Friday, April 30, 2010

The Other Conference

by G.Parker

I went to the temple tonight with my hubby in preparation for stake conference this weekend. It was wonderful, as usual, and quite full. We went early, as we go weekly and did sealings...then we went to a session with our ward.

I sat there, surrounded by people I've known for over 30 years (some of them), and realized that this was similar to what Heaven was going to be like. I also thought of the writing conference this past weekend, and how this was actually kind of similar.

We go to these conferences to refuel and gain perspective as writers. We go to the temple to do the same thing for our spiritual well being.

I think as LDS writers, we get the best of both worlds. Not only do we have a different perspective on our purpose as a writer, but we also see the larger picture and have a support system far more vast than any one else.

I just want to say I'm thankful to be associated with all of you and for the support you have given me over the years.


Now go throw a snowball at someone and have a party. It's spring in Utah, in case you haven't noticed... ;)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Conferences Build Writing Relationships

By Nichole Giles

If you're a blog hopper--like me--you've probably noticed that lots of writers are talking about the most recent LDStorymakers conference. I've always maintained that the conferences put together by the Storymakers are the best available in the mid-west, and this year, with an attendance of more than 460 people, it appears that others have caught on as well.

The classes were phenomenal--and there were so many to choose from that making a choice gets harder every year. The presenters were fantastic--and entertaining as well. The hotel was roomy enough for all of us, and the food was even pretty good. (As much as food made in bulk can be good.) 

But those aren't my only reasons for attending anymore. The people. Other writers. My friends are there. So many of them.

I've discovered that when a bunch of writers get together in the same building, there's a special kind of energy that happens. It's rare for a writer--who is usually singular and fairly solitary in his or her craft--to feel that kind of kinship and commonality with so many other people at once. And not only that, the energy we create in that space follows us home and stays with us for months.

Have you ever heard the story of NaNoWriMo? It started out as a handful of friends who all wanted to write an entire novel in November. Without delving into all the details, I'll just say that this little project has exploded over the nation. And now, writers all over the country, and some in other countries, commit ourselves to writing entire 50,000 word novels in a month. It's a special kind of energy that spreads from one person to the other and doesn't stop.

For some people it's competition. For others, it's common ground. There are also those who just want to join in for the fun of it. But mostly, for me, it's about synergy. The loving support of my writing friends reminds me that I can do it, I should do it, and eventually, I will do it.

Look at us! Aren't we fantastic?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Something New

By C. LaRene Hall

Of course, my post this week is about the fantastic writer’s conference that I attended last week. I’m one of the oldster’s. I’ve been at these particular writing conferences since the beginning of the LDStorymaker’s Writers Conference in Springville.

Every year that I go, I wonder if I will really learn something new. Either I’m a slow learner or they have something new every year because I’m still learning. I like to think that they do have new and different classes each time. There are always so many things to choose from, and the choices are difficult because as a writer I feel I can use all the help I can get.

I signed up for three classes that lasted two hours each, and I was not disappointed with any of them. Today my mind is still so full of new things that I learned – I can’t think of anything else.

Besides creating my own website, and learning how to write a killer query, I went to a class by J. Scott Savage about creating a character bible. I’ve attended many classes over the years about characters, but for some reason this year it clicked in my head. The class was fabulous.

Instead of just tracking the usual things, hair color, eye color, etc. he taught that we should keep track of what motivates our character. We have to make sure that our protagonist, antagonist, and main characters are consistent. We spent two hours getting to know our characters by answering questions about them. As you can guess these were questions I’d never thought to ask before.

Now I will know what each character wants and what stands in their way. I can now figure out how they will overcome their obstacles. I can honestly say that I’m sure glad I attended this workshop.

Thanks LDStorymaker’s.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Refilling the Well

By Ali Cross

This past weekend many of us attended the LDStorymakers Writer’s conference. What fun it was! I hope if you went, your well was filled and you’re home now thinking of all the ways you can improve your writing efforts and find success. If you weren’t able to join us this year, I hope you’ll consider attending the conference next year.
For me, attending such conferences are essential to my success, and my sanity.

