Saturday, May 30, 2009

"Writing a Marketing Plan"

For the past few days I’ve been working on a marketing plan as a requirement of submitting to an LDS publishing company. Since I had no idea what I was doing, I did some research online and asked some of my writing buddies for advice. Here is the abridged version of what I’ve learned.

A marketing plan should look professional. Always use complete sentences and use the name of your book as often as you can. Be positive and confident. Don’t write things like, “I hope to be able to do book signings . . .” but rather, “I will participate in personal marketing events that include book signings. . .” List as many as you can.

A marketing plan should include the following headings and information:

Target Audience: This should describe who your audience is, why they will want to read your book, why your book is different from all the others out there and how you plan to reach your target audience. Always keep your target audience in mind and tell the publisher why they need your book. Do the research and be specific.

Goals: This is where you should list (full sentences) what goals you plan to reach. This should include how much time you are willing to put into marketing your book, projected sales and what you feel your book will accomplish for the reader. You may write something like, “Book Title will sell (amount) copies in the first year.” Or something like that. State what you hope to make happen through your book and your hard work. Be optimistic but realistic. Do research to know what numbers are within your reach and show you are confident this book will sell.

Objectives: (Action Plan) This is where you will list the actual marketing techniques you will use to sell your book AND yourself. Here are a few sample lines.

1 - I will participate in personal marketing events that include book signings, seminars, media interviews, writing conferences, book clubs and any other marketing tool that would increase sales.

2 - I will take full advantage of all internet networking devices such as blog book tours and contests, Facebook, Twitter, web page, book trailers, pod casts, etc.

Depending on what the publisher requests, this may have to have more detail than just a list. For example, if your book is non-fiction and is geared toward a specific audience, such as “How to Rebuild a Lawn Mower Engine,” you would want to tell the publisher about your expertise in this area and be more specific about your plan. You may list certain conventions or seminars and how big of a market you plan to reach. You get the idea.

Strengths: This is where you can brag a little. Tell them your education and experience in the genre you are submitting. You will want to tell them if you have experience speaking in public or presenting to large groups. Are you good with the public? Do you have access to a media source that would benefit your sales?

Conclude by stating your mission and purpose. Remind the publisher you are willing to do your part, that you realize books don’t market themselves and that you are willing to work hand in hand with them to make this book a success. Then thank them and sign your name.

At the bottom of mine, I also included my contact info, web site and blog addresses.

Well, that’s it in a nutshell. I’m no expert in this department, but that’s what I learned. If anyone else has any ideas or information to add, please feel free to do so.

Thanks to Lori Conger for all her help. A lot of the above came from her suggestions and advice.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Becoming a Writer --- FREEBIE----

Whenever I really need to reawaken my creative side, I read my favorite writing book, Becoming A Writer by Dorothea Brande. Are you guys sick of hearing me mention this book yet??? Good, then read it!! LOL!

In this book she talks about genius being our creative side and that it CAN be taught. We just have to nurture that side of ourselves by evaluating our environments. What inspires us? What makes it hard for us to write? Are there some friends that light a fire within us and makes us anxious to write? Are there others that bring us down to the point of blocking our creative thoughts? One example she gives is of an author who reads books by this one writer, even though he detests the writing style, because when he reads that author's books, he can suddenly see sentences and paragraphs coming together. On the other hand, he can't read his favorite author when he is writing because he starts to feel so inferior. We need to surround ourselves with things that inspire us, but first we need to figure out what that is. That requires us to take a good hard look inside. Here's a writing exercise from the book:
You are near a door...get up, and go through that door. From the moment you stand on the threshold turn yourself into your own subject of attention. What do you look like, standing there? How do you walk? What, if you knew nothing about yourself, could be gathered of you, your character, your background, your purpose there at just that minute? If there are people in the room whom you must greet, how do you greet them? How do your attitudes to them vary? Do you give any overt sign that you are fonder of one, or more aware of one, than of the rest? There is no deep, dark esoteric purpose behind this exercise. It is a primer lesson in considering oneself objectively, and should be dismissed from your mind when you have learned all you can from it.
So here's where the freebie comes in. If you do this exercise and post a small excerpt of it in the comments you will be in the drawing for this book, Becoming A Writer by Dorothea Brande. The deadline for entries is next Thurs. at midnight, the winner will be posted next Friday. Happy writing!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Book Review: Wings

I'm filling in for Kasie today. She is having major computer issues, lets send happy thoughts her way!!

I liked Christine's book review idea so much I had to jump on the band wagon. The one thing that we writers need is people willing to talk about our books to as many people as possible. We need to be willing to talk about the books we read and help promote our fellow mormon mommy writers. Today I'm going to review Wings by Aprilynne Pike. I was lucky enough to attend her book signing (She is really nice, BTW). Wings just recently made the NY Times #1 bestseller spot. YEAH, Aprilynne!! Here's the summary:
Aprilynne Pike's best-selling debut, Wings, is the first of four books about a seemingly ordinary girl named Laurel who discovers she is a faerie sent among humans to guard the gateway to Avalon. When Laurel is thrust into the midst of a centuries-old battle between faeries and trolls, she's torn between a human and a faerie love, as well as her loyalties to each world. In this extraordinary tale of magic and intrigue, romance and danger, everything you thought you knew about faeries will be changed forever. From HarperTeen.

Book Review
by Nikki Wilson
Wings is a story for youth who demand more stories like Twilight. While there are no vampires in this book, the writing style is similar in that it gives a more realistic feel, (besides the fact that it's about Faeries). Youth and adults are responding to this style of writing where the characters aren't the normal heroine types. They feel more like real people. In Wings, Laurel finds herself changing as she reaches high school, but unfortunately for her, they aren't normal changes. She has to decide how she feels about who she really is. Can she embrace her differences? The visions of faeries in this book is so unique and original, you can't help but stand up and applaude Aprilynne's stroke of genius.

To learn more about Aprilynne Pike and her book Wings, click here to visit her blog.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Same, Yet Different

As writers I've noticed that there seem to be several experiences and personality traits we tend to share. For example, I've heard many a fellow writer speak of the voices in their head, or the characters that like to visit them at the most inopportune times. When I hear comments such as these, I don't think, wow, she's crazy! I think me too!!

I've also heard many of you speak of the highs of new ideas and finished books and the lows of self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy. Hearing your personal ups and downs often makes me feel that I'm not alone in this struggle to harness the muse.

We spend so much time talking about what makes us the same that today I want to talk about what makes us different, or maybe a I should say that I'm simply curious to know about you as an individual writer. I'll start...

