Apr 30, 2011

*Bling In Your Writing Could Be A Deal Breaker

by Cindy R. Williams

What is bling?  Bling in the fashion world is flashy like sequins or rhinestones on a dress. Bling in the music world is also flashy, think golden grills, much like braces but just for show worn by wrappers --song wrappers --not candy wrappers.

Bling in your writing is good right? Not always. There is a place for a little bling, but according to Jessica Page Morrell in THANKS, BUT THIS ISN'T FOR US, "Over the years I've observed that most writers fall into two broad categories: those who overwrite and those who underwrite. Those who overwrite produce overwrought wordy outpourings; those who underwrite create anemic briefings." 

If you write with bling, you may fall into the category of overwriting. Morrell goes on to state," When writers use too much bling, the statement they're making is: I don't trust my readers and I like to emote on the page . . . You see, bling stems from inexperience and not trusting in the reader as your partner in this enterprise. Each reader brings his life experiences and understanding to your pages."

"Readers want an experience when they open a book, but giving them an experience doesn't mean piling on," Morrell continues.

She goes on to list forms of bling to use only sparingly. 

OVERKILL - Extra over the top and showy.
     Example: Her blue eyes reflected the brilliant blue sky, the sapphire gleam of the deep blue lake and the blue of her flashy silk blouse. 
PURPLE BLING - Extravagant, euphemistic and cliche. Think purple prose most often found in character descriptions.
     Example: Her quivering yet gentle lower lip glinted with a minuscule drop of scarlet shimmering liquid blood.
SHOW-OFF -  Using elaborate vocabulary to impress your reader. Readers may feel as if you are writing down to them as you show off.
     Example: Replace "numerous" with "many." Replace "compensate" with "pay," and "converse" with "talk." Keep it simple.
LITTLE-WORD PILEUP - Too many prepositions are redundant.
     Example:  Instead of writing at "a later date," write "later." Instead of writing "in the vicinity of," write "near." Instead of writing "as a consequence of," write "because."
YE OLD CORNY LANGUAGE - Using archaic words.
     Example:  Using "upon" when you mean "on," using "amidst" when you mean "amid," and "betwixt" when you mean "between."

A simple way to avoid bling is to "KICC" -- Keep it clear and clean. There is a beauty in words that punch.

Apr 29, 2011

Learning Patience as a Writer

by Tanya Parker Mills

What might Ira Glass, host and producer of This American Life (on radio and television), have in common with President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, an apostle of Jesus Christ? Besides the fact that they're both men, sons of God, and well-known in their own spheres, they seem to share a common attitude about life that we, as writers, should definitely apply to our craft and profession.

Ira Glass put it this way during a presentation on storytelling:

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners. I wish someone had told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase; they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go though this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you’ve got to know that it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you finish one piece. It’s only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s going to take a while. It’s normal to take a while. You’ve just got to fight your way through.”

President Uchtdorf phrased it a bit differently:

“Patience is not passive resignation, nor is it failing to act because of our fears. Patience means active waiting and enduring. It means staying with something and doing all that we can—working, hoping, and exercising faith; bearing hardships, with fortitude, even when the desires of our hearts are delayed. Patience is not simply enduring; it is enduring well!”

Both men have learned that excellence is a life-long process, requiring a lot of work and a tenacity that doesn't falter in the face of disappointment or failure. As writers, we need to let go of that last story or poem or novel and forge ahead with new ones. Every piece we create brings us that much closer to the perfect work we have in our hearts and minds. There is a reason why most novelists don't get published until their sixth or seventh novel is completed. We've just got to fight our way through, enduring well.

Apr 28, 2011

Royal Wedding

By Susan G. Haws

The Royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton is in its final countdown. It is more than just the marriage of two people it is a world wide event.  It will be a spectacular display full of pomp and ceremony.  The news and the talk shows are full of Royal wedding trivia and a full range of commemorative memorabilia   is for sale, from tea bags to jewelry with strange, and  unmentionable things in the mix.   Men are dressing in top hats and tail coats and woman will be wearing the height of fashion and hats.  There are signs around London saying "Keep Calm It's Only a Wedding"  The press have briefing manuals  four plus inches thick and will air seven straight hours of coverage barring international disaster.  There will be the before event speculation and the post event evaluation with the wedding dress  reveal, the big display everyone is waiting for as much or more than the ceremony.click here

Commentators naturally compare this prince's wedding to his father's.  Prince Charles, and Lady Diana Spencer had a "fairy tale" wedding after a period of world turmoil.  That "fairy tale" wedding ended with sadness and tragedy.  Unfortunately they were real people with real problems.  Here we are again with a prince in line to the throne's wedding in a time of world turmoil. Hopefully this real couple will have a happier marriage.  While I think the millions watching wish the actual couple a long and happy life together. I think people of   the world invest fairy tale hopes and dreams  in a real couple,  hoping they are the evidence  of happy endings. I think it is more the fairytale super bowl, the fashion, the spectacle, and especially their own hopes for a bright and happy future and a bright and happy planet that cause people to watch.click here

Few world wide events bring this happy hope for the future and they are referred to as "fairy tale" because that is the source of most escapism.  In days gone by people listened to stories around the fire at night. Today people watch movies and read books.  Writers tell stories that provide escape from daily worry and toil, through adventure and romance.  Escape and hope are great gifts.

I expect the Royal wedding to provide romance writers with inspiration and  audiences hungry for more romance.  How do you think this wedding will influence the market for romance novels? 

Apr 27, 2011

Music or Madness?

by Kami Cornwall

It's official. I am becoming my mother. I had little clues along the way...like when I found myself repeating the same phrases she did when I was young; "Holy Hannah! Heaven help us all! Home again, home again, jiggity jig." I was mortified the day she shouted at a sales clerk for having pre-ripped jeans for sale because, "I try to get them to wear decent clothing without holes in them, and you are selling them all full of holes!"

So I was driving to preschool to pick up my son when a new Lady Gaga song came on the radio. The lyrics seemed far fetched and I thought to myself, "She couldn't possibly be saying what I think I'm hearing. I'm in love with Judas? No." Oh yes. I had to switch it off because I couldn't bend my brain hard enough to try to interpret this one in a way that made sense.

She sings, "When he comes to me, I am ready/ I'll wash his feet with my hair if he needs/ Forgive him when his tongue lies through his brain/ Even after three times, he betrays me/ I'll bring him down, a king with no crown. I'm just a Holy Fool, oh baby he's so cruel, but I'm still in love with Judas, baby."

She explains: "You have to look into what is haunting you and you need to look into forgiving yourself in order to move on." I don't buy it. It still makes me sick. I can't bring myself to sing along to this one let alone listen to it. I found myself saying out loud, "What has this world come to, that we're glorifying Judas?" To be fair, I also think the Lady's lyrics to "Bad Romance" are equally disturbing.

So...it's safe to say I'm not a fan.

I feel like music has been in a rut for a long time now and there are very few artists out there who I enjoy listening to anymore. Have I hit my limit? Am I officially "old" now? Say it ain't so.

Apr 26, 2011


by Terri Wagner

It isn't often I find something worth screaming about. Usually because I've been cursed with an ability to see both sides of an issue. I say cursed because frankly it is. That's another post.