At church we often hear of the importance of filling our well. We need to attend our Sunday meetings, to partake of the sacrament and renew our covenants with Heavenly Father. We need to study the scriptures and pray often. We don’t do these things only because they are necessary to our worship, our lifestyle and our hopes for the future; we do them because they draw us nearer to God, stoke the fires of our faith and help us stay true to the teachings of the gospel.

Similarly, we need to fill our writer’s well, and attending conferences can do that for us.

The friends we meet and visit with empathize with our struggles. The classes we attend inspire us and spark new ideas to move forward stagnant projects or witness the birth of new stories.

We come away with a greater desire to write and renewed energy to reach our goals. Our wells are filled.

In the intervening time, we can continue to fill our wells by reading this blog, and visiting the blogs of other writers, agents and publishers. But nothing beats the joy of spending two full days surrounded by like-minded people while exploring the craft of writing. I love this feeling and hope I can keep it alive until the next chance to fill my writing well. And of course, I hope you’ll join me!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

One of Many

By Keith Fisher

I sat in the grand ballroom, looking out over a sea of humanity. The master of ceremonies asked for a raise of hands to show how many were attending for the first time. The number of raised hands exceeded those who’d been there before.

It was the welcoming session of the LDStorymakers conference, and I was overwhelmed. When I attended my first LDStorymakers conference in 2006, The welcoming session was held in a room almost as big, as some of the classrooms at the 2010 conference. I remember sitting in the front at the 2006 conference and looking back at the mass of people with an interesting thought in mind.

I wrote a blog about it shorlty afterward, and said,

With the increasing numbers of LDS writers and those who write in the LDS market, I wonder if perhaps we’re all standing on a precipice being prepared to help fight a battle. To help people come to the knowledge of Christ. Even if we do no more than keep our content clean.

For want of a better image, remember the movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, when several people suddenly had the same desire?

I overheard a published author, Saturday morning, and she was saying the same thing about that conference. I don’t think we were the only ones with those impressions either.

Since that first conference, I’ve seen the numbers increase every year. It’s overwhelming. Yes, it equates to more competition, but if what I wrote in 2006 is true, The army is increasing in numbers.

The LDStorymakers conference is like a breath of fresh air. I attended a breakout session, and listened to Joshua J. Perkey bear testimony. He refreshed my desire to help change lives with my writing. I also heard a presentation By Matt and Tristi designed to strengthen the marriages of writers. It confirmed my belief that my writing is an aspiration given to me by a loving Heavenly Father.

Simply put, I could, attend writer’s conferences in some exotic places, but nowhere else, can I network with like minded writers, and listen to a closing prayer after the conference. I am truly blessed.

Good luck with your writing---see you next week.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Those of Us Left Behind

by G.Parker

Most of you realize what this weekend is, and are participating. The talk at Authors Incognito is all about the LDStorymakers conference this weekend.

Well...I won't be there.

Don't get me wrong - I've been to a couple of the conferences, otherwise I wouldn't be part of this wonderful group of bloggers - but I don't have the where-with-all this year. So, while they are rubbing shoulders with each other and getting the latest in advise/instruction on publishing, writing, editing and illustrating a story for the popular LDS market (and others) I'll be home doing laundry, cleaning house and helping my youngest with his Eagle project.


I hope everyone takes lots of notes and is willing to share them...would a bribe work?? I know Darvell's not into chocolate, but there has to be something...

See you all next week.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Joy of Face-to-Face Networking

By Nichole Giles

Okay my friends, here’s the deal. Right now, this minute, I’m frantically getting things ready for this year’s LDStorymakers writer’s conference. This is by far the very best, most awesome, incredibly fun and informative writer’s conference available. Or, well, at least that I’ve attended. And I attend conferences regularly.

And because I’m very involved in the sister group associated with the LDStorymakers, I have a few extra responsibilities to take care of, like producing a skit, prize baskets, and posters. So, rather than write a highly informative blog today, I’m going to give you a bit of advice.

