Sunday, February 24, 2013

Change Ain't Easy

By Keith N Fisher

Saturday morning came and I had no article to post. Sunday Morning, I was exhausted, and still nothing. "But I’ve been sick all week," I said. The real problem is changing schedules, along with life adjustments.

I used to have a specific time on Thursday when I wrote my blog post. Then, I posted late Friday night. It was a schedule that worked, but things change. I haven’t had Thursdays off for awhile.

Some of my more conservative friends might be surprised to hear me say, change ain’t easy and sometimes it’s excruciating. We all know, however, true growth cannot happen without trials and the changes that come from them. So here I am on Sunday night, writing an article.

I noticed something at work the other day. Two women wore jewelry that included a skeleton key in the design. One was a real skeleton key, the other used the image of one. They brought back memories of my grandmother’s house. The old locks on her doors used skeleton keys. Some of the doors in my parent’s house had skeleton keys too.

The image brought back feelings and memories I hadn’t thought about in years. I remember when Grandma started locking her doors when she went away. Up until the 1970’s she never locked them. She hid a skeleton key on the back porch. Later she had the outside locks changed.

In my reverie, I realized the wealth of knowledge contained in my head. I can use my familiarity with those keys in my writing. I began to wonder what other objects would dredge up memories I could write about.

What objects do that for you?

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, February 22, 2013

What Characters Would You Pick?

by G.Parker

I read an article today at that talked about characters your daughter should grow up with.  It was specifically 12 characters, and broken up into ages.  I thought, really??  It made me think about the books I read when I was young, and I decided to make up my own list, because the author left off some of mine.  I'm not breaking it up into ages, because I read most of them before I was 16, and I don't remember when I first started reading.  ;)  Some of the books actually influenced my desire to become a writer.
Here it is:

1.  Laura Ingalls - Little House on the Prairie series.  I loved each and everyone of these books!  They were excellent, made even more so by the fact that it was based on real life.  I thought it showed real grit, determination, and amazing strengths.  Perhaps she wasn't mentioned because she was an actual person and the article was about fictional characters, but hey.

2.  Anne of Greengables.  -  Okay, they listed this one, but it can't be helped, she is a great character.  She has spunk, intelligence and beauty.  What more could a girl ask for?

3.  Jo March - Little Women.  I loved this book.  This is one I read several times.  I also love the movie version with Susan Sarandon as Marmie.  Great characters and family examples.

4.  Rebecca Randall - Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.  I loved this book, though I read it soooo long ago that I don't really remember the plot or story line.  I do remember that I liked the main character though.

5.  Sarah Crewe - The Little Princess - I still have a copy of this...I read this at least once a year for many years.  Talk about bravery and true integrity.  I love the line "just because I don't  look like a princess doesn't mean I don't need to act like one."  sigh.

6.  Polly Pepper - The 5 Little Peppers and How They Grew -  this is such a classic.  I have the original one that I got when I was little.  It's falling apart and no one could read it now, but I loved the love and kindness in this book.

7.  Mary Lennox -The Secret Garden  She was another character I loved.  I read this book over and over as well.  Bravery in the total unknown...that was Mary.

8.  Menolly - The Dragon Singer.  Okay, so this book series probably wouldn't be considered classical, and perhaps she's not the best heroine around, but she was pretty brave and had loads of courage and determination to develop her talents, even when all odds were against her.

9.  Jane Eyre - Jane Eyre.  This was such a tragic story to me.  I read this one over and over as well.  I then started writing my own versions...

10.  Kit Tyler - The Witch of Blackbird Pond.  They mentioned this one as well, but what can I say?  Another classic character and classic book.

11.  Anne Frank - the Diary of Anne Frank  This was another book that got me writing.  I loved the story of Anne and how she had such bright spirits in the face of such darkness.

12.  Meg Murry - A Wrinkle in Time - Madeline L'Engle.  I write the author's name on this one because it's such a unique name and bears mentioning.  Her books were a genre of their own.  I loved her character Meg, and many of her other ones.  The Arm of the Starfish is another great.

