Thursday, September 30, 2010


By Cheri Chesley

Today is one of those days where I feel an immense gratitude for the life I have been given. I can't even express how much I love being a part of the author network in Utah and the surrounding states. And it's even better to know I have the full support and backing of not only my immediate family, but also my extended family.

I left the house just after 6 am today to drive out to UVU in Orem for Book Academy. My husband, who worked yesterday from 1:30pm until today at 4:00am, came home, slept for an hour, and then got up to be me for the day. So while I was off playing with other writers, he got the kids up, took them to school, took care of the 3 kids I babysit, picked up our kids from school, got dinner cooked--and made sure everyone did their homework and chores. You can't have him--he's MINE. ;)

This, to me, is a physical representation of the faith he has in me and a clear demonstration that he has my back. It's like magic, but better, 'cause it's real.

I got to spend a day worry free, thanks to my husband and kids. And I had a blast. Book Academy is one of the very best conferences I attend!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The First Time

by C. LaRene Hall

Most of us have dreamed about the first time I did that – sometimes it was something frightening or maybe it was exciting, but we’ve all experienced the first time at everything we’ve ever done.

It started long before our recollection of anything. Our parents can remember the first time we took a step, the first tooth, and our first Christmas. Maybe we can remember our first day at school, but I don’t remember anything about that day. I can imagine and it isn’t a pretty picture.

I recall many things that happened in elementary school. Some of those incidents are good and some I would rather forget, because I was a timid and shy child.

One experience I’ve never forgot, and I’m grateful I finally had the opportunity to do, was flying in an airplane. I was extremely frightened, and not so sure this was going to be a good experience. I had four children, and had never ever desired to do such a thing.

My husband traveled all the time and one year in 1977, he thought it would be a good anniversary present to have me fly out to the east coast to visit him instead of him flying home to see us. I agreed to his plan, but as the time grew closer, I became nervous. When the day arrived, as I looked at the giant plane I was about to board, I wanted to back out of this crazy idea. With my children and parent’s looking on, I forced myself to climb the steps and go through the door.

Sitting in my seat waiting for the moment to arrive when we would lift into the air, I prayed hard. I was more scared than I ever remember being before. I loved riding the roller coaster and other fun rides at Lagoon and was hoping it would seem just like I was at the amusement park.

As the plane speeds rapidly down the runway, I grip the armrest tight. It didn’t take long for us to raise high in the sky among all the clouds. The ride was smooth and as I looked out the window, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Never had I ever seen anything so gorgeous.

Why had I been so scared? This was wonderful. Now I could see things I’d never seen before. The earth was beautiful. God’s creations were magnificent.

Never have I regretted the decision to fly, although right after the moment of take -off I was sure I’d made a tremendous mistake. I love flying and would rather do that than take a long drive. When you drive, you see things you can’t see up high, so once in awhile, I choose to do that, although now my favorite way to travel is in the air.

Flying is a lot like writing. The first time you send your manuscripts out to have someone read, it is frightening. You wonder, why did I do that? When the answer comes, you have a hard time tearing open the envelope, afraid of what might be inside. Someday you will be glad that you took the plunge because sometime it’s going to all be worthwhile.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Guest Blog by Cathy Witbeck

With four teenagers in the house, Cathy is one busy woman. She has a daughter in nursing, two boys immersed in the world of theatre and one scouting maniac, things never slow down. Top that off with a hubby/bishop who has just discovered the joy of fishing, and you get teen angst plus internet surfing for fish recipes. Somewhere in the middle of the chaos, Cathy likes to make Ukrainian Easter eggs, do interesting illustrations (especially cows and sometimes camels), and when she can fit it in, she writes.

Cathy has had anecdotes published in the Reader’s Digest several times, and has published many nonfiction articles, poems and illustrations in the Stories for Children Ezine. She is working on a YA fantasy and has a picture book that just needs a few coats of paint. She likes to blog about writing and illustrating for children. You can visit her blog at .

I know this is a writing blog, but I’m a writer and an illustrator, and sometimes I talk about art. I think the two can inspire each other. Take the painting “The Forgotten Man” by Jon McNaughton.

When Mr. McNaughton painted this picture, he says that he worried about painting it for a long time because he thought it might be too controversial. But he felt it needed to be done. He wanted to portray how the Presidents of the past would feel about the economic disaster we are presently facing. Notice how Obama stands with his foot on the constitution and his back to the despondent man on the bench. A few men applaud his actions, while others are dismayed.

Does this painting inspire words? Check out this site on youtube.

Over 1,700 comments have been made. If you are ever stuck in a writing rut, a painting like this is a great way to get out. Simply answer the questions that you see all over the canvass. For example: How did the man end up sitting on the bench? What is his story? Why is the flag at half mast? What is Lincoln saying? What is Clinton thinking? How did all of the past presidents come together at this place in time?

This illustration was done by my friend Shawna Tenney. It is copyrighted and she has given me permission to use it here. Shawna illustrates for the Friend magazine and has done several children’s books.

As a picture book writer, illustrations like this are a great. Again, just look at the great details and ask questions. [picture should be here] How did this little guy end up in the sky? How would you describe the countryside? Where will the kite take him? What will his friends down below do?

