Mar 31, 2011


By Susan G. Haws

We are remodeling a bathroom. It was a perfectly good bathroom, functional even appealing. But it didn’t meet our needs. So first the workman took measurements, found out our needs and made a plan. Then we picked out tile and soon there was a man demolishing our bathroom. Part of the foundation was even cut out. (That noise really scared the dog and cats.)

Now we are on the rebuilding portion of our adventure. The men installed new copper pipe new drains and new concrete. I have faith the toxic fumes from the red smear on the new walls will dissipate when it gets covered with tile and when finished we will have a room that meets our needs.

I think rewriting and editing are like remodeling. Sometimes perfectly good scenes or subplots don’t meet the needs of the whole novel. We rework or delete phrases, scenes, chapters, even characters we like. It is difficult, even scary. But we only rip out elements that detract from the story. We keep the structures that move the story forward and craft new sentences that the support the plot and main characters. We save the sink to reinstall, buy new tile, touch up paint and have faith that the new version will be better for the book as a whole.

Mar 30, 2011

Life's Little Interruptions

by Kami Cornwall

Wow! What a week! And it's only Wednesday. I was going to be on top of it and have something fantastic to blog about today...until Sunday night. My heart woke me up doing a strange and noisy dance which sent my brain into a frenzy including images of dialing 911 and imagining what an ambulance ride to the ER might be like.

My family doctor frequents Facebook so I sent him a quick message about it and he told me to come in asap. It turns out that they can't find anything wrong with my ticker so far which is great news! Meanwhile, my son and I have been battling a nasty cold which robbed me of my voice and stole his even temper. He woke me up at three this morning with ear pain. Then he couldn't go back to sleep so by five he decided it was time for breakfast. My husband decided to take over and get up with him. He has ear infections and at this very moment I'm waiting for the pharmacy to get his medication ready.


It's life's little interruptions like this that make writing HARD! I thought with Spring Break being this week I'd have lots of "down time" that I could spend writing away and polishing up my little fantasy story. No such luck so far. Here's to getting well and finding some time the rest of the week to get it done. Cheers!

Mar 29, 2011

What Diet Pills to Choose?

by Terri Wagner

I think I have discovered a very profitable way of making money as a diet pills. There are so many out there and how do you know what will work best for you?

You could have a blog about it. Invite "real" people to comment. I say "real" people because the cynic in me says those diet blog/ads aren't real people. That's just me. You actually start something that could prove invaluable.

I say this not because we are all overweight and need help (although I am in that category), but because what works for Tom, Dick and Harry won't work for Mary, Tina and Sally. Hence the blog. Hence the guinea pigs.

I've only tried one diet plan using pills once in my life to no success. My personal opinion for the failure is quite simple: I don't need a pill to make me eat less because I'm not hungry; I need a pill that will keep me from eating when I'm not hungry. You may need to read that twice to get it, ha.

Anywho as my Louisiana relatives always say, I think this could be a great opportunity for someone. You could possibly parlay this into a profit-making venture.

Bottom line: There's a lot of niche places where people really want to go and get honest answers. The mommy blogs are perfect example of that.

PS I was shanghaied into trying pills one more time, but I remain convinced that I need something for mind control instead of appetite control. See I've got the first blog entry!!!!

Mar 28, 2011

Are You a Careful Outliner or Seat-of-the-Pants Writer?

by Kristin Baker Przybyla

Sorry about my lateness in posting. I'm in Boise for the week at my mom's, celebrating my little one Anya's fifth birthday. Lucky Anya has had two days of "happy birthdays" because I somehow got ahead of myself and most of the day I thought yesterday was her birthday--then I logged on to my laptop and discovered it was only the 27th, and today's the big day!

If I'd planned better, I wouldn't have been so mistaken (not that Anya minds). For the longest time I'd thought I was the type who could come up with a vague plot and some characters, and flesh out a story just by typing the first paragraph. Wrong. I can't even get through the day without a detailed list of my tasks and chores. I'd started and tossed out dozens of stories and novel attempts because I had no idea where I was going. This was fine at the time, because it gave me great writing practice and I learned a lot about my strengths and weaknesses. But I constantly bemoaned the fact that I had characters, the basics of their world, and a semi-workable plot, but still no novel.

Then, a few years ago, my husband gave me a laptop for Christmas and told me to quit griping and just write the book already. I figured I'd better get serious and actually come up with a working plot. Maybe some decent planning would be in order? I had no idea how to plan an entire novel. After a Google search (on my new laptop!), I had a few sites to peruse on the subject. The one that helped me outline my plot, give my characters personality, plan my chapters with real direction, and organize a solid timeline, was Randy Ingermanson's Snowflake Method. The Obsessive-Compulsive planner in me was thrilled! In under two weeks I had a document which plotted out all the chapters in my book, and within two years I had the first draft of The Moongate. I've used the same method to plan out the next two books I'm working on. I have graphs and timelines and character charts galore! I could wallpaper a room with all my outlines, and it's heaven.

Stephen King is a seat-of-the-pants writer, and obviously it works well for him. There's also a guy in my local writers' group who starts writing with only a vague idea of his characters and plot, and he writes great stories. I'm sure there are a few ANWA women who write effectively with minimal planning as well. But for me, the more rigid the planning, the better. I even write in linear fashion, beginning to end (I tried skipping ahead and writing the more exciting scenes, but that only meant I had to drastically rewrite them later). This doesn't mean that what I've planned had been outlined in stone. The Moongate went through countless changes as the story started to come to life. Ultimately I shaved off over 40,000 words (more like hacked off). But if it weren't for the outlining in the first place, I wouldn't have had any kind of WIP to edit.

I'd love to hear about your process. Do you outline like me to the last detail, or do you take a freer approach to writing?

Now I'm off to grab some birthday cake...

Mar 27, 2011

It's About Time

By Wendy A. Jones I am not an avid 60 Minutes watcher, but I will admit to hearing that dang stopwatch in my head whenever I am pressed for time.

Tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock

Bus is coming in ten minutes. Lunches? Check. Coats? Check. Shoes? Rats, where are your shoes, Zack? Hurry! The bus is going to be here!

The sink backs up. The toilet overflows. Approximately 8,000 Legos are on the floor. My visiting teachers are coming in five minutes. Hurry! Clean it up!

The alarm goes off. I hit the snooze button. The alarm goes off again. That wasn't nine minutes! I look at the clock. Hurry! Time to get the kids up!

Yesterday, one of my friends on Facebook posed a question about alarm clocks in heaven. He was pretty sure there would be lots of them in hell.

