Sunday, March 31, 2013

I'm Doing Research

by Keith N Fisher

It's been a busy week and I'm doing research on the inside of my eyelids. I'll be back next week. I have a blog post half written. you might like this one, so come back.

good luck with your writing---see you next week

Friday, March 29, 2013

It's Finally Spring!

by G.Parker

Yes, spring has finally showed it's head in Utah.  It kind of makes me worried for this weekend, since March was rather mild, but the weather men all say it's going to be a lovely Easter weekend, so perhaps that old saying doesn't really hold any water...

Which makes me laugh to think about it.  My husband was talking to someone the other day and said "6 of one, half a dozen of the other."  They had no idea what he was talking about.

I find it interesting how the old phrases and silly remarks from our grandparents have not carried onto today. Our daughter will say stuff like "fiddlesticks" at work (1, because she doesn't swear; and 2, because she likes saying goofy things) and her co-workers think it's hilarious.  They've never heard the words.

My husbands grandmother used to always say stuff like, "for crying tears in the sink."  My father-in-law used to say "Goodnight nurse!"

I'll bet you grew up with phrases or sayings you could relate to as well.  I think we've all heard, "no sense crying over spilled milk,"  or  "Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater."

Discovering the origins of these phrases or tidbits have been interesting.  My husband loves to tell about the baby in the bathwater bit.  If anyone wants to know, comment and I'll mention it next week.  ;)

Phrases and thoughts like these are something that are handed down from one generation to another, much, like the original story tellers did.  However, stories change and grow with each telling, until the current generations knowledge of it is totally different from what had been the original story.  It's one of the reasons that Nephi needed to take the brass plates with him.  Man's word of mouth is not as reliable as the written word.

That's why what we do is so important.  We help keep things fresh in mind, we keep things true to form, and we can add or change with keeping a copy of the original.  Writing is an art form, and all of you are artists.

I hope you have a wonderful artistic weekend.  See you next week.  ;)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Waiting in Publishing

by C. Michelle Jefferies

I went to the dentist office yesterday afternoon. My tooth was broken and I expected it to be pulled. My son had had a tooth extracted a few months ago and the total time it took was about twenty minutes.

So I sit in the seat expecting for it to take about the same time.


Three hours later I was finally able to go home after being numbed three times. and having massive trauma inflicted on my mouth.

Why am I telling you this?  Because like dentistry, the writing and publishing world is not for people who are impatient.

While some people can actually write a manuscript in thirty days, most people take months if not years to write it.

Some authors work day jobs others take care of house and home first. For others its a hobby instead of a career.

Even when you finish the manuscript, then comes another long process. The revising and editing of the beast, er I mean story.

This process can take years in itself especially if it's your first one. Especially if your not a full time writer. This isn't a one time thing either. I don't know anyone who edits once and then starts to submit. This process takes many passes over the book, and for many different things.

Once the book is polished you must send it out to your beta readers and then apply their opinions of the book to your draft. (or ignore them if they don't jive with your gut instinct.)

Then you do the hard technical line edit. 

Once all these passes and edits are done then you start the submission process and that in itself can take years.

Once it is accepted expect to wait another few years for the book to be edited given a cover and printed so it can hit the shelves.

Or, even if you self publish its going to take a while to format the e book, design a cover or find a cover, and to get the book in print. This is of course after you've paid for a professional edit to make sure the book is as perfect as it can be.

All in all one book can take years to get ready.

The Moral is, if you don't like waiting, Don't become an author. Or at least sate your need to write on a blog, writing poetry, or flash fiction. :)

The path to wisdom is not always straight.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

It Was Tough

By Keith N Fisher

We buried my mother in law this week. I’m still sorting the issues. I learned that God will forgive almost everything, but we must forgive everyone. Christ’s atonement covers everything, but we must leave it to him.

I also learned there is a heavy end on a casket. I didn’t want to be a pallbearer, but who else? That’s another issue, but I actually chuckled as I limped over to wait for the casket. Without getting specific, I’m having trouble walking on level floors but it’s really hard on uneven surfaces. We stumbled over headstones and carried that casket up a hill. Why they parked the hearse downhill from the grave, I’ll never know.

