Saturday, August 30, 2008

Farworld Blog Tour

By Keith Fisher

We are seated in six ancient, animal skin covered armchairs. The sides of which, level with a sitting man’s biceps, allowing the occupant to completely rest his arms. The walls of the circular room are fashioned from 2000-year old cut stone. The floor is polished marble. Above us, there is a domed lattice ceiling with a stained glass window at the apex. Images depicting the sun, moon and the stars artfully adorn the glass panels.

The chairs form a circle around an 18-inch high crystal table. I look up from the images displayed in the crystal to see five companions. To my left is Gorgan the Magnificent. He is the fifth ruler on the Council of Non-Magical Worlds, and he just celebrated his 136th birthday. To his left is Cedric of Herwon, a bright young wizard credited with discovering the three planes of magical existence. Along with his youth there is a little arrogance. He’s agitated, he wants to finish our business and get out of here.

Cialice Magenta sits on my right. She fought bravely at the Battle of Gilhead, rescuing her teacher and killing his captors. She is also my close friend. On her right is Master Therapass, a powerful wizard from Farworld. Directly across from me is the celebrated novelist, J. Scott Savage. He seems to be worried and confused about why he is here. I wonder if his friend, Master Therapass has explained it to him.

As for me, I’m the faker, the usurper. I’m what J.K. Rowling, a writer from Earth called, a muggle. I have no magical power, but that’s okay. I doubt Mr. Savage does either. By virtue of my non-magical status, I have been chosen to officiate in these proceedings. I clear my throat. "Lady and Gentlemen, we have come . . ." I look around. "Some of you, from great distances, to discuss the fate of the magical world, and to examine the charges against Mr. J. Scott Savage."

Master Therapass clears his throat so I turn to him, but he remains quiet. I turn back to Mr. Savage. "You have been charged with conspiring with the Dark Circle, to wreak havoc on Farworld and on its sister world, a non-magical world called Earth. How do you plead?"

"I’ve brought my wizard attorney, (what’s your name again?) ah, right, Richard Bumblestump, to represent me. Okay, he’s not really a wizard. In fact he can’t even do simple card tricks, or the thing where you pretend your thumb is broken in two. And he’s not really an attorney either. Okay, fine, he’s a homeless guy I picked up on the way to the trial. But he does have a black jacket and white shirt—if you wipe away some of the grime."

"Anyhow, he says I should plead not guilty."

"Further more," I continue, "We received testimony from one Mr. Chet Hawkins. He said you wantonly and willfully wrote this book." I hold up my advanced reading copy of Farworld-Water Keep. "This exposé of the workings of the magical Farworld, and the connection it has with Earth, reveals too many secrets kept from non-magical worlds. How do you answer, Sir?"

I whisper with my attorney, but halfway through our consultation he wanders off toward the restrooms.

"Well it looks like I’m representing myself here. So I just want to say that while I did put the words down on the paper, I was only recording events as I witnessed them. I believe that gives me some sort of 5th amendment protection, doesn’t it?"

I turn back to my notes. "Also, and perhaps the worst crime of all, I have a letter written by a Mr. Bonesplitter. He claimed you have continually and maliciously placed Marcus Kanenes into his hands, and it is all part of your attempt to overthrow the magical world. Is this true, sir?"

"Are you seriously going to believe a man who turns into a snake at the most inopportune times? Not to mention the fact, that he has been known to go by at least one alias. I think he’s just embarrassed about the whole underwear incident and is trying to blame me."

"I’m more concerned with the problem he caused." Gorgon says.

"What problem is that, sir?" Master Therapass asks.

"The magical infection the book will inflict on the non-magical world." He picks up my copy of Farworld. "I’m not sure the non-magicals, especially people on earth, can deal with the truth about magic."

"Not to mention the threat of the Dark Circle." Cialice says. "Where did you get that information, Mr. Savage?"

"Ahh, here lies the crux of the matter. You, Mr. Gorgon, seem to be under the impression that there are such things as non-magical folk. I, on the other hand, posit that there are only people who have discovered their magic and those who have not. I don’t believe Mr. Bumblestump, for example has ever discovered his magic. Or if he did, he has long since forgotten it. Isn’t it our right, no, our duty, to help everyone on Earth and Farworld find their magic? I believe that is the only way to stop the threat posed by the Dark Circle and anyone that would seek to hold the rest of society down."

"Never mind that," Cedrick says. "Mr. Savage, I understand the book will be released for sale within a few weeks. Is that true?

"Guilty as charged."

"Well then, my colleagues, it’s a moot point." He looks from face to face. "Even Merlin, wouldn’t be able to stop it now." I glance at Cialice. Judging by her face, she hates being called colleague by a young man. Cedrick continues. "The thing we must do now is, practice damage control. Do you plan to continue telling the story in other books, Mr. Savage?"

"With my last dying breath."

"Listen," Master Therepass raises his hand in a stopping motion. "I know you are worried about Scott’s book. You think it comes too close to revealing the whole truth about the magical world. However, I think its time for that revelation. Other authors from Earth have been revealing bits and pieces of the truth for years. I would call your attention to the work of J.K. Rowling. She brought our world into the limelight, and the people of Earth are embracing it." He paused and looked from person to person at the table.

Therepass continues. "I say we praise those authors, including J. Scott Savage. I believe it’s time our two worlds combine against the threat of all dark forces everywhere. We can co-exist."

I turn to Gorgon. His face reminds me of a child who has eaten something sour. "It flies in the face of thousands of years of conventional wisdom, but perhaps it is time we work together. Personally, I get tired of practicing the damage control Cedrick suggested."

I poll my colleagues and find agreement. "Well, Mr. Savage, it appears we have decided to grant you freedom to tell the story. Please, try to teach your fellows that magic is not to be feared, and help them be brave and stand against darkness. I glance around the circle for one last vote of consensus. "Do you have anything you wish to say in closing, Mr. Savage?"

