Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Water For My Well ---Guest Blogger Rebecca J. Carlson

Thanks to Rebecca for stepping in for Jenn today! Here's a little bit about her:

I am 36 years old, I live in Henderson, Nevada, I have five children and I've been writing all my life. My first story was sold to The Leading Edge about nine years ago, and since then I've sold a story to the Friend, an anecdote to BYU Magazine, and had a couple of items published in the Journal of Irreproducible Results. I write science fiction and fantasy, and my first novel, Earthcrosser is currently under consideration. I have a book review blog- http://rebeccasrecommendedreads.blogspot.com/.
Water For My Well

One baby, one move, and three years after I started my first novel, I sat down one morning, determined to finish it. Hours later my five-year-old complained, "Mommy, we're hungry! When's lunch?"

"Later," I replied, my glazed eyes on the computer screen, my fingers typing obsessively.

Finally, in the late afternoon, I burned out and gave up, still chapters from the end of my book. When I found the children they weren't hungry anymore. They had helped themselves to my one day-old, beautifully hand-decorated gingerbread house.

For many years, my writing and I had a rough relationship. I loved to write, but every time I sat down to do it, something bad happened. The kids would make a mess. The dishes wouldn't get washed. I would turn on the computer to change just one sentence, and then four hours later I would realize I'd missed a visiting teaching appointment. Sometimes I would be very good and go for days without writing, telling myself that tomorrow I'd have some time. I always had my eye out for that rare chance to sneak away to the computer, and when I got there I would spend longer than I meant to.

Then, in April 2008, Elder M. Russel Ballard gave that marvelous General Conference address for young mothers. He said, "...find some time for yourself to cultivate your gifts and interests. Pick one or two things that you would like to learn or do that will enrich your life, and make time for them. Water cannot be drawn from an empty well, and if you are not setting aside a little time for what replenishes you, you will have less and less to give to others, even to your children." I thought, "Elder Ballard just told me to make time to write every day! I'm going to do it!"

When I first sat down with my schedule, it looked hopeless. It took some work, but I found a time every day when I had about an hour with no regular commitments. I put on a video for my toddler, turned the sound down low, and wrote. Every day.

Three good things happened. First of all, I no longer felt anxious wondering when my next chance to write would be. I knew it would be at one o'clock. Second, my writing improved. Daily practice does wonders. Third, it filled my well. I felt like was accomplishing something tangible. Cook dinner, the family eats it. Clean the room, the kids dump out the toys again. But write a book, and it stays! At least until time to revise, but that's another post.

So, if any of you writing moms out there don't have a daily writing routine yet, find one! Even if it is only for a few minutes a day. You are worth it! And your children and grandchildren will thank you for your books.

-Rebecca J. Carlson

Monday, June 29, 2009

Lazy Days of Summer

Summer is finally here, I mean the heat and routine of it all. It may cause you to stay in doors or at the pool, beach, even vacation spot. If that is the case leave your computer on (when home) or carry a note book (when out and about). You never know when inspiration is going to hit.
I loved how in the movie, "Becoming Jane," Jane always had a pen and paper with her. Whenever someone said something she liked, she quickly wrote it down for later use.
This could happen to you this summer!!!
The kids, a neighbor, friend or relation could say something that your character would say at some point. So be armed with pen and paper like "Jane". Be ready once inspiration strikes! You are carefree. It's summer!!! I don't care who you are or what you do! It's summer and you are a kid again :) Enjoy the sun! Soak it in!!! Something is about to happen to inspire you!!! Today!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Family Life

I'm at my mom's house... the kids and company are swirling all around me. Life here never ends. It is always bustling and hurried and frenzied.

Completely crazy.

I love this life.

I need this life.

It's good to be home to remember what a good loving family is like. I'm so grateful I have these short few months with this hectic lifestyle to remind me as I go through my books and rewrite the family scenes to make sure they feel like this.

Full. Busy. Fun. Exhausting. And Loved.

Everyone needs this in their lives--or at least the dream of this. I hope and pray that every teen that reads my books yearn for this too.


Saturday, June 27, 2009

As Writers, Do We Procrastinate?

I'm curious about your writing habits. Do you have a routine you have to go through before you can write or do you just dive right in when the desire hits you? Do you have to make sure all the chores are done and the space is clean or can you write amongst the mess? Personally, I prefer an organized space, but when my muse starts screaming in my head, the house could be crumbling down around me and I would still be writing. Here's a fun little poem I threw together. I'm not a poet by any means, but had fun putting it together. Yes, I should have been working on my book and YES, I was procrastinating. My bad.

My Day as a Writer

My desk seems awfully cluttered, though I know I need to write.

But who can work in such a mess? I first must make it right.

It really should be easy. There isn’t much to do

Although the shelves above it could use a dusting too

The books, they are disheveled. I think I’ll organize

But not by famous author, I line them up by size

My next task will be easy, just clean the tiny keys.

And then the mouse and monitor, will polish up with ease.

It’s looking so much better, I really should be done.

Except that pile of papers, I file every one.

Now I should be ready to summon up my muse.

I sharpen all my pencils and pick a pen to use.

My notebook in the ready, I find my notes within

But now the dog is barking, before I can begin.

The napping babe is waking, there’s someone at the door.

