Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Few Thoughts

By Keith Fisher

In thinking of subjects to write about, I had many things come to mind. Now that Black Friday is over, it’s Christmas. I wondered if I should write about that. I could write about politics and the feeling of being singled out and excluded because of your political views. I read an article about a man who was fired because of his support of Prop 8. The article raised concerns about making people feel they can’t have a dissenting opinion. I understand that feeling, and I want to tell you it’s nothing new. But this is a writing blog.

I could write about the economy and the bait and switch that retailers use on Black Friday to get you into the store. What’s next with them? Will they lock the doors once you pass though, and not let you out until you buy something? Then there is the person in the store who knows they have financial problems but they buy anyway, putting it on a credit card, adding to their financial woes. But this is a writing blog.

I finished reading the Summons by John Grisham this week and I’m reading Abinadi by Heather Moore. I also started Pontoon by Garrison Keillor. Maybe I should write about those books. I liked the Summons although I figured it out in the first chapter. Maybe that’s what Grisham wanted us to do. Abinadi is all I expected it to be. Moore has a talent for bringing scriptural characters to life. Keillor is the master of the complete character, and he writes almost poetically. If it weren’t for his adult language and descriptions I would recommend him.

I had a friend ask me how my blog is going and I said I was stewing about it. She suggested I talk about stew and the analogy of a plot. You know, like a stew, a plot needs to cook a long time in your head for the flavors to blend together. So the subplots mesh and the characters know their place in the plot. Good analogy, but not what I want to write about.

I finished, and sent one of my manuscripts to a publisher. I’m waiting to hear back while I edit another. It seems the edits never end, but I don’t want to talk about that either.

I dreamed a book the other day. I woke up and drafted it. It’ll be a good story when I write it. Life is like that you know, plots and characters stand in front of us everyday, and many of us are too busy writing to notice. Also, an old friend contacted me and told me her story. What a great plot her story makes. She said she will write it, so I promised myself I wouldn’t steal it. I seem to be getting more ideas than I could write in a lifetime. Still, I have resolved to write every one of them. Life is good when you can find bits, pieces, and whole plots in the scenes that pass in front of you.

I still don’t know what to write about this week. But when I look above, I find Ive already written my article.

I did want to say few words to those who read our blog, and comment. Thank you for taking the time to read. I hope I can strike a nerve inside that will please you. To those who read and don’t comment, thanks for stopping by. Because of your visit we know we do not write in vain. To those who are struggling to become an author, Come in, sit down, and take your shoes off. You are the reason why write this blog. If we can write anything that will inspire you, and build you, then we have accomplished our goals. As a popular television character, Red Green, is fond of saying. "I’m pulling for you. We’re all in this together."

At this time of giving thanks and remembering our Savior, I’d like to pause a second and thank Him, the giver of all blessings, for a desire to write. To tell stories and create worlds. It’s the best job there is.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Almost There...

by G.Parker

There's a scene in the original Star Wars Trilogy (I guess it's #5, where it's the brave new hope thing -- I'm not good with the first three being the last where they are trying to shoot a missile into a small hole that makes it possible for them to blow up this huge death star. They do the first run, and there's a guy in the back panicking, and another guy flying a ship and saying "Stay on target." That's what most of us need, I think. Someone in the background reminding us to stay the course. But the next run, there's another guy doing the shooting, and he say's "Almost there..."

I figure that's appropriate for today. I'm almost there. Not quite as far as I'd hoped to be, but you know how that goes. I didn't get any writing done yesterday, but I have gotten quite a bit done this week. I'm only 11,000 words short. I figure I can get that in today and tomorrow.

What really amazes me, are those who are already finished -- have already gotten their words in and are resting on their laurels. I know of at least one person (there are usually a few of them) who has over 100,000 words!! That just blows me away. How in the heck do you get that many words done in a month and still get anything else done?

That's probably the point. They probably don't do anything else. I'm almost certain those people aren't parents, and possibly not married...or else their spouses are very patient. (Mine tries really hard to be

Well, the end is in sight and I'm fairly confident I'll reach my goal. Trouble is, unless I can wrap things up pretty quick, the story isn't going to be finished. Again. Sigh.

Oh well...there' s always next year...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thankful for Email

By Nichole Giles

I have some friends and family members who love to forward me emails. And I love getting all their jokes, and poems, and pictures. Nothing makes my day more than opening an email to a funny joke or a beautiful picture. Plus, it’s a great way to waste time when I’m supposed to be writing a hard scene.

I generally get several of these a day, and even though my inbox stacks up awfully quickly this way, I don’t mind. I adore the people who remember me every day, and take a few seconds to show it. Anyway, there’s one poem I’ve seen probably a hundred times or more. But every time I open it, I love it as much as I did the first time I read it.

I’ll quote a little bit here:

People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.

When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed. They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually. They may seem like a godsend and they are. They are there for the reason you need them to be. Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away. Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand. What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled, their work is done.The prayer you sent up has been answered and now it is time to move on.