"Thank you, Master Therapass. I appreciate your support. People of Earth and those of other worlds, don’t let "reality" stand in the face of what you believe. One day we are going to discover that these other worlds are not as distant as we think. And when that day comes we must have discovered the magic inside all of us."

"Thank you, and now I must go in search of Mr. Bumblestump. I think he may have locked himself in the janitor’s closet. I hate to think of what he might have done in the mop bucket."

"Thank you Mr. Savage. You have given me hope. Perhaps someday I will discover my magic as you say I can. I also wish to apologize for saying you have no magical power. Obviously I was wrong. You most assuredly have the magical powers to make a well written, well told story."

Farworld-Water Keep
writen by J.Scott Savage

Available September 13 2008
you're invited to the lauch party! for more information go to

Learn about the magical world and follow Marcus, Kyja, Mater Therepass, Riph Raph, and others as they jump between Earth and Farworld in an effort to defeat the evil Dark Circle. Begin the journey that will change your life.

First, Find the Water Keep.
Take courage--the magic is inside you"

Friday, August 29, 2008

My Brain is Fuzzy

by G.Parker

Normally, this is my brain when deluged with children for several hours during the day, listening to chorus's of "Mom, I'm hungry", "I'm bored," "Mom, what happens when you cut the whiskers off the cat?", "Can I play the Wii/Nintendo? ", "I don't want to do homework -- it's summer!" and last but not least, "Why do I have to read?" this from the two youngest who haven't caught the reading bug that infests our family. But this isn't summer, this is the beginning of school -- the beginning of supposed sanity recovery time.

It's now the end of August, the last days of summer with it's scorching temperatures and whinny children. The beginning of school and the frenzied shopping for binders, paper, pens and glue. Oh, yeah. I guess that will do it too...dragging three children (at least it's only three now, instead of seven) through the store, trying to get them to focus on their class lists (if they have remembered to bring it with them) and not disappear into the games section or grab anything that looks "cool" off the shelves. Sigh. I have to keep reminding myself that I love being a mother.

Oh wait...I was the one that didn't want more than one in the first place -- but I've since resigned myself to the fact that I wouldn't give up a single one of them...most of the time.

But the brain is fuzzy. Part of the problem seems to be my writing habits, or lack thereof. I mentioned a while ago that I've been writing letters to my son who is in basic training. Upon reflection this morning, I realized that when I'm in letter writing mode, the creative writing suffers. Those years that I spent writing letters to everyone under the sun, were dry years for creative efforts. I don't remember writing a single story. However, when my letter writing stopped, the fictional stories bounded from my brain as if they'd been waiting for this chance to shine and come forth to the light. Who knew?

Since I've been writing my son like crazy (although last week and this week have been really slow for that -- he's been lucky to get one) other things have fallen by the way side, including inspiration for my blogs. Having to come up with something creative for a subject twice a week is making me scrape the bottom of the barrel, and I'm afraid that things are suffering because of it. Needless to say, I haven't really written anything in my stories since the beginning of August. It's been a very dry month in more ways than one.

I feel like things are coated in moth balls, and I'm wondering what it's going to take to blow the cobwebs away. I know there have been mention of things like Writer's Block, but that's not the problem. I have things in the head to write in regards to the stuff I've been working on, but I have no desire to write them. I have fleeting thoughts of "gee, I should work on that story", but It's very fleeting and I'm off doing something else. I have to force myself to sit at the computer sometimes too, which is odd for me. It's almost as if I'm avoiding it.

There are only two weeks until my son graduates, and during that time we won't be able to write him as much -- especially since the last week he wouldn't get them anyway. Then he'll be going into further training, and won't have as much time to be bored, and could also email us, which is a whole different aspect to writing that doesn't seem to sap my creative energy as much. So, the end is in sight, help is on the way, and I just bought myself a chocolate doughnut for the first time in months.

Things can only get better.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Humor of the Situation

By Nichole Giles

It’s been a while since I had the chance to write a blog that actually has to do with writing. I have to say that as much as I enjoy doing book reviews, I have missed blogging about what’s on my mind. I miss my readers. (Yes, that means all of you.)

Anyway, in light of my recent lack, I thought I’d share a story with you.

A few days ago I went on a school camp out with my ten-year-old daughter. The why and where aren’t so important to this story, so I’ll skip the explanations except to mention that I took my laptop-at my daughter’s encouragement—hoping to get a little writing done in the downtime. I mean, seriously, a peaceful (?) mountain setting can potentially be a good place to write. Right?

Anyway, during the evening, the teachers took the kids outside to play night games, and I took some time to add 1100 words to my book. Sitting in my comfortable camp chair, with my feet kicked up and my document open (and headphones in my ears to mute the background noise) I wrote myself into yet, another, proverbial corner. I looked up, contemplating the dilemma of my situation, and caught the eye of another mother. In fact, she was the only other parent there whose name and face I knew. And since her daughter and mine are good friends, we each know a little bit about what the other does.

She smiled. “Is that your children’s book?”

“No,” I said, frowning at the screen. “It’s a new one. This one is for young adults.”

“Oh, wow,” she said, coming closer. “When does your children’s one come out?”

I looked up again, realizing she expected me to actually follow through on her attempt at making conversation. (Because, just a reminder—people who don’t write, don’t usually understand the consequences of breaking a writer’s concentration!) “I don’t know. I haven’t sold it yet.” (Besides, that one is really bad and I don’t’ have the time or desire to rewrite the whole thing. Time to move onto better stories.) For the sake of recovery—and for reasons I still don’t understand—I said, “I have an adult book I’m marketing at the moment—but so far it's getting rejected.”

“Oh, I know how tough it is to get published,” she said. “Do you know so-and-so?”