I am a slow writer compared to the writers around me. I labor over each word, and I have a hard time moving on if I don't feel the last bit is perfect. I have deleted probably20-30 thousand words from my first novel and I'm still working on the ending (for the third time). I also have two versions of it: first person and third person.

My second book, which I'm only half way through seems to be coming much easier to me than my first, and I'm hoping to be able to overcome some of my perfectionist tendencies which can be so inhibiting. I enjoy writing abstract poetry and love writing personal letters to people I love. I also have a confession, sometimes I don't want to write at all. I don't want the pressure of feeling like if I don't finish my work I will be letting people down. Phew... glad I got that off my chest. :)

So what are you like as an individual writer? Maybe you're the same as me and we're similar in our differences.... hmmm.... feel free to get philosophical on the subject.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Do you need an agent?

I wanted to do a quick post about agents. Many writers at some point in their career ask themselves--Do I need an agent?

Short answer - No

Long answer - No, but you might really want one.

A good agent is the surest way to be certain that your manuscript will end up in the hands of an actual editor, and not just any editor, the right editor.

What does an agent know that can help me?

~ Agents know contracts and protect your rights
~ Agents negotiate better deals
~ Agents may help edit your manuscript
~ Agents can be a friend, therapist, or cheerleader

How do I find an agent that is a good fit for me?

~ when you finish that, RESEARCH some more.

Treat writing as a career

~ What you put into it is directly proportional to what you'll get out of it
~ Sign up for Free Lunch on Publisher's Marketplace, and follow trends in your market.
~ Bottom line - Know Your Trade.

What makes for a good writer/agent relationship?

~ Do they love your work? (most important thing!!)
~ Could you make it on eHarmony? ;) or do you have similar personalities?
~ Is the communication good?
~ Are the expectations established on both sides?

I'm sure some of you have things to add. Feel free! These are just some things I've been pondering lately :)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Laugh and the World Laughs with You!!!

Recently I heard a General Authority say that if someone or something is bothering you then just laugh. It will decrease your stress and add minutes to your life. I told this to my daughter who was having trouble with a girl a church. So she tried it. Guess what? The mean girl stopped dead in her tracks! I told her to always listen to the Prophet and General Authorities! Proof is in the Pudding :)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Secret Of Deja Vu

I'm standing in the middle of a hallway, with my hubby's laptop propped up in a window seal, just so I can get proper internet connection down here at the beach in Wales, UK. We are having a marvelous time! Mark and I have been spending the weekend chasing our 6 kiddos up and down the beach, crashing into the waves and collecting thousands of "the most beautifulest" sea shells you've ever seen. LOL! I put my foot down on the 10 starfish they wanted to take home! LOLOL!

Anyway, as we went to church today in Wales my hubby was amazed at how much Deja Vu he experienced while being in a chapel we had never been to before and will most likely never return to again. It reminded me of the great secret of Deja Vu that was explained in my sister's patriarchial blessing (which I have permission to share with you now)

Have you ever wondered why you have it? Or just what it means? It's so simple and so perfectly perfect, you'll wonder why you've never thought of it before. And you may just receive a boty of Deja Vu as you read this.

"Deja Vu is the Lord's way of letting you know that you are in the right place, at the right time, doing what you're supposed to be doing."

That's it. Crazy huh? And simply perfect. So there you have it. I hope you are all experience TONS of Deja Vu!

Of course, that is just one explanation for Déjà vu. What do you think it means?


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Book Review

Just One Wish
By Janette Rallison

Seventeen-year-old Annika Truman knows about the power of positive thinking. With a little brother who has cancer, it’s all she ever hears about. And in order to help Jeremy, she will go to the ends of the earth (or at least as far as Hollywood) to help him believe he can survive his upcoming surgery.

But Annika’s plan to convince Jeremy that a magic genie will grant him any wish throws her a curveball when he unexpectedly wishes that his television idol would visit him. Annika suddenly finds herself in the desperate predicament of getting access to a hunky star actor and convincing him to come home with her. Piece of cake, right?

Janette Rallison’s proven talent for laugh-out-loud humor, teen romance, and deep-hearted storytelling shines in a novel that will have readers laughing and crying at the same time.


By: Christine Bryant

Just One Wish is a touching story about real life issues told in a light-hearted tale of sibling love and sacrifice. Throw in a little mischief and romance and Rallison has a winner on her hands. I was completely in love with the characters and thought they were not only realistic, but found myself upon completion of the book, wondering about their lives as if they were real people in a real world.

Just One Wish was a delightful read. I read it in just a few hours in one sitting, mostly because I couldn't put the darn thing down. This was the first book I've read by this author because I don't usually read young adult, but after this experience you will be sure to find me in the YA section of the bookstore with a few of Rallison's books tucked in the crook of my arm.

For more information about Just One Wish or about Janette Rallison, click here.

To buy this book, click here.

Really long Comment to the post below!

Ok, so my comment is too long to put in the comment box! So here it is in a post!

Schizophrenia is the least of our problems as writers. If we’re actually hearing the voices in our head to put down on paper, that’s a good thing. Our biggest problem is our split personality disorder. It’s really as simple as right brain and left brain, but I like to call them my creative side and my logical side. My creative side is the little girl that wants to spin around in the rain, arms outstretched, head tilted back, and tongue sticking out to catch raindrops. My logical side is the mom that says, “Come in out of the rain, you’ll catch a cold!” or “Quit that spinning you’re going to puke or fall down and hurt yourself!” Creative side is really sensitive and before you know it she is in the house hiding in a corner afraid to come out for fear she’ll be yelled at. For me, a lot of my blog posts are written by logical side. They are usually logical in nature and well thought out and overly edited. Books are harder to write with the logical side only, you need creative side.

But here’s the biggest problem, creative side doesn’t like to work. When logical side says it’s time for creative side to write, the excuses start to flow. Creative side becomes a diva – “I can’t possibly work in these conditions!” Everything becomes an excuse. “the kids need me, the kids are too noisy, the house needs to be cleaner, my desk isn’t organized, my desk is too organized.” It takes a lot of work to coax creative side out into the open, but it can be done. And once you’ve tapped into that side, writing becomes magical. Everything around you is vibrant and beautiful, the world is colorful again.

But this is the problem I have when my creative side is out. I become a flake. Schedules go out the window, appointments are forgotten, grown up responsibilities are pushed to the side. So my hang up right now is fear of letting creative side out. I know I need to overcome that, only by letting it out will I be able to train both sides to work together in a fashion where I could function on a daily basis. So in reference to Valerie’s guest post the other day, I think our baby is our creative side. Our logical side would love to keep it contained in a crib all day long and forget about it. But we can’t neglect it, but neither can we let it roam free without any boundaries. We have to nurture it, while teaching it and training it. Together creative side and logical side have the potential to rock our world! Until then, we just have to begin the tedious task of working them both out, and teaching them to play nice!!

