Jan 30, 2016

Writing Tip #2 ~ By The WWD

by Cindy R. Williams

Writing Tip #2 By The WWD

Make no mistake, if you see someone walking around talking to herself, she is not crazy, she is a writer. Writers often have conversations with their characters.

Someone asked me to give them some writing tips. This sure got me thinking. Hmmm, . .  I could go online and find some for them. I could peruse my many books on writing and share. Then I realized that I have a few things that have come to me through the school of hard knocks. So I dug deep and came up with these. I call myself  the "WWD--Writer With Desire".  I will post them throughout the year.

Jan 26, 2016

Writing with Another Person Part 3? 4? 5:

by Terri Wagner

I am not sure when I last wrote about working with another writer. I think I was more positive about the idea than I am today. What changed? Not sure! However, when I finish a scene and shot it along to this other person, I get a lot of negative feedback. So have I suddenly become a bad writer? Or what I suspect is that my writing is distracted. I know what I want to do with a scene, but while I see the vision and think I am writing it properly, my partner says a reader will get lost. And she's a reader who would know what I was writing and why we needed the scene. It is becoming a problem. She feels she is doing all the writing, and I feel like I'm getting picked on.

I have written 3 scenes, all rejected. It involved a date to set up what happens later. First date she said was too much like a first date. Technically it was a first date, not really a date, between friends. So I did a Mormon type "steamy" scene, lol, and she said too much. Will make the relationship flounder as a simply physical relationship. So I did another one. Kind of Mormony, cute, fun, and she said we already used an arcade setting. Making me nuts. And that's not all. One day she thinks the steamy scene might serve the ultimate goal better, then chides me for writing it, then again rejects it.

She's not doing this because she's crazy but because she wants it all to make sense, flow right, and assist us to the ultimate goal which is sorta romance. Maybe that's the issue. I do not really like writing fiction, and romance in particular. So I am back to trying to figure out what I am doing wrong.

There are a lot of difficult life situations going on for both of us. So it would be easy to say well she's blah blah blah and I'm blah blah blah and leave it there. But that is not going to get the book written. Is she being unreasonable? Am I? Is it simply my vision is different from hers? And if so then how do we marry our visions? Writing with a partner means checking your vision at the door. It means rethinking what your writing. If it does not make sense to her who knows the plot, how will it mean anything to a beta reader? So what do I do about the next thing I wrote she is now questioning everything on? Stay tuned for more writing with a partner.

Jan 23, 2016


by Cassie M. Shiels

Lately I have been doing a lot of editing. Thats what I get for writing I guess. :D We have to go back through and edit. The first thing that I have learned about editing that I wish I had known before was that it is so important to have someone else read through it. So Super important. They see things you don't! I know it is hard to find someone who has both your trust and will be honestly helpful. That is sometimes a hard balance to find, but seek that person out. They are invaluable!

I published my first book very wary of letting others read it and now I am paying that price. I am using beta readers to help me with a grammar edit after the book has been out almost a year, and I am having to go through the process now of fixing it, after going through the embarrassment of being told it was a fun story but full of quite a few errors. I knew grammar has always been my weakness but I let my fears keep me from getting help. Its okay though it will be better this second time around, but I learned that beta readers before a book is published vs. after is a much better idea.

The second thing that I think is so vital, is to put the book away for a while. I used to think this was a silly idea but honestly after it has sat for a week or more, things jump out at you that never would have before. You will read a sentence and think, what was I saying. You will start seeing mistakes that you would have glossed over before because you were so used to seeing those words. Put it away I know it is hard, but do a different project for a week or so and then come back. It is so helpful.

The third thing is to go through the whole thing again, after you think its pretty much at its best, with the sole purpose of taking out unnecessary words. I have started doing this recently and its making a huge difference to my writing. Everything is tighter, the sentences are neater, the story flows better.  You usually don't need  for example the word just, and that can also often be taken out. Cut the fluff, and it will make for a better book for sure.

There is a lot of writing and editing advice out there, but for me, in my writing life right now these are the big ones. The ones that are making a huge difference for me right now. I hope they will help you out with your writing too!