Really? She knows about rejection? That was news to me. And I didn’t know so-and-so.

“She just moved into your neighborhood, and is the PTA president. She teaches aerobics at the gym. Oh, and I think she’s in the primary presidency, too.” The mother described the location of said person’s home. Not my ward, pshew. “Anyway,” she continued, “she got eight rejections before her book got published.”

My ears pricked up. Really? Another writer? Down the street? Interesting. “What’s the title of her book?” I asked. Because, isn’t that something you know about people who are supposed to be your friends?

“Um,” she thought for a minute. “I don’t know, but it’s a true story about…”

Hey, that’s cool, I thought. My book is a true story, too. But I said, “I’ve never heard of it. Good for her that she found a publisher. Do you know who published it?”

The woman shook her head. “No, but I know another guy who started his own publishing company to publish his book.”

I sighed. “He self-published?”

“Yeah!” she said. “He says it was easy. If you want, I can find out how he did it and get you the information.”

I smiled, trying to look way more cheerful than I felt. “Thanks. I actually have a lot of information about self-publishing. I might go that route, but not quite yet.”

The conversation ended and I went back to my document. Except that I could no longer concentrate. I don’t know exactly what about the situation made me feel inadequate. But I came away from the conversation feeling like a total failure. Never mind that I have NO desire to be the PTA president, and I’ve done my time in the primary presidency. (Although, I have no idea—none—where that woman finds time to do all that, teach aerobics, raise her children, move into a new house, and still write a book…) Never mind that my rejection list is more than two pages long. I was in the middle of a masterpiece, but for some reason I felt completely worthless as a writer.

Okay, it’s entirely possible that I was exhausted from a day of camping with fifth-graders, but still. What happened there?

Here’s the truth. People will always compare us to other authors—and we will stand and stare in the mirror wondering how in the world we will ever live up to that comparison. I mean, seriously, I don’t even know that author except that occasionally her son shows up at my front door to play with my son (which I later figured out.) But I was being told how she looks in someone else’s eyes, and it was close to complete adoration. For a split second, equal parts of dislike and envy flashed through me for a stranger.

But wait a minute. I don’t know this person, nor do I know the title to her so-called book. I don’t doubt that she’s published, or that she is everything my daughter’s-friend’s-mother made her out to be. What in the world had gotten into me that I would unfairly compare myself to her? Oh wait. The other mother did that. Sort of. At least, my brain told me to take it that way.

The humor of the situation is this: the point of being a writer is to be uniquely me. I don’t have to be the PTA president, aerobics instructor, primary presidency / author who never sleeps and whose house is always spotless (okay, I threw that one in myself). The point is for me to be exactly who I am and no one else. That is what makes my writing good, that is what makes artists successful, and that is what makes the entire conversation—and especially my reaction to it—laughable.

The good thing is, it made me think about my own unique qualities and how someday those exact qualities will bring me the success of which I dream. And joy of joys, I don’t have to be the PTA president to get there. Thank goodness!

A Precious Treasure

By C. LaRene Hall

During the past six weeks, I’ve spent lots of time sitting in a doctor’s office or a hospital room with my mother and husband. With so much time on my hand, I find my mind wandering and thinking about what is important to me. Most of the things I really care about I wouldn’t put into a treasure box.

Of course, for those things that are important to me I picked the normal things – family and friends. However, the treasure that I decided was most precious and greater than any other is something you can’t buy with money, and you can’t steal it. This cherished prize is so valuable that many people are willing to give up everything they own to have it. Some have given their lives for it.

The teachings of Jesus Christ are important because they show me how to be happy by following Heavenly Father. I can find them in the scriptures, but they do not contain everything He taught. Christ didn’t stop teaching when he left the earth. Now He teaches through prophets by telling them what we need to know.

The greatest storyteller I know was Jesus Christ. I would be a great writer if I followed His example and included a message or a valuable lesson in all my stories.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Going to the Store

By Keith Fisher

It’s been kind of hectic lately. I’ve been trying to finish the edits on my book and my day job is always disruptive. I work graveyard shift, so sleep can be elusive. Anyway, because of an unsettled week, I’ve been pressed for a subject to write about in this blog. So, out of desperation, I thought I’d tell you about my trip to the grocery store.

The guests were invited—the Dutch ovens were ready. I wanted to cook something special, something my guests would enjoy. So I went to the store to decide what it would be.

Walking through the doors, I spied the coolers and made a mental note to pick up a bag of ice on the way out. I stopped and chose a cart. Not that I planned to fill it, just lean on it, as I walked down the aisles.

As I always do, I turned to the right and headed for the produce department. Starting with vegetables is probably left over from my low-fat/no sugar/no salt period when I avoided the rest of the store. It just feels right to start there, and go counter-clockwise through the rest of the store. I checked out the broccoli, then the cauliflower, lettuce, carrots, and fruit. It’s a good thing I got a cart.

Next, I moved past the deli. I paused, thinking, maybe I ought to buy something already prepared, then I could serve it in a Dutch oven and get back to editing. No, I couldn’t take credit for somebody else’s cooking. I turned my head and passed quickly. In the bakery, I picked up a couple of loaves of bread for home, and perused the cookies, cakes and pastries. I must resist.

I remembered my purpose and delayed the trip down the aisles of canned goods to go directly to the meat section. I needed to decide on a main dish. After that, I could make up my mind about side dishes.

With that decision made, I went back and wove in and out of the aisles, looking for different ingredients. I chided myself for picking things up for the house.

I needed only one or two more things when something stirred my memory. I realized I could change my plan and cook the meat with another sauce. But then I’d have to change my side dish from baked beans to potatoes, but the whole meal would be better.

After a short debate, I went back to find more ingredients, keeping the other ones in case I changed my mind again. Finally, I shook my head and proceeded through checkout. I racked up a small fortune on my credit card, but visions of a perfect dinner made it worth the cost.