I've been thinking on the subject of 'time' for a couple of weeks now. I had been studying section 88 in the Doctrine and Covenants (which I have read many times since it's one of my favorite sections) at the part where it talks about the signs of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and the Millenium. I came across verse 110: "And so on, until the seventh angel shall sound his trump; and he shall stand forth upon the land and upon the sea, and swear in the name of him who sitteth upon the throne, that there shall be time no longer; and Satan shall be bound, that old serpent, who is called the devil, and shall not be loosed for the space of a thousand years."

I finished and thought, "Whoa. Wait a minute. Time no longer? Why haven't I ever noticed that before?"

In cross-referencing, I found this in Alma 40:8. "Now whether there is more than one time appointed for men to rise it mattereth not; for all do not die at once, and this mattereth not; all is as one day with God, and time only is measured unto men."

I've felt those phrases turning in my brain: time no longer and time is only measured unto men. For some reason, I thought about flying kites.

My kids and I love to fly kites. I remember this day in particular, about a year ago, where we went to the park near our neighborhood on one of the first sunny days of the year and flew this shark kite.

I remember stopping the fun, packing it in, because we had to be somewhere.

And as I thought about time and what it meant for time to be no longer, I realized that children are much better at forgetting time than adults. My kids would have flown kites for hours if I had let them.

Yes, someone needs to be responsible. Yes, for right now time is here and is an integral part of life.



Too often I find myself allowing time to rob me of the joy of the moment. I'm not enjoying the kite flying, I'm checking my watch and thinking, "Ten more minutes. Ten more minutes and then I'll give the five minute warning, five minutes to pack up, five minutes to drive home, that will leave 1/2 hour to get dinner ready before we eat and go to . . . "

I have vowed to myself to stop doing that. (It's one of those easier-said-than-done things, I'm sure.)

But re-reading this talk helps.

Excuse me now, while I go ponder the mysteries of the space-time continuum . . . I won't let time get away with me to the point of being late for church. Honest.

Mar 26, 2011


by Bonnie Harris

Good, Better, Best. That seems to be the topic that has been discussed for several weeks in church. It has gotten me thinking about the choices I have before me. Am I really make the Best decisions with the time I've been given. It's been pretty eye opening.

What's been the biggest eye opener is what I've focused on. It's been more of the minute details rather than the bigger picture. I get so hung up on the small things that I forget the reason why I'm doing the little things.

I've seen this in my writing process as well as others. We get so caught up on the wording of a certain sentence that we forget that the whole purpose of the sentence is to help propel the story forward. I've seen this literally stop the process of someone's wonderful story. They are so worried about it being perfect that they can't move past that one sentence, or chapter. It's really sad.

So how does this apply to choices? It's all in what we/I choose to focus on. Do I choose to focus on the little things around the house like having things spotless or do I look at the bigger picture of spending time with my son and husband. Do I worry about the wording of a particular scene or do I make sure the story is flowing. Now I realize that the little things all add to and enhance the big things, but in the long run or the eternal perspective of things, is the wording really going to make that big of a difference? I really don't think so.

These past few weeks have shown me that I shouldn't sweat the little stuff. It will all get done eventually but I need to enjoy the process. My mom has often said that when I was young she got so frustrated that she couldn't sew. I took up all her time. It wasn't until she realized that everything she wanted to sew was for me that she was able to put it aside and enjoy the journey. I'm trying to take her advice and not worry about what is not getting done, making the better choice--as I see it. I sure hope this is making sense. My baby doesn't want to go to sleep and has been crying for awhile now. It's one of those times that I'm trying to remind myself that I'm making the better choice. So here's to enjoying the ride!

Mar 25, 2011

Out Loud

Reading out loud is my absolute favorite best ever editing tool.
On the planet.

When I'm stuck? I read out loud.
When I'm not sure how a scene works? I read out loud.
When I finally reach the end? (sort of, only not really, because getting to the end, really just means the editing is about to begin) I read out loud to my husband.

Anyways, I finished and am polishing a YA in a boy POV. Mike asked if HE could read it to ME. HIM, my book, TO ME. That's not how we do it. I read it him. Much better.

It took me two or three chapters to settle into Mike's voice, but I got there. You know what happened? I was able to simply relax and enjoy my own story. It was awesome. Like it was suddenly, really, truly something to be shared.

I stopped him in a few places to make a comment to go back and check on a scene, or asked him to change a word here or there, but mostly, I just enjoyed.

So, try it. See if it works. Next time I'm discouraged, I'm going to make him read the first few chapters, just so I can remember the STORY...

Want to share an editing tip?
Or just tell me how reading your MS out loud helps you?

Mar 24, 2011

Do You Trust Me?

by Kari Diane Pike

The last time I posted I vented a little bit about technology. Let me just add a little addendum. This morning I had a list of important "little" errands that, without the aid of technology, would have taken me hours to accomplish. With just the push of a few buttons, however, I renewed books from the Harold B. Lee Library, ordered and paid for products from two different companies, renewed a online course, deposited funds into a credit union account, and found a couple of original source articles for my research paper -- all before 9:00am. Now how cool is that! Of far do I trust technology?

I have been giving a great deal of thought to the concept of trust lately. My children have heard their parents say on several occasions, "My love for you is unconditional. My trust, however, you have to earn." ( I tell my computer that too, but it still resets the internet connection right in the middle of submitting keywording batches to work...Let's just say it was not pretty.) The issue of trust comes up in just about every book, fiction and nonfiction alike, that has anything to do with relationships. How many times do we hear the hero/heroine ask, "Do you trust me?"

In The Book of Mormon - Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Alma 17 - 23, Ammon establishes a relationship of trust with Lamoni and his father, the King of the Lamanites, through service, integrity and loyalty. Ammon was a man of his word and showed that he would put his own life at stake in defense of his beliefs. That relationship of trust later opened the doors for Aaron to approach the king and teach him the gospel of Jesus Christ. At first, I wondered why the Lord would send Aaron to teach the king, instead of sending Ammon to reap the rewards of the seeds he had planted when he first encountered Lamoni's father. Perhaps the king needed to hear the gospel from another witness. Learning truths from someone other than Ammon may have strengthened the king's own testimony so that he could learn that his faith (and trust) must be placed in the Savior and not in the man Ammon. As I read further about the conversion of so many of the people of the king, I marveled at the effects of trust established by just one person. Ammon's example indirectly changed the hearts of an entire people.

Trust is essential to all of our relationships: husband/wife, parent/child, friends, siblings, teachers, etc. Of course, our most important relationship is with our Father in Heaven and his Son Jesus Christ. What a joy it is to know that I can always place my trust in the Lord's hands.