In Ken Klukowski's Townhall article entitled "Profile in Courage Defending
Marriage: Paul Clement" he talks about Paul Clement's situation regarding his defense of the Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA. Clement is my kind of guy. Who knows what his personal views are. He keeps that to himself and maybe a few friends.

The House of Representatives asked his law firm to defend DOMA. As you may or may not know, our current General Attorney Eric Holder (appointed by the president now Obama) decided not to defend DOMA in court cases, presumably because Obama's administration does not support DOMA. An immediate outcry went up and targeted Clement's law firm which backed down. Clement didn't. He resigned rather than be intimidated by shall we say anti traditional marriage thugs.

His stand may not be known by many or fetted by the masses, but one day when he answers at the "pleasing bar of God" he will be able to say I resigned rather than fail my firm's client the US House of Representatives. He has another job. I'm not sure the status of the House's DOMA defense.

I know this. We've been told to answer the call and defend marriage. I would say that also applies to supporting those who make moral decisions.

Apr 25, 2011

The True Meaning Of...

by Kristin Baker Przybyla

With six kids, you can imagine that one income gets a little stretched. We even seemed to run out of money before we ran out of month when I was waiting tables at Denny's. Now that I'm at home full-time (five years of waitressing damaged my shoulders), and my husband took a new job that pays much less than his former position, we've had to learn new ways of stretching the paycheck even further.

My mom had a little saying when we were growing up: A "true meaning" kind of Christmas. She was a phenomenal single mother, but I never appreciated the sacrifices she made until I did a stint of my own as a divorced mother. We knew when she cheerily said, "This year we're going to learn the true meaning of Christmas," that things were a bit tight. We didn't complain (although she might remember that part differently, as I was a bit of a whiner!), and I remember all our Christmases as being happy and peaceful. She made sure we celebrated the true meaning every year regardless of how many gifts we were able to give or receive.

In the past years, I've adopted that little phrase as a lighthearted way to remind my kids that they are not all going to get iPods and bikes and Nintendo DS's on Christmas morning, but we will do what we can. I don't remember those sweet kids ever complaining.

But I'd forgotten to tell them we were going to have a "true meaning" Easter. We're at the very end of our paycheck, so I had to scrape together a few bucks for treats. After I put together their baskets, they each had four pieces of Easter candy. I felt so bad about this that my heart wasn't even in it to hide the baskets; I didn't want them thinking the Easter Bunny could be such a scrooge. I simply placed the baskets on the living room ottoman and called the kids in, apologizing to them over and over for such a meager stash, and telling them I'd make it up to them next week by buying a little more candy and having an egg hunt despite the holiday being over.

I'd expected disappointed expressions on their faces when they saw the pathetic contents of their baskets, maybe even a few tears. But the tears were my own, when I saw their faces light up. "Thank you, Mommy!" my five-year-old said. "Chocolate!" my six-year-old yelled, running off with his basket. The older girls assured me they also weren't disappointed, and started making plans for an epic egg decorating party and hunt for next weekend.

Later on, we quietly talked about what they thought the true meaning of Easter is. Probably because they still associate the "true meaning" phrase with Christmas, my six-year-old yelled, "Jesus' birthday!" My eight-year-old provided the answer with two reverent words: "The Resurrection." Then he offered me a bite of his chocolate caramel egg.

I'm grateful to my mom for instilling all those "true meaning" lessons, even during later holidays when our finances were much better. And I'm very thankful for my kids, for reminding me what Easter is all about, when my thoughts were only on how much candy I was unable to provide for them.

Apr 24, 2011


By Wendy A. Jones

The last post I wrote for this blog was about my mom's cancer diagnosis. The one before that was about time and how I was going to try and find "joy in the journey," not letting time pressures rob me of enjoying the moment I'm currently in.

Those two things have been in my thoughts, especially as Easter has approached. I'm still staying with my parents, having sent my children off to live with their dad a week and a half ago. I have gone to appointments with my parents and listened to one doctor use the phrase "ultimate demise" in a sentence, and the other one candidly remark that "barring any accidents" this brain tumor Mom has will most likely cause her death.

Death is something we all think about at some point, especially in the context of Easter. But as glorious and miraculous as the resurrection is, I still don't want to think about it in regards to my mother.

Selfishly, I focus more on what her death will mean to all us schlumps she leaves behind instead of what it might mean to her. I can't stop asking myself the question, "If she dies, who will take care of me?"

Then the other night I read D&C 42:45-46, 48.

"Thou shalt live together in love, insomuch that thou shalt weep for the loss of them that die, and more especially for those that have not hope of a glorious resurrection.

"And it shall come to pass that those that die in me shall not taste of death, for it shall be sweet unto them;"

"And again, it shall come to pass that he that hath faith in me to be healed, and is not appointed unto death, shall be healed."

Reading about healing and faith comforted me. I know God can heal my mom. And maybe He will, and I will continue to pray for that outcome. But no amount of faith can save her if she is "appointed unto death." I have to be all right with that. I have to realize that might be what she needs--that might be what we all need. None of us want it. But I have to prepare myself for that eventuality.

Most of all, I realized I shouldn't waste time. I hug her, I kiss her, I tell her I love her, I feel her. I store up as much as I possibly can because I understand something I've always known: she is going to die, and I am going to have to live without her. It's just happening a lot sooner than I thought.

So now when I sing the words, "Where thy victory, O grave?" at church today, they will be more personal than ever before. Christ has won the victory. I am so grateful for that.

Apr 23, 2011

The Specifics

by Bonnie Harris

So my mom retaught me something these last few weeks. I think I've shared before my struggle to balance life with a new baby. My biggest complaint has been that my writing time has become basically nonexistent. This past week or so I've been vocalizing my frustration with this fact and my wonderful, sweet mother said this to me. "As a Mom, I depending too much on myself. Don't forget to get on your knees and ask for help. Be specific with what you are asking and let the Lord help you."

Being the wonderful daughter that I am *wink* I immediately tried it. Ha, ha. It took me a little bit longer to digest and remember what she said, but the important part is, I did try it. I asked more specifically for help in finding/making time to get my writing done. It worked. The next day in fact. I shouldn't be surprised. I have a testimony in prayer and getting answers to prayer, but I found myself very surprised and grateful and humbled for not thinking of doing that sooner.

Since that experience I've tried to remember to be very specific in my prayers. Specific in my gratitude as well as my requests. When I actually do it, I am seeing the tender mercies in my life. Thanks to the extra help, I am about 20,000 words into a new novel, The Black Orchid, I've been trying to get under way on for awhile now. (No this is not a shameless plug, but I am really excited about it!)

Now I find myself looking for those tender mercies along the way as a direct result of my specific prayers. It's amazing what has been happening. How grateful I am for a mother who was inspired to reteach me, for my Heavenly Father who is willing to forgive and help me despite my stubbornness in thinking I can do it on my own, for His willingness to entrust me with one of His precious spirits, and for the lessons I'm continually learning.

With Easter being tomorrow I'd also like to add my testimony of the Savior. He lives. He loves us. We need Him and He is always willing to help no matter what we have done or how long it's been since we've talked to Him. I know that I can always turn to Him and He will be there, I just have to remember to ask. How wonderful it is that we have a friend and brother in Jesus Christ. :)

Apr 22, 2011


How do you title books?