Writing is very much like this. When plotting a story, we shop for ideas. We want our book to be perfect to excite the reader. So we go shopping for the meat of the plot—the basis of the whole thing. We pick up other, non-essential elements along the way, things that we can use somewhere, even if we don’t use them in our current story.

It must be original, so we avoid copying parts of other books, but like the pastries, we admire what other authors have written and learn from them. At this point we remember our purpose and look for the basic premise, or the meat of the story. Sometimes an idea comes to us without thinking, but other times we are left reading newspapers, looking for ideas. Similar to inspecting different cuts and types of meat.

With our idea in mind, we shop for details, what will our characters be like? How can we put them in certain situations? We search for side trips, and secondary story lines, we look for ingredients that will compliment, not deter the plot. We find nuances that enhance, and make the story interesting.

Sometimes when we’re almost finished writing the first draft, we think of another, better way to write the book. Sometimes a character rises up and explains the holes in our plot or suggests a better way to tell the story. They even suggest new characters. At that point, we go back and make adjustments. We file away the discarded bits, because we might need them in another story—we might put them back into the current one.

When we’re finished making notes and shopping for elements we go to checkout. We have written our first draft, and we’re ready to write the story, confident in our ability to combine the ingredients. We pay the price, an investment of time and talent. We’re secure in the knowledge that our dinner/book will be delicious and wonderful. We smile, because we know the ending and we can’t wait for others to discover our story/dinner.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Patience is a Necessity

By Nichole Giles

I’ve always considered myself a patient person. Mostly. I try to be patient with my kids, my husband, other people—not that I’m always successful, but I try really hard. I love Christmas, and vacations, and have several goals for my future—for instance, having one of my books published—and I do my best to be patient for those things too.

Today, I’m not talking about the kind of patience that keeps you from having a screaming bawling tantrum in your living room when you come home to discover a cyclone (named ‘kids’) has hit, destroying everything in its path. Right now, I’m talking about the having patience with the things you want for your future. The kind of patience that keeps you standing on your tiptoes and peering over a fence, hoping someday, somehow, your grass will be that perfect shade of green.

Sometimes it’s tough. As hard as we try, as badly as we want certain things, they just don’t always come on our chosen timeline. However easy it is for us to see whatever it is within our grasp, even when it looks so close we could reach out and touch it if we tried hard enough, we still have to wait. Be patient. See the goal in the future, not the desire of today.

Sigh. But sometimes having patience is so hard!

What happens, then, if we reach out, stretching as far and as thin as we can in order to grab that thing that seems so close? Well, usually, if the timing is wrong, we miss. Whether we miss big or small becomes irrelevant because in the end, we come away without that thing we have always wanted and never quite been able to grasp.

Still, we continue to try. Because to give up would be to admit defeat, and that would be unacceptable.

I am a patient person. But I wonder how long a person should wait before she runs screaming, full boar into the future, blazing like an inferno, and crying, “Here I am, give me everything I ever wanted and more!”

Oh, but wait. One second. I just had a thought. If I suddenly got everything I ever wanted—if all the things I’ve been waiting for all my life came to me in one day, what would I have left to look forward to? Nothing. Or maybe everything. Maybe I’d want a whole new set of things, a whole new kind of life, and then I’d have to start the cycle all over again.

So, basically, we are required to have a certain degree of patience. It’s an important element in the cycle of life. And even though we get really darn sick of waiting for all our dreams to come true, sometimes, that’s the only thing we can do.

Have patience. Wait. Everything will all work out for the best in the cosmic scheme of things.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008


By C. LaRene Hall

Often as a writer, I hear voices in my head, not just one, but many of them. Most people don’t understand this. Some of them probably think I’m crazy. I don’t usually have to strain to hear the voices because they are sometimes screaming at me, but they fade away as soon as I start typing.

One voice is difficult to get rid of. It’s mean, and keeps telling me, “Your story isn’t good enough.”

Then it says, “Why are you wasting your time trying to write?”

Soon it shouts, “You can’t write.”

The last things it says is, “You’ll never have anything published.”

Do I believe it? Not even a little bit. The louder it shouts the more determined I become. This is sad, because most people aren’t like me. Some of them even give up.

It’s not easy to make this voice disappear, but if I work hard enough it goes away. All I have to do is listen to the real voices in my head that are there waiting for me to hear. It’s the voices of all the characters who want their story told.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

My New Office

By Keith Fisher

What do you think of my new office? I found this picture on the internet, and I fell in love—I must have it. Of course I’d get different furniture. I’d keep the desk, however, since it’s over 128-years old. I’d restore the hardwood floors, because the new owner had them replaced in 2005 with a contrasting pattern of quarter-sawn oak and walnut, and I don't like the way it looks. (not shown in this picture)

I’d get six overstuffed leather armchairs and arrange them in a circle around a coffee table, then I’d light a fire and invite my critique group. When I get stuck with a plot problem, I could step outside the French doors and pace on the veranda. I could swivel in my desk chair and stare out the window. The secret doors would lead to my library, filled with a million books. The other one would of course lead to the . . .ahem . . . well, you know where.

Seriously I’ve got to have this really cool shaped office. What’s that you say? I won’t have time for writing? I’ll have to do what? And I’ll have to do what for several months? How many babies would I have to kiss? Then commit to how many years? I’d have to do what in Iraq? Are you sure?

Uh . . .never mind.

This is a picture of President Reagan’s Oval Office taken in 1981. I still think it would be a totally cool office, but with all I’d have to do in order to use it, I’d better learn to be happy with what I’ve got.

