or even textbooks. It's about fiction, which is frequently treated like the poor orphaned child who, like Oliver Twist, pleads, "Please, Sir, I want some more."

Some more what?

Some more credibility. Some recognition that people who like to read fiction aren't merely wasting their time, escaping from the real world. That fiction is junk food for the brain.

So, I found Ms. Paul's article particularly refreshing. 
Brain scans are revealing what happens in our heads when we read a detailed description, an evocative metaphor or an emotional exchange between characters. Stories, this research is showing, stimulate the brain and even change how we act in life . . . 
The brain, it seems, does not make much of a distinction between reading about an experience and encountering it in real life; in each case, the same neurological regions are stimulated. Keith Oatley, an emeritus professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto (and a published novelist), has proposed that reading produces a vivid simulation of reality, one that “runs on minds of readers just as computer simulations run on computers.” Fiction — with its redolent details, imaginative metaphors and attentive descriptions of people and their actions — offers an especially rich replica. Indeed, in one respect novels go beyond simulating reality to give readers an experience unavailable off the page: the opportunity to enter fully into other people’s thoughts and feelings. 
. . . there was substantial overlap in the brain networks used to understand stories and the networks used to navigate interactions with other individuals — in particular, interactions in which we’re trying to figure out the thoughts and feelings of others. 

I would also suggest that what they're finding out about fiction and its power to influence the minds of its reader is profound. Note that I used the word power, power to influence. Influence for what?

What kinds of underlying messages do your stories bring to your readers?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Whatever It Takes

By Keith N Fisher

When I submitted one of my manuscripts to a publisher once, I had to fill out a survey to send with it. One of the questions asked if I had the time and means needed to promote my book. Would I be willing to take time off from work to do so? My answer was succinct and direct. I wrote; I am fully committed to do whatever it takes to market my book.

Later, when submitting another manuscript, I ammended my answer and said, I am fully committed to the success of this manuscript. I believe in its ability to touch hearts and I am always working to build a platform that will ensure it’s prosperity.

The first book was rejected, but not because of my unwillingness to promote it. I hadn’t written a good book.

I’m a much better writer now, but I worry that publishers look at my online presence and frown because I don’t do more. I have a friend who goes into Facebook profiles and harvests the friends of friends. I discovered it one day when I noticed my cousin on the list. My friend has built an online following that almost guarantees book sales. Posting cute and funny stuff helps too. Becoming popular with writers and readers before your book comes out will reflect your determination to sell your book, and publishers love it.

Don’t misunderstand, I have an online presence and I network at every function, but many of my peers do much more. So I ask myself, how committed am I? Will my preoccupation with daily trials and living, prevent the publication of my manuscript?

Doing whatever it takes could mean quitting my job to write full time without building a successful writing career first. In our culture, a man with a family just doesn’t do that, but finding a happy medium means getting bogged down in the day to day.

My answer to the survey is sound. I do believe in the success of my manuscript and I’m willing to do anything to ensure its fulfillment. As for right now though, I’m a frustrated marketing engineer, uncomfortably wrestling with the success of others, hoping I will be able to copy portions of it.

My advice to you, and me is, do what you can. Don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t the blog queen/king. Establish a presence online but don’t make a pest of yourself. It is possible to post too much on Facebook, and most people don’t care about your dog’s fifth pedicure. the first one is fine.

Go to book launches and meet people. Make friends in bookstores and at conferences. Be a good supporter of others and they will remember you when it comes time to buy your book.

Above all, don’t forget to write. Polish your craft and submit your best work. Then, when your book is on it’s way, start promoting it. Sell it with all the gusto you have. Be careful you don’t make a pest of your self. There’s nothing worse than a salesman who sticks his foot in the door.

Good luck in your writing---see you next week.


One more, quick note before I go. When I look back on this past week of blogs I just want to say wow. Having everyone post, hasn’t happened for a while. It’s great to have good writers on the staff.