I rise to get the infant, but trip and hit the floor.

The chair no longer upright, slams into my backside.

My favorite pair of pjs, are now ripped up the side.

The baby now is wailing, I struggle to my feet.

My writing time is over. I’ll have to claim defeat.

Until the day is over, I’ll wish I’d left the mess.

For now the real world beckons, my muse will have to rest.

By Christine Bryant

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Mad Libs

Time for yet another writing exercise from my favorite writing book, Becoming a Writer, by Dorothea Brande. This time, though, it’s an exercise I always skip when I read the book. I decided it was about time I give it a try.
This exercise has to do with critically reading published books to find ways to improve our writing. She says to first read a book for fun then go back through it and read it for what you liked or disliked. I do this pretty naturally when I read but she has a suggestion to take it even further. Look for parts in the story that you normally have problems with, like the passing of time. Then you break the sentence down to every last noun, verb, adverb, etc. Once you figure out what each word in the sentence is you make your own sentence. It’s basically like Mad Libs on steroids only she couldn’t say that in her book because it was written in the 1930’s before Mad Libs were invented.
Ok, so for this exercise today we are going to use the book I just finished reading. Thanks to Christine’s wonderful review I decided I needed to read Janette Rallison’s “Just One Wish”. I tried to get it from the library and found that every copy at all three branches in Glendale were checked out! I mean, how cool will that be when I publish a book to know that people have to put my book on hold just to read a copy? I finally got the book and once I started reading it I couldn’t put it down. I took the kids swimming and I still read, all the way back out to the parking lot. Some beefy guy from the gym caught me reading while crossing the street and said, “Wow, that must be a good book.” I just mumbled a positive reply and made sure my kids were still alive, because, helloooo, that was really irresponsible, but I couldn’t help it. I did manage to pull my eyes from the book long enough to drive home. Since this book really worked for me, I’m going to use it for our little exercise.

Let’s use a sentence that showed the passage of time as an example:

“Three hours later, I woke up to the sound of things clanking in the kitchen and Jeremy yelling at the TV.” (From “Just One Wish” by Janette Rallison)

Ok, now we have to break this down:

Noun noun adverb, pronoun verb adverb preposition (“the”, what the heck is “the”??) noun preposition plural noun verb prep (“the” is a preposition, maybe? One of you will know) noun conjunction noun verb preposition (preposition?) noun.

Here’s my attempt, mind you this is coming from the girl that doesn’t know if “the” is a preposition or not!!

Five days passed, I looked longingly for the sight of horses galloping on the road and Dimitry coming to the ranch. (This sentence is for you, Jenni. You know how much I love writing romance!! *insert sarcasm here*)

Wow, that was harder than I thought, now I know why I always skipped this exercise. I had to look up all those words in the thesaurus, but “the” isn’t in there. Oh well, so now it’s your turn to give it a try. I will be out of town but I will check on your sentences later. Have fun with it!!

Real Make-Believe

"Is Harry Potter a real story?" my 5-year-old asked, eyes bright. "Did this happen for real?"

I had to smile because not one hour before her question I had finished reading an entirely different book that when I was through had me in my garage hefting down a huge suitcase (filled with smaller suitcases) from the uppermost rafters as though I thought I had strength beyond reality. You see I had just read of a young woman who trained for months to become an excellent sword fighter. She had conditioned her body into the best shape imaginable. And so after reading the end of the book and closing the cover with a happy sigh I suddenly thought my body had been transformed. My body assured me otherwise as the suitcase came crashing down from the rafters narrowly missing my head. Apparently spending the last week reading didn't do anything to strengthen my muscles.

Last month I read of a man who lost fifty pounds riding his bike across the country and when I closed that book I felt the need to take up a cross-country bike trip. Don't worry, I resisted the urge. Instead, I plunged into another world that had me talking proper all week.

It's been a while since I've spent so much time reading. The last 2 years have been spent writing. But now, as thoughts spill into my brain about how to make my manuscript better, I realize that books inspire me. They may not strengthen me physically, but my imagination is never stronger than it is when lost in the pages of an excellent book.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

From the Land of Self-Editing Books!

That's right folks, it's time for our first (and possibly only) edition of "From the Land of Self-Editing Books!" (please insert own echoing announcer voice here.)

Since I haven't been able to be near my computer a lot lately, I've been reading quite a few self-editing books. I've noticed some common themes in these and wanted to point out a few of the rules that have really made me think. Hope they help you too. :)

1 - Ignore the Thesaurus - Unless you are using your thesaurus to think up words that you know, but your sleep-deprived mind can't conjure at the moment... don't. In order for a piece of writing to flow as though effortless, it must feel natural. If it isn't something you would use in every day conversation (and having to look it up, by definition, means it isn't), then it will ring false to the reader.

2 - Go full steam ahead - For first drafts, let it be messy, let it need work, let it get on the page. Revisions are for editing and too many authors let a need for perfection the first time stop them from ever actually finishing the piece. Get out of your own way and get the words "The End" down on paper. Then go back and make it flawless.

3 - Give your characters (all of them) at least as many flaws as you have - We are women and we are writers... of all people, we have a hard time shutting up the voices in our heads--especially that nit-picky voice that tells us all the things that are wrong with us and what we're doing. For once, let's use that annoying voice to our advantage. Find flaws, rejoice over flaws, see the good and bad in life and people... and use it. No one is perfect, in reality or fiction. Give the reader characters they can believe in.