Some people come into your life for a SEASON, because your turn has come to share,
Grow or learn. They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it, it is real. But only for a season.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons, things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, Love the person and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life. It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.

I got this one again the other day. As it happens, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to this very philosophy. See, I’m feeling especially lucky this Thanksgiving. Lucky because of the people in my life. All of them. Those who have passed out of it already, those who are here temporarily, and those I haven’t met yet but who will add something special to my life. Especially, though, I’m thankful for the people who are here to be my friends and family for life and longer.

This week was my late mother-in-law’s birthday. It has been a little bit of a tough day for all of us since she died five years ago. I miss her. But while I knew her, Carol taught me a lot about being a mother, and a wife, and a good woman. She was a wonderful grandmother, mother and wife. I only got to spend ten years as her daughter. Only a season.

There are other people, important friends, who I’ve long since lost touch with for one reason or another. People who came into my life for a reason—even if that reason was to simply make me smile for a day or two.

The people with whom I share lifetime relationships make me smile every day. They teach me about life, and love, and—okay, I know it’s a total cliché, but I’m going to say it anyway—the pursuit of happiness.

No matter what role these people have played in my life, they’ve all given me something to write about. I am a writer, and I am able to write because of the people who have come in and out of my life like pebbles at the bottom of a stream, or sand on a beach, or leaves falling off the trees in a meadow.

So I’m thankful for the contributions of all those people. They are my inspiration.

I could bore you to tears with a list of the hundreds of other things for which I am thankful for today, but instead, I am going to thank you—the reader—instead. Thank you for reading our blog. Without readers, writers would be nothing but people chained to computers living in fantasy worlds that would never be shared with anyone else. Well, except by email. Which reminds me…I’m thankful for that, too!

Thanks for reading!

Happy Thanksgiving from the LDS Writer’s BloGck!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


By C. LaRene Hall

With it being the day before Thanksgiving, there is no other topic on my mind to write about. From the time that I was a young girl, my parents taught me to appreciate the things I had. Believe me, when I say we didn’t have much. I was born three and one-half months after the beginning of World War II, and I was almost six went it ended. I’ve always been glad that I was too young to remember any of the horrors of what the people were suffering or the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Year after year, I always celebrated Thanksgiving with my family, and year after year, I was thankful for my family, home, church, school, clothing, and food. It wasn’t until I visited Plymouth, Massachusetts in 2002 that I fully understood how fortunate I truly am.

I’ve read many stories about the Pilgrims, but seeing with my own eyes the replica of the Mayflower and climbing aboard brought it into perspective for me. There is no way I would have wanted to sail with 102 other people in that small ship in a world of rolling waves for more than two months. I’m sure many of them were seasick, and they didn’t even have a toilet you could flush. The day I was there, only a few dozen people were aboard and to me it seemed crowded.

In the Pilgrim Village, it really opened my eyes to see how they lived 375 years ago. I could hardly believe how small their homes were. There were people portraying the pilgrims, dressed in authentic clothing, and actually cooking over the hearth with the same type of pots and tools they used. Many were working outside preparing the ground to plant. If you asked questions, it had to be about things in the 17th century.

Since the day my mother and I visited Plymouth, I’ve appreciate my pilgrim ancestors much more. I’m grateful that they sacrificed all they had to come to this new land, where we can worship as we please. I may not have been as brave as they were, but I can retell their stories and write about the things they endured.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Brain Jumper Cables

By Darvell Hunt

I've been so busy at work, my brain seems fried. I think it completely shut down this week, because I forgot to write a blog entry. Maybe I need to jumpstart it somehow. Anybody know where I can get some brain jumper cables? Or would that fry my brain even more?

Anyway, as you can see, we are experimenting with change. If you like what you see, let us know! If you don't, we're open to suggestions. After two and a half years, we wanted to try a new look here at LDS Writers Blogck. We males are not accustomed to occasional makeovers, but the female side of our staff is helping us along. Let us know what you think!

Have a great Thanksgiving break! Hold off on those Christmas songs until Friday, eh?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Giving Thanks—Getting Blessings

By Keith Fisher

How do you like the new look? Some of our group felt we were in need of change. Leave comments and tell us what you think.

Over at another blog, I’ve been talking about giving thanks in a series of blogs about Thanksgiving. Since the big dinner is this week, I thought I’d mention a promise. "He who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold" (D&C 78:19).

Is there a specific blessing you are supplicating God for? Show gratitude to Him by giving yourself to others. I know it’s hard to look past the turkey and stuffing, but there are people in need in your life. If your kids asked you for a dollar and didn’t thank you for it, how eager would you be to reach for your wallet next time?

May all the joy and happiness of the season be yours this year, and may all your associates be blessed because they have known you.


Just a quick note about last week’s blog then I’ll stop talking about it. I received a comment from Kent Larsen (here are his credentials). It was a great comment. I would like to clarify a few things.

Thanks for sharing Kent. You asked if I remember John Jakes. Yes, sir, I do. In fact, I loved The Kent Family Chronicles when it was new. It is a wonderful treatise on the birth of America and early US history. Im sure you know he is still selling new books.

