Saturday, November 26, 2011

An Empty Newsletter

By Keith N Fisher

Well, I don’t feel any happier, but I do have a new appreciation of all the blessings I’ve been given. Last week I talked about counting blessings as a way to happiness. I also said I would spend thanksgiving counting mine.

It was a wonderful activity that brought insights and peace. How many of you have been grateful for air to breathe? We had dinner at my brother’s and I spent much of that time reminiscing about my childhood. You see my brother owns a house where the barn used to be, when I was three years old and we lived down there.

The small bungalow my parents rented still exists, but it was moved and sits on blocks in a field behind the landlord’s house.

I remember playing in the water puddles that formed in the road after a rainstorm. I remember so much more, but I don’t want to bore you.

I’ve finished the book I was working on and started on another. I now have one at the publisher and two in editing. This, latest, story wants to be told, but its not anxious to give up the secrets. I’m sweating over every word, trying to get it right.

I also started our annual family newsletter this week. What a daunting task it has become. Do any of you write seasonal greetings? Our newsletter used to be easy. Our lives were full of activities, but as the economy tanked, and funds became hard to scrape up, activities have tapered off.

I get a kick out of other newsletters I read. Some of them, I’m convinced, are propaganda sheets, designed to make me feel guilty about my less than, perfect life. I marvel at how we all become spin doctors, tweeking the truth to make it sound better. This year, I’m afraid I’ll end up saying, “nothing happened last year”.

There are, however, a few pictures I can use. My wife continues to get thinner and I’ve noticed a weight loss on myself. Hey, I just thought of some things I can write. Perhaps with a little spin . . .

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

Friday, November 25, 2011

Week 4

by G.Parker

Okay - the countdown is coming to an end, and those of you who haven't gotten 30,000 words yet are probably sweating and working those fingers to the bone.

I'm not -- lol.  I actually met my goal on Tuesday!  But, I'm determined to finish the story, so I still have some typing to go.  I'm at 54,000 words, so I could end up closer to 60,000.

Hopefully you all got rested over Thanksgiving, enjoyed wonderful food, lots of company and plenty of distractions.  Now you should be all ready to hit the keys and get those word counts up and finish out the month with a bang!  There are still some write-ins going on in various parts of the country, still lots of encouragement and motivation being tossed out.

Grab those pumpkin pies, a fork and head over to your keyboard, sit down and get typing!  (do I sound like a drill sargent now?)

Type, 2, 3, 4 -- Type!

You can do it.!

Saturday, November 19, 2011


By Keith N Fisher

Hymn number 241 in the Mormon Hymnbook, caught my eye the other day. I’ve probably sang that hymn thousands of times over the years, but I finally got the point recently, and I thought you might benefit.

The advice in, Count Your Blessings, is clear. If we are burdened with troubles there is freedom. All we need to do is, count our blessings. Name them one by one. Count our many blessings see what God hath done.

According to the song, there are myriad things God has done for us and if we honestly start counting those things, how can we feel anything but grateful? Then with gratitude in our hearts, our troubles seem to morph into manageable annoyances.

That is the promise---happiness through gratitude. Are you willing to give it a try?

In light of the impending holiday, I thought it would be a good time to try the experiment. Each year, we greet our friends with a cheerful “Happy Thanksgiving", and rush to continue our preparations of the great meal. Many people look forward to watching sports on TV. Most of us can’t wait to get reacquainted with relatives. Others wish those relatives would stay away. How many of us actually use the day for what it was intended. How many of us take time to recognize God’s part in our lives?

When I think of my childhood and teenage years, I have much to be thankful for. I realize the many times God saved me. There were times when He, alone, stood between me and impending doom. As I grew older, He helped me in subtle ways. So, I plan to take time on the holiday, tuck my tail between my legs, and give credit where credit is due. I bet I will run out of day before I run out of blessings to count. Either way, I look forward to the promise in the song.

I hope your holiday will be full of family love and good food. I also hope you will take a moment and remember He, who made it all possible.