4 - Perfect the villain - Evil villains who are just bad are boring. Give them charisma, give them rational behavior (by their standards), make them relate-able. Unlike cartoons, few real people don't do things just to be bad. Villains shouldn't do that either. Give your bad guys motivation, a cause, something they find to be worth fighting for. If you can accomplish this feat you will find your villain just went from a stiff, cardboard cutout to a living, breathing, three-dimensional being.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Down to the Atom

This past weekend I went to Yosemite with a couple of friends for the first time. We hiked, road bikes, and were constantly struck by the awe of it all. My friend would often say that there was no way that this could have been made by accident. It got me thinking. The earth wasn't made by accident. It was carved and created down to the atom. Every atom and even electron was placed a certain way from the beginning to form this beautiful masterpiece. If Jesus took everything down to atomic placement into consideration, then just think of the consideration God took in placing YOU where you are and in what time period you are in. YOU are here for a reason, for many reasons, down to the atom. You are here to make a difference and to enhance the lives of everything and person on this beautiful, wonderful and awe inspiring earth. So go forth and do what only YOU were meant to do here at the place where you stand, in this time period! Make a difference in the lives of others and everything around you.
You are needed more than you know...Down to the Atom!

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Here's to all us women who've had to answer for our children's embarrassing moments... and to the dad's who put up with it!


Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Book Review

"Agents in Old Lace"
By Tristi Pinkston

About the Book
Shannon Tanner's perfect life is turned on end when she discovers her boyfriend, Mark, is not what he seems. Fearing for her safety, she enlists the FBI, who puts its best man on the job Rick Holden, who dons a dress and goes undercover as Shannon s roommate. For a while it seems that life is safe again, until Mark kidnaps Shannon's best friend. Shannon realizes the only way to save her friend and herself is to send Rick, her only protection, away. Agent in Old Lace is a thrilling combination of action, suspense, and romance that will keep you turning the pages until the end.

About the Author
Tristi Pinkston is a stay-at-home mom, home schooler, media reviewer, Cub Scout leader, freelance editor, obsessive blogger, and headless chicken. She s married to her first and only boyfriend, Matt Pinkston, and together they have four children: Caryn, Ammon, Joseph, and Benjamin. Tristi is a regularly featured presenter at the LDStorymakers Writers Conference and enjoys helping others learn how to fine-tune their writing skills. She also gives presentations on literacy, the Hole in the Rock Pioneers, and the importance of honoring the talents you ve been given. Tristi is the author of three historical fiction novels. Agent in Old Lace is her first novel with Cedar Fort.

The Review
By Christine Bryant

This is the first novel I've read by Tristi Pinkston and I must say I was impressed. Not only did she keep my interest throughout every suspense filled page, but she added a bit of humor and romance as well. This book is sure to appeal to just about any reader with its tough female character who's not afraid to stand up for herself and an even tougher hero that isn't too caught up in his manhood to put on a dress and a little makeup to save the girl. I found myself on the edge of my seat one moment and laughing my head off the next.

Well done, Tristi. I think you have a winner here.

To find out more about Tristi Pinkston and her books, click HERE.

To order "Agent in Old Lace", click HERE.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Words, Words, Words, All Around!

Do you ever feel that despite the millions of words in the english vocabulary, you just seem to use only about a thousand?? I'll write a sentence and stare at it knowing there has to be a better way to say it, but not know how. That's where our critical readers come in handy. We had a post last week where people feel like we should have an online critique group. I think it's a great idea, but I personally don't have the time to set it up right now. If someone is interested in heading it up, let me know and I'll tell you how to get started. Otherwise, let's use the blog for a small workshop today. I'll start by posting two short sentences that I feel need to be reworded but I don't know how. You add comments telling me how to fix mine and also feel free to leave a sentence in your comment that needs to be fixed. We will number each sentence that needs help, so when someone is commenting to fix something, they can specify what number they are offering suggestions for. This post should have a TON of comments today!! Don't be shy! Let's make our blog work for us.

#1 Sometimes the past six months seemed to almost not exist, she could almost believe that she had just talked to her grandmother, or touched her wrinkled skin. Then other times the six months seemed to have lasted an eternity.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Readers are smart

As a YA fantasy writer, I read lots of unpublished YA fantasy. I love it. I love reading things before they are published. I also read a lot of published fantasy. One thing I've noticed, in an unpublished book I read recently (don't worry, it's no one who reads this blog) and in a published work I read recently is that in both cases each author felt the need to explain things about their world before they were relevant to the story or made sense. The only thing it did was left me confused and I didn't remember half of what was said because I was still trying to ground myself in the story. I think this can apply to non-fantasy works too, but this is the advice I gave the unpublished writer that sometimes I need to remember myself as well.

"Trust in your world and trust that I will learn about your world as things come to pass. Don’t feel like you have to tell me every single thing about it. Part of the fun of being introduced to a new world is the ownership I (the reader) feel in it as I “discover” things about it on my own. So, pretend as though everything in your world is completely normal then you will resist the urge to explain everything."

