Friday, August 29, 2014

Forget My Book…What About My Spouse’s Book?


Getting something published, anything published, is a sweet accomplishment.  Regardless of it being an online blog (wink), a journal, an info-edit on Wikipedia, or that illusive but epic n-o-v-e-l, we do enjoy seeing our work out there.
            However, what do we do if a spouse or family member has some work of literary brilliance in the works as well?  We know that we must keep writing, upwards and onwards, in order to keep our skills up to snuff.  So, what do we do if our family member wants us to help them get their work published?  It’s hard enough to get our own material out there.
            So, my spouse wrote a children’s ‘A-B-C’ book that is a unique style that I have never seen before in any of the numerous versions out there.  I know; I’m happily biased. 
            My spouse took the normal path and sent out samples and cover letters to several publishers.  And, like all of us, she received several rejection letters.  Since collecting endless streams of rejection letters is not one of my spouse’s strong points, I wasn’t too surprised when she put this excellent work on the back-burner.  There were other, more important things for her to focus her efforts.  At least those things gave her more immediate, more fulfilling results.
            As I briefly diverted my attention from my own meteoric rise in literary excellence (guffaw…guffaw), I decided to pick up my wife’s manuscript give it the ol’ peruse.  I read it once…twice…and loved it more each time.  There was something solid there. 
            I asked my spouse if she wanted to renew her interest in her book concept, but she politely declined.  She’d given her creative genius to the script and that was her limit.  Yet, I felt very strongly that her book had a place in the A-B-C book universe.  So, with my spouse’s permission, I volunteered to pick up the flag and run with it. 
            Off goes the manuscript to my favorite editor; off goes the interest letters to a few illustrators, seeking sample pages; out comes the growing list of possible publishers.  If I’m successful, my spouse will get all of the credit. 

            Not surprisingly, I’m perfectly fine with this.  Taking time out to help another rise in the biz will take quite a bit of time and you’ll end up shouldering some of the same highs and lows that your spouse felt; however, when success finally arrives, you’ll get to share the joy.  And isn’t that what this talent is really about…spreading the joy.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Writing Goals--My New Year's Resolution Updates

by Katy White

At the beginning of the New Year, I shared my writing goals for the year. After 12 years in Corporate America, I'm in the habit of self-reflection and peer accountability, so I wanted to share an update on my goals to my peers. :)

Here are the goals I set for myself:

-Get the two books I wrote in 2013 query ready,
-Query one or both of them,
-Land an agent, and
-Write two more books.

I'm thrilled to say that I've actually accomplished three of these! I got the first book I wrote in 2013 reviewed by friends and revised multiple times, and then in March, I started querying it and entering it in contests. While I was in the middle of a contest in April, I heard back from an agent at the top of my list that she loved my book and wanted to represent me! In May, I signed with the phenomenal Bree Ogden of D4EO Literary Agency and am currently working with her on revisions to get my novel ready for submission. It's beyond exciting for me, and I'm eagerly looking forward to the next steps with Bree and this manuscript.

So, items one through three on my list have been accomplished, and I still can hardly believe my good fortune!

My fourth goal--writing two books this year--is, I think, also going to happen. I'm about 71,000 words into a manuscript that I think will be around 80,000 words, and because I'm writing this novel NaNo style throughout the month of August, I plan to be done by the end of the month. PHEW! One down.

Here's where my fourth goal gets into sub-goals (I'm an external processor, so forgive me for dumping my brain on you):

-In September, after my first revision, I'll send my new MS (manuscript) out to my two, erm, alpha critique partners (the ones who don't mind reading something rough and being brutally honest with me about it).
-Then I'll revise based on their feedback by, I'm hoping, mid-to late October.
-Once it's further revised, I hope to send it out to other critique partners (those who aren't doing NaNoWriMo) and give them time to read and critique it.
-While my CP's critique, I'll do NaNo in November for the second manuscript I'm planning to write this year!