The LDS Writer’s Blogck will soon have an anniversary. It will be six years since it started. Perhaps we can sponsor several contests during that time, and give back some of the love we’ve received over the years.

On a personal note, I look back on those years of posting, with pride, for a few reasons. One is the diversity of subjects I’ve addressed. Although there have been a couple of late posts I’ve never missed a week, and I’m very proud of that too. One thing that stands out is my signature. I end every post with Good Luck with your writing---see you next week.

I got a kick out of TJ’s signature and I noticed Gaynell posted something similar to mine yesterday. I just want you, the reader, to know I really do wish you good luck. I count your success as a reason to keep posting. Thanks for reading, and thanks for your patience.

Good luck with your writing---see you next week.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Are You Hungry?

by G.Parker

I've noticed a lot of "hunger" affiliation usage this week.  It couldn't be because of a certain movie release, do you think?  Nah...publicity never takes advantage of anything...NOT.  It just kills me how everything feeds something.  If it were my book that had been made into a movie, I'd be so thrilled with it all I wouldn't be able to sleep.  One of my good friends is having a book launch tomorrow for her second book, and she's nervous because it is her second book and now that she knows what can happen, she's scared it won't.

But back to my original thought.  If you've read the Hunger Games, then you're probably excited for the movie.  If you haven't (like myself) then you're glad you'll be far away from any theater for the next three days.  Perhaps at the City Creek Shopping Center?  I'm staying far away from that too...

Anyway - I read an article comparing the Hunger Games with Twilight.  How the two heroines were so totally different, and yet, much alike.  I was surprised that they even compared them, and then I realized that of course they would.  These are two books that have become popular with teenagers and have become money making enterprises.  Much like the Harry Potter craze, the Hunger Games has eclipsed Twilight (no pun intended, lol).  What I find interesting, is how our society has kind of shaped the characters in the books.

Twilight has a female character that is a wimp, spineless, mopes around and is in love with a 100 year old vampire.  Not the best role model, and yet, most young women were able to connect with her, feeling that way a lot themselves.  I never did see what Edward OR Jacob saw in her.  She's pathetic.  (Please don't send me hate mail).

The Hunger Games main female character is apparently more selfless, caring for family and friends -- but still ends up being used by those around her (from what I've read in the reviews...sorry, haven't read it so this is coming second hand).  The way they describe her says that what those around her think of her almost matters more than what she thinks of herself.

So we come back to society.  Today's society has so little in common with when I was growing up.  When I was a teenager, there was a greater difference between right and wrong, good and evil and what was acceptable behavior in public.  The hippies were gradually fading away, but Earth Day was on.  It was wrong to be a divorcee, but there wasn't a lot of help for someone in an abusive marriage.  What went on behind closed doors was rarely known to anyone else, let alone those who were celebrities.  The classics were books written by Mark Twain, Louisa May Alcott and the like.  We played outside most of the day during the summer, swam in the public swimming pool and did lots of physical things.  Kick the Can and Hide and Seek were the neighborhood favorites.  Halloween was a fun holiday that you could get a pillowcase full of candy from strangers and not have to worry about it.  Until I was 15.  Then the world started changing.  You had to be careful who you talked to.  You couldn't take candy from strangers and you had to be careful of wrapped candy.  A friend of mine got sick from eating some that had a broken needle shoved in it.  The innocence that had been around me had begun to wear away, and it hasn't gotten any better.

What I'm hungry for is a good character.  A strong, honest, worthy character with integrity and faith.  That's something I could get behind.  But you know what?  It would never sell outside of the LDS community.  The masses don't want to read something like that.  They accepted Harry Potter because it was a boy, and because it was magic.  Because it's not real.

That's the reason I began writing as an adult.  I wanted my daughters to have something worth reading that was clean and uplifting.  Something that they could sink their teeth into.  Not stories about sinking teeth into others or something equally gruesome.

What are you hungry for?  I'd like to know.

