Friday, October 31, 2008

It Has Come Down to This

by G.Parker

In the past two years, we've been bombarded from all sides concerning the election that comes to a final conclusion next Tuesday. It feels as if it's been ten. It's been a frustrating and disappointing campaign for many, especially those of us who have anxiously watched the two sides form and leave much of reasoning and patriotism behind.

Part of this whole thing has been due to writing. Journalism is a large part of our news force, both the newspaper variety and the news station productions. There was a day when being a journalist was a sought after profession for a writer -- the nitty gritty, seeking after the truth, uncovering scams and scandal, bringing criminals to judgment.

Not anymore. Now it seems there are more paparazzi than journalists, and it's more about making money and selling newspapers than reporting news and fact. There are still those who write for the people, but it's harder to find them.

I noticed an article on the internet last week that speculated on the treatment of one candidate over the other. The writer admitted that perhaps there had been some leaning to the negative side, but also proposed the candidate had brought it upon himself -- because he hadn't been open to interviews and public appearances as his opponent. He had conducted his campaign the regular run of the mill way, and his competition had stepped things up. The article stated that many of the reporters didn't like the more positively reported candidate -- he was elusive and distant -- but still they reported on him in a positive light. Why do you think that is?

When it comes down to the nitty gritty, our society operates on the basis of money. Unfortunately, that's the way our economics work. If a business doesn't make money, they go out of business. The same is said for a newspaper or a network. If it's not making money by selling advertising, or selling subscriptions, it's going to fail. If reporting a certain angle, or only one side to a story, or crime or violence sells more copies of the newspaper, advertisers are going to invest more in a selling concern than one that isn't selling.

What do you think influences reporters?

I've said many times how we represent writers that want to be an influence for good. We feel we have a mission in life -- and we want to encourage others to find their way and put words on paper too. Sometimes that expression comes through in a novel, sometimes in a blog, sometimes in a newspaper article. Whether fiction, non-fiction, or fact, it's the written word.

We live in the greatest nation in the world today. We have greater freedoms, rights and material things than many people in the world ever dream of -- and we treat it casually. There are many who are jealous of our lifestyle and wish to take it over for themselves. There are those who would take away many of our freedoms in the pretence of 'protecting and guarding' our society.

The only way these things can be fought without bloodshed, is through the written and verbal word. What's the phrase? The pen is mightier than the sword. I don't know who first said it, but I know it's been quoted numerous times. We can make it happen. We can be the pen that is mighty.

Step up to the paper and make your mark. Make your presence felt in the world. Stand up for the freedoms and privileges we enjoy here in America.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Book Review: "A Future for Tomorrow" by Haley Hatch Freeman

By Nichole Giles

When my friend Tristi emailed me asking if I would be willing to do a review on this book, I knew it was going to be a tough read. Not because it isn’t a wonderful story or because it’s badly written, but she explained up front that this book is not for the faint of heart. It is actually a heart wrenching true story that involves a very serious disease. Of course, my heart has never been faint, and I have a strong opinion about eating disorders. So of course, I agreed.

Knowing what I was about to get into, I put off opening the cover for about a week. I actually worried that I might get bored. Boy, oh boy, was I wrong about that. Because as soon as I did start reading, I couldn’t stop until I was finished.

“A Future for Tomorrow” is the true story of Haley Hatch Freeman and her battle with the very serious disease, Anorexia. Unlike other diseases, this one starts as a little tickle in the mind of a young woman (or other person) and develops stealthily over time. In Haley, it grew like a cancer, forcing her to eat less and exercise more, even when her body was nearly too weak to stand, until both body and mind simply broke apart.

Tristi was right, this story is not for the faint of heart. However, I believe every young woman—and for that matter, every parent of a young woman—should read this book. Very often in our society we discount the importance—and the very validity—of eating disorders like Anorexia. But an eating disorder—believe it or not—is not a cry for attention. It is not a personal decision or a vain way of staying thin. Anorexia and Bulimia are diseases that have the potential of becoming every bit as life threatening as cancer.

For this reason, I was able to overlook the few editorial issues in this book, and see into the heart of the story. The fact is, you cannot read “A Future for Tomorrow” without feeling a great deal of heartache for not only Haley, but for her entire family (a few dear friends included) and the awful trials they endured to see her health restored. The truth is, by all reasons and accounts, this disease should have killed her.

Only when Haley realized that she has a purpose on this earth, was she able to fight her way back from brain damage, body dysfunction, and the ill effects of the disease that ravaged her mind and body at the tender age of seventeen.

No, this is not an easy read. But it is an important one.

Who do you know that suffers from an eating disorder? These days, chances are high that you know someone. The question is, who? Would you know if your best friend or daughter suffered from a cancer such as this?

To tell the truth, after reading “A Future for Tomorrow,” my eyes have been opened to others who are suffering, and certain signs have become clear to me. Still, it’s hard to know how to help a person who needs it. I still haven’t figured out how to approach the friend I’m worried about, but I’ll find a way. Thanks to Haley’s self professed mission in life (the writing of this very book) I will never again allow myself to be blind to this awful disease.

Oh, one last thing. The first section of this book is written backwards. It’s a little confusing to begin with, but don’t let that deter you. You’ll gain a better understanding of why later in the book.

I've had the opportunity to interview Haley, and will post our conversation at next week.

To order your own copy of “A Future for Tomorrow” click Here. This book can also be found on and in your local Deseret Book in the self help section.