Same applies to characters. Don’t tell me who they are, just let them be who they are. It will be obvious that they are stubborn or flirty or quick witted by how they act.

I know you’ve heard it all before, but sometimes hearing it a different way is helpful.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Do you work for your inspiration?

I have internet for one more day before we take off for our 4-day drive tomorrow, so I thought I'd try and do a quick post. I haven't been able to get much writing over the past several weeks, and I find myself feeling panicked inside. I feel like if I don't get to my stories somehow I'll lose them.

Something I find interesting about being a writer is the fact that I have inspiration at the most random times and inconvenient places, yet I'm more likely to have that inspiration when I'm disciplined about making myself write everyday. It reminds me of something my parents used to tell me: Luck comes to those who are prepared, and the harder you work the luckier you get. From a writing perspective I think it would be appropriate to say: Inspiration comes to those who work, and the harder you work the more inspired you feel. At least for me this is true. What about you?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Interview - Aprilynne Pike, author of Wings!

I was able to meet Aprilynne Pike at a writer's conference back in the spring. She has since become my conference buddy. She's sweet, hilarious and so much fun. I thought it would be great if you could all get to know a little about her. Following is her bio, then the interview. :) Enjoy!

Aprilynne Pike has been spinning faerie stories since she was a child with a hyper-active imagination. At the age of twenty she received her BA in Creative Writing from Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho. When not writing, Aprilynne can usually be found at the gym; she also enjoys singing, acting, reading, and working with pregnant moms as a childbirth educator and doula. Aprilynne currently lives with her husband and three kids in Arizona, and dreams of warmer climates.

What kind of soda do you drink?

Diet Root beer is my current love.

What is your favorite kind of flower?

I'm fairly classic; I love red roses. I also really love daffodils.

Do you believe in magic?

I believe in the possibility of more being out in the world than we
dare to believe.:)

Superman or Batman? Why?

Superman. And I have to admit, my loyalties have changed since
Christian Bale's awful gravelly voice when he plays Batman . . . and
perhaps also after Clark Kent was so cute in Smallville.;) What can I
say, I'm fickle.

What is your favorite line you’ve ever written? What book/article is it from?

I have a line from a short story that I will probably never publish
that I really love:

"The fire popped sending clouds of sparks into the sky that slowly
burned out, fading into bits of ash; a speck that is less than

Since it will be mostly writers reading this—a few writer-ly questions.

What was the hardest part about finding an agent?

Getting past the partial stage. It's so hard to have three chapters
that just sing. Enough to stand out from the rest of the crowd. I
found it fairly easy to get my partials requested, but I only ever had
a hand-full of full requests.

What was the hardest part about getting published?

Honestly? I think it is the same thing, even though--at least with
agented submissions--you don't see the two stages. I got a few
rejections on WINGS from editors who mentioned in their rejection
email that they had only read the first fifty pages. The thing is,
agents or editors, no one is going to get past your first fifty pages
unless they are just incredible. And reaching that level is very

Do you prefer editing or writing? Why?

Writing. Editing is work.:D Actually, I really love seeing the end
result after editing, but I work really, really hard on my edits and
always feel like I've run a literary marathon when I am finished.

What part of writing do you struggle the most with (plot, details,
character development, setting, etc.)? How have you learned to
overcome it?

Pacing. It's my Achilles Heel. It's something I work really, really
hard on, and even then, it is generally the biggest problem that gets
pointed out in my edit letter. I haven't overcome it. I just keep
working at it and I have a great editor who helps point out exactly
where the problems are since I am not good at seeing them.

As a mother and a writer, what has been your biggest challenge?

Meeting deadlines and still paying enough attention to my kids. After
I finish doing something like a long round of edits, I always take a
week completely off to just spend with my kids because, well, they
watch a lot of TV while I'm revisioning.:)

Since being published name one thing that has changed in day-to-day
life, and one that hasn’t.

In my day-to-day life almost nothing has changed. I had been writing
for about four years before I got published, so I was used to trying
to find bits of time here and there to write, so that hasn't changed.
I think the thing that has changed is that I spend a lot of time on
the internet doing business stuff. Returning emails, social
networking, doing things for my publisher, etc. There is a whole
different aspect to being an author that has nothing to do with
writing. And I spend a fair bit of time every day taking care of stuff
that falls into that category.

Favorite TV show?

At the moment, LOST, but that's only because DOCTOR WHO is taking a hiatus.

Favorite book you’ve read recently?

The Maze Runner, by James Dashner.

Favorite board game?

Agricola (It's a German board game.)

Biggest piece of advice you'd like to share with other aspiring authors?

Read. You will learn more about writing by reading than any other
activity. Read, read, read.

Thanks Aprilynne! :) We really appreciate your time.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Time to Query!

