Friday, May 31, 2013

Training the Mind

by G.Parker

A mind is a terrible thing to waste.  Right?  Well, I've already confessed that I'm a procrastinator, have swiss cheese for a brain and get too wordy for my own good, so what else could be wrong?  Sometimes I have a hard time coming up with ideas of what to write about for this blog.  I admit it.  I'm not a walking encyclopedia of writing knowledge.  I was so impressed with Keith's blog a week or so ago where he mentioned he has a back log of articles ready to go.  I've only had that happen once or twice in the many years I've been a part of this blog.  I guess that's average...but I also think it's pathetic.

I've even asked for subject suggestions from the reader base, but those that read my blog days have apparently shrunk, so there hasn't been anything forthcoming.  I could take that as a hint, perhaps.  Maybe my years here as a writer have come to an end.  I will give it a thought over this next month and see how it feels.  It's actually been a source of pride for me, that I've been able to come up with something pretty much every week for years.  It may not always be inspiring, it may not always be the most witty or thought provoking, but at least I got something out there.

Which is kind of my subject for this week.  (I know - took me long enough.)  I've been writing some articles for a website that I might get paid for (which is part of my goal in life) and realized that sometimes what I think someone is wanting is not necessarily what they are really requesting.  I was writing an article about cost effective repairs for the home and got carried away with the whole gamut.  I had my daughter read through it, and she was like, "So, what was it you were supposed to write about?  Because that doesn't sound like the subject you gave me."


So, it's back to square one.  I'm used to that though, and generally I write it better the second time around.  I just wish I could get it right on the first try.  I've also done that when giving talks in church, but at least that's a little more forgiving.  ;)

So my point is that if you choose to try and do freelance writing where you are given a subject, be sure you are clear as to what they want and what the subject really is.  It will save you a lot of time in the long run, and hopefully any embarrassment.

See you next week!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Writing on the Roof

By Keith N Fisher

As many of you know, because I work at night, it’s hard to make daytime connections. I have to adjust my schedule and sleep at odd hours. When I woke at five a.m. for the LDStorymakers Writer’s conference this year, I decided to get ready anyway.

I figured I could stop somewhere along the way and get some writing time in at a restaurant or something. On the way, I realized that I intended to park in the garage at the hotel anyway, and many of you also know, I like to write while sitting behind the wheel of my parked truck. So, I headed to the conference.

It suddenly dawned on me how cool it would be to park on the top of the parking garage and write while watching the sunrise. I drove up there, parked, pulled out my work in progress, and took a breath.

Writing is a good way to release tension but the early morning light and fresh air made it all the better. I caught movement in the corner of my eye and looked up. There were two birds standing on the hood of my truck talking to each other. It would’ve been a great picture but I reached into my bag and couldn’t find my camera. The birds flew away and I kept my eye on the impending moment when the sun would peek over the mountains. I went back to my writing and didn't get the camera out.

I had a specific moment in mind, but I got caught up in my story. Oh yeah, the words were flying off my fingertips and I wrote terrific paragraphs. While writing one of those thoughts, my perfect moment came. I finished the sentence, and reached into my bag. Yep, you guessed it. I couldn’t find my camera. I tore the bag apart looking. The moment passed, but I took pictures anyway.

The conference was terrific and I even got some writing done. I got reacquainted with old friends, made new ones, and passed the hugs around. (you’ve gotta give them to get them). The Authors Incognito mix and mingle was great. So many new faces, I want to apologize to the organizers, however. I really hate get acquainted games.

Next morning, I rose early. (Occupational hazard). I decided to try for that perfect picture again. Downtown Provo, Utah, on a Saturday morning, before sunrise, is a different world. I’ve been in other places where the hustle and bustle never quits, but the quiet on that morning, impressed me. I got some quality writing done and I was ready for the moment. What do you think of the pictures? Yeah, good thing I’m a writer and not a photog.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Economy of Word

by G.Parker

I've been doing a lot of flash fiction lately.  Most of you are familiar with mad-libs, mad-writes, etc.  It's all the same thing.  Write on a subject, use a sentence, limited word count, limited time, any way you slice it, it's about word usage.