Attend writer’s conferences. As many and as often as you can. Until you do, you will never know the joy of face-to-face networking with so many like-minded people. And besides the joy, you’ll take away information. Lots and lots of it. Invaluable information that will undoubtedly make your work better.

Go. Learn. Do. And then…Write!

Next week, reports on things I learned and people with whom I socialized.

Oh, and don't forget to check out our new Authors Incognito Newsletter blog for the most current Authors Incognito news.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


by C. LaRene Hall

I read the following on a church bulletin board, Any bug can hit the windshield but it takes guts to stick there.

Being a writer, I immediately likened this to those of us who write. I wondered how many writers out there have become so discouraged that they stopped writing. Just because no one has published your work, doesn’t mean that you can stop trying.

It really does take guts to put your work out there for someone to tear apart. It’s not easy to have someone say that your work isn’t good enough, or that it’s not what they were expecting from you. Courage creates writers. Don’t give up, because someday someone will like your work, just stick to the windshield.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

See You at the Conference!

By Darvell Hunt

If you know anything about the LDS writing market, you know that this weekend, starting Friday, is the LDStorymakers 7th Annual Writers Conference. This will be my seventh year in attendance (I've been to all of them!) and my first year as one of the presenters.

I'm helping teach, along with two members of my writing group, Authors Incognito, a two-hour course on "Making yourself a dot com!" Or, rather, teaching writers how to create their own author's web page. If you're signed up for our class, GREAT! I'll see you there! If not, oh, sorry, too bad, the class is already full (as is the conference). But maybe by next week, you'll see a new crop of LDS author web pages popping up all over the internet!

But, even if you're not going to be in my class, but are going to the conference (hey, what's up with that, not coming to my class, huh?), then I hope to see you there anyway.. It's always fun to meet like-minded people who are crazy enough to want to write.

So, see you at the conference!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Undiscovered Country

By Keith Fisher

I’m a Star Trek fan. It comes natural for me. Who doesn’t wish for a future where the pursuit of individual excellence is paramount and greed no longer exists? A bright future where you can visit the other side of earth by entering a transporter?

One of my favorite Star Trek movies is The Undiscovered Country. In the story, a klingon moon explodes and the empire is forced to find a new home world. The federation extends an olive branch and offers to help.

The leader of the klingons calls the future, the undiscovered country. He looked forward to the unknown. Like the klingons, We don’t know the outcome of any endeavor. The future looms over us as undiscovered continents did, to the first explorers.

By necessity, we’re all explorers. Most of us however, sit comfortably in the Old World, while the Magellans’, Columbus’, and Admiral Byrds, trudge forward into the New World of the future. They sail toward the Undiscovered Country, with courage.

Such is the case with those writers who leave the security of a day job to pursue writing as a full time career. I have a great amount of respect for writers who are crazy enough to believe in their ability to sustain their chosen occupation.

They stand on the edge of a deep chasm ready to take that awe inspiring, leap of faith. The rest of us stand at the entrance of the temple waiting for Indiana Jones to find the way.

Many years ago, there was in Paris, an artistic community of writers, painters, and musicians. Some of them lived on the good graces of relatives or they worked just long enough to find sustenance. Others starved. Success in their chosen field was their common dream. F. Scott Fitzgerald and many of his contemporaries came through those times and went on to become famous.

In my ever-expanding circle of writer friends, most of us have family responsibilities. Our day jobs keep food on the table, and turn the wolves away from the door. We can’t run off to Paris and perfect our craft, but we can take a leap of faith.

Submitting our manuscript to an editor is like stepping into the unknown future. If we are successful, the Undiscovered Country will be ours to explore. We might not commit to writing full time for awhile, but we can be like Magellan just the same. Launch that ship into uncharted waters by finishing that manuscript.

As for the community of artisans, opportunities to associate with other writers can be found in writer’s conferences and workshops. Critique groups or the odd retreat or two. Each week in my critique group, we prove there is nothing like talking to other writers about characters who won’t leave you alone. I have a circle of friends, a small community of artisans.