I wanted to get some fence sitters to Just Do It! (Like from my last post) So here is my query letter that I sent out in December that helped me land an agent not only once but twice (my first agent let me go and I picked one up again within a week). Remember it takes tenacity, no matter how great your idea or book is! I sent it out to over 300 agents (emails only, I think paper is a thing of the past! It costs waaaaay to much in copying and postage and saves trees :) !) For the full story check out my blog olsens7.blogspot.com for my steps on how and what I did to hook an agent :) And remember also that the query letter is just the beginning! It's a very important baby step but still small..so what are you waiting for! Make the small step (even though it seems ginormous...silly word I know but it's fun) and jump into the biggest step and goal of your life...PUBLISHING that baby :)
I also included several pictures in the email to make it pop (they were not attachments, my hubby is a computer wiz for a living and did that for me). Most agents do not take attachments unless requested, so do not send out an email with one, also research your agents and personalize the email with their name!
Oh! One more thing! FINISH your book completely!
Or else....
Dear Agent,
Remember that old t-shirt that you loved; the feel, the color, everything about it, and then “BAM!”...a stain or rip right in the wrong place. With my new book, Tie It Up, your trash can become Couture Treasure! With just 3 easy steps, scissors and masking tape you can walk off the runway in over 200 hot NO-SEW design combinations. Who’s Zac Posen when you are the designer of over 200 fresh t-shirt design combination, over 50 hot skirts (that transform into over 50 killer tube-tops), unique scarves, legwarmers, spicy wristlets,jewelry, beanies and more…
My book includes step by step photographed instructions for each design, modeled designs, a short history of the t-shirt, a t-shirt challenge, scarf wearing ideas, hair tying ideas, purses, jewelry designs, book covers, book markers, sac buddies, doggie couture, an all new reverse dyeing technique, a create your own design page, even designs for those left over scraps and we're just warming up!
This book is targeted to children age 8 all the way to young women in their early 20's. The designs are fresh, flirty and easy to do. Not one requires any sewing. There is a book similar to Tie It Up, called Generation T. It is also about restructuring a t-shirt for a unique look. It is a huge hit in craft stores and book stores around the nation. But there is one problem, most of the designs require sewing. Tie it Up requires no sewing with even hotter results, like newer never before seen designs that mix and match with each other. Among these new designs that Tie It Up has to offer are style guides to wearing your new creation, ideas on what to do with the left over scraps ("Reduce, Reuse Recycle"), and a new reverse dyeing technique.
Tie It Up is new and hot. I have also developed a t-shirt in a can with 3 different designs inside to choose from. It was recently shown to a toy company and they received it enthusiastically! Check out my website for a sneak peak at http://www.tie-it-up.com/ .
Now a little about me, my first craft project was with my Grandmother when I was 12. It was a purse I made out of an old pair of jeans. Later as a young mother of 5, I found hidden treasures in others cast-offs. So when a shirt was too big...voila! Tie it up was born and I've been tying ever since. Teaching "How-To" classes in the community (ranging in ages 6 years to adult) has been a passion of mine for the past 10 years.
Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to an opportunity to share the entire manuscript with you soon.
Until then,
Have Fun,
Be Creative,
Look Fantastic!
Hope this gets you motivated and gets you going on your dreams. JUST DO IT!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sunday is the BEST day!

Do you know why I love Sundays so much? I mean other than because it's the day I get my Spiritual recharge again and get to hang with a bunch of awesome people... I love Sundays because they are so perfectly wonderful. And relaxing. And just plain peaceful.

Okay, so there's the odd choir practice and running like mad to finish that part for the lesson I'd forgotten AND getting all 6 of the kids ready for church without killing them first--but beyond that, there is an underlying peace that is so awesome, there is nothing that can replace Sundays.

I especially love how it's the one day i set aside that I don't work on anything, I just let it go--including my books--it's the day where I can spend time with my kids playing games and being with the family. It's also the day where I can take a nap 100% guilt free and just snooze the afternoon away.

Sundays are by far my favorite days.

So I thought I'd wish you all a happy Sunday everyone. I'm off to create princess hair-dos and see a ward I haven't lived in for 14 years or even visited for the last 5.

Ciao Daw-lings!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Your Audience--Guest blogger Kristy Colley!

Sadly, Christine isn't able to blog for us today, so she asked me to find someone to fill in for her. Thank you guest blogger Kristy Colley for stepping in at the last minute! Don't you just love her photos? LOL! They're awesome. I've been chatting with Kristy recently through Twitter. I hope you enjoy her post as much as I've enjoyed getting to know her.

About me: I'm an aspiring author, native Missourian living in southern Utah, and wife of a lovely Brit I convinced to hop countries for me. On any day you can catch me reading, writing, snooping bookstores, and taking advantage of the gorgeous outdoors here in St. George. On bad days, you’ll hear me complain about the driving, the scorching sun, and the fact that I’m hungry and can’t eat what I want (I’m also Celiac and on a strict gluten-free diet!)I've been a member of the LDS church for seven years, and was lucky enough to be married in the Salt Lake Temple over two years ago. No kids yet, but I hope you'll still invite me into the Mommy group! :)


Today I had a reminder on this topic: For whom do you write? I'm not talking about "writing for yourself", which is, of course, very important. The question we must bear in mind is Who is at the other end of my writing? The reason you're writing and the audience you write for are very similar. Today a friend and reader told me he struggled through the first chapter of a WIP. At first, I was injured, bumming around, even hyperventilating (I tend to be dramatic, too). I searched other opinions, and wondered if all this rewriting had been done in vain. Then someone said, "Who do you write for? What's your target audience?"
I realized the friend with the particular bad critique wasn't in my target audience - a good reason why it hadn't sucked him in as it had others. Questions to bear in mind when writing: What sort of expectations will your audience have? Does your audience have pet peeves or certain writing practices? What is your point of view, or that of your characters? Will your audience disagree with it? What's the reading level of your readers? Are your experiences relatable? Are your character sketches clear? Is the voice consistent and does it suit the genre? *Food for thought that I'll be digesting myself!