When I'm working on them, they usually have the title of a main character. That's how it begins. Then I'll shift it to something else. The title a book starts out with in my computer is VERY RARELY the title it ends up with. And the ones that have managed to stay the same, may not stay the same for long...

My husband has named ONE book for me, and honestly I think it's my favorite. Insight - a YA paranormal.

If you're anything like me - you pick books first by recommendation, then by title and cover. So, yeah. It's important.

The other night I was having problems with something I'd just finished a rough draft on.

Me: I'm having title problems.
Mike: Oh. (looks away quickly, hoping to be left alone)
Me: Help?
Mike: Sigh - how about "This Title Grabs You."
Me: Very funny.
Mike: Fine, fine. But really, I think you should just name your books READ THIS IT'S MY BOOK and then you can just have vol. I, vol. II, vol. III...
Me: Never mind. I'll figure it out on my own...

I still don't have it figured, but I'm down to 5 options, and that counts for something, right?
Where do your titles come from? Do you like to use characters names? Settings? Phrases spoken in the text? Or does it change from project to project?

Apr 21, 2011

Be Amazed!

by Kari Diane Pike

"Jenny" sat quietly during the Relief Society lesson being taught by a vibrant young mother, "Natalie". The light of the Spirit filled the room and Jenny could not help but be amazed at the talent and wisdom that radiated from Natalie. Jenny thought, "I remember being her age and admiring the qualities of so many older women and thinking how someday I wanted to become just like them. Now I am one of those older sisters --and I want to be just like Natalie--I really missed the boat!" The light in Jenny's eyes dimmed with unshed tears and her shoulders sagged under the weight of her feelings of inadequacy. She took a deep breath and tried to feel the joy of the lesson being taught, but a splinter of despair remained lodged in her heart.

After church, Jenny returned home with her family and busied herself preparing a meal and tidying up for a visit from a dear friend. Two years had gone by since "Claudia" lost her husband to cancer and the women had not seen each other since the funeral. Jenny loved Claudia and missed the chats they used to have about everything from gardening and parenting to economics and literature. When Claudia arrived, the two women grabbed each other in tight hugs. In a few brief moments Jenny felt as if the years had melted away. They laughed and cried and talked for nearly three hours. Claudia reluctantly stood up to leave, hesitated a moment, then sat back down.

"Jenny, I have to tell you something. I have to tell you what I love about you. As a young convert, I felt like I had to do everything I could to catch up with all the rest of the women in the church. I wanted to do all the things I saw you doing. But you are a hundred talent person and I am a five talent person. You can do everything, many of them at the same time. I have never had that ability. I had to learn it is okay to be who I am and go the pace that I was created for. The thing I love about you is that while you are a hundred talent person, you never made me feel less than you. You treat everyone else as if they are a hundred talent person just like you. Your greatest talent is that you love everyone, no matter where they are in life."

Jenny felt Claudia's words pull the splinter out of her heart and the divine power of gratitude close the wound. The two friends parted with tearful hugs and promises of more frequent visits.

In yoga class today, the teacher asked us to ponder on the question of "When is enough, enough?" She pointed out how often we set a goal and then when we reach it, we rush on to set and achieve another goal without stopping to be still and be grateful. LeAnne said,

"Think about it. What would happen if we stopped trying to be amazing all of the time and took more time to be still and be amazed at everything around us?"

President Thomas S. Monson shared his thoughts about "The Divine Gift of Gratitude" in April's General Conference. He taught about the importance of recognizing and acknowledging blessings rather than seeing only the lack of something in our lives. He pointed out that the Savior expressed gratitude and then miracles happened. He left us this powerful message:

"My brothers and sisters, to express gratitude is gracious and honorable, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live with gratitude ever in our hearts is to touch heaven."

Thank you for being my friends. Keep on writing...and be amazed!

big hugs~

Apr 19, 2011

Highly Creative Writers

By Leesa Ostrander

I recently found an old book titled, “The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women.” This book has been interesting.
I am open to reading new thoughts and perspectives from various points of view. This book seemed to focus on women and how they deprive themselves of freedom to be individual and separating from mothering duties.

This was interesting for me because of my up-brining in the Church. We are encouraged by strengthening our individualism through mothering.
– just a thought.

The book had a few points I would like to share.
First, on page 94, the author states, being creative needs to have a “calming effect.” This can happen when you can organize and prioritize. Her suggested order of priority is relationships, creative work and service.

I feel my priority is different. I rank relationships (children, family, friends), service then creative work. This may be why I spend more hours at the park when the sun shines than I do typing away. I also spend many hours of service in various capacities and not working on my WIP.

Second, the author suggests setting boundaries and learning to say “no.” The thought is to spur your creativity by knowing your limitations and then saying and keeping yourself in target of finishing the WIP.

“No” is a word I find telling my children and not myself. I do not set the boundaries to focus and spend quality time interviewing my characters. I spend more time thinking about how I will get my character to be as free-spirited as my five-year-old.

The last point I want to make is, offer support to other creative women through service. By helping others through babysitting, offering honest critiques and creative conversations, we help fuel inspired thoughts.

I feel these thoughts are reinforced by Pres. Uchtdorf’s talk “Waiting on the Road to Damascus” with his thoughts about service. He states, “Often, the answer to our prayer does not come while we’re on our knees but while we’re on our feet serving the Lord and serving those around us.”

 When we use our words at the right time and place we are serving others. When we help the creativity of other people we are helping to encourage growth and a stronger written community. We also can have cherished thoughts of how to improve our WIP or a specific character or dilemma when we are helping someone else.

Apr 18, 2011

Falling in Love Again

By Tracy Astle

Have you ever let someone or something you love slip away only to reconnect with them/it later and wonder why you ever let that distance creep in? This month I've reconnected with an art form  I had forgotten I love so much. Poetry.

Over in the ANWA critique group we have been celebrating National Poetry Month with a daily challenge. Every day there's a different form given for us to try. Thankfully, it's a jump in or out whenever you like kind of thing. I must admit that with my time constraints at this time of year, I haven't jumped in and written too many poems, but I have been staying up later than I should each night just so I can read what others have written. I've been educated, entertained, enlightened, engaged and moved by what I've read.

A poem is such a beautiful thing. Whether it's whimsical or serious, personal or public, thought provoking or a simple distraction, a poem by its nature distills the subject at hand down to it's essence. Although there are some longer forms, most poems are much more like a snapshot than an epic motion picture. Because of that, the author has to think very precisely about what they want to convey and then make every word work to share that vision with the reader. I know every word counts in all forms of writing, but in a poem there are so many fewer words to carry the load. It's like the difference between listening to a soloist as opposed to a choir. In a choir you can have some weaker voices and still have a great choir, but a soloist must be strong since every note they sing is noticed. There's no room for slacker words in poems; every single word has to do its job.

Here's a little sample, one of my favorite stanzas of a poem set to music, taken ffrom our hymnbook -
     How great, how glorious, how complete
     Redemption's grand design,
     Where justice, love and mercy meet
     In harmony divine.
So much clarity and power in so few words!