Visit Haley Hatch Freeman's blog

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Forgotten Memories
By C. LaRene Hall

The past couple of weeks I’ve been scrapbooking for my mother. It has brought back many forgotten memories. I’m putting into a book her pictures from the vacation that we took together in 2002. That year we flew to Rhode Island, and went to the beautiful mansions in Newport. Then we drove to Boston, Salem, Plymouth, Martha’s Vineyard, and Cape Cod before flying home.

I can’t say that I liked one day better than another one, because I planned fun things every single day. I thoroughly enjoyed the day we spent in Salem. Yes, I loved the Witches Museum, but for a writer, the best thing is seeing the place where an established famous writer once spent his time putting out manuscripts. Remember, until recently there were no computers.

Wow was I excited as our tour bus approached The House of Seven Gables where the famous Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote his novel by that same name as well as the Scarlet Letter and over thirty other books. He spent many months writing in that mansion, I suppose because he was a relative of the Ingersoll family, who owned the house.

A costumed interpreter took us on a tour to see the beautiful Georgian interiors and the hidden staircase. If I could live in such a mansion, I think I’d accomplish lots of writing. The atmosphere felt so peaceful, and the scenery out the window was heavenly.

His life story gives me hope. He burned his first short-story collection, Seven Tales of My Native Land, after publishers rejected it. I haven’t gone to that extreme, but I’ve thrown some away making the end result the same. His first novel was self-published, and he burned all the copies that didn’t sell. I’m going to self-publish my first novel, but I’m not going to order so many copies that I’ll have to burn them to get rid of them. My dream is to sell a few.

To me, Hawthorne is a hero. He was one of the first American writers to explore hidden motivations of his characters, and he helped to establish the American short story as a significant art form. He had good friends, and a spouse that allowed him to bloom as an author.

I haven’t read any of his books for several years, but I picked one up at the library this week. It’s Twice – Told Tales, which is a collection of several published short stories that appeared in magazines and annuals during his lifetime.

I think every writer can relate to a quote he wrote in a letter to Longfellow. “I have not lived, but only dreamed about living.”

Next week I will include another travel experience to the home of an author who lived in a different century. I keep forgetting to invite you to visit my other blog for other things I enjoy besides writing –

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

So Many Ideas, So Little Time

By Darvell Hunt

This past week, three different people asked me how about the progress on my book. I had to ask them which one. Each of them mentioned a different work that I’ve placed on the backburner while I work on something else.

It seems I have so many ideas and so many partially completed books, that I’ll never get done with any of them. It’s hard to know which one to put on the top of the priority list. I guess that’s better than having writer’s block, though—I don’t usually get that. My writer’s block ends up being more of “time block.” I just don’t seem to have enough time to write about all the ideas I have.

I guess I need to get one of my books published with a six-figure book deal. Then I could work on more of my projects and forget about the annoying distraction I like to call work.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Reach Out and Grab Em—Steal Their Sleep

By Keith Fisher

Since I work nights, it’s sometimes necessary to take a nap in the evening. I was attempting to do that the other day, when something happened that taught me a lesson. I turned on the television to relax for a minute and I saw the first few minutes of a Boston Legal rerun. I never watch that show but it was Captain Kirk, what can I say.

How does writing in the LDS market relate to Boston Legal, or Captain Kirk? In almost all of my writing books, I’ve read tons about grabbing the reader’s attention in the first five to fifteen words. The writers of the Boston Legal I was watching followed the rule. They introduced four or five story questions in the first two minutes. They captured my interest. I needed to know how it came out. Fifteen minutes later, I forced myself to sleep, and I might not have, if I didn’t need to work that night. Well, there was that one particularly crude joke.

As writers, we can learn a lot from television. The lesson taught by the show I mentioned, if learned, can help me sell books. If I can grab an editor or reader’s attention in the first fifteen words, I can keep them reading the rest of the book. If they finish the first book they will came back for others.

The Earth had fifteen minutes of life left in it. That’s ten words. Doesn’t that make you want to find out why? What happened that doomed our home planet? If the Earth will be gone, what has, or will, happen to the humans who infest the planet? These are questions that would make me want to read more. Did I pique your interest with the word infest? I always find it interesting to see writers struggle with this concept. I wonder if they realize they are writers and that’s what writers do. We take the reader on a journey through the land of impossible outcomes and we bring them back again. If we can do that, writing something that grabs attention in fifteen words should be easy.

I know, I know. We worry that our intriguing first lines aren’t as intriguing as someone else’s lines. How can we possibly know what kind of story questions will excite which editor? Not every editor will be interested. In the long run, all we can do, is write the best book we can, cross our fingers, and toes. Sooner or later someone somewhere, will like it.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Leaves and Writing

by G.Parker

Fall is the time of year when I yearn to express myself beyond my capabilities. It's when I wish for poetry in my thoughts, and articulation on my tongue, making me wish I were a teenager again, with the flow of words that used to fill notebooks.

I gaze at the changing fall leaves with their amazing shades of yellow, gold, greens, yellows and reds -- and it fills me with wonder. I could sit and gaze up at the flickering leaves and shafts of light for hours, feasting my eyes on the splendor of the leaves with their brilliant colors.

Every year I think of painting large canvases of trees arrayed in their finest, wanting to capture the feeling they give me, but I never have the time. Fall is a busy time of year for me -- I go back to work, I have children in school, there are gardens to be canning out of -- with no spare time to paint. I find it difficult enough to write.