The ones I've been doing have a maximum limit of 400 words.  Coming from someone who does NaNo every year, that's straining the capabilities.  400 words?  That's like taking the food out of my mouth as I'm about ready to chew.  Initially I thought there was a limit of 1500 when I started one, and that was going to be difficult, but doable.  I got it finished and tried to submit the story, and it came back with, duh, your word count is wayyy too high.


Have you ever tried to cut out words from a story?  I know sometimes I've had to cut entire chapters out that didn't really work, but to cut that much out of something you've managed to put on paper?  It's difficult.  I had to basically start over.  At least I still had the same story idea in mind an it was easier to do the second time, but it made me think of a contest I've heard of where they want a story in one sentence.

A full story.  I wish I could tell you the name of the contest, or send you to the link - but remember the swiss cheese brain??  It's still there.

Anyway, while we deal with large amount of words, sometimes we do have to cut back.  We live and die by the word count.  Every editor/publisher is going to want to know how many words are in your novel, article or story.  Sometimes we get wordy and have to cut back.  Sometimes we have a hard time putting the right words in.  It can go both ways.

I find that I tend to be verbose.  I like to describe in as much detail as I can, because I want the reader to have the whole picture.  But one of the things I've discovered is the little words; and, had, that, said, but, etc.  They don't always add to the story, and are usually easy to weed out.  It usually takes someone else helping me because I don't see them.  That's why we have readers and editing!

Anyway, if you really want an exercise in word usage, having to choose quality over quantity, give a flash fiction a try.  It will work the grey matter in your head - which I understand is always a good thing.  Especially for swiss cheese people, like me.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Traditional versus Self in the publishing world. And why can't we all just get along?

by C. Michelle Jefferies

Don't read this wrong. I support both traditional and self publishing. I have many books on my book shelves that are amazing. Some are trad some are self.

Just today I was accused of thinking that everything that is self published is trash and that I am a snob because I am traditionally published. They couldn't be more wrong.

I have many many author friends. Some are self published some traditional.  Regardless of how they are getting their words seen, I love them and support them.

If I can be accused of being a snob about anything. It would be in the fact that any work that is worth getting out there for others to read, needs to be pretty darn close to perfect.

This is why I am vocal about some voices in the self published world. They run around the internet saying that the traditional publishing industry is evil and that self publishing is the ONLY way to go. That all you need to do is write a book and slap it on KDP and become famous and rich. (if only it worked that way)

You see, in my opinion writing is an ART. And like any other art like music, acting, visual art, and photography, becoming good enough to be heard, seen etc and to get paid for it, it requires training, practice, and skills.  If you want readers to enjoy your book and come back for a second and third book it needs to be good. It needs to be edited and the story needs to be plausible and understandable.

How do we create good books?

Time to learn how to write, and lots of practice.

I can guarantee you that most (prodigy excluded) artists or musicians or actors (et all) didn't just step into their desired art untrained or unpracticed and start cranking in the big bucks. It just doesn't happen.

While I am an passable visual artist and an average seamstress, as well as a published author. I would never attempt to sell my clothes or artwork thinking I am as good as someone who has spent their lives training in that world. I have however, spent years writing and practicing to become published.

Perhaps we traditional authors according to self published authors seem snobbish. Maybe the self published authors according to the traditional published authors seem to have a chip on their shoulders.

Maybe if everyone understood were all in this together and that the ART of being an author is worth the time and years it takes to become publishable there wouldn't be this huge divide between us.

The path to wisdom is not always straight~

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Getting Caught Up & Your Public You

By Keith N Fisher

In 2006, after accepting the invitation to post on this blog, I started writing my articles with a vengeance. I had a backlog. It was a matter of picking and choosing which one to post. I never missed a week. Over the years, I’ve gotten behind.

