Oct 31, 2011

Halloween Goblins are Afoot

By Tracy Astle

I think my computer may have been infiltrated by Halloween goblins. I worked on a post for more than an hour earlier today...and this isn't it. I couldn't get it to do what I wanted and now the day is getting late.

So, let's talk about holidays. Halloween happens to be my birthday, so I'm a bit partial to it. As a kid I always loved how everyone had so much fun on my birthday. Still do. I knew the hoopla wasn't all about me, but it was still fun having everyone so excited. Now I live in a neighborhood that is crazy with trick-or-treaters. I'm talking 300+ kids coming to our door. Our evening is always hopping.

And now the doorbell is starting to ring. The fun begins.

What do you do for Haloween?

Oct 30, 2011

This, That, and The Other Thing

by Marsha Ward

I have no idea what to write about this week. I've been too busy with life to work on my WIP or "work in progress." I'm in the midst of moving house, and as always, it's a beast of a job.

Let's see. What writing related thing has happened to me this week? Oh yes. I got another payment from Amazon for my ebooks. That was nice. And I had a poem accepted to be in a book to celebrate the Centennial of Arizona's Statehood next year.

Also, I posted a sample from one of my novels on my blog today as part of the Sweet Saturday Samples group. Everyone posts a PG-13 or cleaner snippet of their work each Saturday. I know I've reached a new audience with that effort. It's always good to have new insights from readers . . . and writers, too.

I went to my town writing group on Thursday and we did a bit of poetry exploration. I gave everyone there a handout on rhyme schemes, with some examples from my own poetry. Then I issued a challenge to choose one rhyming pattern and write a poem. Some of the work was pretty nice for a first effort at something new! I also gave the members some information on preparing for National Novel Writing Month, popularly called NaNoWriMo, which occurs during the month of November. Although I'm not planning to participate in the challenge to write a fresh 50,000-word novel in 30 days, some of the members might take the bait and give it a try.

What did you do during the past week that had to do with writing or reading?

Oct 29, 2011

My Original Blog Lost In Cyberspace

by Cindy R. Williams

I usually write my blog at least a week prior to my scheduled dated. That gives me time to let it "steep". Then I come back to it and tweak it with fresh eyes. I do this with my writing too. I set it aside for min-breaks now and again, then when I read through it, I find a few spots of brilliance, which always surprises me, and many areas needing work, which doesn't surprise me at all.

This works well for me in both writing blogs and manuscripts, that is unless it gets lost in Cyberspace, which is what my blog did for today. I wrote it last week, went back to it today to edit it, and when I added the picture, the blogger application crashed. I searched everywhere, but "alas, earwax!" (One of my favorite Albus Dumbledore quotes.)

So . . . moral of this blog; use a back up system for your writing, and keep you fingers crossed that blogger won't crash. If you don't have a back-up system, at least email a draft of your manuscript to yourself and possibly one other person. That way if your computer catches the "screen of black death" virus, you have something to fall back on.

Keep writing . . . make your dreams happen, whatever they are!

Oct 28, 2011

America's Priorities

by Tanya Parker Mills

This NBA lockout/strike/whatever has got me really grilled. Yes, I'm a basketball fan, and yes, I was looking forward to watching Jimmer prove himself against all the greats, but that's not what's making me steamed.

It's the money!

I'm not sure what the player percentage was before but now they're down to a 53% share and they absolutely refuse to budge another three points for a 50-50 share with owners.

As a writer, I'd LOVE a 50-50 share with publishers. That's why Amazon's 70-30 share is so appealing and more and more writers (whether they're traditionally published or not) are gravitating to getting their rights back and republishing their old work as ebooks or self-publishing new work.

But I'm not writing today to bemoan the undervalued status of writers in America.

No, there is another profession that has, for too long, been shuffled around, disrespected, blamed, even belittled while music stars, Hollywood stars, and sports stars pull in millions every year. And this inequity is the true tragedy in America today.

Consider any K-12 teacher. His/her salary is a joke and yet here is an individual who spends all kinds of extra time and money each week simply to better serve our youth. Many of them supervise extra-curricular activities, as well. Is their job secure in this period of economic crisis? Can they make enough to support a family without having the spouse work, as well? Could they even afford to try a long-term walkout like NBA players have?

There is only one thing an NBA player and a teacher have in common when it comes to their job: they both love what they're doing.

But how can a game well-played compare with a student well-taught? There's no comparison. In terms of making a difference in our country's future, teachers should be the real stars. The fact that they are paid so poorly only reveals how far America's priorities have slipped.

Oct 27, 2011

Blog Dilemmas

Susan G. Haws

Recently, Wendy Jones blogged about writer’s platforms and blogs.  I often feel that the things I have to say related to blogging bear little resemblance to what I have to say with my fiction. They all reflect my beliefs, interests and opinions but do not necessarily appeal to the same audience. (I do have a neglected blog with a fictional bent but I am not sure I am ready to take it where I want it to go. Soon I hope.)

I enjoy this blog and am learning a lot by reading other posts and people's comments to my posts. I love other ANWA member blogs and blogs of other friends and favorite authors. I also just enjoy blog browsing. I have so many blogs I follow I am behind in reading posts.

I also love backgrounds and bling on blogs. I have wasted oodles of time looking for blog decorations only to squander more time trying and failing to install it on my blog. A few weeks ago I decided to visit my much neglected blog and play with the settings. Poof.  I made the pretty background disappear. So now I will have to get help to get it back. I have never figured out the intricacies of making the background changes at holidays and listing sites of interest etc. (I sooo like blogs decorated for the holidays and with lots of links and doodads.)

Thus my blog efforts devoured any writing time. The blog was supposed to be a side, supportive effort to my main objective of becoming a productive fictional author.  My dilemma is:  how to construct a blog that is constructive rather than destructive to my writing goals.  

Many months maybe even a year or more ago I thought maybe I might want to have a blog about care giving of elderly parents or losing weight and getting fit so I created related blog names. (Mostly, I suspect I was just having fun choosing names and seeing  if they were available.) But I felt the topics were too personal to blog about regularly, and they were not related to my fictional audience.