One of these days I'm going to incorporate the sounds, smells, and sights of this time of year into a story. It will be based in the fall, and perhaps end with Halloween, but I haven't decided yet.

Using traditions in a story add to the ability of the reader to picture what we are writing. Describing a season puts the reader where we want them, and brings the story closer to reality. Everyone has kicked leaves while walking down the sidewalk. As a child, neat piles of leaves are just too irresistible. They beg to be jumped in and thrown about.

Have you ever watched the leaves as they fall? We have a large tree that sprouts little thin leaves that float and spiral through the air. There are times when it's almost like it's snowing, but it's all leaves. They are lazy, slow little twists in the air, as if reluctant to give up this moment of freedom when at last freed from being anchored to the tree.

I also begin to think of holidays -- Thanksgiving comes to mind during this season -- harvest, family, home. Homecoming games, hot cider, crisp apples with cheese, caramel apples on a stick. It’s a feeling thing, I guess. What are your memories of fall?

Whatever your skill, whatever your deepest desires, writing will bear it out. I am unable to link my words into poetry the way I desire, but sometimes I can string them together so they make sense and call imagery to mind. Sometimes I can write and draw with words what my imagination bears out. Sometimes I can't.

I suppose it's a skill that will be honed with practice, with advice, guidance and editing. But as long as I keep trying, it will happen.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Vacation of the Brain

By Nichole Giles

Usually, I have at least one story, and several characters, running through my head. Ideas for blogs and articles pop up at odd times, sometimes even in the middle of the night, and prompt me to stop whatever I’m doing to jot down a few notes so I don’t forget. There’s nothing wrong with that, or so I keep telling myself. After all, such is the life of a writer.

But every once in a while, even a writer’s brain needs a break. How do we find enough silence to allow such a break? How do we stop working on our current masterpiece or set aside our deadlines to achieve a vacation of the brain?

Honestly, I don’t have the answer to that question. At least, not for everyone. All I can do is to share with you the few times I’ve given my brain a successful vacation, and how important it’s been for me. It seems like I wrote a similar blog the last time I let my brain have a vacation, but that was two years ago. I’m thinking it’s way past time for another one.

If you follow my blogs, you’ll know I didn’t have a computer or Internet access last week. If you read my jewelry blogs at, you might have noticed that I posted about five blogs on the same day—which made my deadlines in advance for the same week. Okay, I admit. I was on vacation.
No big deal, right? I’ve been on vacation before, and not only do I always take my computer, but also a digital recorder, notebook, and possibly even my AlphaSmart. Usually, I turn on my computer at least once during a vacation, and very often I’m plotting in my head as we drive, fly, or otherwise travel to and from our destination. But every so often, as I’m packing for a trip, I’ll look at my laptop and ask myself if I really want to carry it on a plane. Or pack it in the car. Or…open it at all.

There are times when it is absolutely appropriate—actually, absolutely necessary—to do all your writing in advance, finish up that chapter or scene or (if possible) entire book and leave your writing self behind. Forget about the three or four weekly blogs. Forget about your characters and the scene that’s been bothering you. Forget about all of it and take your vacation in peace. Let your mind settle and sit and just be.

That’s what I did last week. I will admit to packing a handful of pens and a brand new notebook—just in case. I also bought a new romance novel—one I’ve had my eye on but haven’t allowed myself the time to read because there are so many other books in the stack on my dresser. And wouldn’t you know, this was the kind of vacation in which I was able to allow my mind complete and utter peace. To silence the voices and listen to the sound of waves crashing against the side of a ship as I slept dreamlessly. I didn’t even really read the novel except on the plane ride home (which was overly, extremely long due to delays and distance) and when I got home, the notebook remained empty.

Sure, my surroundings were inspiring. Extremely, beautifully inspiring. And I met some incredible people with unlikely, and interesting stories. Also very inspiring. The weather was beautiful, the scenery amazing and…well, you get it. I took lots of pictures, but didn’t write a single word about it while I was there.

When I came home, my mind was not only full of great ideas, but it was refreshed and thoughtful, and rested. I haven’t looked at my manuscript for almost two weeks. I’d say it’s time to start editing with rested eyes. Don’t you think?
But first, I have some journaling to do, some people to remember, and some pictures to caption. I spent the whole week just observing, now it’s time to see where that inspiration takes me. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

By C. LaRene Hall

As a writer, I’m sure you’ve sat and contemplated why so many times. In fact, there is probably no end to the questions you can ask.

Why did God make me this way? Why do I always blame Him?
Why do I have brown eyes? Blue eyes are prettier.
Why aren’t I tall? I never can reach anything on the high shelves at the grocery store.
Why don’t I have red hair? Brown is such an ordinary color.
Why do I hate celery? Everyone says it’s good for you and delicious.
Why am I so hard on my self? I really do get some things right.
Why do I always trust everyone? Most people are good.
Why do I like to travel? I’m a gypsy or would like to be one.
Why do I like to write? It’s the best way to express myself.

Some workshops I’ve attended have encouraged me to ask my characters hard questions. Find out what makes them tick. Know everything about them. Ask yourself what is your character’s defining quality. Most importantly remember that a hero has to have courage.

