Thursday, August 30, 2012

Dinosaur pudding




When I was a wee lass, I didn't know what the world was all about. I had notions of grandeur about places and people I had never seen. I could make the world into whatever I wanted it to be. All I knew was what was in my little bubble of existence; my family, home and school and the sidewalks in between.
when I got older, I started to stretch my bubble a bit. I went on a grand adventure to California with my choir in high school. I saw different people and even six foot tall mice. I tried new foods and saw different cultures. As I saw or experienced each new thing, I would gather it up and bring it home to my bubble. I would shape and mold it until it fit inside with the rest of my world. If something didn't fit or make sense, I would leave it out and it would dry up after a while, leaving only an imprint of a memory, not often remembered.
I read a lot as a child and on into my adult years. Worlds of mystery, intrigue, imagination and even danger went in through my eyes and filled my mind with the wonders of the world and beyond. As with the real world, the things that I could fit into my bubble were kept, while the rest was just sifted through and mostly forgotten. Not to say that I don't remember any fantasy or sci-fi books from my youth, I do, but mostly I remember the parts that I can relate to the real world.
My late husband used to always accuse me of thinking only with my emotions and being completely lacking of any form of logic. Now that I look back I can't even imagine why or how he could say that. I am very much a real person. I live in the real world, I expect real and logical things to happen, and I tend to leave my emotions at the door most days. He was a math and science guy, so I wonder if he just saw the world in a different 'real' way.
I wonder what it would be like to be the opposite of what I am. What if I let everything dream, thought, idea, or random wisp of a theory shape and mold my life. What if I went through out my days thinking anything at all was possible. The sun might rise in the morning, but then again...maybe the sky would be filled with pudding at dawn. What kind of life do those kind of people have?
I think I met a few of those people this week at work. I had to administer and lengthy and somewhat less than fun test to twenty people. They each took the test alone, with only me giving them the questions. Most of the questions were doable, even for these people, but some were a real stretch. I remember one person in particular who seemed to be completely without a clue about what I was asking him.
I had read the person a short story about the weather in general. I stopped at a particular picture of kids flying kites and asked him, " what part of the story is happening in this picture?"
Well, you might think the logical answer would be, ' it is windy.' Apparently, this person was one of those that did not let logic rule their life. They were and 'out of the box' kind of person, free thinking and shaping their own world, by golly! The answer I got was "Dinosaur!"
Why not? I mean, sure there was nothing that looked anything like a dinosaur in the picture, but maybe they were seeing something completely out of my realm of consciousness. Maybe I had been brain washed to think people flying kites were actually in the wind. Maybe he could see more to it that that.
Then again, maybe he was in kindergarten and wanted more than anything to be done with the stupid test and home playing with his dinosaurs. I feel your pain buddy.....cause I said so.
Photo credit: http://www.google.com/imgres?q=images+of+pudding+in+the+sky&start=163&hl=en&client=firefox-a&hs=yvZ&sa=X&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&biw=1920&bih=950&tbm=isch&prmd=imvns&tbnid=YhOpmvSpG04lbM:&imgrefurl=http://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/museums/tag/conservation/&imgurl=http://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/museums/files/2011/12/Scary-Monkey-Week-Eleven.jpg&w=390&h=296&ei=uPQ_UNLfHuOUiALriIHIBQ&zoom=1&iact=rc&dur=316&sig=114757908013112425886&page=4&tbnh=137&tbnw=181&ndsp=63&ved=1t:429,r:74,s:163,i:40&tx=111&ty=72

Night Writer's Night

By Susan Knight

Outline of a Night Writer’s evening:
5:30 p.m.
-Get home from work.
-Plan to write all night.
6:30 p.m.
-Sit down at computer.
-I should check my email first. . .
     -ANWA meeting; forward.
     -New ANWA person interested in my chapter; reply; forward.
     -ANWA business emails; reply; reply; forward.
     -Email mother, sisters, friends.
     -Delete 100 emails.
-I should check my banking.
     -Look at checking account.    
     -Check credit card spending.
          -Yikes! Pay credit card bill.
     -Add money to checking account to cover credit card bill.
7:40 p.m.
-I should post on Facebook about my Sugar Shutout success.
     -Wow, look at all the people who notified me.
     -I am definitely not confirming him as a friend.
          -Ignore
     - Should I change my profile picture?
          -Search for picture.
    -My cousin’s grandson is so cute.—LIKE
    -Look at those twins. They’re getting so big.—LIKE
    -37 Likes
    -14 Comments 
    -What’s this YouTube about?
           -Watch 12:42-minuteYouTube—LIKE
           -Share YouTube.
     -Post—30 days without sugar! Yay!
8:35 p.m.
-Did my phone just ring? . . . Oh, it's on vibrate. I don’t recognize that number. . .
     -Let it go to voicemail.
     -Listen to 3 new voicemails.
     -Call ____ back.
 -Oh, look, I’ve got some texts, too.
     -Read 6 texts.         
     -Answer texts.
-Turn phone volume all the way up.
     -Wait. I don't want to be disturbed. I'm trying to write.
-Turn phone on vibrate again.         
9:15 p.m.
-Look at pile on desk.
     -Where's that last critique I got?
          -Search through pile.   
-File away a stack of papers.
-Create some new file folders.
-Find overdue bill.
     -Write check for overdue bill
     -Look for envelope.
     -Find stamps in pile.
-Find critique
10:25 p.m.
-I’m thirsty. I’m just going to get a glass of water.
     -Drink water.
-A snack would be nice if I’m going to be up for awhile.
     -Make snack.
     -Eat snack.
     -Drink more water.
10:45 p.m.
-Bathroom break.
11:00 p.m.
-Open up My Documents.
-Open up My Book.
-Check over a few chapters.
     -This is atrocious. I can’t present this to my critique group on Thursday.
     -Spend time correcting grammar and getting rid of adverbs and passive voice.
-Decide to add a soliloquy for main character.
-In the Zone-
12:00 a.m.
-Midnight already? I’m just getting started!
-In the Zone-
1:10 a.m.
-Ohmygosh. It seems like it’s only been 15 minutes! I’ve got to go to bed. I’ve got an early meeting tomorrow.
-In the Zone-
1:50 a.m.
-Brush teeth.
-Say prayers.
-Get in bed.
2:20 a.m.
-When am I going to fall asleep?
 ***
Next day
5:30 p.m.
-Come home from work.
-Plan to write all night.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

TS Isaac

by Terri Wagner

Here's the biggest problem we have with hurricanes (or tropical storms), NO ONE knows. Yes I did that in caps. We don't know. Earlier in the week, the American model was showing Isaac skirting the entire Florida Gulf coastline. The European model was showing Isaac coming straight to Mobile. Then it tracked a bit west so Panama City went under the gun. Gulf Shores came next. Place is like a ghost town. Went down to the beach today, waves are pretty neat but still fairly tame. I've seen much worse. Will check it out tomorrow...but "they" still had evacuations of Gulf Shores.

