Friday, August 31, 2012

End of Summer

by G.Parker's kind of officially the last day of summer, being Labor Day Weekend and Friday and all that.  I wish I could say I was doing something fun and interesting and productive...but I'll just have to settle for the latter. We are spending the weekend painting and priming and getting ready to lay laminate.  As a result of the craziness in my life for the next 4 weeks, I'll be revisiting some of my old blogs of the early years of this site.  You'll love it, I promise.  ;)  So, enjoy and hope you have a fantastic holiday weekend!

Humor.. un Was That Funny?
by G.Parker

One of my favorite things to read is Matthew Buckley's Chickens in the Headlights. Why? Because it's dang funny! Humor is my favorite thing to read. If a book is a romance and has humor in it, I'm loving it. If it's a suspense or mystery novel, (like Jeff Savage's books) with humor added, I think it's great. Unfortunately, humor alone (apparently) doesn't sell. I know this from first, or perhaps I should say second, hand experience.

I illustrated a book of essays that a talented newspaper columnist wrote called Sorry, the Stork Takes No Returns. It's a funny, sometimes touching, look at motherhood and dealing with children. I thought it was hilarious, and so did everyone I gave a copy to. I had a brother buy a couple. I think a neighbor said she bought one. Unfortunately, it wasn't a national best seller, and Clair Bowen will keep writing newspaper columns.

Matthew Buckley's book is wonderful as well, it's full of true stories from his youth--funny experiences of a large family. It has sold much more than the Stork book, but I don't think it's a national best seller yet–-it would be nice, huh Matthew? You could quit your day job...

Unfortunately, what sells is mystery, fantasy, history and sex, and standard publishing is all about what sells. On the other hand, if you try something silly to get attention, sometimes it brings the whole world to your door.

Take the latest words by a mom to sell some Pokemon cards on Ebay. She wrote this really cute little essay about how her kids had managed to stick them in her cart while shopping, and had over 100,000 hits. People thought her little story was the funniest thing they had read in a long time, and kept telling other people. By the time the auction ended, she had sold the cards for $140 or so. This was a regular pack of cards by the way, nothing special, but she had caught the imagination of the public, and they had rewarded her for it. She's now doing radio interviews and keeping track on her blog.

At first I felt miffed. I have seven children, and let me tell you, they've done some pretty funny things (although they didn't always seem funny at the time – like when they tried to burn spaghetti noodles on the electric burners after dumping Tang all over the stove while being babysat by their older sisters...) and I fully intended to write a children's book about my autistic son using the escapades he got into while he was young – (notably how he loved to run down the street in nothing but a diaper, chasing the water in the gutters) but time escaped me and I neglected to write them down while they were fresh. My bad.

Now that I've had a chance to sit back and ponder the situation, I'm impressed and happy for her. More power to you! Isn't that our feeling with our fellow writers? Support and high five's when they get it right? Not all of us will get there that way, that's just the way life goes. Some of us must struggle and suffer for our efforts. Perhaps it's not in my destiny to become a famous writer, humor or otherwise with a surprising flash of -- whatever.

But the thing I've found the most, is that forcing the humor never works. It's when it slips out in the normal flow of things that it goes right. So, here's to hoping some day we'll all get it right--we've got lots of footsteps to follow.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Grammar Guru Points

Grammar Quiz time. And if you're Annette Lyon, you don't get to play, you already have a 100%.

(Sorry Annette, this isn't for you.)

Which of the following is correct:

Who did you send the package to?
Whom did you send the package to?
To who did you send the package?
To whom did you send the package?

Did you automatically say the first one? Yep, you're more than likely in the majority with many others that got it wrong. Did you then wish to change your answer to the third one since there's a dangling participle? Yep, you're probably with another chunk of people who got it wrong. The answer is the fourth one.

If any of you are pulling your hair out wondering "how on earth can you know this junk? It's so useless!" Yeah, if you're pulling your hair out, it's obviously not useless.

Do you know how I learned the grammar rules so well? I took four years of French class. Not only that, I did pretty well in my French class, especially when it came to grammar.

Side note here that ties in: I love math. Math has order and formulas. In order for a formula to work, you HAVE to follow the order of operations, or you'll get the wrong answer. One day at my previous job, two very intelligent IT personnel said to me "Hey, you know (Microsoft) Excel, can you tell us why this isn't giving us (the wrong number)?" So I opened the file and read the formula. Within five seconds I said, "You don't see what's wrong here?" They looked at me like I was speaking Tagalog. "Excel follows the order of operations. You need a parentheses around (these parts of the formula) or it won't work the way you want it." They looked at each other, looked at me like I just told them that Elvis lives on Mars, and then looked at each other. So I fixed the formula and proved to them that I knew Excel (and Math) better than them. Proud moment.

What's this got to do with grammar? Guess what, English, the most toxin-filled language out there, does have grammar rules. And these rules, you know, the ones to which only future English teachers pay attention, actually exist.

Today's rule to point out is "who" versus "whom". Now, in the earlier quiz of this post there were TWO grammar problems. The first is the dangling participle at the end of the first two options, which is grammatically wrong.

The other is the "who" vs "whom" conundrum. Here's a little illustration to show you:

Poor kid. Thank goodness that's not my kid. How can you tell? Mine would have a panic attack much more severe than this, believe me.