Well...there you have it.  Who would be your recommended heroine for an example to young women?  I'd love to hear.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Stove Analogy

So...I'm gonna share with you a conversation I had recently (like today recently) with fellow LDS Writers Blogck blogger (who has gotten pretty busy) James.
so how's your writing coming?
Ups and downs. With luck, I'll be on a rampage soon.
How about yours?
Because my critique group meets every two weeks, I've decided I need to complete 1 chapter every two weeks. So far, it's working.
I just really need to sit down and say "Okay, how is this going to end?"
Sounds like you are further than me.
I'm probably going ot start querying my last MS, as soon as Tristi is finished editing it.
Then I've got a new project to hop into that I'm outlining.
When the outline is done, I'll probably disappear for a couple of weeks. Then spend half a year cleaning it up.
That's a lot further (and way more disciplined) than I can even dream right now. My last book is sitting in the freezer, it's that far from the back burner even.
It only takes a couple of days to unthaw a turkey...
Yeah, but if it's freezer burnt, there are a lot of problems.
Then you'll know what to cut away.
Actually, I think it is good to deep-freeze a project for a while then come back to it with a fresh set of eyes.
Yes, that's the idea. Right now, I've got my stove pretty full. I could add another pot, but that means the ones on there would suffer.
So...what am I pointing out here? Well, James and I spoke pretty well inside of the stove analogy. What is the stove analogy? Well, it's this concept that many stories use. Let me give an example (and yeah, gonna use a soap opera).
On any given soap opera there are around 30 characters that are deemed as "contract". (FYI, contract is higher than recurring.) Now, a soap airs 5 days a week. It wouldn't work to have 6 characters a day, but out of those 30, more than likely 6-12 actually have a storyline going on. Example: Bob is searching for Sue, who was kidnapped by Joe. But Bob has Daria with him and she is secretly in on the plot and sabotaging his attempts to find her. In any given month of 20 episodes, this storyline is probably shown in 18-20 of them. These four characters are deem frontrunners or the frontburners.
But some of the other characters in the show may have gone through a major storyline recently. Like Dave has just gotten off trial for Sam' murder as it was finally proven that Alexis did it. Now Dave and Donna can be together again. So Dave, Donna, and Alexis are deemed on the back burner.

Now, this is a soap opera, so Sam, despite not having a contract, is not actually in the garbage, but is probably in the freezer for when they decide to use his character again. 

Well, this analogy can work for projects. Like a stay-at-home-mom (very important job, imo), who is trying to write a book while sewing oldest child's costume for the school play and planning a much needed vacation. 

Writing sometimes get like this. As authors we have our kitchen with unlimited ingredients. We have something on the front burner, our current WIP. Maybe we have a WIP and a book with an agent or publisher or about to come out. (Or all of the above if you're Jeff Savage.) 

Many of us have things on the back burner simmering because we can't give them much attention for one of a variety of reasons.

And then there are the old projects that sit in a freezer waiting to come back out. We don't forget about them, we're just trying to figure out the right time to throw them on the stove.

How's that for a confusing analogy?

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Author bling

by C. Michelle Jefferies

Bling, swag, stuff.

Whatever you call it. It's the stuff that you hand out to, and display for your readers. It's supposedly there to help promote and remind the reader of who the author of the book they just bought, or want to buy is.

What am I talking about? Bookmarks, business cards, promotional items, etc.

To be honest, you don't need it. However, if you want to be remembered, chances are this kind of stuff will help. It's a way to remind someone who is interested in your work who you are and what you wrote.

One thing to think about when ordering bling, is what you wrote and are promoting, VS what you will write in the future. Imagine it this way. If you are going to write a series of books with the same feel, ordering a thousand business cards in the same style might not be a bad idea.

If you write five stand alone books in quick succession, ordering a thousand business cards with your first book cover on it is probably not a good idea.