As far as writing goes, trust is still a must. Our readers need to know they can trust us. I have my own thoughts about why...but I'm curious. What do you think writers owe the reader? How do writers gain a reader's trust? How do we keep it? Is it just about heroes and happy endings? Is being true to the reader more about being true to yourself? Does this make any sense at all?

oh..and Happy Spring!

Mar 23, 2011

What Would Voldemort Do?

By Melinda Carroll

Okay, this post has a very short shelf life since I completely forgot to post yesterday when it was actually my turn.  Yes, I was reminded.  I'm pretty sure that I've lost brain cells with each child, because my memory is horrible.  Aren't there herbs for this kind of thing?

So what was I thinking about while I was busy not thinking about blogging?


Somehow I've managed to write 3/4 of my story without fleshing out my villain, and now I'm paying the price.  So this week I've done some serious pondering.  I've studied famous villains in history and fiction, I've studied some writing books about characterization, and I've brainstormed a lot.

Here's my problem.  I'm writing a middle grade book and no matter what I brainstorm, my villain keeps sounding just like Voldemort.   And he's been done before.

As I return to the drawing board to work this whole thing out, I thought I'd post some of the things I've read about writing a good villain:

1.  The villain needs to be equally as gifted/powerful as the hero.  If the hero is too powerful, there is no tension or conflict.  The villain can appear more powerful at first, but eventually the hero has to gain the strength to conquer him.  If the hero wins by chance, the reader feels cheated.

2.  The villain shouldn't be all bad.  There ought to be some quirk or attribute that is good.  He loves gardening, or he has a favorite pet, etc.  Something that gives him dimension.  (I'm starting to realize that my favorite villains are the ones who truly believe they are doing what's right, but they are woefully mistaken).

3.  Try to avoid the stereotypes (sorry Voldemort).  The crooked politician, the hypocritical clergyman, the super evil wizard who wants to destroy Harry, etc.  If you have to use them, give them some unique twist that makes them interesting.

4.  Generally, there needs to be a defining tragic event that has made the villain who he is.  He could've been wrongfully convicted of a crime, or he had a horrible childhood, or an unrequited love interested who was cruel to him.  Give him a reason for why he does his dastardly deeds.

Hope these tips helped any of you out there who are working on villains.  If anyone has other tips, please feel free to post them!

Mar 22, 2011

Daily Practice

By Leesa Ostrander

Communication  is a skill. Being a talented communicator takes practice and experience. A person does not stand in front of a crowd to give a life-alerting speech without forethought, planning and practice.
Writing is the same. Some may have talent and have to do less planning and practice. Others need to spend time learning the craft and practicing.
A daily practice can help open you mind and let your creativity move in different directions than it may have wanted to. Daily practice allows for skill building, opportunity to write without deadlines and focus on any area you so choose.
Dialogue is one area I struggle on. It is not the dialogue that is difficult it is the written connection of the actions to the words.
I love to watch conversations and see how people interact. How they use their nonverbals to reinforce their words. This dynamic behavior connects the people together. They effectively exchange thoughts and meanings, even if they are not being fully understood; they are part of the link.
By a writing practice I can reflect on an interaction I have seen and write the actions, leaving the words to only “blah blah blah.” Then I hand it to someone else and see if they can guess what the conversation is about.
My family has been good sports in this practice and the people I know least have been the most help.
I have learned from this experience a number of key elements in improving my craft. One being, the more eavesdropping I do the better my stories are. Two, I love my family; they are good sports and give me good pats on the back. Third, by writing random material, I have created a network of people that are interested in what I am doing and what I can produce next.
This daily practice is giving me much more than strong hands and volumes to look back at, it is giving me the opportunity to have a working group become a skilled writer.
Writing is a skill and a skilled writer is enjoyable to read.

Mar 21, 2011

Thank you, Isaiah and Nephi

By Tracy Astle

This time of year is completely insane for me. I mean completely. I'll spare you all the gory details, but suffice it to say that I'm on the go from either 4:00 or 5:00 every morning until 9:00 or 10:00 every night during the week. Saturdays are  filled with all the wife/mom things I don't get to during the week, you know, laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning, those kinds of things. Sundays are for church and preparing a week's worth of seminary lessons.

Needless to say, by this far into tax season (I work for an accountant) I am feeling like nothing is getting the  full attention it deserves. March and April are just-do-enough-to-get-by months in my life. If I'm not careful this can leave me feeling down on myself for things like not excersizing often enough or hard enough, for not making time to write, for not being the kind of wife/mom/visiting teacher, etc. I want to be. And forget the seemingly endless pursuit of my degree.

I know many of us find ourselves in similar situations, just plain overcommited.

BUT HERE'S THE GOOD NEWS -  In Isaiah 9-10 and in 2 Nephi 20-21 there's a phrase which is repeated again and again that can bring us great comfort. "...but his hand is stretched out still." Now that's a nice enough thought on it's own, but when we look at what it follows, it gets even better. In these chapters God lists all manner of awful things His children can and will do: starting wars, being hypocrits and evildoers, people being horrible to each other and not even sparing their brother, just to name a few. Yet in spite of all of these things, "his hand is stretched out still."

Now, I'm sure none of us are doing things as bad as what Isaiah and Nephi outline and if God's hand is stretched out to those who do those things, then we can be supremely confident that His hand is stretched out to us as well. He loves us. Period.

So when we are feeling like we aren't compassionate enough, thoughtful enough, nice enough, whatever enough - or if we're feeling like we're just plain not enough - we can take comfort in the vision of His hand reaching out for us.

This I know, no matter what our weaknesses may be His hand is stretched out still. 

I hope you can feel that, too.

Mar 20, 2011


I recently found myself on a news site on the Internet, where the article was complimentary to the LDS Church for the programs in place that enabled it to locate all the at-risk missionaries in Japan within 36 hours. It went on to laud the Church for its record of humanitarian aid.

The comments started out well. LDS Church members and non-members alike expressed their admiration for the Church's efforts. Then the inevitable trolls arrived. "There is no God." "You all are damned because you believe Joseph Smith has to judge you." "You're not Christians." The topic quickly vanished as more and more folks rushed in to defend the Mormons and their Church, and the trolls came up with further and more laughable topics to smell up the place.

What if no one engaged the trolls when they snuck into similar situations in future?

Would the comment thread be shorter, enabling you and I to read it more quickly so we could get off the Internet and out to do our home- or visiting-teaching?

Would we get more writing done?


What's with people who don't dim their lights when they approach other cars coming the opposite way on a rural highway?