So, let's here it for poetry! I'd love it if you'd share one of your favs in the comments. I'd love it even more if you'd come join the fun over on the crit line. Try your hand, if you like, but at least come read. Consider this your personal invitation.

Apr 17, 2011

The Curmudgeon Returns

by Marsha Ward

Yes, I put away my curmudgeonly editor for a while, but he's ba-ack. Yes, he is male, for some reason. Maybe it's my history as a tomboy. Yeah, that's it. But I digress.

Things that drove him nuts this week:

"Advanced Reader Copy"

"So?" you ask.

Well, unless she was planting beans--and she wasn't--the term that the writer of this piece wanted, instead of "deep-seeded," was "deep-seated," that is, buried deep, or firmly fixed. This usually refers to opinions, moral beliefs, and the like.

I laughed when I saw "coop," but the curmudgeon didn't. I knew the writer meant "co-op," short for cooperative (a store or business owned collectively by its members, who share in its benefits), but that's not what showed up in print. Just between us chickens, it's wrong to use coop in place of co-op.

Now, "Levi's" is totally acceptable in certain circumstances, such as when Levi owns something (Levi's store, Levi's barn, Levi's dog), but this faux pas appears in a book title, and it's a faux pas because it is followed by & and another noun: "Levi's & something something". The apostrophe is not necessary; it should not be there. This makes both the publisher and the author of the book look very foolish, sad to say.  Not good for someone with advanced degrees.
The curmudgeon retracts and apologizes. See the comments for why.

Speaking of advanced, whenever I see "Advanced Reader Copy," which is used in reference to the ARC that many publishers are providing to book review bloggers and contest winners these days, the following questions immediately spring to mind: Who's looking out for the slow readers? Do they get a special copy, too?

You see, the correct term is Advance Reader Copy, you know, getting this copy in advance of publication?

I'll try to keep the curmudgeon in the closet for a while. Let's (let us) hope no one brings him out again.

Apr 16, 2011

*How Not to Write a Book

by Cindy R. Williams

1.  Keep your house spotless. (I think somewhere there is writing law that your house MUST be messy to be a good writer. I'm sticking to that rule.)

2.  Fix great meals. (Who needs to eat anyway? Can't everyone see I'm busy. There's cereal in the cupboard.)

3.  Polish your fingernails. (Hold on, I think it is actually quite inspiring to see hot pink nails flashing as I write at the speed of light.)

4.  Polish your toenails. (Now this is just plain out avoiding writing if you ask me . . . even though I do like to have wild colors on my toe nails. Right now they're sky blue. Looks great in sandals.)

5. Play Facebook games like:
Fairyland (This one is really for research for my fairy tales, right?)
Happy Pets (If I play this, I won't have to have real pets to clean up after.  (Oh wait, this excuse doesn't really make sense since we have three dogs, two goldfish and two Persian cats.)
Happy Aquarium (You know those two goldfish I just mentioned? Well, one is a 5 year old goldfish that is almost big enough to fry for dinner. All they do is swim around and around. What fun is that?)

6.  Spend 30 minutes a day reading and clearing out your emails. (Hmmm . . . not quite sure what to say about this one since many of us do business via our emails and online, including banking. How about we organize our inbox, be brief in our responses and prioritize.)

7.  Read for hours. Stay up all night reading one of those great books you just can't put down. (I did this with Janette Rallison's MY DOUBLE LIFE. It was such a fun read. Keep it up Janette!) I hear that reading is actually one of the best ways to become a better writer, especially if you are able study the writers techniques and not get totally lost in the story. There are good lessons to be had through analyzing authors style, tactics, words used to bring characters to life etc. and do so with tight writing.

8.  Watch TV. (I will never forget the one word President Gordan B. Hinckley used when he referred to wasting time watching TV, "inane".

9. Do the wash. (Nah . . . white socks and shirts are overrated.)

10. Get a good nights sleep. (Since having children, this has been a pipe dream.)

11. Take chocolate breaks every fifteen minutes. (Keep it closer to every half hour. If your Sarah Eden, your chocolate is Cheetos.)

12. Ignore the voices in your head. Just push them away. Tell them to go find another head to infiltrate. (I don't know about you, but I wake up with characters bossing me around, telling me to get out of bed and get their story right. Ignoring voices in my head is not an option. I would go insane. Oh wait, too late.)

Apr 15, 2011

Your Conference Face

by Tanya Parker Mills

I know I missed the ANWA Conference and I promise I'll be there next year. Really! (That is, unless I have any further injuries...and I'm keeping my fingers crossed on that because, after all, I only have one limb left that hasn't undergone some major trauma.)

Nevertheless, with the LDStorymakers Conference right around the corner, plus the beginning of conference season nationwide, I've been thinking about how best to prepare. In sports they say, "Put your game face on." Well, if you're a writer, it's about that time to "put your conference face on."

What exactly does that involve? I'm sure it's different for every writer, but I'll describe my approach and maybe it will ring some bells. If it doesn't, then I'm as loony as I sometimes believe.

  1. Be your own best coach - You've got no locker room (just an alcove or office with a computer) and no coach (except maybe your husband and/or best friend...but they're not even aware you're beginning to sweat about this). So go ahead, re-read your finished manuscript, give it one last polish then tell yourself, "That's great stuff! Certainly as good as, if not better than, half the stuff published these days. It will sell! The agent will want it!!"
  2. Dress out - There's not a uniform, per se, at writers conferences, but if you happen to get into an elevator with an agent or editor and they get to talking with you, don't you want to look your best? This is my least favorite part of conference preparation because, unlike many women, I am not a clothes horse...I am not a shopper...I am not into fashion. And not only do I have to look like a professional writer at this conference, I also have to look like a movie star for the Whitney Awards Gala Dinner. Instead of quivering in my boots at the thought and canceling my registration, I simply choose my most fashion forward friend at church (or my daughter, if she's in town) and force myself to go shopping.
  3. Be fully equipped - Make sure your laptop or netbook is functioning well and you've got everything you need on a flashdrive (or if you eschew digital stuff, make certain you have plenty of paper and pens/pencils); your smartphone is fully loaded with all the directions, contacts, and addresses you need; have your presentation(s) ready, if you're giving one (or more); have at least 15 copies of your book(s) for sale in the bookstore; have plenty of business cards on hand; and have a small binder for your pitch session, featuring a one-page snapshot of your book, your first chapter, synopsis, author bio, and five other titles you have (either finished, or planned) with a one-sentence blurb for each.
  4. Warm up - Practice your pitch with family, friends, and acquaintances. Finally, be really daring and try it on the next person you meet for the first time once they find out you're a writer. Besides practicing your pitch, really begin to "warm up" to people. You see, if you're like me, you're not all that comfortable in large crowds. Your comfort zone is your own little office and a writers conference provides little semblance of that. Sure, you'll see writers trying to create their own little office at a conference in order to feel safe and secure. But the whole idea of a writers conference is to get outside of yourself, meet others like you, and get reinvigorated in your work. This is the hardest part for me but I'm determined to talk to at least ten people I've never met before at this next conference.
  5. Hone your craft - Sure, it's great to meet other like-minded artists, and it's a definite plus if you can gain an agent or a publishing contract from your attendance at a writers conference, but education is the main purpose of such a conference. (That is why, at least in Utah, K-12 teachers can get credit for going to an approved writers conference like that put on by LDStorymakers.) So, go with the mindset of a learner and you'll be richly rewarded.
As author Roni Loren put it on her blog,

If you aren't actively honing your craft, the "how to query", "what are the current trends", "are you still accepting vampire novels" panels are only going to get you so far. The writing needs to come first. So balance your schedule. Pick a few industry type classes, but make sure at least half of the rest of the workshops you attend can make you a better writer. This should be your goal. Look around in those classes, who's sitting in them? Published authors.

