Monday, April 30, 2007


By C.L. Beck

While making a sandwich one day, a blazingly great idea for a blog popped into my mind. There I stood, elbow deep in mayonnaise. It wasn’t a convenient time to pick up a pencil and write things down. “This idea is so good, it’ll be easy to remember,” I thought.

I continued fixing lunch. Sourdough bread was stacked with ham and cheese. Ranch-flavored Doritos were piled on the plate and I poured an ice-cold lemonade. Walking into the TV room with my goodies, I nibbled on things. Ooo, the pickle was spicy and crisp. The Doritos crunched the way fresh tortilla chips should. The lemonade had just the right mix of tangy and sweet.

By the time I got to the couch and put my lunch down, I’d forgotten the idea. It had zipped out of my mind. Sadly, it was an idea that was destined to never be recalled. Now, a year later, I still have no clue.

I should have used my favorite memory trick, but didn’t. Maybe because I’d forgotten that I forget things. Right now I wish I had written a key word in mustard, on the wall.

Do memory aids work? Yes. You just have to believe that you need them enough to use them. And you have to be willing to practice the technique so that when you need it, you remember what to do. My favorite one is the number/rhyme mnemonic, (which pegs mental images to rhyming numbers) but there are other methods, as well. If you go to and click on the tab called “memory improvement” you’ll find a number of clever suggestions.

When I mentioned this to my blogging friends, some of them said they were beyond help. They figured they couldn’t remember the trick to begin with, so it wouldn’t do them any good. For those who feel that way, console yourself with this quote by Elder Richard C. Edgley, first counselor in the presiding bishopric. “You know, there’s a reason why we lose our memories when we get older … so we can die with a clear conscience.”

Saturday, April 28, 2007


By Keith Fisher

In Microsoft Word there is a keyboard shortcut you are probably aware of. When you open a document and use it, the cursor will go to the exact spot where it was when the program was closed and you saved your work. Just hold down the shift key at the same time hold down the F5 fuction key.

This is very useful when editing, because you don’t have to remember where you left off. I’ve been doing this a lot lately, and I have discovered a weakness that I hope you can avoid in your writing. I can edit a 600-word article or blog with no problem—I just read it out loud five million times, correcting as I go.

My problem comes when I think of my 80,000-word novel. I have purchased books to assist in the process and they are helpful, but they do nothing to help me tackle my 80,000-word mountain. It seems hopeless and I fear I’ll be stir crazy and blubbering to myself after reading through it five million times.

This is where Shft-F5 comes in. I’ve discovered that if I go scene by scene, I can tackle the task in bits and pieces and once I get one scene perfect, I can move on. Of course this is for the line edits. (The time when I find a better way of saying something, or correct grammar and misspelled words). If I find a hole in the plot during the process I can mark the spot where I was, and come back to it by using the edit/find function. (ctrl-F) I use a %%% mark, because I’m not likely to type the percent symbol in simple prose.

Does this method sound crazy? There are many methods used by writers, such as checking the content first, then the line edits, etc. I have used those methods, but with my latest work in progress, I’m having a hard time. Every time I look at it, I find myself crossing methods and getting confused. I can’t help it, my attention span is getting worse, do you think it’s the old age thing?

So, with tools like shift-F5 to help me, I will take my 80,000-word mountain and climb it; chuck by chunk, scene by scene, until I reach the top and look down upon my masterpiece. My friend reminded me of alt-tab because when I get reader’s feedback in an electronic format, it helps to have two windows open, then I can switch between windows. Switch to see the comment—switch back to fix it on your manuscript.

I’ll use F7 to ask for a spell check, then ctrl-S to save it. I hope you find an editing method that works for you and don't be afraid to try a new way.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Say What?

By G.Parker

I've heard many times that we are supposed to read our work out loud after we've finished the rough draft. The whole idea gives me the willies. One of our bloggers, Keith, mentioned how he reads his blogs out loud. I thought...okay, I've done that a couple of times when I've read them to my family for comment, but not for editing purposes.

I've NEVER done it with my novels. Perhaps it's time to start. The idea of reading them out loud is daunting because I'm not a storyteller -- at least not that kind. I've always envied those who can weave a good tale with their voice and draw the listener in. I like to hear a good story as much as anyone -- although, on a side note, I've been listening to a book on tape this week and I'm not sure I like it. I read FASTER than they do (grin) and I would be finished with it by now!

But, be that as it may, if it weren't a helpful tool, then it wouldn't be mentioned. I have several novels that are in need of an extra touch. Perhaps that is all they need -- to be read out loud and see how the language flows, how the story feels, how long the listener stays involved.

Although, I'm not sure I'll read it while anyone is in the room then I'll really be anxious. They'll be judging me on my skills as a reader as well as a writer, and I'm not sure I'm up for that right now. I think as writers we get enough criticism that we don't need an extra dose.

So, if you're feeling that your manuscript is lacking that little something, that it's just not flowing as you wanted it to do -- read it out loud.

You can always go outside, the birds might like the company.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

I'm It! Again.