I’m a very visual person. When I write I see it all in my head. When I get stuck, I look around to get ideas. Seeing details in images often triggers ideas for me. I hope this can be helpful to you too.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Tell it Forward

By Karen Dupaix

I had the marvelous opportunity this past Friday and Saturday to stay in a tent at Martin's Cove in Wyoming. There I learned the tragic and inspiring stories of the Willie and Martin handcart pioneers and their rescuers. We pulled handcarts over the dirt paths. I cried for two days. There is a special spirit in Martin's Cove. It is sacred ground.

As I thought about it, I realized that we wouldn't have the amazing stories of the faith, obedience, sacrifice and courage these pioneers exhibited if they had not taken the time to write them down. Here is an excerpt from the writings of Elizabeth Whittier Sermon:

Many trials came to me after this, my eldest boy had the Mountain Fever, and we had to haul him on the cart, as there was no room in the wagons. One day, we started him out before the carts started in the morning, to walk with the aged and sick, but we had not gone far on our journey, when we found him lying by the roadside, unable to go any further. I picked him up and put him on my back, and pulled my cart as well as I could, but could not manage for very far, so I put him in the cart, which made children, my baggage, my failing husband, besides our regular load. The captain put a young man to help me pull for a short time. My other son, Henry, at seven years, walked almost the entire 1300 miles.

I was an avid journal keeper during my teen years, and then again on my mission. These past months I've dusted off some of my old journals and read about my experiences and perspectives as a teenager and young adult. I had avoided reading my teen journals for years, fearing that what I had written was silly and embarrassing. What I found was a little of that, certainly, but also I found accounts of some significant events written from my teen-aged point of view. I wrote about the Jim Jones massacre in details that I had completely forgotten about. I wrote about the Manifesto of 1978, now recorded as Declaration 2 in the Doctrine and Covenants. Nine years ago I wrote about 911 and how I felt about it.

Often we think our lives are insignificant. Who would want to read about my life? we think. I personally believe that many people will want to read what we write about our lives and the times we live in. If there is anything consistent it is change. Our descendants will want to know how we handled our life challenges. They can gain strength from our examples, attitudes and testimonies.

If you aren't already keeping a journal, start today. The longer you wait to write something down, the fewer details you will remember. We are the pioneers our future posterity will want to read about.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Are You Going?

By Keith N Fisher

In my critique group this week, we spent the first little while chatting about personal things and the subject turned to our characters. We talked about how they won’t leave us alone. They keep revealing parts of the story, driving us crazy with suggestions.

As this kind of conversation usually does, it sounded like an encounter group of patients talking about the voices in their heads. Sitting across the room, the husband of one of our partner’s, listened with great joy and mentioned our neurosis.

Then, he added how interesting it was that we all knew who each other was talking about. We have an intimate knowledge of the people in each other’s heads.

The experience got me thinking about the number of characters we’ve discussed over time in our group. We lived with them, we laughed with them, and we cried with them. Sometimes, we’ve died with them. Over the course of it, I’ve learned a lot from the way my partners write, and the ways they relate to the voices in their head. Moreover, I’ve grown close to my partners as I draw strength from them.

Recently I wrote about the need we all have for interaction with other writers. If for nothing else, then to discover a connection with other people who are like us.

Last year, I received an invitation to attend The Book Academy. It’s a writer’s conference sponsored by Utah Valley University and it’ll be held on Sept 30 this year. In critique group, I discovered none of them could make it. I’ll be alone. So, if you see me, stop by and say hi. I’ll be absorbing the atmosphere, the camaraderie of other people with voices in their head.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Determination Rules!