As I said before, I have a great amount of respect for those who give up their day jobs in order to pursue their writing career. I plan to do that someday, but until then, I’m going to keep submitting, and attending conferences.

Good luck with your writing---see you next week.

Click on the image to read my review of Kimberly Job's new book, I'll Know you by Heart.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Move On or Edit?

by G.Parker

Okay -- you've finally gotten to the last page of your book. You've edited for a while, you've handed it out to critique groups and yet -- you know it's not quite there. The problem is, you have another story that's driving you crazy because it hasn't been written down. So the question comes to you: Move on to the new story or wait until the current one has been fully edited?

That's the question that plagues me every day. I have boxes of manuscripts that have gone through my critique group, but I haven't done anything with them because I also have several more that have never been read by anyone else. I feel an urgency right now to focus on a particular work because it's what I wrote for NaNoWriMo and I have until June to get it edited, formatted correctly and sent in for my free proof copy. However -- I just finished having my group go through a story and all the editing suggestions are still fresh. UGH!

In a perfect world, I figure I would be writing full time. I would write on new stuff in the morning, and edit all afternoon. I have even tried that during the summer when I'm not working (since my job revolves around the school year)but it didn't work. I have children and they kind of like food and clean clothes and attention... So I know it's not going to work.

Does that mean I work on stuff that I think has more potential than others? Is my primary goal just to publish or to get better at my craft? It's a conundrum that I think many writers suffer from, or maybe it's just me and I'm too easily distracted by the new story. However, I don't think that's quite it. There are several authors that seem to publish a new work every year. Does that mean they work like madmen during the three months (or so) it takes to finish the rough draft and then the next three months while they edit to make a deadline? What about life? Family? Chocolate?

Or, perhaps they are constantly working on new material while finishing/editing the current item. I don't know, and I don't have time to take a poll of the writers I know personally. So, you're just going to get my point of view.

Whatever the case, I'm going to start on the new story because there is a deadline in the future for it. Then, I guess I might have to focus on something that's been through the critique group, because the boxes are starting to pile up...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Something to Offer, Something to Share

By Nichole Giles

In one week and a day I’ll be hanging with all my most beloved author friends at the annual LDStorymakers conference. This is my favorite conference, and probably always will be because of all those wonderful people. But this year, things will be different from conferences past.

From what I hear, registration has now topped 400. This is both a good thing and bad. Good for the obvious reasons. Lots of authors, loads of people to meet, big name, big resources, great classes, etc. But I’m sad in some ways too. Gone are the intimate classes of ten or fifteen. Gone are many of the opportunities for forging personal connections with other people like us—the crowd is just too big. Gone are the chances of coming back next year and actually remembering the names of even half of last year’s attendees.

There are pros and cons to both situations. As much as I love big conferences, I crave the personal connections forged in smaller settings. I love learning from the pros, but I also love socializing with them.

Believe it or not, I think some of the pros like socializing with us up-and-coming authors as well. Conferences are a great time to get to know people in the business—wherever they are on the ladder to publication. You never know who will have a contract in hand in a month. Or six. Or even a year. Let’s face it, we’re all in this together.

**cue High School Musical song**

Gag. Can’t believe I just said that.

Besides connections, we all have something to offer. Something to teach others around us. We may not know what it is, or how it’ll happen, but whenever like minds get together to soak information into their brains like so many sponges in water, someone is bound to take something you say and do something valuable with it. Even the wannabe bestsellers that haven’t made it yet.

What better place is there to share?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Show Up

by C. LaRene Hall

Last week Cindy (C. L.) Beck posted a couple of videos by Elizabeth Gilbert on Creativity. I hope everyone took time to watch them.

After watching the videos, I began to wonder if I really am peculiar or maybe have bizarre behavior. I know that sometimes I’m a bit odd or strange. When I go on and on about a book I’m writing, people sometimes look at me as though I’m weird. Is this really that unusual? Aren’t all writers like this? To me my behavior doesn’t seem abnormal. The way I act doesn’t seem out of the ordinary to me. Does this mean I’m biased?