By Nichole Giles

There is a new trend in town, and it is called blogger’s TAG. The cool thing about these games is that writers from other blogs often spur them, so we have to keep on our toes.

The last time Tag went around, I had to share five things about myself. This time, all I have to do is go to and type my birthday (minus the year) into the search bar. Next, I pick three historical events that happened on my birthday, two important births, one death, and one holiday or observance. This is going to be fun!

I was born on: JULY 9th

1810—Napoleon officially makes Holland part of his empire

1868—The 14th amendment to the United States Constitution ratified guaranteeing African Americans full citizenship and all persons in the United States due process of law.

1944—World War II—Battle of Normandy: British and Canadian forces capture Caen, France
World War II—Battle of Saipan – American’s take Saipan

1764 – Ann Radcliff, English Author
1945 - Dean R. Koontz, American Author
1956 – Tom Hanks, American Actor

1850 - Zachary Taylor, 12th president of the United States (born 1784)

HOLIDAYS AND OBSERVANCES: Argentina – Independence Day

Now, I get to pick on someone else. Connie Hall. Tag, you're it!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Blog Anniversary

By Connie S. Hall

I love parties and we at LDS Writers Blogck have plenty of reason to celebrate. Some of us are having an anniversary this week. I posted my first blog on April 26, 2006. There are others in our group that joined us in the beginning. C.L. Beck wrote the first blog on April 21. Heather, she isn’t with us any longer, wrote her piece on the 24, Darvell posted on the 25, Nichole on the 27, Danyelle, and W. L. Elliott who aren’t with us any longer posted on the 28, G. Ellen on May 1, G. Parker on the 3, and Karen on the 7. Keith has to wait a couple of months to party because he didn’t post his first blog until June 24. We were all anxious to have him join our group, and in June, we will have another celebration.

Did you know that one year is a paper anniversary? That is really fitting since all of us use lots of paper. I wonder if that means someone has to send me some paper. A two-year anniversary is cotton, followed by leather, linen, wood, bronze, copper, and tin.

The birthstone for April is diamonds. I like that concept. The zodiac stone for April 26 is emerald. Another good thought. The flowers for the month are dahlia, and sweet pea. There is a separate list of assignment according to the day of the week of your birth. My day to post is always on Wednesday, which means Cat’s eye (Chatoyant Chrysoberyl). I wonder what that means.

In the book “Secret Language of Birthdays”, it says, “The Day of the cultivator”. I think I’ll pick, and choose the things I like. Having new ideas and implementing them is only the beginning as far as April 26 people are concerned. April 26 people have stamina for the long haul. Having begun an effort, they will keep moving ahead day after day, week after week, and year after year in the same direction.” I think I’ll stop there. Unless you read the book, you’ll never know what else lies in story for people born on April 26.

If C. L. Beck were writing this she’d probably write a song, but I’m not going to try that. Is this blog about writing? Sure, I’m writing this aren’t I?

Monday, April 23, 2007

Tagged Again

By C.L. Beck

I just can’t help it; I love the game of tag. As soon as it starts going around on the blogging sites, I’m hollering, “Ooo, me. Tag me!”

If you read Keith’s blog, but don’t remember how this version of tag goes, it’s simple. Once you’re tagged, you go out to Wikipedia ( and type in your birthday (not including the year) in the search box on the left. It brings up all kinds of fun information about what happened in history on your special day. Then you pick three events, two births, one death and one holiday from the list, and report it in a blog.

My birthday is Oct 21. Here’s what happened on that day in history:

1520 - Ferdinand Magellan discovers a strait now known as Strait of Magellan.
1797 - In Boston Harbor, the 44-gun United States Navy frigate USS Constitution is launched.
1954 - The first part of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring is published in the U.S.

1687 - Nicolaus I Bernoulli, Swiss mathematician (d. 1759)
1833 - Alfred Nobel, Swedish inventor and founder of the Nobel Prize (d. 1896)

1969 - Jack Kerouac, American novelist (b. 1922)

Holidays and Observances
Trafalgar Day—celebrated throughout much of the British Empire in the 19th and early 20th Century.

Customs and Traditions
October 21 is Apple Day.

I know that including a custom wasn’t on the list of things to report, but how can anyone resist mentioning Apple Day?

Now ... it’s time for me to tag someone. Nichole, you’re it!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The History Tag Game

By Keith Fisher

There are many fun tag games floating around these blogs. The other day, Marsha Ward honored me by tagging me in this game. Oh how fun it is to find out something new about yourself. As always, to give all my fellow bloggers a chance to tag someone, I will only tag one.

1. Go to Wikipedia and type in your birth date only - without the year.

December 9

2. List 3 events that occurred that day:

1793 - New York City's first daily newspaper, the American Minerva, is established by Noah Webster.
1958 - Red Scare: The John Birch Society founded in the United States.
2006 - Shuttle Discovery launches on the STS-116 mission at 8:45 P.M., the first night launch in 4 years (STS-113 being the last).