I'm sorry, if I gave anyone the impression that I want to "throw out classic literature." Nothing is farther from the truth. In fact I want people to learn about, and have access to every book ever written. In the sixties I read Child's Garden of Grass, Breakfast of Champions, Catcher in the Rye and many other books of the time. Have you read Kurt Vonnegut? His books are full of, in your words, . . . "great ideas--social criticism, messages about how society should form itself and act".

Perhaps he’s not a classic author because he is also a little controversial, and not to everyone’s taste.

In my short life, I’ve discovered people are either interested in something or they aren't. I totally agree with you about Dickens. I love the way he talked about people in need. I love Victor Hugo for the same reasons. It never ceases to amaze me, however, how many people love to watch Les Miserables in the play, but they never catch the spirit of it, and they never begin to use their blessings to help others.

The point I’ve been laboring over is not bashing classic literature. The point is that literature shouldn't have to be literary. I want people to stop judging popular fiction by the yardstick of the English teacher. During the time that many of the "so called" classic authors were writing, Mark Twain wrote popular fiction. Plain and simple—you don't have to search between the lines to find the social lessons. They hit you square in the face.

Twain was compared to the authors of his time and found lacking, but many people read his stories because they liked to read them. For whatever reason, they liked them. I don’t like Mary Shelly’s Frankenstien, and I don’t like much of Ernest Hemmingway. I have friends who love Twilight, but I don’t. I have friends who hate The Children of the Promise, and Hearts of the Children series’ but I love them. The point is everyone has different tastes.

As for the question, will reading popular fiction lead to reading the classics? Maybe not, but forcing a kid to eat Green Beans at the dinner table probably won’t teach that kid to love green beans. Likewise, forcing a kid to read classic literature because of the great life’s lessons contained therein probably won’t teach them to love the beauty of it, or even teach them the lessons.

Thanks again for letting me rant, and Thanks, Kent, I like the way you think.

Good luck in your writing—see you next week, and don’t eat too much on Thursday.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Week Three

by G.Parker

It always seems like I've got things under control, and then life steps in. Ever feel like that? Best laid plans and all that...

I was doing great the first week of Nano. I wasn't even doing too bad on week two -- and then we hit week three. sigh. I had to seriously do some writing yesterday to even catch up to where I'm supposed to be. What's kind of fun, is they have the word verifier up at the Nanowrimo site, and I ran my story through yesterday. I had 200 more words than I thought I did! So...small blessings.

Nichole mentioned how swamped she is with other work so she isn't doing Nano. There are many other more sane writers out there -- those who don't need a hard core month to get their writing done. They are able to be more consistent, driven in their craft.

I wish I was more like them. Nano has become something of an addiction for me, so perhaps it's time to end it. Maybe this will be my last year...nah. I have too much fun cranking out a novel every year, driving my hubby crazy, and meeting the deadline.

In some ways, I've discovered I'm a procrastinators dream. I work better under pressure and with a deadline. It's pathetic, really. I should be better at this by now. And I am...I'm fully confident that I'll be able to add 20,000 words to my story before the end of the month.

And I might even do it before Thanksgiving...wait, that's only a week away now...less than seven days? And I don't write on Sunday, so that's only six days, and we're way busy on Saturday -- that makes it five days. ARGH!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Plot Structure of a Fake Tree

By Nichole Giles

It’s that time of year again. People all over the world are getting out their holiday decorations and dusting them off. Untangling miles of lights, hanging stockings, stringing bows and garland and holly all over the…well, everywhere. The holidays are upon us, people.

I didn’t participate in NaNoWriMo this year. Sad, I know. But the thing is, I couldn’t consciously devote an entire month to writing another novel when I have two other major projects ALMOST done. (I know, I’ve been saying that for a long time, but really, I’m just so, so close…) And to be honest, November is not a good month for me to take on a project of that size anyway. Not with all the holiday preparations that hit me; the shopping and baking and cooking and cleaning. And lets not forget about the decorating.

I love real Christmas trees. There’s nothing more Christmas-like than smelling the freshly cut real-live pine tree that you hauled inside and piled with lights and tinsel. Except that I haven’t actually had a real tree in years. Lots of years. For one thing, they always die. It doesn’t matter what I do, they die. And then the lights—that I spent hours wrapping meticulously around every branch, ignoring the cuts and scrapes all up and down my arms, and the tree-gum in my hair—in all their blinking glory, turn out to be blinking because you plugged in too many at once and they’re about to start your tree on fire. And the pre-strung tinsel melts all over your carpet, leaving a puddle that you swear artificial icicles could never make—so they must be real. And lets not even talk about the wildlife possibilities. We’ve all watched that Disney cartoon where Donald Duck cuts down Chip and Dale’s tree house and takes it home to decorate, right?

Anyway, I have a fake tree. And even though it doesn’t smell as awesome, there are a lot of advantages. First, it can be reused. Each year we get it out, and dust it off, fluff the branches and restring the lights that don’t work. And we always know exactly how tall it is, and how wide. Second, it comes apart piece by piece. My current tree is in five pieces, so we get them out, fluffing as we go, check the lights, clean the dust and work our way to the top, making sure each piece fits just right. And because it’s built on a strong metal pole, I know it will hold all my thousands of ornaments.