Friday, May 22, 2009

I Know It Is Time But For What--Guest Post!

Please Welcome Mona! From Mona's Musings. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to share with us!

I am the writer of the production “With Mine Own Hand: The Musical Account of Nephi” which was staged at BYU during Campus Education Week last summer and has a 2 CD set in distribution. I have also had pieces published in the Orlando Sentinel and the Ensign.

I Know It Is Time But For What

Journal entry from the Year 2000

As I dusted around it, I couldn’t help but draw something symbolic from the dust. It was pretty thick. No one had touched this desk, this keyboard, this stack of books and notes for a long time. Of course, no one would but me. Funny that I thought the auspicious moving of the desk to the front entryway would make any difference. Just because it’s in plain sight doesn’t mean I’ll have any more time than normal to write.

It’s hopeless.

This little corner of literary inactivity will only turn out to be a monument to what I really do, and that does not include being a writer. It does include a million trillion little things like helping with an English paper, sending a card, picking up forgotten shoes, wiping down the bathroom sink. And they just won’t go away. No matter how I try to whittle down the list that lords over me, I wake up the next morning and it has somehow replenished itself like the shoes made by elves, or Elijah’s jar of oil.

To become a writer, to finish my book, I would have to be alone on a mountain in Tibet for a solid year. Not only is there very little chance of that happening, I don’t think I’d like it very much. And my deep-deep self tells me that my royalties after coming down that mountain would never come close to the royalties I’ll enjoy in the next life if I just keep on with the million trillion little things.

I don’t know whether to cry or not, or whether to feel relieved, or whether to give up my dream. All I want is to become a writer. All I am is a caregiver. Which is which, what is what, when is when. I wish I knew.

Blog Entry from Today 2009

The desk has moved again, this time across the country: new house, new neighborhood, new life at 50. The kids have left me – “free” that is – to do the writing thing at last.

Then why or why does my writing computer (the one with no internet sitting in the living room corner) keep glaring at me, challenging me to a duel, monitor and keyboard itching for a fight.

It’s got to be jealous. The kitchen computer gets plenty of attention: email, chat, surf and does it all…but that living room computer – the one grandly dubbed “Mom’s Writing Computer” - still gathers dust.

The poor thing must be questioning its worth. It can plainly see that there are no more diapers, no more toys, no more Cub Scouts, no more homeschool. For years that machine has been patient, waiting for the “someday” I promised. “Someday” is obviously here, yet there are a million trillion little things that “have” to be done before I can sit down and tap and slap and punch and prattle on paper. What is up with that?!

It’s my blog’s fault. Begun as a writing exercise and because the kids said it would be “fun” for me, now I’m locked into a promised weekly post for hundreds of eager readers. I love those followers; they have given me permission to call myself “a writer” and believe it. But by the time each post is crafted, I’ve spent a lot of writing energy so that there’s not much left over for “The Book”.

What do my fellow ink-fiends think I should do?

I’ve considered letting go of the blog, and focus on “The Book”, a summer hiatus if you will, but then I hate to lose the momentum the blog has gained. When I receive such positive responses over and over, affirming the good my writing is doing in blogosphere, I think, I can’t let go of this, even for a few months.

On the other hand, I can’t let go of “The Book”. Literally years have been spent in research. Several three-inch binders are busting with literature, notes, and correspondence gathered in the best historical-fiction fashion. Truth be known, the thought of reacquainting myself with all that information is a little overwhelming; reason enough for my rare ventures to the living room. However, I know the heart of the story: the people and their drama, is not in the notebooks. They are all right beside me, twenty-four seven, clamoring for a chance at the keyboard.

Here’s the window: the kids are all busy, independent, employed this summer; one grandbaby at present, but he lives on the opposite side of the country; hubby travels for work; other than caring for my adult daughter who is disabled, my head is my own. I know it is time, but for what? Shall I pick up the pen to be Novelist or Bloggist, or is there a way to do both?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Cry Me a River

A lady in my writer's group posed the question recently: Is there a secret formula to capturing emotion? She continued, I know in an action scene you're supposed to keep your sentences short and tight so that people feel like they're reading as fast as the action is happening. Is there a secret like this for scenes you want to be emotionally powerful?

Her questions got me thinking. I had never thought about it before. But the answer I came up with (and I believe there are many elements that contribute to a scene being emotionally powerful) was that I think the same rule of "showing" and not "telling" applies with emotions as well. There is nothing more frustrating to me then when an author says something like, "she was very scared" or "she was very happy" as part of their narrative. It feels as though the author is trying to tell me how I am supposed to be feeling in that moment. And if I don't feel "scared" or "happy" I feel like the author is trying to force me to. Even if the character is crying a river of tears, I am not moved unless I have been given reasons to be. I would much rather hear thoughts or body language or setting being described (and then she can cry if appropriate). Take the following excerpt from "Harry Potter: And The Chamber of Secrets" as an illustration of my point:

He was standing at the end of a very long, dimly lit chamber. Towering stone pillars entwined with more carved serpents rose to support a ceiling lost in darkness, casting long, black shadows through the odd, greenish gloom that filled the place.

His heart beating very fast, Harry stood listening to the chill silence. Could the basilisk be lurking in a shadowy corner, behind a pillar? And where was Ginny?

He pulled out his wand and moved forward between the serpentine columns. Every careful footstep echoed loudly off the shadowy walls. He kept his eyes narrowed, ready to clamp them shut at the smallest sign of movement. The hollow eye sockets of the stone snakes seemed to be following him. More than once, with a jolt of the stomach, he thought he saw one stir.

Note, that JK Rowling never once told us how Harry was feeling. She didn't say he was terrified or nervous. But I felt both of those emotions because of how she described not only the setting, but what Harry was doing or thinking. How his body was reacting to his surroundings made me imagine those things (like a jolting stomach) and added to my discomfort as I read.

This is just one of the suggestions I had. What about you? How do you capture emotion in a scene?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Writing Family Histories -- Guest Post

This is my sister, she thinks she doesn't have anything to offer our writer's blog. I mean she only published one book. After some arm twisting I finally persuaded her to write a guest blog. So give her a nice warm welcome! Thanks! --Nikki

Hi, y’all! I am Tiffany and after much consideration I thought I would share some of my thoughts on writing. I am by no means a great writer or even a writer. Now I say that but… others tend to think that I am, why I am not sure! I love genealogy and I have taken to writing family histories. So it isn’t your typical type of writing, or your typical publishing since I self publish. When I think about my ability to write I think of my sister and her talent and think that I might have some talent maybe in the size of her pinkie or better yet maybe my talent will fill up let’s say her pinkie toe. I got the boobs and she got the talent! No seriously that’s how it went! Any who, I thought that I would talk about writing a family history and what it is like. It is painful and grueling! I say that lovingly because there are so many things that go into writing one.