Until next week....keep writing!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

And the Writer is - T.J. Bronley

Yeah, I kinda wish that said "And the winner is..." Oh well.

Hi, I'm T.J. And this is my day to post. I think it's Thursday. If not, oh well. Why did I pick Thursday to blog? I don't know, but to be honest, it seems to be my favorite day of the week. I'm not sure if that's because Survivor (my old fave TV show) used to be on Thursdays and now The Big Bang Theory (my current fav) is or if it's because Thursday doesn't get much love from people.

Like the color orange. I mean, seriously, how awesome is orange? If you've seen me at a writers conference, the likelihood that you've seen me wear an orange polo or t-shirt is high. It's my signature color. (Yeah, that made me sound like Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde replacing pink with orange.) (And hello! Reese Witherspoon is in the movie. Duh!)

I guess something writing related may be of interest to the readers of this blog. I write whatever I can get down on paper. I am technically working on my 3rd story idea. My first book stinks worse than dirty gym socks at a fish market. From 2005 until late last year, I was working on a different story, which took on so many different versions it's not even funny. It's like I wrote 4 different books.

And now I'm currently writing a fantasy, which is a retelling of a lesser told fairy tale. (Those who guess "Snow White" or "Cinderella" need to be hit...hard, just sayin'.)

My hobbies include tweeting random thoughts, playing Magic: The Gathering, reading (I think I average a page a week lately), and Words With Friends. Yes, yes, I know I lead a boring life. Enter: the internet!

So, I don't know what I'm doing other than introducing myself here. You'll notice that I end my blog posts the same way because--well--it's my signature. That's just the way I roll. And it's time for me to roll away. Without further ado:

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Protagonist vs. Adults

by C. LaRene Hall
I, like many of you, am looking forward to attending some writer’s conferences this year. It’s a time to learn new things and a time to reflect on things already learned. It’s a time to improve in our writing and meet new and old friends.

With this in mind, I pulled out some notes from last year. There is one class I attended that somehow slipped right past me. The name of the class taught by Tyler Whitesides, was called The Hero/Family Relationship in Middle Grade and Y/A. I enjoyed the class but I didn’t do anything about it. Since that's the age group I write for I should pay better attention. That means I never read my notes and I didn’t try to do better by putting the things I heard in the class into my writing.

Why? I have no idea. I just know that if you don’t try the things you learn or hear, you may as well have stayed home. Maybe old habits are hard to break.

The class objective that day was to analyze the relationship that exists between your protagonist and the adults in your manuscript. He told us that Fantasy novels in particular often benefit from the absence of parents’ cluttering up’ the story. The child protagonists in such stories often engage in adventures and feats, which no sane parent would permit; leaving the parents out of the story prevents these complications.

He spoke about their age, place in the family, personality, and background experiences. Understanding the relationship/interactions between your hero and the adults will give realism to your story. At the end of the story, your protagonist has to be the hero, whether or not adults are there. When all the action is coming together have the kid in danger and have them save the day.

This has made me stop and think about my newest story and wonder what I can do different. I don’t think I can leave the parents out of the story but I’m going to read my notes carefully and think this story through.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

By C. Michelle Jefferies
photo from

Thanks for the Welcome! I am so excited to be here.

My name is C. Michelle Jefferies. I’m the mother of seven, mostly boys, and 8 chickens. We live in rural southeast Utah where it’s not odd to see two of our neighbors saddling their
horses in the middle of the road to chase some errant cows. Maybe that is why I
am thinking of writing a futuristic western-y style story, maybe I’m insane and
think that it’ll be a challenge. I am a red belt in Tang Soo Do a Korean style od Karate. I'm half way to black belt. I love to go thrift store shopping and collect bags that I never use, and teapots cups and saucers. I am learning to knit and also love to sew when I have uninterupted time which is never.