I have recently thought that perhaps a blog does not have to appeal to the same audience as the fictional writing. Maybe there would be some overlap, but as I have genre hopping interests anyway, why not.

Another thought I had was: how can I make one of my weaknesses a strength? Help myself and give support to others with similar struggles?  Again, care giving and weight management came to mind.

I would love input on my plans. Help me avoid previous blogging mistakes and frustrations. I plan to make a self improvement theme blog with a 90 percent focus on the struggle of getting rid of excess fat and becoming fit. Eventually I would like to include  interviews or guest posts. I would post on Sundays so that it is predictable. I am not sure of frequency, thinking of once a week, or bimonthly.  Then other topics of interest to me such as favorite books, pet antics, and care giving would be relegated to my original blog on a first Sunday of the month basis.

Do you think that blog and fiction should be closely tied? Do you think a weight loss journey would have appeal as a blog? Do you think posting frequency is appropriate?
Feel free to offer tips, especially if you know how to get my blog background back. Thanks. 

Oct 26, 2011

Go with the flow

I have been writing so much more this month. Good, yes? Well...sort of. I have all of these ideas flowing through my brain but with Parent/Teacher conferences this week my schedule is off and sticking to the time I set aside to write is a lot harder than I thought.

Phones keep ringing with friends asking me to alter my plans just a bit here or there, and the house doesn't clean itself. Still I am finding a few moments where I can at least jot down the rough outline of how things are going to go and I'm almost done writing one book finally. Believe me, it has been a long time coming considering I have been working on it for at least three years.

How do you push through the constant interruptions and schedule changes - particularly when you have a great flow going?

Oct 25, 2011

I thought of Something Funny Today

by Terri Wagner

Today I had my first interview since being laid off. No, don't ask, I'm not very good at reading people so I have no idea how it went from their perspective. From mine, I did what I wanted, said what I wanted and hoped I came across as approachable, intelligent and competent.

As I drove home (a very nice 10 minute drive as opposed to an hour drive), I got to thinking. How does this play out in Heavenly Father's world? I mean He has access to our darkest thoughts and our internal recordings. Mine were in full bloom. Am I talking too much? They seem nervous. How do I put them at ease? So that's what they are really looking for, shoot, I can do that. But how do I convince them? Why are they so quiet? Oh no not that question, please not that one! I mean how do you answer that? Ok it's time to end. They don't know how to end this. Come on Terri think what can you say, one last shot.

After chuckling, I thought so what were they thinking. Well, she has the credentials but she's old! I don't know, I don't think she knows what we need. Probably doesn't have the computer skills. She's too old school, I can tell.

The job? Answering a very real need that would allow me to actually hands on help people; teach them how to help themselves and be able to move on in the world.

I want it. But they have other interviews and a few weeks to decide. How do I parlay that into a funny chuckle?

Oct 24, 2011

A Really Effective Way to Put Off Your Writing (Also Known as the Fall Lineup)

by Kristin Baker Przybyla

I'm not generally known as a couch potato. Up until last year, there was really nothing that interested me on TV, unless they were showing one of my favorite movies. I'd walk past my husband, who spends his after-work hours glued to the couch with his eyeballs stuck to the television, with my nose in the air, sniffing in disdain at all the time he was wasting. I really loved to rub in my self-righteousness, that I wasn't addicted to the boob tube and losing brain cells daily (except for maybe Spongebob in the morning).

But those darn TV execs finally figured out how to suck me in. And if it's not a brand-new fall show or long-awaited returning season, then a few of my friends are at fault for introducing me to something I hadn't known about before. I love the latter the most, because I can have Netflix or internet marathons without grinding my teeth waiting for the newest season or episode.

This was the one that had us yelling at the TV at the end of the first season, and now it's killing me with all the cliffhangers in the new episodes! I love a great zombie story, and The Walking Dead always has me gripping the nearest family member in suspense. At times it's almost too gory for me to handle (I'm not desensitized to blood and violence AT ALL), but I'm addicted anyway. LOVE this show. (Also: that misspelling of "you're" in the trailer. Seriously? LOL)

For a kid who was scared of her own shadow, I'm surprised I read the original works of Grimm in the 3rd grade and wasn't scarred for life. I can't wait to see this show! I'm really looking forward to a modern-day version of the Grimm fairytales. It looks scary and suspenseful. I actually don't know if it's playing yet, because we have the bare minimum of channels on Dish. We watch almost everything online or on Netflix.

Thanks to my 18-year-old's having way too much time on her hands because she hasn't been able to find a job yet, we've been having a 30 Rock marathon. Why didn't anyone tell me before how funny this show is? This is totally me if anyone takes my food. I can relate to Liz here. (BTW, I really want a sandwich right now!)

Doctor Who. Need I say more? I still haven't seen the last 3 episodes, which my 11-year-old says were epic.

And then my really guilty pleasures are the cartoons! Adventure Time is weird but hilarious, and I suspect it's written more for kids-at-heart than kids.

And finally: My Little Pony. I'm from the generation which saw the first My Little Pony toys, and I preferred playing with them rather than Barbie. The new cartoon series is actually really cool. Laugh at me if you want, but you should really be laughing at my 18-year-old. She freaks out over the toys at Walmart! (This is a fan-made trailer, but for the fans of the cartoon, aka Bronies, it's a pretty accurate depiction of what the show is like.)

Okay, I think that's about it for my TV weaknesses. There are a few other good shows out there that I'd either love to watch or have watched in the past (Castle, Warehouse 13, Bones), but as every writer knows, sacrifices need to be made if you want to have any time at all for writing. We simply can't be couch potatoes if we want to take our craft seriously. Same goes for Facebook, games, and other online distractions (guilty here as well!). In fact, I think Facebook eats up much more of my writing time than any television show. I've been working on culling my online time so I can get those daily word counts in.

What are some of your favorite shows and/or distractions that take away from your writing, and how do you fit it all in?

Oct 23, 2011

Three Fatal Words

Also Known As Quitting When You're Ahead

By Wendy A. Jones

I got an ad in the mail this week. It was for a cleaning company, and it made me mad.

I don't generally get mad at the junk mail. I figure it's just one of those annoying things a person has to deal with on occasion, like unperforated toilet paper. Just as I don't curse the businesses that put giant rolls in their restrooms, I don't curse the businesses who send me advertisements in my mailbox. Junk mail is a part of life.