I know that I don’t usually go into the pits of despair, but I know some people that do. I rarely am stressed like lots of people. Does that mean I’m not a writer? That would be disastrous – what have I been doing with my time for years?

Back to the videos – I loved the part about showing up for your part of the job. I think I learned this at a very young age. In my teen-years, I sometimes got upset with all the time that I devoted to performing for other people. It sometimes seemed like I had no time to do what I wanted to do. I was always playing a violin solo, or performing with the orchestra. When I wasn’t asked to do that, they would ask me to sing a solo or a duet. Dancing was a big part of my life and I did many solo numbers as well as performing ballroom dancing with my younger brother. Learning a new dance number was always exciting. All of these prepared me for what lie ahead for me in this life. I learned to do my job, although many times I would ask, “WHY ME?”

I had numerous opportunities and as I look back, I’m actually grateful that I was able to have those experiences. I rarely touch the violin. I avoid singing in front of others, and I married someone who hates to dance. I learned that I should not be afraid. I’m willing to try new things, and audiences usually don’t frighten me.

Writing was always something I liked to do, but because I was always so busy with other things, I never nurtured that desire. It wasn’t something that others knew I could do because it wasn’t like my other talents. They were visible things. Writing is personal. I honestly don’t know when I realized that no matter what I’m a writer. Nothing anyone else says or does will ever take that away from me, and just because I’m a writer doesn’t mean that I’m mentally unstable. I’m a creative person who loves to write. I refuse to be afraid and I will do the job.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Printing for Proofing

By Darvell Hunt

This blog post is somewhat of a follow-up to Nichole’s post from a few weeks ago about when she had printed out her book and got out a pair of scissors, paperclips, and a stapler. I’ve also found that there’s something different about seeing your own writing on a piece of white paper that’s not the same as reading it on a computer screen, even though word processors nowadays use black text on a white background to simulate black ink on paper.

While I normally do my rearranging on the computer instead of using scissors and staplers, I do like to print out final edits for proofing. I always seem to find more things to correct when my writing is on a physical medium. In addition to just printing it out, I like to bind my books so that my critiquers (which often includes family members or friends) can read it like a book and not be distracted by the loose papers that editors and agents prefer.

A little over a year ago, I purchased a scrapbook binder called YourStory from a local craft store. It does a very good job of allowing me to publish a copy or two of my book, as long as it’s not too long—it only handles about 40-45 pages at the most, but, of course, you can print on both sides for double the pages. For adult-length novels, this method may not work very well, but it’s perfect for shorter kids’ novels or picture books.

I bind my books in an 8-inch by 8-inch format, but you can also do smaller or larger sizes, even up to 8.5-inch by 11-inch—perfect for making mockups of your picture book, if that's what you write.

I generally make two copies and label them specifically as critique versions, with my name, phone number, and email address inside, just in case one gets misplaced—that usually doesn’t happen, though, because I keep tight control over who sees it.

I then write corrections inside it, just like any critique copy, and suggest my readers do the same. Once a few people have read it and marked it up, I transfer any corrections I want to keep back into the original, go through it again on the computer, and, if necessarily, print out two more copies.

For kids, having a book they can handle and read like a book makes all the difference for getting them to read it and provide feedback. And, frankly, kids are more likely to scramble the loose pages of a manuscript anyway, so binding it for them helps me as well in getting the critique copy back in one piece.

If you’re interested in this sort of binding for your book, check out the YourStory binder at your local craft store. They can be purchased for less than fifty dollars. The binder creates a fairly good binding with a substance similar to hot glue, which is placed on the inside spine of the hard cover. The simple machine also laminates, too. What a deal!

(By the way, I have no association with Provo Craft, who makes the YourStory binder, or any craft store in which they may be purchased.)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Learning Patience

By Keith Fisher

I’m a little late posting my blog this week because I’ve been cooking at the Dutch oven convention. If you didn’t know, it’s Mecca for camp cooks. I’ll be posting a blog about it at The Camp Cook in Your Backyard, blog.