3. List 2 important birthdays:

Like Marsha, I am also surprised at all the actors and musicians born on MY birthday—Notice I didn’t say I was born on theirs?

I already knew this, but I share a birthday with Donny Osmond —Not just the day, but the year too— I don’t know what time he was born, but I came into the world at 5:45 AM. Here are the other two births I found:

1608 - John Milton, English poet
1942 - Dick Butkus, American football player

4. List 1 death:

1165 - King Malcolm IV of Scotland

5. List a holiday or observance:

Scandinavia (specifically Sweden): Anna's Day. Recognizes everyone named Anna, and marks the day to start the preparation process of the lutefisk to be consumed on Christmas Eve.

As you can see, I went a little further with our history game. I found the Time Magazine website and found a cover for the day I was born. I found an article inside:

Short of a hot war, or imminent danger of one, illness could hardly have struck the President of the U.S. at a worse time.
Along with the endless daily flow of documents and visitors and decisions, plus weekly policy sessions of the Cabinet and the National Security Council, the year end brings to the presidency a heavy seasonal load: 1) drawing up the Administration's legislative program for the congressional session ahead, 2) preparing the massive federal budget for the coming fiscal year, 3) drafting January's State of the Union, budget and economic messages, and 4) briefing congressional leaders in advance on the Administration's planned requests for legislation and appropriations. In December 1957, with Sputnik still orbiting, and the U.S. economy showing signs of droop, the President faces a crushing array of special major problems.

Now I get to tag another blogger:

I choose . . . Inky . . . CL Beck come-on-down.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Another One Bites the Dust

by G.Parker

Well, I’m sad today for two reasons. One, I will be attending the funeral of my sister-in-law, and two, I have witnessed the fall of one our great examples for writing.

My sister-in-law was a sweetheart. She was fun to talk to, she had lots of spark, and she loved me (which is always a plus). Unfortunately, she was also a alcoholic, which possibly contributed to her death. (She fell down some stairs and received a fatal head injury.)

Sunday, my brother gave a wonderful talk in Sacrament meeting about examples. He said there are two types of people; those who lead by example, and those who learn by example. He figured he was one of those who learned, and based his talk on that. (We wanted to throw our hymn books at him, but that would have disrupted the meeting...) My sister-in-law was one who didn’t learn by example, but had to figure things out on her own. I’m still pondering that, I think I’m someone who learns from others.

The reason I share this with you, is an article I read by Richard Dutcher. Anyone who knows anything about film and writing in the LDS church, has heard of him. He has been called the “Father of Mormon Cinema”.

This “Father” has opted to leave the scene. He has decided that his journey has taken him away from the church and that part of this journey has been the lack of quality within the film works of the Mormon church. The article ended with the announcement that he had left the church. I felt like saying “Elvis has left the building”...

Why is it that someone who is famous has to leave in a big way? So what if he left the church...did he have to write a newspaper article slamming the way the church makes movies to show in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building?

I was particularly saddened because I met him several years ago when he spoke at a writing conference held at Thanksgiving Point. I asked him if anyone had done a modernization of the movie The Bishop's Wife for the LDS market. He said that he thought it would be a great idea, but that he’d been largely disappointed in the quality of work that had come to light. He had produced God's Army with the idea that it would bring out all the closet LDS writers in the church and bring our film standard up from that of the industry. I can’t help but think that started the bitterness I hear in his words.

This isn’t the first time I’ve been disillusioned, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. We keep forgetting that our hero’s of clay are just that – clay. They are mortal and make mistakes and fall just like we do. Unfortunately, some of them fall bigger than others, and some of them try to take as many with them as they can.

I hope that those of us who want to write good literature and uplifting products for those who desire better, will not be discouraged by Richard’s bitterness or follow his example. Sometimes we forget that this life is an enduring to the end proposition and that reaching the end is not always a profitable venture.

I wish him well and hope he finds the way back, losing his bitterness along the way. Just like I wish my sister-in-law well in her new adventure and the trials ahead. I’ll miss her, and Richard.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

A Miracle of Nature

By Nichole Giles

This blog has nothing whatsoever to do with writing, except for the fact that I am writing it.

The other day I witnessed a miracle. No mountains were moved, no bodies of water were parted, but it was a miracle nonetheless. My dog had her first litter of puppies.

I was worried. I know it sounds silly, some might even wonder if I’ve finally lost my marbles. Dogs have puppies, cats have kittens, and women have babies every day. But Tika is a part of our family, and I was worried about her, and for her. I was also worried about the puppies. What if she had them on the ground outside in the cold and they froze to death? What if she tried to bury them in the sandbox like she does all her toys? What if she went into distress and we weren’t there to help her and then she died?

There are lots of things to worry about when it comes to bringing life into the world.

We knew she was due, so I paid close attention to her all weekend. I even went so far as to leave my window open as I was writing so I could hear her if she started whining. I did hear her whine, and my daughter saw her squatting, and I spent Sunday evening playing midwife to a dog.