Or when they overtake a vehicle?

Do they think they're still on divided highway?

It should be easy for them to dim their lights. It's not like they have to find the button on the floor anymore.*


*Vehicles used to have a quarter-sized switch that protruded about an inch from the floor of the driver's side of the car. Most of it was installed below the floorboard, of course, as you can imagine as you look at the images.

It was situated up near the firewall, and to the left, out of the way of ordinary foot positioning, so you wouldn't hit it accidentally. The angle was about like that of the top image on the left.

When you needed it, you had to press on it to toggle the headlights from bright to dim. It took some pressure, by the way, not like the very-easy task of flipping a lever on the steering column.

Sometimes it was a hassle to locate it with your toe when you encountered a car coming, especially if you had short legs. Until you found it and could exert enough pressure on it to make it click, you temporarily blinded the oncoming driver. 

I love the stalk on the steering column on our modern cars. Did the Japanese or the Europeans give us that gift?

Wherever we got it, I wish more drivers would use that blessed lever, especially at night on Arizona Highway 260 East.

Mar 19, 2011

*Names of Characters

By Cindy R. Williams

Let's have some fun with our characters names.

Names of Characters tell the reader tons about who they are. Charles brings the image of an aristocrat, whereas Charlie seems much more approachable and friendly. Katherine is formal and educated. Kate may be adventurous and fun. Robert seems like a grown up and Bobby a young boy. Lupe most likely is from Mexico or Spain, while Ingrid is from Sweden. Madison and Kennedy may have been past USA presidents but are now hip and happening girls names. Clem seems to be a great name for an old cowboy. Clare is a ballerina. Sabrina is a lovely young girl. Ralph could be a trouble maker or a little boy that trouble just seems to follow.

Here are a few more that seem to bring visual images with them:
Aunt Bertha, an elderly aunt,
Aunt Nelly, another elderly aunt
Clyde, an older person,
Natasha, from Russia,
Maureen, from Ireland,
Mary, from anywhere,
Billy Bob, from southern USA,
Starr, Flower, Spring, Pansy, Petals, Bunny; girls named by hippy parents,
Angelique, a girl named by a parent who served a mission in France,
Spencer, Tanner, Hunter, McKay, Nelson, Dallin; often named after a modern day prophet or apostle, but not necessarily connected to them outside LDS circles.

Please share the names of your top three or four characters in one of your projects and tell us why you named them that, or what the name is meant to portray.

Mar 18, 2011

Writing Big

by Tanya Parker Mills

With all the discussion lately about whether there really are any remaining original stories or if it's possible to write a book that's original enough to rise high enough above all the others to get noticed, this story popped out at me today.

I'd encourage you to read it for yourself but, if you're strapped for time, here's the gist in a nutshell: a debut author gets her eerily prescient story, The Age of Miracles, detailing the worldwide calamitous effects of a catastrophic earthquake as seen through the eyes of a ten-year-old girl, auctioned for 600,000 British pounds and $500,000.

Again, I couldn't help but recall Dave Wolverton's presentation at last year's Storymakers Conference about how to write a bestseller. This author covered all the bases, of course. Interestingly, she's someone who works in publishing, helping to choose what gets picked up and what doesn't.

The lesson for us? Think big and write big. A typical love story, mystery, etc. won't suffice anymore. If we want our stories to stand out in an ever increasing deluge of queries, we've GOT to think not only outside the box, but way beyond it. As the recent horrific events in Japan have shown us, truth is often stranger than fiction...and we're seeing so much strange truth lately that nearly anything will be believable.

Mar 17, 2011


by Susan G. Haws

Alright, I admit it I am a certifiable wimp. I waved my white flag before the other side half began amassing its troops. I surrendered with no terms just hoping for mercy. I turned on the A/C Sunday.

After the earthquake and tsunami in Japan my lament that summer may be waging a coup before St. Patrick’s Day this year seems trivial.

These disasters made me think about heroes, real and fictional. Like in the song, I’m holding out for a hero. We need a hero.
What makes a hero? Someone not too proud to help wherever they are needed or someone like in Apollo 13 that will try to avert the "inevitable" till the very last second. There were a lot of heroes that worked to save lives in that catastrophe. Please tell me the best minds in the world are figuring a way to avert a meltdown to save the day or at least mitigate the effects. I am sure that in coming days we will learn of heroes who are providing aid to those people already needing help with food, shelter, medical care. People searching for survivors. People finding and laying to rest bodies of the deceased, now that is a depressing but heroic role.

In life we can't control that thousands die in disasters. So when I pick up a novel I want there to be hope for a happy ending where the dead didn't die in vain and where there is a last minute reprieve for the world at the hands of a hero with super powers or a regular mortal that knows the right thing to do in the nick of time. I need that hope and inspiration. Life is unpredictable and you can never do enough. I need to feel that over all purpose and redemption, often provided by unassuming heroes like Tolkien’s hobbits. Heroes see a need and take the responsibility to fill that need for the benefit of the community over his or her own needs. I keep praying for a lot of heroes for Japan.

Mar 16, 2011

Meet the Parents

by Kami Cornwall

When I met my husband I had just left a very volatile relationship. While the scars were still healing I insisted we remain best friends for a while. I knew he was one of my favorite people in the world, though, and before long I was sitting down at dinner with his family. Meeting the parents can be such a nerve racking experience. I had no idea what I was in for.

As soon as everyone had said "Amen" his four brothers were piling as much as possible onto their plates with speed that Superman would be jealous of. Dinner conversation consisted of movie and t.v. quotes. My head was spinning! His mother commented that quoting movies had become her kids' favorite things to do and my only means of survival was to smile and nod my head like her. She tolerated it and tried to engage me in proper discussions like where I was from and what my family was like.

I thought back on a typical dinner at my house. My parents had taught us to be quiet, cut everything in small pieces, chew quietly, never speak with your mouth full, never slurp, sit still, and display general good manners. We were expected to reflect good breeding.

My new family was breaking all the rules, and I after my initial shock, I loved it! There was a warmth and closeness there that I didn't expect. I even found the perfect time to throw in a "Ralph" quote from the Simpsons. There was a moment of silence and then the whole family erupted with, "Whoa! That was perfect!" and they all laughed.

I was in.

Ten years later he's still the yin to my yang and we're raising our family somewhere in between his way and my way. I'm also wondering today how many others out there were first shocked at meeting the family and what that experience was like. Awkward? Comfortable? Do tell.