Or if you're like me and run the gamut of genre between futuristic suspense to middle grade non fiction, book specific items are not the best idea for most of your stuff. I also imagine that some promotional choices can and should be made based on the amount of money you have to promote your books. I honestly can't go out and buy new stuff like banners for every book that I am producing. Nor do I want to. What's the point of having a closet full of items for past books?

On the other hand, book specific book marks are a good idea. Whenever someone buys a book you put a few in the book, or in the envelope or sign them and hand them out to people who don't buy your book but look like they might be interested later.

If you are displaying your book(s) at a conference or signing it's a good idea that the table reflect the book. Even if you have to split the table and use two themes. Another option is to create a general look that does well with all of the books offered. I imagine it might be as hard to do as it seems. Unless all of your books reflect your theme or genre.

So in retrospect this is what I think should be done in regards to extra stuff.

Author general:
Banners, signs, business cards, e-mail signatures, author pictures, author bios, website themes, (unless you are doing separate websites for every book, genre etc.), display tables and how an author presents themselves, all need to be more generic.

Book specific:
book marks, book related giveaways, things like pens, key chains, pins, decorations for tables and for launches, can be more specific.

Authors note: these promo items can also be ordered in smaller amounts and still be affordable. However, spending lots of money on large items for every new book can cut into profits that could be used somewhere else.

The path to wisdom is not always straight

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Getting A Boost at LTUE

By Keith N Fisher

Good morning—It’s Saturday, and I’m at LTUE. I had to mortgage the farm to get here, but I’m here. With all the belt tightening we’ve had to do, I couldn’t afford it, but to tell the truth, I wasn’t sure I wanted to come.

It’s been hard to network with successful writers lately, and I just didn’t feel like it. I needed to get away, however, so I came.

It’s been great. I’ve seen presentations that reminded me why I started writing. There have been many fresh, new approaches to teaching the same techniques such as Deren Hansen’s, Verisimilitude, presentation. Look into it.

Last night I participated in Donna Milakovic’s, Professional Networking in the Publishing World, class. She reminded me of all the things I used to do, without thinking, to make friends and increase my network. I needed that class.

Through the weekend, I’ve been having discussions that bring an old debate back into my mind. So I resurrected an article I never posted.


Traditional Publisher or Self-Published E-book?

Am I just being Lazy?

No, this Article doesn’t debate the best method. I lost that argument a long time ago. I’m convinced that some writers will do whatever it takes to get a quick buck, or launch a career. Even, if it hurts the industry in the long run. The genie is out of the bottle now. Book prices will never come up. No, this article isn’t going there.

When I started writing, before I got serious about it, the publishing world was a different place. Large houses were still taking submissions by the authors, although they preferred dealing with agents. Authors were reclusive types who didn’t do much self-promotion.

After getting serious about the craft, rejections began to pile up. Doubting myself was easy, but I knew if I could get published, validation would come. There were easy ways, during that time. They were called vanity press and subsidized publishing. The idea was to self publish your book. After all, if you believed in your story . . .

I never had that kind of money, and I held out for the publisher of my dreams. Several manuscripts, and many rejections later, I’m still waiting.

Many of my friends have gone the E-book route. Some of them do very well, even though they don’t make large amounts of cash. They saturate the market with books written by them. Members of my critique group try to persuade me to self publish, but I keep holding out.

Having a publisher can be like being under the wing of protection. It can also be aggravating. Self-publishers take all the risk and do all the work, but they don’t have to share the profit. Still, having a contract with a publisher says something about me. It says I’m good enough for traditional book selling. It also qualifies me for membership in certain author’s groups.

So, what do you think? Should I stop submitting and get all my books ready for self-publishing? I’m I just being lazy? It is easier to be rejected, than to push a book through from beginning to end. Marketing becomes your all-consuming pastime, but it’s the same with a traditional publisher. The days of the reclusive writer are over.