We made some preparations, but we are pretty prepared thanks to the church anyway.

Trouble is the darn storm is now tracking to NOLA. Some take a funny little juke to the right when they hit land so Isaac could land up in Gulfport. What does that mean for us?

No one really knows. Ivan, I left. Went to Baton Rouge where my brother lives and hunkered down. We came back four days later and found our place had surivived. Living without power (read AC) in the humid south is NOT fun, but we were ok.

Katrina moved west and we got a few gusts of wind and that's it. No rain, little wind, while it destroyed Mississippi and touched off the events in NOLA.

Bottom line: The hype for a tropical storm can have a very negative effect on people. They get ready, move their boats, gas up, pull out generators, check food and water supplies, break out batteries, cancel school and local events, and nothing happens. It all goes silent.

So what happens the next time? You just think ok batteries check; ok gas enough to get by; boat's ok; generator's in the garage; make a fun run to Walmart; and laugh about it. Then like a big boom the storm comes right at ya.

Moral of the story: You can't fool Mother Nature. You have to rely on year round preparations, listen carefully to the Holy Ghost and keep your powder dry.

It gets too easy to get blase about small storms. After Ivan and Katrina, it's tough to get all excited about Isaac.

Right now it's quiet and silent. I'll let ya know how it goes. Posting early just in case the power goes out. They put up hurricane proof power lines around here after Katrina. I just wondered why they didn't bury the lines, lol.

Took these today at Gulf Shores.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Facing Change and Learning to Go with the Flow

By Claire Enos

Today marks 2 weeks until school starts, and also happens to be my sister's 19th birthday. I have big changes headed my way. A new semester up at school, this time with roommates I'm not sure I'll get along with but can only pray I will. (Based on the conversations I've had with them already I'm sure I will!) I've never been really good with change, unless it's the huge kind that includes a new school, lots of new people to meet, and a new house. It's the small changes that annoy me. Like new leaders in church, friends moving away (I've always been the one to move away, not the one left behind), and new faces after being away for a few months. I feel out of my element in those situations and I don't like it. The kind of change requiring moving away is my life. I've been doing it every 2-3 years since I was born. So this makes sense to me.

I'm not good with change, and neither are a lot of people I know, so here are a couple tips I've found to be useful to me:


  • Use a period of change as a stepping stone to spending more time on areas you feel you've neglected. Say your moving to a new place where no one knows you, don't think of it as a scary situation where you don't know anyone and will have a tough time meeting new people. Think of it as an adventure in which you can fix the things you should have been fixing in the first place. Like exercising more, spending more time with your family/loved ones, spending more time focusing on the spiritual things in life.
  • Learn to accept the change. There's no way you can fix it, so just accept it! Think positively about the change. Good is less likely to come of change that you think negatively towards. So keep a positive attitude and learn something new, or meet someone new. Who knows? Maybe change could bring a new hobby or friend.

Soon I'll be moving back up to Idaho for my 5th semester of school. I've decided it's time for me to make a few adjustments to my life. Adjustments that will result in being a better person. Eating healthier, exercising more, studying harder, reading the scriptures more often, and praying more in order to become closer to our Heavenly Father and grow in faith.


  1. Eating healthier will include more fruits and vegetables, less sugar (no more boxes of canned soda under my bed), less eating out, and less gluten (not entirely cutting it out, but cutting out a lot of it).
  2. Exercising will include some ballet muscle-building exercises meant to tone your leg muscles, yoga, and maybe some cycling and experimentation with equipment in the gym up at BYU-Idaho. It may also include some jogging around the indoor track this winter.
  3. Studying harder is self-explanatory I think. I will focus more on my studies than on my social life. Spend more time studying outside of class, so that when I do go to class I get more out of the lectures. And hopefully earn better grades than in previous semesters.
  4. Reading the scriptures more often means just that. I don't read them very much, and I'd love to get into the habit of reading them at least once a day. Maybe in the morning before or after I do yoga.
  5. Praying- I don't pray nearly as much as I should.  Mostly just when I'm extremely thankful for something big that has happened or when something terrible has happened or I have a big question I need help with. I'd like to make this a twice daily habit. 


I'm not sure how many people I've told (a lot to be sure!) but I've been thinking about serving a mission for almost a year now. I've talked to my Bishop in my family's ward about this and he thinks it's a great idea. I'll be 21 in October, and I'm planning on filling out my mission papers next summer. I think this is the biggest decision I've yet to make in my life, and it will also be the most life-changing. Starting this semester I'll be attending Mission Prep. in Sunday School and Temple Prep. as well.

With all the wonderful changes happening in my life in the next year or two, I feel that I need to focus more on my growth, so that I may become the kind of Woman a Daughter of God should strive to be. So, wish me luck, as I make this wonderful journey and strive to become woman God sent me down here to be!


<3Claire

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Back to School for Us

By Jennifer Debenham

Tomorrow my children head back to their classrooms. The close of summer and the starting of the new school year is always an emotional time for me. As my children get older, I feel their eventual departure from my home all the more keenly. And their heading back to school after a summer of togetherness always seems a bit symbolic of how it will be when they are ready to leave the home for good.

Beyond that, this year marks my oldest boy's senior year. Those of you who have older kids know what I mean when I say that YESTERDAY I was changing his diapers and calling him "biddy boy." Now, for some reason, he's several inches taller than I am, and we regularly have in-depth, adult conversations.

SO . . .

One of my favorite ways to distract myself from these nostalgic feelings that sometimes carry a sting is to remember things that I love apart from being a mother. And being a student myself, is one of my favorite things. When the subject includes writing--well, I can consider myself one-hundred percent distracted. With a smile on my face.

So here's a lesson for all of us from one of my favorite teachers--David Farland.

David Farland’s Daily Kick in the Pants—“Boosting” Your Prose

Yesterday I mentioned that when I used to write for competitions, I would make lists of ways that judges might look at my work in order to grade it. For example, some judges might look for an ending that brought them to tears, while another might be more interested in an intellectual feast. A couple of you asked what my list might look like.

So here is a list of things that I might consider in creating a piece.

First, a word of warning. When I was very young, perhaps four, I remember seeing a little robot in a store, with flashing lights and wheels that made it move. To me it seemed magical, nearly alive. My parents bought it for me for at Christmas, and a few weeks later it malfunctioned, so I took a hammer to it and pulled out the pieces to see what made it work—a battery, a tiny motor, some small colored lights, cheap paint and stickers.

Your story should be more than the sum of its parts. It should feel magical, alive.

But when we go through a checklist like this, we’re looking at the parts and not the whole. When you’re composing your story and editing it, you must be constantly aware of the whole story, keeping it in mind, even as you examine it in detail, making sure that one part doesn’t overbalance another.