Last week, I attended a Church meeting on Saturday night. For those of you who don’t know, The LDS Church holds a semi-annual general conference broadcast. As part of that conference, there is a Saturday night meeting. It’s broadcast to certain chapels and universities. Of course you can get it on the Internet in real time.

Anyway, in the meeting, Elder Uchtdorf of the First Presidency, spoke about being patient. It was a wonderful message and spoke to my heart. It helped me to come to grips with waiting on the Lord. I know he will bless me with answers to prayers, but I must be patient and continue working, doing my part.

The message he gave can help struggling, authors in their quest for success, but that’s not what I want to write about today.

As I said, I was in a public place packed with people. The parking lot was also full, and I had the opportunity to leave early, but didn’t. In the stake center where I attended the meeting, they turn most of the lights off to avoid the shadow they so they cast on the projection screen. As a writer I like to take notes, and if I can’t see my notebook . . . well, you get the idea. I sat through the meeting in the foyer.

It’s a better seat anyway. You can’t see the speakers, but the sofa is more comfortable. I was taking notes, toward the end, when I suddenly got an idea for a scene in my book. I began to write it, but interrupted myself to listen to the Prophet. I went right back to my scene when he finished. I sat in the foyer long after the rush of people left the building.

When I finally left, cars were backed up in the parking lot. I started my truck to run the heater, and went back to writing under a street lamp.

I wrote until I had finished my draft, looked up, and the parking lot was almost empty. I was able to drive home at my leisure, with no traffic jams.

I reflected on Elder Uchtdorf’s talk, and smiled when I thought of another way to look at his subject. Many writers carry notebooks, or some other way to capture our thoughts. A lot of writing gets done away from the writing desk. I run away to write all the time, myself. But I’ve never thought about using down time in the car. Think of how liberating it could be after a ball game, concert, or other major event. To wait for traffic, while putting in your writing time.

Just think of the stress relief. Of course, this strategy could cause even more problems if the kids in your car are in a hurry. I recommend installing a back seat DVD player. :)

So, when you’re alone, and traffic is heavy. Pull to the side of the road, preferably under a shade tree. Draft that scene, write that article, or a letter. I bet you’ll find peace that only comes from the endorphins of writing. I also think you’ll realize you haven’t lost anymore time than if you had waited in traffic, with anger rising, to get your turn to go.

I’m going to learn to be patient. I’ll follow the council of my leaders and get some writing done at the same time. Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, April 09, 2010


by G.Parker

We are always talking about ways to improve our writing. One of the things we've mentioned, but less often, is how to rejuvenate ourselves so that our writing is better.

Your brain is like a well oiled machine, but even so, it needs a break from stress and work. This week has been one of those times for me. It's spring break here, and my children are out of school, which means I'm off work. Much as I like my job, I like days off even better. I've finally been able to catch up on my sleep (which has been difficult the past month or so) and my house work (boys are great workers when there's game time involved) and I’ve actually been able to read for enjoyment.

I even had an idea on for the story I'm working on, which is something that hasn't happened for a while. So my quick suggestion for today is to remember there needs to be down time for the brain and faculties. You'll write better if you feel refreshed and ready to go.

Until next week.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

The Right Audience

By Nichole Giles

I have a friend who is feeling under-appreciated for their work. This person feels like certain reviewers just don’t “get” the point of a newly released book. My first response to my friend is, “What? How could anyone not get it?”

But then I glanced at the book currently on my nightstand—one which I need to finish, but which I’m really, really struggling to get through for a similar reason to the thing for which the critic didn't like my friend's book. I don’t get it, and because of that, I’m not really enjoying it. And because of that, I don’t like it.

At this point, I could list all the reasons why I’m not loving this book. I could pick it apart, point out that it’s more of a thinly veiled lesson for XYZ rather than an interesting story, and that it’s not appropriately age-targeted, or whatever. But instead, I’m going to boil it down to one lesson. The only one that really matters.