by G.Parker

I was mixing the dirt and sand for my earth oven last Saturday, and beginning to think it wasn't such a good idea.  It seemed great back in May when I started.  I loved the thought of being able to cook outside in the summer, have pizza again that tasted better than cardboard, etc.  But I was doing it pretty much on my own.  I enlisted the aid of my sons, (bribery works wonders) and they helped dig the dirt, but the rest was up to me.  
Anyway, as I was mixing with the hoe, something my hubby was wonderful enough to show me - much easier than doing it with a shovel - it occurred to me that it was similar to writing.  I know that I've harped a lot on forcing yourself to write, writing consistently, etc.  The reason, (surprise, surprise), is that subject is what I struggle with.  I don't write every day.  Editing is something that bogs me down, and my critique group is what keeps me writing on the current effort.  You know the phrase, this lesson was more for me than for you?  Well, that's the same with this subject.  I guess it comes up a lot because of the need to keep it in my thoughts.
As I mixed the sand and dirt, adding water and hoping it was reaching the correct combination, I realized that it was much like when I sat down to write.  Putting words and thoughts together on a screen or paper and hoping that you've hit the right combination that someone is going to want to read and keep reading.  Then when I was getting really tired of mixing and wanted to quit - I realized that it was much like the day to day (dare I say grind?) of writing.  If you are really serious about writing, it's not something you do only when it's convenient.  It's a diligence and consistent effort every day.  A time is set aside, the children and family know they aren't supposed to bug you (not that it works) and you try and order thoughts to fit the time frame.
Unfortunately, life doesn't always cooperate and things get in the way.  Fruit to be canned, babies being born, ovens needing to be finished, and birthday's to be celebrated.  My husband feels much the same with his college courses that he's trying to finish.  It's always something that interrupts his study time.  We even put a sign up on the door to remind the children the need to be quiet - they appear to have lost their ability to read at that point.
Along with that, when I try to make writing a priority, I feel pressure that I'm neglecting my family.  There are many other things that need to be done.  It becomes something that has to be rehashed almost every day.  Is this what I'm meant to do?  Is there something more important I need to be doing?  Does someone need me to be somewhere, take them somewhere or make something?
There have been several blogs that have mentioned the working of the spirit in our lives.  Posts describing how authors have sat down with their scriptures after prayer and discovered the path they need to go in regard to their writing.  If nothing else, those posts should encourage those who are struggling with the same issues I've outlined above.
Our gifts, our talents, our writing ability is something that is encouraged by the Lord.  He knows each of us, has given us the talents and gifts we have, and understands the drive and need within us to improve and do them.  If that's the case, do you think it should be a priority?  I don't think we want to put it up at #1, but it should be in the top 10, if not the top 5.  Of course, that depends on how serious we are, and how much effort we want to put into things.
So, as I finish my outdoor project, I'm realizing that I need to be just as determined in my writing.  Enough of the feelings of guilt, frustration at life getting in the way, etc.  I'm going to set a time when it's more available than not and work at it.  I will have a notebook with me at all times in case the opportunity comes in the car or on the train or while I'm waiting for someone.
I will persevere, because this means something to me.  It's part of me, and I know it's a gift.  How about you?  Drop us a line and let us know what the biggest obstacle is you have to overcome in writing consistently.  We want to know.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

New Writer on the Blogck!

By Cheri Chelsey

Hi! My name is Cheri Chesley, and I will be filling the Thursday spot here on the Blogck. I’m really excited to be here. Hopefully, as you learn about me, you’ll be excited too.

I write YA romantic fantasy—at least at the moment. My current project is a former-trilogy-now-two-book-set about the adventures of an intrepid young woman named Krystal. She and I are old friends. We first met when I was in high school, and too shy to make friends with real people.

Krystal is the centerpiece in my upcoming novel, THE PEASANT QUEEN, which is due out this December. In fact, you can even find it on and for pre-order. Exciting, no? In a sentence, Krystal is kidnapped and used as a pawn by a king bent on seizing his nephew’s throne. Ya—she’s not going to go for that.

The second installment, THE TYRANT KING, is the book I’m actually editing right now to submit to my publisher. This book takes place four years after THE PEASANT QUEEN, and introduces a new villain for Krystal to face.

When I’m not writing, or attending writing conferences, I have plenty to keep me busy. I’ve been married for 14 years and have 5 children. In addition to my children, I also babysit during the day. My hobbies are reading (of course), sewing, baking and photography. Lately my passion has been creating the perfect cheesecake. The journey has been delicious.

You can find me here every Thursday. I’m looking forward to getting to know you all!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


By C. LaRene Hall

I love attending writing conferences, but this year I was not able to attend the one for the League of Utah Writers. Sunday a friend informed me that I had won an award for my book. The certificate has a gold border and says – League of Utah Writers, 2010, Golden Quill Award of Excellence in the Religious Books Category, Martha’s Freedom Train, by C. Larene Hall. A big plus was I also received a $50 check and one-half page listing for one month in the monthly e-Catalog at First Chapter

I really felt bad that I wasn’t there to personally collect my certificate. Prior to the conference I read about the many classes offered, and there was one in particular that I really wanted to attend – Mike Eldridge’s class on Writing Historical Fiction. Although I’ve written several historical fiction stories, I know there is something new that I could have learned from Mike.

Two of our former bloggers also won some awards for their books at this same conference. C. L. Beck and D. N. Giles received the Silver Quill Award in the Religious book category for their book, Mormon Mishaps and Mischief – LDS Humor. Nicole Giles also won the Silver Quill Award for her book, The Sharp Edge of a Knife.

The thing I missed most by not attending was the networking with other authors. I’m really feeling bad that I didn’t get a chance to visit with and see all my writing friends. To me, you seem like family. You understand me and don’t laugh at my silly quirks. I guess that’s because God made us from the same mold. I want you to know that I did miss you, and look forward to the next writer’s conference.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


By Darvell Hunt

It seems like I've been doing this "writing thing" for decades. Oh, wait. I have been. I started my first LDS novel in 1989. Today, I am not the writer I was twenty years ago, or ten, or even five. I've had a few publishing credits here and there, as well as some writing contest wins, but still no book deal.

So why do I keep writing? Well, to be honest, I can't quit. I've tried; at least four or five times. Then I get an idea that percolates inside my head and gets me excited enough that I can't rest until I get it out of my head and onto paper (or at least to my computer). Then comes the editing, testing with readers, re-editing, and then submitting. Oh, and then the rejections. So far I haven't gotten past that point, but soon...!