Setting

My goal with my settings is to transport the reader into my world—not just through the senses, but also emotionally and intellectually. I want to make them feel, keep them thinking. This can often be done by using settings that fascinate the reader, that call to them.

1) Do I have unique settings that the reader will find intriguing? In short, is there something that makes my setting different from anything the reader has seen before?

2) If my setting is in our world, is it “sexy” or mundane. (People are drawn to sexy settings. Even if we place a story in a McDonald’s, we need to bring it to life, make it enjoyable.)

3) Do I have any scenes that might be more interesting if the setting were moved elsewhere? (For example, let’s say that I want to show that a king is warlike. Do I open with him speaking to his counselors at a feast, or on the battlefield?)

4) Do I suffer by having repetitive settings? For example, if I set two scenes in the same living room, would one of them be more interesting if I moved it elsewhere?

5) Do my descriptions of settings have enough detail to transport the reader?

6) Did I bring my setting to life using all of the senses—sight, sound, taste, feel, smell?

7) Do my character’s feelings about the setting get across?

8) Do I want to show a setting in the past, present, and suggest a future? (For example, I might talk about a college’s historical growth and importance, etc.)

9) Can a setting be strengthened by describing what it is not?

10) Does my setting resonate with others within its genre?

11) Do my settings have duality—a sometimes ambiguous nature? (For example, my character might love the church where she was married, have fond memories of it, and yet feel a sense of betrayal because her marriage eventually turned ugly. So the setting becomes bittersweet.)

12) Do my settings create potential conflicts in and of themselves that aren’t explored in the text? (If I have a prairie with tall grass and wildfires are a threat, should I have a wildfire in the tale?)

13) Do my characters and my societies grow out of my setting? (If I’ve got a historical setting, do my characters have occupations and attitudes consistent with the milieu? Beyond that, with every society there is almost always a counter-movement. Do I deal with those?)

14) Is my setting, my world, in danger? Do I want it to be?

15) Does my world have a life of its own? For example, if I create a fantasy village, does it have a history, a character of its own? Do I need to create a cast for the village—a mayor, teacher, etc.?

16) Is my setting logically consistent? (For example, let’s say that I have a merchant town. Where would a merchant town most likely be? On a trade route or port—quite possibly at the junction of the two. So I need to consider how fully I’ve developed the world.)

17) Is my setting fully realized? (Let’s say I have a forest. What kinds of trees and plants would be in that forest? What kind of animals? What’s the history of that forest? When did it last have rain or snow? What’s unique about that forest? Etc.)

18) Does my setting intrude into every scene, so that my reader is always grounded? (If I were to set my story in a field, for example, and I have men preparing for battle, I might want to have a lord look up and notice that buzzards are flapping up out of the oaks in the distance, already gathering for the feast. I might want to mention the sun warming my protagonist’s armor, the flies buzzing about his horse’s ears, and so on—all while he is holding an important conversation.

19) Are there any settings that have symbolic import, whose meanings need to be brought to the forefront?

Characters

I want my characters to feel like real people, fully developed. Many stories suffer because the characters are bland or cliché or are just underdeveloped. We want to move beyond stereotypes, create characters that our readers will feel for. At the same time, we don’t want to get stuck in the weeds. We don’t want so much detail that the character feels overburdened and the writing gets sluggish.

So here are some of the checkpoints I might use for characters.

1) Do I have all of the characters that I need to tell the story, or is someone missing? (For example, would the story be stronger if I had a guide, a sidekick, a love interest, a contagonist, hecklers, etc.?)

2) Do I have any characters that can be deleted to good effect?

3) Do I have characters who can perhaps be combined with others? For example, let’s say I have two cops on the beat. Would it work just as well with only one cop?

4) Do my characters have real personalities, depth?

5) Do my characters come off as stock characters, or as real people?

6) Do I know my characters’ history, attitudes, and dress?

7) Does each character have his or her interesting way of seeing the world?

8) Does each character have his or her own voice, his own way of expressing himself?

9) Are my characters different enough from each other so that they’re easily distinguished? Do their differences generate conflict? Remember that even good friends can have different personalities.

10) Have I properly created my characters’ bodies—described such things as hands, feet, faces, hair, ears, and so on?

11) Do each of my characters have their own idiosyncrasies?

12) Do I need to “tag” any characters so that readers will remember them easily—for example, by giving a character a limp, or red hair, or having one who hums a great deal?

13) How do my characters relate to the societies from which they sprang? In short, are they consistent with their own culture in some ways? And in what ways do they oppose their culture?

14) What does each of my characters want?

15) What does each one fear?

16) What things might my character be trying to hide?

17) What is each character’s history? (Where were they born? Schooled, etc.?)

18) What is my characters’ stance on religion, politics, etc.?

19) How do my characters relate to one another? How do they perceive one another? Are their perceptions accurate, or jaded?

20) Does each character have a growth arc? If they don’t, should they?

21) How honest are my characters—with themselves and with others? Should my readers trust them?

22) What would my characters like to change about themselves? Do they try to change?

23) Do my characters have their own family histories, their own social problems, their own medical histories, their own attitudes? Do we need a flashback anywhere to establish such things?

Conflicts

One of the surest ways to engage our audience is through our conflicts. When a conflict is unresolved, and when the audience is waiting breathlessly for its outcome, the reader’s interest will become keen. They’ll look forward to the resolution unconsciously, and may even be thinking, “Oh, this is going to be good!” That state of arousal is called “suspense,” and it’s perhaps the most potent element of a tale.

1) What is the major conflict in my story?

2) Do I have proper try/fail cycles for it?

3) Is the major conflict resolved?

4) Is it universal enough so that the readers will find it interesting? (Note that a conflict becomes far more interesting to a reader if it is something that he must deal with in his own life.)

5) Have I brought it to life through the incidents that I relate? In other words, are their ways to deepen or broaden the main conflict.

6) Do I have secondary conflicts? Most stories require more than one conflict. For example, a protagonist will often have an internal conflict as well as an external conflict. He may also have a love interest. He might have conflicts with nature, with god, and with his companions. So as an author, I must create a host of conflicts and decide how each one grows and is resolved.

7) How do my characters grow and change in order to overcome the conflicts?

8) Do my characters perhaps decide to adapt to a conflict, struggle to live with it rather than beat it?

9) How ingenious are my character attempts to solve their problems? Ingenuity often adds interest.

10) How driven are my characters to resolve their conflicts? Character who will go to extremes are needed.

11) Do I have any namby-pamby attempts that I should delete? For example, if I have a protagonist whose main problem is that she doesn’t have the nerve to talk to her boss about a problem at work, should I strike that entire try/fail cycle? (The answer is “almost always you should strike out the scenes and replace it with something better.)

12) Is my hero equal to or greater than his task at the start of a tale? If so, then my hero needs to be weakened so that we have a better balance.