As you might be able to tell in the picture, I almost dropped the casket. Then I fell backward from the platform. My wife caught me, but it took awhile to recover from the trek.

On the way back, I asked the funeral director if there was a heavy end to a casket and he confirmed there is, and I had it. It doesn’t matter though, there were only two young men. The rest of us were old guys. The task of being a pallbearer should be left to young Grandsons.

After the funeral my writers mind took over and I plotted a scene where dropping the casket actually happens. I know, it’s been done before, but my scene was serious drama.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

I'm Coming, I promise

By Keith N Fisher I just got off work and havent posted a blog. I'll be back later to post one. have a great day

Friday, March 22, 2013

Once Again...

by G.Parker

It's the media's fault.  Sigh.  I really have to stop finding soap boxes, because I simply can't avoid standing on them.  And they should be made of cardboard so they collapsed a lot sooner.  You know, like before I stick my foot in my mouth.

You see, it's all the fault of an article I read in the Deseret News.  I know, again, here she, does she do anything other than read?  Hey!  I write...usually.  Just can't keep from reading, okay?

But anyway, it was pointing out that several of the former Disney youth stars had decided they wanted to shed their goodie goodie image and after starring in a rather dubious television series, they are now in a risque movie that even the media is saying it's risque.  I just don't understand that mind set.

There have been several actresses that have gone that route.  May I mention Meg Ryan?  Ugh.  But I find it interesting that the men don't feel that need.  I guess the men don't really care, and they don't usually have the goodie goodie image in the first place...they are generally called 'clean cut'.  It doesn't take much for them to shed that either.

I mention the media again, because films are written by screen writers.  Since we are writers, and I'm sure there are some of you that want to be screen writers, then this applies to you.  Heads up.  We can make a difference in the media.  I remember talking with Richard Dutcher back when he had produced God's Army and his disappointment in the screenwriting abilities of the LDS membership in general.  He had hoped that the success of the movie would bring fantastic scrips out of the woodwork.  When that didn't happen, he became somewhat disillusioned with us, and I think that was the beginning of the end...

Anyway - many comments have been made that society and the media has become soooo off beat and lurid in what they are shoving in our faces.  And people are paying to see them!!  Which makes them produce more, and everyone knows that supposedly an R rated film makes more money than PG-13...though I believe everyone feels the same as I do that PG-13 is not all that clean anymore.  Sigh.

So...I'm off my soapbox now.  Just remember when you are going to a movie, what kind of industry you are supporting.  And if you are a screenwriter, just think of the influence you might be able to wield by what you write.

We are needed people.  Desperately.  So get those fingers moving!  ;)

Have a good weekend and try not to freeze.  It is March, right?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

So you want to write a series?

by C. Michelle Jefferies

Or a Trilogy.

There's a few things you need to think about as you start on this grand adventure.

Does the series or trilogy have a plot and character(s) arc? If so, good. If not what are you waiting for? There needs to be characters and plot issues that span the whole set of stories. You can't just have three different stories and lots of different characters and call it cohesive.

Similar but opposite. You can't just write one long story and break it into three parts and call it a series either. Each book has to have its one separate plot and character arcs.

Not just the good guy either. the bad guy needs an arc as well as motivation for being bad.

Details! Draw a map, or the floor plan or what creatures and characters look like. Store these drawings, pictures on your computer or in a hardbound notebook of some sort. Nothing like having a character change eye color, or names or something else in the middle of the second book.

In that notebook or document, write names dates and details. don't rely on your memory to do it for you. I promise you it will fail you and you will be scrolling through your previous MS for information. Also keep the important details in this place as well.

Lastly, have fun. A series or trilogy gives you some freedom you don't have in a stand alone. More room to develop characters and large complicated plots. Just remember a little problem prevention saves you a lot of trouble in the long run.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Mothers, Monsters, and Writing with the Window Open

By Keith N Fisher

One of the last times I talked with my mother in law was confrontational. She accused me of turning my wife’s affections away from her. I rose up on my haunches and tried to point out how controlling she had been over the years. I tried to address her problem instead of convincing her that I had nothing to do with my wife’s opinion.