I was shaken from my laissez-faire approach when a particular ad caught my eye. Its slogan?

Life's too short to clean your own home.

This, I thought to myself, is what's wrong with America today! 
We feel too good to clean our own homes! Don't we realize that to even have a home is an amazing blessing? How many people in the world don't have anywhere warm and dry to sleep?

My brain continued on this thread for awhile, looping through words like "entitled" and "stewardship."

I took a step back and asked myself why I was acting so crazy over junk mail.

It's not like I'm some great housekeeper. (I'm so totally not.) It's not like I have anything against hiring a housekeeper. (Also, so totally not. I've considered it on occasion, although have never felt I could justify the expense.) I don't mind cleaning companies in general. (Thinking about Merry Maids doesn't get the bile up at all.) So why was this ad unbalancing me?

I realized the message the ad sent me was not the message the company intended to send. I got hooked on the last bit, the part where it says "your own home." Now,

Life's too short to clean

is a slogan I can get behind. But my sense of responsibility balks when I add the last three words. Even though the "your own home" is implied in "Life's too short to clean," it doesn't make me cringe. It's pleasing.

Our writing is sometimes like this--we say too much. Often, less really is more. The difficult part is drawing the line.

*Photo taken from the Internet. If you like the house, it's for sale. Somewhere.

Oct 22, 2011

Do I need to loose some words?

By Bonnie Harris

I finally got a chunk of time to work on my writing. My wonderful sisters watched my baby and I got to stare at my computer screen, revising one of my manuscripts. Needless to say I was thrilled and got some really good revising done.

Now I knew that I needed to cut some words, so I was diligently working on strengthening sentences, taking out the unnecessary articles, and things like that. I had several moments that brought a smile to my face and the thought of, "This is really good," crossed my mind. It felt great to be so productive.

Well, I'm sure you can see where I'm headed with this. The last fifteen minutes I realized that what I had just spent the last hour and a half honing to perfection, didn't really need to be there. The scenes were wonderful, fun to write, showed character, everything you could want, but . . . it wasn't essential to the story. So, laughing at the irony (at least what I thought was an irony), I highlighted, copied and pasted into a new document (because you should never really delete anything), and deleted what I had just worked on. Bam! 5500 words gone. With the click of a button.

I laughed for the rest of the day, trying to figure out if there had been a way to avoid what I had just done. My conclusion, there really isn't. I remember in a class, Melanie Jacobson talking about how cutting scenes can be like cutting off arms and legs or ripping your heart out. I can see that now, but the benefit of deleting scenes? I learned a lot about my characters. They learned a lot about themselves and now I have more to build a strong story with the words I have left.

So I guess I'm saying, don't be afraid to delete. It can truly turn out to be for the better. I know for a long time I felt married to my words and couldn't let them go. If anything, I could have avoided this situation by not getting so attached that I couldn't let go until now. Gotta love lessons learned! Happy Writing and Deleting! :)

Oct 20, 2011

My two trips to New York City.

A few years ago, I finished my first young adult manuscript, a whopping 78,000 words, and I was going to find myself an agent.  I’d spent almost a year writing and editing, so clearly I was ready to be published.  I researched agents and started submitting queries.  Like so many writers, I thought I had something special.  I thought my idea was the next big thing, that my writing was different and would reach the right people.  I’d be snatched up and sign a contract with a big publishing house.  I waited for the email, knowing it would come.  I did have many agents ask for my manuscript, which told me I was moving in the right direction.  In the meantime, I worked on the series because of course my book would turn into a trilogy.  Writing late at night while my kids slept was a must.
During this time, I did very little sleeping myself.
I was burning the candle at both ends, but that was fine with me.  Writers must make sacrifices and I was paying my dues.
As a member of the Society for Children Book Writers and Illustrators, I found their winter conference was fast approaching in New York City.  I also had an agent considering my manuscript who worked in New York City.
At midnight one night I was working on my manuscript when I had an idea. I walked into my bedroom and woke my husband.
“Honey, would it be alright if I went to New York City next month.  I want to go to a writer’s conference, plus there’s that agent reviewing my manuscript that I want to meet.  I could show her what a great client I’d be to represent.”
Being the supportive spouse, he gave me a kiss, wished me luck and went back to sleep.
It was set.
I arranged care for my 4 children, made flight plans and started preparing for my life-changing trip.
New York City, a place where a writer’s dreams come true and I was ready.  I was so ready to move forward, bored with days and days of writing and solitude.  I wanted the taste of publishing and I wanted it now.  Every writer I met, every author who spoke, every agent with suggestions, I took to heart.  I was salivating to be published.  I wanted success others were taking about.  I knew it was against the odds, but I would push away any thoughts that told me otherwise.
Ambitious?  Yes.  Naïve?  Definitely.  Living in reality?  That is still in question.
Did I get my big break in New York City? 
Actually, several months ago I finally set that 78,000 word manuscript aside, exhausted with all the resources I’d tried, all the edits, the almost publicist who was so anxious to help me, the agent’s who passed on my work, the well-known author who requested to read it, all my leads had died out and it was time to start something new.
I fought it for a while, but eventually gave into an idea I kept having in my dreams.  I’m about 100 pages into my new YA novel, loving every turn down the road, marveling about all I’ve learned about writing, the tips I’m applying, all the books I’ve read that help me be more empathetic to the process and much more patient with myself.
It’s been almost 3 years since that first trip to New York City.  Tonight, I sit in New York City with my husband at my side.  I’m humming the show tunes from Phantom of the Opera and listening to the rain beating down outside.  I'm here as a tourist, celebrating my 13-year wedding anniversary with the man I love.  This time, I’m not in New York City as an overly anxious, super-ambitious, want-to-be-published writer, but as a more dedicated and hopefully more mature woman who loves to travel and see new things, who respects where artists come from and what motivates them.    Sure, I’ve brought my new manuscript along and I’m working on it late at night while my husband sleeps, but I’m more at peace.  I’m alright with the process, with learning more and more about writing, with putting my best self into my work and knowing that’s enough and some day, if I’m really lucking, an agent will like my work, but my main goal is to write and to find joy in the journey.  Yes, New York City is a place where dreams come true.  I see the publishing houses, agent’s offices, but it’s also just a really cool place to visit, to hold my husband’s hand and enjoy the heartbeat of the city.  