Mar 15, 2011

Action Scenes

by Terri Wagner

In my for fun writing (and I hope all of you have for fun writing), I am envisioning this action scene. It's a cute little romantic encounter at a party wherein our intrepid heroine will fall into the arms of her future husband. And I mean literally.

The scene is set on a beach, dancing on a sandy floor, tables groaning with food and drinks, lots of people getting to know one another, typical YSA activity when I was YSA.

On the horizon a terrific storm is brewing and sweeps inland. The hero is struggling to get the Chinese lanterns tucked away before the storm hits full on. The heroine is walking slowly back to the beach house after spending sometime reveling in the coming storm thinking pirate princess.

An erstwhile young man who only fancies himself in love with our heroine sprints across the sand to "save" her from the coming rain. He trips on a sandal and barrels into her.

Now comes the big problem. How do I get the heroine thrown into the hero along with Chinese lanterns, electric tingles and gusty rain? Somehow I see it but I can't seem to detail it.

Any ideas?

Mar 14, 2011

The Whole Picture

by Kristin Baker Przybyla

I'm a new member of a critique group for finished manuscripts. Last week at my first meeting, we discussed a biography of sorts. The author, Celeste, had written an inspiring story of her father's life. A few agents had shown interest in her premise but ultimately rejected it. Our general consensus was that it's still not quite ready for querying; Celeste has a firm grasp on writing technique, but her story lacked any kind of conflict whatsoever.

I was uncomfortable as a total stranger giving out such discouraging criticism; however, I understand the need for it and hope I get the same (they all have my manuscript this month). Several times I found myself wishing I was critiquing a jerk, but Celeste is so nice! She kept staring forlornly at the binders containing the copies of her book and saying, "This is going to take five years to rewrite--again!"

I understood the look on Celeste's face: She was looking at the whole picture and feeling overwhelmed by it. That same expression crosses my face when I walk into the kitchen and see the mess the kids made (and are so reluctant to clean up), or look at the laundry baskets after I've unwisely decided to give the laundry a break for a few days. I'm sure I also look like that when I open my master document for my work in progress and see all the notes I've made for things to change in the MS, and my chapter outline with all those chapters yet to be written. The prospect of yet another rewrite will definitely invoke feelings of despair if you allow yourself to think of the whole picture, to imagine tackling the entire manuscript instead of fixing it in small bites.

You're not going to get all the dishes done at once if your dishwasher is broken like mine, unless you're Supermom (in that case, come over to my house and I'll bake you cookies in exchange for cleaning my kitchen!). Similarly, it's not possible to rewrite a manuscript in a week. So don't look at it that way! Tackle it a chapter or a set number of pages at a time, and give yourself a reasonable time limit to complete each small assignment. Take the same approach when you're writing your first draft: Set your writing goals in little bites, such as a daily word count or one scene at a time. Then reward yourself for making those goals!

There's no reason it should take Celeste five years to rewrite her book. We gave her lots of suggestions on where to add conflict to her story without turning it into a work of fiction, and it's really a lot less work than it seemed to her. She already has a solid framework. Even if she's a slow writer or very busy like me, she can probably have those revisions completed in a few months if she gives herself small, realistic goals. I hope she's not still looking at the entire picture by our next meeting. That's a surefire way to derail yourself, and has probably been the reason for many aspiring authors to give up on writing entirely.

In life, it's too easy to get discouraged by looking at the whole picture rather than taking on challenges a little at a time--especially during times of trial. We can get caught up in looking too far ahead and seeing all the obstacles laid out before us, when trying to see our personal, career, or spiritual goals. This can be overwhelming when trying to "endure to the end." What are some of the ways you deal with your challenges in small bites at a time, rather than trying to see the whole picture at once?

Mar 13, 2011

Conscious Decisions

By Wendy A. Jones
Three days ago, I loaded up my cable box and remote and drove it back to the dealer. (I'm not even going to mention four days ago, when I spent at least 30 minutes disconnecting the dang thing and trying to untangle the cords that seemed to cling to their brother in technology most tenaciously.) I waited in line for probably 20 minutes, then plopped my box in front of the kind employee.

"I called to cancel my cable service a few days ago," I said.

He nodded and scanned the bar code on the back of my cable box.

"Originally I agreed to keep the basic channels, but I've changed my mind. I want you to cut me off entirely."

"Okay," he said.

It was so easy!

I was expecting some kind of selling to go on, and I had prepared myself to be strong. He didn't even put up a fight.

When I walked out to my car, there was a spring to my step and a lightness in my heart. In fact, I may or may not have burst into song and dance right there in the Comcast parking lot.

Why the lift? Why the joy? Seems a little out-of-proportion, don't you think?

Well, here's my analysis. I have wanted to get rid of cable for awhile now--a long while. A year at least, or maybe even two. By finally taking that action, I released some positive emotions. Not only that, I paved the way for my kids to make conscious decisions regarding what they're watching.

Too often, I would find one of them plopped in front of the tv, watching "whatever was on."

They allowed themselves to be acted upon instead of acting for themselves.

We still have Netflix so it isn't as though they can't still watch television once in awhile--they simply have to be more aware of what they want to see.

In writing, it's the same way.

You can't have a hero who sits back and watches whatever is on.

In order to be a hero, the hero cannot be a perpetual reactor.

The hero must take action!

Lead the way!

Right the wrongs!

I suppose that could explain my joie de vivre coming out of the cable company. Now all I need is a cape and a theme song.

*Photo credit: Shuttershock

Mar 12, 2011

Chocolate and Missionary Work

by Bonnie Harris

I've usually had ideas for this posts a few days after the last one, but this time I didn't think of anything until two days ago. My mom shared this experience with me and I immediately thought of a similar situation she told me about earlier. I kept coming back to this and took that as meaning I needed to write about it.

My dad had the privilege of serving on a jury recently. The jurors were told it should take a week or so to get through the trial. (Side note: How wonderful is it that we have a system set up like this? I know I complain about jury duty and how inconvenient it is and all the other excuses, but when I really sit down and think about it, what a blessing it is to be tried by peers. If I was even in a situation when I needed that, I would sure be glad to have it. Prayerfully that will never happen. Kudos to those who enjoy the law enough to represent the "common man.") Halfway through the trial someone suggested everyone needed chocolate. Dad mentioned this to Mom and she said, "Well, go get some."

One of my favorite kind of chocolates--besides Swiss--is the Utah truffles that are sold at Desert Book and Seagull. If you've never had a bar, it's well worth the money to savor it. (It is also a great snack when writing.) Desert Book happened to be on the way to court, so being the wonderful guy he is, Dad stopped and got a box to share with the other jurors. No big deal, right.