I’ve got a backlog again. I didn’t know why at the time, but I sat down one day and wrote one post after another. I have a backlog again and now I know why. There are big things in the works and I'll tell you about it later. This post was originally written May first.

Your Public You

How is your writing coming? I have a friend in the retail side of publishing. She lives down the street. She asks me how my writing is going. I tell her fine. I don’t tell her about the times when I get discouraged.

As a purveyor of writing wisdom, (I write for a blog about writing), I want to offer advice you can use. I want to put concepts in your head that will help you in your writing endeavor.

As such, let me suggest keeping it to yourself. Discouragement will come. Trust me, it will come. You can tell your close, writing friends because they care about you and will understand, but if it all possible try to present an image of yourself complete with living the dream.

Why? You ask.

In the nineteen seventies, when I first started to write, authors were a reclusive bunch. They were never expected to promote anything. Publishers did that. Those days have passed into the dark ages, along with the twentieth century. Now you must promote yourself and your work. If you don’t, there are many writers who will pass you by.

You must promote your brand, and discouragement is never part of that brand. Would you purchase a house from someone who told you about how hard it had been to pay the mortgage? Would you buy a car from someone who told you how they couldn’t make the payments. The answer to both these questions is no. You want to hear how cool it would be to drive that car up highway 101 on the California Coast.

You want to hear about the backyard parties, and Family barbecues you could have in your new house. You want to hear about how easy it would be to add a swimming pool, and how the snow practically removes itself.

I’m not talking about misrepresentation. I’m talking about presenting your brand in a positive light. How you see yourself is how agents and publishers will see you. Like when you ask the seller of that house, "Then why are you selling?" Agents will know you suffer from discouragement. It’s part of the job. Readers on the other hand, are drawn to writers who are positive and make people feel good about themselves.

I don’t want you think it will be easy. It’s excruciatingly difficult sometimes, but its easier if you remember there is a public you, and a private you. Make sure the public you is living the dream. In reality, that’s what you’re selling anyway. A bag full of beautiful dreams bound in a cool cover.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, May 17, 2013


by G.Parker

Hello.  My name is Gaynell.  I'm a procrastinator.  How are you?

I have heard that there is actually a support group for about anything under the sun, including procrastinators.  My son-in-law was talking about it the other day, and joking with my husband.  How he probably drove his group leader crazy with statements like "we'll talk about it later, etc."  We procrastinators are always putting things off.  It's not intentional, it just happens.  We let life get in the way.

Such is today.  I have sooo many things on my plate, I'm just not going to be able to write anything of great imparting of knowledge, so hopefully you had a chuckle.  It's been a great week.  It's going to be a wet weekend.  I hope you enjoy.

I'll try to do better next promises though - what's that phrase?  "Don't make promises you can't keep."  Well...usually.  ;)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Ability to Touch Someone

by C. Michelle Jefferies

I just spent about 24 hours in the presence of other writers. This last weekend was the LDStorymakers Conference. Oh my Gosh! Talk about the most energizing, uplifting, happy and exhausting hours I've had this year.

I met new friends, saw old friends and made connections. I learned so much and had so much fun. It was awesome.

I'm not here today to brag about it though. I'm here today to tell you one of the reasons I go to these conferences.

I'm sure some people think that there's no reason to go to more than a few of these. That is the worst idea. Ever. While learning things is important, especially in this ever changing world of publishing. There's something important about writers meetings and conferences that is often overlooked.


Every single success I've had in the publishing world has been because of a connection I've made at a meeting, workshop, or conference. Every. Single. One.

Winning contests, (the ability to call myself an award winning author). Requests from publishers, edits and crit partners, successful and not successful (but taught me some valuable lessons) pitch sessions, author pictures by professional photographers. Friends and amazing books that I've learned from. Every single moment that has brought me here. To the point of being published and maybe having an agent has been because of connections.

So next time your tempted to think that you don't need to go to the next conference or meeting you hear about. . . Stop. Think about the connections you could be making and sign up. I promise its worth it.