Third, unlike a real tree, this one doesn’t need water, doesn’t drop needles everywhere, doesn’t ooze gum out of broken branches, and nothing lives in this one—I guarantee it. Last, whatever I do to decorate the fake tree, however I bend the branches and restring the lights, the original structure will remain solid, sure and faithful to its mission as a tree.

This does actually have something to do with writing. If you really think hard, you will find the same qualities in a good piece of fiction writing. (I say fiction, because we’re discussing an artificial tree.) Your story will come in parts—usually an odd number—that will need to be fit together in just the right order, with certain elements of fluff and stretch. Don’t forget to clean it up—whether as you go or after you’re finished is a matter of personal preference.

If your structure is sound, your story will hold all the subplots and ornamental elements that are necessary to strengthen our bond with the characters.

With all these things, you won’t need to water your story down. Sometimes, simplicity is far more nourishing than complication. You’ll find yourself cutting out chapters and scenes that oozed with beautiful wording, but rather than adding to your story, distracts the reader into another area in which you never intended to go.

That said, don’t be afraid to experiment. Twist the plot, bend the characters, restring the sequence of scenes. And when you discover you’ve cut something important, don’t be afraid to dust it off and put it back in where you need it. As long as you remember the pole in the middle, your structure will remain solid, sure, and faithful to its mission as a story.

So get out that manuscript you set aside last year, dust it off, and look at it again. Look for the plot structure of a fake tree, by sifting through all the branches and needles to look for the pole. When you find it, pick it up, put it together, clean it up, piece by piece, and get ready for another year of submitting. Because you’ll never get a contract if you don’t submit.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Greatest Teacher

By C. LaRene Hall

In 2006, I visited the interesting English town, Glastonbury, which is located 125 miles west of London. It’s full of myth and legends, and has been a pilgrimage place for many years attracting travelers from all over the world. Some people believe that the greatest teacher of all time, Jesus Christ, with his uncle Joseph, once visited Glastonbury, and the Chalice Well, that is a timeless and sacred place. It’s full of legend, symbolism, and atmosphere, where history has no beginning. Christian mythology suggests this is where Joseph of Arimathea, placed the Holy Grail – the cup used by Christ at the Last Supper and later by Joseph to catch the blood of Jesus at the crucifixion.

I felt peace as I entered the garden, and walked up a cobblestone path under an archway of plants entwined around the gazebo. The well is a pure natural spring, rich in iron, that rises from deep in the ground. Its red water emerges for the first time directly from its source at the Lion’s Head, and flows down through the waterfalls and pools of the gardens to King Arthur’s Court. Some Christians say that this water represents the rusty iron nails used at the crucifixion. Others believe the water has healing power.

Throughout the garden are many wonderful old yew trees, standing as ancient sentinels. Usually they plant these trees in churchyards, but sometimes their presence provides the reason for the location of a church. In ancient tradition, the yew is a symbol of longevity and rebirth. There are several Holy Thorn trees in the garden, one is located above the Lion’s head, and a larger one is beside the Vesica Piscis pool. This famous tree descends from the original tree that sprouted from Joseph of Arimathea’s staff when he came to Glastonbury.

As you can guess, I didn’t want to leave because I felt total peace. I had left a hot almost unbearable street to come into this beautiful garden, and I hated the thought of leaving it behind. Now I know why many authors visit Glastonbury and this very garden to relax and write. I doubt I’ll ever get back there again, but I’m grateful for the memory, and wish I could return.

This ends my travel stories to places that many writers lived or visited frequently. However, I’m still telling other adventures I’ve taken on my personal blog at

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Get Your Man!

By Darvell Hunt

My daughter recently started playing girls’ basketball for a local city league. She plays ball with eight and nine year old girls, but no boys. Strangely, though, her coach was calling for each girl to “get your man” during defensive plays.

I thought telling an 8-year-olds girl to “get your man” seemed a little premature. I mean, they won’t even be dating for another 8 years. I snickered when I heard the opposing team’s coach yelling out the same phrase.

On the way home from the game, I asked my daughter why her coach told her to “get your man.” I reminded her that all the members of her team were girls. She quickly responded with, “Because it sounds funny to say ‘Get your woman!’”

Indeed, it would; she was right about that. But why? What makes certain combinations of words acceptable, while others aren’t?

When I’m writing dialogue, I try to capture this idea. I attempt to put unique word usages into each character’s mouth so they sound real. I think to myself, “How does this person’s speech differ from the other characters? Can I tell which person is speaking if I don’t use dialogue attribution tags?”

If I can get their word usages unique enough to recognize, the characters might seem more realistic to the reader. That’s what I'm shooting for, anyway—a story about real people, not a story about two-dimensional, flat characters who all speak the same way and use the same words.

