Monday, July 29, 2013

Take An Axe To Them!

by James Duckett

I'm back, posting again every Monday. My apologies for my hiatus, and kudos to the others at the Writer's Blogck for their patience as I got my life back into order.

So, regarding my title. I'm not suggesting you turn into a serial killer. This is an LDS-focused blog after all! I do encourage you to become a word slayer. With writing, less is often more. The fewer words spent describing something, the clearer it usually is.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

I feel terrible when somebody is subjected to reading one of my first drafts. I find myself getting wordy. I use all sorts of fillers or add unnecessary details. Worse, I find myself repeating what I've just written.

During my first revision, I might add a few things here and there, but for the most part I'm cutting like Edward Scissorhands after dropping acid. My writing improves more by what I cut than what I add.

Want an exercise? Pull out one of your more recent writing--the closer to the first draft the better. Take a page, and revise it with the intent of NOT ADDING ANYTHING NEW, but cutting everything deemed unnecessary or repetitive. Ask yourself, "If this goes, is anything lost?" If the answer is no, chop it. As a bonus, find somebody to read both drafts, and chances are they'll tell you how much better the second draft is.

I recently wrote a blog post, and it came out to 317 words. I took a break and cut, cut cut. I reduced the size by 40%, and I thought it got 200% better.

Try it, tell us how it goes!!

(In case you are wondering, I cut over 100 words off my first draft of this post, or about 30%. Thank me later for not having to read my first draft.)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Do You Have The Time . . .

by C. Michelle Jefferies

To do anything?


My life is always busy, seven kids, house, husband, a full time writing career and deadlines. Yeah I could be the poster child for the whole "burning your candle at both ends".

We started the summer with our six year old being lifeflighted to the local children's hospital with a skull fracture. I had emergency surgery and now chicken pox is going through our family one child at a time.

Someone commented to me this week that they hoped their kid also didn't get the chicken pox from my kid because they didn't HAVE time for a sick kid. While I blew off the comment, how was I supposed to know he was sick when he was completely spot free and not acting sick? What they said bugged me for days.

The whole HAVE time thing.

I don't  have time to do anything. Time is that elusive thing that slips through my day like trying to hold water in your hand. I could spend my entire day just putting out fires that two year old's make, answering the phone, running errands etc etc etc. I'm sure you get the idea. I could spend the whole day swimming upstream. thinking I don't HAVE time.

Same goes for writing.

Do I have time to write? Of course not.

Let's think about this for a minute. The way we approach anything can have a profound impact on how we actually follow through.

While someone might not HAVE time for sick kids or writing, there's a simple answer.

I MAKE time.

Yep. I make my family, my home, my writing a priority.

I let the phone go unanswered, I get off facebook, I either turn on the computer or turn it off depending on my focus for that period of time. I let my older kids load the dishwasher and mop the kitchen floor.

I make time to write. I make time to edit, market, communicate with editors, publishers etc. I make it a priority because its important to me.

How do you make time to do those things that are important to you?

The path to wisdom is not always straight.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Change is a Two-Edged Sword

image found at
By Keith N Fisher

First the news . . . No, I didn’t get a new publishing contract. Although, I wish it were true. I just want to let you in on the changes to the blogck. As you know, G. Parker is taking a break. She promised to be back after things cool down a bit. Michele, is also taking a slight break. Life gets in the way sometimes. Send them an email and let them know how much you appreciate them.

After a Long deserved break, Weston Elliott (Wendy) came back to the Blogk. She took the spot left vacant by Donna. She’s been posting on Sunday, but Michele is going to trade with her. That leaves Michele on Sundays, Wendy on Tuesday, and Connie said she’s coming back, so she’ll be posting on Wednesdays. Gaynell, (G. Parker) will post Fridays, and I’m here on Saturdays.

Tell your friends, The LDS Writer’s Blogck is back. Not that it ever went away, but I’m looking forward to having more minds posting again. Make it a point to stop by often, and get a boost from those who understand your struggles as a writer. Leave a comment if you can, and let us know what you’d like us to write about.