I love to write and for a long time thought I wrote science fiction which was my first love. Now I find that I actually write Suspense style with some futuristic influences that some people call “Tech Suspense”. I also love the gritty-ness of Urban Fantasy, not necessarily the romance side. While I have a huge list of characters demanding that I tell their suspense story, I
dabble here and there in Urban Fantasy, YA scifi, and Middle Grade non fiction. I’m
going to need a lot of pseudo-names if I get all of these published eventually.

I decided I wanted to write somewhere between 5th grade and middle school. My friends and I loved to create and act out stories and some of them were good enough that we started to write them down. From then on, the love of writing has never left me. In high school I met a friend who had written a whole novel and typed it out. That was back before everyone had computers and printers. She challenged me to write a whole book and chucking my sanity aside, I accepted. That hand written 198 page book took me a year to write and was finished just before the end of my Junior year.

I revised that book, again by hand, after I graduated from high school but quickly put it on a back burner when I met my future husband, attended college, married, and started a family. While I never forgot about my story I honestly had no time to do anything about it. While I never attempted anything epic in those years, I was constantly telling my kids stories and
wishing I had a way to record them and transcribe them onto paper.

After my 5th child was born a friend lent me Harry Potter books #4 and 5. I love to read and quickly fell in love with the series. After finishing #5 I was one of those who were eagerly awaiting the arrival of #6. One evening as I was bored, having read everything in my house I decided to pull out the small bag of writing I had saved from back when and give it a read. About fifteen minutes into it I decided that those ideas I’d had so long ago were actually pretty
decent and I sat down at my ancient computer opened a word document and started
to re-write one of them.

The next year I wrote with a happy abandon and cranked out quite a few rough drafts. I want to empathize ROUGH. While I may have learned grammar and other things in high school I had forgotten or been taught wrong on most of them. About this time I met a neighbor who also turned out to be a writer. Between the two of us we actively searched out and found resources such as ANWA and LDStorymakers, and AI.

The next many years I re-learned almost everything, revised many manuscripts, and intimately experienced the try/fail cycle myself. Each year has been a learning process and with the help of many, many friends who have taken time out of their busy schedules and hours of help that they could have been paid for. I have learned how to be a real writer. You know the saying that you need to do something so many times before getting it right? Yeah, I have written over a million words in the last seven years.

I am now at the point where I am receiving full requests, winning contests and feeling like those years of hard work are about to pay off.

To those friends and acquaintances who have been there with me or have been my personal cheerleaders I thank you. This would not have been possible without you. I hope to have
good news soon.

Introducing, Another New Writer

by Keith N Fisher
We'd like to welcome another new blogger to the group. Filling out our week, and posting on Tuesdays, will be C Michelle Jefferies.

Michelle writes from SouthEast Utah and she's excited to join our team. give her a warm welcome.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Introductions - James Duckett

Hi, my name is James Duckett and I'm super excited to be here. I've noticed that my blog posts become more consistent when asked to have them done by a certain day. Being required to come up with something every Monday is going to be a huge motivator for me.

Since I'm the new kid on the blogck, I just wanted to introduce myself and reserve topics of writing to future posts. Spoiler alert: This is going to be long, and most likely the longest post I ever do. You get bonus points if you get through it all without falling asleep.

I guess I'll start at the beginning. I was born. I don't remember much, but I'm told it was pretty exciting especially since I was in the wrong city. Oh well, a story for another time, but these things happen. I'm the oldest of four children but after paying for two kids to be born my father said, "Forget that, I'm joining the Army and Uncle Sam can start covering the delivery costs." Since then I've lived in four states and three countries.

I've never really had a city to call my own and I hate the question, "Where are you from?"
For the last seven years I've been calling St. George, UT home and love living here. Two more years and this will be the longest I've lived in one area. This is the longest I've lived in one house.

My hobbies include spending time with the family, running, cycling, skiing, photography, video production, and online gaming.

Oh, and I love writing!