You can carry it a little far sometimes – I have. The why questions can go on and on if you let them. Decide which things are important to the story and leave the rest for another book. Give your readers enough information so they relate to your characters, but not too much. Know when to stop asking why.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Living in a Fantasy World

By Darvell Hunt

It can be fun creating fantasy worlds in which to live. Just this week I created a fantasy world in my head with alternate rules for reality. Strangely, however, I did this when I was asleep, not in front of a computer, and it was quite fun.

Most times while dreaming, you never know you’re dreaming, and don’t discover that you are dreaming until after you wake up. If, however, you find out you are dreaming while you are dreaming, you can explore a fantastic fantasy world as if it were real.

This week I was dreaming about camping with my parents. It was a rather boring dream in which we were sleeping in tents, with my wife and my family in one tent and my parents in a nearby tent. We weren’t camping far apart, so I could hear my parents talking from their tent before they drifted off to sleep.

I suddenly had the strange realization that my mom could not be chatting with my dad in their tent, because she died of cancer over two years ago. The reasoning part of my brain somehow woke up and tried to resolve this apparent contradiction—how could I be hearing my mother speaking if she was no longer alive?

The only solution that made sense to me was that I was dreaming. Once I realized this, the fantasy world no longer became a world in which I was observing, but a fantastic world in which I was an active participant. I became a character—myself—in this conjured-up world.

This is a good description of what is commonly referred to as lucid dreaming—or a dream in which you have awareness of the dream and sometimes can even control. This event was the most vivid lucid dream I had ever experienced. (This is different from simple day-dreaming, where you are basically awake. Lucid dreaming is actually done while you are in the deepest of sleep.)

Once I knew I was dreaming, my dream world seemed to be an actual place to me. I felt like I was physically there. I could hold up my hand in front of my dreaming eyes and see it, though I could also sense that my body was asleep on the bed. I began to interact with characters in my dream as though they were real people and they responded to me.

For about an hour (I know how long, because I could also hear my talking clock next to my bed), I was a character in my own fantasy play, starring, directed by, and written by, to a lesser degree, yours truly.

While I realize that this fantasy world would certainly not win any literary awards, it was an interesting experience in tapping into the deep reaches of the mind for fictional content. I recently blogged about the merits of writing down dreams upon awakening, but there is also the opportunity of exploring story ideas while still in your dream, if you are aware of it at the time. You don't have the extra baggage of a conscious mind telling you that your idea is stupid. This can be helpful when trying to come up with exciting new ideas.

I don’t think I got any prize-winning plots from my dream this time, but when this happens again, I’ll hopefully be more prepared to exploit the experience. I wonder if Stephanie Meyer's vampire dream was something like this?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Perfect Clarity

By Keith Fisher

In my day job, or the job I do when I’m not writing, I’m a Digital Preservation Specialist. It’s a glorified way of saying I digitize old records. Anyway, most of the time, I operate a machine that scans microfilm. It captures each frame at 200 images per minute. If my parameters aren’t set right in the beginning, there are many problems that can arise. For instance, if you don’t take time to set the focus, clarity on the whole roll can suffer.

There are times when I find a photographer’s camera has drifted off and the focus goes out of whack in the middle of the roll, but generally if I get the focus right, before I start scanning, the rest of the roll will be clear.

Writing is like that. If I establish my characters, and set up the scenes in the beginning, I can sit back and let my characters tell the story. As a reader, I hate to get halfway into a book and find the characters doing something they just wouldn’t do.

But the big problem I have in my writing, is when I make assumptions that the reader has a working knowledge of situations my characters are involved in. For example, I have a character in one of my books who plays pool for money. The first time I took it to critique group, I had to explain some of the finer points of playing pool. The Ladies in my group needed to have it explained, so I had to rewrite it, and that brought clarity to my story.

I’ve also noticed, as LDS fiction writers, we make many references in our books that only LDS people understand. It’s true we are writing for the LDS market, but I think we can benefit from taking the time to analyze our writing form other’s point of view. That, if you haven’t already realized, is one of the greatest advantages to belonging to a critique group.

My critique group helps me with their experience. I can bounce ideas off them, each member has different expertise. With their help, I can set my parameters, and write my book to the ending. Like the film rolls I scan, everything will have perfect clarity.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

catch you tomorrow

by Keith Fisher

I came home from camping and don't feel well. I'll post my blog tomorrow. thanks for your interest, readers are great! Sorry I'm late. see you tomorrow.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Importance of Being Earnest

by G.Parker

No, I'm not talking about the play or movie. I'm talking about writing.

As a writer, it is an important thing to work hard at what we do. It's not something that you can just play at, if you want to seriously move forward with it. I realized a couple of years ago that I'd just been playing at it when my husband referred to it as a hobby.

I informed him it was not a 'hobby'! It was a career. He informed me that if it was more than a hobby, I would be working more consistently at it. It would be an every day thing.

Well, I was ashamed to realize that he was right. I had been treating it as a hobby. There are times when I still do. I looked at my author page on the Nanowrimo site the other day, and realized this will be my 5th year as a participant. I've been doing this for five years?? It blows the mind.

It's also a little depressing. I mean, all the stories I've finished in those other 4 years -- none of them have been submitted. They are sitting in a file on my computer, waiting for the final editing to be done. Two of them have been shown to my critique group, but the other two have been shelved because I have so much work on the other two. It seems never ending.

It's easy to get caught up in so many things in today's world. Especially if you are a parent -- our families mean a great deal, and if we didn't have them and their support, we probably wouldn't still be striving to write.