Now, here’s the part I found miraculous (well, besides the whole giving birth thing as a whole). Giving birth to all four of my children, I had a doctor attending my needs, as well as several nurses. And I admit to having drugs, lots of them. I know women have been giving birth since the beginning of time, I do. But I am one of those people who would most likely have died the first time through if it weren’t for modern medicine. If I had survived, I would not have had the slightest idea what to do once the baby was out.

But, Tika and I do not have that in common. She really didn’t need my help at all. Even though I am not positive she knew what was happening to her days before, even hours before, when her time came, she knew exactly what to do. Even as I sat helplessly in the kennel, petting her head and whispering to her, she did everything herself.

Okay, I did help her put the first puppy in the doghouse. She seemed a little dazed at that point, but I didn’t have to clean the puppy, or cut her cord, or help her latch on to her mother. Tika already knew how to do it. To me, that was amazing. One of nature’s true miracles.

Incidentally, I am the proud new owner of 8 healthy and strong, newborn Golden Retriever puppies. I was wondering. If Tika has been like one of my daughters, does that make me a grandma?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Living In Another Time

By Connie S. Hall

Have you ever thought that maybe you were born in the wrong era, or in the wrong culture or country? I’ve thought about this idea on several occasions.

Looking through pictures of the clothing from the past has always captivated me. I can imagine myself dancing the Charleston in the flapper dress, or waltzing the night away in an elegant evening gown. Many times, I’ve wished it would be appropriate for me to wear a hat with an enormous colored feather that curls around the brim. The fashions of today seem so drab compared to those of earlier years.

When I see a movie about the old west I think, that’s the life for me. Then I remember how bad I hate crossing large rivers of water and I’m content to live a life where that isn’t required. I admire my pioneer ancestors, and wish I could do something brave for my posterity.

Some days I even dream about living atop a snow-covered mountain with no neighbors for miles. This idea actually appeals to me. I hate shopping so I wouldn’t care if I didn’t have a store nearby. I’d want a fireplace with lots of wood to keep me warm, and as long as there was electricity so I could use my computer, I’d be okay.

Among my favorite magical creature are the fairies and little people. Mermaids are a close second. Other people fascinate me such as witches, gypsies, and Eskimos.

Living on an island in the Pacific actually appeals to me. When I was young I learned the hula dance, and think I’d be happy dancing my life away. The huge spiders and unusual animals might scare me a bit. Actually, they’d scare me enough to make me run.

As I dream about far away lands, I can picture myself living almost anywhere. I haven’t traveled to foreign or exotic places, but when I see pictures, I can imagine myself there. It doesn’t matter if it is winter, spring, summer, or fall, I love them all.

Dreaming of living in another time or place must be why I’m a writer. When my characters live in another era, I’m there with them. When they dance or cross a river, it’s like being there. Since I can’t change my circumstances, I’ll have to be content writing about them.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Five (much delayed) things not really known about me

by Karen Hoover

Well, I’ve been quite the slacker these past several months, but with good reason ― medical reasons, mostly. Alas, I will not bore you with the details, though I can assure you that all is well now. So, finally I am posting my five little known facts about myself.

1) I come from a blended family of 8 children ranging from the age of 71 to 34. Yes, you heard that right: there is a 36 year difference between the oldest and youngest child. My oldest brother is four years younger than my mother. Scary, eh?

2) My husband tells me I eat in a circle. I start at one point on my plate and move on to the next item and the next until I’ve made a complete circle and am back to item one. I’ve tried to change the habit since he pointed it out to me, but find myself still doing so from time to time.

3) My first creative love was music. My grandmother, mother, and myself used to sing in three part harmony when I was just a kid. Grandma taught me how to hear and love the harmonies so that now, even though I am technically a soprano, I prefer to sing the alto parts.

4) I’ve played the flute for 25 years. It’s what got me to college. I’ve had three scholarship offers over the years; one to Utah State University (which I accepted), one to Weber State (when it was still a college and not a university), and one to the University of Utah (who offered the scholarship but wouldn’t accept me as a student).

5) I love to build things. My husband owns a screwdriver and ratchet set. I own a table saw, jigsaw, sander, drill, and am dying to get my hands on a scroll saw and a router. I actually built myself a den in part of my garage, everything from the framing and insulation, to the drywall and painting. I built bookshelves and laid tile and loved every second of it. The only other time I work so hard and happy is when I write. The smell of sawdust makes me drool and Home Depot has got to be the coolest place on earth!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little glimpse into my weirdness. Stay tuned for future messages from the missing Blogcker.

Monday, April 16, 2007

They’re Baaaaack

By C.L. Beck
© 2007

On March 19th, the swallows returned to Capistrano.

Aaaaah yes, their return always seemed so romantic to me. I envisioned a handsome Italian man holding a cheesy manicotti in one hand and a creamy cannoli in the other, wooing Sophia Loren, as the birds encircled them. The swallows would symbolize their eternal love as they fed pasta and pastries to each other.