13) Does my protagonist ever get betrayed?

14) Does my protagonist have an identity conflict? At the heart of every great story is a character who sees himself as being one thing—charming, heroic, wise—while others around him perceive him as being something else—socially wanting, inept, fool.

15) Do I have enough conflicts to keep the story interesting?

16) Should some of the minor conflicts be deleted, or resolved? (Remember that not all conflicts need to have try/fail cycles.

Themes

Themes in the story might be called the underlying philosophical arguments in your tale. A story doesn’t need to have a theme in order for it to be engaging. Likeable protagonists undergoing engaging conflicts is all that you need in order to hold a reader. But a tale that tackles a powerful theme will tend to linger with you much longer. Indeed, such tales can even change the way that a reader thinks, persuade him in important arguments. Shakespeare made every story an argument, and the “theme” was the central question to his tale.

Some people will suggest that dealing with themes is “didactic.” Don’t be fooled. Those same writers will put themes in their own works, and usually they’re taking stands that oppose yours. For example, if you argue that morality is innate and central to what a human is, they’ll argue that it’s situational and we’re all just animals. They don’t oppose the idea of stories having themes; they may just be opposed to your views. So make sure that your arguments are rigorous and persuasive.

1) Can I identify themes that I consciously handled?

2) Are there themes that came out inadvertently?

3) How universal are my themes? How important are they to the average reader?

4) Are there themes that need to be dealt with but aren’t? For example, if I have a policeman who is going to take a life, does he need to consider how he will feel about that?

5) Are there questions posed or problems manifested that bog the story down and need to be pulled?

6) Do my characters ever consciously consider or talk about the main themes? Should they?

7) Do my characters need to grapple with important questions? If not, perhaps they should.

8) Do my characters change at all due to the influence of new ideas or beliefs?

9) If my theme is going to “grow,” become more important as the story progresses, do I need to add or modify scenes in order to accommodate that growth? In other words, do I need to let the theme help shape the tale?

10) As your character grapples with a theme, does he find himself led down false roads? For example, let’s go back to our cop. Let’s say that he shoots a boy at night, and feels guilty when he discovers that the boy wasn’t really armed. What the cop thought was a gun turns out to have been a cell phone. Would other characters try to influence him? Perhaps a senior officer might take him out to get a drink—because alcohol has been his salvation for 20 years. Another officer might suggest that the kid was trying to commit suicide by cop, and our protagonist that he ‘did the kid a favor,’ and so on.

11) Does my character ever have to synthesize a thematic concept—come to grips with it intellectually and emotionally, so that it alters the character’s behavior?

Treatment

There are five elements that will come into nearly every scene in your story—setting, character, conflict, theme, and treatment. Your “treatment” is the way that you handle your story. The number of items that come into play in your treatment is so long, I can’t get into all of them. We get down to the real nitty-gritty of putting a sentence together.

You’ll want to create your own list of items to look for in your treatment. If you notice for example that you’re creating a lot of long, compound sentences in a row, you might make it a goal to vary your sentence length. If you find that you’re using weak verbs, you may want to go through your tale and search for instances of “was” and “were.” If you find yourself using the word “then,” you might want to go through in your edits and make sure that incidents in your tale are related in sequential order, so that you don’t need the word “then.” If you find yourself stacking modifiers in front of nouns and verbs, you might want to watch for that in your editing. If you tend to over-describe things, you might want to watch your descriptions.

In short, whatever your own personal weaknesses are in writing, you’ll want to create a list so that you can think about them when you write.But here are a few elements to consider in your treatment.

1) Is your tone appropriate to the tale? For example, let’s say that you want to invest a bit of humor into your story. You start it with a joke. Do you maintain the tone throughout the rest of the tale, perhaps layering the humor in, scene after scene?

2) Do each of your characters speak with their own unique voices? You’ll need to do a dialog check for each character before you’re done.

3) Do you as a narrator establish a voice for the piece, one that you maintain throughout?

4) Is every description succinct and evocative?

5) Do your descriptions echo the emotional tone of the point-of-view (POV) character?

6) Do you get deep enough penetration into your protagonist’s POV so that the reader can track their thoughts and emotions? If not, is there a good reason why you neglected to do so?

7) Is there music in your language? Do you want there to be? Ernest Hemingway once said that “All great novels are really just poetry?” With that in mind, listen to the sounds of your words. Consider changing them as needed to fit the meter and emphasis that you need.

8) Do you use enough hooks to keep your reader interested?

9) Could you strengthen the piece by using foreshadowing?

10) Do you use powerful metaphors or similes to add beauty and resonance to your work? (If not, you’re in trouble. Your competition will.)

Story Parts

Sometimes when you’re looking at a story, you need to think about it in “chunks.” Here are a few things that I think about when creating a tale.

1) Is the basic idea of your story original and powerful? (In a contest, entering a story with a mundane concept probably won’t get you far. For example, if you enter a story about a young man fighting space pirates, it probably won’t do well—unless you come up with some new technology or angle that sets it above all other space-pirate tales.

2) Do you establish your characters swiftly? We should probably know whom the story is about within a scene or two, and we should probably be introduced in a way that tells us something important about the characters.

3) We also need to establish the setting in every single scene.

4) Do you get to the inciting incident quickly and cleanly? (The inciting incident is the place where the protagonist discovers what his main conflict is going to be.)

5) Are there any storytelling tools that I could use to make this tale better. (For a discussion of storytelling tools, see my book “Million Dollar Outlines,” which is available at www.davidfarland.com/shop.)

6) Does my story escalate through the following scenes, with conflicts that broaden and deepen?

7) Does my story resolve well? Do I have a climax that really is exciting? Is the outcome different from what the audience expects?

8) Do I tackle all of the resolutions in a way that leaves the reader satisfied?

Writing a story can be an exhausting exercise—intellectually challenging and emotionally draining. When you’re in the throes of it, it may seem daunting. But you’re never really done until the outcome feels magical, and if you take care of all the little things that you should, the outcome will indeed seem wondrous.

Happy writing!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Advice

By Bonnie Harris

In conjunction with my last post, Ways To Help Out Your Favorite Authors, I'm participating in a blog tour for Julie N Ford's book, COUNT DOWN TO LOVE. (I'll be posting my review on my personal blog soon. It was a cute book. You should check it out.) I agreed to have Julie do a guest post on my blog, and she offers some wonderful advice for aspiring authors that I thought you all might enjoy as well. Enjoy!


My Best Advice--Julie N Ford

When asked by my publisher to write some sample book club questions for Count Down to Love, I decided to look for inspiration in the back of one of my favorite novels. I didn’t find much that helped me settle on what questions to include in my book, but I did stumble upon yet another author offering advice to fledgling writers. 