On the way home from the game, I commented to my wife that I found it amusing that “man on man” sounded appropriate, but “woman on woman” didn’t. Or, since my daughter is only eight, it seemed we should be saying “girl on girl.”

Oh, wait. I don’t even want to go there. See what I mean?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Judging a Book

By Keith Fisher

There is an author’s event today. Several LDS authors will be on hand to sign their books, offer encouragement, and be your friend. Most of these authors have never been recognized nationally, like Stephanie Meyer, or J. K. Rowling. I very much doubt any of them will be compared to Herman Melville, Mary Shelly, or Rudyard Kipling. Although, some of them should be compared to Mark Twain, he’s one of my favorite authors.

I’ll tell you about the event in a moment, but first, I want to talk about an argument that ensued at work the other day. My friend is an English major and has strong opinions about many things, but so do I, so we get along. I got involved after overhearing a discussion about Twilight. The movie, by the way, comes out in 5-days 19-hours and 8-minutes (according to Nichole’s counter at the moment I write this).

Anyway I believe his statement was, "No LDS author has written good literature." Or something like that. I thought about all the national market authors I’ve heard about who make six figures a year, and many people don’t even know they’re LDS. Of course, his response condemned the use of a monetary yardstick. He wanted to talk about "literature".

I’ve written before about a Dead Author’s Society. And I’ve been critical of the so-called classic literature that school kids are forced to read. My friend wanted to compare all fiction to Moby Dick, because the lessons learned about life are priceless. Then he went on to condemn Twilight.

I tried to persuade him to realize that a book is worthwhile if it gets people to read who never would have before. The discussion turned to Harry Potter and others. We went around and around, as you might guess. I asked him how he can discount the fact that J. K. Rowling probably single handedly influenced thousands of people to turn to books instead of movies. More people are reading today than before, none of them, I’m sure, would’ve considered reading the classics.

So, if we judge a book by the yardstick of how it changed or helped the lives of those who read it, Stephanie Meyer, J. K. Rowling, Brandon Sanderson and Janette Rallison along with dozens of LDS writers, should be ranked with all the so-called, classics authors. When all is said and done, the classics of the past were popular fiction in their day. Maybe in 75 years Harry Potter will be a classic too.

LDS writers, although sometimes not celebrated as such, are writing books for the masses. Books that can help the readers improve their lives. Thanks to popular fiction, those readers are more inclined to read Moby Dick than ever before. The classics are coming back. People are reading them because they want to, because a popular fiction novel persuaded them to make the journey into the satisfying world of reading.

The event I spoke about is at a new independent bookstore. Provident Book/Humdinger Toys. 661 W State Pleasant Grove, Utah There will be drawings and fun stuff. Look here for a signing schedule.

By the way, when pressed, my friend admitted he had never read Stephanie Meyers books or J. K. Rowling’s. Also, the counter now says 5-days 17-hours 18 minutes, but I don’t like vampire books, just thought you’d like to know . . .

Good luck in your writing—see you next week.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Fingers Are Moving

by G.Parker

Well, here it is, officially week two of Nanowrimo. It's been great so far -- I've had it easy. I had outlined the first several chapters and now I've covered all of them and have found myself into uncharted territory. Oh boy. But isn't this what writers dream of? Isn't that why we write? Well...that' s what I tell myself when I end up staring at the computer screen and wondering "what's next..."

Writers block is a whole different ball game when your doing Nano. You have to work through it. If you let yourself get too far behind, it becomes a very stressful affair to catch up to the numbers where you're supposed to be.

By the end of tonight, everyone that's on track, should have about 25,000 words. I'm pretty much there, so I'm feeling okay for now, but my ease time is over and it's time to put in some serious work.

I'm finding that my morning time can be the most productive while I listen to my boys eat breakfast and get ready for school. Everyone has to make their lunches the night before, so mornings are pretty casual; breakfast and showers. What is there for a mom to do except remind them of the time and what their next task is? So I get lots of writing done in the morning if I'm able to focus.

So...onto week three. Are you ready?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Blog About Nothing

By Nichole Giles

You know what’s funny? I have lots of blogs, and there are days when I want to post on every one. I have all these topics floating around in my head, and I think, “Hey, I should blog about that.” But usually this happens as I’m driving around, running errands, and well, really when it’s just not convenient to sit down and write.

I know, I know. You’re wondering about the location of my handy dandy notebook at this point. Well, I do write down my ideas most of the time. But the problem is, when you have sentences in your head, sometimes you have to write them as they’re thought, or else they’re gone by the time you grab your pen. And then it’s lost forever.

And the problem with keeping several different blogs is that it’s so easy to spend all my writing time blogging instead of working on my novel, or editing, or doing other important things. Seriously, whenever I know I need to edit another chapter of my book, I suddenly think of four different blog topics, and have to hurry and write them before I forget. Is it convenience or an excuse? Or is it my muse banging on the door of her cage insisting I let her out so she can speak?