Then I found out that swallows are messy birds that build their nests in carports and garages, bombing unwary passers-by with mud clods and droppings. To make matters worse, I found out Capistrano isn’t even in Italy. It’s in California.

The news was devastating to me. But, since I was still right about manicotti (a luscious, cheese-filled pasta) and cannoli (a flaky dessert filled with pastry cream), I managed to get over the disappointment. And despite the swallows’ vices, they’re graceful birds, which at least atones, in part, for their messy nesting habits.

On the other hand, I’m 100% certain there is one bird with no redeeming value in this life—the starling. Starlings, like the swallows of Capistrano (and even more like Freddy Krueger, from the movie, “Nightmare on Elm Street”) are baaaaack.

Starlings aren’t native to this country. I only know because I heard it on Paul Harvey. Or maybe I read it on the back of a cereal box. Thank goodness for those two or I’d never learn anything.

It seems that Eugene Schieffelin thought New Yorkers should be able to see every bird that’s mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays. Since there weren’t any starlings in the New World, he brought them over from Europe and released them in Central Park in 1890.

I, personally, think the man had rocks in his head. Not only do the birds arrive in flocks to eat my outdoor cats’ dry food, but they drive my dog insane because he thinks they’re intruders and thieves.

Which they are. In the spring, I spend my time dashing out the door, throwing whatever’s handy at the birds … which does explain odd things like bottles of ketchup and toothbrushes stuck in the branches of my trees.

I’m sure Sweet William (Shakepeare that is, not Clinton) never realized the mere mention of starlings would have such a far-reaching effect.

The moral of the story? Even if we’re as talented as Shakespeare, we need to choose our words carefully. Otherwise, future generations might end up with something like the birds from heck roosting in their eaves and squawking from their trees.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Getting Feedback

By Keith Fisher

When I was ten, I wanted a guitar for Christmas. Not just any instrument, but a Fender Stratocaster. Santa Claus compromised and gave me a Harmony Rocket. It’s a hollow-body, double pickup, electric guitar that never stays in tune.

It was the nineteen-sixties and Santa couldn’t afford an amp. Hence the reason for the hollow bodied guitar. Well, to make a long story short; my dad built me an amp. It was just a wooden box with a car radio speaker and an electronic circuit board.

I plugged into the amp and quickly discovered that I couldn’t face toward it with my guitar, or turn up the volume because the feedback would blow my family out of the house. I wonder if that was by design?

I never got a proper amp and I learned to love playing a 12-string acoustic that I purchased from a second hand store. As I once expressed my artistic desires in music, I now lose myself in the worlds of the characters I have created. In the effort of learning to write, I have acquired a taste for a different kind of feedback.

The feedback that writers get is a good thing. We learn better ways of writing and arousing the interest of our readers. We talk about how the loving brutality of the red pen can be so helpful. We ask our proofreaders to be brutal. Meanwhile we try to develop a thick skin and continue the process of honing our craft on our long climb to the summit of our righteous desires.

There are times however, when feedback can be like the noise from my amp. In our exuberance as readers, we want to be helpful, but we forget to remember to add the positive, along with the critical. People need to feel they’re improving or their effort seems futile.

In like manner, the recipients of the red pen sometimes forget to sift through the advice, gleaning the positive from it. We CAN be better writers, but it will take time and practice. We can help others by being sensitive when our friends have those weak and in the basement moods. In turn, they can help us through our low points. Together, we will become the writers we were meant to be by encouraging each other.

I want to thank all those who lift me. I am becoming a better writer and reaching my goals because of my mentors and friends. Positive feedback left in the comments trail of this blog have been helpful. I hope I have lifted you in the process.

Good luck in YOUR writing career.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Taking A Vacation...In Your Mind

by G.Parker

When I was the mother of seven children under the age of 10, I had some stressful days. I was dealing with children in school, children out of school, children with ADHD, and an autistic child that was going to pre-school. There were some days I wanted to just hide in a room and lock the door.

It wasn’t that I didn’t love my darling children, it was just that sometimes as a mom I needed a break. I’m sure every mother has experienced that feeling, and there are usually several times during this period of life that you need a break. I read once that Linda Eyre takes what she calls ‘Mommy Weekends’. I thought that sounded like a wonderful idea, but I’ll talk about that experience another day.

What I discovered that helped me short term, was taking a break in my mind. I would go to the library and check out music that was calming. My favorite tape was one with the sounds of the ocean. I would go into our TV room where the stereo was, close the door and put on that tape for about 20 minutes or so. The kids were usually taking naps, or playing outside - but somewhere safe that I didn’t have to worry. I would lay on the couch, close my eyes and imagine I was there. While it was hard to come back to reality, sometimes it was okay. But it was always a wonderful spot of relaxation.

There were also times when I would set up a date night for my hubby and we’d have dinner or just sparkling apple juice by the little kiddy pool, music playing from a window and the big beach umbrella opened so it looked like a pool area. Those were some of my fondest memories.