It's an ambitious timeline, but I think I can do it. It just means ignoring the TV, paying less attention to social media, and not reading nearly as many books as I do when I'm not binge-writing. I can do it, right? (As long as my toddler continues to nap and go to bed at a decent hour. If that changes, all bets are off!)

Okay, so that's my update! I'd love to hear from all of you now! How are you doing on your writing resolutions? How can we help each other get and stay motivated in the midst of the slumps that may be hitting? Any changes to your goals? Sound off in the comments below!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

My Two New Book Babies

by Anna Jones Buttimore

Forgive me, but I'm so terribly excited I can't contain the news. I've got two new books coming out next week! Finally seeing your hard work in print is one of the greatest (and most nerve-wracking) parts of being an author so please indulge me while I introduce them to you.

Emon and the Emperor is  my seventh novel. It's taken about five years to write, rewrite and edit, and I'm quite inappropriately proud of the end result. It probably helps that it's my favourite genre--sci-fi--but if that's not your thing there's a little romance in there too. It's essentially a story about a very ordinary, none-too-bright young man who finds himself in an impossible situation. It's released on 1st September on Nook, Kobo, Kindle and paperback, priced at £3.99/$4.99 for the ebook, £8.50/$12.87 in paperback. Needless to say, I'd love you to buy it (you can pre-order it already), and love it even more if you could leave me an honest review. Click here to buy it in the US, and here in the UK. Thank you!

Supporting Emon is Random Ramblings, a collection of my various short stories, poems, fan fiction some excerpts from novels. The plan was to put it out for free as an ebook, but unfortunately it turns out Amazon won't let me, so it's currently priced at 77p/$1.28 as an ebook, and £5/$7.93 as a paperback. It is available free on Smashwords, however: and here's the link for that. (Feel free to pop over to Amazon and report that you've found a lower price so that they'll price match it. I've already done so, but they might be ignoring me because I'm the author.)

Thanks for bearing with me as I boasted about my book babies. I really hope you enjoy them.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Dear Not-Quite-Tween Daughter: A Conversation on Modesty

by Merry Gordon

Dear Not-Quite-Tween Daughter:

It’s early, I know. The fact that you’re a girl barely registers with you. You still smell of recess and little kid sweat and school cafeteria and it’s all I can do to get you to brush your hair once a day. Knots of whispering females are cropping up under the bleachers at snack time to trade secrets and lip gloss, but you’re still out there on the soccer field kicking the collective rear of every boy in your grade—you are not the kind of girl who’ll be sidelined by your gender, and for that I’m grateful.

But a time will come in the none-too-distant future when we will bond over PMS-fueled ice cream benders and watch YouTube videos on how to best conceal a surprise zit on class picture day. You’ll borrow my mascara in the mornings, steal your dad’s razor to shave your legs for the first time…and eventually you might try to sneak out of the house wearing an outfit that raises an eyebrow. Maybe you’ll wriggle into your seat at church and tug on a too-short dress or shake your hair over a strappy shirt. It’s possible you’ll test boundaries; most kids do.

And if this happens, your father and I will both take a deep breath.

He will sit down, clean his gun collection and make a mental note of any boy over the age of twelve who has so much as glanced at you in the past six months.

I will put on my best MomFace and consider my next move.

What I won’t do is tell you ‘modest is hottest’. This is why:  I spent years preventing your Hannah Montana-loving eyes from seeing the “Wrecking Ball” music video. I steered you away from hyper-eroticized fashion dolls. The last thing I’m going to do is confuse you with a cute catchphrase implying that covering up will make you physically desirable.

I also won’t force you to change your outfit. I don’t own your body. You have been endowed with the sublime gift of agency, and I will not, even in that lovingly passive-aggressive way mothers have, attempt to take that away from you.

Oh, we’ll still have words about modesty and why it’s important—don’t get me wrong.

But maybe before it gets to this point, we should sit down and have an honest conversation that doesn’t dodge the tough stuff and couch doctrine in platitudes. I owe you that.