That's how I put on my conference face. How about you? Any tips to share?

Apr 14, 2011

Different Views or Duplication

By Susan G. Haws
I apologize for being late.  I make notes and then when the time comes to post things come up and everything sounds like junk.  So I appreciate your indulgence.

Lately I have thought a bit about the concern that the plot of a book in progress or character types are too similar to a  story already in print verses  resonance of similar plots or character traits with the reader.

When I worry about my plot or character's abilities being too much like ones in books already published I then remember the movie Throw Momma from the Train.  At the end of the movie the characters played by Danny DeVito and Billy Crystal learn they have both published books inspired by their mutual experiences.  Billy Crystal's character is concerned momentarily about duplication.  But not to worry, the book by DeVito's character is a sweet children's story that no one would guess was inspired by the same events as the other character's novel. 

In a group of writers throw out any topic and the stories that come back will be as varied as the people.  We all have our perception filters and the voice we express our ideas through.  For example Mummies.  There are picture books (Skippyjon Jones in Mummy Trouble) and chapter books (Magic Tree House #3: Mummies in the Morning) and block buster movies with Brendan Fraser.

Spiders:  Charlotte's Web, Spider-Man

When you say your book has fishing I might be thinking a grandfather, father, and son bonding experience and you might be thinking along the lines of The Old Man and the Sea or Jaws.  You get the picture. 

I have heard that there are only a handful of basic plot categories for sorting all stories since the begining of time.  Also, I have been told that books are comfort food for the mind and emotions.  Like with comfort food, when a person wants pepperoni pizza a taco just won't do.  People in the mood for steak or  chocolate ice cream  won't purchase cod fillet and lime sherbet they want red meat and chocolate.  People that like epic fantasies are going to look for another epic fantasy or  people that read paranormal romances will look for another paranormal romance. I know this holds true for me in food and reading.  I enjoy reading a variety of genres but when I am in the mood for an edge of my seat, goose bump raising thriller I don't buy a romantic comedy.

I like certain authors because I know they are consistent in producing novels with similar types of characters and  plot, that I am comfortable with while changing the variables of character personality traits, abilities, location , conflict details.  I feel confident the author will take me on a safe adventure and all the surprises will produce emotions I want to experience.  If I buy a romance I want the couple to get together in the end.  If I buy an epic fantasy I want to have wonder and the triumph of good over evil.  So when I go shopping for books I want the blurb on the back, the design of the cover, even the font (Yes, I know it is weird but I notice fonts.) of the title to resonate with similar type books I have enjoyed in the past.  So I think similarities between novels can be a good thing.

Apr 13, 2011

Making up is hard to do

by Kami Cornwall

For the last few weeks I've been playing the part of "Annelle" in our local theatre's production of Steel Magnolias. After donning a long-haired wig, "jeggings" (leggings that have a denim print), and a LOT of makeup, my own family didn't recognize me for the first few minutes I was on stage. My disguise was a hit!

Makeup has come a long way since its humble beginnings. No longer do women have to long for flawless skin and pink lips. No, now we can change our appearances entirely - completely fooling the opposite sex...at least until we rinse it off at night. (Keep the lights low, ladies.)

The best part about make-up now is the fact that you can practically make a fruit salad on your face. First you can apply a foundation called "whipped mousse", then smooth over your features with "corn silk" powder. Next you have a myriad of options for eye shadows including shades like "vanilla creme", "blueberry crumble", and "cotton candy". You may want to add a little "plush peach", "rich cinnamon", "royal plum", or "lush berry" to your cheeks. Then top it all off with "tawny port", "mocha loca", "berry bling", or "strawberry ice" to your lips just to add a little more flavor.

I think I'm getting fatter just thinking about it.

Apr 12, 2011

Japan's Tragedy

by Terri Wagner

This morning I opened my work email and found two more emails from my company's Japan correspondent. His words touched me deeply. I'd like to share some of the things going on there. Fortunately, he lived away from the areas struck by the earthquake and resulting tsunami. However, the aftershocks are frightening and increasing in both intensity and location. It did get me to wondering about the last days and the last events of the last days as I think we all do. Question: If the earthquakes of the last days were to be in diverse places, does that mean earthquakes in the "ring of fire" are just naturally occurring or does it reflect a period of great upheval? Just askin'.

April 11, 2011 marked the passage of just one month since the deadliest earthquake and tsunami in our history. Immediately after the 9.0 magnitude tremor, Japan's Meteorological Agency announced that people living in northeastern part of Japan should take precautions against big aftershocks. We have had hundreds of aftershocks since then. Even now, during the course of making this report, the powerful fresh earthquakes and aftershocks are still occurring over and over again. Today we have tremors more than 10 times up to 7.1 Richter scale. A report says that four people were killed and 3 others seriously injured in a strong aftershock that hit northeastern Japan on Monday, at 5:16 PM.

As of this afternoon (April 11), the death toll from the disaster stood at 13,127, another 14,348 remained missing, and 4,793 were injured. While about 150,000 people are still living at evacuation centers throughout Japan.

According to Japan's health ministry, a total of 82 children in 3 northeastern prefectures, Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima , have lost parents in the massive quake and tsunami , 44 children in Iwate, 30 in Miyagi, and 8 in Fukushima . The ministry says that the number could rise as there are many children whose parents are still unaccounted for.

The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant continues to release radioactive substances into the air, ground and the Pacific Ocean. Heavily contaminated water in turbine buildings and a concrete tunnel has been hampering restoration efforts and preventing workers from even inspecting the pumping systems.

Even as he sent his last message this morning there were more afterschocks.

Apr 11, 2011

I'm Not Really Crazy--Just a Little Off

by Kristin Baker Przybyla

Today I'm going to have to copy over something I posted in the notes section in my Facebook a few months ago, because we're heading out of town this afternoon and last-minute packing chaos reigns. So I apologize if some people have seen this already. I'd always meant to post a blog entry on the condition I've had most of my life anyway, not to get anyone to feel sorry for me or to make excuses for anything I do--but to try to encourage understanding, compassion, and acceptance of a mental illness that is quite often ridiculed and misunderstood.

I've copied and pasted information from the web, and added my own thoughts and experiences in italics. (And I'll talk to you all in a week, after I get back!)


I've had Tourette Syndrome and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder ever since I was 6 or 7, but I never knew much about TS until a few years ago when I was prescribed some antidepressants that made my tics worse than I could have ever believed--I thought it would be better to die than deal with anything like that the rest of my life--and I researched and learned so much. I fight with the muscle tics (eye and facial, mostly) literally every second, although I've learned to hide it most of the time. It gets worse when I'm stressed, tired, or watching tv.