So, writing, is, I've learned, more about keeping going than anything else. It seems that the most common attribute of published writers is perseverance--and it seems that the most common attribute of unpublished authors is the tendency to give up.

Well, I've tried giving up and that didn't work out so well. So, I guess all that's left is perseverance. So I write on. Right on!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Guest Blog by Joyce DiPastena

Joyce is the author of two Medieval Era historical fiction books. I loved both of them. Joyce tries to make her books as accurate as possible when including historical events. There is plenty of action in both these books, and they kept me on the edge of my seat. If you like mystery, suspense, and romance you need to read these two books.

Loyalty’s Web is full of treachery, assassination attempts, threats and touching moments that kept me turning pages.

Her next book, Illuminations of the Heart is also full of adventures and romance. Triston is a man of quiet honor and courage, but the guilt he carries for the death of his late wife, Clothilde, has left him numb and hesitant to love again. Worse yet, Siri bears an uncanny resemblance to his lost love.

Joyce lives in Arizona with her cats. She keeps busy giving piano lessons, watching movies, reading, and buying clothes. I bet she spends a great deal of time in front of her computer writing.

Now we'll hear from Joyce.

There are times when I feel myself seized almost with terror when “the hour to write” finally rolls around each day. The cold glow of the computer screen stares at me with a sneering challenge. “I dare you to write. I dare you to write. Ha ha! You see? I knew you couldn’t do it!”

Courage, I tell myself. I need courage to overcome my doubts and plunge in and, darn it, show that computer that it’s wrong!

But trying to “prove myself” by some act of courageous determination doesn’t always work. Instead, I feel my tension rising and I freeze up, and then when no words come, I sag a bit and think, “Well, I guess the computer was right after all.”

After too many such defeats, a thought finally occurred to me. It’s not courage I need to write. What I need is faith.

It says in Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

A more accurate translation from the Greek for the word “substance” in this verse, is “assurance”, so that the verse might be read:

“And now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Instead of fighting my fears with a me-centric “courage”, I need to surrender my fears to the Lord, sit down with a quiet “assurance” that my “hope” to make progress with my story will be fulfilled, and trust that when my writing time is over, I will have “evidence”—new words written, new ideas expressed, new scenes, new dialogue—that I could “not see” with my fearful mortal eyes when my writing session began.

In short, I need to have faith that I am, in fact, in a writing team with the Lord. It is not me against the computer and my own fears. It is me and the Lord, developing the talent He has given me. Because faith is an action word, I have to do my part. I have to “exercise my faith” by sitting down even when I’m scared no words will come, face that old computer screen, and type. Something. Anything. Just type, as an act of faith that if the Lord has given me a talent, He will help the words to come.

After all, “Faith precedes the miracle.” (President Spencer W. Kimball)

And in the end, isn’t that what writing is for most of us? A miracle?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

I'm a Flake

By Keith N Fisher

I didn't have time to edit. Please forgive my mistakes.

I need a personal secretary. This person would be someone who keeps track of my life little compensation, besides my gratitude. I would never forget a commitment again.

One of those commitments was a wedding, and it was last night. I remembered there was something about the date, but in my rush through life, I couldn’t recall what it was. I woke up at three am and it hit me. My mind remembered I had a wedding to attend so I began to make plans for leaving work and driving out there, tonight.

Suddenly, to my horror, I realized it was last night. Now, I sit with egg on my face. I’ve committed a social crime of epic proportions and there is nothing left to do but slither off into my hole, never to surface again.
My friend, Debbie, was blessed with a kind heart toward animals. I think she preferred them to humans. When I met her, she had several dogs, a horse, and other friends. They became her therapists as she told them about her problems. Her love was reflected in the loyalty those animals showed to her.

She called me one day to tell me one of her dogs had died and she couldn’t bring herself to bury it. She asked if I would take care of it. It was an honor to be trusted enough to show the kindness required for her best friend.

With all of life’s twists and turns, I lost contact with Debbie, until I discovered her on Facebook one day. She told me some of what she’d been up to and how proud she was of her kids. It was like opening a closet door and finding memories, shut away, and long forgotten. I realized I had a life before the life I have now.

When Debbie found out I am a writer, she told me to write about the old days. I considered it and realized, I already do. Every scene is a conglomeration of my life events. Every character is a composite of everyone I ever met or observed.

Now, my friend got married, and I missed it. God bless you, Debbie. I hope you’ve found the happiness you’ve been looking for all these years.

As for you, my writing friends, the blog I intended to post today, will be better by next week. Maybe I’ll have my secretary edit and polish it.

Anyway, good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Recharging Batteries

by C. LaRene Hall

I enjoyed reading Keith’s blog last Saturday about listening to the same concepts again, and again, repeating lessons we already learned, so we can apply the ideas in our lives. I agree, we do this in many different ways. We attend church, we go to writer’s conferences and in my case last Saturday, I went to an all day music workshop. Why did I go? At first I thought I would be going to learn new things, but like Keith said – it was to be recharged. I didn’t hear anything new that I didn’t already know. I just needed a reminder and needed to hear it again. I needed the enthusiasm of those around me to recharge my battery and get me excited about music in the church.