Heaven or Hell? Only My Muse Knows For Sure

I went somewhere last night. I don't know if it was purgatory or heaven. I'm still shaking in my woolly socks. I am either scared out of my writer's mind, or I just became the newest Caleb Warnock groupie. It could be that my blood sugar is too low. I just realized I haven't eaten anything since I walked through the doors of the Historic American Fork City Hall into the jaws of -- what? I don't know what to call it. I think my muse is still curled up in a fetal position in some secret passageway of that old building.

Sorry. I don't mean to sound like such a drama queen, but I've never seen a teacher make students cry like that before. At the same time, I don't remember the last time I laughed so hard I almost wet my pants. Too cliche. But it's true! Next time, I am definitely visiting the ladies room before class AND during the break.

Do you remember the movie "The Paper Chase?"  John Houseman portrays a much feared law professor by the name of Charles Kingsfield. (If you haven't seen this movie or the series on TV from a few decades back...you should watch it. The characters are fascinating...or you could read the book...by Jay Osborn, Jr.) Okay -- put Professor Kingsfield's mannerisms into a big, burly, blond English professor/farmer. Put that guy in jeans and Tevas (and navy blue, gold-toe socks). Now put him in a room with 8 female writers ranging in age from their mid-twenties to somewhere in their 70s. One woman is pregnant with her fifth child. I should have known there was a significance to the food offerings some of the women brought to the class. (Now I can't help imagining natives throwing food into a volcano to appease their fire gods.) 

Professor Caleb began the class by announcing that he needed to raise $1000 by Thanksgiving for the American Fork Fine Arts Council Press. His plan: to get 50 people to commit to asking 20 friends for $1 each. Then he started writing all our names down and asking for suggestions for other names. After about 20 minutes of "bullying", one of the other first time attendees said,

"I'll write you a check for $100 right now, if you'll just start the class."

He nodded. She wrote the check. Class started.

I don't think it's possible to describe what happened after that. You kind of have to be there. After making a couple of students write their sentences on the white board, and everyone getting a bit frustrated, Caleb felt the need for a visual to make his point. He climbed up and laid his body across the tables and acted out a woman giving birth. Yeah, like I said, you kind of had to be there. Later in class, one lady started talking about reading a negative review of the movie "Abduction." She said, "But, I liked that movie." Her friend said, Yeah, but you like Caleb, too." ahahaha! Writers can be so snarky! I love it.

In all fairness, I want to share this great comment from Loraine Scott (a member of Wasatch Writers and the gal who told me about this class). "The class always has the 'take no prisoners' kinda attitude. You are expected to bring work and share... he says his comments are filled with "buckets of love" but they can be pretty difficult to take even filled with love. But... he says he would rather be honest and help you then to deceive you into thinking "your crap is good". We already think we've written the great American novel and then Caleb looks at it and we see it for what it is. Only the great survive C's classes. Many of his students have gone on to publish and that's really what its all about for him. He wants to see people succeed and now that he has had his first book published, I'm sure he's gotten even worse. If you feed him chocolate, he behaves himself."

Caleb did cut me some slack when he asked me if I brought anything with me and I said no, that I thought I would listen and learn the first time around. He didn't let me get away with not participating, however. And guess what! I got a snorty laugh...and a round of applause for my first sentence! One class member said that he is always nice the first time, and beguiles you to come again, and then gets really mean. Then I got another laugh and applause for the second sentence. Whew. After class, Caleb asked if I was going to bring anything next week. I hesitated, and he said, "Without being fearful." I said I would bring something, but that I would be full of fear and trepidation. He accepted that. 

And you can bet your first book that I will be going back. I feel like I could write a best seller just by being a fly on the wall and writing about all the writers in the class and how their life stories play out during the class. Besides, I have something to say, and I think I found the help I need to learn how to say it.

I'll take some fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies with me...just in case.

Oct 19, 2011

Apologies and Amazon

By Melinda Carroll

First, I have to apologize for completely missing my post two weeks ago.  Don't feel bad Tracy, you at least wrote a little note.

And speaking of apologies, or the fights that occasionally lead to them, there is a pretty big one brewing right now (fight, not apology).  Yesterday I read a NYT article by David Streitfeld (posted on FB by fellow ANWA member Donna Hatch-- thanks Donna!) about Amazon.com's new venture into publishing.  The article states that Amazon is now "encouraging writers to cast aside their publishers" and publish directly through them-- both in physical and e-book format.

As you can imagine, publishers are not happy.  They're worried that this new move by Amazon will do to publishers what the website has done to bookstores (like Borders, for example).  Agents aren't thrilled either.  The article states that if you're an agent, "Amazon may be stealing your lunch because it is offering authors the opportunity to publish directly and cut you out."

Amazon's reply to publishers' concerns?  Streitfeld quotes Russell Grandinetti, one of Amazon's top executives, as responding that with publishers, "it's always the end of the world.  You could set your watch on it arriving."  Grandinetti also says that "the only really necessary people in the publishing process now are the writer and reader.  Everyone who stands between those two has both risk and opportunity."

I think it's great that authors have more choices in their path to publishing, but the rush to take out the middle man concerns me.  I have yet to EVER read a good book that didn't take a whole team to put together. Yes, the writer is the creator.  But they are not always the best experts in editing and marketing their own work.  They can't be.  It's virtually impossible to read your own writing objectively.  And we all can't be experts in everything.  It's wise to utilize the knowledge and experience of those who've been working in the industry.

With this rush to publish, regardless of quality, are we just flooding the market with mediocre books?  If it's easy, will authors stop striving for excellence? Will the craft and art of writing be lost to the bottom dollar?

I hope not.  There are definitely great books out there that go the e-book and self-publishing route, so I know it's possible.  I just think we have to make sure that cutting out the middle man isn't actually cutting out the very tools we need to make our stories great.

It will be interesting to see what happens as Amazon moves forward.  It's definitely a crazy and exciting time to be a writer.