So here goes…

Let me tell you something. I have great legs for a woman my age. I could still rock a mini like it’s nobody’s business.

I just choose not to.

Maybe you’ve heard someone say that women should be modest because they don’t want to tempt boys into immorality, but that’s not what makes me pass up the Daisy Dukes and bandeaus.

I don’t dress modestly because I feel some kind of obligation toward male moral agency—and I don’t want you dressing modestly only so Johnny keeps his eyes on his math notes instead of on your backside. Making men the sole focus of modesty gives license to the idea that they are no more than club-wielding cavemen incapable of controlling their carnal urges, and I have a little more faith in humanity than that.

Here’s why I choose to cover up. I dress modestly because I believe that one way to close the gender gap is to stop giving so much importance to the thigh gap. My contribution to the world goes beyond cleavage:  I will not objectify myself. But most importantly, I choose modesty because I understand my divine nature. I believe that my body is a temple. I believe in glorifying God with my body—and with my spirit, which is the far harder lesson. I believe that modesty is more than what I wear.

You are ten now, all scabby-kneed body joy and breathless with hope. But I can’t keep you little forever:  crushes and stick-on nails are just around the corner. They lurk there in the shadows, with Temptation and Doubt and all the other trials that cross the path of teenage life and make you wonder if it’s worth it to hike up your skirt a little for the attention.

Before that time comes, a promise:

I will show you how to be beautiful and not merely hot.

I will teach you that your body is a miracle, not something to be afraid and ashamed of.

I will talk to you about sleeves and necklines, but also about modesty in thought and in word, the kind of grace that calls attention to your divine potential as a daughter of God and helps you focus on what is truly meaningful in life.

All of my love forever,


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Share Goodness

by Becky Porter

I'm sure many of you have heard about Elder Bednar's recent talk regarding social media.  I have to confess that I haven't watched the talk yet, but I love everything I have read about it.  One of the reasons I write on this blog and use Facebook is to spread my version of happiness to the world.  Part of Elder Bednar's talk includes the challenge to flood social media with uplifting messages.  So that's my invitation to you this week.  Evaluate the way you use social media and find time at least once this week (maybe daily) to share your happiness.

Now I'm off to watch the whole talk.  You can learn more at this link:

P.S.  I'd love to hear about your experiences with positive social media so join the conversation by leaving a comment.  Thanks!


Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Epic Battle

By Lacey Gunter

There are certain ideas that seem to be woven into the fabric of our beings. Ideas that we can all resonate with on one level or another. Someone might try to ague that they are just a result of environmental or cultural influences.  But the countless generations and myriads of cultures in which they appear clearly puts that argument into question.

One of these ideas is the battle between good and evil. This idea has dominated literature and the arts for as long as we have records of literature and arts. If it is not the most frequent theme, I suspect it would only come in second to the topic of love.

The modern secularization of America has led to the promotion of the concept that there is no such thing as good and evil, only what feels best for you.   It is funny that even as this concept is being preached as wisdom, our imagination and our hearts can't seem to let go of the idea of a battle between good and evil. All one need do is skim a list of the most popular books and movies of the past decade to see that the idea still deeply resonates with people. From Harry Potter, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and Hunger Games to super heroes and super villains, to name a just a few.

Why is this? Why do we seem to be so drawn to the idea of an epic battle between good and evil that we have to study it and immerse ourselves it and see it from many different angles and scenarios? Being a blog with a religious bent, as you might guess, I think this is because it is what we are actually doing, what we are actually involved in, an epic battle, of infinite proportions, between good and evil. We are battling it within ourselves, within the walls of our own homes and in our communities all around us. We resonate with it because we have experienced and felt it and we want and need to be inspired to continue to fight and to conquer despite our exhaustion and the looming difficulties that lay ahead.

When the dust settles and the victory is decided and the narrative of this world is finally all written, man is it going to be a fantastical epic tale.  I can't wait to read it and I hope ever so much my miniscule contribution in it will be something I can be proud of. Even if I am just some faceless, nameless soldier in the crowd, as long as I am fighting for the right side, I know I will have contributed to something far greater than even the best fiction, fairy tales and fantasies.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Do You Ever Disconnect?