Well, the trial adjourned for the weekend and the Monday following several of the jurors were still raving about the chocolate. At least two of them had gone online to find out where to get it. Funny thing about that is, Desert Book and Seagull are the only places in Arizona to get some. :)

Mom also got some of the same chocolate for co-workers as a Christmas present. Several of them have gone into Desert Book to get more. In may not seem like much, but who knows how many of those people would have ever stepped foot in a Desert Book Store. Who knows if something else will catch their attention. Who knows if they'll purchase something that will change their lives . . . other than chocolate that is. Who knows . . .

Chocolate and Missionary Work. You just never know what will come from it. :)

Mar 11, 2011

The Community

I started seriously blogging about writing last spring, I think the beginning of June. When I look at how many incredible people I've met online in that short time, I'm amazed. I've had chances to swap manuscripts and query letters. I've been able to share in the joys of new publications and commiserate over rejection letters.

I love that even when competition for agent critiques is on the line, we round up as many of our writing friends as we can to share in the opportunity - knowing as we do so, our odds of winning go down.

The writing community is full of smart, talented people. I'm proud to know you. Some of you well, some of you not so well.

No matter where you are on the road to publication, or whatever your goals might be - I'm glad you're here!

And I guess I'm feeling a wee bit sentimental this friday...

Mar 10, 2011

Ramblings of a Stressed-Out Writer

by Kari Diane Pike
The phrase is cliche, but despite the fact that technology is frequently the bane of my existence, I have to say I am very grateful for it. I had a completely different direction I wanted to take this blog post this morning, but when I tried to come up with a fresh description of how technology makes me feel, I came across an interesting explanation of how the phrase "bane of my existence" came about.

The term bane used to refer to death, destruction, or deadly poison (as in wolfsbane or hensbane). The "bane of his existence" meant that something literally caused his death. Today, the phrase refers more to something that annoys us or makes our life more difficult. Certainly technology doesn't kill us. It is supposed to make our life easier. Does it really? Perhaps we are just trading one kind of stress or challenge for a different one.

While not yet ancient of days, I am old enough to remember black and white television as being a luxury -- and if you had a color television, Wow! Things we used to just dream about in science fiction novels and comic books we now carry in our pockets. I love to skype with my children and grandchildren. I love hearing their voices, but seeing them live on the computer screen, blowing kisses and showing me their toothless smiles is priceless. How did I keep track of my oldest children when they were teenagers without cell phones? Research for my writing is much more convenient as I browse through the Harold B. Lee Library in my dining room instead of braving icy roads and spending hours wandering the isles amid a sea of books. How in the world did we get along without all this technology?

But what if something happens and we can't access that technology? We've become so dependent on easy access to information. Remember when we had to actually remember phone numbers? Now we store them in our phones and just push a button when we make a call. Are we getting soft? What is happening to our minds with all of this technology to think for us? Don't get me wrong. I am not anti-technology. I love my smart phone...even though it does seem to be smarter than me. (It took me an hour to figure out I had to slide to the left to turn it on. sheesh) I can't help but wonder what would happen if it all shut down. Because I've had technology shut down on me. More than once. In fact, if I am standing too close to the register at a store when the cashier is trying to process my check, the computer will freeze. I have witnesses. It is not fun. One day an entire gas station system crashed when I walked up to the pay station machine and pushed a button. The pumps stopped pumping and the pay stations froze up. (You should have seen the looks on the faces of the people trying to pump their gas!) Even the register in the store quit. They got it up and running after about five minutes. I pushed the pay button again and everything shut down again. Then a third time. I finally paid in cash and crossed my fingers when I lifted the pump handle. Crazy story, but all true.

When shows like Heroes first came out, I realized I could have created a character who discovers she has super powers through experiences like that. I totally missed the boat on that one. I am always intrigued by the way true experiences can be far stranger than anything made up. Why is that? (not why am I is truth stranger than fiction?)

I don't know how this post came about. I intended to write on an entirely different subject. Something enlightening and thought-provoking. Maybe it's all the drama around here lately. Let's just say I am not looking forward to court hearings every Monday for the next month. Although, I did meet some great potential characters at the impound lot. His tattoos were kind of cool. Hmmm...maybe it's time to put some of this fodder to good use and actually write that book. Besides, I'm still missing a knife, a rug, and some duct tape from the last time I left home.

Mar 9, 2011

Reality Check

By Melinda Carroll

I just read the YA paranormal novel The White Cat by Holly Black.  I won't go into too many details for those of you who want to read it, but the story boils down to this:  Are we the kind of people we are because of the memories we have?
So what happens if those memories get taken away?  I know someone who was in a serious car accident during college.  He lost much of his memory, as well as much of his cognitive ability.  He appeared to change into a completely different person.
So what part of us is us, and what part of us has been formed by our circumstances (and memories)?
It's an interesting thing to think about while creating characters.

Mar 8, 2011

Why I Write

By Leesa Ostrander
Sunday marked the one year anniversary of a death of a
special person in my life. This death is bordered by multiple other loved ones
that have left this Earth. I have seen my all of grandparents and an uncle
leave in six months. A year later a close friend, and two childhood “little
brothers” have exited their test here.
It is in times of grief that I find a creative need to share
a bit of what each person means to me. I express my joy, pain, love,
frustration and other emotions through the sound of my pencil on lined paper.
The smell of the lead and mixture of pulverized wood gives me a sense of
belonging to a fine tuned working order we call “life”. This test in life is
organized and purposeful and I find joy in having the opportunity to feel a
full range of emotions.  

My dear friend’s kid brother was taken in a horrendous car
accident on the eve of his birthday week. He had left his sister’s house and was
going to meet friends. He was a calm force in their family and an influence in
striving to make sweet all of life’s challenges. One fatal flaw has left their
family reeling after the loss of a second brother in one year.

Their pain has been covered on Facebook and expressed in
many “I miss you!” messages. We each deal with grief in a different and personal

I write.
My time was tested when my grandparents left this Earth. I
had many emotions of regret and sadness that I did not spend enough time with
them. Then I wrote. I wrote a poem that I think symbolizes what I could not
(now I get to share it J)

In Time
Deep within my soul is solitude
Full of harmony and peace
A happy spirit returns home

To work diligently

The privileged get to go
And I wait my turn

Beyond the everyday is glory
Full of comfort and joy

A happy spirit journeys on
To begin his duty

The privileged take part
And I wait on

Deep within my soul this burns true
Full of appreciation and gratitude
For my Savior’s sacrifice
To guide me home

The privileged are there
And I am going in time
My soul cries out
Please greet me there

I will need you
The privileged one

I feel that if we share our emotions and allow for others to be a part of the process we can heal, grow and return with integrity. Our goal here on this Earth is to learn and help other’s along the way. Through being emotionally available we are allowing for the anniversaries to be joyful and remembering what we have in store.
It is this process and learning moments that I write. I write to seal my emotions, memories and tender mercies for a later time. I write so I can read and remember the full emotions of love and joy. I write so my girls will also have a sense of how wonderful these people were to me.