The Blogck has always been a place you can go to validate your decision to be a writer. Stop by often and we’ll join hands.

Change is good, but a lot can be said for sameness. I’ve been a member of the Blogck for a long time. I’ve seen writer’s come and go. I’ve read a lot of great comments and heard people tell me how much we’ve helped them. I’ve seen many visitors stop by, a few stayed, became better writers, and started their own blogs.

For me, it has been a blessing to have a weekly deadline. I’ve posted a few thought-provoking posts. Some of them were just thrown together at the last minute and you can tell. I post on other blogs too, but the Blogck is where it all began.

From the title of this post, you might think I’m leaving, but don’t worry, not yet. There will come a time when I’ll give up my spot and move on. For now, however, I’ll try to keep offering sound advice and insight.

Since I first posted here, I’ve suffered many changes in my life that left my head spinning. I’m still trying to recover from some of them and I’ve recently discovered answers to questions that revealed more questions. Change is hard, but it forces us to grow.

My writing has also changed. I started out writing general fiction, best described as Dean Hughes type novels. I now write women’s fiction. It was a natural change, since I was the only male member of an all women critique group.

Even my critique group has changed. It started when I recognized my need for help with my writing. I sought out my close friends at a Storymakers conference to propose the group and the Super Edits group began.

We started on a Saturday with six members. Two, were published authors, one was a beginner, Me and two others had been writing for a while. We lost one member after the first meeting. I cooked a Dutch oven dinner for the next meeting. (I figured I’d keep them by cooking for them).

Many publishing contracts came. Other books were self-published and life’s demands began to take members away. One lady with six kids got married and inherited four more. Another member got a national market contract and moved to another state. (Those two things were unrelated.)

Demands on our time have been hard to overcome, but we are, (and always will be) family. We’ve had a few writers come and go since then, recently adding more members, including another man. I’m no longer the only male influence. I’ve bonded with the new members now, and I hope I’m helping them as they help me.

One of the members keeps coming, I’m sure, because she knows I need the help. Her friendship is invaluable because she cares more about improving my writing than she does her hectic schedule. She helps others, too, but I’m sure she welcomes the friendship and the chance to get away for awhile.

Now, another member is threatening to leave and move to another state. I’m resisting the change. Actually, I’m trying to block it out of my mind. Before long, I’ll be one of the last original members, and like this blog, I’ll keep going. Did I mention I hate changes?

I’ve learned something in the past seven years, though. Change is like a two-edged sword. One edge is sharp and cuts deeply, but the other edge brings growth. The Super Edits critique group has helped me become a better writer. I’m also a less argumentative person because of the ladies. I’ve learned more about women, too.

I guess that someday, something will come up in my life, also. Something, that will force me to move on. That seems to be the way of things, but for now, I hope I can help others on the blogck and in my group.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

You Can't Buy Experience

Several years ago, my husband and I were out late one night. He'd gotten hurt at work and I had to go pick him up from the ER. A friend gave me a ride to our car at the bus yard, and I drove to the hospital - where I spent three or four hours waiting for him to be released.

At roughly two in the morning, on the way home, the two of us decided we were hungry.

"Let's run by an ATM," Hubs said, "McD's is open all night."

"Great," I agreed, "but I can't remember where the closest ATM is."

So we're driving through a shopping neighborhood, trying to remember which end of it had the bank with the drive-thru ATM. Now, I can admit we looked a little suspicious, driving aimlessly through a business district at 2 a.m., so I wasn't overly concerned to see that police officer pull up behind me. He stayed right behind me, then pulled in the other lane, so I figured I was off the hook.

He stayed right beside my fender.  Just about the time we spotted the bank, his set of roof lights flashed on.

And then another one on our right.

and another on our left

and another, and another, and another....

I did the only thing I could - I stopped and waited. I expected someone to walk up to my side of the car.