Jan 19, 2016

The Power of UP

by Marsha Ward

Did you ever stop to think how versatile a word is the simple two-letter "up?"

There is the direction, of course: up and down. We can't do without that. However, the power is in combination, when you put "up" together with another word or two. Here's a list I've come up with (heh heh).

come up (sunrise)
come up (command to ascend--come up here)
come up with (approach something or someone)
come up with (a list or a solution)
come up behind
catch up (to someone)
catch up (an object)
up early (arise in the morning)
bring up
clean up
hurry up
scoop up
get up
look up
pull up (pants)
pull up (a horse)
leap up
pick up
snatch up
stand up
straighten up
hop up
fly up
wake up
pack up
draw up (your knees)
draw up (a contract)
up and take off (leave)
ride up
heal up
mix up
throw up (vomit)
throw up to (confront)
crawl up
make up (compose)
make up (your mind)
make up (time)
hold up
put up (animals)
put up with (endure)
lock up
end up (conclusion of event)
move up
climb up
coop up
keep up (remain together)
keep up (uh, any number of things)
wake up
turn up (appear)
turned up (nose)
flare up (temper or fire)
bunch up
take up (a position)
take up (a collection)
take up with (associate with a person)
hitch up (a team)

Well, you get the idea. Who knew two letters had such versatility and power?

What other words are this well used?

Reprinted from "Writer in the Pines" Blog, August 29, 2008

Jan 16, 2016

Writing Tips # 1 ~ By The WWD

By Cindy R. Williams

Writing Tip #1 By The WWD

"Get your phobias out of the way and write. Or put your phobias to use in your writing."

Someone asked me to give them some writing tips. This sure got me thinking. Hmmm, . .  I could go online and find some for them. I could peruse my many books on writing and share. Then I realized that I have a few things that have come to me through the school of hard knocks. So I dug deep and came up with these. I call myself  the "WWD--Writer With Desire".  I will post them throughout the year.

Jan 15, 2016

Letting the Storm Rage On

By: Susan Allred

It's 11:23 p.m. and I'm just beginning to start on my bi-monthly blog post for ANWA.

Today I've finished editing and e-mailing a custom mystery game for 30 players to a client, turned in three college assignments, took my son to speech therapy, created a family debt-reduction program for 2016, and managed to have quality one-on-one time with each member of my family.  Soon, I will be able to check "Write ANWA blog post" off the list.

I tried simplifying my life in December.  I swear it!  I put my sister in charge of the family business, told the bishop that I wouldn't accept a fourth calling unless he released me from one of the others, and forgave myself for not completing my NaNoWriMo story in November.

A lighthouse keeper standing on the deck of his lighthouse during a storm.
I'm pretty sure my resolve lasted about three days.  The bishop was nice enough to release me from all of my callings.  Then he called me to the Relief Society Presidency.  I got rid of the business, but started working on the ANWA website and learning all the ropes (a task not as easy as you'd think --Thank you DeAnn Huff for all you do!!). I've started my final quarter of college - all four online classes, and I'm trying to finish the tediously slow process of finalizing my first manuscript before the end of the month.  NaNoWriMo eat your heart out!!

There are days when I feel as if I'm standing on the deck of a lighthouse in the middle of a raging storm as the waves threaten to overtake me.  Occasionally, I shrink away, feeling the spray of the ice-cold water splashing on my cheeks and overwhelmed by the roar of the salty waves above and behind me.

Those are the days, like today, when I take a few precious moments and have a humble tête-à-tête with my Father in Heaven.  Sometimes I have the luxury of kneeling down, in a quiet room, without little hands pounding on my door, or fingers wiggling under the crack of the door, begging to be addressed. Other times, I have a few minutes in the car when I turn off the radio, try not to curse at the drivers around me, and pour my soul out to the Man upstairs.

When I'm done, though, I'm never disappointed.  Those seconds I spend in fervent prayer always seem to  produce the calm I need to face the storm raging around (and within) me.  So what that I haven't had more than three hours sleep in the last two days.  Who cares that I'll probably be up for another four hours finishing up my reports for work.  It doesn't really matter that I've been thrust into a new calling that requires significantly more time.  I'm up for the challenge.  And quite frankly, I've got it much better than so many wonderful ladies I know.  I'll gladly take my trial.  And I'll even attempt a smile.