Anyway, see the info on the right? There's a key phrase there: "object of the preposition". If there's a "to" or "by" or anything like those words in the sentence, it is NOT "who". So saying "Who do I give this to?" is nails on a chalkboard. (Believe me, I had an aneurysm just writing that.) And if Microsoft Word tells you this sentence is "wrong" and you say "No it's not", you're still wrong. It's always "To whom do I give this?"

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Time . . .

by C. Michelle Jefferies

What is it actually.

We run by it, we give ourselves and others increments of it as if it was ours to own. We have too much or not enough depending on life's circumstances.

We have an exact ammount of it every day and we often times wish we had more. Or we waste it and wish for a reversal.

I am running out of time. I have my book launch coming up soon and a roughdraft that is stuck in a tent at the top of a plateau. The baby in the house is a fifty-mile an hour one-man destruction machine and I spend most of the time allowed taking care of him. NAps have diminished from a long quiet three-to four-hour thing to a one-hour get the essentials done so the house doesnt colapse thing.

So, when am I going to find time to write?

Good question, I don't know either.

Somehow I will get my poor guy down from the plateau, somehow I will finish all the DIY money saving things I planned on doing for the book launch. Somehow I will keep my house afloat and reasonably clean.

How do you get anything extra done in the face of what our lives throw at us on a daily basis? What are your strategies for writing when working out or inside the home takes up most of your time?

I'd love to hear anything that can help me.

~The path to wisdom is not always straight

Sunday, August 26, 2012


by Donna K. Weaver

One of my favorite songs is a little known one by John Denver. With school starting, the end of another summer is upon us. This song captures the feeling I have as I look back on the magic that was my childhood. It's not necessarily even that my experiences were magical, but that my view of the world was.

Catch Another Butterfly

Do you remember days not so very long ago
When the world was run by people twice your size
And the days were full of laughter and the nights were full of stars
And when you grew tired you could close your eyes

Yes the stars were were there for wishing
and the wind was there for kites
And the morning sun was there for rise and shine
And even in the sniffles kept you home from school in bed
You couldn't hardly stay there after nine

And I wonder if the smell of morning's faded
What happened to the robin's song that sparkled in the sky
Where's all the water gone that tumbled down the stream
Will I ever catch another butterfly

Do you remember campouts right in your own backyard
And wondering how airplanes could fly
And the hours spent just playing with a funny rock you found
With crystal specks as blue as all the sky

And I wonder if the smell of morning's faded
What happened to the robin's song that sparkled in the sky
Where's all the water gone that tumbled down the stream
Will I ever catch another butterfly

Now I watch my son, he's playing with his toys
He's happy and I give him all I can
But I can't help feeling just a little tingling inside
When to hear him say, he wants to be a man

And I wonder if the smell of morning's faded
What happened to the robin's song that sparkled in the sky
Where's all the water gone that tumbled down the stream
Will I ever catch another butterfly
Will I ever catch another butterfly

What do you miss from your childhood? What did you surrender in your rush to adulthood that, looking back, you wish you could have kept?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Finding Waldo

By Keith N Fisher

I sat on my porch the other day chatting with my friend about the many facets of life. During the course of our discussion, I discovered I’ve held on to many dreams over the years. Some came true, others fell by the wayside, but all of them merited my undivided attention while I dreamed.

Always, my dreams beget goals, which turned into plans that forced me to action. I used to lye awake at night working out the details. Now, my writing goals and wishes consume most of my thoughts. My characters keep me awake at night, as I try to craft the manuscript that will propel me toward my goal.

It occurred to me that we sometimes put too much time and energy into our dreams. Have you ever seen the Where’s Waldo? Books? Each page is a masterful collage painting of people and things designed to hide the Waldo character. Your job as a reader is to find the hidden character on the page.

Often, a scouring search turns into an all consuming quest to find that little guy. My daughter had severalsimilar books called I Spy where you’re given a list of things to find before you turn the page. The searches kept us busy for hours, but left us with time spent with each other and not much else accomplished.

Several of the writers I know, including myself, are like the readers of those books. We dream and plan. We work hard plotting and crafting, trying to write the perfect manuscript. We sweat blood during lean times and find joy in winning a writing contest. Through it all, our all consuming goal is to find Waldo and get our dreams fulfilled.

But what, then?

I’ve known published authors who revel in their success, then founder, because their dreams were brighter than the reality. They spent many hours looking for the little guy on the page and were disappointed when they found him.

My advice for me, and you, is to enjoy the journey. Take time to look up from the page. Don’t fall victim to the Things will be different when I get this manuscript published syndrome. Finding Waldo can be a glorious thing, but finding Waldo isn’t everything, and it can be so much better if you have someone to share it with.

Writing is often a solitary thing. We dream in private and work in silence. The key is in finding more things to dream about. Spend time with other, non-writing, goals and be prepared for when you find Waldo.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Time Envy

I apologize for being a lousy blogger lately. I need to repent and...meh...why lie? I'm just gonna do my best to make sure I blog. One day, I'll figure out this "schedule your time wisely" concept.