I'm struggling with social media this week.  I've discovered something disturbing.

When I'm not on facebook, twitter, or pinterest for 3-4 days or more - I don't really miss it.  I actually kind of forget about them.  How can this be good?!?!  I'm a writer - I need those networks!

Still.  When I take a's really nice.

A young friend of mine decided to give up facebook after a decade of checking in daily.  I was stunned.  Her generation created social media, they have mastered it and loved it and lived by it.

Still.  She'd had enough. She realized 80% of the people she was friends with, she didn't really know or care that much about.  She could count on one hand her true friends and realized she talked to them on the phone anyway.  Maybe it all had something to do with nearing 30.  Her career is taking off, she's thinking about starting a family with her husband, and social media was just wasting too much time.

I admit, I often feel like that.  When I just "check" facebook, two hours disappears.  I can't even tell you the time pinterest sucks up. 

Luckily, I'm not as compelled by twitter.  I check in once a day, but it doesn't draw me in like the other two.  I thank God for this.  I don't need to be enslaved by another screen.

I wonder if these forms of social media will last.  People are beginning to gripe about facebook - its advertising and the way it controls the news feed.  We're beginning to have to pay to get the exposure we used to get for free. Is it just another addiction we're going to regret five years from now?

Pinterest is way cool, and I hope it's around for awhile, but I wonder what changes are ahead there as well.  Are any ideas really your own anymore?  I've posted crafts I thought were mine, but as I scrolled the boards, I saw my ideas already there.  How can this be?  Are there really only seven original ideas in the entire world?  Maybe we're not as creative as we think we are.

Google +?  I really don't get that one.  I have a profile there, but I don't get it.  It seems like the facebook nobody goes to.  I'm sure I'm wrong on this, but I'm not sure there's room in my head for another endless scroll.

Am I alone here?  How are you handling the social media formats?  What's your favorite?  What do you think will be fizzling out in five years? 

Scroll weary at the Ballpark,

Thursday, August 21, 2014

You Will Be Misunderstood

I had always heard that authors have problems with hate mail, grumpy fans, people who just don’t “get it.” But for a long time I thought maybe this was only an occurrence for some authors or for some books. I was rather naïve. The fact is that no matter what you write, someone out there (if you have a big enough audience) will think it’s terrible. Someone will think it’s trash. Someone will be very vocal about it.

Be prepared.

I first experienced this myself when I wrote a short story that I thought was merely humorous and silly. When a few strangers read it, I discovered that what I thought was fun and light-hearted they perceived to be selfish and cruel. It was utterly surprising to me, but I could see how they interpreted it that way. It made me realize I would either have to be much more careful about what I wrote or just not care if it was misinterpreted.

At least, that’s what I thought at first. Recently, however, I have decided to amend my opinion. It is impossible to write carefully enough that no one will misunderstand you. Recently a lovely, very G-rated book by a fantastic author was reviewed on Amazon as being “soft porn” and “highly inappropriate.” We’re talking about a book that had, I think, a quick peck on the cheek. That’s it. Now, I have no way of knowing why the reviewer felt this way about the book. Was she particularly sensitive to any sort of physical contact? Does she have just absolutely no tolerance for any sort of romance in a book at all? Was she confusing this title with another book? I don’t know. But the fact is that the review exists.

You will be misunderstood. No matter what.

I’m sorry to say that I have, at times, been on the giving end of this phenomenon. I have read books that I thought were dreadful, and I kind of blasted them. I don’t do this anymore, unless the author is very very dead (I’m fairly sure Shakespeare really doesn’t care what I thought of Romeo and Juliet). Authors don’t need it or deserve it, and if you’re trying to warn your friends away from a book, you can do it gently.