I don’t want to make you suffer through an airing of all the dirty underwear. Just let me say, it was difficult. Now, my mother in law is gone. After five years of suffering from Alzheimer’s, she went home. I’m surprised to feel regret.

Have you ever noticed that men address the problem rather than deal with emotions? I battled with logic for years and alienated many people. I always wondered, why can’t people just use logic? During the last five years, I’ve learned that people, (especially women), don’t want to fix it. They just want to vent their feelings and get empathy from their companion.

Since I started writing about women, for women to read, I’ve made a lot of progress. I don’t mean to say I’m perfect, I still leap for a solution to the problem, but I’m getting better at listening. I deal with emotions and try to impart empathy.

Some might accuse me of becoming a better woman, but I think I’m becoming a better man. I wish I’d learned this lesson before my mother in law got sick. I’ve been compiling pictures for a slideshow as part of the funeral, and it’s hard. I keep wondering how the vibrant young girl became the woman she was. I hope that she’ll forgive me of my insensitivity.

On a lighter note, many of you know I like to write in the cab of my truck. It’s kind of fun to watch a snowstorm while you work on the next plot twist. Lately, however, we’ve been having some great weather where I live. It’s even better to write with the window down. Especially after a winter like we’ve had.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, March 15, 2013

A Little History With Our Food

by G.Parker

Inspiration comes from the strangest sources.

I was working at a school this past week and waiting for a teacher to come, so I was perusing the books on the cookbook shelf in the library.  Yes, that might seem strange, but I happen to love cookbooks, and the shelf was right next to where I was set up to work.

Anyway, they had an old copy of Little House on the Prairie Cookbook by Barbara M. Walker.  I vaguely remembered hearing about it and perhaps seeing it once before, but haven't had a chance to really look at it.  I picked it up and the first paragraph says:

          "Laura Ingalls Wilder was born in Pepin, Wisconsin, in 1867. In 1932, when she was
           sixty-five years old, she wrote her first book, Little House in the Big Woods, a lightly
           fictionalized account of her childhood days in her first frontier home."

I read that.  And then read it again to make sure I'd read it correctly.  The woman was 65 when she wrote her first book!  The knowledge that this amazing woman started so late and spent ten years writing about her past and selling thousands of copies made my heart pound.

Anything that shows how successful an author was helps me get excited about my possibilities.  (Of course, one has to be writing consistently and getting things edited and then out to publishers to get there, but that's another story for another day, lol.)  But just think about it.  How many people have you heard about how they didn't start writing until they were retired, or they didn't start painting, or they waited till...

Is that your story?  Is that how you are going to be remembered?  I figure my kids will tell stories about mom doing NaNoWriMo and then never doing anything else.  Sigh.  I'm determined to do better this year, in fact I have to or my hubby is going to take DirectTV away and I won't get to watch as much of the Olympics as I want...(it's a bet we had).

I just thought that perhaps this knowledge, this little tidbit might be a bit of inspiration for you.  The little prod to get you going.

Now get back to writing!!

See you next week.  

Saturday, March 09, 2013

It's a Good Day for It

By Keith N Fisher

People think we’ve had unusual weather this year. I listen to news casts and comments and wonder. Some people claim global warming, others claim the opposite. Still more critics point to biblical prophecy. I’ve been pleased.

It’s true, there have been weather issues in the area where I live, but it’s happened before. Floods in places where towns didn’t exist twenty years ago, are not indicators of climatic change. The floods have happened before, but nobody noticed.

Don’t misunderstand. I’m a great believer in the changes in the polar ice cap, but we’ve had a normal weather year where I live.

Outside, currently, the wind is blowing. The sun is shining, and there’s mud in the fields. In other words, It’s March.