Yesterday, I had ideas for about five blogs. But it was bedtime, and I’d had a long day. So, I wrote a few prompting ideas and went to bed. And now, here it is, my day to post—usually I write my posts a few days in advance, just FYI—and I have nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

How did that happen? So here I sit, staring at a blank screen thinking, “Hey, it’s my day to post! Muse? Hello? Are you there?” But she’s strangely silent. She won’t speak to me. What do I do now? Well, I suppose I’ll go get her some lunch and see if I can coax her out of hiding.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Inspirational Town

By C. LaRene Hal

In the year 2000, I took a trip with my mother, and my sister, Lillian, to one of my favorite places, Hannibal, Missouri where Mark Twain found his inspiration for the Adventures of Tom Sawyer. I loved this place so much that I had to show it to my husband, so in 2004 we took my mother, and another sister, Dorthea and visited the inspirational town.

Between these two trips, I’m sure I’ve seen every nook and cranny in that town. During the first trip, we rode the trolley on a sightseeing tour, and of course, they told the history of Hannibal. We saw the sights as they drove past the Mark Twain Cave, Sawyer’s Creek, Treasure Hollow, and The Rockcliffe Mansion. Then we drove through a beautiful park and saw the Mississippi River from high upon the cliffs. Next, on the list was a tour of Mark Twain’s childhood home on Hill Street, J.M. Clemens Law Office, and Grant’s Drug Store. To complete the day, we went to the New Mark Twain Museum and saw many of the original Norman Rockwell paintings. We viewed the large river from a replica of a pilothouse, and we each took a turn tugging on the steamboat whistle.

That evening we climbed aboard The Mark Twain, a triple deck boat, and enjoyed a two-hour riverboat dinner cruise. We saw sights such as Jackson’s Island, and Lover’s Leap as we cruised along the great Mississippi River. On board, a look alike Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher mingled with the passengers.

On my second trip, we visited some of the places I had been before, including the riverboat. This time we went during the day so we could see everything. I wanted to do something I hadn’t done before so we explored the Mark Twain Cave. In the evening, we attended a Mark Twain one-man show, and listened to him telling us about his many adventures.

I wanted to pick a quote from him, but because there are so many I like, I decided to pick those about books –
Classic: A book which people praise but don’t read.
If books are not good company, where will I find it?
A man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them. Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.

Walking the same streets Mark Twain did, has inspired me. Maybe I might become like him a little, and you could do the same.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Change is Good

By Darvell Hunt

Barak Obama ran his campaign on the theme of change. I think change can be good, though I don't feel like discussing politics here—it seems you can get that sort of talk on too many blogs already. What I would like to say about change is that it's nice to read a new type of story or try putting into words something you’ve never written before. That sort of change can be rewarding.

I’ve been writing for a number of years now, mostly targeted toward an LDS audience, but not all. I’ve written a Book of Mormon novel, a historical novel set in Utah in the early 1800’s, a young adult contemporary fantasy novel, an LDS thriller, and even my share of inspirational poetry. I’ve also started work on an LDS romance novel, a Dan-Brownish-type suspense novel, a children’s chapter book that plays on words and language, and now an LDS non-fiction book that I hope to finish this month or next.

Some might say I’m spreading my writing too thin, but I like to think of these as all experiments in personal discovery—to see what I really enjoy writing. I suppose when one of these gets accepted and published, I’ll concentrate my writing career in that genre and see how it goes, but I will probably never ignore my other interests.

Change can be scary, but it can also be helpful. If you’ve been writing the same ol' thing for years, perhaps it’s time to try something else. You just might find your true genre.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Writing is Continuing Education

By Keith Fisher

In the interest of being accurate, and not wishing to have my manuscript rejected on grounds of doctrinal correctness, I did some heavy research this week. To say I learned a lot would be an understatement. I discovered so many things about the subject that I’m beginning to think of myself as knowledgeable.

After a while, I began to reflect on the things I know, and how I acquired that knowledge. I, like all of you, learned the basics at my mother’s knee. Crawling around the floor of the house helped too. I went to grammar school and learned my readin, writin, and arithmetic just like everyone else. There were other lessons I learned there too. Lessons like, how to play sports and how cruel kids can be to each other.

All through our lives we force knowledge into the onboard, computer hard drive we call our brain. Some of the learning, we considered useless information, but we crammed it in, and regurgitated it on a test paper. Some of that knowledge remains, some of it leaked out years ago, and some of it resides in our head, just out of reach. "Why can’t I remember that?" we ask.

The scriptures, and the prophets, have admonished us to be constantly learning. Most of us, however, can’t afford the time and money it takes to attend college or adult education classes. We end up collecting facts from the media, or office gossip. Many of us read books. Whether we read fiction or non-fiction, we learn things.

What a great advantage we have as writers. Even if the stories we write are pure fantasy, there is always some degree of research involved. I remember writing a scene once, where a man accosted a woman while she was holding a baby. I became concerned that the baby would be crushed. Also, I wondered if it were possible for her to extricate herself from him in the way that I had written. Using my wife and a teddy bear, I conducted some experiments to find out. I had to rewrite the scene, but my research had shown me an answer.