To add angst to my dilemma, I’m a former world champion Dutch oven cook. I’ve been invited to submit a cookbook, but fiction is my passion. I want to be a fiction writer who also writes a cookbook, rather than a cook who also writes fiction.

So, I sit at the edge of effectiveness. Many of my friends are passing me by. I need to get off my duff and write the cookbook.



LTUE 2013 has given me new hope. I have several stories almost ready for submission, one in critique group and another at the publisher. I’m on the brink of a promising career and my cookbook? It’s on the way.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks...

(This post was originally dated June of 2006.  It's another opportunity to revisit thoughts from the past...vacation is almost over...;)  Enjoy!)

by G.Parker

Ever feel like stretching your abilities as a writer is like teaching an old dog new tricks? I think most of us feel that way. You have written a certain way for so long, changing something about it is automatically the wrong thing. It’s scary. It’s the unknown.

When we take writing classes or attend seminars, we are taking that chance. I attended a writing conference once with the idea that I wasn’t sure what I was going to learn. I felt I had pretty much polished my abilities and was just biding my time until a publisher snatched up something I had produced. What a big head, huh?

Boy, did my eyes get opened. It was as if someone had dumped me in a pool of cold water and told me I’d been swimming the wrong way. It was as if my eyes were forced to see all the things I had been ignoring about my writing that needed to be changed, or could be changed to make it better. We can always use information and advice. That is something writers always seek, if my association with writers bears out the rest of them. We are always seeking for better ways to express ourselves, or better information to add fact and foundation to our plot.


Knowledge is the key to all writing, and what separates great writing from the poor stuff we occasionally find. The books we have all picked up after reading and thought, “Gee, I could do way better than this!” You can. And if you are doubting yourself, it just takes exposure and practice. Like everything else.

It’s like trying to teach an old dog new tricks. Sometimes it just takes a bigger and better treat. What kind of treat drives you? What is it that will take your writing to the next level? Just something to contemplate as you write. Are you writing the best you can? Or could a seminar or class be something you need to kick-start the next association that gets you noticed by an editor or agent?

I don’t think any of us are too old to find out.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


Don't you hate it when the answer to "What have you been up to lately?" is "Busy"? I mean, it's not an actual answer to the posed question. But, sometimes, that's the only thing you can say. Honestly, what else do you say? "I've been living my life, which seems to have more components to it than I recalled."

(Before I get too far into this post....Happy Valentine's Day! Or Happy Singles Awareness Day! Whatever you feel like going for.)

It's been a while since I've posted here. But I love this blog and think I have awesome co-bloggers who do what they can to keep up the good work. Me? I'm a slacker when I lose interest in something, even if it's just a little. (If someone wants to say this isn't a part of my ADHD, I'd be curious to know what it is so I can get some help with that.)

 One thing I am sure I haven't had enough time for lately is writing. Whether its my current WIP or blog posts or an email, it feels like I just don't have enough time to write much. And my goal this year is to get this WIP finished and submitted and I have no idea if I can. But I do know I can accomplish something this year.

Thankfully, last year at an PEG writing workshop, I was placed in a group led by Annette Lyon. With me were three awesome women: Jessica, Betsy, and Karen. We ended up talking about creating our own critique group and exchanging email accounts. At first, I didn't think this was gonna stick, that it'd phase out. Especially when we weren't able to meet for another 2 months due to a new baby and a surgery (two different people).

But when we finally met, the same fun chemistry that was present in our workshop returned. We all have the same goal to be published and each of us have different strengths. Apparently, I can end a chapter in that "duh, duh, duhnnnn..." (and can be a grammar Nazi.)

I bet you're wondering why this post is called "My CRAP", aren't ya? (Pretend you are anyway.) CRAP is an acronym (it is not an abbreviation nor is it a monogram) for Creative Rockstar Author People. I didn't come up with the name. I was sick during that meeting. They're probably happy I was....actually, I probably would've agreed.