And that's the perfect segue to my topic: how do you schedule your time so that you can write? No seriously, what do you do, cause I'm awful at trying to schedule mine. I mean, I like my sleep and don't really feel like I can give up an hour to get myself to write for an hour after I wake up and before I start my day. That is, however, what Robison Wells did. If I recall, he would wake up at 3 or 4 in the morning and write and then go to work when that time arose. Sadly, Rob is without work at the moment, but still, his example is one of sheer dedication. And because I think Rob's awesome, here's a reminder that Feedback will be out soon. If you haven't read Variant, you're totally missing out! Seriously, one of the best YA books I've read.

Sometimes I wish I was the stay-at-home dad. I read about many writer moms who work on their WIPS while their kids are at school. I mean, it's amazing how many moms complain about the summer because they suddenly have taken up a new job in babysitting for a few months. (At first I thought they were whiners, but oh wow, are they right!) There are even some that have the awesome willpower to get off the internet. Then there's me:

And now let's look at the authors that get together and write. I know that Authors Incognito tries to do a writers retreat the first week of November, in conjunction with NaNoWriMo. (FYI, people, the beginning of EVERY month is off limits for me to take time off as my job in accounting requires me to perform my monthly financials within the same time period.) Of course, I never understand how they get work done. Like these four ladies:

Individually, the authors of the Newport Ladies Book Club novels seem to be well-disciplined in their schedules to find time to write. Even better, since their books have to complement each other perfectly or they'll hurt the audiences belief, they find time to sit in one room and hash out details. I'm sorry, but how the (expletive of your choice) do these four get any work done? Seriously, I follow all 4 of them on Twitter and I know that most the time, their phones are on. So if I find out they're together writing, I'm gonna be the good gentlemen that I am and send out a tweet tagging all four of them so they all get a text message. Hey, I gotta keep myself entertained vicariously cause I'm obviously not writing enough.

Okay, so enough of my jealousy. You know what motivates me? Besides chocolate. And no, not bacon. My critique group. We have lovingly come up with the acronym CRAP and refer to ourselves as CRAPpy authors. No, we do not believe we suck, we just love being able to use such a negative word. But guess what, we have a meeting next week. And I do not have a chapter ready for the group. So...I'm going to take time today to get a chapter ready if it kills me, and it just might.

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


by C. LaRene Hall

I've decided that writing is much like exercising. It's something you need to do frequently. My goal is to go to the gym three times a week. The first two weeks I went four times. I did good with my three week goal until one day when I did not feel as good as usual. That week I only went twice. The next week I was busy and again only went twice. I'm glad to say that I'm back to going three times each week.

My goal in going to the gym isn't to lose weight, it's to strengthen my muscles. After one month of going at least as often as my goal I found that I was stronger. My daughter couldn't beat me in an arm wrestling match. My granddaughter was sure she could beat me, but she failed.

Attending the gym at least three times a week I am finding that I'm feeling better besides being stronger. I'm counting calories so that I can maintain my weight and not loss any more. I've been attending the gym faithfully for over two months and plan on attending forever.

Now, if I could be as faithful in my writing that would be a big improvement. Having more energy I find that I take the time to sit at my computer and write almost every day. Writing each day does take persistance. It's easy to find something else to do. It's easy to say, "I don't have time." I have realized that I have time to do what I want to do. So instead of saying, "I don't have time," am I really saying, "I don't want to write?"

I hope not, because my mind tells me I have to write to survive. Emotionally I feel better when I write. It's just like physically I feel better when I exercise. Spiritually I feel better when I attend church and fulfil my church assignments each week.

This tells me that every week I should write, I should exercise, and I should go to church. At least, if I want to be emotionally, physically, and spiritually well.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


by C. Michelle Jefferies

I'm taking all sorts of risks right now.

Today is the first day of the school year. My kids dressed in new clothes and haircuts are now at school and ready to be molded and learn all sorts of new stuff.

Today is also a new begining for me. I only have one child at home and should be exctatic at the prospect of having so much time to write and work on my books.


This baby is not one of those entertain themselves all day long kids like my others. This one needs constant supervision. Remember me saying I'm taking a risk? Yeah, he's unloading the hall closet as I write this. It's going to be an interesting year.

Speaking of beginings. I  have a few friends who stress over thier first pages worrying whether they are good or not. They worry about the level of action the plot promises that should be delivered in it. They worry about pacing, and introdoucing the characters without info dumping. While some of my other friends breeze through the first pages only to worry about something else. My main worry is just that I've gotten some element of grammar wrong and I don't see it.  I rarely worry about first pages. I have too many other things to stress over.

I've written many first chapters and entered many first chapter contests. From my many years I have come to a few conclusions.

You must introdouce your main character. No "first chapter about anybody but the MC".
If the MC has a signifigant other, they must be thought about or mentioned. If this is a multiple POV book the other characters should be given at least a mention.

You need to give the reader a sense of the setting and whether its normal or if it is unusual for them.

Tell the reader what is the MC's normal life so when we take them out of normal the reader notices the change.

You should give the reader a hint about what the main conflict of the book is. By all means, don't tell them the climax or the resolution, but give them an idea of what is coming. It makes for a more satisfying story in my opinion.

The first chapter must be consistent in style and voice to the rest of the book. The pacing should indicate the pacing of the rest of the book. No switching narrative, person, voice or style.

Arrive late into the scene and leave early.

