Monday, November 30, 2009

Inspiration? Or Derailment?

By Ali Cross
(Originally posted on Ali's blog, July 13th, 2008)

Sometimes when I read a good book it depresses me.

Shouldn't it inspire me? Encourage me to keep on writing, so that my book too, will one day inspire others?

Instead, it makes me feel like I could never write that well, or make a book that ... complete.

I was mulling over it all and then talking (because really, if I'm not reading or writing, I'm talking, right?) with David about it and I had an epiphany.

I realized that when I read a great book, I believe that the author just went 'blah' and out came a great book. Ta da! Happy Birthday! But after all I've learned about writing, I've got to change that fallacy in my mind. That is simply not how it happens.

First a baby book is born: The story. The author/parent, coddles the baby book and takes care of it. The author/parent is so full of hope for the future of their little baby book, but what it may become is still an unknown, still yet to be discovered.

The baby book then enters toddler stage: The author/parent patiently teaches the little book how to walk, how to talk, and glories in their newfound independance. There is so much joy at this stage! Our hope for our baby book is somewhat realized as we come to see just where our little book may go. What an exciting time! But still, no one would question whether our little book was ready to be out on their own, oh no, not yet! There is still so much to learn, though all the potential is clearly there.

Next, the fun but trying kid stage of our book: So much learning, trial and error, but this is where the rules learned in toddlerhood are put to the test. Does our baby book walk and talk just like we taught it to do? When left on its own, does it touch the hearts of its readers the way we had hoped? Does it tell the story we taught it to tell as well as we had hoped and imagined?

Then, through the teenage years: Our darling books may rebel, and we might grow a few gray hairs, but in the end it will all be for the good of our book. In the end we'll have created and raised a book to be proud of.

And so when it has finally reached full adulthood, that is when we can send our baby book out into the world knowing it is ready. It is full grown. It represents our best hopes and dreams and tells the story we taught it to tell.

For some, this raising up of a story can go smoothly, quickly, perhaps be completed in a year or less. For others, somewhat (or a lot) longer. Nevertheless, it is never possible for a baby book to be born and to walk away from the proverbial womb, ready to live a life of its own. No, there are always countless hours spent raising that book, pouring our hearts and soul and all our hopes into its every word.

So, I've been derailed for the past few days having just read a great book that swallowed up all of my own creativity. But now I'm feeling a bit more hopeful and plan to get back to my little book tomorrow. I figure I'm somewhere in the kid years with The Devil's Daughter ... perhaps it will one day be that glorious young adult I can send out into the world knowing that she will take with her everything I hope to share with my readers.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

What Day Did You Say It Is?

By Keith Fisher

It’s two days after Thanksgiving? So, that’s why we went to Grandma’s for dinner. Unless you live in a vacuum, I’m sure you knew about the day and Black Friday.

I hope you find joy in retrospect. For some people, the day when we pause to thank the source of all our blessings is not always a day of rejoicing. Whatever the reasons, some folks are left with feelings of neglect and abandonment. May we remember those left out, and help bring them into the warmth of blessings unending.

This play on words serves to remind us of the higher purpose in the holiday. Showing thanks by giving makes me happy. Happy Thanks and Giving. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season.

Along with the start of interminably repeating Christmas music, comes the day we call Black Friday. I’ve been known to make a few disparaging remarks about that chaotic madhouse of scrambling shoppers. But in this year of economic upheaval, and loss of hope, I ask the question. What if, after all the hype and preparations. What if nobody showed up? What if people read the door buster announcements, but decided they couldn’t afford anything extra, and stayed home?

I didn’t want go to the store yesterday, but I had to pick up some pictures. Rather than feeling stress, I felt strangely cheered to see people buying things. The checkout line seemed tolerable because, those folks demonstrated their faith in the economy, by purchasing things they hope to be able to afford.

The experience didn’t increase my desire for new toys, I still can’t afford it, but the Christmas tradition brought hope. I’ll try to ignore my claustrophobic feelings, (and no, that’s not a fear of Santa Claus). Who knows, I might even make it through the season without getting sick of the music.