I’m almost finished with the edits, and I’m ready to start another project. Cross your fingers, and look for the release of My Brother’s Keeper. You’re going to love this book.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Olympic Words

by G.Parker

Unless you live in a remote part of the world with no radio, TV or newspaper, you know that the Olympics are going on right now. Rich with all the diversity, scandal, and politics as ever, we also get to enjoy the athletes with their abilities, sorrows, joys, and dreams.

I have long been a fan of the Olympics, living out my dream of participating when the 2002 Olympics were held in Salt Lake and I was part of the volunteers who set up for the opening and closing ceremonies. I still have my little souvenirs; my name badge (really bad hair day), my official uniform, and the packets they had put on the seats for opening and closing ceremonies.

But while I enjoy the games, and watch them avidly, (I've been taping them and watching them the next day, we simply are too busy at night) I have begun to view them with a jaundiced eye. There is too much politics, too many judging booboos, and totally too much commentary by the networks. More focus is given to the athlete who is supposed to outshine all the others, putting others who have worked just as hard into the shadows.

I have enjoyed one aspect of these games -- someone pointed out that for every gold medal winner with parents cheering them on, there is the same for the other athletes. Parents who are watching with extreme pride as their child warms up or competes in preliminaries -- even if they never make it to a medal round, or win a medal. That's not the whole reason they're there.

Like the woman who lives in Salt Lake and attends the U of U, but is running the marathon for her native country. She is the first woman in history to do this. She has no illusions that she'll come away with a medal, but the sheer amazing fact that she's the first one in her country to do this is enough.

Some dreams are enough to simply be. While there are those driven to make it to the top of the podium, most are just wanting and thrilled to participate. The Olympics. Saying the word can give you chills if you think about it's its true intent.

I know they started out in Athens and all that, but I think today, to most of us average people they mean so much more. They represent the fact that our world is able to compete without (supposedly) fighting and dispute on a stage that everyone can watch.

It's a model for everyone. We who write, of course think of our podium -- having a best selling book -- but most of us would be happy to simply publish and be on the world stage. Many of us are happy to be in the writing world, getting the words out in front of someone to read, and feeling the thrill of seeing our words in print.

Too bad they don't have Olympics for writing...or is that the National Novel Writing Month?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

"Caught in the Headlights": Virtual Book Tour

By Nichole Giles

Back Cover Blurb:

Have you ever gotten what you wished for, only to discover that it’s not really what you wanted after all?

We’ve all had those “deer in the headlights” moments when we realize we’ve been chasing the wrong things. Caught in the Headlights is a frank, insightful look at 10 key goals most of us think we want—only to discover our eyes are on the wrong prize. Barry K. Phillips not only entertains, but also examines common values and enlightens us to the goals we should seek, and what to do differently now that we know better.

From goals such as happiness, self-esteem, protecting our pride, or the perfect physique, Phillips takes a closer look at those aims prized by society and explores how we can pursue higher goals. A thoughtful, funny, and at times profound look into the real reasons we all have for the things we do, this book will entertain, enlighten, and inspire.

In this book, Phillips outlines ten pursuits people tend to focus on for personal happiness. Happiness, self-esteem, pride, freedom, control, tolerance, forgiveness, success, the big event, and the perfect body. He focuses on mistakes he has made personally, and shares his life-lessons with his readers.

Another book reviewer recently gave a warning to readers that this book is not politically correct, and I have to agree with her statement. Phillips’ chapter on tolerance was not actually very tolerant. His points are conflicting, and his opinion wavering as he claims, “Those who beg for tolerance need to be tolerant of those who think differently than they do,” only to spend half the chapter complaining about a certain group of people with whose lifestyle choices he disagrees. In the portion about “Judging” he fails to point out that while everyone must make judgement calls, those calls should not be directed at people who are not ourselves. He claims, “Making a judgement is not intolerant.” But in my opinion, judging other people for their beliefs or feelings is.

Why does my opinion matter? Well, I wondered the same thing about Phillips at certain places throughout this book. Caught in the Headlights has the potential to really affect someone who shares the same views as the author—however, if it’s possible that your views might be different from his, consider yourself warned.

Despite my warnings, there are some good lessons to be taken out of Caught in the Headlights. For instance, his discussion on happiness forces the reader to take a look at their own idea of what makes a person happy. In it, he points out that being happy is not the pursuit of pleasure and avoidance of pain, but more about finding the peace within yourself for which we are all subconsciously striving. He discusses the difference between false self-esteem and true self-esteem born of confidence from accomplishment and service.

My favorite statement in the book comes out of his chapter about pride, and is part of an original quote from C.S. Lewis. It says: “Pride is a spiritual cancer.”

My favorite lesson: “Total control of one’s life is neither possible, nor desirable. The key is to be aware of what is around you, and take advantage of the good things in your path that may be unexpected.”

I’m sitting on the front porch with Barry K. Phillips, and we’re talking about his book, Caught in the Headlights.

NG: What made you decide to share your "life wisdom" with others by writing a book?

BKP: I was amazed at how many people have dealt with these same issues, but so many never figure out how to learn the lessons. You know the old adage, "if you keep doing what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got." Breaking the cycle of repeating the same old things is pretty hard to do, so I thought others might benefit from what I've learned.

NG: At what point did you decide your experiences gave you enough wisdom to write it?

BKP: I don't think I came to a point where I thought I had a whole bunch of wisdom… just read it, you'll know what I mean! But I finally had the confidence to do it, and realized that there was a need for some politically incorrect common sense.

NG: What kind of training have you had in the self-help area? What about writing?

BKP: I've done a lot of training and consulting in personal development, but mostly, I've just made enough mistakes that I finally started to learn from them! As far as writing, I've done it for most of my professional career. From advertising, to technical stuff, to training materials and writing from Glenn Beck, I've just always liked to do it.

NG: From blank page to polished product, how long did it take you to write this book?

BKP: I'd say about 4 months, mostly in evenings, on weekends and on camping trips.