Basically, it was the same old thing: keep reading, keep writing, keep submitting, and don’t give up. In other words, another lame, generic attempt by someone who has—by the grace of God—made their mark in the publishing world at not dashing the hopes of all the would-be writers with dreams of becoming famous published authors themselves. (Whew! Did I mention that I’m a master at the run-on sentence?)

Now I’m not famous, or arguably even a “good” author, but I still have some advice:

1st Keep reading even though now that you are writing you will rip every book to shreds, wondering how in the world this person got published after breaking all the “rules” you kill yourself trying to follow. 

2nd Keep writing but only because your characters wake you up in the morning screaming in your head to be released and brought to life on the page. Because a story that started as an intriguing idea, or a dream has continued to grow, mushrooming like the cloud of an atomic bomb until it consumed your every thought. Because inspiration comes to you at the most inconvenient times and you wish there was a way to safely type and drive, type and cook, type and shower, type and just about everything . . .

3rd Keep submitting not because you daydream about seeing your novel featured on the end cap at B&N (btw, seeing your book on an end cap is pretty cool), and definitely not because you have aspirations of becoming the next Stephenie Meyer. But because you have enjoyed bringing your story and characters to life and you want others to enjoy them as well. Because completing a manuscript is a huge accomplishment. Because you are proud of what you’ve written.

4th Don’t give up if you really love to write. If your greatest joy comes after crafting a well-written sentence, or when a scene comes together in a way you hadn’t intended, becoming more perfect than you’d ever anticipated. If you feel a rush of excitement unlike any other when the words flow from your head to your fingers tips as if they have a life of their own. If baring your very soul on the pages of your manuscript brings a freedom you’d never imagined.

Keep writing because to stop is not an option.

Because you still have stories to tell.

Because even if you never make a dime off your work the journey was well worth the effort.

I want to thank Bonnie for hosting this interview, giveaway and guest post. I hope all of you who decide to read Count Down to Love will enjoy the story as much as I loved writing it. And to all those inspiring authors out there, truly, if I write a book, you can too

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Memory Catcher; an inspiring true story about my mom, author Sarah Hinze


Working all summer with my mom, author Sarah Hinze on her inspiring life story The Memory Catcher was such a gift.  I was able to spend day after day, listening as she shared the most meaningful experiences of her life. 
The Memory Catcher is the story how my mom learned what God wanted her to do with her life.  She was five years old when an angel first spoke to her.  
She saw heaven in nature and learned to sense when angels were near.  Eventually, she fell in love with a man who believed in heaven too.   A year after their wedding, she held their first baby.  
It was than she knew many of the angels she had felt throughout her life had been her own unborn children.  
It wasn’t until losing a baby to miscarriage that she started to recognize what God wanted her to do.  She was to write about unborn children; tiny guardian angels who watch over us before they are born.  
She had her own impressions and memories, but had other mother’s had the same experience? 
My mom distributed a flyer in her town and within a few days, a mother contacted her.  “I saw my unborn daughter before she was born and I want to tell you about it.”
Soon, my mom was collecting memories from around the world.  Years later, she had published several books, but noticed one group of stories that were most unusual, pointing her research in an interesting direction.  What happens to the spirit of a baby who is aborted?
She interviewed and recorded accounts from others who had memories of spirit children not who had just been aborted, but who had miscarried or had a still birth.  As a researcher, she wanted to document children who die before they are born are not lost.  There are accounted for and cherished by a loving Father in Heaven who has a plan for each one of them.  She then compiled these stories in a book called The Castaways.
These stories come from all walks of faith and from a variety of different nationalities.  She found old tribe tales of the unborn, researched scripture not just from the Bible, but from other ancient texts and so on. 
You can imagine the spirit that goes along with this work.  Not only is it urgent, but it is reverent and sincere.  What most inspires me about my mom’s work and those who share their own memories of the unborn is that God is in charge.  He loves us.  There is always hope and no one is ever forgotten.
Sarah Hinze's other books can be found here.
The Memory Catcher is a book of inspiration.  Have you ever been scared or uncertain, knowing you have something to do for God, but are not sure how to do it?  I think in some way or another, we have all felt that still small voice whisper for us to do something good.
Who would listen and believe?  Her resources were limited and it seemed an impossible task.  But the feeling didn’t go away, so with a paper and pen she began to write.  She opened her mouth and spoke, she researched, she did anything she could do further her task along.
I know God has a mission for each of us, unique to our talents and characteristics.  That doesn’t mean it will be easy, but it does mean we can do it.  I remember my mom saying the Lord will chose the weak to accomplish his mighty work; we just have to be willing to listen.
Now for the first time, Sarah shares the key experiences that shaped her life and set her on course to become The Memory Catcher--one of the world's greatest advocates of the unborn. The Memory Catcher will be released in October 2012 by Spring Creek Books and I’ll keep up posted on its progress.  I just received an image of the front cover in my email box and it is gorgeous.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

The View From the Other Side of the Desk


by Kari Diane Pike

Two weeks ago I stepped into a completely new world. After twenty-eight years of consuming education services, I accepted a temporary position as an office assistant in an elementary school. The view is quite different from the other side of the desk. (I won't go into what the view inside my home has become!! I've also discovered the solution to being a full-time mom and having a second job -- give up sleep.)

To begin with, I've never worked full-time outside of my home. While I've volunteered as an aide at various schools on numerous occasions, I've never been the person "responsible" for what is going on. And while I've witnessed stressed-out parents lose their cool now and then, I had no idea how unreasonably demanding some people can be.  I have new respect for the men and women who work so hard to help my children obtain their education.

Next, I had a friend message me and tell me that I have an "editing vibe" about me and asked if I would be interested in donating time to edit articles for a nonprofit website. The new doors that continue to open fascinate me. I feel like a kid trying to decide what I want to be when I grow up.

My magnificent chaos is beginning to take shape and form. I can't see the whole picture yet, but what I am creating is going to be spectacular!

hugs~

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Reflection on Patience

by Jill Burgoyne

Trials bring about opportunities for growth. I use the word opportunity because if and how we decide to grow, is our decision. So how do we make that decision? What strength do we develop to help us handle things like limbos in life, motherhood, and mortality?


By limbos in life, I'm referring to the periods of time when you're waiting for the next chapter of your life to start and it's not in your power to turn the page. Case in point: My husband graduated from college in May and we've been looking for a better job than his internship, ever since. He's highly qualified for his field, and a very reliable employee. Two companies in particular have promised job offers. They promise and then they say to get back with them in a couple weeks. We haven't been sitting around waiting though, after work, my husband sends a resume out somewhere and he's been averaging two interviews a week for the last month and a half, but we still sit. With two kids, and one on the way, and a car that has a window that won't roll up and stalls sporadically. Not safe. But we pray and wait and work and pray. But we have AC and we have a car and I am so happy that I am expecting. Eric's current job will sustain us until we get the other one. There is much to be grateful for.