So what do you worry about? What do you believe is required in first chapters? I'd love to hear your ideas.

~The path to wisdom is not allways straight.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Book Reviews

by Donna K. Weaver

I thought this was a very entertaining commentary on the way different people respond to books. Amazon reviewers think this masterpiece sucks. I love Ms. Demain's sense of humor as she searches to find at least one book that is immune to terrible reviews. Actually, it reminded me of Lot in the Old Testament trying to find enough good people to keep the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah from being destroyed.
In a last-ditch effort, I decided to see what folks had to say about the Bible. Sure enough, there were a few brave souls who dared to give the word of God only one star!

Man, this book is boring. All this weird stuff happens and it's harder to get into than Lord of the Rings. And what's up with the red writing and the LORD says stuff. All caps = rude, peter paul and mark, whoever the heck you are. And this is just badly written. James Patterson could do better. These apostles need to get a clue and hire a ghost writer. Even Miley Cyrus's manager was smart enough to do that. . . .

You might want to try this experiment for yourself! But I warn you, you will come away profoundly disheartened and pessimistic about the continued existence of humankind.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Power of Suggestion

By Keith N Fisher

I’m sorry for my erratic posting. I used to post just after midnight every Saturday. Isn’t it funny how things combine to force us into lifestyle changes?

In a busy week of mediocre problems, (I say mediocre, because I know many of you face larger problems.) I had trouble thinking of a subject for my blog post. Then, last night I was reminded of human trait to which, I succumbed.

While at work, I sold several batches of nachos, and walked by the display many times. Each time a customer brought them up to the register, I enjoyed the aroma. There were many different combinations depending on personal tastes. Some customers added peppers, some didn’t. Others added onions. Some added chili while others added Pico de gallo.

Some people mixed chili and cheese in the container and waited to add the chips so they could savor the crunchiness. I’m not one of those.

As I get older, I’ve learned that avoiding certain food items, and snacks, saves me from sleepless nights and embarrassment from bad teeth with cheap dental work. I usually avoid nachos these days. Although I admit, I like to let the chips soak in the cheese sauce until they’re limp like a wet noodle.

I love to pick the chips out of the sauce and get gooey fingers. It takes several napkins to wipe sauce from my beard and mustache. It’s like eating BBQ ribs, lobster, and corn on the cob. Getting messy is part of the fun.

Still, eating nachos before going to bed these days, is a recipe for disaster. When I got off work this morning, however, I purchased some. I couldn’t help myself. I was the victim of the power of suggestion.

As a writer, it’s my job to combine words that suggest an idea to a reader. If I do it right, the power to influence feelings can fall on my fingertips. Just as I might’ve influenced your taste buds by writing about my nacho experience, writers can influence good and bad thoughts.

Now it’s true, a story can influence one person in a different way than it does others. I’ve heard serial killers say they were influenced by a movie or other media. I’ve also heard high praise for how a book changed a life for good.

Many writers don’t realize the influence they have. They write things on social media, and other places, that readers take to heart. We write things on blogs and readers think we are experts. The danger lies in not being careful about what we say. Followers could fall victim to the power of suggestion.

It’s an awesome responsibility and should not be taken lightly. Good luck with your writing---see you next week.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Coming to a Close...

by G.Parker


It's the middle of August, and the end of summer is looming.  I mean, big time.  Sigh.  And the return to school for offspring, work for me.  It's been a crazy short summer.  I've gotten some things done I really wanted to accomplish, but not nearly enough.  Fortunately, one of those things was writing!

I've gotten through two different stories in the rough draft form, and now have them being read.  It's progress, as far as I'm concerned.  I feel like a Back to the Future political commercial..."progress is our middle name..."

What is really interesting though, is how a story changes from the first time you write it and then go back to do revisions/editing.  I wrote a story several years ago and my critique group had pointed out issues with it, so I put it away for a while to work on other things.  I decided it really needed to be finished and sent out, so I pulled it out and dusted it off.  I was up till 12:30 last night reading through it and doing a quick edit.  It's taken most the week actually, but I couldn't stop last night till it was done.

Wow.  Big changes are needed.  All the main parts of the story are there, but they  need to be reordered.  That's going to be my challenge for the rest of the month, and trying to fit it in after I start work is the bigger challenge.

Plus, did I mention that I have a wedding coming up the first of October??  Yeah.  A daughter.  Getting married.  In my back yard.  In 6 weeks. Sigh.

So, today is going to be a Last Friday of the Summer treat to myself.  You don't get very many of those days, and I probably take more than my fair share, but well, that's what I do.  ;)  Have a great weekend and get loads of writing done!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Balancing Act

by C. LaRene Hall

I often wonder how other writers balance their life. Some have small children. Some like me work out of the home. Most have millions of things that require their attention every day. I have taught many time management classes and I know what you need to do but that doesn't mean I can always do what is necessary to make my life less chaotic.

I'm planning my launch party for my next book. One thing that I know that is very necessary is marketing. I wish I had an excellent plan. I know #1 should be promoting myself. For me that is not going to be easy. I hate talking about myself.

Next I think I should offer something free that goes with a book purchase. I have that one taken care of - a book bag they can carry their book in as well as other treasures.