Since we are writers, and need to write every day to hone our skills and further our craft, I’m not going to suggest taking a vacation from writing. I was recently on vacation, and while I managed to skip most of the days, I made myself get some writing done. I made a commitment to myself that it would be a priority, and that I would keep it up.

I know there are some days when the story we are working on won’t cooperate, the characters don’t want to follow the plot and the words just won’t flow. Instead of feeling like you’ve hit the proverbial wall...take a vacation - in your mind. Go sit in another room and close your eyes and dream of what you will do when the story sells, or some other goal you’ve chosen. If nothing else, just dream of your favorite place to go. It’s good for helping you in writing scenes, descriptions, etc. It’s good for your peace of mind.

I’d still pick the beach. Where’s your favorite place to go? Tell me about it, I’d love to know.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Proofs Are in the Mail

By Nichole Giles

I recently learned something new about submitting articles and short stories. They can act as a lesson, showing you what it might be like when you actually sell a book. I know I have mentioned before how wonderful it feels to find in your mailbox an envelope with a contract stuffed inside, but this was different from a contract.

This new discovery came in the mail the other day, and took me quite by surprise. My most recent magazine contract was with “Highlights for Children.” The article was short,—about 450 words—included pictures, and I received my check from them last fall.

Now, I should probably mention that the short stories I have sold to other publications have worked about like this, and once the check was received, my work was done. Oh, they let me know when my story was scheduled for publication and asked to change a few words or names, then I got my contributors copies and all was well.

But this magazine is a big children’s magazine. In fact, from what I understand, one of the biggest on the children’s magazine market, at about 2 million readers. And they do things a little differently. Let’s back up. A couple of months ago, the copy editor sent me an email to inform me that my article is scheduled for the November issue. To which I thought, Woo hoo! November is only a few months away. Cool. And though I set that month in the calendar of my mind, I went back to work on my other writing projects.

Last week on my daily trip to the mailbox (yes, I admit to anxiously watching for the mailman to arrive every day, usually to be rewarded by junk mail and bills, rather than something really good) I was surprised to find a large white envelope from Pennsylvania. (Pennsylvania is where “Highlights” prints.) Shoot, I thought. Another rejection—and it was so bad it didn’t even fit in my SASE. Then, I hesitated to open it. But, since I have several submissions circulating, I figured I needed to see which one it was, and decide where to send it next.

So, I opened it. It was a letter from Highlights, but not a rejection.

It went something like this, “Dear Ms. Giles, here are the first proofs for your article entitled…. Please understand some editing has been done in order to fit our space requirements. More may be done to fix any errors. Please look these over and let us know if you have any comments….” And the Highlights copy editor signed it. Enclosed in the envelope were photocopies of the layout of my article, with it’s new—although in my opinion not so improved—title, with spaces marked for my pictures and a sidebar, which I also wrote.

Imagine my pleasure at seeing my article laid out, seven months before its actual publication, and having the editor of a popular magazine asking for my approval.

Well, pleased or not, I don’t love all the edits. I’ve set the proofs on my desk, and read through them three or four times a day, trying to make myself believe I’m okay with the changes. The thing is, my name is on the top of that page, and this is going to be one of my publishing credits, so I have to live with whatever ends up being printed.

So, since they so kindly gave me the chance, I believe I’ll take the opportunity to make those comments. It’s something I wasn’t allowed in the past, and I think I could probably use the practice.

If I keep this up, by the time I sell a book, I’ll already be a publishing pro.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Learn To Play The Game

by Connie S. Hall

Writing is similar to an athletic event; it takes skill and stamina, and is competitive in today’s world. Anyone unprepared has no better chance of success than the athlete who enters competition out of shape. You must learn how the game of writing is played, and prepare for the battle if you want to win.

Athletes and most writers need coaching to help them succeed. I was lucky this past month to have several instructors assist me. In a writing conference I attended there were many classes offered. You could choose a lesson in the category in which you needed help. The teachers were prepared and answered questions.

One speaker taught a new writer how to make a manuscript more attractive. Many do not’s were mentioned. Shirley Bahlmann made sure everyone knew about one-inch margins, double-spacing, and to always use white paper. She encouraged us all to follow the publisher’s guidelines, and to always include a SASE with our submissions. I learned that the person with the biggest hand in your success is YOU.

For me it took courage to attend the early morning boot camp meetings. It wasn’t easy to put my writing out there for strangers to critique. I can’t put a price on the information I received both mornings from our many drill sergeants.

Learning to play the game of writing will benefit me for many years because I want to win.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Googling Myself

By Darvell Hunt

I really love Googling myself. This is not to be confused with ogling oneself, which is so popular with the bulging muscle-bound guys I see at the gym kissing their own biceps in the mirror.

Doing this (Googling, not ogling), which actually means searching for your own name at, will give you a good sense of how others see you. Googling yourself might even prompt you to be more careful with your appearance on the Internet. I still see my name on things I posted to Usenet Newsgroups back in the mid 90's. My name is not easily confused with other people, either.