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

Friday, November 18, 2011

Week 3

by G.Parker

I've discovered the biggest thing you want to remember about NaNo is not to compare yourself with others. Unless that's a good way for you to be motivated, you need to remember that what is an amazing count for you is going to be nothing for someone else.

I will get to a certain level, only to notice that someone has already reached 50,000 words. My first thought is that they must not have a life! I mean, how can you possibly write that much in such a short period of time when you have people to take care of, a job to go to, and a home to maintain? It just doesn't seem humanly possible. Of course, I write more and more each year, so perhaps it's just a case of getting the mind going and the fingers moving.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Moving On

by Cheri Chesley

Last week, about this time, I finished my edits on The Tyrant King. While I wait to hear back from my beta readers about what changes I should make before sending it back to my publisher, I've gotten to sit back and wait for my brain to decide which story to work on next.

It was no contest, really. I just fought it for a bit.

I feel like I SHOULD be working on the third and final installment of The Peasant Queen trilogy. I've started the draft, met my cast of characters, introduced the greatest horse (character based on a real horse) to fiction, and transcribed ALL of my handwritten work to computer.

But that's not going to happen right now.

Consequences is a contemporary YA "coming of age" (though I hate that term) about how, sometimes, we aren't the ones most affected by the consequences of our actions. Sometimes those most affected are people we love dearly, and wouldn't hurt for the world--except we did.

The timely thing here is that Chloe's story is one I originally drafted during a NaNo (National Novel Writing Month--November) a few years ago. It's the story that my brain is drawn to whenever my brain goes "dormant" from fantasy.

It's a story near and dear to my heart, drawn largely from personal experience but placed in a completely fictional situation.

It's a story about growing up.

It's a story about facing your past.

It's a story about reshaping relationships.

And it never fails to make me cry.

It's NOT a conversion story, though it deals largely with the LDS beliefs of forgiveness and love, acceptance without condoning. My character never has that moment where she feels the need to be baptized, but she does come to understand more about her father's church.

It's NOT a romance. Dealing with the mess her life has become, Chloe has no time for boys.

It's my hope to find a publisher for Consequences after the New Year. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


By Keith N Fisher

Like most of those in my generation, I took a typing class in junior high. I recall sitting behind a typewriter, trying to find the “D”. We had a chart on the wall that showed the placement of all the keys, but we weren’t supposed to look at it. I had to close my eyes and try to remember.

I wondered why the letters weren’t just placed in order. You know start at the top with “A” and move down the keyboard until you find “Z”. It didn’t make any sense.

When I found out, however, why the keys were placed like they are, I nodded my head and understood. After the invention of the inline typewriter, proficiency of the users caused a problem. The type bars would often get tangled on the backstroke with the following bar. To avoid the problem of jammed keys the inventors mixed up the keyboard to slow down the typists.

Having spent hours typing on an old manual typewriter, I can understand. Even with the confusing placement, my keys often got tangled with each other. Now, after all these years, I’m vaguely familiar with the keyboard. I also use a computer that reacts to each stroke in quicker time than even my mind can function. I don’t need the “A” in the top left corner, because I’m used to having the “Q” up there.

I still wonder if an inline placement could help though, and some keyboards are laid out that way, but it’s okay. You see, when I’m composing off the top of my head, as if I were speaking, I write pretty fast. My fingers become an extension of my mind and words flow fast enough for me.

On the other hand, I’ve taken typing tests that made me feel like a ninth-grader again. I’m slower than glacial ice. Instead of typing word for word from the test sheet, I tend to read the thing, take time to comprehend it, then type what it said. Sometimes, I even have to visualize the chart to remember the keyboard placement. Well, I hate timed tests anyway.

Now, as if to add insult to injury, designers keep placing the keys closer together. Laptops are getting smaller. We have netbooks that seem to be made for a four-year old typist, or one-handed users. My big fingers feel cramped, and I tend to type the wrong letter. Editing, while writing, seems to be the wave of the future for me. Maybe I should adopt the two-thumb texting, method of writing.