Clearly, I am not the target market for this book. Nor was my friend’s book targeted at the reviewer who didn’t “get” it. And that’s okay, because not all books are targeted at everyone.

When an author finds a specific audience, and manages to write his or her book specifically with that definitive audience in mind, that is when a potential hit is born. But it doesn’t mean everyone will love the book. Every NYT Bestseller on the market has critics. Look at Twilight, Hunger Games, The DaVinci Code, and all other books that ever made that elusive list.

Today’s lesson: Not everyone will love your book. And if you do it right, you’ll have as many critics as fans. That is the nature of success.

And that is all I’m going to say about that.

At least for today. Until next week, write on!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Don’t Overwhelm Readers

by C. LaRene Hall

It drives me nuts when I’m reading a book and the author tells me everything right up front. Yet, this is one mistake that I make when I’m writing. I give too much information at one time. Instead, I should give a little piece in the first chapter and just a little bit at a time throughout the entire story.

I know that if you give the details and facts in your book slowly, your audience will be able to digest the information before you give them more. I certainly don’t want to overwhelm my readers by giving them more than they can handle. Wouldn’t it be nice if I could say, I always do it right.

I’ve learned that you really don’t have to put in every detail. Too much content can result in going off on a tangent. When you cram, too much into your story sometimes you can confuse your readers. Make sure what you write is important. When you keep focused, your reader will actually enjoy the story better.

Anyway, that’s my opinion. Take it or leave it. For now, I’m going to try harder so I’m not overwhelming my readers.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010


By Cindy (C.L.) Beck

Although I haven't posted here at the LDS Writers Blogck in some time—I'm a floater and only post periodically—I ran across something worth sharing.

In our world as writers, we deal with more than our portion of discouragement. Who else works in a profession where rejection occurs on such a regular basis? Every once in a while though, a story or video comes along to offer encouragement. And that's what this pair of videos accomplishes.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. They are a little long, but well worth the effort, so if you only have time to listen to one, try the second.

~ Cindy

Oh, just a warning. Gilbert does use a mild swear word or two in the videos, but nothing hugely offensive.


Saturday, April 03, 2010

Taking Pictures with Too much in the Frame

By Keith Fisher

My daughter borrowed my camera the other day and asked me to send her the images. I’m an obedient dad, but my duty required I check out her pictures while I downloaded them. I found 62 beautiful pictures causing me to reminisce.

I studied photography in high school, and thought I was pretty good. At one time I wanted to be a news photographer when I grew up. Time, made me realize my pictures weren’t very good. Well I took a few good ones, but there were many more that left me shaking my head.

Out of every five rolls of film I’d get one good one, which explains why I’m a writer, and not a photographer. I still try to take good pictures, though. At least I don’t cut off heads.

My daughter, however, takes wonderful pictures, and she taught herself. She uses the settings on my camera, and produces works of art. The picture of the flat volleyball is one of them.

When I examine the image, my mind conjures metaphors and object lessons, but beyond that, there is nothing in the frame to detract from the subject. I noticed the other pictures were the same way. She took pictures of a stack of bricks, a discarded gardening glove, a clump of pine needles, and more. All of these bits of beauty are tiny parts of my yard, things I never take time to notice. If I went out there, I’d come back with one, maybe three, pictures of the whole yard. I’d make sure the images were in frame, but you’d never see the volleyball in my picture.

I realized I try to put too much in the frame. I forget to concentrate on individual portions. Then I thought of my writing. As a writer, I plot. I’ve been told that’s a good thing, but let me tell you what happened the other day.

I brought the first chapter of my new book, to critique group. Well I really brought my third chapter that I’d moved to the front because of event sequencing. I had things in the first chapter that happen after the third chapter. The problem was I forgot about the exposition I’d put in the third chapter. Because it was now the first chapter, I added a situational hook, then tried to make the exposition fit the story. I tried to fill the frame of my photograph. Instead of focusing on the hook, I got lazy.

The wonderful ladies in my group pointed out my errors, and my argumentative nature rebelled. Have I ever told you my critique group is the best bunch of writers you could find? Their patience is legendary.