Googling myself is how I found the AML review I wrote awhile back in which I referenced The Work and the Glory series as The Hope and the Glory series and which has been copied to a few different places over the past couple of years (including the BYU Mormon Literature Database), and where it's not copied, there are links to it. Oh boy. I guess that tells people I've never read some of the best-selling books in the LDS marketplace. I tried once. I didn't get very far.

Anyway, I have to go. I'm going to try reading The Hope and the Glory again and then I need to check the mirror to see if my biceps are any bigger. If the reading fails, I guess I can at least heft all nine hardbound volumes to work on the biceps.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Bats in My Belfry

By C.L. Beck
© 2007

Spring is coming, the sun is shining, the daffy-o-dillies will soon be blooming— and the bats will be returning. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that you can’t live in rural Utah without having a run-in with a bat.

One summer, I was sitting near the door that leads down to the furnace room, when I heard a “scritch, scritch”. Thinking it was Slippers, our cat, I ignored it and continued with my vastly important project of checking email.

Pretty soon, “scritch, scritch, shuffle, shuffle” caught my attention again.

“Slippers, I’m not getting up to let you out. Just sit in the dark and dream of mice.”


Normally that “meow” wouldn’t have bothered me, but it came from the couch. If Slippers was on the couch, who was scritch-scritching on my landing?

I opened the door to the stairway, and aaawk! There, four feet above my head, was a bat.
I slammed the door shut, and did what every woman does in an emergency. I emailed for help.

“Russ, HELP! There’s a bat in the downstairs. A beady-eyed, black bat!”

My ever-so-thoughtful husband immediately sent back an email joke about old bats and flying monkeys.

So I sent him another note, “This is not funny. It’s flying around in circles, bumping into things. Every time I open the door to peek in, it hungrily looks me over with its beady little eyes.”

In return, Russ emailed me a picture of myself dressed as the “Krazy Krispy Kreme Baker”. In it, my hair was frizzed out, purple circles darkened my eyes, and I held a donut infested with plastic spiders. Underneath he’d written, “And exactly why would someone who looks like this be worried about a bat?”

Really, it’s unfair for a husband to take pictures of his wife at Halloween and then use them against her years later, when a 15 foot bat shows up in the house.

I wrote, “Your shoes are in the downstairs. If all you’re going to do is make jokes, I hope it lands in one of your Nikes.”

Russ made the drive home in record time. When he got in the house, he cracked the downstairs door open, while I peered over his shoulder. Yup, the bat was still there—hanging upside down, squeaking, and scratching its head.

All of a sudden, it took off and headed towards us. I’ve never seen a man shut a door so fast before.

Russ went into the kitchen and returned armed with a piece of beef jerky, a towel, and a broom. What was the jerky for, I wondered—to entice the bat over so he could catch it?

That just shows you the differences in the way men and women think. The broom and towel were for the bat. The jerky was for Russ.

After gnawing on the boot-leather meat, Russ opened the door and slowly moved the broom handle towards the bat. It spread its wings. I ducked, screamed, and covered my head with my arms … and it crawled onto the end of the broom.

Gee, if I’d known that’s all it took, I could have done it myself.

Scrambling to the front door, I threw it open and Russ took the dangling bat outside. The story should end there, but some people have all this curiosity that gets them into trouble. Especially when those people are not only writers, but also photographers.

“Wait, I want to take a picture of it,” I said. You never know when a photo of a bat might come in handy, right?

I dashed inside, grabbed the camera, and got ready to take the shot. “Now tell me if it starts to fly, so I can duck,” I said to Russ.

There’s no point in taking a picture of a bat from five feet away. I got closer until the bat was 12 inches from the camera. I adjusted my focus and …

In a flash, the ungrateful thing unfolded its wings and flew straight for me. Its bloodsucking fangs glistened in the sunlight. Its beady eyes tried to hypnotize me.

I squawked—not from fear, but because I was engulfed by a dilemma. I only had a microsecond to decide. Should I run or shoot the picture?

Well, I certainly don’t have bats in my belfry. It was an easy decision.

I shot the picture ... and then ran like a bat out of ... well, you know where.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Part two: “Please don’t burn my Book!”

By Keith Fisher

A few weeks ago I started a two-part blog. Since part one only drew one comment, perhaps I need to spice it up a bit.

I was drawn into an argument at work the other night. The subject was homosexuality and whether is should be shown in an LDS novel. The comment was this:
“You mean a person can’t show real life in a book?”

Do I have your attention yet? Or are you yawning with anticipation, preparing to skip over my thoughts to laugh at the great humor of C.L. Beck? I don’t blame you, but since you’ve read this far, you might as well read on.

I was going to include quotes from JK Rowling, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and others but in the interest of shortening the subject and finishing the promised two-part blog, let me just say:

I know there will be a time when my children read other works, written by authors who for whatever reason, find it necessary to use language or describe situations that are not needed to tell the story. When they do, I hope they will be able to understand, without embracing those lifestyles but for now I will privately ban certain books in my family.