Motherhood, I am a young mother. I'm 24, a mother of two that are 15 months apart. (After the first baby, I was so much in love that I wanted a second one right away!) And we got her. I have definitely learned how to pick my battles, what really matters, and how to give up a part of my desires for my children's happiness. One really good thing about motherhood is that (in general) they only come one at a time and you have the chance to grow with them: from what I've noticed so far. There have been times during pregnancy or just plain sleeplessness that I have honestly thought that I could not survive. But then I do. If I was as fragile as I thought I was, I would not be here right now.

And then there's mortality. I am writing from my couch, I have the flu. I didn't get to sleep until 2:00am because of the aches and pains and I woke up in tears. I can hardly get off the couch to do anything and on top of it all, I still have morning sickness to deal with. My husband considered staying home with me today, but after praying and pondering, we decided he should go to work. In all reality, we can't afford for him to miss a day because he's still paid hourly. So I prayed and prayed and the Lord gave me strength to get off the couch and get some cereal for my hungry babies.  Some of my friends came over to visit and were a great distraction. Then my mother in law brought over some scrumptious food and took care of me for a few moments. My Mom called and offered me dinner. Oh I am so blessed!

And still, life is hard. Despite all of the blessings that we have. Even the great Kings and Queens of yore didn't have electricity, or running water or AC. They didn't have the blessings of modern medicine and technology. And after several months of emotional roller coasters involving the job hunt, expecting a baby, and a car steadily breaking, I think that the keys to :developing the patience that I need to "pass" this test are to count my blessings (stubbornly if that's what it takes), pray, and have faith that it will all be okay in the end. These aches and pains and anxieties and frustrations of mortality are to be overcome. They will not always be here. But what can I learn from them before it's too late?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Journal Your Life, Part 1


By Leesa Ostrander

My grandfather and grandmother passed away a few years ago, two weeks apart and as I roamed their house is disbelief and shock; I took mental notes of their last days. Everything in the home untouched, the scriptures still by my grandpa’s chair, a stack of books by my grandmother’s bedside.

I sat on her bed and picked up her journal. At first, I felt that I was invading her privacy, then I felt relief that I could step into her last days of writing. The last date in the journal was about five years prior. Her shaky handwriting showing the stage of dementia she was at.

I read through the journals that were there, skimming and living in the hardships and joys of care taking small children she watched in her retirement, the adventures that her grandchildren called her to tell her about and what the dog and cats did that day. I did not live near her but felt a connection and the love she had on each of the pages.

After hours of sitting on the floor, reading the books, looking at pictures and reminiscing with my cousin I realized that I did not see a journal from my grandpa. I was saddened that I could not share this connection with him. My grandpa had been the full care-taker of my grandma in her last stages of dementia. I now wished he had a journal to tell me what those days were like. He had said it was hard and that he loved her so much but it was not her, it was a body not her spirit. Now that he is gone, I wanted to have physical evidence of the years of service to pass on.

Later that week I told my dad how I felt about not having words from my grandpa to read. He laughed and said, “Dad was a tech savvy man. His full daily journal could fill volumes. We just need to print it.”

I was shocked, relieved and excited at the same time.

My grandpa documented his day in true engineer style with a bit of flair. He did have pages and pages typed out, proofread and formatted on his hard drive.

I am saying this story because it is important to journal your life, whether it is handwritten with poor spelling and tear smudges or neatly formatted on a computer, either way both are written.

Journals serve more than to give the future a glimpse of who you are.  Writing in journal helps creative writing, keeps a writer in practice, and gives a moment to enjoy the writing process.  It is good to take a break from projects and work related writing to share unedited version of your day, thoughts, experiences and soul.

Like the example from my grandparents, it serves as what we can pass on through the legacy of our life by our own unedited words.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Best Time of the Year?

By Tracy Astle

It's that time of year again. New backpacks, new clothes, new schedules. What is it that's so fun about buying new school supplies? They have such cute notebooks, binders, pens, pencils, locker accessories and so much more these days that I could easily spend my way into oblivion if I wasn't careful. Odd considering shopping is pretty far down my list of favorite activites - unless I'm in a book store or office supply store and I have a lot of time to wander lazily through the aisles in a state of stupified contentment. Yes, I'm weird, but I know I'm not the only one.

Does anyone else remember that commercial for Staples, I think it was, where the parents are dancing around the store, gliding on shopping carts, singing It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year? Love that one. It makes me laugh every time. I agree that in many ways it is the most wonderful time of the year, but I think that for a different reason than the commercial presents.

For me the very best thing about school starting every year is that seminary starts at the same time. (BTW, why is it that schools starts a little earlier every year? Pretty soon we're going to end up with a long weekend as "summer break.") Where I live, this religion class for high school students is held before school. This year marks the start of my seventh year of teaching.

There are very few things that require so much of my time, my energy and my mental and spiritual focus as seminary. It really is exhausting on so many levels.

However -

Almost nothing can compare to starting each school morning with a roomful of freshmen who are committed to learning and living what they believe in. Oh man, is it thrilling and envigorating to see the quality of these youth who will lead us into the next generation. On the surface many of them look a lot like any other teenager walking the halls of the schools, but in their hearts they are quite different from most of their peers. They have direction and understanding way beyond the norm for their age. Go, them!

I honestly feel sorry for anyone who never has the opportunity to teach seminary. Obviously, this way that  I get to serve makes my heart sing. Yes, I understand that this is another thing that some people think makes me weird.  ; )

It also makes me wonder - what, aside from writing, of course, makes your heart sing like this?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Curmudgeon Applauds

by Marsha Ward

I came across a recent post by Writer's Digest's Brian A. Klems, wherein he praises the CEO of iFixit.com, Kyle Wiens, for standing up for grammar in a piece he wrote recently for the Harvard Business Review. Mr. Klems wrote that when he read the Wiens piece, he began to applaud at his desk.
Mr. Wiens explains that "Good grammar is credibility, especially on the Internet."
I recommend both articles to you.
I let The Curmudgeon out of his dungeon for a brief time so he could join us in the applause.

(cracking whip) Get back in there, you rascal!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

WARNING: Writing Tools Are Dangerous to Your Peace of Mind

by Cindy R. Williams

The tools of a writer used to be pencil or pen and paper. Simpler times, yes, but I find hand writing messy and disorganized since you can't delete, copy, cut and paste with just a touch of your finger tip. On paper you have to shuffle papers, cross out, circle and draw arrows, or cut the paper and tape paragraphs here and there.  I like order too much, so this makes me crazy, although I do keep notebooks everywhere to jot ideas down as the pop into my head.

The most current tool of a writer today is, of course, the computer. We not only use computers to type our stories on, but as Internet research along with email others for information. Then we use the computer as our storage facility for our working stories and our completed babies.  We won't even venture into the marketing ability of computers. That's another blog.

However, these wonderful, convenient and ingenious computers have a HUGE black whole.