Mainly you have to decide who you are gonna write about. Are you going to write only of that person or are you going to write about multiple generations. These are some questions that you have to ask yourself….but don’t worry like all writing things change and others might scream for their story to be told….

KNOW YOUR SUBJECT. Is there enough information that you can write about this person. Are you actually interested in that person and the time that they come from? If your not it will be difficult and there will be lots of research.

RESEARCH. With all writing fact or fiction there is a level of research involved. Writing family histories is all research. You have to research the people, the places they lived, the era that they lived in, interview people, and you need to even research their friends and neighbors. There is a lot of research. This is actually the part that I love the most.

LEARN THE STORIES. You have to learn the stories so that you can tell the stories of these people’s lives. The stories and learning of the person’s personality is the only way you can tell their story and do them justice.

LEARN TO BE IMPARTIAL. This is sometimes hard when you are writing a family history of someone in your own family. Sometimes there are conflicting emotions that come up. Not everyone is going to love and rant and rave about someone, this is okay. We are all human and we make mistakes, mistakes need to be included and told as well. This is how future generations learn from those who have paved the way before us. Make sure that the voice that is heard in your family history is one the Lord would be proud of.

REALIZE WHO YOU ARE DOING IT FOR. When we realize who we are writing a family history for we are able to see the Lords hand in it. Are we doing this for ourselves? Or for our family members? Or are we doing this for the future generations? Or are we doing this to make the Lord proud?

That is it for now. There are many more things that go into writing a family history, but one thing is common among all writing and that is the Lord has blessed us each with a unique view and voice. I believe everyone’s story and life should be told.
Happy Story Telling……

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Baby's Alive!--Guest Post

I would like to introduce guest blogger,Valerie Ipson, mother of 8 with half still at home, 2 sons on missions. Thanks so much for filling in for us!

Valerie is currently writing a YA novel set in a fictional small-town Texas high school. No rain or vampires, but a hot boy and plenty of teenagery issues.

She also writes for a local newspaper and has had a story published in The Friend.

You can check out Valerie on her blog.

The Baby’s Alive!

by Valerie Ipson

I have a recurring dream that has baffled me for many years. No, it's not the one where I am in school and I'm lost and can't find my classes or realize I haven't been going to class at all and the semester is almost over. That was my previous recurring dream, and frankly, I'm a little concerned that I've stopped having that one because I think it was related to my desire to finish my college degree. Graduating is a real life awake dream that I still want to pursue, but is my subconscious saying the dream is dead? (I'll have to have a little talk with my subconscious, then, plus start figuring out financial aid to pay for the dream!)

Anyway, my current recurring dream has been 'curring over the last several years and it has become increasingly more disturbing. In it I have a baby. Always at least one baby, but sometimes two. So in the beginning, it was good...babies showing up in dreams is happy, fun, often delightful, but now in the dream where I have a baby, I see the baby or find the baby and realize with horror that I have not been feeding the baby. It is barely alive. I have been neglecting my baby. I immediately begin to feed it and hold it and thankfully, it is still alive.

Why? Why am I having this dream? I have eight children--a fair amount, and I also just turned 48--a fair amount. I simply am not having more children. Okay, grandkids? Well, no married kids yet, so that will have to wait. Am I neglecting my own children? I asked a few of them that and they said basically, yes, now leave us alone. Teenagers. They're so funny.

I was excited to come upon this in a book titled One Year to a Writing Life by Susan M. Tiberghien: after relating Maya Angelou's recurring dream, she writes, "I also have a recurring dream..." then she proceeds to describe MY exact dream about the baby and the not feeding and the rushing to feed and it's still alive. This is what she says, "The child is my creative self. I realize that, yes, I have been forgetting my own creativity, my inner child, but that now I am paying attention. The child is still there, still alive."

I was thrilled with this explanation. I've been neglecting my writing baby for too long. It needs my attention, it needs to be fed, and, yes, it's still alive.

I told my husband of the interpretation and he said, "Are you sure it's not that you're neglecting housework?" Husbands. They're so funny.

[NOTE: He may have a point...I was vacuuming Saturday and after vacc'ing up several shades of the always lovely Easter grass that grows in the carpet every spring, I reached down to run my finger along the corner of the entertainment center, and, you guessed it, I pulled out Christmas tree pine needles. Eek!]

Monday, May 18, 2009

Winner of the Author Signed FREEBIE!!!

Congratulations Mathew you are the WINNER of the Author Signed FREEBIE!!! I will be emailing you soon :)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Be Happy! You Deserve It!

I have two things today! An incredible video by this guy--Nick Vujicic! Promise your life will never be the same after this...

But first! I would like to say thank you to Amber for presenting us with our Blog Award!
So since it's the first, I've been thinking, and thinking how to present it to our viewers. Who to choose when all of your blogs are so awesome? Well, I've come up with the answer!
Whenever we receive an award, from here on out, those who have left a comment on any of the posts the past week are eligible for the award. So go ahead... take it, it's yours! You deserve it! And uh, yeah... pass the love on! Everyone deserves an award on their blog!
Now onto the video! Happy Sunday EVERYONE!

Love, Jenni

Saturday, May 16, 2009

"Developing Characters"

Developing believable characters can sometimes be difficult. For one thing, they need to live and breath in your story. If they don't, the story will be flat and uninteresting. The reader needs to either love them or hate them. They also need to care whether they overcome the demons in their lives or win the hand of the lovely maiden (or gorgeous hunk of a hero). If they don't care about your characters and believe in them, they'll put the book down. None of us want that to happen.

The following excerpt is the first three paragraphs of my book, Taming the Heart.

“I can’t believe I let you talk me into this,” I teased as a cool evening breeze brushed a strand of hair across my face. I quickly tucked it behind my ear.

Lydia set her camera beside the rustic footbridge that spanned Black Creek—the contrast of the wild Shasta Daisies against the weather-beaten planks had caught her eye and she just had to capture it. She smiled her crooked little grin and continued adjusting her tripod, perching it precariously on the water’s rocky edge. “I can’t believe you came. Getting you out of that house for more than a quick trip to the grocery store is like coaxing a mouse out of its hole. You’ve become a bit of a hermit, my friend.”

“I have not. I just like staying home, that’s all.” I knew she was right, but admitting it to her meant I’d have to admit it to myself. Her analogy of the mouse was truer than she knew. My mother called me mouse. I’d always thought it was a loving term of endearment until I overheard her telling her boyfriend the real definition one day. She’d said I was weak and always underfoot. In her mind, it was enough of an excuse to justify her leaving. It was the last time I saw my mother—her priorities no longer included me.