Oct 18, 2011

About the Author

By Leesa Ostrander

I am with you Tracy. The day almost slipped away before I copied my post.

When pick up a book to read I look at the about the author first. I find I read this first to see if my quick glance of who the author is appeals to my likes. If I find the about the author boring or drastically opposite what I believe then I do not read the book.

I know it is biased and not a good review of the book. Yet, I have little time to pleasure read and I want to make it work it. Needless to say, I have read some terrible books because I liked the photo of the author.

In a daily tip on Writersdiget.com http://www.writersdigest.com/tip-of-the-day/about-the-author, the “About the Author” section is a proposal. It is a proposal of why you are the best person to be telling the story.

After reading this article, I had to think about the project I am doing for Nanowrimo. Am I the best person to tell the story? Will my “About the Author” fit what I want to accomplish?

I spent a day thinking about the direction I want to take.

I am the correct person to tell the story. It is my story based on true life experience of a dear friend. Yes, I am the right person to wright the story J

Therefore, what does your “About the Author” look like? I know a few on here. I have read your books    ;-)

Oct 17, 2011


By Tracy Astle

Eek. So very sorry. I totally spaced out on posting today.

Please tell me I'm not the only one who is occasionally flakey.

Promise I'll do better next time.

Oct 16, 2011

To, Too, Two

by Marsha Ward

Today I want to write about a set of English triplets that cause a bit of trouble in our compositions: to, too, and two. They sound exactly alike. However, they have disparate meanings. Okay. I'll wait while you look up disparate.

Back so soon? You must have a dictionary site bookmarked on your computer, or have one close to hand. Good for you!

Let's get two out of the way. It has only one meaning. It is the digit 2 spelled out. Two is one more than one. Got it? Good! You'll never use it wrong again, right?

Now, to has a lot of meanings and uses, so let's look at too first so we can rule that out, or at least know when we should use it instead of to.

Too is the stressed form of to, or in other words, it is an augmentation, a larger version, carrying more weight, as it were. It means  
1 in addition; also [I went to the store too]  
2 more than enough [the hat is too big]   
3 extremely; very [it was just too delicious!] 
See how that takes it out of the realm of the everyday to?

To is the workhorse preposition of the English language. It is used in almost every instance where you suspect that sound should be used. It is a sign of the infinitive verb form, the base of verbs: to be; to see; to ask; to go. A few of the many other uses are 
in showing direction: [turn to the left]
on, onto, against, etc.: [tied to a post]
as compared with: [a score of 10 to 0]
in honor of [a toast to you]
and on and on. 

It is also used as an adverb:  
1 forward [wrong side to]
2 shut; closed [pull the door to]
3 into a state of consciousness [the boxer came to]
4 at hand [we were close to when it happened].

Like I said, it's the workhorse of the language. When it doubt (and you know it isn't the number you want) choose to.

Oct 15, 2011

Today's Motto: the 8 W's

By Cindy R. Williams

The 8 W's are my motto for today. "Work will win while wishy-washy wishing won't!" This works in all walks of life. Today I'm referring to writing. How many of us waste time wishing things were different, wishing your book was done, wishing your research, outline, synopsis or query were done. Maybe wishing our manuscript was loved by an agent or publisher and we would receive the wonderful email telling us our work is wanted. Well, we all wish for things right? Relax a moment and reflect on what do you do to get yourself out the wishy-washy wishing?

Challenge: How many "W's" are there in this post?  Winner gets . . . the satisfaction of having a knack for finding "W's."

Oct 14, 2011


by Tanya Parker Mills

We lost a wonderful, innovative genius last week. I put off entering the world of Apple for far too long and wondered, once I got my first Mac, why I'd waited. Here's my poetic tribute to the man who made typing and creating so much easier.


Given up at birth
By an educated Syrian father
And an equally learned mother
Into the arms of loving,
Less lettered parents,
He whiled his way through school,
Perhaps surprising no one
When he left its rule to
Follow his own.

Racing time,
He molded masterful manipulatives,
Each designed elegantly to bring the world
To our fingertips
In easy, intuitive ways.

A solid friend,
Dependable, accessible, with a
Mouse that makes the Lion roar.

Bringing music to the masses,
A revolution in song sharing
Between artist and listener.

Our first fisted friend,
There on errands, walks, and runs,
Fusing melody with life.

The iMac in our hands,
And an "app"licable library
For the future.

The iMac and iPod combined,
Simplified and squeezed
To a minimum, yet somehow more.

i's galore,
iBook, iPhoto, iMovie, iLife, iWork,

But this "i" always,


Oct 13, 2011

Na No Wri Mo

by Susan G. Haws

This week and next I am working to get as much done as possible before the first of November and Na No Wri Mo. While I am not expecting to get a full 50K words that make sense typed into my computer, I would be happy with even 8 or 10 K. I am going to aim for the stars so that I at least make it out of my driveway or even my neighborhood metaphorically speaking.

Good luck to everyone struggling to work on your personal writing goals in this busy time of the year. Does anyone have Na No Wri Mo or your own month of writing experiences or suggestions they want to share?  

Oct 12, 2011


by Kami Cornwall

When I first began to write, it was at the suggestion of a long-time friend of mine, Wendy. She knew I had a tumultuous life and suggested that when my children are old enough, they should know how those things impacted me and what I had been through. One of the hardest things for me to do was write about certain events honestly without creating a "pity party." I don't have any desire for my readers to feel sorry for me because I certainly don't feel sorry for myself. So I went about changing what I wrote almost to the point of erasing certain events entirely.

Writer's Conference (Northwest Retreat) was helpful for me last year in that I received some great insight. I decided to go back and write honestly, and request that if my family members ever read it (my mother in particular) that they brace themselves for some bad feelings. I want them to understand that I'm over it. I'm okay. I have been okay for a long time and I think it's because I have learned one thing early on about forgiveness.

One of Oprah's "Aha" moments came from a guest she had, whose definition of forgiveness is this: "Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could be any different."

When I was a child and someone said they were sorry, I would forgive them by saying, "That's okay," and we were good. Here is what I know: Sometimes it's not okay. Sometimes it will never be okay. But in order to let go of the anger, rage, hurt that you feel inside, you have to be able to move past an event - to give up the hope that it could change or be any different -so that your past does not hold you hostage.