Good Luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thankfully Writing

by G.Parker

This is short, but I couldn't let the day go by without posting. Since yesterday was Thanksgiving, that means today was Black Friday. We've had discussions at my house as to what this day really means, but it occurred to me that there are several meanings. I like the idea that it means for once the family is together -- celebrating this wonderful day of remembrance and thanksgiving.

I have so much to be thankful for, my husband, my children, our home, my job. But for now, I wanted to say how thankful that I finished Nano WAY ahead of schedule, and am now working toward 60,000 words.

Hope you had a very wonderful thanksgiving and enjoy this time with family and friends. I will be...and then I'll be writing. ;)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Today I'm Thankful

By Nichole Giles

I'm supposed to blog today.  But it's a holiday, and my parents, brothers, sisters, grandma, and several little people who are also related to me are on their way to my house to eat turkey, potatoes, stuffing and pie.  So I'm not going to blog about writing or about my journey in the National Novel Writing Month challenge.  Instead, I'm going to take a moment to be thankful.

On this day of giving thanks, there are so many things for which I am grateful. Because of my plans, I'll only list a few.  Today I'm thankful for my family. Without them I would not exist, would not be who I am, or what I am, or in any way whole.  I'm thankful for my husband and kids, because they are my lifeblood and the people who make me most happy in life.  I'm thankful for my friends--all of them--for the contribution each one makes in my life today, in my past and in my future.

I could list things like my house, my dogs, my writing ability (for which I'm eternally thankful, by the way) but today, I'm going to focus on people. I'm so grateful for the people in my life.  So I'm going to log off now, and go check on my turkey and put the sweet potatoes in the oven because on this day, the most important people in my life are on their way over. And I want to enjoy them.

Whether you're spending your holiday with friends, family, or strangers, have a wonderful, memorable time and know that no matter who you are or where you are, someone in the world is bowing their head today and being thankful that you exist. 

Happy Thanksgiving! 


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

By C. LaRene Hall


I almost forgot about my blog today with all the many preparations I've been doing tonight. I didn't do much, mostly watched my daughter as she put together 8 cream pies. To me that seemed like plenty, but she had to make pumpkin rolls - not just one, but four of them. They are really good. I know because we had to sample one. The turkey is in the oven, and now we just need to wait for the big day to arrive.

I love Thanksgiving and all it represents. When my granddaughter came over tonight I was excited to hear about the feast they had at school today. She knew so many details about what the pilgrims had done when they arrived here. We spent time going through my photo albums so she could see the pictures I took when I was in Plymouth, MA. Instead of me telling her about the pilgrims she told me their stories.

Tomorrow will be a fun day with some of the children and grandchildren gathered around. My wish for each of you is that you have a wonderful day.

Monday, November 23, 2009


By Ali Cross
(Originally posted on Ali's blog, May 28th, 2008)

It used to be, I was a caterpillar. Slowly meandering around my writing. Doing a little--doing a lot of not writing. Good intentions and all that, but not a lot of production.

During the finishing of The Devil's Daughter the last couple weeks, it was like I climbed into my chrysallis. Tucked inside the closeness of that cocoon I completed my book and learned a lot of myself in the process.

When I was finished, it was time to truly fly.

Once free of my chrysallis, I spread my wings and man they feel good!

The point of my little wanderings through the wonderful world of analogies (which I know I did very badly!) is that I truly feel like a writer now. I even had a dream the other night in which--well, it was not a tangible dream--but I woke up feeling absolutely like a writer.

I have learned, just in this past month, how to make writing a part of my every day life, how to stay focussed and how to achieve a writing goal. Where once I felt like I hoped to be a writer one day, now I feel like I am a writer. I may not be published just yet, but I feel confident that one day I will be.

And that my friends, is a wonderful feeling!

Saturday, November 21, 2009


By Keith Fisher

note: when you finish, check out the link at the bottom

Did you ever find yourself relearning things you should’ve remembered? As I get older, it becomes a ritual. I think it’s the reason lessons and sermons at church tend to repeat. Eventually we’ll get it, and incorporate those principles into our lives.

I realized the implication one day, when I read a repeated blog, here on this site. I knew it was repeated, because I wrote it the first time. Never mind, that it was better than mine. At first, I felt miffed. Then, I realized I repeat myself, all the time, in this blog.