Like most of you, I want to fulfill my church calling to the best of my ability. After almost two years, I’m still trying to figure out why they called me to do something I had never done before, but I’m stepping up and learning to use my hidden talents. With my writing, I just sit at the computer and it comes naturally, but with music I have to work at recalling things learned many years ago.

This has taught me many things –
1. Keep working at your talents, every single day, or they may disappear.
2. If you try to fulfill your calling in the church, the Lord will help you. He whom the Lord calls, the Lord magnifies.
3. You’re never too old to learn.
4. There is a reason for everything the Lord does, even if you don’t know what that reason is.
5. Inspiration comes at unexpected moments. Inspiration can come while developing our talents.
6. Help comes from unexplained sources and not always the way you expected.
7. There is a time and season for everything.
8. You are never alone

Many of the things I heard at the music workshop I can also apply to my writing. I attended a class, “Hymn Enhancements for Composers & Arrangers.” I was surprised that the concept and the way this gifted musician composed her music was much the same way that I go about writing and editing my stories. This amazed me because the written word and musical notes don’t seem like the same thing to me. I agree with her that sometimes it’s hard to get it to come together. Whether you are a writer or a musician you just need to keep plugging along. Keep writing.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

"Validatable" and Other Fun Non-Words

By Darvell Hunt

I work for a company that produces educational software. The other day, I finished up some software that needed validating, which is the term we use for confirming that the software works as it should and does not contain bugs.

In our morning meeting, I was discussing the difficulty of testing my current project, but said that I thought it would be validatable when complete.

One of my co-workers smiled at me and said, "Validatable? Is that even a word?"

I smiled back and prompty returned, without skipping a beat, "Well, if you understand what it means, how can it not be a word?" I suppose I got the intended response, because they laughed, but in truth, I was only half-joking.

Is validatable a word? Well, it's not in my dictionary, so I suppose not, but I DID find it while Googling (another fine example a "non-word" that everybody understands). In any case, other people seem to know what validatable means, even though, technically, it's not a word.

Writers seem to be possess more liberties in writing than others--even if those liberties are self-granted. More than once I have created words in my writing and used them as if they were real words--but this practice has become acceptable in fiction, because we fiction writers get to write how people talk, not necessarily how they SHOULD talk. If somebody, somewhere, uses a particular non-word, and our character knows what it means, it makes sense to use it.

In some cases, the words we make up--like validatable--are more obvious than others, but that doesn't make the more-obscure ones any less acceptable, if we set them up right. I'm currently trying to market a fantasy/science-fiction novel for middle-grade readers in which I've used words like BLOOG and WOOGLET. Their meaning is not apparent at first, but becomes obvious later on, and as the story progresses, they get used as commonly as real words.

Words are the media by which we tell stories. I think it makes sense to compare them to the paints that a painter mixes to get just the right color and texture. Wordplay can be a fun focus for writers who like to fiddle with the core elements of writing--which is a pretty good description of me.

So, bloog, flooped the wooglet in Squeed's yarp. See? (This is actually a quote from my current work in progress, "There's an Alien in my Head.")

Monday, September 13, 2010

Guest Blog by Daron Fraley

Our guest blogger this week is Speculative Fiction Author – Daron Fraley, author of “The Chronicles of Gan – The Thorn”, which is the first of a three part series.

If you haven’t read this book, you really need to get a copy. I loved the way it brought scriptures to life through fiction. There are three tribes who battle for the right to rule. The story of the Gideonite troops, Jonathan of Daniel, and Pekah who is a young enemy soldier kept me on the edge of my seat wondering if the tribes will be united in peace, or will the threatening general destroy everything. There is plenty of suspense in this story, and the ending scene is spectacular. I’m looking forward to book number two.

Before hearing from Daron, he wanted me to mention that he has a Goodreads Giveaway for The Thorn, which runs through the first week of October. There are four books up for grabs. The link is here:

Now let’s hear from our guest.

Two of the best blog posts I have read recently were over on the Frog Blog and written by Jeff Scott Savage (I use both names because he has an identity crisis, and I don't know who he is today). He wrote about the emotions that writers experience, both bad and good. If you haven't read those yet, I encourage you to do so. They certainly will lift your spirits and prove to you that the negative emotions, although very normal, can be overcome by more positive ones. Thank you Jeff.

But I must tell you that as I read the first post which listed the negative emotions, I was struck by how true each of them were in my own experience. I had felt those emotions. All of them. And because of those feelings, I have felt like throwing in the towel at times and just forgetting this silly notion I had of being a published author. Let me tell you something . . . the writing is the EASY part. I love the writing. I love building the worlds, thinking about the characters, plotting out the story, etc. Quite frankly, it is the work AFTER the writing is done that I detest. I don't like doing the promotional stuff. I hate asking for people to review my book. And more than anything, I hate the feeling of being in a huge ocean of writers--big ones, famous ones, small ones, funny ones, talented ones, struggling ones--then realizing that I am feeling like a hermit crab stuck under a rock, largely ignored because of all of the other activity out there.