My love of writing began in the 2nd grade. My teacher had challenged us to write a story and draw a picture to go with it. I called my story "The Ghost That Lived." Okay, don't laugh, I was only 7 years old. I'd tell you the story (I still remember it) but the absurdity would probably put you in stitches and remove any writing credibility I could ever possibly earn. I do remember drawing the ghost. Have you ever played the original Pac-Man? If so then you've seen what the ghost looks like.
Looking back I realize it was a train wreck, but at the time I thought I was a genius! And I knew then that some day I would write a book. Despite what I thought then I must inform you of the horrendous news: there will be no sequel to "The Ghost That Lives." I know, I know. It's hard to accept, but there is no denying the truth.

In junior high school I set out to write my first book. I carried a notebook everywhere I went and wrote every chance I got. I loved creating people that never existed with a few strokes of the pencil. I loved writing about places that didn't exist. I loved the entire experience.

And let me tell you how good it was! Well, it was longer than my 2nd grade masterpiece but I doubt it was any better. Okay, yes, it sucked rocks and it heavily pilfered from a book series I liked called Photon by David Peters. Before I could get it to the publisher and -- in my mind -- instantly top every bookseller list in the world, I got sidetracked (most likely by a computer game) and the book disappeared.

I lost some of the passion then but in talking to some English teachers they informed me of a few things.

1) Teenagers don't write best sellers.
2) If I did want to take writing seriously, I needed to read.

To each point:

1) Disproven by Christopher Paolini. But, sure enough, when I got to the library I did notice that no books were written by teenagers. This was disheartening, and, still today, true in 99.999% of cases.
2) I took this advise most seriously. So on that note...

By this time I was quite addicted to The Hardy Boys. But I noticed they weren't exactly topping out the New York Times Best Seller List. But somebody was, and his name was Stephen King. I then began my love affair with all of his books.
That affair lasted over a decade. I've not been thrilled with his recent writings so I've backed off a bit, but I hope -- and fear -- that some of his writing style rubs off on me. I love his voice. Maybe because I've read it for so long, I don't know, but I love the way he writes. I hope I can pick up a bit on his voice, while developing my own

I don't want to write strictly horror. I might have some elements of horror in my stories, but I hope my books don't find their way into the horror section. I also don't want the language, graphic violence, and graphic sex he usually has in his books. I don't want to feel guilty if my bishop or the young men in my ward decide to give it a read. Or, heaven forsake, MY MOTHER!!

As I started raising a family and went to college I decided to worked full time in hopes of graduating debt free. I had to sacrifice reading for pleasure and most writing until I got my Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration. After accomplishing this I then focused on my career to get me to a point where I could concentrate more on writing and less on climbing up the next ring in the corporate ladder.

I hit that point a couple of years ago, and I'm now ready to conquer writing. In studying the craft more closely I found out there is so much more to it than I realized as a teenager. It isn't as easy as I thought it would be back then. It sure isn't as easy as Stephen King made it look. The plotting. The outlining. BICHOK. The rewriting. More rewriting! Character development and arc. Story structure. Voice. Setting. CONFLICT! Rising action and tension. Maintaining a blog and networking with other writers. Plot points and pinches. Three acts. Seven parts! Active voice. Pacing. Point of View. Dialogue. Overcoming writer's block. Try/fail cycles. Proper grammar. Critique groups. The patience! Oh, why can't this be done? The patience!!!!
I laughed when my father said, "Why can't you just write the next Harry Potter series? How hard can it be?" If he only knew...

And to make matters worst, as hard as writing a book is, it is still the easiest part. Getting it noticed and published, now that is going to be the biggest challenge. And, I fear, the challenges don't stop there either.

All topics I hope to approach in this blog series.

So, that is me. I'm outlining a book now and hope to be finished by the end of March -- with the outlining, not the book. Some medical issues arose that slowed that down, but I think I'm still on track. I look forward to contributing and getting to know the readers of the Writer's Blogck. And a thank you to Keith Fisher for having me here.

Sunday, March 18, 2012


Donna K. Weaver

 So you're not sure punctuation is important?

Version 1
Dear John:
I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we're apart. I can be forever happy--will you let me be yours?