To sum up, I would never publicly ban a book. Banning only increases sales for undesirable literature and burning a book is so adversarial to me; I would be tempted to take retribution if I witnessed a book burning.

There is some bad Literature out there. There's a lot of good also. My suggestion is to leave the bad alone, and keep your standards, both in reading and writing. Try to convince other writers to write good stuff, then someday everyone will write books that we wouldn’t be afraid to let our children read.

Friday, April 06, 2007

I Left My Brain Somewhere…

By G. Parker

I've decided, upon contemplation, that I don't have much brain matter.

Oh, I'm sure the cranial cavity is full of the gray stuff, but what I mean is that there's nothing inside of it. There's no density or solidity to the mass. You've heard of the term 'air head', there is simply too much air and not enough thought. I never would have used the term regarding myself, but if the shoe fits, wear it, right? My guess is the brain fairy sucked mine out like all the other kids at 13 but when I was an adult and she put it back, I was busy having children and most of it just leaked right back out.

Take a couple of weekends ago, for instance. I was fortunate to be one of the many of our blog group to attend the LDStorymakers conference in Provo. My husband came with me and took notes in a couple of the classes. I took reams of notes, in fact, I typed most of them on my handy little Palm Pilot (which I prefer greatly over the AlphaSmart).

We got home, and I was bursting with new story ideas. He was full of editing ideas. See the difference? While I know editing is necessary to every story and everything a writer does, it doesn't like to stick in my brain. The gray matter has too many other things filling it up, and simply pushes the editing stuff out.

I'm glad that we have paper, emails, and files to keep all this information together; otherwise I would totally be lost. It took me a couple of days to figure out how to get the notes off my Palm Pilot, let alone try and go over them. We were given so much information it was mind boggling.

One of the instructors, the world famous Jeff Savage, let us email him so that he could send his outlines for the Query class and the Outlining class. But have I taken the time to go through them? No, I've been too busy working and writing. Sigh. As a result, my brain matter isn't getting much denser, and if I don't start reading and studying the things that help my writing, my novels aren't going to get much depth to them either.

So, if you see a piece of gray matter floating past you in the air, grab it – it might just be mine and I'm really trying to keep hold of what's left.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Writing Life

By Nichole Giles

As the signature at the end of all her emails, my good friend G. Parker has written, “Writing is life.” And while most writers generally agree, at Authors Incognito, we tend to take that statement very literally.

I believe I am guilty of taking this fact for granted. After the conclusion of the LDStorymakers conference, we were blessed with the addition of several new writers to our group. Those of us who have been members since last year (or longer) have become accustomed to checking our emails every day to see a question or comment from at least one of our many writing friends. But, these questions or comments don’t always pertain to writing.

It was one of the new additions—Rebecca Talley—who mentioned the existence of other lists out there that allow writers to only comment on writing. And I thought, how sad for them.

This is not the case for our group. Our discussions vary, according to the day and season, and have covered a multicolored range of random topics. From pets and gardening, to parenting and laundry, cooking and cleaning, and health and happiness. Our topics have even been known to lead us down the road to religion and death. Granted, we all belong to the same religion—kind of a prerequisite for our group. The only topic we try to stay clear of is discussion of politics, since political discussions often turn into debate.

Writing is life. It gives life, it feels life, it becomes life, and it is all about life. And the thing is, you cannot write about a life you have not experienced. Every bit of writing, in every genre and every topic, has a piece of someone’s life. As writers, we are required to share pieces of our lives, and often the lives of those around us, with our readers. That is the reason some of us choose to write.

We share with each other, because we are writers, who are writing about life. If I knew them—I would ask the moderators and rule makers of those other groups; what part of life doesn’t have to do with writing?

When you figure it out, let me know. Because I cannot think of a single thing.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

I Am Still Revolving In A Huge Circle

By Connie S. Hall

I know all of you have heard about the latest writing conference our group attended. My head is still whirling with all the information. I’m not sure my brain will ever keep all the facts straight. When I think about the classes and all I heard I stagger and wonder. Will I ever be able to write correctly? Did I show instead of tell my story? Is my main character strong? Will my first page catch the reader’s interest? Did I write this scene accurate? Is there enough dialogue? Am I in the right voice? Is there enough conflict?

That is not all we learned. You have to think about blending facts with fiction. Your structure, pacing, and flow have to be just right. The chapter endings have to be something that will make the reader turn to the next page.

To me it is all very overwhelming. There were lessons that taught about writing fantasy, and historical fiction. I didn’t get to take all the courses. We all had to pick and then choose. It wasn’t always an easy choice. I wonder if I took the classes, I needed the most. Oh, well, it’s in the past now.

We listened to authors tell us about query letters, proposals, and how to make a more attractive manuscript. We even had a publisher panel telling us what type of books they were looking for, and what we needed to do to submit a manuscript.

With thousands of thoughts spinning in my head, it would be easy to throw my arms in the air, and say, “That’s enough”. Lucky for me someone at the end gave some good advice, “Don’t give up”. Those three words will stick with me until next year. They will keep me motivated, and make me keep trying.