And if you’re on the receiving end, if you felt that you wrote something meaningful or lovely or good or just fun, ignore the reviews that tell you that what you wrote isn’t good enough. It’s yours and it is.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Vulnerability Can Make Us Stronger

Lately I've been learning a lot about myself and this week I've been thinking a lot about shame and vulnerability in my own life.  I'm feeling an urgency about figuring out any dysfunction in myself because I know that the best way to teach my children to become loving, healthy, productive adults is to BE a loving, healthy, productive adult.  We pass our dysfunctional habits on to our kids and I want to clean out my closet before it's too late.    Brene Brown has a lot of wisdom to offer regarding vulnerability, perfectionism and shame.  Here's a little Brene taster for you.  (I highly recommend her Book "The Gifts of Imperfection").  Question:  how can embracing vulnerability make us better parents and/or better writers?  

Monday, August 18, 2014

Robin Williams: Like a Friend

 As writers, we are also artists: creating worlds, inspiring feelings, and even teaching using our talents. One week ago, one such creative light went out in the world when Robin Williams passed away.

There were all sorts of controversies sparked by his passing, and if you want my opinions on those, feel free to check out this post on my blog. But today's post here will be something a little bit different.

You see, Robin Williams holds a special place in my heart. I kind of feel like I grew up with him; his movies seemed to always come at times in my life when I needed the specific messages they offered. And because of that, I’ve always felt almost like he was a mentor, and a friend.

When I was just a kid, Aladdin was a favorite movie in our house. We watched it time and time again, giggling at the genie's outrageous and hilarious antics. When I was in middle school our choir did a special musical production of songs from Aladdin, and my best friend Becky played the part of the genie. She was just as goofy and over the top as the genie, giving every one of his lines with the same impeccable comic timing that Robin Williams had.

Back in June my own little girl was in a stage production of Aladdin with her performing arts studio, and it brought back so many fond memories for me.

I saw Mrs. Doubtfire when I was 12, and my parents were in the middle of a messy divorce. The movie so closely mirrored my life that it was almost eerie (minus my dad dressing in drag). Sally Field looked and acted so much like my spunky mom, and Robin Williams was just like my goofy, carefree dad, and my brother and little sister and I were caught in the middle. I remember almost holding my breath wondering if such a story could possibly have a happy ending; and knowing that if it did, perhaps our story could also.

That movie gave me hope that things would work out, that life would go on, and that my family could still be a family, even if we were in two pieces. It also made me laugh at a time in my life when I desperately needed to.

When I was sixteen I saw What Dreams May Come in the movie theater. I remember thinking it was such a beautiful movie, and such an intriguing perspective on life after death.

One week after I saw it, one of my classmates was killed in a tragic car accident.

I remember returning with my friends to the movie theater to watch it again. It was the only thing that could distract us from our grief while allowing us to still hold on to it the way we needed to in order to heal. It helped us to work through our tumultuous raw emotions and face the idea of death head-on in the safety of a darkened theater, with a loveable Robin Williams- someone we were all already very familiar with- as our guide. It helped us to talk about things that were difficult to put into words, and to imagine our friend happy, vibrant, and full of life once more.

Patch Adams came out during my college years, and it taught me that, as I was making my way into the professional world, I didn't necessarily have to do things the same way everyone else was doing them. I could think outside the box and be my own person and make my own mark on the world. It was okay to break the rules sometimes.

I remember shocking so many people by getting married in the summer between my junior and senior year (they all thought I should wait until after I graduated) and then using my debate class as a platform to argue for the benefits of marriage in a world that seemed to by shying away from serious commitment.

Patch Adams also taught me that humanity is sometimes more important that sanity, and I tried to make sure I always had just enough crazy in my life to keep it interesting.

Robin Williams was a remarkably talented actor, comedian, and a good human being. And to me, he always felt like a friend. He was just always there, with me as I was growing up, and I feel like I lost him too soon.

Mr. Williams, thank you for making me laugh, for helping me through the tough times, and for teaching me some valuable life lessons. You will be missed.


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