NG: What made you decide to ask Glenn Beck to write your forward? And how has that decision helped your book as a whole?

BKP: Well, since I'd written for Fusion, it seemed the logical choice. The process took a few months, by the time my book passed his writers, agent, legal, etc. A little begging never hurt either!

NG: What advice would you share with other people who are considering writing self help books?

BKP: Just to write about what you know and what you love. I wrote in a very conversational style, because that's what I like the best. Also, think things through well, you'll have to defend your point of view once the book is out there.

NG: True. That’s often true even for fiction. Now for some easier questions. What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?

BKP: That's easy. Ernestly Chocolate. It's only made by the BYU Creamery in Provo, UT, but definitely worth the trip!

NG: Describe your ideal vacation.

BKP: With family for sure. Past that we love Disneyland, camping (trailer camping, not the real rough variety). Seeing sites like Europe is fun as well.

NG: What are a few of your favorite pastimes?

BKP: I love hot-air ballooning and go most weekends. Beyond that, I love to cook, golf, watch football and basketball, and do wood working. I love movies and being with my family.

Barry, thanks so much for taking the time to visit here on the porch with me. The sun’s about to set, and the neighborhood kids are being called in for dinner. I suppose I should let you get to yours.

Caught in the Headlights
Trade Paperback: 116 pages
Publisher: Cedar Fort (June 2008)
ISBN-10: 1599551675
ISBN-13: 978-1599551678

Purchase the book Here

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Promoting Good

By C. LaRene Hall

D&C 25:12 “For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads”.

We all know that inspiring music promotes spirituality, reverence, and happiness. “Music can be used to exalt and inspire or to carry messages of degradation and destruction. It is therefore important that as Latter-day Saints we at all times apply the principles of the gospel and seek the guidance of the Spirit in selecting the music with which we surround ourselves.” Priesthood Bulletin, December 1970, p. 10.

In our homes, we must hold high standards and listen to uplifting music that will spread the gospel, touch hearts, and give us comfort.

I believe we should also include good books in our homes. Besides the scriptures, we need books with high standards that will inspire those that read them. Among those books can be stories of fiction that promote living the gospel with clean words, and clean thoughts.

As a writer, I will not use bad language or things that will carry a bad message to my readers. Even if I can’t be published in the LDS market, I will not lower my standards to those of the world.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

I've Only Just Begun

By Keith Fisher

There’s a tradition started years ago, to frame the first dollar made in a new business and hang it on the wall for good luck. Not being one to mess with tradition, I scanned my first royalty check, printed it, and hung it on the wall of my office. As a freelance writer I’m in business for myself and I can use all the luck I can get.

I glance at the check now and then to remind me, writers do get paid for all their hard work. While staring at it the other day, I was reminded of another tradition.

In 1970 Richard Carpenter made an arrangement of a Roger Nichols/Paul Williams song called We’ve Only Just Begun. He gave it to his sister Karen to sing, and it became one of the most popular Carpenters songs in history. The song quickly took on a life of its own. All through the 1970’s and into the eighties it was one of the most popular songs played at weddings.

Indeed, it was written as a wedding song, Richard heard it on a television commercial for a bank. The video showed a couple getting married and starting a life together.

Here’s the lyrics:

We've only just begun to live,
White lace and promises
A kiss for luck and we're on our way.
And yes, We've just begun.

Before the rising sun we fly,
So many roads to choose
We start out walking and learn to run.
And yes, We've just begun.

Sharing horizons that are new to us,
Watching the signs along the way,
Talking it over just the two of us,
Working together day to day

And when the evening comes we smile,
So much of life ahead
We'll find a place where there's room to grow,
And yes, We've just begun.

If we, as writers, rearrange the lyrics to fit our needs, we can draw strength from it:

I’ve only just begun to write
A white page with promises
A bright idea and I’m on my way
And yes I’ve only just begun.

We could continue adding things like, talking it over with my critique group. Or something like, so many books to write—I’ll find the words and make them flow.

My little good luck symbol has come to represent more to me. I glance at it with renewed determination. I intend to be a published author of adult fiction. I intend to publish in the LDS, and national markets, books that can change hearts and bring peace to those who read them. I will succeed, and yes, I’ve only just begun.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Do You Have Imaginitis?

by G.Parker

It comes when you least expect it. You'll be sitting watching a movie with your family, and a scene will come up that makes your brain say, "hey, that would be an interesting storyline." You are promptly thrust out of the movie and into your imagination, pondering the different aspects of a new storyline in your head.

The same thing happens when reading. You're reading along in a book that you find interesting, and come to a scene that the author doesn't elaborate on. Perhaps it's not really relevant to the story, but it sticks in your mind. "What would happen if they went this way instead," you find yourself thinking, and the book is forgotten for a moment as that thought is examined.

It's not limited to reading or watching movies. This phenomenon can happen when minding your own business while sitting and spending a few moments outside, say for your lunch break. It's a gorgeous day, everyone is out, walking, chatting, etc., when you see two people having an in-depth discussion. Perhaps they are angry, one is very intense -- but they walk away before you are able to know the conclusion. Your brain instantly switches into fiction mode -- making up storylines and plots before you even realize what you are doing.

That's when you know you're a writer. Your mind is never your own; it's taken by the imagination living within. That gift of story telling, that talent that sets you apart from your spouse, your friends, your neighbors or any other normal person around you. Your life will never be the same.

This happened to me just the other day. I saw a movie with a cute story line, and instantly another was created in my mind. I had to hurry and write it down because it was fascinating and I knew I'd want to flesh it out.

Those of us who have had this illness for a long time are well familiar with its effects, as are our families. They have come to recognize the glazed look, the frantic searching for pen and paper before an idea is lost, the tuned out world of a writer who hears no one but the voices in his/her head when the muse is in.