"Driver!" I heard the voice. I've seen cop shows - I knew what came next. "Turn off your vehicle and put your keys on the top of the car."

I did.

"Keep your hands in sight and step out of the vehicle."

I did.

"Walk backward to the sound of my voice."

Yeah - like that's easy to do at 2 am in the dark with flashing lights on every side.

I did.

You know on TV when they slap the cuffs on someone's wrist? Yeah - turns out that is surprisingly painful, actually!

They handcuffed me, checked my pockets and led me away while they went through the same procedure with my husband. Then they searched our car, including the trunk with dogs and automatic rifles. There were at least 10-13 police officers there with nine cars, one or two of which were canine units. And they weren't taking any chances that we weren't armed and dangerous!

Meanwhile, I'm grinning like a fool because this is really kinda cool! We had a paper trail proving where we'd been all night long, and I knew we hadn't done anything wrong, so it was just a matter of let the cops do their job until everything got sorted out. Meanwhile, I'm getting great first hand experience of what it's like to be arrested. I can imagine how mortifying it would be to someone whose honesty was in doubt, or who had no proof of their whereabouts.

Half hour later, they finally figured out we were not the droids they were looking for.  Turns out there had been  gang-related violence earlier that night. When I picked up the car from the yard, I apparently drove through that area, someone thought our car was one that had been involved, took down our license number and called it in. So when they found us wandering around Jordan Landing, not only did we look suspicious, but we were in a car, complete with license number, wanted in relation to a shooting.

So, it ended up that West Jordan police offered us sincere apologies for our inconvenience. Which was fine with us, we assured them, we were happy to let them do their job - which they did quite well that night. (They were very professional and respectful even when they thought we were gang-bangers!)

Point of this story: While I wouldn't suggest trying to get yourself arrested, there are experiences every day that can translate into your writing. Even when they aren't quite as freakishly awesome as being pulled out of your car at 2 am at gunpoint.  Everyday living provides, if you practice looking for experiences to beef up your writing.

Now, the sad part is that I have not yet written a single character getting arrested into one of my manuscripts. But that's okay, because when the need arises, I'll know that my character is going to have welts on her wrists for two days after, and that she can't help but notice how really young that officer is in uniform that's got hold of her arm as he leads her toward the police cruiser, and how sickening it is to watch several fully loaded firearms being pointed at the man she loves.

You can't pay for experience like that.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

What Do You Say?

By Keith N Fisher

When you greet another writer, what do you say? When a person says they’re a potter how do you respond? What about sculpting, or writing music? When your friend tells you he quit his job to have more time to develop a computer program, how do you answer?

On the other side, Are you impressed when you’re daughter introduces her boyfriend and says he’s a doctor? Do lawyers have your respect? What are your feelings about physicists and stockbrokers?

I’m reminded of these questions after I tell people I’m a writer and hear the initial response. Often, it’s, "Oh . . . what have you written?" They expect to hear about all the books, from which, I’m collecting royalties. What they really want to know is how can you waist your time doing something that doesn’t pay the bills? Why didn’t you grow up and go to work, like the rest of us?

A writer’s first response is to defend their choice. We list all the books we’ve written and how close they are to being published. We seek acceptance from a closed minded, judgmental, person.

Recently, I’ve noticed a different response when I mention that I’m currently working on my cookbook. For some reason they approve. I leave out the part about my activities of trying to sell my fiction. I could list all the books I’ve written and where each one is in the process, but they don’t care.

I got a response the other day that surprised me. He asked if I’m still writing. I said that yes I am and I’m working on my cookbook. He asked how I plan to market it. I stuttered and joked about letting the publisher take care of that.

The truth is he was being critical. Of course I plan to market it, but I’m chin deep in getting it written. Let me do that well, then I’ll sell it. Yes, I know, times have changed and every writer should continually sell their brand, but I have problems with the concept of using every sales scheme you can think of to sell a poorly written book.