As I said above, its good to repeat lessons, and review notes from classes, workshops, and conferences. Today I'm going to repeat. But I have a new twist.

While going over edits from my critique group, I remembered the comments made about a particular part. I wrote.

The razor blade was new and cut well. Brady could hardly tell he was shaving.

The comments directed me to remove it because it’s not important to the story. I listened, considered the counsel, and agreed with them.

Later I reflected on why I’d written it. Let me try and explain. To a man who shaves with a blade, the statement indicates it’s a good day. It says life is good and I feel great.

Considering my critique group are all women, They wouldn’t get it. Although they shave their legs, they’ve probably never faced a new day by staring in a bathroom mirror, lathering their beards, and dragging a dull razor over a tender chin.

Then, I thought about those men who’ve never used anything but electric razors. They wouldn’t get the point either. Of course there are children, and men who never shaved. Many people could read my book, and never get the point.

The image is powerful to me, because I know how it feels to have a good, clean, shave. It’s even more powerful, when I consider how hard it is to shave a full beard without cutting myself. It can be done, but it’s not a great way to start a day.

So I realized imagery is subject to interpretation, and an individual perspective. If I want you to know that Brady was having a terrific morning, I need to find a universally understandable way of writing it. It’s all about life’s simple pleasures. The feel of warm water on your skin while taking a bath, the taste and feel of sugar as it melts on your tongue, and sitting back on a soft recliner after a hard day of strenuous work. Your muscles begin to relax, and your whole body feels like it would drift away.

If your reader has never experienced these things, he/she won’t relate. Considering perspective is vital in our work of showing, instead of telling.

Good luck in your writing—see you next week.

PS check out my review of An Angel on Main Street by Kathi Oram Petersen at A Writer’s Eyes

Friday, November 20, 2009

This Time Last Year...

by G.Parker

Well, in trying to come up with something to write about this week, I went back and viewed the blogs I wrote during the month of November last year. I wrote about Nanowrimo, big surprise.

At this point last year, I was stressed because I wasn't as far along as I wanted to be. I was looking at the idea that there were only six more writing days left in the month.

What a difference a year makes.

This year I've been sick a couple of days which has given me a little more writing time, but not only that, the story has been flowing. It's been fun and I'm enjoying myself. For the first time in a long time.

I guess I just wanted to tell anyone who's wondered if they could do 50,000 words in thirty days, yes you can. There are lots of people who will agree with me. Just go look up the site.

And by the way...I'm already at 43,220. For the first time in my years of participation, I'm contemplating doing 60,000 words. Miracles do happen.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Homage to the Village

By Nichole Giles

When I first decided I wanted to participate in this year’s National Novel Writing Month challenge, I had no idea what this month would bring. The intention was to seriously force myself into productive writing, even though I knew I’d be extremely busy.

And it’s paid off in spades.

First and most important, as of posting this blog, I have written 43,138 words in a novel I’ve been excited to get started on for months. That alone is great motivation.

But then a whole lot of my writer friends jumped into the mix, and our group got bigger and bigger, and as we all pushed each other to take this challenge, our buddy lists grew to contain close to thirty people. All of us writing a novel during the month of November. Now, I don’t know about you, but having that many people watching my progress gives me a big push too. Because suddenly it stops being just about me and my novel, but about all of us, and all of our work, and how we can encourage each other to push past our boundaries and just write what’s inside us.

Now I’m seeing benefits I hadn’t anticipated. A lot of my friends are working on projects that they’d previously planned, but had been putting off writing for years. Some are taking journeys into new territory by writing in a new genre or age category. Some are pushing themselves to write more than they ever normally would, just because everyone else is doing it. Isn’t peer pressure grand in this form?

For me, it means I’m giving up a lot of sleep, my house is a mess, and Thanksgiving is a week away and I still haven’t made food assignments to all my family members. (I should at least go buy a turkey and cook it before they show up at my house.) And it’s all okay, because by the end of the month, I’ll have accomplished this huge thing. And maybe once the editing is done, my friends and I will swap our works, so we can see the fruits of our laborious November.