There is no cure for it, actually. It's a life long disease, this curse of the writer. There are times when it goes into remission, but those are not times to be desired, for the writer inside withers a little with each passing day.

So if you or someone you love suffers from this illness, be prepared. Keep lots of blank paper, pens, and chocolate on hand. Chocolate helps in any situation -- and greatly enhances the muse within.

On a side note: One of our floating bloggers is grieving this week for her mother who passed away. Today is the funeral, and we are with her in spirit, if not all there in person. She is a dear friend, and not the first to suffer loss this month. We've had many in our ranks who have lost loved ones and had to deal with grief in the past couple of weeks. May we say we feel your pain, are thinking of you and are praying for you every day. Take Care.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

In the Mailbox

By Nichole Giles

I live for the mail. What masochists we writers can be. You’d think that after so many of them, we’d get the hint that only rejection letters come by snail mail. Mostly. Oh, and the occasional unexpected royalty check for an article you sold to a magazine years ago which has been resold to someone else. Those are always nice—though extremely rare.

Anyway, for the last month or so I’ve had a totally different reason for watching for the mail person to make his/her (depending on the day) daily appearance. I’ve been waiting for books.

In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve started doing book reviews and author interviews, and am thoroughly enjoying it—mostly. I digress. The month of July was big in the book-receiving end of my mailbox. They just keep coming—which is a good thing.

But there was one I’d been expecting for quite some time. I cheered in pleasure when I walked out to the big gray monstrosity at the edge of my yard and found the last book in “The Company of Good Women” series, “Surprise Packages.”

Having read “Almost Sisters,” the first in the series, more than a year ago, I was thrilled and excited to finally have the chance to see how the lives of the three women turned out and if they fulfilled their twenty-five year pact to become Crusty Old Broads.

Turns out, in my opinion, those women were there in the beginning. They just had to know where to look inside themselves to discover it.

Don't we all, ladies, don't we all? Click here to read the rest of the review and the interview.

I'm wracking my brain for something wonderful and inspiring to share, but to be honest, it's almost 1:00 am and...I got nothing. I'm mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted. So, instead, I'll share something from someone else.

It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment? For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone. That is where the writer scores over his fellows: he catches the changes of his mind on the hop. ~Vita Sackville-West

Thank you, and goodnight.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


By C. LaRene Hall

I’m sure during the spring and summer we all worked hard in our gardens. We did lots of cultivating and planting hoping to have a successful crop. I leave most of the gardening to my husband, but there are some things he can’t do for me.

No one but me can cultivate an attitude of happiness within my heart. I need to do a good enough job that no one can remove it. If I have enough hopefulness, cheerfulness, and confidence maybe, I’ll be okay.

Every member of the family needs to cultivate happiness in the home. Sometimes one person can mess it up for everyone. I hope that if there is enough kindness, thoughtfulness, and everyone tries to assist each other it will work. Cultivating a grateful heart and also a good sense of humor can also help.

Through the years, I’ve also learned to choose good friends who do not try to make me choose between their ways and the Lord’s ways. I’ve also tried to cultivate within myself the qualities of a good friend.

My parents taught me that I should develop whatever talents I have, and if I do, those talents will grow and become an expression of my true self. My music ability was encouraged as I learned to play the violin, sing, and dance. Only my hard work cultivated these talents. No amount of wishing I could do it would have helped. It took lots of practice.

Since I learned early to seek within myself for the talents I possess, I’ve enjoyed doing many things. Without that determination, I would never have had the nerve to tackle writing, and I would not keep trying. It seems that with every rejection I receive the harder I try. I hope that if I’m a bad writer someone will tell me because when people tell me my stories are good I become more and more determined to have them published.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Hey, that’s mine!

By Darvell Hunt

Consider this list:

IBM PC110 mini-laptop computer
White Gameboy Advance with games
Various Nintendo 64 games
Two remote-controlled mini-cars
A mini-DVD recorder/MP3 player
Wal-Mart Mountain Bike
Wooden coffee table
5-gallon gas can full of gasoline (at about $3.50 per gallon)
HP TX1000Z notebook computer

All of the above personal items were stolen from me in the past ten years. The first item in the list was taken from me in 1998 and the last item was just a few weeks ago. And, sadly enough, I could add to this list if I went back further than ten years.

For last week’s blog, I wrote about using life’s experiences as source material for writing ideas, but I’m still trying to figure out how to use being a victim of crime in my writing.

Good writing is generally created with passion, and I must admit that I have considerable passion about losing the above items to other people who apparently believe they deserve my things more than I do. I suppose that passion is exhibited more as anger, than anything else, though, and I’m not sure that anger is a good source of emotion for writing. I think it might be, but I haven’t yet learned how to channel that anger into something creative.

I think there is value in almost every experience we go through in life, including being victimized. We end up becoming the sum of our experiences. I suppose I could write how my reliance upon material things has affected my life and how I’ve reacted over the years to suddenly having my belongings taken from my possession. Perhaps I could even consider writing a crime novel, or some other sort of creative writing that doesn’t directly involve the anger I feel, yet involves my experiences of being a victim of theft.

Anyway, I’m still working with the police on the last item in my list, which came up missing about two weeks ago. I think I know who took it, but proving that is another matter. Since the computer was stolen from my desk at work in a secure area, the list of suspects is greatly reduced. And, fortunately, due to my paranoia of losing electronic data, I didn’t lose much that can’t be replaced; I'm thankful for that.

I suppose I can find out “who dunnit” and make the thieves pay—if only in my fiction. I could write about what I think happened and send the thieving criminals off to jail—if I'm in a good mood that is, and worse pounishment if I'm not. I’m curious if writing something like that would give me any satisfaction. Is fictional revenge sweet? Perhaps I'll find out soon.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Blog Tour: Surprise Packages.