The thing that's nice is we've started to meet more regularly. This means I have to have a chapter ready every 2-3 weeks. This forces me to write the next chapter in a book that I don't know exactly where it's going (kinda do, but hey, I'm a discovery writer, not an outliner.) But really, this goal of having a chapter each meeting means that I am moving forward in my story and I am doing so without worrying about the book being done.

This gives me a pace that is good for me because I really don't have time to sit and write 50k in a couple months, much less one month. I think it's awesome for whoever can do that. Given my life right now, I can't. I'm tired of hearing "you can do it if you put your mind to it." Sure, I'll do that if you complete my budget files that have to be done in that month. :)

What was this post about? Critique groups? Anyway, a critique group is a great thing in my mind. It took me a few years and a few tries to get this one to stick. (Although, I have had others that I enjoyed working with, our schedules just never worked.)

So, what I'm saying is, if you can get a good critique group going, I recommend it. If you can find good authors to help you improve in places where you're lacking, I highly recommend it. But fyi, hands off my CRAP.

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The most wonderful time of the year . . .

by C. Michelle Jefferies

Yes I know the snow is melting and the temperatures where I live are now in the livable range. And  Yes I know its not December.

Even better? It's conference season.

Yep, most of the writers conferences are happening between now and summer. There are a few in September and October but that just spreads the joy a little longer.

So if you are gearing up to start the conference season starting this weekend with LTUE in Orem Ut. Or some other conference.  I have a few suggestions of what to do and bring to make your time at the whirlwind of people and information better.

One, you need a bag. There's books, bookmarks, business cards, and other stuff that your going to be grabbing. You are also going to want to take notes and need a place to store said notepad.

In the bag you probably want paper and pens if like me you still take notes faster with them. Your notebook, laptop, iPad etc can also go in this bag.

A bottle of water and gum/mints for when your thirsty or meet somone youd like to talk to and you had onions on your sandwich at lunch time.

Snacks if you tend to be a little low in the blood sugar department.

Business cards with your contact information on them. Your email website and blog are the ones I think are most important.

One last thing. Remember to bring your manners and courtesies with you. That way everyone has fun.

The path to wisdom is not always straight.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Did You Miss Me?

by Keith N Fisher

I didn't think so. I've been dealing with more issues lately, and didn't get a chance to post on Saturday. I think I've got it under control now, so I will be back on Saturday. I hope you can hold out til then.

Good luck with your writing---see you Saturday.

Friday, February 08, 2013

The World's Fastest....

(this is a post from 2006.  The author is on vacation and thought you would enjoy another blast from the past...)

By G.Parker

Well. . .my family watched The World’s Fastest Indian last night, and boy, was it fascinating. My husband stopped watching before the main character made it out of LA, simply because of the way America was being presented. He was disgusted with the whole lifestyle that the character was introduced to.

I was simply amazed at how everywhere he went he found a new friend. What inspired me even more was how he fought for his dream–how he focused all his energy and overcame every obstacle to reach that dream.

Are you willing to go through that for your dream? Let's say writing is your goal in life and you're reading this because of that. Are you willing to go through the grueling hours of typing and editing and waiting for the mail to come with rejection after rejection–still convinced that what you have written has merit and someone will want to read it? That it will sell?

If you are, then you are made of some stern stuff. You have what it takes. You will go through hours of typing at the computer with your children whining and complaining around you, your dust bunnies growing thicker and the microwave beeping every meal time to accomplish that goal. Your children will think that laundry is supposed to be piled in baskets in the laundry room and seeing folded and sorted clothing in their friends rooms is a strange sight.

Your spouse will think that going out to eat is a true treat when compared with canned chili for the third night in a row–no matter that you dressed it up with corn and tortilla chips. Your local office supply store will know you by name because you come in every other month for printing supplies, paper and burnable CD’s. The post office will recognize you by face, if not by name–assuring you that your book will reach it’s destination in one piece and they know you want signature confirmation, you don’t have to ask for it.