Once again, I must pay homage to my village people, for they give me strength, endurance, and healthy competition. With their support, there are no boundaries, no limits to what I can accomplish.

This week’s writing prompts are also a village competition, made up by me and my good friend Danyelle.

1.Use the word toenail clippers, or a reference to them, somewhere in the text of your story.

2.Make use of any of the following words, in honor of our upcoming holiday:

Christopher Columbus
Pecan Pie
The Santa Maria

Good luck with weeks three and four, and over the holiday, don’t forget to write!


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

November Gripe

by C. LaRene Hall

I don’t usually complain about much, but it really makes me angry when all I can listen to on the radio is Christmas music at the beginning of November. Don’t get me wrong. I love Christmas music, but not this early. The two stations that I usually turn on during my commute to work is 100.3 or 105.6. Well because they started playing holiday music so early this month, I’ve turned to country. I’m now listening to 104.3 or 107.5. Of course, if they start playing Christmas music too early then I’ll object and change stations again.

It makes me wonder what all my writer friends are listening to. How do you write a good story with Christmas music blaring in your ears? Since the Novel that I’m writing for the month of November isn’t about Christmas I better just keep turning on the country stuff. By the way, last Wednesday I reached the ½ way mark of my 50,000 word goal. It feels good to be on the downward swirl.

I love Christmas, but I also love Thanksgiving. I’m not sure if my biggest protest is because I had ancestors than sailed on the Mayflower and I hate leaving the thankful part out of the month, or if I’m just a Scrooge. I know that my moaning and groaning isn’t going to change anything, and come December I’ll be excited to listen to the beautiful Christmas music. Until then I’ll just stay country.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Half-Million Words!

By Darvell

My writing group, Authors Incognito, has written over one-half million words in the National Novel Writing Month challenge. While this is quite an achievement, our goal is to write one million words during the Month of November.

You can check out our individual word counts at this link (thanks to John Ferguson):

Authors Incognito NaNoWriMo Counts

Go Authors Incognito!

(For more information on this writing challenge, click here: NaNoWriMo.)

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Thank You to Valor Publishing Group

By Ali Cross

Authors Incognito is a group of LDS writers who have all attended an LDStorymakers conference. Storymakers has provided many of us with the education and guidance to help us keep writing—and to improve our craft along the way. Many AI members have recently received publishing contracts through Valor Publishing Group.

Valor is a fledgling company intent on publishing books in the national market, but with values and ethics dictated by their faith. National publishing coupled with down-home values? It might seem like an oxymoron, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if they succeeded? What an opportunity for LDS writers, and others, to write and sell books that are a benefit to readers everywhere.

Valor is putting a toe into virtually every genre this next year. If you are publishing with Valor and I’ve failed to include you in my list, please comment and I will correct it.

Michele Ashman Bell, Summer in Paris (YA)
Daron D. Fraley, The Chronicles of Gan: The Thorn (Speculative Fiction)
Karen E. Hoover, The Sapphire Flute: Book 1 of the Wolfchild Saga (YA Fantasy)
Kimberly Job, I’ll Know You By Heart (Romance)
Alison Palmer, The Prodigal Son (General Fiction)
Tristi Pinkston, Secret Sisters Mysteries: Secret Series (Mystery)
Mark Shurtleff, Am I Not a Man? The Dred Scott Story (Historical Fiction)
Christine K. Bryant, Blood Bound: Keeper of the Crystor (Adult Fantasy)
Danyelle Ferguson, (dis)Abilities in the Church: A Guide for Families and Church Leaders (LDS Non Fiction)

Now, I can add myself to this list. The Devil’s Daughter (YA Paranormal) will be released in July.

Many people have asked me why I chose to publish with Valor when I could have gone with a national publisher. One of the biggest reasons is because Valor didn’t require me to compromise my values in order to publish my book. Writing for the young adult market can be challenging in a world that thinks teenagers want darker, dirtier, grittier books. Personally, I don’t believe the world is right on this—I think teenagers read books like that because that’s what there is, not because that’s what they want.