Tourettes Syndrome is characterised by a number of frequently changing tics. It is apparently caused by a difficulty regulating dopamine which is a neuro-transmitter which causes impaired action of various receptor sites. It is a genetic disorder and it is thought that 3% of the population have it and four times more boys have it than girls.

The vast majority of people with TS have dysgraphia. Dysgraphia can be defined as the inability to get thoughts from the brain to the paper for a wide variety of reasons. The reasons are complex but can include hand, finger, wrist, arm, neck, shoulder, head and eye tics or hand cramping. Sometimes it is an unexplained disconnection between ideas and the ability to express these ideas in writing. Some students, due to obsessive compulsive behaviors, become stuck on writing perfectly and it takes them an inordinate amount of time to accomplish the task leaving them frustrated, exhausted and unsatisfied with the results. In addition some people with TS and OCD have an obsession that compels them to count every word in a sentence and every sentence in the paragraph. This makes reading not only very tiresome, but next to impossible.

I went several years without reading anything because just getting through a single page could take an hour. Fortunately, my love for books proved to be stronger than a difficulty in mentally processing what I'd just read. It took several more years of training myself to move on from one sentence to the next without obsessively re-reading four or five times. It still takes me about two to three times as long to finish a book as for someone who can read "normally," and although I've read hundreds of books, every time I finish the last page, I view it as a triumph. I'm sure getting back into writing the last 5 or so years has helped tremendously, as it's been a whole new way to train myself and think.

I'm so grateful I was able to train my mind to work around the comprehension problems. It's hard to describe what that's like--I can read as fast and well as anyone, but sometimes it's like a phrase gets stuck in repeat in my mind and refuses to let me continue, even though on a literal level I completely understand what I've just read.

Many people with Tourette Syndrome are chronically disorganized. They have difficulty developing strategies to overcome problems they encounter or implementing strategies that are suggested to them. In other words, they experience “output failure” which creates significant obstacles to academic success.

If I don't have a planned, detailed list, I panic and shut down. Nothing gets done. Most days are extremely difficult because of this lack of organization (even when I have lists) and the resulting depression. It's very easy for something I've accomplished to become completely derailed (i.e., a clean house), and starting back up from rock bottom can be very daunting.

 I don't want to come across as using it as an excuse for anything, like, "Oh, I have Tourettes which makes me disorganized, so that's why my house is always a disaster." I don't believe in passing off personal responsibility for things. But it was very helpful to learn that there's a real reason for my chronic disorganization/attention problems, instead of just calling myself lazy, or a dismal failure like I did in the past. This particular aspect I actually didn't know about until recently. Now that I know why I have this obstacle, I can try to learn how to climb over it.

Inconsistent or chronic difficulties in focusing are common for people with TS. In addition to the symptoms of ADHD, complex tics or obsessions can interfere with a student’s ability to pay attention. This becomes particularly true when the student has an overwhelming desire to “suppress” symptoms in public. He may concentrate so hard on suppressing tics that he is not able to attend to the classroom activity. However, there are times when the student is able to pay attention even though it appears otherwise. As an example, many students and adults with TS will doodle to help them concentrate on a lecture.

I remember some teachers asking me not to turn in my notes and homework with doodles on them!

Many children with TS talk continuously and/or have a tendency to interpret things in a very literal fashion. This can create significant social difficulties as they grow up.

I have a very hard time interpreting sarcasm. Many times I'll take a sarcastic comment personally even if no harm was meant. And yes, I talk way too much despite being painfully shy. I know I tend to get annoying, especially on the Internet where I feel I have some degree of security, and sometimes I tend to "spaz out," get obsessive, and post things I normally wouldn't blurt in real life. Thankfully, I don't have the severe type that includes vocalizations and foul language. 

Social settings always cause panic; I'm definitely out of my comfort zone in unfamiliar settings and among strangers. I've dealt with people who think I'm odd and nuts, so I always feel like telling about my experiences is a bit of a risk. But in the end, the ones who are kind and accepting are the friends who are worth it. This disorder has taught me to be much more understanding of people with any kind of affliction, mental or physical. I'm thankful that this aspect of my earthly test doesn't involve anything much worse, such as disruptive vocal tics--the motor tics are quite enough, thank you! ;)





Apr 10, 2011

It's Only Hair

By Wendy A. Jones

It's interesting to me how one moment--one tiny second in our entire lives--can sometimes change everything. You are going along, minding your own business, doing whatever it is that you do, and BAM! Things change. You change. You are no longer the person you were a moment ago.

On Sunday, my mom had what we first thought was a TIA, and then thought was a small stroke, and then discovered was a brain tumor.

My world completely changed.

It isn't that I've taken my mom for granted, exactly. I've always been grateful for her. She does so much for so many people--me, as the one blessed to be her daughter, most of all.

I think it was that the future, the one I had built in my mind, suddenly wasn't so certain. The nebulous figure Death that I knew would visit my immediate family sometime had suddenly gotten sharp edges and came into much more focus than I am comfortable with.

The same thing happened 2 1/2 years ago. My mother-in-law got cancer and we held our collective breath, hoping Death wouldn't notice us.

Thankfully, he walked on by. Or perhaps I should say "miraculously," because I truly think it was a miracle.

However, at the time of her diagnosis I remember feeling completely useless. What could I do, so far away? My heart ached. I couldn't cure cancer. I couldn't even understand half of the explanations.

I recall getting ready for bed one night in the middle of her treatment. I looked at myself as I brushed my hair, crying and praying. And I thought of something I could do.

"I'll grow out my hair," I thought. "I'll give it to Locks of Love so they can use it to make a wig for someone who has cancer."

This is a picture from the early fall in 2008, soon before her diagnosis. I've always been a short-hair kind of person. I had my moments of growing out the mane, but it never really made it past my shoulders--and that was in 7th grade. I thought I looked better (and it was certainly easier) with short hair.

From then until now, I've grown out my hair. My hair stylist was convinced I'd get attached to it and change my mind.

By the beginning of 2010, when this photo was taken, it was brushing my shoulders. I liked it in some ways, and in other ways it drove me crazy. Long hair takes so much effort, what with the drying and straightening or curling. When I put in the effort, it looked pretty good. All too often, though, I'd be pressed for time (what? Who, me?) and it would end up in a ponytail or a messy bun.

When I went and got my haircut last week (seriously, it was just last week. Even though it feels like it was about six months ago.), I told her I was still going to donate it. I'd figured it would take another year to grow it long enough to be able to cut it off at my chin and have the required ten inches to donate.

I can't tell you how many times I wished I could cut my hair over the last 2 1/2 years. I didn't count. But every time I wanted to cut my hair I'd remember my mother-in-law and how happy she was to have a wig so she didn't feel embarrassed about her bald head. I'd think to myself, "It's only hair."

So when I woke up at 3 am the other day and was thinking too much about how helpless I was, I realized that's what I could do. I could shave off my hair. If I was shaving my head, I would have the requisite ten inches.

The longer I thought about it, the more determined I became to do it. I worried a little about how it would come off--would I appear like a martyr? I didn't want to seem like that. I wanted to help somehow, and it seemed like one way I could do that would be to experience hats and head wraps and very little hair with my mother.

At one point I realized I was doing it more for myself than I was for her. I needed to do this.