The path to wisdom is not always straight. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Reunions and Writer's conferences

Authors incognito group 2012
By Keith N Fisher

Several years ago, while camping out with my extended family, I heard my younger cousin say, "What I want to know is when do I start making the really big money?" He’d been talking to somebody else about his Engineering degree and the new job he had.

At the time I was lucky to be making about $30 per year including benefits. He was making $48 – 49 K plus benefits. I’d been in the workforce for over twenty years. I’d gone to college and my younger cousin outdid me right out of the box.

Reunions are like that. It’s hard to not compare yourself to your more successful peers or family members.

Although there is much to learn at writer’s conferences, they’re a lot like reunions. I get to reconnect with all the friends I’ve made over the years. I get to meet new friends and finally shake hands with those I’ve met online in social media or from blogs.

Also, like the family camping trip I mentioned, there are numerous opportunities for comparison. Especially when you’ve been working as long as I have. It seems there is always someone new who never attended a single conference, has only been writing for a year, and they announce their new publishing contract.

I admit, I’m jealous. I would’ve loved to have that happen to me. The truth, however, is I wasn’t good enough. I’ve gotten better as the years have passed, but my first manuscript just wasn’t what I wish it had been. My first submission was rejected with a note that suggested I attend some workshops and writer’s conferences.

If I had, already, been doing that, I might’ve gotten that book published. Then, again, I’m a much better writer now, and I might’ve regretted having a lower quality book in my list of accomplishments.

So, having said all that about jealousy. You should know that some of my best close friends were published with (what seemed to be) little effort, but I know the real stories. Before we make judgements, consider we all have different struggles. Some things are easier for some than for others. The things that come easy to us totally devastate others.

I’ve also considered the possibility that I might be doing more good through supporting others. Simply put, there are players and there are cheerleaders. Each role is necessary, and everybody plays a part, even the spectators.

I know my publishing goals will someday be realized. At that time, I will have more cheerleaders than I deserve. Simply because I’ve been a friend. The truth is I’ve gotten more from our friendship than I ever gave.

At this writing, I look forward to the 2013 LDStorymakers Writer’s Conference. I can’t wait to renew my friendships with my writing family. I hope there are many who realized their publishing goals over the past year. I applaud those who continue to work day after day. To be fair about my cousin, he felt insecure in spending so much time in college. He had a family to support and loans to pay off. He felt he was being judged.

See you at the reunion . . . uh conference. Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Critique: noun, verb, cri·tiqued, cri·ti·quing.

by G.Parker


  [kri-teek]  Show IPA noun, verb, cri·tiqued,cri·ti·quing.
an article or essay criticizing a literary or other work; detailedevaluation; review.
a criticism or critical comment on some problem, subject, etc.
the art or practice of criticism.
verb (used with object)
to review or analyze critically.

I was sitting in an elementary school library last week, listening to the lesson prepared by the librarian for a young class.  She was asking them what they thought 'critique' meant.  I leaned over, interested to hear what the response would be.

Surprising both her and myself, a young girl said it was to be perfectionist about something.  Critical of your own work, per se.  I was really impressed.  The first thing that comes to my mind is to be critical of someone.  I guess that says a lot about my mentality...sigh.  The above definition comes from an online definition, not Wikipedia.

Most of us belong to a critique group.  That group serves as a very large part of our editing and writing process.  You may not call it a critique group, it doesn't matter.  If they are reviewing your writing and giving suggestions for it to be better, that's what it's all about.  Keith talked about a little bit in his blog on Saturday, so you see how our lives are intertwined with the idea.

I belonged to a group for almost four (?) years, and then it disbanded.  At first I didn't think it was that big of a deal, but lately I've realized that I need to find another group and get going with it, because I'm too close to my work.  I need a fresher perspective, and from someone who is not related to me.  ;)  So, I'm going to be putting out the word and seeing what I can find out.