I’m grateful that I’ll be able to hold my head high in Relief Society, speak to young women without having to apologize for my stories, and especially to face my Heavenly Father one day knowing that I didn’t sully the waters any further by contributing more muck. Instead, I am so glad I have the opportunity to publish with a company that supports me in writing clean stories.

Thank you Candace, BJ and Tristi for establishing this company and giving so many LDS writers, many of whom are AI members, an opportunity to publish quality clean literature in the national market.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Blog Tour Stop and Other Stuff

By Keith Fisher

Good Morning Dear Readers! And that is not just a greeting, All my readers are dear to me. It has been an interesting week, and, I’m sure, you can say the same about yours.

I have a couple of things to write about today, but first, let me get the blog tour stuff out of the way. Oh, by the way, what do you think of the new portrait?

As many of you know, Heather Justesen, (who used to blog on this site), has a new book out. I reviewed it on my other site A Writer’s Eyes. Go and read what I said, BUT, wait until you finish reading this blog.

Heather is holding many contests and give-away events to kick of the launch of the book. Visit her website and blog for more info. She also has a cool trailer out. Her book, The Ball’s In Her Court, published by CFI, is now in Deseret Book, Seagull Book and Tape, Barnes and Noble, And many other fine book stores and websites. Go see my review, and pick up your copy today.

Now, let me thank you for reading. Let’s be honest, there are times in a struggling writer’s day when we get discouraged. It’s normal, part of the game, but knowing someone is reading makes it all worthwhile. Having those readers come back, is like putting frosting between two Graham crackers. (Did you notice the way I avoided a cliché there?)

I would be terribly ungrateful if I didn’t say thank you dear reader.

Recently, while posting my status on Facebook, I thought of a metaphor that helped me. I had grudgingly decided to take my novel apart and put it back together. I remembered the time I rebuilt the carburetor in my truck. I was in high school, and took it apart, more out of curiosity, than anything.

I put all the pieces in a parts washer, and made them shine. I needed new gaskets, so I bought a kit. When I attempted to put it back together, I found I couldn’t remember where everything went. I panicked when I found the kit instructions weren’t clear enough to understand. To make matters worse, I found new pieces in the kit that didn’t match anything I’d taken off the part.

It took a full day to figure it out, and it helped to realize the kit was universal for many different carburetors and the extra pieces weren’t needed. I learned many other lessons that day. Perhaps the most important was, the order in which the pieces go back together makes all the difference.

My current work in progress has some great elements. The concept is sound, the characters are growing, but but unlike the carburetor, there are problems and I need to take it apart. there are extra pieces I don’t need. Also, by writing important facts before establishing groundwork some of it needed explanation. In some places I tried to cheat the assembly, by leaving parts out. I also had problems with charactor motivation.

Now I have all the parts strung out in my head, and on my spreadsheet outline. I have the instructions I get from critique group, and books on writing to help me. I’m cleaning the parts by going scene by scene, character by character. Adding and subtracting. Hopefully, I’ll end up with a carburetor (book) that will function. Like the carburetor, my book will feed the fire of propulsion. My readers will be driven on a voyage of discovery. The plot and concept will change their lives.

Good luck with your writing, and don’t be afraid to take it apart. The pieces were made to fit. Our job is to examine, experiment, and put it together the right way. Like my carburetor, long ago, it will function, but unlike my truck, your book will last forever. See you next week.

Friday, November 13, 2009

You Have More Strength Than You Know

by G.Parker

Last week I had my first weight training with a personal trainer. She had me lifting 20 lb weights in a back rowing thing. I almost couldn't do it -- in fact, I had to finish my last reps with a lighter weight. I was supposed to do it three days later, and the idea filled me with dread. I knew how hard it had been to do it, and figured it was only going to be harder. My arms still ached so badly that it seemed ridiculous.

The whole day I planned to use lighter weights, and justify it when I saw her next. Then I reminded myself that paying someone to train me and then not doing what they told me was pretty much as waste of money -- so I decided to try it with the original weight.

I actually did all three sets with the weights...and it was easier than it had been the first time. I mentioned it to the trainer that was there, and he congratulated me, saying that it does get easier with time.