So -- this month I'm still working at it. I've been participating in a BIAM at the LDSAuthors forum, and it's been wonderful. I've written more in the past week and a half than I've written in the past two months. I feel like the words are starting to flow a little easier, and I'm getting reved for November.

I'm a writer in earnest. It's important to me, not my hobby. Just so we're clear...grin.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Creativity Boost

By Nichole Giles

As I mentioned last week, I’m without a computer or Internet access right now. But I could hardly stand the thought of leaving my readers without something to brighten their Thursday. (After all, I know there are thousands of you out there, crossing days off their calendars until the next Thursday comes along and they can read my beautiful words.)

But as I also mentioned, there are not enough minutes in a day. It’s times like this when I defer to author Monica Wood, and her book, “The Pocket Muse: Endless Inspiration.” She has some really fun, creative writing prompts, which come in handy on days when I don’t know how to start writing.

So, courtesy of Ms. Wood, here are three ideas to get your brain pumping:

1. Revisit a story you’ve told many times. Now, tell a different story, beginning with the thing that happened after the story’s end. (Page 105)
2. Write about something useless and beautiful. (Page 101)
3. Write about a found book that changes everything. (Page 196)

And just in case three isn’t enough:

4. Open an imaginary door. What do you see? (Page 6)

Have fun and feel free to comment here about your results. As soon as I can, I’ll respond. Have a great week!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I Can't Be All Things

By C. LaRene Hall

If you are like me, life just happens. You continue with all the big and little bumps in the road. Then one day, you come to a screeching stop. No! I don’t want to do this.

That is what happened to me last week. For over two month’s my sisters and I have been taking turns giving my mom 24/7 care. It’s not that I don’t want to give the care to my mom. After all, she gave me life. I don’t mind taking all the vitals every day or administering the meds. Preparing meals and seeing to her daily needs are easy.

Last week sitting in a meeting where medical professions were explaining some additional things she may need in the near future, I suddenly said, “No. I don’t want to do that. I’m not a nurse and I never wanted to be one.”

Since then, I’ve realized I’m a daughter and that’s all I want to be to her. I can make her comfortable and lovingly care for her. I can go without sleep to see to her needs. However, we need to leave some things to professionals.

Besides a daughter I’m a wife, mother, grandmother, friend, but I’m not a nurse. Professionally I’m a secretary, accountant and a writer. I can do many other things, but I can’t be all things.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Backup Your Backup Copies!

By Darvell Hunt

Best-selling writer Dave Wolverton once told me that he lost a year of his work because his laptop computer went missing.

A friend of mine recently lost her data from her cell phone when she upgraded to a newer phone, despite being assured by her cell phone company that they had backed up her data from her old phone.

Whether your loss is as small as your contacts on your cell phone or a year’s worth of best selling material, any data loss can be terribly frustrating, especially if that loss can be prevented.

I guess I'm paranoid about backup up my writing, almost to the point of being obsessive compulsive. I keep at least five copies of all of my writing, sometime more. My primary writing drive is a small 8GB USB drive that I keep in my wallet and carry with me at all times. Whenever I need to write, I can just take it out for easy access to my entire library of material, no matter what computer I have access to at the time (sometimes, it’s not even mine!).

I back up my portable writing USB drive regularly to my desktop computer, my laptop computer, and an external 500GB drive that I can use on any of my computers, and a different USB portable drive. I also occasionally make copies of whatever I’m currently writing on the computer I’m using (if it’s my computer, that is).

A few months ago, my primary writing computer was stolen from work, right off my desk—presumably by the cleaning crew. But, fortunately for me, I had my primary drive in my pocket—but if I hadn’t had that, I still would have had at least three other copies elsewhere. (And, if you place your files within your user document storage area and use a Window password, nobody can access your files without your permission.)

Even with all of this redundant storage, I still don’t feel completely safe. If my house burned down and my laptop and my wallet were in the house, I might lose everything. It’s a good idea to store an extra copy elsewhere, perhaps using an online service or in a safe deposit box or leave a copy with a friend.

Disk space is cheap nowadays. Make copies of everything you have and don’t store them all in the same place. Someday, when you least expect it, you’ll be rewarded for your paranoia, I guarantee it.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Blogging . . . It might be a Bigger World than You Think

By Keith Fisher

This blog is dedicated to the struggle of being published in the LDS market, and in the past, I’ve stuck to that format. Today, for a brief second, I beg your patience. I’ve been experiencing a bit of a dilemma and I need to talk about it. No, it’s probably not what you’re thinking, but it caused a debate within me and it’s time to put an end to it.

In the past, I’ve taken a tongue in cheek platform for talking about books, the mechanics of writing, and of getting published. I’ve tried to share my struggle in the hope it will benefit others who are trying to break into the exclusive fraternity of being a published author.

A few blogs ago, I wrote about a book that impressed me and I talked about how I’d like to write books that touch people's hearts. I wrote my blog in my usual way. The book was a romance, and as a man, I have a standing joke about the romance genre, when in fact I read as many romances as I do mysteries. I try to diversify my reading and get a feel for what’s out there.

After writing the blog, I fielded a comment by someone who writes romance. She demanded I tell the world the name of the book I’d just read. Now, as most of you know, I left the title out, because of my style of writing. It was my joke.

The comment, and what followed, gave me cause to think about what I write, and how I write it. At that time, I visited a blog that is supposed to be about writing. I found an article dedicated to an extreme political point of view. I commented, and expressed another, perhaps softer point.