That is what it takes to be a true grit writer. Never mind that you’ll feel the rest of the world is passing you by and that somehow your children are missing out on something. What are their future spouses going to think when they are told that the laundry is supposed to be done this way? You just hope that everyone will understand when that book comes back in its box with your name on the cover and your picture on the back.

You made it. You're published. Every sacrifice was worth it.

Okay. . .maybe not the laundry bit with the kids, but the time at the computer was worth it. You’ll lie there on your back on your bed, book and check in hand, staring at the ceiling in amazement muttering to yourself that you finally made it. You did it. Against what everyone else said or thought—you did it.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Methods of Motivation

by C. Michelle Jefferies

I have a lot of things going this year. I'll have two books released as well as a short story in a Christmas anthology. I am also in various stages of writing and editing other works in progress.

Yet somedays I can't seem to stay off facebook.

It's not that I don't have plenty of ideas to write or projects to do. I have tons of story ideas begging to be written and projects in various stages of done-ness.

It's just that things like facebook and Pinterest and other social media is so shiny!

I have a whiteboard right next to my desk with all my projects listed and their level of completion. I try to have certain hours where i work and do writerly things. Somedays I think I'm more distractable than others.

How does everyone esle do it? How do you stay motivated?

The path to wisdom is not always straight.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Beyond the Craft

By Keith N Fisher

How is your writing? Beyond the craft, how is it coming? I had an article ready to post today, but I decided not to post it. Not that it would be incendiary, but in light of recent blog posts and Facebook status’ I didn’t want to offend.

I’ve learned that people take offence even where none was intended. I’ve also learned that my opinions are not always right. I know, difficult to believe. First, that I would be wrong, and that a man would admit his failures.

I once heard the above question asked of a friend at a writers conference. I knew that person had suffered great trials and had considered giving up. My friend just said, "fine" and went on to talk about the project they were working on.

Why do we do that? Why do we think we can’t be truthful with our writing friends? I suspect the person who asked, didn’t really want an answer and why is that?

My friend later, attended a class and learned we are what we are, and God loves us for our efforts. That friend continues to work at writing without much success, but its part of life.

So I ask, how is your writing coming? Don’t give up. Hold out for your dreams and stay away from instant success. Most of all don’t be afraid to tell someone. We all struggle and sometimes it feels good to know you are not alone.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, February 01, 2013


by G.Parker

Recently one of my fellow LDStorymakes Authors Incognito members announced that he was putting an ebook out.  The word got out and he ended up selling some before it was actually meant to be promoted.  (which is today, actually...check it out!  Yeah Darvell!)

I had a similar experience, though nothing has happened since the initial perusal, (sigh) though I haven't really gotten it out to Amazon and stuff -- anyway.  It brings up the question, how do you promote an ebook?  It's not like you can put posters up at the book store saying you're having a book signing...  It's also kind of hard to sign a ebook.  "Hey, can I sign your _____?"

Promotion has been the bane of many an author's life.  It's one of the reasons publishers have been the draw instead of self publishing or becoming an 'indie' author.  When you get picked up by a major publisher, they do all that ground work for you.  They do the big ad sales, the pushing out to the bookstores, etc.  When you do it yourself, then you are it.

One of my writing friends published a book himself several years ago.  (Not an ebook.)  He spent a lot of time going to various bookstores promoting his book; going to tourist stores and getting them to place it, and all the signings he could talk someone into.  He managed to sell all his first run and go to a second run.  He even had it picked up by an agent -- only to have them drop the ball.  It's a great book, and I think the ebook version of it has sold well too.  But he'll be the first to tell you he's earned every penny he's ever made, and he hasn't made himself a millionaire from it either.

Needless to say we don't go into writing with the idea that we're going to become the next J.K. Rowling, or at least the more intelligent of us don't.  ;)  I guess some people think their work is that good on the outset, but I know mine takes more work.  I also think that how your book is promoted is something you need to think about in the contemplation of how you want to publish.  Which do you want to do most?  The foot work or the hand work?

First you have to finish one to get to that point.  Keep up the writing.