I know this is deeper than I normally am in the blog-o-sphere but I have found myself attempting to write on this subject a few times and then chickening out. It seems like something that needs to be said or thought of more often, so I will leave you with my deep thoughts on forgiveness.

Oct 11, 2011

The Travials of Paul

by Terri Wagner

From Jerusalem to Rome, Paul's saga is one of someone doing everything right but seeing everything go wrong. Paul comes back to Jerusalem to report on his missionary efforts, which were considerable, and James says well uh really buddy you've made the Christian Jews really mad about this whole give-up-the-Mosaic-law already. So uh well would you submit to a purification ceremony from the Mosaic law and then go to the temple.

And Paul says sure anything that will help, although he knew was a pointless ritual. He does it, and wala, he gets to talk to the Sanhedrin. A fight breaks out, and the Romans are called and take Paul off to whip him. He throws up his hands (now as an American I totally get this part) and says btw you should know I'm a Roman citizen. So he's in jail when his nephew comes and says 40 guys have resolved not to eat or drink until they kill you and uh that's tonight uncle. So Paul tells his jailer. They trade him off to Felix who lets him languish in a two-year home arrest situation. Finally Paul goes to Rome after of course a shipwreck.

What did Paul do when everything seem to be going wrong? He kept doing the right thing. He wrote letters that became parts of the New Testament, he held church meetings and missionary discussions. He kept keeping on.

There's a great lesson in there for us as writers. In the midst of the block, the chores, the storm, keep keeping on or in our case keep on writing.

And who says you can't combine Gospel Doctrine lessons to real life!

Oct 10, 2011

Some Really Funny LDS 'Toons!

by Kristin Baker Przybyla

Ugh, I'm here, you guys. Just running really late because a bad cold has knocked me on my butt.

I have this thing on my personal blog called Monday Funnies. I figure Monday is the day we need the most laughs! (Although Wednesdays are my crazy days, but whatever. Garfield hates Mondays and that's good enough for me.)

On my blog today I posted some funny Pirates of the Caribbean artwork from someone called Warrioronlydude on Deviantart. Since she's LDS, she has a folder for some pretty great LDS comics she's done. I'm posting my favorites here, for a fun laugh. Hope you guys enjoy them! If you're not Mormon and don't get some of the jokes, we'd be happy to explain. :) Click on a picture if you need to see it bigger.

Artist's comment: It's based off of an expirience my dad had in France many times! In fact one humorous story is one Elder was so tired that while he was saying the prayer he dozed off and began to order a hamburger and fries.

An LDS food blessing cliche. Always bless the food to nourish and strengthen our bodies, even when it's made out of crap. (secret: it nullifies the calories!)

Those expressions. LOL

Artist's comment: This is something many poor and unfortunate missionaries have had to experience in one way or another- in my dad's case it was raw cow kidneys oozing urine....he tried to feed it to the dog but even the dog wouldn't eat it. This was while he was serving in France.

My personal favorite:

And a cross-post from my blog. Davy Jones' locker looks just like the salt flats! I'm almost sure that's where they filmed it. ;)

Oct 9, 2011

What is this thing I'm standing on?

By Wendy A. Jones

I've been thinking about this post for a couple of months now, and as I came to write it I noticed both Bonnie and Laura are on a similar wavelength this week. Namely: blogs.

The reason I got thinking about blogs is because I've been wondering about my own blog lately. Do I keep going as I've been going, or do I "take it to the next level?" As Bonnie pointed out, sometimes agents and/or publishers will check your online presence to see if you have an established fan base. In another blog (The Meanest Mom) I read recently, she compared most blogs to crock pots--a mish-mash of things all thrown in together. To make a "successful" blog, she said, you need it to be about one thing.

You need a platform.

Laura has a platform. She writes daily and posts about trash. (The second kind). Her readers have certain expectations when they go to read her blog: 1. It will be every day and 2. It will be about trash. Also, if you've read Laura's blog before you know that 3. It will be entertaining. (Um, this might be a good time to admit I have lurked on Laura's blog in the past. [Blushes]. Hi, Laura!)

I've read blogs about gluten-free cooking, blogs about design, blogs about writing, blogs about cancer, blogs about hobby farming, blogs about down syndrome, and blogs about books. Each one is written by a person (or persons) with lots of experience on their topic.

I tried to think of a platform, something I could be known for. Three of my fours kids have Osteogenesis Imperfecta, a rare genetic disorder that makes them break bones easily. I've written about it on my blog before; in fact, when I look at my blog stats it's one of the posts that is hit by search engines most often. I could write about that.

I'm writing a book--a Regency romance, actually. I could write about that.

I'm ward choir director. I could write about that.

I play the bassoon. I could write about that.

There are half a dozen things that I feel 'expert' enough to write about. (The book writing one? Yeah, that's the only one I really don't feel expert on. Along with the Regency period. I'm learning as I go.)

But the problem is, I don't really want to write about bassoons or choirs or OI or the landed gentry.

The reason I started my blog three years ago had nothing to do with 'gaining a following' or 'getting my name out there.' The reason was quite simple. I wanted to make my family laugh.

I lived hours away from everyone, and only saw family two or three times a year. A blog made it easy to share things with them despite the distance.

I've tried starting other blogs. I have a writing/book blog (sorely neglected). I have a being-LDS-and-getting-divorced blog (not even really begun). I've realized, though, that I don't have the energy to do them all and still write my book.

For me, the answer wasn't expanding and posting more in my platform-specific blogs. (Honestly, right now I just need to focus on finishing my dang book.)

I also discovered something else as I tossed platform ideas around in my head: I blog better when I stick to my original platform. I blog more and I enjoy it more when I'm simply trying to make my family laugh.

Someday, I'm sure, I'll need to revisit the platform discussion with myself. (Maybe after I get my first draft finished.) I saw Liz Adair at her book launch last weekend and she reminded me about seasons, and how there are times and seasons for different things in our lives. I think I'm starting to figure out what I can handle in this season.

And it begins with inside jokes about Idaho and absurd things people say and pictures of my kids.