Mar 7, 2011

People We Love to Hate

By Tracy Astle

One of my beta readers for my YA novel commented that my story had no antagonist. She's the only one who ever made that observation. I had to admit she was right, but the main conflict comes from a situation, not a person, so I wasn't too concerned about having an actual character to antagonize my MC. My reader then pointed out a character I already had in place and suggested that giving her a larger role would instantly create an antagonist. What she said next stuck with me.

"People like to have someone to hate."

It took me less than a minute to decide she was absolutely right. Just think about all the fabulous bad guys in some of your most favorite books. A well written villian can create in us deeper feelings of sympathy for our hero when they are tormented by this person and give us something to cheer about when the awful creature gets what's coming to them. (BTW, I beefed up the part of the character she mentioned and it improved my story.)

With all the evil people running around in literature it's hard to pick a favorite, but in my opinion Delores Umbridge of the Harry Potter series is the frontrunner. In addition to all the terrible things she did, what puts her at the top of my list is that she did all of them with such a sense of righteous superiority. She really believed that everything she did was for a higher good. Absolutely terrifying what people will do when armed and fueled by supposed good cause.

What do you think? What character(s) do you love to hate and why?

Mar 6, 2011

Read an E-Book Week: March 6-12, 2011

by Marsha Ward


That's right - it's been forty years since Michael S. Hart created the first "e-book". For a more in-depth look at the history of e-books please see this web page.

In a CNN interview with Cherise Fong, author Rita Y. Toews, author of several e-books and the founder of Read an E-Book Week, dismisses the false competition between e-books and paper books:

"E-books are great for people who travel a lot on business, for vacationers, or for people with limited space," she says. "They are also the perfect application for material that changes on a continual basis."

"Print books, on the other hand, have their place. Nothing can replace a beautiful art book, or a book of photography. E-books are simply a different format for something we've had for hundreds of years. When penny dreadfuls were introduced in the 1800s they were scoffed at, as were paperback novels in the 1930s."

Also in the 1930s, as farmers were being signed up for rural electrification, one of the most common responses was: "Why do we need electricity? We have lanterns!"

And now for a bit of shameless self-promotion!

My e-book publisher, Smashwords, is offering a wealth of free and deeply discounted e-books for Read an E-Book Week. They also have Read an E-Book Week catalogs in Stanza and Aldiko.

The two novels I have listed on the Smashwords site, The Man from Shenandoah and Ride to Raton, are on sale during Read an E-Book Week for 50% off! Yes, that means The Man from Shenandoah, which is regularly priced at $2.99, is going for only $1.50 this week only! Ride to Raton, Book 2 in The Owen Family Saga, sells any other day for $3.99, but it can be purchased during Read an E-Book Week for only $2.00! In case you miss the discount code on the site for checkout, it's RAE50.

And don't forget, my recipe book, Rapid Recipes for Writers . . . And Other Busy People, is FREE!

Even if you don't have a Kindle, nook, Sony Reader, Kobo, or other dedicated e-reader device, you can read e-books on your computer, SmartPhone, iPad or iPod touch. Don't miss out on the great savings on e-books you can discover during Read an E-Book Week!

If you're into challenges, here's an on-going one at The Ladybug Reads to participate in the 2011 E-Book Reading Challenge. What better time than Read an E-Book Week to join the challenge?

How do you read e-books now? Do you plan to purchase a dedicated e-Reader sometime? If you don't read e-books at the present time, why not?

Mar 5, 2011

*Writing at the Speed of Life!

19th Annual ANWA Writers Conference 2011
Writing at the Speed of Life
by Cindy R. Williams

Where to begin . . . I have attended a number of writing conferences over the years in several states and this past ANWA conference was right at the top. It was every bit as fabulous as a two-day conference that set me back $650 and this one only cost $100 – 115 depending on whether you were a member of ANWA or not, and if you registered on time. This included two fabulous informative days, a gourmet lunch and a Meet & Greet. Speaking of the Meet and Greet, it was a goldmine. Every conference attendee had the opportunity, if they chose to take it, to visit with the agents, authors and an editor. It also served as a wonderful time to greet old writing buddies and make some new friends. With goblets of chilled ice water, exquisite chocolate and mixed nuts available, everyone seemed to chillax. Some attendees were treated to a parody called “Ode to Obama” written and sung by one of the agents to the theme song from Gilligan’s Island. It was just that kind of fun.

The four stars Crowne Plaza Hotel was a professional and classy setting. Classy . . . that’s a good word for the entire conference. Classy hotel, classy presenters, classy tote bag filled with new blue ANWA pens and a mega classy brochure that highlighted each of the faculty, including pictures, bios, class blurbs, the conference schedule and everything one needed to know to make the most of the event. The most important part of the conference was the 124 classy attendees. You all deserve major kudos for how professional and friendly you were throughout the entire event. This year we had people attend from California, Utah, Colorado and of course Arizona.

I received some lovely comments from some of the faculty. One agent said she was pleased at how knowledgeable she found many of the writers whom pitched to her. Another faculty member stated he was extremely impressed with ANWA for nurturing this kind of writing talent in Arizona and hosting a writer’s conference of this caliber.

Please note that the ANWA General Board is aware that many of you would have LOVED to be there so a report on each class will be written up and included in future ANWA Newsletters which are also available online on the ANWA website.

Incredible opportunities were offered. J. Paul Deason from Barnes and Noble shared how to get on top of technology by using their free program to upload your books and take advantage of the eBooks phenomena. He also shared how to get self-published books in Barnes and Noble along with how to schedule author book signings with Barnes and Noble.

Other faculty presenters –you may recognize some talented ANWA members –were as follows: Query Guru Elana Johnson brought down the house Friday with her quick wit and quirky humor. She beats any stand-up comedian, hands down, plus we learned tons from her about killer query letters and pitching. Janette Rallison taught “Ten Tips for Terrific Talking: Dialogue and Humor”. Try saying the title of her class ten times. Janette is known for her hilarious books that have sold over a million. Carolyn Murphy shared her expansive knowledge on writing family histories in “Unlock the Mystery of YOUR Family History”. Chava Cannon wowed us with how to write music. Cecily Markland gave a small publishing company’s viewpoint. Conrad Storad was back for a repeat performance with his great hands on class “Making Non-Fiction Fun for Young readers.” Angela Morrison’s class, “Write What You Know: Gleaning from reality to make characters breathe,” was a breath of fresh air. Laurie Schnebly Campbell, taught two different classes, “Write What You Know” and “Block-busting; Putting the Joy Back in Writing". Both were inspiring.