I’ve listened to writers preach about doing that very thing, but perhaps that’s the subject of another blog post. Let me just say, I fumbled my response. Then I read an article in Writer’s Digest about those who would criticize the choice. According to the article, one of the main responses is, you’ll never make a living as a writer. Do you know how many people have tried and failed?

I like the suggested reply, Most of the classical musicians had patrons. Would you like to support my efforts? I think every writer who ever lived, doubted his/her choices. I’ve heard successful authors express fear and frustration. It doesn’t help to hear negatives from those you care about.

How did our society become so slanted, that we pay sports players million’s of dollars yet creative artisans get a pittance if they get paid at all? Heartless CEO’s and hatchet men make fortunes cutting the life’s blood of those who do all the work in their company.

I love the concept of the future as expressed in Star Trek. They eliminated greed from their society and everyone is free to pursue a career they love. Be it poet, painter, or Indian chief.

According to the article I mentioned, there are many reasons some people rain on your writing parade. One is they wish they could write but they don’t have the guts to try. It’s hard to be a writer, especially, an unpublished one. To borrow a phrase from the seventies, Just keep on, keeping on. Oh, and the proper response, is how is your writing going? Then, let them tell you.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Ten Types of Writers

There are many types of writers.

Wow, that sounded a lot like the first line of a high school research paper, didn't it?

True, though. And I think I've met most of them.

1. Doodler - loves to write short stories, poems, what-have-you for their own personal pleasure and amusement, but has no intention of ever putting them out there to be read.

2. The Talker - loves to talk about being a writer. May or may not actually put things down on paper.

3. The Researchist - the one who goes to all the conventions, conferences, classes to learn how to do it perfectly. Puts more work into research than writing.

4. The Zealot - has to write or shrivel up and cease to exist.

5. The Acrobat - the writer who actually writes, while balancing home, kids, career, etc. The Acrobat, by necessity, moves a little slower than others.

6. The Vacillant - the writer who can't decide what they really want to do- write which story, pick a genre or whether they even want writing as a career.

7. The Defensive Linesman - the writer who does write, and wants to be published, but can't stand to hear a negative word about their manuscript. They'll defend it to the death.

8.The Lackadaisy - the one who wants to BE a writer, but doesn't get around to putting in the work to actually do it.

9. The  Bibliomaniac - one who loves books and reading, who is driven to write that one story they'd like to read that isn't out there yet.

10. The Empiricist - the practical, the one who just simply sits down, writes, edits as necessary, jumps through the publishing hoops, and does what needs to be done to become a published author.

I highly doubt that anyone fits into just one of these categories.  I, for example, am a Vacillant Bibliomaniac Researchist Acrobat. I also know at least one Defensive Linesman Empiricist, though that has got to be the worst possible combination.

There's nothing "wrong" with any of these, if you're comfortable where you are then good for you. But there's also nothing saying that you must stay there. If you are now a Lackadaisy, but want to be an Empiricist - then do it. Nobody else can do it for you, but you can.

So let's hear from you - where do you fit in the writerly scheme of things? Where do you want to be?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

I Have a Suggestion

By Keith N Fisher

When I was a kid, we had to save money for the fireworks store. They didn’t have stands on every corner like we do now, and when we got our booty we put it away for the big event, Independence Day.

It was hard to wait. Those fuses mocked us in our struggle to control the urge to strike a match. We knew, however, we wouldn’t get anymore, so we controlled our desires.

We live better these days. Even poor people seem to have enough money for fireworks. The selection is more sophisticated, too. There are laws in Utah limiting the number of days on which fireworks can be displayed, but people still succumb. A couple of my close friends make a good profit from selling fireworks, so I make my suggestion tongue-in-cheek.

Still, if I could think of another way for them to pay the mortgage . . .

I admit, this year is not as bad as last, but I work at night and continually get woken by the pop-pop, bangs, and whistles of other people’s fun. Where does all that money come from anyway?