Pushing Through the Low Points

I get discouraged easily with myself and my writing, ( or lack of). So I do alot of making myself push through the low points. One exercise that never lets me down is to write first thing in the morning. Before I open my mouth and speak to anyone I free write in the morning. Sometimes I write about a dream I had, or an impression I had from a dream. Sometimes I ask myself a question and see where it leads me, or write about my desire to write. Eventually I am able to train my early morning thoughts to go to my current WIP and it's amazing the things that flow from those early morning sessions.

Since I'm working 44 hours this week I didn't have alot of time to think about my post, so I'm just going to share some of my early morning thoughts with you. Some may be helpful and some may be just bizarre. Just remember that I have been waking up around 4am to write before work this week. Nothing is edited so please take it all with a grain of salt.

I am very grateful to my Father in Heaven for my many talents. I'm grateful to Him for the help He gives me. I love knowing that the Lord is there for me and wants me to develop my talents. I will strive to make Him proud.

It was a game of cat and mouse, only he didn't know which one he was anymore. The darkness served as his protection and his enemy. If only he knew whether he hiding or hunting.


In a room full of thousands of people would you stick out? Would you be different? Would people know who you are? Who would stick out to you? Why would they? In other words, what matters to you? What meaning does life have? These are the questions you have to ask yourself. These questions will help you to evaluate who you are and what's important to you. Knowing who you are is the first step in knowing what kind of writer you are and it will help you to focus on your main idea of each WIP. You write what you know whether you are aware of what you know or not. Who ever you are will soon find it's way onto the page before you. The question is whether or not you will be surprised. Know yourself and you will be better able to shape your words and have control over your writing instead of it controlling you.


Ghosts of the past reared up before him. The drug coursed through his body causing him to relive the horrors of war. He began to thrash in the hospital bed that seemed to define him now.

Ok, so did I put enough disclaimers on my early morning writing? It's rough but the point is that I'm writing and some of the ramblings could evolve into something eventually. So if you ever get stuck my best advice is early morning free writes. I know it's hard, I am NOT a morning person, never have been, so I think that makes my writing even more interesting!! LOL! But it does help me to feel more like a writer if I'm writing something everyday. Free writes help me to be more honest with myself, and it helps me to put aside the critical writer that sits on my shoulder most of the time. ( I think my critical side sleeps in, which is the only way I can write without it!!) So here's to pushing through the low points and the discouragement that we all get. (right? We all get it? It's not just me? Am I the only one that walks through the valley of writing death? The only one whose words sometimes fail her? The only one who writes, "I will write, I will write, I will write" until she can't even write that anymore?? Sorry free writing often leads me to rambling in my everyday life as well, but at least I'm writing, right?)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

So happy

Candi wanted to apologize for missing her post yesterday. She's in the midst of moving and they turned off her internet sooner than she expected.

Now, in the theme of creepy owls, I thought I'd use this "happy" (although seriously disturbing) owl to announce my news. (BTW, Jenn, I found this owl while searching for the 'Ya RLY' owl, you're right, scary. And may I recommend the 'Fro RLY' Owl, who was second runner up for this post.)

Some of you may know because you visit my site, some of you may not. So for those of you who don't know--I have an agent!! For those of you who do know, I'm sorry for the repeat, it's pretty much the only thing on my mind right now.

Did you know that agents attain about 95% of their clients through referrals? So, odds are, if you surround yourself with writers, you are more likely to get an agent.

I'm sure most of you know this, but for any new writers that come across this site, this is information I would've loved to know when I was starting out. As part of growing and developing as a writer, you should be involved in some sort of critique group. For novels, I recommend a group where you exchange complete manuscripts with a few other writers. I'm involved in two groups, one where we exchange a few chapters at a time, and then one (with a few of my online friends) where we exchange whole manuscripts. The whole manuscript one has been much more helpful because the reader can see your book as a whole and get the entire picture. When I critique and get critiqued I learn so much. Sometimes I learn more from critiquing than I do from being critiqued. So network, find those other writers who are writing for the same market or same genre as you and then help each other find success.

I have heard many success stories that involve queries, but my success story involves a referral. Jenni James, who I started exchanging manuscripts with back in December, read my book, loved it, and then referred me to her agent. Did I become friends with Jenni in hopes of her recommending my work to her agent? We may joke about it sometimes, but the answer is: No, of course not. I genuinely connected with Jenni, we got along well, we had similar goals, and we helped each other. Do I feel extremely lucky that she loved one of my manuscripts enough to recommend it? Yes!

So my question to you is, how did you find your critique group? What has worked/hasn't worked in that group? What advice would you give to those just starting on the process? Or, if you are just starting in the process, what questions do you have that we might be able to address in future posts?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Let's Get Real

Ever notice those things in movies or TV shows that just pull you right out of it because they are so unrealistic? I'm not talking about other worlds or sci-fi... I'm talking about things based in our reality that just don't fit. Want examples? I've got them.