God is by my side making sure my footing is sure, and protecting me from the chaos that threatens to sweep me away.  Go ahead, let the storm rage on. I am right where I need to be, doing the things I should be doing.  Everything else is just background noise.

Jan 12, 2016

Bragging Rights for a Year

by Terri Wagner

Awww you know I just cannot help it. My alma mater has done it again...won its 16th national championship in football. It is especially sweet since the years of 1984-1991 and 1993-2007 were painful reminders of how the mighty can fall. I felt very much like Garfield in those years, "Go Team Go or in the very least don't humiliate us." I remember well the years of quarterback Andrew Zow and running back Shaun Alexander whom we referred to as Alex the Great and how every week they would suit up and go out and lose. It was heartbreaking and heartswelling to watch that. As reports came out about the coaching staff and how poorly they handled well just about everything including their personal morals, it made me love that group even more. And many thought the Tide was on its last feet.

In my time at Bama, we were football gods in the SEC. I had a poster in my dorm room of the elephant sitting on a throne sailing down a river as the other mascots in the SEC bowed to him. And everyone knew the Bear would handle whatever came our way. It was a shock in those years after the Bear retired, then passed on. Then came Coach Saban. A local now national sports showman, Paul Finebaunn, explained the hiring of Saban this way. Just when the SEC thought the elephant was down and dead, the news came. The elephant flapped her ears, grunted deeply, staggered to her feet and lifted her trunk. Shaking off rumors of her demise, she lumbered down the field, gaining momentum to yet again leave the others in the dust.

I see this as a metaphor for life and writing. Years of frustration, grief, and even abandonment of your goals temporarily can make you want to quit forever. Just stick those old stories on a shelf and forget about it. Wallow in glory days as the Boss sings, and let it go. Accept those moments. They come. Hopefully not for years. Wait for the right motivation to come your way, lumber up, shake it off, and start running down the field. New glory is waiting. And the years of defeat and misery will serve you well. In the very least it will keep you humble.

Perhaps the biggest reason this particular win is so precious is this team was not expected to do well. Our quarterback Jake Coker got nervous easily, our defense could not do it all, our secondary was weak, and in my day, we considered this a rebuilding year. When we lost to Ole Miss early on, and all national championship dreams were dashed (or so we thought), the team and that is what they are sat down with each other and promised never again. As a team, they have surpassed the Zow/Alexander team for heart in my book. As a team they won and as Derrick Henry put it, "finished it." I know I am not alone as Coach Saban expressed a great deal of emotion about this team, their efforts, and their victory. Every book, every article, every published item is a product of a team effort. Let your team work their magic, and victory will come.

For a year, we get the bragging rights, for a lifetime, you can get bragging rights.

Jan 9, 2016

Doing Chores

Doing Chores

by: Cassie M. Shiels

Like any child I hated doing chores. I grumbled or groaned, but sluggishly got up and did them. I was very quick to get my jobs done however, when there was a book I wanted to read and I was told I could not read it until my chores were done. :D
As an adult, a mom, I end up doing a lot of things that I use to hate doing. Cleaning the bathroom, washing dishes, laundry etc. I could hate it but I don't. Its different when you are doing these things to take care of your family as a mom.
When I was a child doing chores at home, I did not like it but I found a way to make the time pass better. I would create a story while working. When scrubbing the shower, I was cinderella, and I would create a whole story around what I was doing. It was my start of talking to characters. As I grew I continued to do it. Occasionally I would have a story that I only told myself for weeks when I worked on tasks that didn't need much of my mind. I would hold conversations between characters in the shower, cleaning, mopping, ironing and things like that.
I remember being a janitor in collage and boy did I come up with some fun stories when I had to ride down the scary elevator, or vacuums a rug while being starred at by passerby's, while mopping under tables with music coming from the dance rooms near by.
Tasks where your mind can wander are awesome times to create stories. However its is hard when in the shower and you need paper right now before that awesome dialogue gets lost forever!!
If you are having a hard time figuring out a scene or figuring out how two characters would talk to each other maybe choose to do a chore. Choose for example to hand wash all the dishes instead of put them in the dishwasher and give your characters a chance to show you how they will act or what they may say. Its a good way to get over a bout of writers block. Its also a good way to get somethings around the house done. Two for one! :D