Did you learn anything about the characters? Are they lovable? Do you feel sorry for Kira, whose telling the story through her point of view? Has Kira let her mother's opinion of her influence her life? And what about Lydia? Is her friendship with Kira genuine and valuable?

Tell me what you think. I want to know everything you get out of these three paragraphs, even your assumptions and what images come to mind as you're reading. What questions do you ask yourself about the characters? What parts tweaked your interest and curiosity? Do you want to know more?

And yes, you can consider yourselves my guinea pig readers.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Love of Writing-Guest post!

Kristy just moved into my ward recently and imagine my surprise when she said one of her hobbies was writing YA fantasy! I've been really excited to get to know her and can't wait for you to get to know her too! --Nikki

Welcome our guest blogger, Kristy Carlton! Thanks so much Kristy for filling in for us. You can read more about Kristy here, or scroll down to the bottom of the post and follow her link.

Love of Writing:

“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” ~Sylvia Plath

One thing that I love about writing is that the world is in constant need of new ideas, new stories, new vision. There can never be too many authors. All we have to focus on doing is making our work the best it can be. That’s why we, as authors, can unite together, share ideas, build each other up. We don’t have to try to beat each other out. We don’t have to feel bad when someone else succeeds, it only need encourage us and make it seem that much more possible that we, too, can succeed! We need more. We need each, individual person. We need you. No one else in the world can give us what you can. No one else can give us your story. Let the world feel your emotions through your characters, let us taste their failures and grow from their triumphs!

“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” ~William Wordsworth

Don’t doubt yourself! Just love writing!!!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

This is Wacky Wednesday!!

My day is officially titled "Wacky Wednesday," so I figure that is permission to write about whatever the heck I want to write about. So today I choose American Idol. No, this is not the first time I've written about that wonderful show. You may recall a certain controversial post written several weeks back about Adam Lambert and charisma. I was a 100% devoted Adam fan until last week... Are you gasping in shock. I know, it's shocking. After all my proclaimed love for Adam Lambert, he just lost that spark for me. I'm now a Kris fan all the way!

So this change of heart has made me ponder and ponder (is it sad that a T.V. show could take up so much of my mental time?). Why the change? The judges still adore him. Other artists adore him. America obviously still loves him. Why don't I? Here are the possibilities I've come up with and as usual, it makes me think of my characters.

1. Repetition- Adam is very distinct in his stylistic elements (e.g. the sticking his tongue out while singing really high). At first it drew me too him, but after a while it got old.

2. Over dramatized- He's a great performer, but sometimes I feel like he's acting like a rock star instead of being one. It doesn't always seem genuine to me.

3. He peaked too early- He was too good too fast, so now it's hard for him to amaze me.

I'll leave it to you guys to see how this might apply or not apply to any of your characters. Feel free to leave you thoughts in the comments, but I really want to know is, who do you think is going to win?!! And why are they your favorite? It's okay to say Adam. :) I still think he's incredibly talented!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Rely on Others - Trust in Yourself

Something I've learned in the last few months is that other writers often know better than I do. I have an awesome group of writers I turn to frequently to get ideas, opinions, feedback and a good kick in the pants. They are incredible and they each have different things they are better at than anyone else I know.

If I want to work on a certain kind of scene - I talk to one. If I want to work on dialogue - it's a different one. Scenery is yet another and so on.

I used to implement every single suggestion any of them gave me. Sometimes they were fabulous, sometimes they contradicted each other, sometimes I just got befuddled.

This has caused me to rethink the way I edit and take feedback. Every suggestion I get, I think about, mull over and decide whether I agree with it. Often I do, occasionally I don't. I go with my own instincts about the edit no matter what.

Here is my Totally Tuesday advice for you. Surround yourself with people who have strengths where you have weaknesses. Help them and let them help you. Don't be afraid to rely on their expertise and assistance.

But at the end of the day, it is more important to trust in yourself. You are the defender, protector, promoter and perfecter of your own story. Don't shirk your responsibilities to your characters. Believe in them and in your own ability to tell their story.

Also, make sure you have toothpicks handy to prop your eyes open for those late night edits. ;)


I used for the drawing of the antique (1930's hand tatted) gloves from England. She won with the #2 (thanks for adding the giveaway to your blog!) I'll be contacting you soon!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Author Signed Book FREEBIE!!!

Katherine has generously given us a signed copy of her book, Darkness Comprehended!
To qualify for this Author Signed Book FREEBIE you must visit the author’s site, and leave a comment about your favorite part of her site, with your email here (or I can't get a hold of you if you win). To increase your chances at winning the FREEBIE, mention this FREEBIE with a link to this site on your blog (leave me your blog link in the comment section), and/or become a follower of this blog, and/or post this link on your Facebook home page and/or send a friend request to Mary Olsen. The FREEBIE will end Sunday evening and will be announced next Monday. I will send out an email to the winner.
***The winner must respond to the email within 1 weeks time or the FREEBIE will be re-drawn and given to a new winner.***
Enjoy and I hope you win!!!

Sunday, May 10, 2009


I hope you enjoy this awesome video! It's done by another faith, but is still worth watching. And give your monsters extra kisses today!

Posted by: Jenni James

Saturday, May 9, 2009

"Writing With The Spirit"

By Christine Bryant

Two weeks ago (while at the LDStorymaker’s Conference) I was sitting in my room with a couple of good friends, Karen Hoover and Becky Olsen, talking about our writing. Each gave me a great piece of advice. Karen said she always prays before she writes and Becky said she always reads the scriptures. Although I do pray often about my writing, I hadn’t considered doing it every time or diving into the scriptures beforehand so that I can have the spirit with me. That all changed today.

For several months I have been rewriting and editing my book in hopes it would soon be ready to send out to find representation by an agent, only to be frustrated, knowing all too well it was not all it could be. I sent it out to several writing friends who returned it with their loving comments and suggestions based on years of experience and education. About three weeks before conference I finished it. One more time, I read through the entire thing to make sure it was what I wanted and when I was done I had an overwhelming feeling of peace. I had never had that before. In my heart I was done.

Now fast forward to the conference, the first chapter contest and boot camp and I find myself once again doubting my writing skills and wondering if the book is ready. When I sat down at my computer this afternoon I pulled out the judges comments and, even though they were all positive and encouraging, they did make some suggestions that I thought I should consider. When I opened up the word document that is my manuscript, I struggled for over twenty minutes with what changes I could make to ensure my success, only to be struck with a feeling of dread. Every time I tried to rearrange something or rewrite my heart ached. Then I thought about the advice my friends gave me.