The hard drive crashes. 

If you've been a victim of a hard drive crash, you know exactly what chaos this causes. If you're not prepared, you could lose your entire book, years and years of work.

This week was my THIRD crash of my hard drive in five years --three different lap tops, three crashes.

I could have kept the computers and purchased a new hard drive to the tune of $430, along with a $50 replacement disc plus a $200 battery (the old battery has worn out and only holds a 10 minute charge.) But, now I'm up to $780 to repair my computer.

Or . . . I can purchase a new computer for around $600 with all the bells and whistles and the new technology and most current *Word System.

I did my research, and ordered a  . . . drum roll please ############

sea shell pink *- - - - , - - - - E 15.5" screen E Series. It weighs five pounds and is amazing. I think the pretty pink color will inspire my muse. Plus, I'm the only girl left in the house--three sons at home, my darling dear, two gigantic boy gold fishies, and two goofy boy doggies. None of them will try to steal my PINK computer.

I now give an EXTREMELY DIRE WARNING:  PLEASE USE AN OFF-SITE BACK-UP SYSTEM!

Sure, go ahead and use flash drives, but remember, flash drives are easily damaged and sometimes fail. What if there's a house fire? One of my good friends copied her novel to a flash drive then put it in a safe place . . . so safe, she can't find it.

You can also email your stories as attachments to a friend. But, now you have to rely on them to create a file and guard your WIP's, and you have to do this often because if your computer crashes, you will have to back to what you last sent them. Also consider that their computer can crash.

You can email your stories and novels to yourself. Again, you must do this on a weekly schedule if you write often so that you will have your recent work to fall back on.

HOW DO YOU KNOW YOUR COMPUTER IS CRASHING?
Sometimes you hear grinding of the mysterious innards, not me though. I was forewarned in each of my three computer crashes by the dreaded "blue screen of death." Your computer shuts down on its own and then when it restarts, a blue screen appears with white text that tells about checking this and that. You can still work for awhile, but the shut downs and blue screen appearances get more frequent.

My first computer crash, I had adhered to the practice of emailing stories often to my husband on his office computer so I had a back up.

Before my second crash, I had become complacent, feeling that hard drives crashing were much like lighting strikes, I had been hit once, so I was now safe. Not so. It cost $500 to have a professional service pull my files out of the dead hard drive plus the cost of a new lap top.

This third time, the blue screen of death warned me and I acted. First I contacted my lap top technical service and we tried an online patch. It not only didn't work, but gave the error code 332 - which translated means "hard drive failure." So I contacted a company that extracts files from dead hard drives. The rates have gone up. They wanted from $900 to $3,500, depending on how many pictures and files I needed rescuing. After I picked my mouth and stomach off the floor, I chose to spend the day trying to salvage what I could. I emailed all my files to my hotmail.com, live.com and my husband's office computer once again. I also purchased a 64 GB flash drive for $40 and downloaded all my files and 4,000 pictures.  I could have downloaded all of these things in about an hour and half if my computer had been functioning properly. I was actually very lucky that I could get my computer to work for two or three minutes at a time, because it was just enough time to email a group of files before crashing again. This went on for a solid 12 hours, much like labor pains, when my computer finally TOTALLY DIED.  I'm lucky once again. I have ALL my files.

Not so lucky about my emails though. I had all my son's two years of mission emails saved in one of my emails. They are GONE as are all the pictures he emailed me. I'll call *email company and see if they can hook me up with their back-up system to retrieve them. If not, my son has the pictures on disc, and I have three binders with all of his emails I printed out each week. 

I will now be without a computer for TWO WEEKS. Thank goodness my two college sons have computers along with my husband so I can at least get my three articles written and turned in for the * newpaper I write for, but my writing will be on hold.

This is killing me. I write everyday. I am more of a "pantser" than a plotter (Scottsdale writer, Larry Brooks, would scold me for sure.) However for this next two weeks, I will be a model student and plot. I have several story not written for my Seven Scary Stories book - you know, scary campfire like stories. I'll plot the other three out. I'll plot my latest MG fantasy adventure.

I'm putting this in writing . . . I WILL NEVER LET THIS HAPPEN AGAIN. I have researched and am going to set up a back up plan with *- - - - -.

PLEASE, MY WRITER FRIENDS, BACK UP YOUR FILES AND PICTURES.  Don't let this happen to you.

*I was just warned not include commercial messages, so I can't write company names here. Email me if you would like to know.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Illusions of Grandeur






When I was a kid I didn't have one thing I wanted to be when I grew up. I didn't see any reason to limit myself to only one dream so I had many. When I watched Indian Jones, I dreamt of becoming an archaeologist (minus the spiders). When I watched Quincie (yes, dating myself) I dreamt of becoming a "guy that studies dead people", when I read Island of the Blue Dolphins, I dreamt of ending up on a distant island. I was flexible.
My mother didn't help me much. She always told me I could be whatever I wanted to be, and I believed her. She never said I had to pick one thing, so I didn't. There really wasn't any problem with this way of thinking....until now.
When I graduated high school, I went straight into community college. I was going to be a psychologist. That 'dream' quickly, and frequently changed as the next few years went by. As a result, I became a mom with a lot of random college courses under her belt. (and you thought it was baby fat....)
Time has gone on, as it tends to do, and the future is here. Twenty years later and I am once again trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. Over these years, I have noticed certain strengths and levels of enjoyment in the things I have done. I love to create, be with people, teach, and be in charge of things. (I also love to write, but I can do that no matter what I choose.) When I put those all together, becoming a teacher seems to be a good fit.
I'm now in the process of finishing my degree and I am having a battle with time. It is not a fun thing to look at your life and realize....there may be more behind you than in front of you. I'm not THAT old, but there are times and seasons that are optimal to some events. Starting out on a new career three years from my current age seems a bit daunting at times. It is hard for me to be able to swallow the fact that I may have two to three more years of school ahead of me before I can be a grown up with a grown up job. Is it worth it? Will it work?
My mom answered my questions with another question of her own. If it takes me four years to get where I want to with my teaching degree.....what would I be doing in four years if I didn't get it? My quick answer was, "working at Burger King." That's actually a night mare I have, but she made a good point. Some times it is better to take a chance and jump in with both feet instead of sitting on the edge, waiting for the water to become shallow. At least, I'll be heading somewhere, and that's when the best serendipity happens. On the road....cause I said so.