After loosing sleep for the third day this year, I devised a plan. I suggest that everyone save the money spent in home displays (except on the actual holiday). I believe if everyone gave that money to the poor, we would have full food banks. We could pay the debts of many struggling families with what we save on emergency services alone.

If you add the cost of everything over two holidays, (the 4th and the 24th in Utah) the totals are staggering. How much do you think we could add to the pot by eliminating private fireworks displays entirely? We could all get our fix by watching the municipal shows.

Wow, just think about the medical bills we could pay, but then, there is the thrill of striking the match . . .

As I said above, I’m being facetious. I mentioned this plan to a customer the other night and his rebuttal floored me. I suggested the money saved, would eliminate the poor entirely and he said "No it wouldn’t. People choose to be poor."

I’ll leave you to debate that issue on your own. Meanwhile, writing has been good to me this week. I went to a family party and listened to more criticism about my choice to be a writer. I’ll talk about that next time.

Good Luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, July 12, 2013


by G.Parker it finally happened.  I totally spaced off my post.  My only excuse is that I now have 11 people living in my house and my life is chaos.  That being said...that means that I think I'm going to take a hiatus.  I know I mentioned this before - only I'm not sure I'm ready to totally quit, so I'm going to take a couple of months off.  See if anyone misses me, lol.

I'm sure Keith will continue his excellent posts, along with the rest of the great bloggers here.  Have a great summer and I'll pick things back up in September...I hope.  ;)

Saturday, July 06, 2013

A Good Distraction

By Keith N Fisher

I know, I know. My cookbook is overdue, but a new character actually woke me up the other day. Do you know how long it takes to format a new document while a thirty-eight year old woman taps on your head telling you to hurry?

I woke up after having an unusual dream. It had nothing to do with the new character, but as soon as I woke, her story popped into my head. I typed the first pages as they came. You’re going to love this character.

After that, I felt guilty about not working on the cookbook and went on to revise the first pages of the new story. Hee hee. Okay I created a new breakfast dish, cooked it and wrote the recipe. I think you’ll like it, too.

During my writing time lately, I switch back and forth between the cookbook, Rebecca’s story, Christy’s story, Denise’s story, and the new girl is Claire. Have I ever told you I write women’s fiction? I also write camp cooking cookbooks.

I combined the two mediums once. It was in the sequel to Denise’s story. She attended the tail end of a Dutch oven cook off I cooked in, once. We did very well with our bread in that cook off, but Denise got soaked in the cloudburst that hit just as the presentations ended.

At the risk of sounding crazy, do you remember Robert Duvall’s character in Apocalypse Now? He said, "I love the smell of napalm in the morning."

To paraphrase that quote I’d say, I love the smell of a new story in the morning. I love starting a new book. My senses come alive, and excitement grows. I hope you can feel the same way.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Make Sure of the Proof...

by G.Parker

I have been working on publishing a trio of books for September.  I've already got one set, and now I'm working on the second.  And third.  Sigh.

I've proofed the first one in hard copy.  The second one in digital form.  I figured it was no big deal.  I ordered my free copies through Createspace, and they arrived today.  While they aren't terrible, it's also not exactly what I wanted.  I compared the one that just arrived with the previous proof copy of the other book. They aren't the same.  Which is something I would have seen in a real copy.

So, let this be my advise as a novice indi publisher to those who are looking into doing the same thing.  Make sure you check out those proofs before ordering books.  I was able to check spelling and spacing and stuff, but there is still the way it looks on a page!  It's not just about spelling and that, it's also how it looks in your hand.

Createspace recommends that you go through a proof three times.  First looking for formatting and pages etc., second looking through images or graphics, and then third to look for typos and grammar issues.  I had all those covered, but it's still a different bit to look at it on the screen than in your hand.

Well, I'll let you know how it goes now that I've got the book in hand and can get it where I want it.  I'll also let you know when I'm ready to put them out for sale.  ;)

Have a good weekend, especially since we have rain!!