As a child, I was taught that March was the month for flying kites. I remember days, however, when the wind blew so hard, it ripped my kites apart. Those were days when I wanted to enjoy the sun, but the wind forced me to wear my coat. It was early spring.

In those days, when I couldn’t fly a kite, I tossed a newspaper in the air and watched it play in the breeze. I lived in a place with few houses, so the paper soared for miles. Today would be a good day for it.

In my life, I’ve seen many cycles of nature. The rabbit population increases and the coyote population follows right behind. The rabbits decrease, and the coyotes die out. It’s all part of the circle of life, like in the lion king. Part of those cycles has been an increase of spiders and garden pests because of warm winters.

Our cold winter, this year, will take care of the majority of my garden slug problem. It’s been hard to deal with the extended cold periods, but I remember waiting for the school bus in sub zero weather and everyone complained. There were also periods of fog that brought excitement to our neighborhood. It was fun for a group of kids to hide in plain sight.

Learning to live with the weather was easier for us kids. Now we are older, we forget the paths we’ve been down before. We go from the box we live in, climb into another box and drive to the box where we work. We complain about road conditions and forget the romantic mystery of a fresh fallen snow.

Take time to remember. Get out of your box and enjoy the diversity. Don’t worry about the weather. Did you ever slide down a hill on your back, making tunnels in snowdrifts? Revisit the weather fun of your youth. Whatever it was, It’s a good day for it. Of course, if you spent your childhood in front of a computer, you have a whole, new, world to explore.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, March 08, 2013

It's Totalled

by G.Parker

Ever discover that what is on the surface hides something worse underneath?

We're often told to not judge a book by it's cover.  There are many good books that have covers we would pass by if given the choice.  There are many books you pick up thinking it looks very interesting, only to find it's full of filth or awful writing.  It has gotten to the point where you can rarely trust what you see.

This is also true of cars -- something we discovered this past week.  Two weeks ago, our daughter slid off the road in that snow storm on Saturday.  Not only did she slide, apparently she hit the wires and girders and stuff that divide the lanes going north and south on the interstate.  The tires were flat, a light was hanging out and she thought it was going to cost a lot, but it was fixable.  We were just thankful that she wasn't seriously hurt and that she hadn't hit another car.  They towed it to our neighborhood auto repair shop and we figured we'd get an estimate in a week or so.  She'd be out of a car and we'd have to juggle things, and goes on.

The auto repair looked at it on Monday, we got a hold of insurance peoples, and after a week of communication, we were told that the car was a total loss.

Come again?

I mean, really.  If you looked at it from the left side, there was nothing wrong with it!  It wasn't till you looked at the right side that you saw any damage, and even then, I wouldn't have thought it was that bad.  It was pretty funny, they had put the spare tire on the front to see if they could move it, I guess.  It looked kind of pathetic when we went to clean it out.

Apparently the damage was more than was visible to the uneducated eye.

Such is also the case in covers for a book.  At first glance, you either think, 'yeah, that looks interesting,'  'ugh, that's not something I want to look at', or 'that doesn't look very interesting.'   It's only with the judging refrain going through my head that I even force myself to pick up a book from time to time and glance at the blurb on the back.  This is the reason that authors sweat so much over their covers.  These are an essential item.

I particularly worry about my covers, as I write romance more than anything.  Most of the romance in the stores (I should point out grocery stores, lol) have the kinds of cover that make you blush and want to cover everyone's eyes.  I want to make sure my covers are not an embarrassment to anyone, and would be nothing I'd be ashamed to hand out.  I love the covers to Josi Kilpacks cooking mystery books.  They are fun and you know from that cover that the insides have food and mayhem.

So - a word to the wise:  Be careful what you put on the cover of your book.  You want it to be something that people are going to desire picking up and looking through.  You want it to be enticing.

You want your book to be read -- it's the whole reason you wrote it!

So, give it some thought.  Do your homework, and get that book published!