In the scriptures, God and the prophets are continually urging the people to remember. Remember the great things I've done for your fathers. Remember Lot's wife. Ye are slow to remember the Lord. Remember how great the Lord has blessed you.

It's part of the mortal condition to be distracted. So many lessons I've had to learn more than once because I haven't sufficiently remembered what I needed to.

I realized I wasn't only shaving my head because I love my mother, and it sure as heck wasn't to be a martyr. I shaved off my hair so that every time I see myself in the mirror, every time I feel the wind touch my scalp, every time I put on a hat, I can remember how great the Lord has blessed me to give me such a mother.

She had surgery on Friday. They got the tumor out and we're hoping she can come home Monday to recover for a couple of weeks before starting her radiation and chemotherapy treatments.

Apr 9, 2011

A Musical Journey

by Bonnie Harris

As a music major I had to take countless music theory classes, most of which happened to be 20 & 21st century music. Not my favorite era, but I did what I had to and hated most of it. It wasn't until I did my graduate work that I really began to appreciate and look forward to my theory classes. Today I can say that I enjoy theory (as long as you don't ask me to spell German, French or Italian augment second chords right now. I've forgotten some of that. (: )

The first semester of my freshman year was basic theory. We moved through the fundamentals at lightening speed and got into some pretty complex things by the end of the semester. The second half of the class (2nd semester), moved just as fast. I found my head spinning and I couldn't keep up. Major minor second of the fifth inversion in the root key while modulating to what? Needless to say, I was in over my head.

I humbled myself enough to ask my dad for help (a veteran of music). He took one look at what I was trying to do and threw it all out saying, "Let's start at the begin." He then walked me through the fundamentals, making sure I completely understood the process before moving on. After awhile, lots of tears and frustration I finally began to see how it all applied to what I was expected to do. It finally made sense. (And then 20th century music broke every rule possible, but that's another story.)

This week in church we talked about President Uchtdorf's talk "Of Things That Matter Most." It's a fabulous talk if you don't remember it or haven't read it. As I read through it again, my music theory experience came to me along with a musical journey. So I thought I'd take you on the same journey before I tie it all together.

Gregorian Chants are the first known notated music. It is basically vocal and in a theoretical sense, very simplistic. Of course even the most simple thing can be made complicated if need be, but as a listener you can hear how uncomplicated it is. Click here to listen.

Jumping a little bit in history, I moved to Johann Sebastian Bach. This particular piece should sound familiar to most people. Right away you can hear that it's instrumental and not vocal, but listen to how many different voices have been added. Again theoretically, it is considered fairly simple, but definitely more complex than Gregorian Chants. Click here to listen. ( You'll have to click again on the right hand side of the linked page. It's a little more complicated but hey, it's free!)

Our next stop is Ludwig von Beethoven. Beethoven is a pivotal point in music history. He pushed the boundaries and expanded the form of symphony into what we know it as today. Again this should be familiar.

Download this mp3 from Beemp3.com

Our last stop is Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky, one of my favorite composers. His work may not sound like it is more complex than Beethoven, but theoretically speaking the chord structure is much thicker. Click here listen to the last movement of his 5th symphony.

Now I could get into 20 & 21st century music, but most of it has destroyed all structure (theorists would shoot me for saying that) and is really not pleasant to listen to. Anyway, I have found that when my life becomes really overwhelming and I am stressed out of my mind I don't want to listen to the complexity of the later music. It's too much for my brain to take in and analyze. I crave the simplicity and fundamental approach of the earlier music. It simplifies my life.

President Uchtdorf, in his talk, spoke about not running faster than you are able and simplifying life. Do those things that matter most. Run only as fast as your particular situation allows you to. Go back to the basics and build up from there as you are able to. So, in music, during those complicated times, I found myself going back to the basics and life became more manageable.

Someone asked how you make the decision on what is the best choice to make. I found myself thinking about that question while listening to President Uchtdorf's talk as well. My suggestion, go back to the basics. I make sure I'm doing all the fundamental things first (those become the best choice) and then build from there. Usually when those things are done, the best choices show themselves along the way.

Apr 8, 2011

A Job

I've read so many blogs lately where people are talking about needing to be more serious about their writing.
They schedule writing times, designate a spot in their home to writing, and try to treat it like a job.

I know, right now, that certain parts of my life need to be structured.
Writing is not one of those parts.
Just like my sewing area is a mess, my writing life is a mess. I like it that way. It's comfortable for me. I create better in chaos.

I may not write for a few days, and then I may spend a few days doing very little outside of writing (these are the nights my family gets pancakes for dinner). It's what works for me.

So, I'm curious, are you a writer who needs that structure? Designated writing spaces and times?

Or, are you like me - laptop anywhere and everywhere, no structured time, no structured place?

Apr 7, 2011

It's a Small World...

by Kari Diane Pike

I love small world stories. You know the ones where you find out that the lady in front of you at the grocery store knows your husband's father's cousin twice removed? That one is rather far-fetched, but seriously, the older I get, the smaller the world seems to become. My children groan every time I come home with yet another link to connect our family with all the rest of our Heavenly Father's children. One daughter actually tugs my arm in an attempt to haul me off and dissuade me from striking up conversations with strangers we meet, knowing that a connection will be found and the conversation will go on far longer than she would like.

I took that daughter and a niece to the Young Women's General Broadcast a couple of weeks ago. If you are fortunate enough to get tickets, you have to be there at least thirty minutes early to ensure you get a seat. The ushers scoot you all the way to the end of the row, to make sure that all the seats get filled. Since my daughter and niece were having a conversation with each other, I turned to the woman sitting next to me, introduced myself, and asked where she was from. In less than five minutes, we found our link. Her husband's family comes from Flagstaff, Arizona and I was well acquainted with his aunt and uncle. Dear daughter claimed it was a new record.

This past weekend Dear Hubby and I made a quick flight to Phoenix to take care of some business and get some grandbaby hugs. For some reason, his ticket allowed him to board with the first group and I was nearly the last one on the plane. When I got to our seats, Hubby introduced me to our other seat mate, Mike, a soon-to-be BYU graduate on his way across the country to check out a PhD program. He reminded me of someone, but I could not figure out who. We shared thoughts and ideas on education and the different paths our family members have taken. Mike had mentioned a number of siblings and we finally learned he is number 4 out of 11, several of whom are pursuing advanced degrees in medicine, law, etc. Hubby asked what it is this young man's father does for a living so that they can afford to obtain those degrees. The very second Mike told us that his father is a cardiologist, I knew who he reminded me of and I had flashbacks of dating my Hubby and the time we spent hanging out with Mike's dad and uncle -- two of Hubby's college roommates. Evidently Hubby had the same revelation and we simultaneously declared, "You're a Mulhstein!"

Mike sat back, his eyes wide open, and laughed. "I love this game! How do you know me? How do you know my family?" We told Mike our story and how we knew his family. We had seen an article published by a national magazine several years ago featuring Mike's dad. That's how we knew a bit about his career and family. Mike patiently brought us up to date on how they are doing now.