Having piqued my interest, I went back to the blog, to see if my observation had stirred discussion. I was shocked to find my comment had been deleted. Now, if my opinion had been mean spirited, or abusive, I would understand. I wondered if I had offended.

All of this gave me cause to ponder my words. I wish I’d saved a copy of what I wrote. I’d like to analyze it. As it is, I’ve been contemplating the nature of what we do in these blogs.

As you might imagine, part of being a writer is reading. We must read, and we must read all the time. Another part, is promotion, a writer needs to get out there and promote his/herself long before being published. To this end, many websites and blogs about writing have been born, and as with the need to read, a writer should stay apprised.

Part of promotion is offering a piece of myself to the public. I would be foolish to attach my name to something volatile. If my intent is not clear, then I have shown myself in a poor light. At the same time, I need to realize that mine is not the only, or best, conclusion and if I’m going to write about politics or religion, I should expect differences of opinion. If I don’t want to deal with those differences, then I should turn off the allow comments section.

One final note, then I’m going to go back to writing about writing: I enjoyed my friend, G. Parker’s blog last week, and I whole-heartedly support my leaders, but I would like to add something to what our religious leaders have suggested.

If you’re going to blog about your beliefs in God and your views on political issues, you need to know you’re opinion will be attacked. Gird up your loins, you have entered a battlefield.

Good luck with your promoting and your writing—see you next week.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Memories are Story Fodder

by G.Parker

A year ago today, I was sitting in a condo in Waikiki . I was alone, thousands of miles from home, and wondering what in the world I was doing. This particular day I had gone to visit the Polynesian Cultural Center in Laie, and while it was the highlight of my visit, it still felt lonely. I missed my husband, my kids, (believe it or not) and figured I'd missed out on sanity somewhere along the way.

I decided to make the trip worth something -- even if it took a while to see the results. I would use it for a story and see how much of my travel I could put down on paper.

I started on it immediately, but being as since I wasn't really focused, the majority of it waited until I got home. I used the story for Nanowrimo last year, reaching the 50,000 word mark -- only I didn't finish the story. I figured it would be easy to finish, just have the excitement end, the women go home, and all is well.

They aren't cooperating.

I'm still working on the story, (after putting it on the back burner for a long time to air the thoughts out) and it still isn't finished. My goal for this month is to finish it so I can start on the second installment for this years Nano. You see, the story I want to get going on was the first one I came up with for the characters I'm using in the Hawaiian story. I just decided to introduce them in an earlier setting.'s taking too long. Sigh.

So, I have the month of October to get it moving. It's been interesting how my memories of that week have coalesced in my head. I will be sitting at work and suddenly the thought "gee, I was in Hawaii a year ago" will pop in my head and I'll have a brief picture of the condo and the beaches float through my mind before I shrug and get back to work.

It was basically a working holiday. I wasn't that impressed with Hawaii , and I'm wondering if it would have been different under other circumstances. But I figure if nothing else, the memories are good for writing, and some day I'll be able to point to the trip as a business expense...I am a writer, after all.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Oh, the Pressure!

By Nichole Giles

For some reason, it seems like the forces of the universe are working together to force humanity into teaching themselves to sleep less and work more. Life just goes in so many different directions every day, and before we know it, time has slipped through our fingers and become bits and pieces of the past.

I’m one of these people from whom the universe has decided to squeeze time. There are never enough hours in a day, enough days in a week, or enough weeks in a month. But, such is the life of a writer.

Luckily, we have a unique ability to live in a time other than our own when we write. We can even live in another world if we want, as long as we remember that there is a real world outside our computer. It’s like leading a double life. Or a triple life. Or more, depending on how many projects you’re working on at once. Personally, I’ve discovered that more than one is overwhelming. You start to mix plots and characters and voice, and…it’s a really tough thing to do.

I’ve been in a mad rush to finish this book of mine. Yes, okay. It’s the same one I’ve been working on for months—still not right. Not finished. Not complete. But it gets closer every day. And part of the reason it isn’t finished is because the universe is bearing down on me, throwing everything at me it can think of to keep me from writing the last word of the last chapter. But this week, I have a solid deadline. I will have this draft (minus a few minor plot corrections I’ll have to fix in the middle) finished by Saturday morning. My deadline is solid because I won’t have a computer or any Internet access for over a week, and so…

So, I’ll have it done. Except.

Have you ever experienced that odd kind of blockage caused by an absolute deadline? I mean I can do blogs and articles with very little pressure, usually. And I always make my deadlines. But this one is killing me. Oh the pressure! But let me tell you a secret. Every time I work past the pressure and into the heart of the story, it comes out brilliantly. If I can forget about the world outside my computer for a while, my characters will do all the work, and all I have to do is watch my fingers move. They know how this story ends, and every little detail that winds it up. So, really, the pressure is more on them than me.

All I have to do is close my eyes and dive in, forget about carpools and dinner plans and rehearsals and soccer games. Forget about all the deadlines and the weeds in my flowerbeds that are almost as tall as my knees. And homework and work and college and crazy people who waste your time and…laundry. Yes, piles of laundry and bathrooms that need to be scrubbed, sinks full of dishes and floors that should be vacuumed. All the things that distract me from my ultimate goal. To finish the darn manuscript!