At first I just sat quietly and pondered exactly what I wanted to ask my Heavenly Father. Did I just want confirmation that my book was good enough or did I need help changing it? So many experienced authors had given great advice, how could I ignore it? Still sitting, not quite able to bring myself to pray, I caught my scripture bag out of the corner of my eye. They always sit on a file box next to my desk. I brought them to me, opened them and thumbed through the pages. Nothing stood out. Then I close the book, said a silent prayer and let the book fall open, thinking it would magically reveal itself to me. For the first time in my life, it did.

1 Timothy 3:14-16

14-Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.

15 – Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.

16 – Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

Several things stuck out.

First, “Neglect not the gift that is in thee”. I should trust in my talent as a writer and in the spirit that whispers to me that all is well with it.

Second, “which was given thee . . . with the laying on of the hands…” My Patriarchal Blessing has given me great advice about my talents and even though I hadn’t read it for quite a while, there was a time at the conference that spoke to my spirit and made me think of the words contained there. When I got back to my room I pulled it out of my journal, read it and was overcome. I’ve spent all my life trying to “find” myself and to discover the meaning this blessing had. I know now the talent spoke of there is my writing. I no longer have the desire to search. I have found my place in this world and even if it takes me the rest of my life, I plan on fulfilling what the Lord expects of me.

Third, “Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.” I not only need to keep my surroundings and myself clean so that the spirit can dwell here, but I need to meditate, pray, listen and then DO. I can’t just sit back and wait for someone else to do the work for me, but do everything in my power to make sure the Lord’s will is fulfilled. The benefits of that will be seen by others and hopefully influence them to do the same.

Fourth, “Take heed unto thyself . . .” I need to listen to that inner voice that’s telling me enough is enough. I realize that there will always be little things I can change and there may be some edits that will need to be made on my manuscript as it goes through the process of publication, but when the spirit whispers it’s time to stop, I need to listen.

And finally, “for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” I need to do more. I’ve spent the past year writing nothing but my book and I need to start branching out, submit to the church magazines, try my hand at other genres and practice my craft. Although I love my book, it is fantasy and I need to concentrate on writing about some of my life experiences, not only to save myself from the skeletons that rattle around in my closet, but also share what I’ve learned from the strength I’ve gained in recovering, no matter how difficult it may be.

So, what have I learned? Always approach your writing with humble prayer and scripture study. The inspiration you receive will not only improve your writing, but others will feel it as they read, giving them the confirmation of the spirit as it touches their hearts.

*This post was originally published on my personal blog. My apologies to those who may have already seen it.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Artist Statement

I've been so busy writing for school that I haven't done much of anything else. I even had to write an Artist Statement for my photography class. To see my final project click here. Below is my Artist Statement then I'm going to relate this to writing:

Art is subjective, but I’m learning that when an artist picks a subject that is close to their heart the viewer can feel it. That’s why I picked the concept “Different Personalities and Relationships Make a Family.” To me there is nothing closer to my heart. While taking the pictures I struggled with how to show the way I see each person that could be conveyed easily to my audience. The more pictures I took the more I was able to explore my love for each person while using different angles and props to emphasize their individuality. Shooting my husband and I was difficult. I wondered how I could put into a picture the thousands of words that make up our relationship. The family pictures became a challenge to see how I could visually display our lives together as a whole; how to show the triumphs, the defeats, the love, the joy, the sorrows, and the unity. But I soon realized that with every subject, there was one universal constant that tied them all together, my love. The result became six pictures that are really just windows into my soul that will forever be etched into who I am and who I always want to be.

Our writing can be windows into our souls. Everything we think, learn, and love comes out in our writing. We couldn't stop it from happening if we tried. The key is knowing how we feel about our project and why we are doing it. That is why I'm challenging you all to write a short Artist Statement about your latest project. It can be 3 sentences or a whole paragraph, but these statements are usually quite short. Here's mine for my book:

Dream Swords is an idea that developed from an impression I had in a dream. The thought was of a girl whose dreams are really a battlefield where the balance of good and evil in the real world depended on her. The project has morphed and changed consistantly bringing in new aspects that have brought the world of her dreams into a fully realized concept. This project has touched me in so many ways teaching me about myself, my talents, and my characters. Dream Swords has become my home away from reality where the people have become real and the world dominates my thoughts, it is my hope that this becomes true for the future audience I hope to have someday.

Now it's your turn!! Leave your statement in the comments.
P.S. I had to finally put a real picture of myself up! Though I still like the mummy pic on the side!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Phases of the Moon

On my personal blog I have a gadget that depicts the phases of the moon. I love the moon. I love when it’s a sliver in the sky, just a hint of light peeking out from behind shadows, but I especially love when it is full and bright. I was thinking this morning, as I noticed that the moon was climbing towards full again, that if I didn't have that gadget on my blog, I wouldn’t have known. Every twenty-seven days a full moon lights up the sky and even after admitting how much I love it, I can’t remember the last time I took the time to notice it. Tonight, I'm going to go outside and look at the full moon. I'm going to notice the way that its increased brightness lightens the dark shadows of the night. I'm going to notice the way its glow makes its edges a little fuzzy. I'm going to be in awe, once again, at one of the miracles of nature.

What else am I not taking the time to notice? What else do I wish I had a little icon on my blog for? My oldest daughter turns eleven this summer. If she were depicted as an icon on my blog, she would be shown as half full. Half full? What have I missed? What have I not taken the time to notice? I think back to when she was just a little light peeking out from behind my shadow. Now she’s becoming brighter as she climbs towards full. Have I appreciated each step along the way? Unlike with the moon, if I miss one of her phases, I don’t get another chance to view it.

So, to my four little moons in their various stages, I’d like to say, that I will pause more each day to notice your phase, to appreciate your beauty, to bask in your light. I know I'm going to be in awe, once again, of your miraculous natures.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Born to be Loved: An Excerpt

Jenn, as usual, got me thinking with her post. Thanks Jenn! I started a book a couple of years ago about the call that changed my life. Writing fiction is my first love, but this story is just one I felt I needed to tell, not because the world needed it, but because I needed to write it. It's a bit rough, so forgive my typos, but I thought I'd share my first chapter.

The working title is, Born to be Loved.

The phone rang, and my heart, for the hundredth time, began pounding ferociously in my chest. I ran toward the kitchen, frantic. I couldn’t help it. My mind instantly posed the question, “Is this THE call?” immediately followed by the thought, “Do I want this to be THE call?” I looked at the empty phone cradle in the kitchen and wondered wear I’d misplaced the cordless.