It made me think of writing and the Nanowrimo we've been talking about. This is my sixth year of doing this craziness, and you'd think it would be easier each year. Last year was a struggle, but this year, the words have just flowed. I'm finally ahead of my scheduled word count, and I guess I should be thankful that I've been sick...grin.

My count is up to 28229 words and I'm not worried about finishing within the deadline for the first time in several years.

I've discovered that I am stronger than I thought I was. And so are you.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Covers and Galleys and Parties: NaNo, Week Two

By Nichole Giles

In all the craziness of this week, I nearly, almost, possibly did, forget about writing this blog. Not that I could ever forget my faithful readers, mind you. After almost four years of never missing a Thursday, it's kind of hard to forget completely.

But lots has happened and I'm dying to share.This week, my coauthor Cindy and I (aka C.L. Beck and D.N. Giles) got a few happy emails.  The first one was the proofs for our humor book.  This was really good news to us because it means we're getting close to publication time. Just how close we had no idea. The proofs came on the last day of October, but we turned them in on Monday, along with pages of editing requests.

Then the very next day, we got another email with a few jpg attachments. OUR BOOK COVER!  Along with the cover, we were given a kind of, sort of release date of early to mid-December, and told the book goes to press on November 16th. (That's this coming Monday.)  Hooray!

The day after that, we got final galleys. Galleys are the layout of what the pages look like when they're actually in the book. Only ours were in computer format to speed up the process. So most of my day yesterday was spent going through and finding the final, final last minute changes that need to be made. And yes, there were several.

Partway through the day, we got the happy news that our launch party has been scheduled for December 9th. Yes, that's right kids, we're talking less than a month away. One month to order bookmarks and posters and plan for all the fun things we want to do. Can you say eeekk?  (But in a good, happy, excited way.)

Here's the information:

Launch Party for  
Mormon Mishaps and Mischief, Hilarious Stories for Saints
by D.N. Giles and C.L. Beck

6:00-9:00 PM
Barnes and Noble
University Crossings Plaza
330 East 1300 South, Orem, UT 84058
(801) 229-1611

And on top of all that, I'm still trying to keep up with all my NaNo buddies with a current word count of 28,265. Yesterday, Darvell passed me up, but I don't intend to let him stay ahead for long! 

Writing prompts for the week, borrowed from The Pocket Muse, Endless Inspiration by Monica Wood

1.What's the most you ever paid for something you didn't want? Write about why.

2. Write about your most unloved possession. How did you aquire this thing? Why did you think you needed it? How did it disappoint you?

3. Write about the day before the disaster.

Have a great week, kids.  Put the launch party on your schedule, because I hope to see you there!


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Guidelines, Rules, or Laws

by C. LaRene Halll

I always chuckle when I hear a teenager say, “When I turn 18, I can do anything I want.” Little do they realize that life without guideline and rules is not possible. To prove this I’ve tried many times to think of one thing that doesn’t have a law governing it. I’ve always come up with zilch. There are either good or bad consequences for everything we do.

Laws govern our universe, and the world where we live. Every country has rules as well as every city. All men, women, and children have to answer to someone. Wherever we go – school, work, church, or home – there are always guidelines to follow.

We writers also have to follow the rules of good writing. We can’t ignore good English, or punctuation. If we want someone to publish our book, we have to follow the publisher’s guidelines. There are always laws that we need to follow.

You are all welcome to test this theory. I challenge you to look at everything you do in a day and see if there is anything out there that isn’t governed by some law. I honestly can’t come up with one single thing.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Writing to Please Yourself

By Ali Cross

At the Book Academy conference in September, Brandon Sanderson told us, “You need to write what’s in your heart.”

But, how do you know what that is? Look to what you read, to what you think about, to the shows you watch and the conversations that engage you the most.

For me, this is a matter of integrity.

If every fiber of my being screams out against vampires dating human girls, but I think that this is the current trend and I want my story to be sell-able, what do I do? If I choose to write the vampire story, I’m not being honest with myself and I’m certainly not being honest to my readers.

And I believe that readers can tell when you’re not being honest with them. Treat your audience with respect by writing what you love and you’ll both be happy.

If you love to read historical fiction, then you’d probably enjoy writing historical fiction. If your favorite stories end happily with the boy getting the girl, chances are good you’d be able to write a great romance.