How about the miracle ultrasound technicians or doctors that can show a pregnant woman a picture of her baby, the heartbeat... even know the sex... without ever actually touching the woman.

Oh really?

Or the woman I saw on a show that had In Vitro, went home and stuck her legs in the air for an hour or two--then took a pregnancy test and it was positive.

Oh really?

How about the people who jump out of airplanes and have entire conversations on the way down. (The air rushing past alone makes this impossible... not to mention the fact that if you open your mouth your cheeks feel like they are going to explode.)

Oh really?

It is for this exact reason that I love an author/screenwriter that I can trust. As soon as we've established the fact that the author isn't going to cut any corners or ask me to make any unnecessary leaps of faith, then I can let myself drown in their story and feel comfortable that they aren't going to suddenly jerk me out for air.

Do your readers a favor... make your characters, faeries, werewolves, aliens, and vampires as believable and real as possible. :) Take the time to pull your reader in and don't let them go. They'll thank you for it later.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Just Do It!

I have a proposal due tomorrow but I really need to get it in today so that my agent can look it over and I can fix anything that needs to be fixed before the due date (what a concept for me..getting it done before the due date).

But I find myself wanting to look at emails, reply to blog comments, Facebook, Twitter, and even paint my house and re-design it! Anything but finish the proposal!!!

Sometimes procrastination is my monkey and I can't shake it! So I am going to post this in hopes of encouraging myself and you to JUST DO IT! Write a page or as much as you can today for at least 1 hour!!!

Lock yourself in your room and close all other programs on your computer (to avoid temptation) and get that procrastination monkey off your back!

You know you want this!!!

You want to finish that chapter or that book or that re-write, that query letter, and dare I say...that proposal!

May "The Force" be with you and good luck :)

Don't forget to leave a comment and become a follower on CraftersGuru for your 1 in 10 chance to win the FREEBIE!!!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Ack! I'm Back!

Yes, really! I'm back! I finally have internet that allows me to read and post again! YAY! I've been having such MMW withdrawls you have no idea! No really, you don't. I love this blog!

Well, we're here. It's official. We're on US soil as I type. My kids have never been more happier than they are right now. It was crazy weird to be able to show them all the wonderful things about the US that they've never seen. Vehicles, Stores, Restaurants, Signs, MOUNTAINS...But mostly our favorite was the US flag. At first, the kids started out by saying the pledge of allegiance every time we drove past a US flag, that soon got super old though, so they stopped--thank goodness! LOL! Since there were flags everywhere, they just couldn't keep up.

We also went through the Open House of the Oquirrh (pronounced Oak-ur) Mountain Temple yesterday. It was amazing! So breathlessly gorgeous! It was such an awesome moment to be able to walk through with my children and be able to point out some of my favorite places in the temple and just how special they are to me. In the sealing room we heard an amazing testimony from a converted couple about what it meant to them to be sealed forever.

Then with my eyes brimming with tears, I held my children and allowed them to look with me through the mirrors that went on for eternity.

It was one of those awesome moments I hope they never forget. We've been through so many adventures together as a family--but being in the House of the Lord and standing together like that, is definitely the ultimate adventure. The ultimate goal. And it's inspiring to see just how simply it is all put into perspective when you are standing there facing your eternity together. All at once nothing else matters, but that family unit staring back at you.

I'm so grateful to be home. It is hard to say that, because I love the idea of travelling and seeing and living amongst so many wonderful different people around the world. But I know the Lord needed us here for a reason and I know that whatever else happens in this familiar/somewhat foreign territory, the church is the same everywhere--and I'll still have my beautiful family and my peaceful temple to turn to when I need His reassurance.
PS the Open House is going on from June 1st-August 1st. It's free--you just need a reservation. Anyone, no matter their religion is welcome to come and view the inside. Just to see what a temple looks like, if you're curious. You can follow this link for reservations: http://www.ldschurchtemples.com/oquirrhmountain/

Saturday, June 6, 2009

"Location, Location, Location"

I'm curious. Where do you find your muse?

With school out and summer vacations, reunions and outdoor activities filling our calendars, I find myself struggling to find not only the time to write, but the place.

Most of the time I'm in my office, where I can close the door for small periods of quality time and where my Muse seems to find me quite nicely . . . most of the time.

However, there are other times, like when I have to work at our restaurant, when I take my laptop and sit in the office with the walkin compressor hammering in my ear and the camera surveillance system howling with the chatter of customers and the sound of pots and pans being knocked about. Not the ideal place, but I still find I can write there.

Then there are the times when we go camping and I'm torn between stepping out into the beauty of nature for my inspiration and staying inside our trailer where I can focus and not be drawn into the lives of other campers and people passing by. Not to mention being attacked by mosquitoes.
Once and a while I take my laptop out on our deck while watching the sunset or listening to the falls from the nearby canyon. And other times I sit in the living room, while my son watches a movie or listens to music.

But I think the best place I've ever written was when I went back to basics, trading my laptop for a spiral notebook and my favorite gel pen and lost myself at the end of a long relaxing drive. I'd park by a stream, roll down the windows in my car and just listen. Listen to nature. Listen to my Muse and listen to the spirit. Those are the times when I write from my heart and do my best writing. My mind is calm and my spirit is open for inspiration.