So what's your platform?

*Photo Credit: Boots by Alexander McQueen, photo from the Museum at FIT

Oct 8, 2011

Benefits of social networking

By Bonnie Harris

First of all I have to admit that I copied the cute picture from Maria Hoagland's blog. Thanks!

I have an adult cello student that is also an artist. In our last lesson we deviated from the world of cello technique to that of online social networking. She has published a couple of art type books and was wondering how else to market them and whether or not to go directly to a publisher, etc. We talked about Facebook, LinkedIn, Blogs, and such. It turned out to be a very enlightening conversation for her and in turn, she's set up a blog to go with her website.

We both agreed though that any one individual can spends hours upon hours on the internet, trying to keep up with everything. She said she spends several hours a week updating her website. I think about all the time that can be spent and I get overwhelmed. So here's what I've come up with.

We all know the benefits of having an online presence. In fact many agents/publishers "stalk" you online before they offer a contract, just to see how well you are known. It's good to have that "fan base" so to speak and make sure that people know your name, but how to do you it without spending umpteenth hours? Personally I'm still struggling a bit with the whole balancing thing. I have a FB, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Goodreads account, along with my blog, but I've picked one to keep really updated. My blog.

Here's a little social networking success. Authors Theresa Sneed and Betsy Love just had a book launch in AZ. They plastered their social networks with the information and I found myself surprised to have to wait in line to get their books signed. I know Janette Rallison does the same when she has a book released, along with a giveaway. It's fun to see the results and gives me hope that when my day comes, I'll have people waiting in line to see me. :)

I've tried to update everything at the same time and found the little time I have to write disappeared. So as I receive invitations from various accounts, I spend a couple of minutes updating them, but for the most part everything is in one place. If anyone knows how to link all of them together to do in one post, I'm all ears, fingers, eyes, whatever. :)

So, I just found the conversation with my cello student very interesting and it reminded me why I'm doing what I'm doing. It may not be what everyone else is managing to do, but I have to be happy with it for now. In other words, your doing wonderful with whatever you manage to get done! Happy Social Networking!

Oct 7, 2011

How blogging has helped my writing.

For years, I've been trying to get published.
Young adult novels are my forte.
I write every day.  I just can’t help myself. I have a lot to say.
Most of the time, I write on my blog My Dear Trash.  

Yes, I write about trash.  There are two definitions of trash.

Trash: (trsh) ;noun – Discarded material or objects.
Or (my personal favorite)
My Dear Trash: ( ˈmī, ˈdir trsh) ;noun – Discarded material or objects that can be found at thrift stores and yard sales, then  purchased, cherised, used and/or re-sold for a profit.

I write about the second definition.

Why do I write about trash?

Because I love shopping thrift store and yard sales and I love talking about it.
More then anything, I wanted to write about something people were interested in.  
I find the funnest things shopping trash from vintage surfboards to Amish furniture; mid-century knick knacks and name-brand clothing (think Anthropologie).  Most of the time, I bring them home and resale them (eBay) for a great profit.  For example, my $5.00 vintage surfboard I found at a garage sale sold on Craigslist for $100.00 to a designer working for Jimmy Buffet. 
And all the while, I’ve been writing about trash I find on my blog- passionately.
What’s interesting is I’ve been told to write everyday because it will make me a better writer.  My blog has kept me on track with this goal, plus it helps that I shop a lot so I always have something to share.
So, last week when I opened my YA manuscript and started writing, I was amazing at how my mind worked.  I wrote 6 pages in an hour; an unheard of speed for me.
When I wrote my first novel four years ago, I was writing about a page an hour.  After 3 or 4 hours, I had no creative juices left.  I was mentally worn out and ready to run outside and jump on the trampoline.
But after years of consistently writing, I’ve gained more confidence and apparently speed.
I didn’t see it coming.  Writing everyday has helped me focus on my thoughts, lasso them in and preciously share what’s going on.  I remember details better, find humor in places I didn’t before and narrow in on little stories that share a big message.
I talked to my mom, Sarah Hinze, a seasoned author of ½ a dozen books or more.
“Do you actually get better at writing the more you do it?” I asked her.
“Sure,” she said. 
Just like baby steps, we learn to crawl, 
to walk 
than run.
Thank you to my special model for proving my point; my daughter Eden.
And I marveled that all the fun I’ve had writing on my blog the last few years has snuck up on me and improved my ability to write. 
I certainly didn’t see that blessing coming.
Ironically, I'm now working on the novel My Dear Trash.  One blessing leads to another.
What about you?  Has blogging helped/improved your writing?  Tips and inspiration?

Oct 6, 2011

Embracing Change

by Kari Diane Pike

September 30th, 2011, the high temperature for Salt Lake City reached a hot and sticky 90 degrees. Today, I am watching ginormous snowflakes perform cryogenic experiments on the tomatoes and peppers in my garden.This abrupt change in season seems to match the changes going on all around us. Last night I received a phone call from a friend who began our conversation by apologizing for having to be the bearer of a piece of disturbing news. Someone we both knew and trusted in business had violated that trust. We were aware that some of his business practices had become, shall we say, questionable, and that the quality of his products had been deteriorating. Learning that he lied about his credentials and not only mislead customers, but put their health at risk, came as quite a shock. My friend expressed feelings of anger, dismay, and betrayal. She asked me how I felt. After an initial reaction of disappointment, I felt sad -- sad for the pain this man is creating for himself and for others. I thought about how we live in such uncertain times and how the whole world is in a constant state of change. Scientific "truths" change every day. Eggs are bad for you...no, eggs are good for you. Cook with canola oil, no, wait! Coconut oil is best...even though we told you years ago how bad it is for you. Fashions change, the value of the dollar changes, we change.

After a few minutes of trying to process this information I felt a warm sense of peace wrap around my heart as I began to pray. Our Heavenly Father is constant. His truths never change. The gospel is true, and in this uncertain, changing world, we can place our faith in his Son Jesus Christ. My faith is not in a man who can and will make mistakes. Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, no matter what happens, everything is going to be okay. I am grateful for the learning experience and the opportunity for growth that came from knowing that businessman.