“Writing comes more easily if you have something to say” (Sholem Asch.) And true integrity in your writing starts with what’s in your heart.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Selling Yourself

By Keith Fisher

I started a new book this morning. Since I’ve been bogged down with rewrites lately, it felt great to focus on different characters for a while.

As a wannabe published author of novels, I want my book to be perfect, and I keep finding plot holes. As I fix one problem, another manifests its ugly head. Most of my time is spent agonizing over how to fix it. In a book with several characters and plot lines, it means going back and changing every thread. Needless to say, I’ve been getting discouraged.

So, It was refreshing to start something new. Most of my friends have been bragging about their experience with NaNoWriMo this year, making me jealous. It’s like being a recovering alcoholic surrounded by people talking about a drinking binge. I love the feeling of getting lost in artistic expression.

Ali Cross told me she periodically drifts back and forth to her different projects. When one gets stale, she works on another for a while. I told her it’s a great idea, and it’s a method I used to employ. With all the projects on my hard drive, I should never get bogged down or discouraged, right? Well, I can think of a few reasons, but those thoughts serve as examples of things to avoid.

There is a lot to be said for focus. Many writers need to concentrate on one thing at a time in order to accomplish the task. Most of us wish for the days, not too long ago, when a writer worked in seclusion, perfecting a masterpiece. In those days writers wrote, agents sold, publishers promoted.

While attending my first writer’s conference, The stark reality of what it means to be a writer today, forcefully hit me. I’ve worked in sales many times in my life, and it’s not one of my favorite things to do. Self-promotion has always seemed prideful, like loud arrogant people.

In the publishing world today, things have changed. Writers write, sell, and promote their books. Some publishers have adopted cost-cutting policies that sound like subsidization. Because of the competitive nature of the business, writers are expected to rise to a level of perfection never achieved in earlier generations. To use a cliché, the bar has been raised.

Now I admit, writers need to be committed, and take a pro-active part in promoting their book. It is, after all, their baby. So, when your project gets stale, and you need a break, start promoting yourself.

There are myriad ways to promote your self, both active and benign. I learned a lesson while attending the book launch party for Am I Not A Man written by Mark L Shurtleff. Because I know his editor, I know being Attorney General for the State of Utah didn’t get him published. I’m sure it will help sell a few copies of the book, however.

Now, I know. I know you were also taught to be humble, and we all can’t run for office, but do you like making friends? There’s a difference between a network of business contacts, and a network of good friends who happen to be in publishing.

Go out of your way and attend book launch parties. Go to book signings, and writer’s conferences. I met a publishing executive at a workshop recently. I think we became friends. Our friendship probably won’t result in a book contact, but I made a friend.

The important thing to remember is motive. I’m sure you would be more willing to help a genuine friend, before helping the phony who gives you lip service. Be willing to provide sincere help to your friends and they will help you in return. I hope to sell several copies of my book because people know me, and I am their friend. The rest of them will sell, because the story is well written.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, November 06, 2009

The Editors in My Head

by G.Parker

I was happily writing away at my nano entry the other night, and realized I kept having strange thoughts. I would write something and instantly think "Dang, they're gonna tear that one apart."

It's funny how after you've been with a critique group so long you know how they view certain aspects of your writing and what you need to do to change things. It's like having an automatic editor in your head yelling at you each time you write was, had or anything else too common in your paragraphs.


But I didn't stop and for the most part I'm not editing. When you're trying to pound out 50,000 words in 23 days, it's difficult to keep yourself from getting sidetracked. My hubby read a section last night and started suggesting alternatives and I shouted "I'm not editing! I'm writing the rough draft -- the editing is later." He slunk away and I finished writing my goal for the day.

He really is a sweetheart.

So far I'm at 7200 words. How are you doing with your goals?

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Sailing Over Bumps

By Nichole Giles

Don't you think it's funny how writer's often work best under pressure?  When I originally considered signing up for NaNoWriMo, I hesitated.I had a whole list of reasons why, other than December, November is the worst possible month for me to commit to something as big as 50,000 words.Then there's the issue of me having problems with fitting an entire novel into 50,000 words, and wondering if I can possibly finish a novel by the end of the month. Seriously, I probably need more like 100,000 before I can actually write the words, The End. 