To write or not to write? That is the question. The answer? Well, according to one of Keith Fisher’s recent book choices, the answer to the meaning-of-life question is forty-two. I wonder if that means the answer to my problem is a number? Yes, that’s a good possibility. Tonight, maybe I’ll try writing at three a.m.

Hey, it can’t hurt. I have a deadline to make!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

A Walk Down Memory Lane

By C. LaRene Hall

Time marches on and so do we. Nothing stays the same, but sometimes I wish it did.

When I was a teenager, we rode in cars with no seat belts or air bags. There were no laws, or else they weren’t enforced, that told us how many people could be in a car at a time. We climbed in the front or back seat, it didn’t matter, and we all had a blast. We drove up and down the main street in town honking as loud as we could. No one called the cops because everyone did it, and it was just for fun.

It didn’t matter if no one could reach you all day because we didn’t carry phones everywhere we went. We only had one phone that hung on the wall in the kitchen. You had to be careful what you said, and you didn’t always get to use the phone when you wanted to because we had party lines. No one endangered someone’s life by having to talk into a gadget while driving on a freeway, or trying to make a turn.

If you worked in a store at the cash register, you had to know how to count the change back to your customer. You didn’t have something telling you how much change to give out; you had to use your brain. This week, at Wendy’s, I gave the girl a five-dollar bill and was searching for a couple of ones. The amount of money I owed was $6.95. As I started to hand her two ones, she was handing me back three ones. I had to explain to the girl that she had put the wrong amount of money received into the register. I know how to do it in my head, but still had to explain to her how to do her job.

We hung the clothes out to dry in the fresh air. The dryer sheets or fabric softener you buy today smell great but not as good as fresh air. Doing the washing in a wringer machine was not so fun.

We really did have five and 10-cent stores, and you could buy penny candy. I wonder if you can buy anything today for only one cent.

Ice cream cones cost a nickel when I was a kid and you could sit at a soda fountain while you ate it. When I was in England a few years ago, I ordered an ice cream cone. I had to buy the ice cream separate from the cone.

When I was a child, gas was 11 cents a gallon. You could fill your entire car for less than five dollars. Now it costs a small fortune to fill the tank.

To listen to music we had a few options – 45-RPM records, tableside jukeboxes, or the radio.

There is one thing that I’m grateful has changed and that is the typewriter. I was excited when it changed from a manual to an electric one. However, with both of them if you made a mistake you had to start over. No way would I tackle being a writer if I didn’t have a computer.

I love walking down memory lane, but I’m glad that some things have changed. Other things I wish were the same. As a writer, it’s good to have those old memories to rely on for a good story.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Chicago Singing Hunchback Hobo

By Darvell Hunt

I wish I had as high spirits as the old gray-haired singing hunchback hobo I saw in front of my hotel last week in downtown Chicago. You don’t often think of a homeless person as being a source of great inspiration, but this man was to me.

Last Friday, my employer flew me and a coworker, along with our wives, to a recognition dinner in downtown Chicago. This wasn’t a formal event, but was about as close as you can get to one and not be required to wear tuxedos and strapless dresses.

The fancy gourmet food served at the awards banquet looked wonderful—and it tasted as good as it looked. Unfortunately, the portions of food covered only about a third of our plates, so after eating, we were left wanting for more.

After the dinner and the awards assembly, which ended around midnight, my boss, my coworker, and I and our three wives (one each) went out into the streets of Chicago to see what we could find to supplement our tasty but insufficient dinner.

As we ventured from our hotel, we passed an old man who stood no more than four and a half feet tall and looked to be about eleventy-one years old. We quickly passed him, as he was taking baby steps of about three inches each. He was hunched over, almost into a ball, it seemed, and was cheerfully singing something that sounded like a gospel song. Within seconds, however, his song was lost behind us in the bustle of the city and we busied ourselves with our quest for food that didn’t necessarily look great, but was more filling.

I got a hotdog, but it wasn’t your “normal” hotdog—a Chicago-style hotdog. The menu specifically stated you were not to put mere ketchup on it. More gourmet food, I suppose, but this time much more filling—and tasty, too.

We had nothing scheduled for the next day, Saturday, so we decided to walk down to Millennium Park to check out the sights and see what gift shops we could find along the way. As we exited the hotel, this time around 10am, there he was again—the singing hunchback hobo. He didn’t seem to be singing to just pass the time as he took his three-inch steps, but rather he seemed to be truly happy, not seeming to care that it probably took him an hour to walk a hundred yards.

I found myself envying the happiness of this singing hobo as I returned to Utah, hoping that I could bring back some of his mood with me. Writing sometimes seems like such a lonely endeavor and I often find myself getting discouraged when when a plot seems to go awry because of implausibility or my characters don’t listen to the voice of their god and do what they are told (um, that being me, or their creator).

Well, if this man can keep his spirits up under such dire conditions, I think maybe I can, too.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

The Last Trimester

By Keith Fisher

Recently, I sent a cool photo in an email to a writer friend of mine. She sent back the one you see in this page. Not only was this the better picture, but it gave me an idea for a writing concept.

I heard a lecture for gospel doctrine teachers once. The subject was the book of revelations and the symbolism contained there. The instructor was talking about the silence in heaven and suggested a way of understanding it. He said it’s more like a "pregnant silence". Like something is about to happen and we are all waiting with baited breath.