Version 2
Dear John:
I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me. For other men, I yearn. For you, I have no feelings whatsoever. When we're apart, I can be forever happy. Will you let me be?

And the only difference is the punctuation.

***I wish I knew who to credit for this wonderful example to. I received it years ago in the body of an email. When I googled it, I got hits all over the place.***

What about you? Do you think punctuation has its place? Or are you one of the folks who'd like to get rid of it?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

New Blood, New Opinions, Great Advice.

By Keith N Fisher

As you know, we’ve been short handed here at the Blogck. I want to thank our readers for staying with us, even though there are other writers who’ve started blogs like ours. I guess that’s what we did back in 2006, when Six Writers and a Frog, was the archetype. Since writers can use all the support they can get, we will continue to offer help in your writing struggle until those struggles exist no longer.

To that end, three writers, you might know, have decided to join our blog.

First up, is Donna K Weaver, who writes adventure romance, YA fantasy, and SCI FI, from Orem, Utah. Donna has agreed to post on Sundays.

Next, is T J Bronley. I’ll let him tell you about himself. Then there is James Duckett. He calls himself Danger Duckett on Facebook, and he writes from St. George, Utah.

Take a moment, comment, and welcome the new bloggers. Keep the faith.

Good luck with your writing---see you next week.

Friday, March 16, 2012


by G.Parker

I am feeling so conflicted today, that anything I have to share would probably be confusing, so this is the first subject that came to mind.

There are lot's of wannabes out there.  People who want to be something other than what they are.  Sometimes that's a good thing - such as a better writer, artist, singer, mother, parent, sibling, etc.  Then there are those that wish they could be someone else - such as a particular singer, actor/actress, celebrity figure.  That's usually how we term wannabe.  It's a phrase:  "Oh, that person's a wannabe."

Is that how you look at yourself?  Are you a wannabe?  I hope not in the negative sense.  I'm hoping that everyone who reads our blog is someone who wants to be better at their craft, better in their lives, relationships, etc.  A better them.  Not someone who is a wannabe - would only like to be better, but not put forth the real effort to become that which they so desire.

How are you doing on your goals?  Are you reaching them?  It's March, the middle of March (isn't there a time called the Ides of March from Shakespeare?) and that means almost three months have already gone by. There is no time to waste.

I love the statement from a Disney movie "Each day is a present, that's why we call it a gift."  I hope you are reaching toward eternity and those goals you've set each day.  I know I'm working on it.

Just don't be a wannabe.  Be the best you.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Keep Going

By Keith N Fisher

Several years ago, at Christmas time, my wife and I attended seven funerals or wakes. Wendy lost her brother, and we lost many other close friends and relatives. I remember repeating the joke that; the cemetery is a popular place---people are dying to get in there.

Kidding aside, it was a sad time for us. A chance to evaluate our lives and relationships. An opportunity for gratitude in the good memories we had.

A few years later, I lost both of my grand mothers within four months of each other. Again, it was a time for reflection and gratitude.

Maybe it’s a byproduct of getting older, but since then, I’ve lost many more friends and relatives, even my father, in 2009. For some, death came suddenly. Others died of cancer, a couple of them killed themselves, which is never easy to deal with, but I’m grateful I had the chance to know them all.

I do, however, regret the death of one our pets. The cat didn’t really like me, but he was my daughter’s best friend. He gave her companionship he would never have given any other soul. She misses him, and I feel for her. Well, I guess I miss him, too.

Through all of this, I was drawn into contemplation and I’m learning a lesson. In most of the cases, the victim fought long and hard. They didn’t give in to those entities who would destroy them.

Leaving that for moment, I have a confession to make. I am a writer. It’s what I do, but because of health issues, and the struggle of earning a living in my day job, I’ve found it difficult to write lately. My work ethic forces me to ignore my health and keep going, but I admit to contemplating my own demise. Not suicide, but wondering how my loved ones will make it without me.