So, today I want to know where you find your Muse. What's your favorite place to write? Where's the most unusual place you've ever written? Where's the one place you'd like to visit with your laptop?

As for me . . . I'm still searching. Maybe some of your ideas will inspire me.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Winner!!! And New MMW Page!

The winner of "Becoming A Writer" by Dorothea Brande is.....(drumroll, please) Chantele!!! Congratulations Chantele!! Be sure to send me your mailing address at nickalodeon26@yahoo.com.

We have a new page for our MMW Blog. It's called Where MMW's Hang. Check the left hand column for the link. It's a list of internet links that we like to frequent. The page is in its starting stages right now. We are hoping to add more to it soon. We would also love to hear your suggestions on what blogs and sites to add. Send any links to my email address above. Thanks for all your help to make our blog a success!!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Memorable Characters

As many of you know, my computer was out of commission last week. It's why my comments were non-existent. I did read everyone's posts, by the way, and they were great. But anyway, to pass my time without a computer (which housed not only my books, but any of my friends' books I happened to be in the middle of reading) I picked up an actual published book. Gasp. I know. :) It's been a while for me. Reading is my first true love and it's always great to remember why I love it.

The book I decided to tackle is a favorite of mine, "David Copperfield" by Charles Dickens. I know, I'm a dork. But I really love Charles Dickens. He knows how to rip my heart out and then mend it back together very nicely. If you only want to read one of Dickens' books or if you want to get a feel for him, I would start with this book. I'm sure most of you have read "A Tale of Two Cities" by Dickens, and although that one was good, I like this one much better. As I was reading this book again I wondered to myself what exactly is it about this book that I love so much. And I've decided, now that I'm in the last 50 pages, is that it is his characters.

His characters are larger than life to me. None of them blend together. Each of them has a distinct purpose and a distinct voice. And each of them are amazingly human and unpredictable. And his bad guys, ew are they bad. He has this one bad guy that is always going around claiming how nice he is and humble, but I just want to punch him in the nose every time he comes into the scene. In fact, as I was reading (even though I'd read it before and knew) I was constantly telling David to punch his lights out. David is much more composed than I am. :)

Anyway, it's not often I read a book more than once (especially one so long) so I thought I'd recommend it. What about you? What books have you read multiple times? And why do you think they keep drawing you back?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Friends for Life

Many of you know that Kasie (one of the other contributors) is my best friend. We were friends before either of us knew that the other was writing, so when we discovered that we were both in the middle of novels it just added another dimension to our friendship. We also happen to look alike. We get asked all the time if we're sisters (even though Kasie recently became a brunette). Here's a recent picture of us together. I think you'll see why we get mistaken for each other.
Another thing we share in common is a crazy sense of humor. It get's us in to trouble sometimes. Like the year we went to girl's camp together as leaders and were shushed by the other, older leaders. Or the time we were sitting in Sunday school together and couldn't stop giggling.

More recently we were invited to an "80's" party and decided to do our own version of the 80's. Yes, we dressed up as 80-year-old women, and no, we have no self-respect when it comes to getting a good laugh (who's going to go along with my hair-brained ideas when I move to Ohio in a week?). For your viewing enjoyment I thought I'd post a glimpse into the future of our friendship. If you really want a good laugh, blow up the group picture and check out our expressions. It makes me laugh every time!!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Some Fun Links

I don't have a ton of time today, but I wanted to share some links for some cool sites that can help build traffic to your blog or site. :)

Squidoo is a free site where you build a lens and they will send visitors to your blog/site.

Socialmarker is a site where you can submit your blog/site address and you can allow many different sites/searches to find you including: Technorati, Digg, Twitter, Propeller and more.

RSS Feed is a site that allows you to burn your feed from your blog and then you can submit it to feed directories like BlogDigger and BlogPulse. This is a great way to build backlinks to your site.

Another option is to market through articles.

Some sites where you can submit articles are: eHow.com, AssociatedContent.com, Isnare.com, EzineArticles.com and others. Most of these type of sites will allow you to link back to your blog/site from your article. This can also generate additional traffic to your site.


The time has really come to think outside the box when it comes to marketing your work. :) Grab the bull by the horns and increase that traffic! :)

Monday, June 1, 2009

YOU are the Champion!!!

I had a problem and I prayed that my heart could be softened and asked for help to over come it. The next morning on Facebook (of all places) an author posted a quote that was pretty poignant to me. The quote went something like this: It is when we are tired that things we previously conquered want to be faced again.

I took that quote and applied it to my problem. I had already conquered this as a child but for some reason I did not want to conquer it. I wanted to sulk and nurse my wounds, complain and dare I say...become bitter!( I hate feeling bitter. It takes up too much needed brain power, energy and time.)

Well after reading that quote I thought,"NO!" I conquered that already and I am not conquering it again. The problem I was having became a non-issue! It is over, I had already conquered it as a child and I WILL NOT let it affect me again! Or else all of the past victories were in vain. Besides, I knew that this was an answer to my prayer.

Now I am ready. When I am tired and a past conquered problem wants to rear it's ugly head, I will just remember that quote. I have conquered it and I do not need to do it again.

So if you are down or tired and a problem wants to rear it's ugly head again just know that you already conquered it! You are the champion and there will be NO re-match!


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