But I am learning that I am not alone. And I am so glad that I am not the only one who feels this way! Not that I would wish the feelings of isolation and helplessness on other writers, but because it comforts me to know that it seems to be normal. We hermit crabs just need to throw more parties. There must be chocolate at those parties. If nothing else, we just need to keep talking to each other. Thank you for what you do for me!

Let me use the balance of my whitespace here to tell you why I have not given up: I have felt the thrill of what happens when a reader is touched by a story. I have felt a huge amount of personal satisfaction to know that some of the things I have written have comforted others in their times of need. On a plane from Arizona: grandparents flying home to console family members just hours after the death of a young boy. I recognized the name. I knew the husband. Many years previous, while he served as a member of the First Quorum of Seventy for the LDS church, he had taught me important things about the gospel. In fact, I still had notes from his talk in a binder at home. And now, I sat next to him and his dear wife on a flight I was not supposed to be on. My flight had gotten changed just that morning, and that put me in their path. He had once helped me. Now, I was helping them. I don't believe in coincidences.

And that same short story, just days previous, had brought joy to someone else who had been struggling with several health issues. They sent me an email and said some of the nicest things I have ever had any reader say to me. I was thrilled, from head to toe. Not because I had been praised for the quality of the writing, but because the story had made a difference for this person. It had been just what they needed for the day.

Funny thing about Jeff's blog posts. Both of these experiences came back to me as I read his words. And then I realized something about the story . . . I had furiously scribbled down the idea when I was supposed to be doing something else. I was in a training class at work. It was summer. And I had a view of the trees outside. I did not choose the moment of inspiration. It chose me. If you are curious about the story, it is on my website under BOOKS, and is called WATER. The free ebook listed at the bottom of the page contains the story.

Thank heavens for a notepad and a pen. I cannot begin to imagine what I would have lost had I not taken the time, right then and there, to write the idea down.

I am sorry for wandering in my thoughts here, but it IS about the ONE reader, isn't it? You just need to make a difference for one, and then it's all worth it. Keep writing. Never give up on the dream. And don't go anywhere without a pen and something to write on.

Thanks Daron for sharing with us today. We all need that kind of encouragement.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Art of Learning

By Keith N Fisher

I had to take a big test this week. Hoping to get it right, I’ve been studying hard for a while. I missed posting my other two blogs because I was concentrating on my studies. Now, the test is over, and I’m left with that hollow feeling, I get, After cramming thousands of thoughts and ideas into my brain, only to regurgitate them onto the test paper, never thinking of them again.

Well, the test might not be over, since I’m still waiting for one of my scores to come out, and I might have to take that part of the test again.

Have you ever wondered why church leaders tend to repeat the lesson’s they teach? Do they think we’re so dense, we need constant reminders in order to remember the lesson?
After taking my test, and relearning things I committed to memory years ago, I think that might be true, for me. :)

Seriously, though, Why do we go back, every Sunday, wearing our guilt like a badge of surrender, only to be reminded of what we are not doing? I think one reason is God’s children have been given the opportunity to follow or not, and we need a reminder to apply the concepts in our lives in order to be saved.

Also, I was reminded this week about writer’s conferences. Some of us have been perennial attendees at many of them. Why do we go and listen to the same concepts again, and again?

Here, at the LDS Writer’s Blogck, many of us labor, trying to write something that will help our readers in their quest to be successful. I’ve noticed that we tend to repeat concepts, why do you read?

I don’t think it’s the learning, because many of the lessons are something we’ve learned before.

While pondering these questions, I recalled a conversation, when someone mentioned the reason they attend the conferences was for the networking with other writers. That’s when it hit me. We cram for a test in hopes of recalling the facts. We go to church, attend conferences, and read the Blogck, in an effort to be recharged.

Everybody, eventually, experiences a drain in their resolution batteries, and it helps to know there are others who struggle, too. We do those things to strengthen our resolve. To get a charge that will carry us through, over the mountain of discouragement.

I hope to see you all at the next conference, but in the meantime, keep reading our blog. We will try and provide the right current so you can recharge your batteries. At least, we can give you hope in realization that we are all in the same boat.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, September 10, 2010


by G.Parker

Have you noticed there is a drive to have followers in the blogging world?  It's a way to say to the person who happens onto your blog that there are people reading it on a consistent basis.  They are kind of like proof that what you write matters and people like you.  It's kind of like being the object of a fan club.
We have many followers, and we appreciate them all.  It's amazing to me that we reach so many people.  If we were really out there to make money, we'd be doing advertising and trying to make that a really amazing number.  But that's not why we're here, or why we write this blog.

We're here to help those who aspire to writing.  We want to inspire, uplift and advise, if possible, those who want to write for the LDS market.  If we happen to gain a fan base along the way, well, more the better, right? 

Our blogging group is going through some changes right now, as you might have noticed.  We have started having guest bloggers and we will be getting new bloggers in the future.  Our goal is to keep a fresh and uplifting blog going, and keep you reading.  Your feedback is an important part of our site, and we appreciate all the comments.  

Perhaps there's a particular subject you would like us to cover or writing tip you'd like - just let us know, we'll try to cover it.  After all...we're here for our followers!  ;)

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Another Bump in the Road

by C. LaRene Hall

Life has certainly been difficult for me this year. Sad thing is, every time I think things will improve, the road just gets bumpier.