In the world, everything changes. Sometimes those changes come suddenly, like today's snowfall. Other changes are so gradual, we hardly notice until we suddenly find ourselves holding our first grandchild, or wondering when we started calling 30-year-olds, "kids." Change is an important part of the growing process. I am grateful for the ability the Atonement offers us to be able to change -- to become better, stronger, kinder, and more charitable. Change is good in so many ways. I think it is the fear of change that gets us into trouble, because the most important things never change.

1 Nephi 10: 17 - 19, in The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Nephi expressed a desire to see and hear and know of the things his father taught him. Nephi knew that if he diligently sought for answers, God would hear and answer his prayers -- that God never changes and that by the power of His Holy Spirit, he will unfold his mysteries to any man who faithfully asks.

My garden bore a bounteous harvest this year. The fruit trees blessed us with an abundance of apples and apricots, almonds and walnuts. Now they get to rest for a season. Come spring, they will take up their work again. Seasons change. People change. And God will always be there. That will never change.

Oct 4, 2011

Time is a Commodity

By Leesa Ostrander
The recent LDS conference talk by Elder Ian Arden about time (http://lds.org/general-conference/watch/2011/10?lang=eng&vid=1194937424001&cid=6 ) has me thinking about my time.
When prioritizing goals, how many of the goals include tomorrow?

Is tomorrow when you will submit a query letter?

Is tomorrow when you begin your self-edit?

Is tomorrow when you apply for the class you have wanted to take?

Is tomorrow when you call a friend you have been thinking of?

Can tomorrow be today?
Making tomorrow today, much will be accomplished.

Time is a valuable commodity. We do not tend to throw away expensive jewelry. When a diamond earring is lost how many hours are spent on looking for it? Why do we then throw away time on being unproductive?

A creative path of writing involves many hours of daydreaming. Ah, I could get lost in where the story could go. Now, how can I make this productive?

By setting a goal that I can work on today. I can push aside distractions. I can push aside addictive social media (eek, sorry fb). I can take a stand and accomplish a step towards my obtainable goal.

In turn, I can find balance of time.

I set a goal to fill my writing practice notebook. I have two handwritten pages to write each day until Nov 3. This marks a huge date for me. On November 3rd I travel to Rosario Beach to the Northwest Round Tuit Retreat. Why this is important is because last year I felt I lost time. I had just lost a good friend to sudden reoccurrence of breast cancer and had to say the thoughts at her service.

This year I hope to take full advantage of my time with wonderful and inspirational friends, that I have the advantage to be with for two and a half days. I will use my time to practice a skill and gain insight to help me balance my path to being productive.

What do you do to keep focused?

Oct 3, 2011

Time to Smile

By Tracy Astle

Keeping a sense of humor is vital to maintaining one's sanity. At least I think so anyway. So, in that spirit, I thought I'd share a couple of really dumb jokes which should at least make you groan or roll your eyes, if not actually laugh. Since I'm teaching the Old Testament to a freshman seminary class this year, that's where my mind is right now.

Did you know we have evidence from the Bible that they had problems with cigarettes way back then, too? Just check out 24:64. It says Rebekah, "lighted off the camel." (bah, dum, bump [That's a rim shot in case ya couldn't tell.])

The next joke is my favorite scripture joke and is dedicated to anyone who has ever raised a teenaged boy. - The scriptures never specifically tell us Isaac's age at the time Abraham was commanded to sacrifice him, but we know for sure he wasn't a teenager. How? If he was a teenager, it wouldn't have been a sacrifice!

(Anyone who knows me knows I actually love teenagers, but I have raised three boys and experienced all the -cough, cough- fun that can bring.)

Anyone have any dumb jokes to share? My arsenal could use some expanding.

P. S. - And can I just say, YAY,  GENERAL CONFERENCE? Makes me go ahhhhh every time.

Oct 2, 2011

Grateful Thanks

by Marsha Ward

This weekend, I have been enjoying LDS General Conference. I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Sometimes we are called Mormons. Whatever we are called, we are followers of Jesus Christ, who we believe is the Son of God, our Heavenly Father. We believe that the Church is led here on earth by a prophet, apostles, and other Church leaders. Every six months, our leaders give us counsel through five two-hour meetings known as General Conference. We members participate in General Conference by watching, listening, and pondering about what we hear. Whether we watch at home on TV, on the Internet, or in Church buildings via satellite feed, the vast majority of us are grateful for the twice-a-year experience.

I bear you my testimony that Jesus Christ is indeed the Son of God. By following His teachings and commandments, I can be happy and I can look forward to being with my family forever. I am pleased to serve in the Church as a musician and record-keeper.

If you want to know more about my religion and beliefs by seeing what went on this weekend, I invite you to check out the Conference links at http://lds.org/general-conference/sessions/2011/10?lang=eng. If English is not your native tongue, there is a wide choice of languages to which you can listen. For more information about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, go to http://mormon.org/.

Oct 1, 2011

Four Authors on the Worst-Sellers List - Looney Logic Puzzle

by Cindy R. Williams

Do you like brain twisters, teasers, loony logic puzzles? Here is a fun one for writers.

Four authors who find themselves heading for the Worst-Seller List get together and make an appointment with a new literary agent. He asks about their work. However, the novelists always lie an the non-fiction writers always tell the truth.

Melinda replies, "All of us are novelists." Ashlee says, "No, only three of us are novelists." Lisa says, "No, only two are novelists." Morena says, "No, only one is a novelist." Who writes what?

Music plays . . . . . . . .

Scroll down for the answer . . . . . . . . . . . .

I wish Blogspot had the ability to print answers upside down but alas, earwax.

     Melinda must be a novelist. Why? If she were a non-fiction writer, she would not say she was novelist. So because she lies, we know that at least one of the group writes nonfiction.
     Lisa must be a novelist, too. Why? If she were telling the truth, either Ashlee or Morena would be a nonfiction writer, which is impossible: both of their statements conflict with Lisa's statement.
     And Morena must be a novelist. Why? If she were telling the truth, both Ashlee and Lisa would be nonfiction writers, which is impossible: each of their statements conflicts with Morena's statement.
     Ashlee is the one who writes nonfiction.

Brain twister comes from Parade.com/marilyn