Or maybe, I need to put my fingers on a diet. Perhaps, Mrs. Woodward standing over me with a stopwatch, making sure my eyes never stray to the chart on the wall. Of course in those days, the keys were almost an inch apart. If you wanted to type a letter, you had to mean it. Therefore, your finger muscles had to be strong.

Later, with electric typewriters, they eliminated the need to press hard, but the keys were sensitive. If the user held a finger down too long, the letter would appear more than once. I guess that’s still possible with computers, but the timing has been perfected to prevent accidental doubles.

Yes, writing is not for the faint of heart. If it’s any consolation, most of the classical writers we admire didn’t type. I think I’ll stick to writing from the top of my head, and try to avoid typing tests.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Week 2!

by G.Parker

Well, it's week 2 and your story should be about a quarter through.  You might be running into your first case of writer's block.  It happens about now, when you're going along with the initial plot outline, and then -- bang -- and suddenly you're thinking "where was I going with this??"


Believe me, because that's where I'm at right now.  I wrote 500 words this morning of pure...nothing.  Ugh.  At least I'm ahead of where I was last year.  My count right now is 29,610 words.  I'm pretty proud of myself, but it's now coming back to bite me.

So, where are you with your efforts?  Are you still going strong?  Have you joined a writing group and sat and written with them?  I was supposed to go to one last night, but was unable to get there.  I get to try another write-in on Tuesday, so I'm looking forward to being way productive then.

So - off I go to get some writing in.  Good luck to all of you, and keep up the word counts!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

What is a Book Bomb?

by Cheri Chesley

I received an email last night asking people to participate in a Book Bomb for Rob Wells' Variant. Had to ask myself, What the heck is a Book Bomb? I mean, isn't "bomb" a bad thing?

Consider me educated. You can click HERE for better details, but, essentially, Rob wrote a fantastic book, and while it's circulating among the masses through HarperCollins he's had some personal setbacks. Like being diagnosed with a panic disorder that has cost him his job. You can check out what he has to say about that HERE.

And here's the part where we all get to help. A Book Bomb is where we pick a day to buy one book, and spread the word as much as possible to as many people as possible so they can also buy a copy of the book that day. Today is Variant's day--November 10, 2011. I've bought my copy, recommended it to friends, and am going to head up to the bookstore later (the only bookstore within 40 miles, mind you) and pick up a copy for my kids' school. That I'm using my own income from selling my books to do this should demonstrate how passionately I feel about helping Rob out.

You're not losing out, here. You actually get to spend money to help someone and get a book out of it. A great book, no less.

Here are the links to purchase Variant for your KINDLE or NOOK devices, or you can run out to your local bookstore for the hard cover. AMAZON has a great price if you want it shipped to you, but they've got less than 20 in stock so you might want to hurry. :)

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Ghosts, Ghouls, Kim Karshian, and a Great Story

By Keith N Fisher

It’s been a couple of years since I wrote about Halloween. It’s about time, don’t you think? By tradition each year, I sit on my front porch in a festive mood and pass out the offerings. Life is great when the holiday falls on a warm night, but I recall several stormy nights when I would’ve stood in bed if it wasn’t for our daughter’s desire for candy.

When she was younger, we made the mistake of putting her down for a nap before going out, then wondered why she didn’t seem to care. I recently watched the videos and realized she was sleep-walking at the time.

Out of self-defense against those who would steal the whole bowl of candy we left while we went around the neighborhood, I began to stay home. The porch sitting tradition started when I got tired of standing up every five minutes to answer the door. I dressed up a few times, but it scared some of the children. Now, I remain my usual scary self, and I can’t remove my mask.

One year, I tried to read one of the Harry Potter books, but there were too many interruptions. I have tried to write, with the same results. This year, I didn’t try, although I did have my laptop charging on the bistro table. I took pictures, chatted, and philosophized about the different aspects of the holiday.

Also, this year, since our daughter graduated from supervised trick or treating, my wife joined me on the porch. My mother even stopped over.