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

A stellar opportunity

by C. Michelle Jefferies

Most writers conferences are going to cost you something. Some are under a hundred others are hundreds of dollars. Regardless of the cost, I am an advocate for Conferences. I love the classes, and workshops. I love the bookstore. (my TBR list is huge)  I LOVE the feel of being there in the same place as other writers. People who get why I appear both a little overboard crazy and reclusive at the same time.

Trust me its worth the time and money to find one and go. Or if you've found one, go repeatedly.

If you are in Utah and are itching to go to a writers conference for a great price you're in luck. Write Here in Ephiram is this Saturday and its FREE. Yes you heard me right. FREE. Its on the campus of Snow College and there will be classes, and hands on workshops. There will be authors and a bookstore. And DOOR PRIZES!  The best thing is there's no tuition. Just your gas money your lunch, (which you can brown bag it if you choose)  and money for the book store.

I will be teaching my Master Chapter Outline class, my Story Structure class, and my Martial Arts and Weapons in Writing class. Twice! I will be excited and exhausted by the end of the day. If you want a solid plan for writing a book come to these classes. with these two methods I have been able to write approximately 50K words in a month for the last three manuscripts. the system works for me it might work for you.

The path to wisdom is not always straight

Saturday, March 02, 2013

More Than Subplots

By Keith N Fisher

I read an article in Writer’s Digest that made me feel good about my writing. It was called building subplots from multiple viewpoints. It talked about the problems of having too many subplots, and I thought of my novel, The Hillside.

I got the idea for the book from the guest journal in the bed and breakfast room where I stayed once. Some of the guests use those journals to tell about themselves, and their experience at the B&B. I considered a book, that would be like the Love Boat or Fantasy Island combined. I felt it would be a great story, but I didn’t want to write it.

After trying to convince others, I felt compelled. There were several stories and they needed to be written. I began to draft. I almost quit, when I realized how difficult it would be to keep all the POV’s straight. Still, I persevered. The one thing all of the arcs had in common was the bed and breakfast. It was my grounding point. I ended up with thirteen main characters, and six different points of view.

Not all the characters interact, but the owner of the B&B knows them all, and she cares about them. After several chapters, I realized I had been writing several different books, and I had to make an intersecting time line to keep track of what came next. Eventually, I had to list each character on a whiteboard along with what scenes still needed to be written. Finally, I had to organize each chapter so everything fit together. I attached a picture of my spreadsheet. Each POV has a different color.

At one point, I re-wrote a story line to start it sooner. Another problem was finding plot holes where a character talks about something that hadn’t happened yet in the other story line.

In the Writer’s Digest article, the author talks about the problem of shattered focus. Readers complain that it was hard to keep the characters straight. Without really trying, I think I succeeded in writing individual characters. You will love some of them and hate others, but they are separate. A good test, is to ask yourself is there enough depth in that character to sustain a sequel to their story?

All things considered, I think I wrote a great book. After reading the article, I feel good about the end result. I wrote the story I didn’t want to write and even my critique group liked the characters.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, March 01, 2013

The Media Is to Blame

by G.Parker

Okay...that title might offend some, but I think it's true.  I was listening to a radio broadcast last week and they were talking about the robbery at a Belgian airport.  The uniformed, black hooded robbers took off with 50 million dollars worth of diamonds.  Authorities figure it had to be an inside job because there was a slim window of opportunity to pull it off.  The radio announcer stated that it was pretty cool they got away with it and that perhaps they should go interview George Clooney.

Now I realized as I was listening to that, that our society has shifted it's moral compass quite a bit.  And part of it is the media's fault.  Take the movie Ocean 11, from which they were joking about George Clooney.  That movie celebrated robbery.  Of course, my husband says anyone who steals from a casino is doing a Robin Hood, but that's beside the point.  It's still wrong.

But much of what we read and see in the media promotes such behavior.  Many of our recent movies suggest that is the only way to be rich.

Sadly, we are writers, we are part of the media.  But hopefully, we can be part of the cure.  I'm sorry this is a short post, but I don't have the time to dedicate that I would if I could.  Just thought I'd leave that thought with you for the weekend.

Which part of the media do you want to be part of?

Have a good one.  ;)