Then I guess I should have interviews, at least that's what I hear. I'm not famous - why would any one want to interview me?

The next thing I see on the list is speaking to groups. I'm okay with that. I love teaching and talking about my book would be something I would love to do. After all, it's my baby. The big question is what group would want to hear from me?

The timing should be right. Pay attention to trends, and issues around you. Is this the right time to release your book or should you wait? I think I've waited long enough and believe there is no time like now.

The last thing on my list is to be passionate. I am so excited about my book and the illustrations that I can hardly contain myself. Is that good enough?

If anyone has any good marketing ideas, you are welcome to post them here.

Besides marketing there is networking. That is something I fall short at. I never find enough time to network.

Here are some of the things I have found.

First thing is to help other people by understanding their needs. It doesn't matter how many people you know if they are the right people. You shouldn't expect anything in return from them. Create a list of people you want to contact. Go outside your comfort zone.

I guess you need to decide how much time you are going to devote to networking. Remember people are busy. Offer compliments and keep it short. Begin by focusing on what you can do to help them. Try to contact at least one new person a day. Network with the intention of helping someone else, not yourself.

Networking is more about listening to the other person. Volunteer. Working with someone is the best way to develop a relationship. Remember email is quick and simple.

Now, how do I begin? Any suggestions?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Book launch details

by C. Michelle Jefferies

Within sixty days, I will be celebrating the release of my first book. This month I am writing a new rough draft, and planning my launch. While I have been dreaming of this party for years, I am seeing that there is a seperate reality that is full of lists and alot of things that need to be done in the next few weeks. Since I have worked hard on this list and the things on the list, I thought I'd share it with you and hope we can all benefit from it. If you have anything to add or any comments please feel free to let me know. 

Book launch planning list:


Date and time

Note: may have a private dinner thing  for an hour before public launch.

Food for private party. What I provide and if I will ask for potluck donations.  

Treats for public launch, plan food, and drink. How to display food and drinks. Person to watch the treat table and maintain it.

Children’s table Crafts and snacks. AND some one older to help and to monitor the snacks.

Invitations for private party

Flyers all over local area

Post cards to mail to places like paper and businesses I know and libraries

Call paper

Print bookmarks or order book marks

Print business cards.

Cake with edible book cover on it?

Someone to photograph the whole event maybe post pics on FB as a "live event"

Order little prizes or candy give out with book purchase

Decorations for launch party

Signing table and maybe t-shirts for those who are helping

Maybe solicit door prizes from local businesses in return for a bit of advertizing

Assistant-time keeper-manages money for book buying, cash box and change. 

Buy card reader and borrow ipod touch or I phone from friend

Radio and TV

Posters from staples, one for desk one for entryway.

Person to watch kids.

Pick outfit to wear

Gather things for door prizes

Note: Four seperate people for taking pictures, childrens table, desert table, and handling money and time keeping



Reading from the book

Question and answer period


Door prizes throughout the night

 ~The path to wisdom is not always straight.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Developing Your Writing Skill #4: Listening to Podcasts

by James Duckett

Four weeks ago I blogged on how writing is more a skill than a talent. Since it is a skill, it can be developed and improved. The last three weeks I've blogged on developing that talent and the fourth bit of advice is to LISTEN TO PODCASTS.

Podcasts are online episodic media (most often, audio) that people can subscribe to and download as new episodes become available. There are podcasts on virtually any topic, and writing it no exception. The nice thing is that you can download them onto your media player or phone and listen to them at your leisure. There are a handful of podcasts that I listen to and I'll list my favorites below.

1) Writing Excuses. Writing Excuses is, by far, my favorite writing podcast. They are pretty religious at getting an episode out on a consistent basis. And each episode contains golden nuggets of information. Despite having compiled hundreds of episodes, I could count on one hand how many times I've thought, "This one didn't apply to me." The hosts are experienced writers Brandon Sanderson, Howard Tayler, Dan Wells, and Mary Robinette Kowal. They also have great guests from time to time to mix things up and add to the discussion. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!

2) Grammar Girl. Grammer Girl is grammar-extraordinaire Mignon Fogarty. These come out consistently as well and are often quite short (rarely does she hit 10 minutes). She thoroughly goes over the rules of grammar and does an excellent job on how to write properly in almost any circumstance. You would be surprised how complex the rules of grammar are, which is why she often goes ten minutes to explain something that you would think should take a minute.

3) The Appendix. The Appendix was a favorite of mine but it has been on hiatus for a long time. It was informative and fun and I really hope it comes back. The hosts were (the hilarious) Sarah Eden, Robison Wells, and Marion Jensen. On a side note, Robison is Dan Wells' brother (see Writing Excuses) and those two have been doing a podcast of their own called "Do I Dare to Eat a Peach." Very enjoyable, though they do not focus on writing.

4) Wordplay. Wordplay is another one that seems to have disappeared and I hope it comes back. This one had James Dashner, Nathan Bransford, and J. (Jeff) Scott Savage. Looking at their website it appears they added a new host (Janette Rallison) but I haven't heard any episodes with her yet. I just hope this means there are more in the works!

Are there any podcasts that you also listen to? List them below in the comments. While researching this post I came across a few others that I wish to give a listen to this week, so I will probably update the above list with a few more suggestions before next week's post (that means you should come back). But if there are any you suggest, point me in the right direction and I'll give them a listen.