In the past, retreating into my writing has provided solace, but focussing has been difficult lately. Then I thought of the lessons learned from my late friends and family members. There is great power in fighting, never giving in to what I call the wrecking crew. (Those who would have me fail.) I vow to keep going. Writing for me has always been a personal thing. I can’t wait for the solace to return, and it will return. I’ve attached a poem that might help us all.

Good luck with your writing---see you next week.

By Frank L. Stanton (1857-1927)

If you strike a thorn or rose,
Keep a-goin'!
If it hails or if it snows,
Keep a-goin'!
'Taint no use to sit an' whine
When the fish ain't on your line;
Bait your hook an' keep a-tryin'--
Keep a-goin'!

When the weather kills your crop,
Keep a-goin'!
Though 'tis work to reach the top,
Keep a-goin'!
S'pose you're out o' ev'ry dime,
Gittin' broke ain't any crime;
Tell the world you're feelin' prime--
Keep a-goin'!

When it looks like all is up,
Keep a-goin'!
Drain the sweetness from the cup,
Keep a-goin'!
See the wild birds on the wing,
Hear the bells that sweetly ring,
When you feel like singin', sing--
Keep a-goin'!

Friday, March 09, 2012


by G.Parker

So.  My life has been one of interpretations all week.  For example:  Reading an add to buy 2 of something get 1 free and interpreting it in my brain to buy 1 get 1.  Sigh.

It's all in the interpretation.  How your brain reads it.  Did you ever notice how men and women's brains seem to be wired differently like that?  I saw a cartoon a while ago showing a man and a woman driving in a car with one of those freeway signs showing length of time to a destination.  The woman is asking the man, "So, when I see that, I'm thinking how long it's going to take to get there.  When you see that time you think..."  the man answers "I can get there faster."

It's easy to generalize or group the human condition in relation to gender.  The whole men are from Mars bit is not that far fetched.  However, it doesn't just stop there; there are teenagers, young adults, twenty somethings, thirty something, and so on.  When a writer is looking at targeting a specific group, they need to make sure what their audience is looking at and how things are going to be viewed or interpreted.

Books that I read when I was in elementary school are still being read, but generally by the younger grades.  Stuff I would have read in high school kids are reading in junior high and some in 6th grade.  It's a little frightening when you think of some of the content, coupled with the knowledge that some librarians are actually recommending them to young readers -- but that's another subject.

If you were to write a story about a young girl on a farm with a runt pig, adult readers are probably not going to be interested.  If you write about a woman who remembers back to when she was a child and lived on a farm and an amazing summer that had left an imprint on her, you'd have women readers.  If you were to write about a girl on a farm with a big where there's a big mystery or killing or buried treasure, you'd have the male population.  Get the idea?  It's all in how to turn the story to the audience you want to write for.

Having a great story idea is only great if you target the right reader.  If you are into writing romance, don't be thinking you're going to get a lot of male readers.  (Bruce Willis in the movie RED isn't your normal man.)  I know of several authors who have picked a pen name that won't identify them as female because it's been shown that the majority of men will not read a woman writer.  Go figure.

So if you are still in the exploratory stage of where you want to go with your story, think of the audience you want to target and figure out how they're going to interpret it.  It's all in the words, dude.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Old Style of Writing---New Technology

By Keith N Fisher

I’ve been watching both trilogies of Star Wars lately. Although the light saber scenes in 1977 left a lot to be desired, I’m still impressed with the plot lines throughout. I found myself wishing for another trilogy. I want Luke to go to Coruscant, the city planet with its name restored, now that the emperor is dead.

While there, he goes to the ruined Jedi temple and learns of the Jedi ways from the computer. Luke then, begins to rebuild the order and re-establishes the council. Wouldn’t it be fun to bring back Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher?

There have been books written that deal with the premise, which brings me to the point of sticking to a style. Many people write what is called fan fiction. They continue a story, or write a whole new one based on a popular movie. Many of those writers also run into the problem of non-conducive story lines. In their arrogance, they write stories that change facts already established. Diehard fans don’t appreciate that.