In the picture, what’s about to happen is obvious. A special person is about to make an appearance and is already trying to expand the environment. For all unpublished writers, this is a great analogy of our work. We have gone to the (writers conferences) doctor's appointments. We have done the exercises (extracted adverbs and flowery descriptions). We take our medicine (scrap the bad in favor of the good), and we continue working and promoting, because we know we will get a contract. We are not sure when it will come, but we know it will.

A friend of mine got a contract in the mail the other day. A publisher wants the book. The offer came after my friend submitted many different stories. In a way, this book has been waiting to be delivered. Like the baby in the picture, it has been struggling to be born.

The bottom line here is that any of us can be published. All of us are like the mother in the picture. We're waiting for a marvelous event. Hang in there—try to relax—the baby (book) will come, but just as with the birth of a child, after the excruciating pain, the real work of promotion and sales begins.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Commanded in All Things

by G.Parker

Recently, our religious leaders have asked us to step up to the plate, so to speak, and blog to the world about our beliefs. Blogging, it has been discovered, is a worldwide phenomena that has astonished even those who began it. It is a way to reach the masses in ways even the newspaper and the basic internet has not done before.

We, being the farsighted and intelligent writers that we are, were already ahead of the game and going full steam ahead. The slight difference in the idea being that we aren't writing solely about religion. We are writing about a craft -- writing, in general, and therefore, perhaps we are exempt from the suggestion. But are we?

Part of the reason we are in this group is because we are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If we weren't, we would never have met and gathered and collaborated.

But that is not all -- we have also decided (for the most part) that what we write affects those who read and therefore we want to write uplifting and generally religious work that shares the message of the gospel, be that in a small or large way. So, I think the shoe fits.

Even more recently, in Women's Conference, President Uchtdorf told us that we were created from a being who instilled that same gift within us. We are (basically) commanded to create -- it's something that is inborn and innate within each of us. It was the first time I really felt someone had given us permission (kind of) to be creative. Not only that, it's something that we are supposed to develop.

I don't think we need to be commanded in all things. In fact, we've been told that is unwise, for we are capable of independent thought and action.

So it's kind of nice that we're on the right path, so to speak, and doing what is expected of us. I think we all deserve a gold star for the day...

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Movie in My Head

By Nichole Giles

I love reading. Any time of the day, I can pick up a book of my choice and read about far away lands and characters whose lives, while far from ideal, evoke strong emotions in me. One of my favorite things is to see the surroundings in a book through the main character’s eyes.

For some authors, descriptions are important, and the imagery comes through loud and clear with the right words. Other authors give very little description, just enough to give the reader a general idea, and then leave the rest up to our imagination. Scene is as important to your story as dialogue.

There has never been a movie made that showed scenes from a book the way they played in my head. Personally, I think they’re way better in my head than onscreen. But that’s just me, and since I’m the only person who sees those versions, well…I guess my opinion is the only one that matters, huh?

When you’re writing, how do you put into words the things you see in your head? I think it’s a process that must be learned by most people. A really good way to learn imagery is to read books with lots of excellent descriptions. Pick one that is set in a distant land, or a fantastical world, and pay attention to the words the author has used in describing the character’s surroundings.

As you’re reading, remember that scene is more than the things the character sees. What can he or she feel? What do they touch? Can they smell or taste something? Does their mouth water or feel dry? Answering all these questions gives our readers a deeper, stronger connection to the characters in the story, allowing the characters to find a way into our hearts—even if that character is the bad guy.

As much as this is all very important, I offer a word of caution. Too much description can bog down the story. Be careful not to describe every leaf on every tree, every blade of grass, or every single smell in the air. Pick the most relevant ones, the ones that stand out from the rest, and leave the rest to the reader’s imagination. We walk a fine line between what is enough and what is too much, and so must try extra hard to find just the right balance.

For example, last time I flew on an airplane, I wrote three pages of description in my notebook about flying in case I ever needed to use it for a story. Turned out, I did. Of that three pages, only bits and pieces got squeezed into my scene, about enough to fill two paragraphs. But it was good description, and made the scene come alive for my readers.
The moral of the story is, take all the notes you can, but use only the relevant details that stick in your mind. Your characters will thank you for making their world seem real, and your readers will thank you for creating the best movie their head has ever shown.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Within My Reach

By C. LaRene Hall

I’m still on my economical kick this week, and have decided that we should all focus on what WE DO HAVE. Let’s not moan and groan about the things that aren’t ours. We should stop and count our many blessings. Living here in the United States of America, almost anything is within our reach, if we but work for it.

Some people will always complain, no matter what the situation is. They have always moaned, and are still protesting loudly. I doubt they even stop to think about how much they have.

Most of us still go out to eat regularly, and we have food in our pantries. In some countries, they go hungry. They don’t know what a restaurant looks like. When I think about others going without food, I feel guilty that I waste some because I’m too full, or maybe I don’t particularly like what I’m eating. I spend lots of money buying groceries, and some of the things I buy are not necessary, but are luxuries.

This year I spent money and went on a vacation to Hawaii. Some people never leave the place where they were born. I have more than one pair of shoes while others don’t even own anything to keep their feet warm. The list of things other people don’t have, that I do, could be very long. I know I have everything my heart desires. If I want it, I buy it. It doesn’t matter if I need it or not.

I’ll bet those of you who write, like me, are grateful for your computer. Aren’t you glad that you don’t have to use a typewriter when you write? Life is easy for us. I know that having a book published is within my reach, but I have to work for it. I learned a long time ago, that I have to work for what I receive. Count your blessings and reach high.