Until next week when we discuss Developing Your Writing Skill #5: Writing Blogs.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Tragedy and Writing

by Donna K. Weaver

This is kind of creepy, I know, but here's some good information shared by my county after the tragedy in Aurora about what to do if you're ever in a situation where there's an active shooter. And after what happened in Wisconsin, I decided to share.

After last week's shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., the city of Houston has released a how-to video on surviving an active shooter event. The video was created with funds from the Homeland Security Department. Entitled "Run, Hide, Fight," the video depicts a fictional shooting incident at an office building. Watching this video could save your life. 

This video is well done and would be good information to both know and share with others where appropriate.

The City of Houston's website offers these tips: 
  • Run if a safe path is available. Always try and escape or evacuate even if others insist on staying.
  • Encourage others to leave with you but don't let the indecision of others slow down your own effort to escape.
  • Once you are out of the line of fire, try to prevent others from walking into the danger zone and call 9-1-1.
  • If you can't get out safely, find a place to hide. 
  • When hiding, turn out lights, remember to lock doors and silence your ringer and vibration mode on your cell phone As a last resort, working together or alone, act with aggression, use improvised weapons and fight.
Houston's Public Safety Office said it had started working on the video before the theater shooting.

Click here to view the video. It kind of got my blood pumping to watch it.

So what does this have to do with writing? Knowing how the real police work--like did you consider before watching the video that the first police people on the scene would NOT be there to help victims?--plays a role in our writing.

What kind of resources do you use?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Dream of the Future

By Keith N Fisher

Not too long ago, the printed word on paper was still the way most of us caught up on current events. Television news was great, but nothing compared to reading a morning newspaper while eating breakfast. The paperback book had gained a large share of the market, and I wrote novels on a manual typewriter.

Although, I’m not the only person to get the idea, I later, caught a vision of the future. It came while watching Star Trek on TV and in movies. I noticed that reading, writing, and even maintenance reports in the ST universe, are done with electronic pads. It made perfect sense to me. I predicted we would spare the trees and imbed everything on computer chips. In the future we would check out electronic pads from the library. The required shelf space would be cut in half.

My prediction came before the World Wide Web really took hold. I figured research would be done with a stack of electronic pads sitting on a desk. I never considered the actual electronic file.

I walked by a newsstand the other day and had to stop and read the headline. It was the fulfillment of my prediction, it read, Libraries countywide begin putting serious cash into e-books. The article said that libraries are bowing to the patrons who own e-readers.

With the advent of e-books and e-readers, the future is here. Even though I was wrong about the way we would receive the books, we can check out and read them on our pads. Writing can also be done on those same pads. I now, write on an 11-inch laptop.

Even though we are living the inevitability of the future, I think we’ve lost more than we’ve gained. It’s true I use the Internet for research, and I get my news from TV and Yahoo. I take my laptop almost everywhere, but I can’t see what’s on the screen. E-readers are small, but they will never replace the look and feel of a newly printed book. The pleasure of spilling my oatmeal on the paper, with it spread out on the table, will never be replaced. I’m learning to do without. I don’t sit down for breakfast anyway.

I’ve written before about e-book pricing and my feelings concerning selling our work too cheap. Therefore, it’s probably best to not bring that up again. Nevertheless, the cat is out of the bag, we must deal with our creation. We probably won’t suffer the burden of too many e-readers on our desks, as in Star Trek, but I don’t think readers will grow tired of paper either. Then again, maybe I ought to seal my books in a vault for the future. They might be antiques someday.

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

Friday, August 10, 2012

Reinforcement of Vocabulary

by G.Parker

If nothing else, the Olympic games reinforces the meaning of some words that we have grown up with.  Such words as sportsmanship, courtesy, commonality, teamanship, etc.

In watching several different events during the week, I was really impressed with several athletes and how they behaved.  One in particular, was the runner from Granada.  He was similar to Bolt in his abilities and exhibited a bit of pride, but you know what saves him from being boastful?  He's proud of his country and does everything to promote it and raise it up.  His country.  Not himself, like Mr. Bolt.  It was impressive.  And then, the young man switched name papers with the runner from South Africa who was the double amputee after the qualifying heat that he lost.  It was a touching gesture of respect.  That runner from South Africa was impressive as well.  He could have stuck with the paralympic games, and probably won gold handily (I have no idea how strong the field is), but he wanted to prove that people are only as disabled as they think they are.

It gives me hope every time I watch the games and see how the athletes interact.  How they support each other, like in the decathlon, where they want everyone to do well.  I cherish the words that float through my mind, especially sportsmanship.  Our society has begun to find ourselves lacking in several areas.  I mean, you have to remind people over and over again about cell phones in the theaters?  What's up with that?  Does everyone forget from one trip to the next?  It's like we don't use our brains as well as we should.  It's called common courtesy.  Courtesy is similar to sportsmanship.  It's not just about who wins, but how the game is played.  Everyone cannot be a winner, (another pet peeve of mine, sorry)  but everyone can be a true sportsman.  They can respect their fellow competitors and the effort they are making.