I've been a blogger here for four years, and until this summer I never missed a week. It was always easy to come up with something to write. I'm not saying that I've had writer's block, because that's not it. I think the biggest problem is time.

Now that I am being forced to face something difficult in life, I'm finding out I'm not as strong as I once thought I was. I like my life the way it used to be. I don't want to spend every afternoon driving my husband to another doctor appointment or to get a test. I want to sit at my computer and write my story.

Have you ever hit a roadblock while writing? You try to get around it, and nothing seems to work. Sometimes it takes days to get it right. Sometimes you have to leave it alone and come back later. You have to fit each little puzzle in just the right spot before it is done.

I guess that's how life is. I know that I cannot change anything. This is the way it will be for me, maybe for many years. I can't change it, so maybe I need to adjust my thinking. If I strive to get my blog written each week, at least I'm still writing a little bit. Maybe it won't be on my novel, but some writing is better than not writing. I will try hard to not be absent again.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Our Guest ~ Rebecca Blevins

Rebecca Blevins lives in Northwest Missouri with her husband James (also a writer), four children, and a protective dog. She homeschools her children, carves out time for writing, and loves to read romance, fantasy, suspense. . . all kinds of books except evil ones. Rebecca is currently enamored of her new love—Zumba classes. She enjoys TV shows Lie to Me, White Collar, and The Office, all in the name of research. Though to be truthful, The Office is more for medicinal purposes, as she requires a dose of laughter every now and then.

You can visit Rebecca's blog here.

~ ♥ ~

I didn't get serious about my writing until recently. A few weeks would go by here and there without me adding anything to my work-in-progress.

A couple of weeks ago, during a typical day, I had
a strong desire to work on my novel. With my attention pulled so many places all day, it's a normal thing for me not to feel the urge to create until I'm sitting in front of the computer. But throughout that particular day, as the hours passed, the craving to write grew more intense. Every time I thought about sitting down with my laptop to paint pictures with words, a thrill of anticipation raced through me.

Once my older c
hildren were in bed and the baby sat playing on the floor, I opened my laptop, placed my fingers on the keys, and let them fly.

Usually when I’m that excited, the story that ap
pears is pretty decent first draft material. This time, even though I had felt even more inspired than usual, what came out was absolute hooey.

I sat back in dis
gust and reread what I had written. "This is crap!" I exclaimed. (Sorry, that's the extent of my potty mouth. Promise.)

I sat back and went on a quiet, little rant insi
de my head. Ok, I've been feeling like I should write. I know this is a talent that Heavenly Father wants me to develop, so why would I get the gentle nudging that this is a good time to do it, then have nothing of any value come out?

A thought came into my mind. What about the s

I'd been awful at remembering to read my scrip
tures, especially this past year after my youngest child was born. I'd been trying to remember to get back in the habit. I felt abashed as I realized that if Heavenly Father gave me this talent and wants me to develop it; I should be giving Him what He requires of me first. I had prayed before writing on occasion and it always helped. Why should this time be any different?

Right away, a
specific chapter from the Book of Mormon popped into my head: Ether, chapter twelve. For a minute, I dismissed the thought because Ether twelve is one of the most popular chapters in the Book of Mormon. So having that particular passage jump into my thoughts didn’t feel like anything out of the ordinary.

When the thought wouldn’t leave my mind, instead of opening my Book of Mormon to the last place I r
ead, I opened to Ether chapter twelve and began reading. When I came to the following verses, I paused in shock—they spoke to my spirit as if they had been written specifically for me, especially the parts I have underlined:

23 And I said un
to him: Lord, the Gentiles will mock at these things, because of our weakness in writing; for Lord thou hast made us mighty in word by faith, but thou hast not made us mighty in writing; for thou hast made all this people that they could speak much, because of the Holy Ghost which thou hast given them;

24 And thou hast made us that we could write but little, because of the awkwardness of our hands. Beho
ld, thou hast not made us mighty in writing like unto the brother of Jared, for thou madest him that the things which he wrote were mighty even as thou art, unto the overpowering of man to read them.

25 Thou hast also made our words powerful and great, even that we cannot write them; wherefore,
n we write we behold our weakness, and stumble because of the placing of our words; and I fear lest the Gentiles shall mock at our words.I certainly don’t feel like my words are consistently powerful and great, but the weakness part I have down. In those verses, if I substitute ‘us’ for ‘me’, ‘Jane Austen’ for ‘the Brother of Jared’, and ‘general reading public’ for ‘Gentiles’, this scripture sums up my feelings pretty well.

The Lord's reply in verse twenty-seven really spoke to me. I’ve always had a fondness for this scripture, but the verse took on a deeper meaning:

27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

After I closed my scriptures, I said a prayer of thanks and asked for help. Afterward, I looked at my Word document and reread what I’d written earlier. Funny, that's really not as bad as I thought.I began typing again, and wouldn't you know, what came out wasn't absolute hooey. The paragraphs weren’t terrible; the words were usable, and pretty decent to boot.