Of course I wanted it to be THE call, but I was scared and excited, and I didn’t know if I could handle the news. How would I react? What do you say to someone who has just informed you that you have been chosen. That in a month, a week, or a few days you’re going to be a parent. You’re going to have a baby! Do you scream and cry and shout for joy? Do you politely say “Well that’s great news, thanks for letting us know.” I didn’t know what one said when given that news, and I was afraid that I would say nothing at all, or that I would mumble something incoherent and then in a daze hang up the phone.

“I need a red phone,” I mumbled to myself as I frantically scanned each counter. You know the kind in the movies that only rings when the President or Chief of Police is calling. Surely something so important warranted a special red phone. Then I would know it was THE call and I wouldn’t have a cardiac episode every time a telemarketer called to sell me something.

Finally, I found it laying on the kitchen counter under a bill. Papers fluttered across the counter and to the floor as I pushed them out of the way. The caller I.D. clearly displayed the name of the adoption agency we were working with, and I yelled to my husband across the house, “Hurry Neal, it’s the agency.” My hand shook as I picked it up the receiver, but a surprisingly calm and pleasant voice said, “Hello, this is Candice.”

It was Brian our social worker. For the past several months he had been a counselor and guide through the intricate and sometimes overwhelming adoption process. As the parent of two adopted children, he too understood what we were feeling, and I found some comfort in that. I knew that if he were calling at this point in the process it must be for a good reason. I listened intently as he told us that we had been chosen by a birth mother and that she wanted to meet face to face.

The world blurred and became sharper all the same time. I do not remember the words that came out of my mouth only the surge of emotion that filled my body, anticipation mixed with the most profound hope, a hope so big it seemed to fill up my body until my skin felt like it fit too tight. Yet all that was tempered with a sense of disbelief that was also larger than life. It pushed back from outside of me and held me together, protecting me from the swelling hope before it got out of control.

I couldn’t help thinking, Could it really be true? Is there really a woman out there with enough faith and selfless love that she would be capable of going through with this adoption?

I looked over to the face of my husband of six years as we listened on the phone--the smile lines that were etched deep in his face were fully exposed in that moment-- and I thought about the emotional journey that had brought us to this point.


The first year of our marriage it never would have crossed our minds that we wouldn’t be able to have biological children. We were young, and I was still in college when we decided it was time to start our family. It wasn’t until after a year that we started to wonder if maybe something was wrong, but even then my doctor said, “You’re so young and it’s only been a year, we don’t start worrying until it’s been at least two.” So another year passed and another.

Life was full and busy. We had purchased our first home, and it was a “fixer upper.” We spent our evenings painting, sanding wood floors, and working in the yard. We volunteered at our church and spent time travelling. We both worked full time and had promising careers. To the outside world I imagine our lives looked picture perfect. And in so many ways they were, but underneath it all we struggled to understand what we should do. What was God’s plan for our family?

At first the struggle was private. A question between me and my husband, but after a while people began to notice and ask questions or rather a series of questions. It went a little something like this:

Acquaintance: “How long have you two been married?”

Me: “(three, four, five, six) years.”

Acquaintance: “Are you planning on having a family?”

Me: “Um, yes.”

Acquaintance: “How many kids do you want?”

Me: Shrug

Acquaintance: “Are you planning on starting soon?” or “Time to get started.”

None of their inquiries bothered me at first. I knew that most were well meaning and innocently asked, but it didn’t change the awkwardness I felt at times as I tried to think of what to say. I’d always been an open book, happy to tell anyone what was happening in my life, but somehow this was different, personal. Explaining the truth inevitably led to more questions, questions about why we couldn’t get pregnant and what methods we’d tried. Questions about my body and my sex life. As if I were a third party medical specimen and not the person standing right there.

The truth also led to unsolicited advice. That was the worst. I cringed every time I heard someone start a sentence with, “I heard that if you…” So I avoided the subject and learned how to answer people’s questions in a way that didn’t invite further inquiry.

But now, with one phone call, that was all about to change or at least that was the hope that was swelling inside of me. I pushed it back again, reminding myself of every procedure, and previous adoption opportunity. But hope is a funny thing, like a stray cat with nine lives, just when you think it’s dead, that it can’t possible take one more hit or one more fall, it miraculously resurrects before your eyes and saunters down the pavement and around the corner just out of your sight. And you know it’s alive, at least for now. But you can’t help but wonder, is it just heading for disaster again?

Was I?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Call!

Sometimes we all need a little rejuvenation. I found a perfect post for that. The wonderful Rachelle Gardner posted a few days ago about getting "The Call" from an Agent. She outlined what it was like when an agent calls you to offer representation. It was an exciting post in and of itself... but then the comments started coming in. All kinds of authors described what it was like when they got "The Call." It was so exciting reading all their stories.

So if you are in need of a little boost today, go check it out. I don't know about you guys, but I can't wait to get my "Call" ;)

Monday, May 4, 2009

"How Do You Write a Book" By Author Katherine Jeffries

"How Do You Write a Book" by Katherine Jeffries:

Talking about writing is more than a little awkward for me, mostly because I don’t know how to answer the question, “How do you do it?”

It’s like directing someone on how to breathe, or describing how a kiss feels. Whenever I talk about writing, I always feel like I have to add, “Guess you had to be there,” because my audience always seems somewhat deflated when I’m done.

Since it’s such a personal thing, such a quirky, singular experience to any writer, there’s no way to answer the question, “How do I write a book?” Since I wrote my first novel when I was 12 (you’ll never hear me brag about how good it was, by the way), I really don’t know how to tell someone how to gear up to write. All I say is, “Just write it.”

But when talking to other writers, I get nods.

And then there comes writer’s block and the “just write it” ain’t so easy. Or ain’t it?

There are two phrases that get me through the mythical “writer’s block.” The first phrase is, “Shut up and write.” The second phrase is interdependent with the first, and almost more critical to my sanity than the first, and it is, “It’s not writing, it’s rewriting.”

If you tell yourself that it doesn’t have to be perfect, that it isn’t permanent, and that it’s just a start, you won’t have that choking anxiety or frustration that most people label “writer’s block.” If you name the block properly--“I don’t know how to kill Harold Crick”, for example--then you can better focus on how to move forward. You can brainstorm, do research, take the description set-by-step, or simply take a break because you just might be tapped out for the day--and that’s fine! But if you go into it considering it something you’ll rewrite later, or tweak, or reconsider, the pressure is off and the creativity is allowed to at least peek through the fog.

But if the “block” is lasting days on end, then it’s something else. Maybe you’re intimidated by how much you feel you have to do--you have to write 10 pages a day, darn it, or you’re a failure--or maybe you just don’t know what’s directly next, but you know where you want to be in 10 pages--so skip what’s next and jump 10 pages ahead and go back and fill in the blanks. You don’t have to write everything a certain way, in a certain order. If you’re obsessed with method, you just might remain blocked.