I don't know why or how we ended up on that plane in those seats next to Mike. There were at least two other full flights with other airlines leaving at the same time for Phoenix. A business associate made our reservations for us. Serendipity...stretched to the max? We loved connecting with Mike and feel like we have a new friend. We hope to be able to reconnect with his dad and uncle. Every small world experience reinforces our eternal connections as children of a Heavenly Father who loves us. He created each individual for a specific purpose and as we unite together in doing the best we can to fulfill that measure of creation, we build something far greater than ourselves. Unity.

I'd love to hear some of your small world connections. Sometimes they are much stranger than fiction. Do you think these type of experiences are too cliche to write about?

Apr 6, 2011

Ode To Shorts

By Melinda Carroll

Just had my creative juices running and thought I'd share.  Maybe I'm destined to be a children's author after all (minus the thong reference)...

Oh shorts, that are when pants are not,
that keep us cool when it is hot,
that show our ankles and our knees,
and come with fun accessories.

I think I'll wear you with my thong,
no, not that kind ('cause that's just wrong).
I mean the ones that go on feet,
that flip and flop and look so sweet.

And I will wear you with a blouse,
So I can lounge around my house.
Although t-shirts might work fine too.
They seem just like they're made for you.

And so to pants we bid farewell,
To see you when? We cannot tell.
For surely even you must see,
Alas, it is too hot for thee.

Apr 4, 2011

10 Random Thoughts from a Newbie Writer

By Tracy Astle

My sincerest apologies for posting so late. I honestly have not had five minutes available before now.  This is a post I pulled over from my blog. Sorry I don't have something brand spankin' new for those of you who may have read it there.

10 Random Thoughts from a Newbie Writer 

1) I have a time warp feature on my computer of which I was previously unaware. It seems to be activated only when I am involved in literary pursuits - writing, reading agent/author blogs, things like that. This feature causes my clocks to move at five to ten times normal speed.

2) How badly do I really need sleep? I've heard that a person can last at least three to four days without sleep before going psychotic. Is that true? And if it is, would psychosis help or hurt the creative process? Just askin'.

3) It's the coolest thing ever to be able to sit in front of the computer wearing sweats or pjs, surfing all manner of fascinating things on the net and call it research, or to let my imagination run and play at will and call it work. Am I right?

4) Who knew 'l' and 'y' were so evil when placed together at the end of a word?

5) Publishing type people are insanely helpful!

6) Janet Reid scares me. Don't get me wrong. I'd love to have her in my corner fighting for me and my work. But yikes. *shudders*

7) Speaking of agents extraordinaire, why did Nathan Bransford have to switch careers just when I was getting ready to query him? I'm sure it was nothing personal.

8) Seriously, how long am I going to feel the need to keep revising/editing? I get to be 'done' at some point, don't I?

9) How can my characters have such minds of their own when they exist solely in my mind and on my pages?

10) It seems I have lots more friends now that I have all the imaginary ones running around in my head.

??Any random thoughts you'd care to share?? The randomer, the better.

Apr 3, 2011

Of Two Minds

by Marsha Ward

On my blog, Writer in the Pines, mixed in among my commentaries on life and writing, I post book reviews, interview authors, and participate in a lot of Blog Books Tours. Frequently, the tours--whether arranged by a blog tour promoter or the author him/herself--will feature some sort of added-value incentive for reading about the book, like a contest or drawing for a prize.

As a fellow author, I look forward to doing everything possible to drive readers to buy the authors' books.

So why is the prize often a copy of the book?

Not only does this puzzle me, but grates against the perceived purpose of the tours: to draw attention to and sell books. I've seen authors offer aprons, jewelry, dolls, and hand-thrown pottery as alternative prizes, instead of their books.

On the other hand, as a reader, I'm just as ready as the next gal to do whatever is asked of me to get my name "into the hat" for the book drawing.

Am I a hypocrite?

My real question is this: Do you think authors should give away their books on blog tours or other public appearances, or should they offer something else as a prize? Take either side. Be as expansive as you like in your comments. Thank you.

Apr 2, 2011

*Jimmer Fredette

It's Jimmer Time. Are you a Jimmer Fredette fan? I am. The basketball player from BYU fascinates me. I heard a radio report on his earlier life and how he became Jimmer. It all boils down to hard work, tons of practice, working through injury and hard times, never giving up, and faith in himself.

Not a bit different in any field you choose to succeed in. If we will work hard, practice our craft, work through blocks, and excuses, never give up and have faith in ourselves, WE WILL SUCCEED! It's just that simple. (Notice: I said SIMPLE, not EASY.)
Here's to all the Jimmer Fredettes out there!

Apr 1, 2011

New LDStorymakers Website

by Tanya Parker Mills

Finally, I can begin to breathe a bit easier. After a month of ignoring my family (to some extent) and a lot of email in order to keep my nose to the grindstone, I'm pleased to announce a new LDStorymakers website. Whether you're a Storymaker or not, I hope you'll give it a look. If you are a member, please register for the new site if you haven't done so already. (It's easy...just click on the Login button and then the little "Register" word below and to the left; then fill out all the starred fields.) If you're not yet a member or have allowed your membership to lapse, we hope it will get you more excited about joining us as soon as you can.

I'm going to share a few tidbits about the new site that I haven't yet mentioned.

First, don't be alarmed if you have the latest version of Internet Explorer (IE 9) and can't see the menu. My web-savvy friend, Becky (not a Storymaker), is working to fix that today. In fact, we owe a big debt of gratitude to Becky. She's a stay-at-home Mom with great computer skills and while she refused payment for bringing my vision to life (she said "It's been a lot of fun!"), I don't know what I would have done without her. Here I'd been stuck with ideas and a design in my head for months, but no one with the time and HTML code knowledge to build it. I am so grateful I was called to serve under her on the Compassionate Service Committee or I never would have discovered her skills.

Second, there's a section under Community called "For Aspiring Authors" and under that there is a sub-section for Frequently Asked Questions. As you'll see, we've got a chunk of questions already laid out and you should start to see answers as you check back over the next few months. We're hoping this will be a useful link to all you who are still trying to get published.

Third, for members only, there will be a similar sub-section for Frequently Asked Questions relating to writing and the publishing business (both LDS and non-LDS). While it doesn't show it right now, we will be building this as a Wiki-style page so that all members can chime in on a given topic to share their knowledge and experience and help create the best answers for any given issue. We're very excited about this feature! So stay tuned.

Fourth, as you can see from the Home Page, we are gearing the site more toward marketing for our members. Each week there will be a list of latest releases (each linked to their Amazon sale page), a list of book trailers (each linked to their YouTube page), and a featured video. At present, we're putting a book trailer in that position, but after the upcoming conference you'll begin to see a series a fun author interviews conducted with our members (at the conference). Finally, at the bottom of each page on the website, you'll find 3 Author Spotlights that provide a blurb about their latest book and link to each author's website and their Amazon sale page.

While book trailers and Author Spotlights are being drawn at random, if you're a member you need to make sure to let me know if you have a new book or book trailer coming out so I can add them to the drawings. Also, get in touch with me asap if you want to be interviewed at the conference during the Meet and Greet for Storymakers on Thursday night at 7 pm.

Please let me know if you have any questions, problems, or suggestions involving the new website. You'll find my email in the Website sub-section under Contact.

In the meantime, I can finally get back to my WIP!!!