There were two literary agents, both from California. Kelly Sonnack represented Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Her break out session on “Avoiding Childish Mistakes When Writing for Children” was engaging. She also spent hours listening to pitches. Kelly Mortimer, owner of Mortimer Literary Agency spoke on “Perils of Publishing: Extreme Make-over including a Grammar Guide for Self-Editing or Editing Groups.” She also accepted pitches.

Kirk Shaw, editor at Covenant Communications, taught “A Match Made in Heaven: Finding the Right Publisher and Convincing Them It’s So!” He covered how does an author narrow down the best option for her/his manuscript and then go about proving she/he is a fine fit for the publisher? Many conference attendees had the opportunity to pitch to Kirk.

Keynote Speaker and author extraordinaire, Chris Stewart, spoke on “Write What You Live” and did a Q & A. What an opportunity to pick the brain of this wonderful writer.

The conference ended with a panel discussion with Kelly Sonnack, Kirk Shaw, Cecily Markland, J. Paul Deason and Kelly Mortimer. It was excellent. An incredible amount of information about writing and tips on how to get published were shared.

Okay, so yes, I was the Chair for the event and I’m still recovering, no joke, but it took eight extremely hard working and visionary women along with a whole gaggle of volunteers to pull this off. Every one of these ladies spent an incredible amount of time, effort and sacrifice to make this happen. I would be remiss if I didn’t give them a big shout out. They are: Patti Hulet, Aimee Morgan, Krista Darrach, Marsha Ward, Valerie Ipson, Faith St. Clair and Deb Eaton. There were 18 volunteers whom helped either prior or during the conference. It takes a village to raise a child. It takes a sea of estrogen to pull off a great ANWA Writers Conference.  

Evaluations written by attendees were overwhelmingly postitive. We did have some great suggestions that will be implemented in next years conference to make the 2012 even better.

Here’s to ANWA Writers Conference 2012! Be there or . . . I was going to write be square, but the real deal is, be there or miss out BIG TIME. Start saving your pennies now.

Mar 4, 2011

It's National Grammar Day!

by Tanya Parker Mills

First, I want to thank all of you who have wished me well concerning my shoulder. I'm getting there slowly...but getting there.

So I'll keep this brief today and hope I can embed this YouTube video correctly. This is in celebration of March 4th, National Grammar Day. Writers either love grammar or hate it, but we all need it!

Mar 3, 2011

Time Management

By Susan G. Haws

The speakers at the ANWA conference and the authors that I have read all recommend writing at a consistent time and place.  I find that if I am interrupted so that I miss my appointed time I generally miss my opportunity for the day.  I have tried early and late and sometimes they work.  I have tried the middle and sometimes it works.  My new goal is to just aim for a time amount a day, and keep an eye open for opportunities. Plus make writing  such a high priority it gets the first opportunity that opens up.  I will try to reorganize my time to get a consistent time frame for writing but as that didn't work in the past I am focusing on flexibility.    I am starting low:  10 minutes a day 5 days a week.  Anything extra is a bonus.  I can't finish projects if I don't write on them.  When do you write?  Do you have new goals since the conference?

Mar 2, 2011

A conversation with my character

by Kami Cornwall

Me: I'm sorry, but this love triangle isn't really taking shape. I'm going to have to kill you.

Character: What? You can't do that! I'm everyone's favorite!

Me: Don't flatter yourself. Besides, you're not the main character. She's the only one who cannot die. The rest of you are expendable.

Character: But...but...I can shoot fire from my finger, sending my foe into agonizing pain, and then I absorb his soul. I'm too cool to kill! It would be like killing off Wolverine!

Me:'s the only way. The main character is too attached to you. The only way to create the tension I need for this story is to remove you from the situation. You have to die.

Character: How is that going to solve the love triangle? Then she'll just go and fall in love with some other guy. Oh already have someone in mind don't you? Please say it isn't that blue brawny guy with the brain of a gnat.

Me: No, it's someone much more important than that. And yes...her relationship with the captain will grow...

Character: The captain? Well, yeah...I guess I should have seen that one coming. So is this going to end up being like Twilight or something, where Edward leaves and Bella falls in love with the guy with a gazillion abs?

Me: Mention Twilight again and I won't bring you back from the dead.

Character: Wait....I come back? How is that possible?

Me: You have lived in this world long enough to know that people can be resurrected from the dead in a variety of ways. Be a good character and I'll make your comeback spectacular.

Character: But I still don't understand why I have to die. I love the main character. I just haven't told her yet.

Me: Exactly why it has to be you. You are going to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to ensure her safety as well as the rest of the group. It's for the better of the whole. None of the others are as selfless as you.'ve always had a bit of a death-wish.

Character: Wha? Well...yeah. Kinda.

Me: I know exactly how we're going to do it too. You're going to have to be the one to take the enchanted gem from the sarcophagus. The woman inside will evaporate into dust and the gem will be unlocked but you will die in her stead. Don't worry, you won't decay or anything.

Character: Gee, thanks. I feel so reassured now. How long do you intend to keep me dead?

Me: I haven't decided yet. Probably until things are going pretty good between the captain and the main character. Just about the time when her heart is ripe for ripping out of her chest.

Character: You are a sick, twisted woman, do you know that?

Me: I'm a writer. Creating conflict and tragedy is all part of the gig. Now get going.

Mar 1, 2011

Serious Communication

by Terri Wagner

I have decided that what I am really bad at is communication. I like being nice and saying important things in a nice way. That sounds like it should work, but after so many years I can promise you it does not.

I had such dragonian bosses that when my turn came I wanted to be nice. That's really not being a leader. I'm learning nice gets you run over.

So I got to thinking. If I were a character in a book what would I say to me? Sorta like the Wall Street movie.

What's the purpose of a leader? Be nice or lead? Can you do both? How would I develop my character into a leader. How is being firm, fair and strong equate with nice.

Does anyone else find that working out the kinks in a character help them with a character flaw?

I'm beginning to accept that nice and leader may not be possible. Fear not, I'm not suggesting that being "not" nice is the answer, just that being nice is perhaps not entirely the correct way to lead.