With all the research we do as writers, isn’t it great that we can continue to learn? Facts go into our hard drive that we later call up and use as an obscure fact somewhere in our story. If, in our writing frenzy, we have a character quoting from the bible but later, find out the quote was really from Shakespeare, we can be glad for research. If your character gets arrested, isn’t it nice to know that at some point before the cops take him away, they must read him his Miranda Rights?

After all the research I did this week I have developed a new appreciation for study and for the hard drive in my head. I’ve filed and categorized facts up there for later use. I just hope I can retrieve it all, when in the coming years, I get old and scary.

Good luck in your writing—see you next week

Friday, November 07, 2008

It's That Time Again

by G.Parker

You know when the leaves turn and the air turns cold that it's that time of year again. Yep -- Nanowrimo has arrived!

Once again, thousands across the world join together in writing a novel of 50,000 words in 30 days. I talked two of my daughters into joining the effort this year. The one that did it last year didn't finish...sigh. I guess she wasn't really motivated. This year she seems rather determined, but my youngest daughter has really been going for it. I've felt rather relaxed about the whole thing.

Believe it or not, I've been doing this for five years. What surprised me, was the fact that Nano has now been going for ten years. I'm still not quite sure of the draw. I think it has to do with a challenge, a gauntlet -- so to speak -- being thrown down for all writers, be they imagined or otherwise. Just to get out there and put words on paper. Find that inner voice. Follow the dream.

The most difficult part of the month is not editing. I'm so used to going back and re-reading what I've written so I can be editing as I write. Nano discourages that. Just write, is what they say. The editing comes later, after the month is over.

I still get the same complaints from my husband every year..."Why do they pick November? What about the family? I'm going to disconnect our internet..." lol. He suffers very little from the time I spend on this endeavor, but I think it's his way of letting me know he doesn't want to be neglected.

This year I had the story ready to go, background and all fleshed out. I just don't have a title. What do you call a modern day wagon train story with a girl and guy falling in love? I mean...I don't want it to be sappy. Grin.

It's recommended that everyone write an average of 2000 words a day to make the end without stressing. At least I'm on track so far...I'll let you know how it goes at the end of the month. What about you? It's not too late, you can still sign up and throw yourself into the wild frenzy that is known as Nano.

Just be sure to keep lots of chocolate (or your favorite candy) handy -- it's necessary for those days when you're staring with an empty head at a blinking screen and you are several thousand words behind the goal...

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Foresight for Change

By Nichole Giles

With all the political discussions and commercials going around, I have no doubt that everyone has had more than enough. I’m tired of listening to the slander and the fights, and seeing the way we treat our neighbors just because they don’t agree with our views. It makes me sad to see people being so hateful.

We live in a great nation. Not only do we have certain freedoms and liberties that many other countries don’t allow, but we also have the ability to choose who will lead us. We then give those leaders a period of four years to make a difference, to show us that they can actually handle running the country, and that they aren’t tyrants. If they do, we are then given the choice to elect those leaders for a second period of four years, or choose new leaders.

Our founding fathers were brilliant in many ways, and that they had the foresight to put a time limit on how long one person is allowed to be in charge amazes me. The time allows for each new leader to make an impact on American society, to do some good things and make changes for the better. (Whether their ideas of what is good or better work out the way we all hoped or not.) And because there is a limit, they have to enact their ideas and policies quickly enough for the people to see some kind of effect to the positive or negative.

It’s all about choice. Choice is a beautiful thing. We—as a nation—have choices. That doesn’t mean we always agree on which choices are best, but in our country—where the majority rules—those who aren’t happy with the results will have the opportunity to push for changes a few years later.

Yes, our forefathers were smart men. They weren’t afraid of change. In fact, they set up the constitution to ensure that we, the people, would be required to make changes every few years. Because change is good, whether we want it or not. It moves us forward and helps us to progress not only as a nation, but as families, and individual people. We progress within our spiritual selves.

Take, for instance, a change in my writing life. Two weeks ago my co-author friend, Cindy Beck, and I received a contract for a project we’ve been working on since last December. Our compilation of humorous, LDS stories has found a publisher. This book has been a great project, lots of fun, and a learning experience. But it probably won’t be the thing that puts either of our names in history books. And we’re okay with that. Instead, it will be the thing that puts a lot of names—our twenty plus contributors—in print.

It’s a change for all of us, and that is a wonderful feeling. My writing career has taken a step forward, and as I take that step, I’m bringing friends. This change is good.

The changes in our economy have given us all cause to re-evaluate our finances, to take a hard look at our plans for the future, and to take steps toward being prepared for disasters and eventualities. It’s important to be prepared. The changes in our leadership and laws will likely cause us to do more thinking, more preparing, and maybe spend more time helping others.

Regardless of where you stand politically, the truth is that change is inevitable. Our leaders of the past have shaped the country we know and love, and the leaders in our future will help us forge ahead to continue being one of the greatest, most powerful nations in the world. In the past, America has been called the place were dreams come true. Lucky for us, it still is.

We are America, and it is us. Ever growing, ever changing, ever lasting. And no matter what changes are made, this is still the best country in the world in which to live.