In writing a 4 book series, I’ve had to throw my hang-ups out the window. I’ve given each chapter its own file, for starters, and each book its own folder because I’ve had to add chapters and shuffle them in, and I’ve skipped ahead to write some chapters while they were clear in my mind and then filled in the in-between chapters.

And, to overcome the permanence of “deleting,” I’ve created a file called “Extras,” where I cut and paste the parts that don’t work because, to be honest, I would cry inside if I had to delete 4 pages of hard-earned storyline, even if it was lame--I wrote it and it’s mine! (For book 3 alone, the “Extras” file is 19 pages long single-spaced--I’ve deleted entire chapters. No kidding.)

You can trick yourself into writing, kind of like tricking kids into eating vegetables--“Just take one, BIG bite! Just ONE!” By just sitting, by telling yourself you only need to write one GOOD paragraph, or, geez, one GOOD sentence, you’ll reawaken your purpose and your love for it and you might write those daunting 10 pages--to be rewritten later, of course!"

Katherine Jeffries
author of Darkness Comprehended

"Katherine Jeffries is the author of Darkness Comprehended, available now at fine bookstores and on,, etc. Please check out for more information on upcoming novels, events and appearances."

Kate Jeffries -- a new kind of hell.

I have had the chance to meet Kate, I just happen to visit teach her. How lucky is that!
Kate is working on her next books (a trilogy). She thinks out of the box, is blunt (I like blunt) and very interesting to talk with as well as funny and fun to be around.
She gave me a signed copy of her book for a FREEBIE that will be posted and begin next Monday. I had to take a peak and read it. It is very deep with multiple meanings you can intemperate and take away from it. There is also a different philosophy/angle on death, hell, and love among other things. It is definitely an adult book (for violence and death depictions).

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Carpe Diem (Seize the Day!)

My family and I went to a funeral on Wednesday. A good friend's sister had passed away. It was a complete shock to everyone, especially my friend, since they had just been together for Easter. No one could figure out how she died or why. It was just one of those odd deaths with no warning.

Delia's passing has made me ponder my family a bit, as all deaths do. But this one has really opened my eyes to see the world around me. Life is so fragile. We really have no idea when the Lord will call us back. None at all. If you have a dream, if you have an idea of who you want to be or what you would like to do, time is short. I suggest you get on your knees, pour your heart out to our Heavenly Father--asking him for guidance, and then I suggest you do what you've always wanted to do.

Just like that.

Seize the day.

I know I've only gotten as far as I have, written as much as I have, and dreamed as big as I have, with my Heavenly Father's help. He wants us to succeed. He wants us to learn all we can before He calls us home and we begin our real work.

Enjoy what you have around you. Embrace your family and friends.
Embrace your quirks and inconsistencies that make you, you.

But most importantly, be grateful our Heavenly Father has given you another day to see your dreams become reality.
Carpe Diem, girls. Live the dream.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


Every Friday night, our family goes out on the town. (And by that, I mean Carl's Jr, followed by Barnes and Noble, and making it back home by 8:00. I know, I know, we're outrageous party animals.)

At any rate, on our trip to B&N last night, I was reading in a very interesting book. It was called Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One and Never Lets Them Go by. Les Edgerton. It's a great little book!

I've been pondering openings for some time now. To me, one of the surprising things about the whole querying agents business was that, even if they request your book, if the opening doesn't grab them, they probably won't read the whole thing. So, you can have amazing parts to your story, a fantastic love triangle in the middle, an explosive ending, but in your quest to get an agent/published, it's the opening that matters most.

In brief summary, the crux of Edgerton's book is that every opening should have five things.

1. Initial Surface Problem. There needs to be some kind of problem in the first chapter. Problem=fun to read.

2. Inciting Incident. or in other words, the catalyst that puts the whole story in motion. Think Harry Potter getting the letter inviting him to Hogwarts. (Check out Lady Glamis' blog for several detailed posts on this subject.)

3. Introduction of the Story Worthy Problem. Meaning the BIG problem, the problem that the whole story centers around.

4. Setup

5. Backstory

Both of those have to be done with great care. Not too much. Not too little. (helpful, right?) :) But, he goes into much more detail in the book of course. On all five of those things. I'd really recommend you all check it out.

One last thing. I'll end with Edgerton's list of red flags in an opening, or things that make an agent/editor want to put the story down immediately.

-Opening with a dream
-Opening with an alarm clock buzzing
-Being unintentionally funny (melodramatic, poor sentence structure)
-Too little Dialogue
-Opening with Dialogue

Just one person's opinion, but something to think about for sure. Anyway, happy writing! :)

Friday, May 1, 2009


Hey, Girls! Jenni, jumping in here quick--

I'm hosting Mormon Mommy Writers 2nd FREEBIE!

These are Hand Tatted, 1930's Women's day gloves, from England.

I'm especially excited because of the scalloped detail along the edging and intricate design on the wrist. Both show that these would've been made by a professional seamstress and sometime in the late thirties. I LOVE LOVE LOVE antiques!

So here's the rules. There are three. Are you ready?

1. Go below and comment on Nikki's post so she won't feel left out. (PS I have all comments emailed to me, so I know if you have or haven't.... LOL!)

2. Leave a comment on here and your email address, so I can contact you. (1st entry)

3. Want more chances to win? Follow our blog--or remind me that you already are. --top left corner--(2nd entry) and/or advertise this on your own blog (You can even use my picture! LOL!) send them this way and that counts as an extra entry. Then leave me a comment to let me know you've advertised. FOR EVERY PERSON WHO COMES FROM YOUR BLOG AND MENTIONS YOUR NAME HERE YOU GET AN EXTRA ENTRY (and they get an entry as well!)

The drawing will be in one week!
Good luck!

Jenni James

I Have a Dream!

No I'm not going to discuss a certain famous speech. Instead I am going to indulge my Mama Mia soundtrack fettish and tell you how ABBA inspires me. When I feel frustrated with my writing (or lack of writing) I love to listen to this song, "I have a dream". It talks about having a dream to cope with reality. If you embrace the fairy tale you can be uplifted even if you fail. Ok, so this is my paraphrasing. Here's a link to the song. Let me know how it touches you.

This next song is one that has gained new meaning for me. Last year when Jenni and I were querying agents she sent me a link to this song saying that it was dedicated to all the agents that sent her rejection letters. Now I can't write a query letter, or read a rejection without thinking of this song!! So let's dedicate it to all the agents out there!!


Related Posts with Thumbnails