By Keith Fisher

Written by best-selling LDS authors: Nancy Anderson, Lael Littke, and Carroll Morris, Surprise Packages is the third in a series called The Company of Good Women. It’s a must read, and should be added to your list today.

When I met Carroll Morris at the LDStorymakers Writer’s conference in 2007 I was impressed. I wanted to read Almost Sisters just to find out how three authors could write three different characters and knit them into a book without the seam showing.

Nevertheless, when the chance to review this book came up, I doubted I could do it justice. Being a man, I’m not a big fan of women’s fiction, but I found it fulfilling. I love the blend of characters, the way they fit together in the narrative works well.

The concept of three women meeting for the first time at BYU education week and becoming friends for life, is intriguing. With the diversity of the characters, the series provides a peek into the hectic lives of women everywhere. The desire of most women to be connected, and the everlasting friendship through it all, will be satisfied in the pages of these books and Surprise Packages is the icing on the cake.

You can find all three books in the series by visiting here, here, and here. You can read sample pages by clicking here. Visit the Crusty Old Broads website here.

In an interview with the authors, here are some of the questions I had:

Surprise Packages is the last in your trilogy, The Company of Good Women. Tell me what makes your trilogy unique.

It’s the story of three women in three different parts of the country and their quest to become Crusty Old Broads—written by three women from three different parts of the country who are self-professed Crusty Old Broads! Readers praise it for offering a realistic—but hopeful—view of the issues faced by LDS families.

Where are you from?

Lael is from Pasadena, CA; Nancy is from Sandy, UT; and Carroll lives in Green Valley, AZ.

What were the biggest challenges you faced as co-authors?

1. Merging files and making corrections. On the first book, Lael was the manuscript master. For the last two, Carroll took on that job.

2. Literary liposuction. The story of each character—told completely—would have filled its own book. So cutting the text without gutting the story was a challenge.

3. Writing the third book of the series. We knew where we were going in the first two books, but none of us had written ahead in book three. We had only general ideas about where it would go.

4. Making the series add up to something. We wanted our readers to finish the series feeling that they’d been changed by the time spent with Deenie, Juneau and Erin. We hope they will periodically read the series over, like visiting old friends.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

That no matter what situation a person is in any moment, the story isn’t over yet. Never, never, never give up—on others or on yourself!

Do you three have a new project in the works?

We have an idea for a book that will have the same format as the series—we’ll each write from the viewpoint of a character. It’s a stand-alone novel set in Powell, Wyoming, during World War II. But it is on the back burner while we’re working individual projects.

Putting the testosterone aside, I am glad to read this book. Good luck in your writing—see you next week.

PS I decided to take my comment out of the comments section and put it here:

Have you noticed the cover art? In the first book we get to see the feet of the ladies from the front. In the other two, we see them going away. Do you think its symbolic?

Friday, August 01, 2008

Write Letters?

by G.Parker

I realized, upon reflection, that letter writing has become a lost art. You don't hear too many people writing letters anymore -- it's usually email.

When I was in college and after I graduated, I loved to write letters. I had a close friend that was the same way and we would spend our afternoons just writing letters. I was always jealous because she had pen pals all around the world -- I just had friends in other states.

We used to go to stationary stores and collect all kinds of fun paper to write on, and special pens to go with them. We bought stickers by the yard -- we loved the stickers! I haven't seen a store like that in years, now they're all about scrapbooking.

Unfortunately, my mission changed a lot of that. I didn't have the time or desire to write 50 people every p-day, and so my letter writing became very perfunctory, and only those who wrote me consistently got written back. When I was writing my husband on his mission, I kind of got in the hang of it again, but it was only to one person -- it was easy.

I guess that would also explain the downward shift of handwriting and penmanship. I have two children out of seven who write clearly. Only one of them still has writing that is readable without great effort. No one seems to think penmanship is important after elementary school, which I find sad.

While I love the computer and word processing for the ability it gives me to get my ideas down quickly, there are still moments when I miss being curled up with a clean notebook and pen, writing as fast as my hand could go. My sister used to challenge me to write as small as possible, and I actually fit 1000 words on one side of a lined paper page at one point (all for a chewy candy). I don't remember why this was such a challenge to me, but it did keep me writing.

Writing letters is a lot like writing a story. You have a beginning, a middle and an end. There is even an anxious reader -- usually -- I mean we don't generally write to people that have no desire to read what we have written, do we?

Of course, if our letters are full of mundane and boring thoughts, such as what was eaten for breakfast for a week, or how many times we played the Wii and won, then they're probably going to want to toss them and it's not likely they'll write back -- which is one of the points of our writing to them.

I find it interesting how letter writing is one of the few forms of communication that still takes deliberation and thought. It also takes practice.

I've been writing my son in Basic Training. The first letter was difficult -- I couldn't really think of what to say. The second one was much easier, and this week I haven't seemed to be able to stop. My husband noticed and thinks it's kind of funny. He wonders what I find to write about.

What is so strange about this is my history. I haven't written letters in years. My brother in California is lucky to get a birthday card. I never wrote any of my husband's nephews on their missions. I didn't even write my own lone nephew who just returned from Argentina. But suddenly I can write to my son, and I seem to have an unending supply of things to write about.

Perhaps that's one of the reasons writers suggest keeping journals -- it gets the juices flowing, even if it's not something "productive" yet.

I also find it interesting that I would rather write these letters by hand than on the computer. What is the reason behind this behavior? Possibly the connection one gets between the pen and paper, thought and page.

I'm just glad to be writing and sharing thoughts with my son while he's away from home. Perhaps it will keep us close and he will be able to relate to me when he gets home -- who knows.

This type of writing is almost therapeutic -- there's no pressure to write a good story, no thought of recording perfecting -- just communication with a loved one.

Now there's probably no excuse not to write my dad on his mission...oh no, I think the list is growing!