Jan 7, 2016

Rainy Day Blessings

by Kari Diane Pike

I love rainy days. Rainy days slow my world down and give me time to think. I spent my elementary school years in northwestern Montana where we would get rain twenty one days out of thirty in the month of June. I have no idea why I remember that statistic. I do remember whining about the rain back then and asking, "Isn't it ever going to stop raining? Are we ever going to have a day without rain?" It's funny how, after moving to Phoenix as a teenager, it didn't take long before I started asking, "Isn't it ever going to rain?" Go figure.

We've had a long dry spell in Arizona. Flatlanders and Rim people alike would like to see this year's predicted El Nino (how do you add that ~ over the n again?) replenish our depleted reservoirs. I may have flinched before I headed out into the rain at six a.m. today, but you won't find me complaining about three days in a row of glorious, precious, wet stuff falling from the sky. What a blessing! Besides, what better excuse to cozy up in a quilt with a hot cup of herbal tea or hot cocoa and a good book? I might find time to get the rest of my overdue holiday thank you notes written; or even (ahem) the Christmas, errrrr...New Year's...ummm..Valentine's letters out. Because rain makes me think a lot about friends. 

Friends. Mortal angels who act as God's hands and bless my life. Sometimes it comes in the form of a smiley face in my text messages, a phone call to share a happy song, a loaf of fresh bread, a bouquet of flowers, or a hug. And always, always, in the very moment I most need that little bit of extra strength. Friends teach me how to listen more, pay closer attention, and about unconditional love. Thank you for being my friends.

Of course, my very best friend is my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Pondering on friends and goals for 2016, I think my number one goal is to become more Christlike and be a better friend. Thank you Rainy Day for giving me time to think. 

Life is magnificent! 

Jan 5, 2016

Space Bars - Use Only Once, Please!

by Marsha Ward

Did you know...

that when mankind used typewriters, we were taught to space twice after each sentence?

There was a good reason for that.

Each letter took the same amount of space, that is, each "M" occupied the same amount of space on the typed page as each "I".  We had to use two spaces after each period so other folks could more easily find the beginnings and ends.

But you know, we don't use those "mono-space" typefaces much anymore. Sure, you might use it for a manuscript, if you like the look of Courier, or obsess about the number of words on a page, but few modern writers are that nit-picky about the look of their manuscripts, and Word provides a nifty tool called "word count" that was missing from typewriters. Everything will be changed, anyway, once the manuscript becomes a book. The typesetter will take your edited electronic file and make it look all pretty for the printed page. They probably will use a different typeface entirely.

What does all that have to do with whether or not your thumb hits the space bar once or twice after a sentence? It doesn't even matter, right?


If you put in two spaces after a period at the end of the sentence (or, horrors, a space after a period at the end of a paragraph), someone has to massage your file to take out all those extra spaces. Someone at the publishing company. Someone who has to be paid for their time to do that.

I've been told on good authority that some publishers will pass up a perfectly good story/novel if the manuscript has two spaces after a period, because of the cost and hassle involved with removing the extra spaces!



Don't be that obnoxious writer. Keep your chances of being accepted as high as possible. Make things easy for your editor/typesetter. Restrain your thumb from hitting the space bar twice. It's not really that hard to quell the desire/habit.

Just do it!

Jan 2, 2016

The New Year Equals a New Chance

by Cindy R. Williams

The New Year equals a new chance. Everyone knows that. In fact most people make new goals for the new year. You know a chance to start over. According to many lists on Google, the most common goal we make is to lose weight. Okay, been there, done that, gained it back.

I like the idea that a new chance gives me a fresh year to accomplish my writing goals.

How about you? What does the New Year mean to you?