I went to work later on, that night, and watched the kids who came into the store. Some were dressed in costumes, some weren’t. I remembered some of the teenage antics I played on Halloween, and marveled at the changes in the world.

I wished my daughter could’ve grown up when I did. When neighbors were kind, and they took care of each other’s children. It was a time when we didn’t worry about the dangers kids face today. Parents didn’t need to go trick or treating, but they still worried.

While working, I passed the tabloid magazine rack and read one of the headlines about Kim Kardashian. Now, there is a scary Halloween character for you. Except she never removes the mask. The way I heard it, she staged a wedding & marriage as a publicity stunt and now, after seventy-two days, she’s in the process of filing for divorce. Talk about a circus act. Using smoke and mirrors she has proven she’d do almost anything for attention. It’s becoming hard to tell the difference between fantasy and reality these days. Reality seems to be whatever a press agent says it is.

Later, the radio played I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing, by Stephen Tyler and Aerosmith. The song reminded me of a great story. I heard on television.

Back in the seventies, A model named Bebe Buell, hung out with rock stars. She became involved with Todd Rundgren, a famous lead guitarist and songwriter. After a while, she broke up with him and started hanging out with Steven Tyler of the band Aerosmith. That relationship was short lived, however, because Steven’s drug abuse scared Bebe and she went back to Todd.

Soon afterward, Bebe had a baby girl and named her Liv Rundgren. They were a family who socialized with Rock Stars and show people.

When Liv started to grow up, she noticed a resemblance between her and Steven Tyler’s daughter Mia. Now there are two different stories here, but they agree that at some point, Liv confronted Bebe about it and was told the truth. Bebe didn’t know for sure, but Steven was probably her birth father. At twelve, Liv took Steven’s stage name and became, Liv Rundgren Tyler. She has two dads and calls Todd her spiritual dad.

Later, Liv tried modeling, then acting and is very popular. She played Arwen, in Lord of the Rings among other leading roles in other movies. In 1998 she played Bruce Willis’s daughter in a movie called Armageddon. There is a poignant moment in the story when Bruce has to do the heroic thing. He tells his Daughter, Liv, by videoconference, that he won’t be coming home. Liv touches the screen with both hands as his image fades out.

In the music video that accompanied the movie, they put Steven on that screen during the last part of the song. Liv touches the screen as Steven fades out. It was touching.

Isn’t that a great story? Even though it’s an unconventional family story, its true, and unlike Kim Kardashian, Liv Tyler doesn’t display it across the media. She tells the truth and leaves it at that. It would make a great plot for a book if someone could write it without being sued. Have a great week.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, November 04, 2011

15,000 words

by G.Parker

Okay's November 4th.  Where do you stand on your word count??  I decided to accept Nichole Giles challenge and do the 15,000 words in three days.  It was a daunting task...but I did it!  I did most of my words on Tuesday, and then fleshed out the rest on Wednesday and Thursday.

So, how are you going with your word count?  If you haven't accepted anyone's challenge at this point, you should have written at least about 2,000 a day, for about 8,000 words.  Personally I don't write on Sundays, so I try to write more.

There are lots of groups getting together and holding 'write-in's and various locations.  If you have joined in on the NaNoWriMo craziness, then you'll be able to look at regional stuff and see what's available.  If you haven't, you're going to be one of the few sane people this month, so enjoy it!

Personally, it's been going so nice, it makes me worried.  I know there's always a stressed feeling during this month, but if I'm already this far ahead, it sort of takes some of the stress off.  But I was raised on Murphy's law, and that generally operates rather frequently in my house, so we'll see how it goes.

Tonight is supposed to be a big first winter snow storm.  Fortunately I have paper and a pen, in case the power goes out, I can curl up in front of the fire and write.  But I also have a family that I try to let know I'm alive during this time and if I get my writing done during the day, then I spend my evenings with them.  So, I guess as soon as I'm finished writing this I need to get my fingers going on that.  ;)

How do you spend NaNo?  What are your favorite motivations?  Let us know, and keep up the good work! You can do it!