Photo credit: http://www.google.com/imgres?q=images+of+feet+in+swimming+pools&hl=en&client=safari&sa=X&rls=en&biw=1345&bih=575&tbm=isch&prmd=imvns&tbnid=9ugRWYP0gNLllM:&imgrefurl=http://www.featurepics.com/online/Feet-Swimming-Pool-908782.aspx&docid=MEbbxF7-kacl2M&imgurl=http://www.featurepics.com/FI/Thumb300/20080925/Feet-Swimming-Pool-908782.jpg&w=449&h=291&ei=OtgtUIuoJ-PkywHy8oC4Bg&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=423&vpy=283&dur=2720&hovh=181&hovw=279&tx=155&ty=159&sig=113066672481944259300&page=1&tbnh=109&tbnw=176&start=0&ndsp=23&ved=1t:429,r:18,s:0,i:131

Why I'm Still Here

By Susan Knight


     Spoiler Alert: Pity Party. But it has a good ending.
    
     The other night, when my ankle was hurting because I had done too much during the day, I said my prayers as I rubbed my ankle and just spoke my heart to my Heavenly Father. I sure felt sorry for myself.
    
     “Heavenly Father, why did you bring me all the way to Utah just to let my ankle get mangled?”
   
     I really had a great time before that happened. I joined a lot of activities: a dance group, two book clubs, and a writer’s chapter. I welcomed each tomorrow to see what discoveries I could make in this beautiful new place.
    
     Then, a year ago, almost, over Labor Day weekend, I stood on a ladder and it collapsed. There, too, went my whole new world.
    
     I know it could have been worse. My guardian angels worked way overtime for me, making sure my ankle was the only injury. I could have broken my arms, or my neck. Thank you, angels J
    
     So now, after almost a year, my patience wore thin. I cried out to my Lord as tears trickled down my cheeks, “Why? Why did this happen? I can’t do anything. I can’t go anywhere—easily. I can’t walk.” I am not normally a wall flower. I am very independent. Was
    
     And, I have to admit, I asked Him, “What is my purpose? Why am I still here? I’m good for nothing.”
    
     The next day, Sunday, I happened upon the compassionate service leader in my ward who took great care of me during my surgery and way-long recovery. We caught up before the meetings started. She had been visiting with her family at a reunion at Bear Lake. And what did she talk about? Her great-granddaughters.
    
     “She calls me Great-Nanna,” she said of one. “Because I’m Nanna to my grandchildren.”
    
     Her stories of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, I have to admit, brought tears to my eyes because of the loving way in which she spoke about them. Just thinking about it now almost makes me weep.
    
     “Great-Nanna, will you hold me?” I saw the love for her family in her tales of Bear Lake.
    
     As I sat, preparing for the sacrament, a warm feeling came over me. Then it hit me hard, and in no still, small voice.
    
     “You, too, can have this. Have patience. Even more patience than you’ve already mustered. Good times are just around the corner.”
    
     Well, around the corner, down the lane, up and over the mountain, maybe… I have no grandchildren; just four kids and two sons-in-law. But I get the gist of what the Holy Ghost was trying to tell me. I have a purpose. I know why I’m here. Feeling sorry for yourself can skew the vision.
    
     So I diligently stick to my morning affirmations: I am well. I am happy. I am healthy. I am strong.
    
     And I added one more: My ankle is getting better.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

And then HE said...

by Kami Cornwall

I finally sat down last night and got to writing! I'm in a "stuck" spot right now and not sure how to get the characters through it but realized that there are quite a few chapters that haven't been fleshed out very well. One in particular could get rather juicy. There's just one problem.

I get stuck on the dialogue! I get the two love-birds together and then I have no...idea...what they should say. It's...awkward. Kind of like my own love life. Then again, mine was a series of unfortunate events. (When I learned that was an actual series name I thought maybe it was a log of someone's dating life because seriously! SO glad I'm married.)

So what do you do to get the conversations going? Do you visualize yourself there? Have an idea ahead of time where it ought to go? What if you just want to establish a bond between the characters? I hate pausing long enough to read a book about writing but I'm willing to take suggestions now.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tip of the Day

by Terri Wagner

My father watches The Bill O'Reilly Show on Foxnews pretty much every night. If I am around, so do I. I particularly like his last segment where he reads emails that have been sent to him. I imagine there is just one person whose job is to vet those emails and then quite possibly O'Reilly makes the final choice. Most of the ones read are as requested by him "pithy."

Very recently, he added another last segment called Tip of the Day. The tips are wide ranging and interesting. The problem is that most people do not like that new segment. The email review as O'Reilly puts it is overwhelmingly against the concept. He keeps asking why.

So I thought about why. Now, mind you, I am NOT answering for the rest of the country or the world for that matter. But for me (as the prophet Joshua once said), the tips smack of hectoring. Is it delivery? Not sure. O'Reilly can at times be rather pompous sounding. Is it subject matter? Can't really judge that because the subjects have been all over the place...health, self help, etc.

For me it's the "truthfulness" of the tip to which I object. "Who" made that decision that blah blah blah is best for me. What was "their" criteria to make that determination? Why should I trust "them"? It comes down to the truth.

As writers do we often or sometimes sacrifice truth for pith? I know out of the many non-fiction books I have read, the ones that suspend judgement but offer only the facts are the ones I enjoy the most. These books do not offer up tip of the day...only here are the facts, draw your own conclusion.

Right now I am reading No Higher Honor by Condoleezza Rice. It is an excellent dialogue on what she went through, how quickly crises developed on her watch as National Security Adviser and later Secretary of State. I say dialogue because it is like she is talking to you the reader about what was going on. It is a serious tome, full of hindsight observations and humorous anecdotes. Mostly it is about how a woman faced some of the most significant events in our country's recent history. Well worth reading.

Would I take a tip of the day from her? Actually yes I would. Why? I trust her by reading about her perspective. As writers, we have a responsibility to be truthful in our writing. That may be much more difficult in fiction, but I suspect that long-standing serial fiction hero writers would vehemently disagree.

As O'Reilly puts it, "What Say You?"

Monday, August 13, 2012

Everything You Can Imagine....

by C. Wolfe

“Everything you can imagine is real.”   -Pablo Picasso
When I came across this quote, it stuck out to me. I've always read fantasy novels, stories with dragons, elves, magic, dwarves, trolls, etc. They're just me. When I was a bit younger I came up with a theory of my own regarding the stories we write. I've heard a lot of writers say that when they write, the characters speak to them, trying to get them to write their stories! This hasn't happened to me yet, but it got me thinking.

My theory (and I've heard of other people who agree with me on this) is that every story we tell has happened somewhere else in all the vast galaxies about. Perhaps there are dragons, werewolves, and other such creatures elsewhere in the galaxies. There are any number of worlds out there that could hold life just like ours and the characters we write about could be out there somewhere, or could have lived in the past on those worlds.

But, even if I'm wrong for some inexplicable reason, everything we can possibly imagine is still real to us. It's real to the writers, and if the writer does a good enough job, they're real to the readers as well. To the movie directors, the actors who play the characters. To everyone involved in the telling of a story, and especially those who watch the movies and shows, and read the books. It's alive to all of us, and that is why everything you can possibly imagine is alive. We bring them to life as we tell the stories and they keep them alive as they read them, listen to them, and watch them.