In short: Can’t we all just get along?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Some Day I'll Be Noticed

By C. LaRene Hall

I’m sure I’m not the only one who each summer looks forward to the Shakespearian Festival in Cedar City. The past couple of years I didn’t make the long trek from Salt Lake, but when I do go, I always feel the trip is worthwhile.

I’ve seen many of Shakespeare’s plays such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, and As You Like It. This man lived between 1564 and 1616, and many people regard him as the greatest writer of the English language. His early plays were comedies and histories, but then he wrote tragedies until 1608. In the last few years of his life, he wrote tragicomedies also known as romances. To me that means, if someone as famous as Shakespeare can change his genre and write different things, I can do the same thing.

By 1592, some of Shakespeare’s plays appeared on the London stage, but until the nineteenth century, most of his work went unnoticed. Many times no one becomes aware of a writer until he dies. I really don’t want to wait until I die to have some of my stories published, but at least there is hope that someday someone will notice me. Maybe it will only be my grandchildren, but at least it will be someone.

In July 2006, my sister and I took a trip to Scotland, Wales, and England. I was anxious to visit Stratford-Upon-Avon, England, to see the birthplace of Shakespeare on Henley Street. The man dressed as Shakespeare was a good replica in looks, but I doubt he was a writer. He hated answering questions. We took a tour bus to see the Anne Hathaway Cottage (childhood home of Shakespeare’s wife), and the Mary Arden’s House (the childhood home of his mother). The weather was rainy and we didn’t spend as much time in this city as I would have liked.

Before I close this blog, I want to leave a quote from Shakespeare that I enjoy – All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.

Next week I’ll write about another author’s childhood home that I visited on another trip. Meanwhile, you can see some of my other travels on my website at

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Sometimes Less is More

By Darvell Hunt

I'm currently reading a novel that I'm finding enjoyable, but the overuse of details, like the clothes the characters are wearing and the environment in which they are set, is getting rather annoying to me. I just don't need to know all that extra information.

I want to know more about the story, not about the shades of purple in the hair bow that the character is wearing or about how the sun is cascading down through the cypress trees and melting the fog that's rising from the swampy Louisiana bayou.

Sometimes less is more—so I'm keep today's blog entry short.

(And, oh yeah, don't forget to vote!)

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Remembering the Writer Within

By Keith Fisher

I ran away from home last week. Pressures and interruptions became overwhelming, so I packed up and hit the road. No, I didn’t hop a freight train, or put my thumb out on a freeway onramp. I made up my mind that I would finish my edits, or die trying. I hooked up the trailer, found a quiet place, and spent the weekend plowing through the final chapters.

Did you ever see the Twilight Zone episode where a man wishes to be the only man in the world, just to avoid interruptions, to get caught up with work, and he gets his wish? My weekend wasn’t like that. In the show, the man spends about twenty minutes, gets all caught up, then gets so bored he goes out of his mind. It took me twenty-five minutes just to get organized.

Partway into my task, I noticed something. I was alone. I looked around at nature and back to my manuscript. Something happened to me. Without the hustle and bustle of dealing with everyday tasks, I found myself transported. I was living my story again. My characters visited me and brought back the clear picture of where we were headed in the book. The red ink marks on the papers returned to what they were. The marks were only a guide, not some daunting and overwhelming testament of my lack of writing abilities.

I was writing again. My soul became connected to my story and I sailed through the pages correcting was’s, putting commas in where needed, taking them out where they were not. Most importantly, the side notes, written in red ink, became only a minor disturbance, because I knew what I had written, and why I wrote it in the first place. I added words for clarification and fixed those things that confused the reader. I was on fire.

After what seemed like a short moment, I discovered my back was sore from sitting too long, and there was a gnawing hunger in my stomach. I stood up and found that working at a booth style dinette in my camp trailer, may not have been the best choice for me. Being overweight, the table is too close to my mid-section. I grabbed a piece of lunchmeat, slapped it on some bread and returned to my torture chamber.

Being engrossed in the work has its own rewards. I never noticed my aches and sore muscles until I took a break. Then I found I was caught up in my story, solving story problems while cooking, plotting and planning while I stretched my legs outside.

After three days of living like a full time writer, I returned home. I was a new man. The petty problems I’d ditched, were still there, but my family was glad to see me back. Life hasn’t changed because I ran away. It’s still just as pressing. I’m not more capable of handling stress. I’m not a better writer, but in the time I went away, I re-discovered why I became a writer. My characters reminded me.

Of all the lessons I learned from my "Personal Writer’s Retreat" the one most valuable to me is, never let everyday responsibilities detract from your writing. I must return to the well, if only for a moment, in order to remember the pure joy of writing from my soul. To rediscover why I became a writer, to listen to my characters, because they know . . . they know, why I became a writer. After writing that statement I guess my retreat really was like the Twilight Zone episode. Maybe I did go a little crazy. But then again, maybe I always was, or maybe . . . I’m a writer.

Good luck in your writing—see you next week.