But that's irrelevant today. For now, I'm just writing. And though I've had a couple of days when I could only add a few words to my count, there have been others in which I've bulked up quite a few. And even though yesterday I found a total of 30 minutes to NaNo, I am still ahead of my projected weekly goal. As always, there are bumps in my writing road. Today, I'm going to fly a kite and hope it will pick me up so I can sail over them.

It is day five in my 2009 NaNo journey, and I've already logged a total of 11,451 words. And I haven't started yet today. My plan is to log around 3000 words, but we'll see.

Oh, but I haven't told you the best part. My group--the village I talked about last week--has collectively logged over 140,000 words and counting in the past four days. (I don't have today's count yet.) Tell me that's not incredible!

Writing prompts of the day: (Borrowed from the awesome book, The Pocket Muse: Endless Inspiration by Monica Wood.)

1. Write about a shocking discovery (not a body) in a fallow field.
2. Start with a smell that brings it all back.
3. Write about a painful loyalty.

You don't have to use these, but if you find yourself staring at a blank screen, feel free to pick one or all of the above to fill your NaNo writing tank.  Good luck.

On your mark get set...go!

(By the way, how are you doing with your writing this week? I want to know.)

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

I'm Busy

By C. LaRene Hall

I’ve heard that some people succeed because they are destined for success, but most people succeed because they are determined to do so. With most of us writers, at least the ones that I know, we will succeed because we are determined to write that book – the book that is in each of us.

I’m sure that is the main reason why so many of us have signed up for National Novel Writing Month. No, we're not crazy but the idea of actually writing 50,000 words in only one month is tempting to many of us. None of us is planning to get much done besides the writing of our current novel. I’ll continue to post my regular blogs, but they won’t be very long.

At the end of today, Wednesday, November 4th, my goal was to have written 6,000 words, (2,000 words for each day not including Sunday) but it's only the beginning of the day and my word count is already 7,177. I hope the rest of the month goes as well as the first two days.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

NaNoWriMo 7044

By Darvell Hunt

NaNoWriMo word count: 7044.

Busy writing WAY COOL story. :-)

See you next week!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Bandaids—On or Off?

By Ali Cross

The other day I tuned into a radio show that provides people advice in making difficult life choices. A girl, engaged to be married within the month, had recognized problematic behavior in her fiancé and doubted her wisdom in choosing to marry him. As she and the talk show host discussed the situation, it became clear that her boyfriend’s issues were rather serious and would affect her life for as long as she was married to him. She could choose to accept him with all his faults and never complain or let them bother her forever more—or she could choose to end the relationship now, before they married.

In the end it seemed she would choose to stay with him.

Her reason for suffering a lifetime of personal struggle and hardship? Because she didn’t want to accept the embarrassment today of canceling her wedding.

It was a rather stunning revelation to me—that a person would choose a lifetime of problems over one really big problem today. And yet, people do it all the time.

And it got me thinking: How many of us writers choose the easy way out, hoping that we’ll be able to deal with the problems later on, or that our editor/agent will overlook our shortcomings?

A writer might be tempted, having written over three quarters of their manuscript, to ignore an element that needs to be fixed from early on in their story. They know their book would be so much stronger for the fix, but the thought of rewriting their entire story is just so discouraging, so overwhelming, that they would rather patch it with a Band-Aid, than repair it

I know how tempting that is, but which finished work do you think would be more appealing to agents/editors and, inevitably, to your readers? The one in which a quick fix was applied later in the story, or the one that is written with the end in mind from the very beginning?

You can’t really blame that young bride for dreading the prospect, all the hard work, the explanations, the embarrassment, of canceling her wedding so close to the big day. You can’t really blame a writer for not wanting to go back and rewrite his entire novel when he’s so close to writing The End.

But which is the better choice? To live with a decision that you will regret forever or to suck it up now, like ripping a Band-Aid off quickly, and deal with your problem today?

You decide—as for me, I prefer to shut my eyes, bite my lip, and pull the bandage off. A lot of pain now for a lot of satisfaction later.