I guess it all comes down to one word, when you think about it:  Respect.  For each other and for a people in general.  As writers, we respect each other, and our respective genre.  Some people look down on different areas as less than deserving, such as romance, or chick lit.  Those authors are are still writers, (of which I count myself one!) still working at the craft.  Just because someone writes fiction as apposed to non-fiction, doesn't mean that what they write is any less important.

We are all worthy of respect from one another.  It's a big, big world, that's getting smaller every day.  It warms the heart to see nations step forward and claim greatness when everyone thinks the same athletes should be winning every time.  I was thrilled to see some of the competitors in the gymnastics that were not the typical teenager, struggling to show that age is not necessarily a definition of the sport.

Once again, the human spirit has dominated, and it's something that brings a tear to my eye every time the Olympic Flame is extinguished.  Sunday is going to be a sad day in my house.  And then we'll start looking forward to 2014 and the Winter Olympics.

Where in the heck is Sochi??

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Should I or Should I Not

By C. LaRene Hall

Last time I took the time to write a post someone asked why an author would want to do a book signing since they usually don't sell very many books. That is an excellent question. I once had that same question.

For those who know me you know I never do anything the normal way. I go out of my way and do something different. My last book came out in the summer and I decided that I was going to do my book signing in my own yard. I had games for all the children (after all it's a children's book and kids expect games at a party), and food that depicted my book.

At first I wasn't sure if it was a success until I asked another author how many books she usually sold. She told me that the most she had sold at a time was 17. That day in July in my yard I sold 56 books. I'm not famous and I knew my book would not be a best seller, but to me the number sold was great.

Since I was successful last time I am again going to do my book signing in my yard. This time my theme is going to be Patriotic and Pirates. I know that's a weird combination, but that's what my book is about. I don't know what food I'll serve but I do have the children's games picked out. All my helpers will wear pirate hats and I'll sit at a patriotic table. I may not sell as much as last time, but I think I will once again top the 17 books sold at book stores.

When I have a date I'll let everyone know. I'm sending out more invites this time and I'm hoping lots of people will come and enjoy a fun day in my yard. Can you tell I love parties?

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

One coping tool for writers block

by C. Michelle Jefferies

I was so suck, even after taking a week to relax and refresh myself. My MS had sat at 14,444 words for over seven days. I told a friend how stuck I was and although talking about it is a great un blocking tool, it's not the one I want to talk about.

My crit partner asked me to imagine what the city was like, what were thier rules and what would their reaction be to two stranges meandering into thier world. I'm writing first person exclusive and while none of this stuff pertained to my character directly it was something he'd deal with in the reaction department. It was the perfect solution to a block that had me stalled for a long time.

Try it, maybe it'll work for you.

~The path to wisdom is not always straight

Monday, August 06, 2012

Developing Your Writing Skill #3

by James Duckett

Three weeks ago I blogged on how writing is more a skill than a talent. Since it is a skill, it can be developed and improved. The last two weeks I wrote that writing and reading is the most valuable ways to develop this skill. The third advice on writing skill development is to READ BOOKS ON WRITING. There are a lot of books out there from people who have been there, paid their dues, established themselves, and wish to distill their wisdom upon the world.

I've had a list of books that I've read on writing that I have just loved to pieces. In (Author) alphabetical order by author, here are the books that came first to mind and why I love them:

Story Engineering by Larry Brooks: Larry Brooks was the keynote speakers at the first LDS Storymakers Event I attended (last year). While this focuses on six elements every writer needs to develop in order to become successful, the part he wrote the most detail on, story structure, is what stood out the most for me. He said that there was a structure to books just as their is a structure to movie scripts. He walks you through the structure of a book and it is a large part of the story frame I use while outlining my stories.

Characters and Viewpoints by Orson Scott Card: This was one of the first books I ever read to improve my writing. Scott is one of my favorite authors, primarily because he writes characters that I care about more than in most books I've read. So, of course, I'm going to go to him when he writes on how to write characters and how to write from their viewpoint.

How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card: Because Science Fiction and Fantasy are the two genres I wish to write in, and again, because I'm a huge fan of Scott, I had to pick this one up right after reading Characters and Viewpoints. However, I think you can benefit by reading this book even if you don't plan on writing in those genres. This gives a lot of excellent advice on how to create a story.

On Writing by Stephen King: Stephen King is another of my favorite writers, so I gobbled up every word of this book. It actually starts off as a biography as he writes on what it took for him to become an author and the the highlights (and low points) of his life. He doesn't actually give writing advise until the end of the book. However, I loved both parts of the book. And his advise!! I like how he just gets to the meat of it. He doesn't present a writing tip and go on for two hundred pages explaining why it must be done, like so many other books. He gives a curt, yet thorough, explanation and then - BAM!! - next topic. A word of warning, this does contain explicit language.

Save the Cat by Blake Snyder: This doesn't focus so much on the mechanics of writing but more on how to improve your story. This also has a section on story structure that is a lot like Larry Brooks' (see above) but has a few more elements that Larry didn't touch on. When I read this book I kept a clipboard nearby to write down the writing tips. I wrote small and still filled up several pages of notes on how to improve my story and make my character unforgettable.

I asked a Facebook writing group on other books they might suggest. I was surprised to see some books I had never even heard of before, which only adds to my list of books to read. So here are their suggestions, also in alphabetical order.