It's my understanding that Nichole (our wonderful own published person herself) is going to be teaching at class at LDStorymakers conference about critique groups.  You might want to attend (if you don't already have your schedule full) and see what she has to add to the thoughts.  Because of course your attending, right?  I mean, silly question.  Everyone who is anyone is going to be there...unless they tried to register after it already filled up...sigh.  (which would be my case...)

Anyway - enjoy the fun filled hours of craziness and rubbing elbows with the talented.  Remember you are a great writer in your own right and can still learn much.  I'll be looking for a new group.

I might have to sit outside the library and flag people down.  "Hey, do you write?  Want to be in a critique group?"

Saturday, May 04, 2013

A Joyful Refrain

By Keith N Fisher

One of my best friends is having a party. After suffering discouragement and going through extreme rewrites, Nichole Giles is launching her book, Descendant, today. It’s actually been available for a while, but it’s time for the big party at King’s English Bookstore 1511 South 1500 East Salt Lake City, Utah from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm.

The book, published by, Rhemalda, has gone through many changes since Nichole brought it to critique group. Nichole has, too.

This is not meant to be a book review. I do those on another blog. I want to tell you something about the author, and provide food for thought about your writing.

As I mentioned above, Nichole is one of the original members of the Super Edits critique group. We all came together when I realized my need for help in my writing and I sought out a few of my friends at an LDStorymakers Writer’s Conference, the rest is history.

Anyway, I hope my story doesn’t embarrass her, but there is a valuable object lesson. While waiting for the others to arrive at critique group one time, Nichole and I, chatted about her projects. I asked her why she didn’t pursue the LDS market and she looked thoughtful, and told me about her goals.

She is a very talented organizer and directed many of the activities of Author’s Incognito for years, but she gave it up to concentrate on her writing goals. Her writing talents are evident with publishing credits in the LDS market, including The Friend magazine. She even wrote on this blog for a while, but all those things were distracting. She wanted to get published in the national market.

Over the time I’ve known Nichole, rejections have piled up, but she kept rewriting and resubmitting. In 2012, she taught a class at Storymakers in which she presented:

The only way to truly find success as a writer is to finish what we start, believe in ourselves, our abilities, and our work, and to never, ever give up. In this industry, the path of persistence and perseverance is the only one that ends in publication. In the words of Master Yoda, "There is no try, only do, or do not.

Nichole taught that rejections will come. Someone asked her how many she’d had and wondered how she felt about that. She battled her emotions and answered the question. She continued to apply the principles she taught and landed the publishing contract she wanted, with others to follow.

Now the lesson here is obvious. Nichole believed in her dream and herself. She had obligations and family to take care of and she persisted. I’m looking forward to visiting with her and her family in one of the many beach houses she dreams of owning. Its part of the vision, and I’m sure she won’t rest until she achieves her goals.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, May 03, 2013


by G.Parker

My daughter made a statement that made me think the other day.  She mentioned that you could tell you’d written something really good when you found it (after forgetting you had it) and started reading it – and then couldn’t put it down.  Apparently she’d been up till late in the morning reading one of her stories that she’d forgotten about.

I thought, "sure."  And then I found the one I’m working on right now.  Wow.  How do you forget so much of something that you’ve written?  I mean, I know I’ve written several stories, but I can remember the basic story line of each.  Or so I thought.  Reading this one is so refreshing, and sort of reinforces the idea that I’m a writer.  I like it.  And my readers have liked it too.

I think every writer needs to separate themselves from their work every so often.  You need to get out of the forest, so to speak, so you can enjoy the trees better.

Well, that’s my suggestion for this week.  If you’ve found yourself frustrated with your current project and not knowing what to do with it – put it away for a while.  A couple of weeks or month or two.  Pull it out after you’ve had time to dust the cobwebs out of your brain and take a fresh look at it.

You’ll be glad you did.  Because at that point, you’ll be able to tell if it’s good enough to keep working on, or stinks so bad it’s time to start over.

Have a good weekend. ;)