Not long since then, I decided to become more serious in my writing, which means I have a daily schedule. I get up before the kids awaken, take a shower (most days), then read some of my scriptures and say a prayer before I work on my manuscript. That doesn't mean I’ll never get writer’s block or that a lot of what I write won't need to be scrapped in the long run—it means that I'll move forward with the Lord's help in developing the talent He's given me.

I’m so thankful for what the Heavenly Father taught me that morning. What a priceless realization it has been for me to understand that if I want the Lord’s help with developing this talent (or any others), I need to include Him every single time.

And that, my friends, is a huge lesson I am thankful to have learned.

~ ♥ ~

Thanks, Rebecca, for being our guest today!

If you would like to be our guest, email Connie for information.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Did I sign up for this?

By Keith N Fisher

About thirty years ago, I was into backpacking. I used to traipse around the mountains in my area at a time before there were so many people out there. It was my way of getting off by myself to think and renew my soul.

One particular day, I was blazing my own trail with a full pack, in an area I’d never been, and I started climbing a steep hill. With every step, I could feel my ancient backpack straining against my shoulders. I’d used that old backpack in the High Uintas primitive area when I was a boy-scout and it had become pretty thread bare by then.

It was a long climb and I was inches from the top when suddenly, both shoulder straps broke and my pack slid back down the hill. I stood there at the top, watching my backpack go all the way to the bottom. I sat down, feeling like giving up and going home. How could I carry a backpack with no straps?

After a while I climbed back down and examined the damage. I don’t remember how I jury-rigged the straps, but I started back up the hill leaning farther forward this time. I camped at the top of the hill and went home the next morning. Finding new straps led me to shop for backpacks. Eventually, I purchased the top of the line backpack from the time period.

The new backpack was like a good friend. Now it hangs on the wall in my basement and hasn’t been used in years. It’s a dinosaur, but I will never part with it.

I was with some of my successful writer friends this week. We chatted about everything from writing, to baking bread. After a while a non-writer came in and was being introduced to us all. He turned to one of more successful friends and said. Well, I don’t remember the words, but the jest of it, for me, was, so, as I understand it, you are the one who is a real writer since you’ve got all those books published.

The conversation went to a listing of publishing credits for everybody. None of which were mine. I sat there looking at my writing career in much the same way that I did my old backpack.

There are forces at work, all the time, trying to destroy each one of us. Our belief system is under attack and that includes belief in our self. Most of us believe our life is a big test. We agreed to have the trials we face in hopes of gaining greater glory in eternity. I think everyone of us has stood back with an eye toward eternity, and wondered if we really agreed to what we are going through. With all the reversals and trials I’ve had to endure for the past two years, being introduced as a nobody was like loosing my backpack at the top of a hill.

While sitting and looking at my backpack, I considered leaving it there. After all, it left me didn’t it? I couldn’t do it though, It had been a good friend and it contained some of my newer gear. While examining my writing career, I did the natural thing and thought about abandoning it. I ran through the list of reasons for my lack of success, not the least of which are the time conflicts placed in my path.

Finally, I realized it’s in my blood. I’ve written through all the trials, and it has become second nature for me. I went back down the proverbial hill and jury-rigged my career. I think we all have those moments, whether we are published or not. It helps to have a support system and all of you are. Thank you for reading this blog. I know there are some of you with much greater trials than mine. I hope I can do something to help you along the way.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Two Weddings and a Funeral or is it Two Funerals and a Wedding?

by G.Parker

There is a saying in my husband's family that all things come in three's, especially when it comes to deaths.  Last month we went to California for his Uncle's funeral, and now we just found out that his cousin's husband died in his sleep.  He was 62 and there hadn't been any concerns about his health.  It's kind of a shock, and we're hoping his cousin is going to be okay.

I also found out that Nichole, one of our esteemed bloggers had a younger brother die from an auto accident this past week.  I would hope that's the third, and that there are no more tragedies this year -- For any of my dear friends and family.

On the brighter side of things, I have two weddings coming up in the next 30 days -- a niece and nephew within two weeks of each other from the same family.  We are really excited for the event, since my nephew has been home from his mission for several years and we had begun to think he was never going to find anyone.

This whole scenario reminds me of a movie that I'm sure you're familiar with; Four Weddings and a Funeral.  I'm not really a fan of it, I really don't like the end, but that's personal preference.  What comes to mind though, is how often fiction is inspired by reality.  There are so many things that happen that click a story idea in my brain.  I think, "wow, that would make a good story," and quickly write it down. 

If you talk to any writer, they'll tell you how ideas for stories come at the strangest times and in the strangest ways.  I've heard of them coming out of the shower, frantic for paper and pen, or writing something down in the middle of the night only to discover that it's unreadable in the light of day. There were many times waiting for children in the car and hunting down paper in my purse.  Everyone has heard the story of J.K.Rowling and the napkin in a restaurant.  A writer always needs to be ready for a way to write things down.  Any writing surface will do, but it's best if it's not going to fall apart after being writing on.

So, if you see someone writing frantically on a napkin at a restaurant, chances are they had a great story idea and didn't have a scrap of paper.  Hopefully they won't be sneezing any time soon...