Scene and Structure by Jack M. Bickham
Hooked by Les Edgerton
How to Write a Damn Good Novel by James N. Frey
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamest
Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass
Writing Picture Book by Ann Whitford Paul
The 10% Solution by Ken Rand
A Writer's Guide to Harry Potter by S.P. Sipal (Side note, I did start this one and it is AWESOME!)

It was also recommended to check out this list: Best Books for Writers by Poets&Writers

Until next week when we discuss Developing Your Writing Skill #4: Listening to Podcasts and Reading Writing Blogs.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

I Believe

I love this video ( click here)! I used to watch Bob Ross, fascinated at how he could create those awesome pictures with brushes I'd use to paint a wall. And the sentiments in this video are awesome. I need to remember this when I doubt.

Back side of Mt. Timpanogos from Sundance Ski Resort
In the song, he may be talking about the world being our canvass regarding painting, but it also applies to our writing.


Because the world is your canvass.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Watching a Full Moon Through Tree Branches

By Keith N Fisher

I attended an event to support the Pleasant Grove, Utah library. It was also the launch party for Tristi Pinkston’s new book, Turning Pages. There were several authors selling and signing their books then donating a portion of the proceeds to the library.

During the event, organized by Tristi, I sat next to one of my favorite authors and chatted about her books. I also listened as many unpublished writers talked to her about different parts of the writing craft and the trouble they were having. I was reminded of the many facets of the craft and the difficulty in mastering it.

While plotting might be easy for some writers, characterization might be difficult for them. Maybe its visa versa, and so on.

One writer talked to my friend about description and I perked up, knowing that has been one of my troubles over the years. In an effort to avoid flowery descriptions, I had developed a habit of getting from point A to point B in the quickest way possible. Then, an editor suggested I add more description because I had written the facts, but left too much for the imagination. I learned that being succinct is preferable in articles and short fiction, but novel readers want more details.

In order to fix the problem, I began to add more description and setting, but I’d made it too wordy. So, I re-discovered metaphors. Inserting details into a reader’s mind, with a few words, however, is not an easy task.

For an example, consider this paragraph I’ve been working on,

Two weeks later, the doorbell woke Rebecca from a nap on the couch. She kicked an empty Vodka bottle across the floor on the way to answer it.

It still needs work but you begin to understand what’s been going on in Rebecca’s life for the past two weeks.

If I described the light of a full moon through the branches of the trees, You’re mind would jump to a conclusion about setting. Now, if I take that same moon, and tell you about the light shining through broken dark clouds, you get a different idea. Then if I add the wind and perhaps the howl of a wolf in the distance, what do these words tell you about the setting?

A word of caution, however. The metaphors we use must provide an image for our readers. If you’d never seen a full moon through broken dark clouds you might have trouble getting the picture. You might not understand.

For a case in point, turn to a Star Trek the next generation episode. In Darmok, episode 2 of season 5, the Enterprise encounters a race of aliens who speak entirely in metaphor. Realizing that fact didn’t help, because the Enterprise crew had no frame of reference to understand the metaphor.

As writers, we must consider who our intended readers are. Will they understand our metaphors? Another problem occurs with too much familiarity. A cliché will provide resonance but it will also bore the reader.

Writing is like Tony Stark fine tuning his Iron Man suit in order to make it fly. Sometimes a writer hits the wall like Tony. If that writer keeps working at it, they will eventually get it right. They will have drawn a perfect picture in a reader’s mind with few words.

Notice the simile above? Like metaphors, similes can also get you into trouble. If you didn’t see the movie, you probably won’t understand the simile.

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

Friday, August 03, 2012

I Wouldn't Be a Judge

by G.Parker

Well, my week has been spent watching the Olympics, as I mentioned it would last week.  We got hooked up to be able to watch during the day, and it's been both a blessing and a frustration.  I've been able to watch more events than I even knew existed (who knew there was white water rafting?  I mean, wow) and try and juggle my days.  I've still got some writing done, though my average bed time has been midnight...sigh.

But it occurs to me that being a judge for the Olympics must be similar to being a judge in a writing contest or an editor that has tons of books to go through.  It's so subjective to how your life is going, and how you feel about what you are judging.

In listening to the commentators for the women's gymnastics and how the judges can be strict with some and more lenient with others, I wondered:  "Why would you want to be a judge?"  I mean, it's a totally thankless job.  I personally would prefer they had hate mail, and I would probably be guilty of sending it if I even knew where to send it...but someone has to do it.  They can't have it be done by robots yet, so we're stuck.

Just like with trying to get our books to a publisher.  It's all in how we get their attention.  How well we follow the guidelines they put out.  How much we really desire the end result:  Publication.  For the Olympian, the Gold.  I think it's interesting how the medals are viewed.  In the women's gymnastics, the Russians looked like the world had ended when they didn't get the gold.  I couldn't believe it.  I thought they'd been knocked off the podium, and it was just from gold to silver.  I guess it all comes down to where your focus is.

We all want to be a gold medal winner - even if figuratively.  I think most of us would feel like a gold medal winner if we landed a publishing contract.  Silver is possibly getting the attention and request from an editor, and bronze would be winning a contest and being given the chance for notice by a publishing house.

What are you aiming for?  I certainly don't want to be a judge.