Thursday, November 03, 2011

The City of Light, chapter 1 part 3

This week, I'm giving readers a peek into a story I started to develop this fall. I'm not asking for critiques--this is a bare bones first chapter preview. I plan to work on it later. You can find the first part on my AUTHOR BLOG, and the second part of the chapter on my PERSONAL BLOG.

City of Light, continued

Her mother nodded, and Genna wasted no time leaving the room. Sorai followed her to the bedroom she and Aisilyn shared. It was a spacious room with two large beds against opposing walls, and a great window on the wall between them. Genna motioned for her serving maid to put the purchases on the brightly colored blanket that covered Aisilyn’s bed.

Genna moved to the trunk at the foot of her sister’s bed and opened it. Most of her sister’s trousseau had been purchased, but they did find a few more scarves and the material that would serve as her wedding veil. Genna unwrapped these items, folded them and placed them gently on top of the wrapped wedding dress and other items in the trunk. She did not turn when she heard the door open.

“Thank you, Sorai,” Aisilyn said. “You may go now.”

Sorai bowed her head in reply and left the room.

Aisilyn crossed the room to her bed and sat down. Genna looked up at her as she closed the trunk.

“I’m going to miss all this shopping when you marry Jacob,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of fun gathering and sewing.”

Aisilyn reached out her hand; Genna grasped it without hesitation. “Nineteen days,” Aisilyn said. “Jacob and I were to be married in just nineteen days. Then I would have been safe.”

Genna sat facing her. “You will still marry Jacob in nineteen days. Nothing has changed that.”

Aisilyn’s sky blue eyes sought hers. “I love him so much, Gen. How can I leave him? I’ll die.”

“You won’t,” Genna said, surprising herself with the conviction in her tone.

“Nothing is going to come between you and your destiny.”

“What is my destiny?” Aisilyn pulled away and rose to pace the floor. “Will I become Jacob’s bride, or the demon’s? What is my path?” She stopped in front of the window. “I can’t explain it, but when I heard the demon’s voice I knew he was talking about me. I still feel it, a certainty deep in my soul. Father and Mother won’t listen. They are blinded by the fear I may be right.”

“But they are right about the demon never before being able to penetrate the barrier,” said Genna. “Maybe this is another of his empty threats.”

“Does it feel that way to you?” Aisilyn turned to look at her.

Genna watched the sunlight through the window play with the gold in her sister’s hair. She looked so much like an angel, framed by the light outside, that Genna couldn’t imagine pairing Aisilyn with a demon. In that moment, Genna vowed it would never happen. No matter what she had to do, no matter the cost, the demon would not have her sister.

“It doesn’t matter what I think,” Genna said. “I’ve known since Father brought Jacob home that you were meant for each other. Your union will be blessed by God, and will be eternal. Nothing the demon can do can stop that.”

Aisilyn sighed. “I wish I had your faith.”

Genna crossed the room and put her arm around her sister’s shoulders. “You do, but right now it’s clouded by fear. Let’s pray together, and then you can rest a bit before dinner.”

Aisilyn nodded. They went back to the side of her bed and knelt together, facing one another. Genna offered the prayer, asking for God to help soothe her sister’s worries, and also to help them know what they should do. When she finished, she kissed Aisilyn’s forehead and left the room.

Her father had sent a runner to the Council building for information. Genna smiled at the thought. He did not hesitate to use his influence with certain officials to learn what was going on, at least not when it came to matters concerning his daughter. Though he may have taken a cautious, practical approach, he still wanted to know what the Council was thinking.

“Genna, dear, will you please help me with dinner?” Her mother asked. “Where is your sister?”

“She’s resting,” said Genna. “I’d love to help. What are we having?”

“Cook has prepared a lovely cut of lamb,” said her mother. “I told her I would see to the side dishes.”

Genna smiled. “What about dessert?”

The knock at the door stopped her mother’s reply. Sorai had been in the parlor and answered it.