Also, keep in mind that many original writers discourage fan fiction. Some threaten to sue. I started writing a story based on a comic strip once, and quit because of the unyielding attitude of the dead author’s estate. I suppose, if I wait long enough, it will be in public domain.

Don’t fall into the trap and begin to think the story is yours. Be careful, do your research, and stick with the manual of what has come before. If you write a Star Wars story, and if it’s good enough, maybe George Lucus will use it in the next trilogy.

Last week I wrote about the Inklings literary group and talked about my own critique group. There is nothing like having people to talk with about your struggles. A good critique group will offer support, not just writing help. They will help you keep going, even when you doubt your ability to write a shopping list.

In my group this week, one of the members couldn’t get away, so we set her up on Skype and she participated from home. Of course we had to email our chapters to her so she could follow along, but what a world we live in. Writing has evolved from drawing on cave walls, to words on paper, to pixels on a computer screen. Now, just like the Jedi in the image (above), we can be somewhere without actually being there.

Good luck with your writing---see you next week.

Friday, March 02, 2012


by G.Parker

I didn't mean to do another movie review - that's not what this blog is supposed to be about.  But after purchasing the movie that we'd watched previously and watching it again, I decided it was time to comment on it.  It brought to mind much more than just thoughts about a movie, so I figured it would work for the blog.

If you haven't seen this movie yet, I highly recommend it.  The makers of the movie have made three other movies now, and I'm excited for the work they do.  If you'e heard of Fireproof and Facing the Giants, then you know what I mean.

If you are not familiar with the story line, it goes something like this:  Policeman has small family and several co-worker friends.  A Hispanic man is looking for work and ends up working for this policeman, becoming a part of the group.  The policeman looses his youngest child in a car accident and faces great grief.  His friends rally around him and the experience makes him examine what kind of father he has been.  He resolves to do better and writes a resolution about it.  He asks his friends to look at it, and they all decide they need to do it.  It turns into a ceremony that the families participate in.  Toward the end, one of the friends makes a big mistake that ends up putting him in jail, and leaving his son fatherless.  Another of the policemen takes responsibility for a child that he had refused to acknowledge before.  At the end they participate in a Father's Day Sunday meeting about the resolution, encouraging all men to step up and be better fathers.

Once again my summary abilities lack finesse, but hopefully you get the idea.  There is a couple of subplots in addition to what I've mentioned, and LOADS of humor (which if you've seen their other movies, you know they do).  But the whole theme is family -- and what the father's role is.

A statement toward the end is what I wanted to focus on.  He asks where the courageous fathers are, those who are willing to stand up and be the men they need to be;  protect their families, lead them in faith and be the man of the house.  It made me think of writing in relation to what we stand for.  Are we courageous as writers?  Are we standing up for morality and faith?  I've been listening to conference in my car, and I just listened to President Monson talking to the Priesthood session.  He stated that they "couldn't take a chance on being immoral or dishonest."  They needed to stand and be examples to those around them.

I feel the same way with writing.  We have been given a gift from the Lord.  It is ours to use or not, but we've all been told that if we don't use and develop our gifts, they will go away.  I don't know about you, but writing is something that is deep inside me and I can't keep from doing.  I went on a sort of hiatus when I was having my children for about 10 years, but it called to me the whole time.  Many times I've thought it wasn't worth the stress on my relationships, my family, my home and wanted to quit, but I couldn't.  How could I face my Savior and say that I didn't develop all the gifts he had given me because it was too difficult?

So I pose that same question to you.  What are you doing with your gifts?  Are you being courageous?  Are you developing them, taking classes, reading books, working on it every day?  It's not something that comes without effort for most of us, it takes a great deal of time and effort.

I know you can do it.  It's our challenge to arrange our lives to enable ourselves to do what is expected and required of us.  Show the world what you can do.  Be courageous.