So I need to go back and re-work it. This time I’ll focus on the situational hook. I’ll let it develop and worry about the rest as it comes. I’ve had time to think, and I know how to make it work. I just need to focus on one thing at time. I know where I’m going. Now, I need to help the reader enjoy the journey. Like my daughter takes pictures of the little things, I need to focus on each chapter. Then my book will be a collection of beautiful chapters instead of a good plot that never gets read.

I blogged about Secret Sisters today. Check it out. Click on the image below.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, April 02, 2010


by G.Parker

You might remember my mentioning that my husband is going to school. His bane of existence right now is a language and communications class. He had to write a paper (that was a production in and of itself), and now he's doing a presentation that has to be filmed and emailed or posted on YouTube. Not only did he have to outline exactly what was to be covered, but he had to script the entire thing and each of these steps had to be approved before he could continue.

He had hoped to have the presentation done by Monday so he could move on to the other classes he is trying to finish up, but things didn't go as planned. There were problems with the lighting -- the room was light, but it looked like he was trying to film a black and white movie from the 40's. The top of his head was mostly cut off, and that needed to be adjusted. The sound didn't come through the finished product and we had to rig up another microphone. He has a large chart that is part of the presentation -- that was the difficulty with Monday -- we had to get it printed large enough that it could be seen on the presentation; but it doesn't show the numbers, only the graph clearly. Oh well.

It's been a nightmare for him because he isn't comfortable with giving presentations, talks or anything that requires him to be in front of people. Also, it's taken so many steps and trouble shooting to get the video to come out right. We had to rig lights, add a microphone because the cameras we had purchased didn't pick up the sound, etc. I feel like our spare room has become a TV studio. It has given us a minimal glimpse of the filming industry and how it works.

What has impressed me the most throughout this whole project, has been his determination -- his persistence in getting the project done. He could have given up at any point and no one would have blamed him (outside of the university people). I wasn't going to let him give up, but it hasn't come to that. He has grit his teeth, planted his feet and plowed ahead. He's gotten a little cranky, he's threatened to blow up the evaluators computers, and he's growing round eyed from staring at a computer screen all day, but he's doing it.

I figure we could all learn from this example, especially when it comes to writing. We don't always want to write -- it's not always convenient and many things get in the way -- but we need to persist. At some point in the future we hope to be a published author. Persistence is the way.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

A Whole Lot of Cut and Staple

By Nichole Giles

Okay, so I know this is going to sound totally corny. Like, seriously wacko. But. I’m up to my eyeballs in yet another revision of the same manuscript I’ve been tooling with for going on two years now. And this revision involves actual ink and paper, real scissors and a stapler. And giant paperclips.

Don’t ask.

All right. Fine. I’ll tell. See, it’s like this. I have this book. And I know it’s well written, and I know the story is original. But I’ve also known that the beginning was a tad slow. Not that I wanted to change it, mind you. It’s a long story as to why, but I’ve had it in my head that the beginning had to stay, well, in the beginning. Recently, at a conference I heard some words that got me thinking. And then those words were reinforced by a comment made by another writing friend.

The bottom line is, I FINALLY figured out how to fix my beginning, and still keep it as a beginning, but not. Only this idea involved moving a whole lot of scenes around. This is the result.

Looks like a lot, huh? Yeah, that’s only about a third of the book. And because of the magnitude of what I’m doing, printing the physical manuscript was the only way to figure it out. But guess what? While I’m rearranging, I’m also re-reading, and finding more errors and unneeded phrases and words that can be trimmed out. I’m telling you, I’ve been through this manuscript no fewer than twenty-five times already. And that’s a low estimate.

So, for this week, here’s my advice. Go through your manuscript until you’re absolutely positive that it’s ready for submission. Then print it and go through it again. You might be surprised what you find. Oh, and while you’re reading it, do it out loud so your ears can catch what your eyes don’t.

And when you’re done, we can hope together that our manuscripts are finally, really, truly ready.

Until next week, write on.