Friday, July 31, 2009

Crazy Day

I just remembered I was supposed to post today, but I've worked all day and my mom is in town and we are on our way out the door. So I'm relying on you guys today to each leave a comment with your favorite writing tip or writing quote, or writing website or link. Thanks!!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Squidward can't make Krabby Patties

So I'm sitting on the couch folding laundry while my children are watching Spongebob (I know, not exactly educational programming, but hey, it makes me laugh). It was the episode where Spongebob and Squidward are competing for employee of the month. Towards the end of the episode as the two are doing crazier and crazier things to try to get Mr. Krabs attention, Squidward starts frying up Krabby Patties. My eight year old daughter, who is sitting next to me mutters under her breath, "I thought Squidward couldn't make Krabby Patties."

There are two lessons I learned from her indignation. One, my kids watch way too much Spongebob. And, two, your characters have to stay true to themselves no matter what situation you put them in. If you've already established that your character cannot do something, you can't have them doing it in another chapter/scene/book just to prove a point. Especially if you write for children or middle grade. Kids are smart and not as willing to overlook character breaches as adults are. So learn a lesson from Squidward and make sure your characters stay in character.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

New Guest Blogger -- Crystal

I'm Crystal Collier--LDS mommy to 3, homeschooling while living in Utah, NYC, upstate NY, and now happy Orlando. (Ironically, no, we are not military--just insane.) I've been published in a couple literary magazines (small enough they're really not worth mentioning) for art, poetry & short stories, won awards in two film festivals, written & arranged for choirs/soloist/ensembles, am pushing a musical to Broadway, and currently publishing one of my novels online. (For free. Got sick of sitting on it.) I feel as compelled to write/create as I do to breath. Always have, always will. Three years back I found myself one literary agent richer, and several heartrending experiences shy. For better or worse I have a few things to share, mostly about the dream, about reaching no matter what, about developing ones' voice, and about unconventional means. The Lord works in mysterious ways.I've attached an older picture, one I endearingly call "Crossroads." Occasionally we face that fork in the road. Writing has always been mine.
Eat more CHEESE!!
Books, music and more:

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sometimes it's rough

I told my husband once, "If I could choose, literally, ANY job in the world to do. It would be writing." This is my dream gig. It hasn't always been. There were times when I could never have imagined myself writing. Once I gave in to the urge and started though, I can't ever imagine my life without it.

Even with this passion for the job, there are times when it's rough. Times when I want to do anything but write or edit. One truth I've discovered: if I sit down anyway and make myself write/edit something--anything, I never regret it. If I give in and miss a few days on my WIP, I almost always regret it.

When do you struggle with finding the motivation to continue? Is it the rejection? Is it working through edit after edit? More importantly, how do you overcome it? What is the fastest way to rejuvenate your motivation?

A few quotes for those who are struggling today.

"We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope." Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Fall seven times--stand up eight." Japanese Proverb

"Problems are not stop signs, they are guidelines." Robert Schuller

Monday, July 27, 2009


I vividly remember the '84 Olympics. It was the year that it was held in L.A. My mother took us down to the beach and we watched as the torch passed from one runner to another along the sandy street. Later that year she took us to see the huge arena that was built for the events. It was truly beautiful an amazing to see and know that it all took place not more then 20 minutes from my home.
Recently I read an amazing story that took place for that very Olympics. It was the year of Joan Benoit's victory in the first Woman's Olympic Marathon but that is not the amazing part. It was her amazing recovery and win of the first U.S. women's Olympic Marathon Trials.
Just 17 days before, she agreed to have arthroscopic knee surgery because of agonizing pain from a locked up knee. When she came out of surgery she began to train for the nearly impossible task ahead, qualifying for the Olympic Trials (remember it's in less than 2 and a half weeks). She spent hours of physical therapy, iced knee and pedaling on her back from a bicycle suspended from the ceiling. This again was not the hardest or the most amazing part. She had to over come one of the hardest obstacles in her way, doubt! She had to erase all doubt, otherwise she was sure to fail. As you can see she won the trials, her first hurdle to her dreams of Olympic glory.
Now it's your turn to conquer DOUBT, the first step towards your Publishing Dream. Remember Joan Benoit through your agent and publishing "Trials" and get on that writing "bike" whether upside down or not and erase all doubt. Your Publishing Dreams are waiting to be won!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

When We're All Rich and Famous

Last Sunday I joined my extended family at a reunion. There were the usual things to eat and plenty of little kids running around getting underfoot, but the thing that struck me as the funniest, is when my father announced that his daughter (me) was working on her first novel and was bound to be rich and famous soon. Everyone clapped (extremely embarrassing) and gave their well wishes, but there were others that wanted details. They were asking how much an author makes, what six figure number I was sure to get for it and how long before it would be a movie.

"HA!" was all I could say to all the enquiries. I'm sure I left many unanswered questions and maybe a few thinking it had already gone to my head because I was rudely ignoring them, but JEEESH! How do you answer questions like that? I mean, even if I did land a huge contract and was going to make mega bucks, do you think I would be spreading it around? NOT!!

So, for all of those who think I have a list of things I want to buy and places I want to go when I'm "Rich and Famous," here it is. I've limited it to ten, but please feel free to add yours to my list. I must warn you, however, this took me several minutes of actual thinking to come up with this many. LOL

1) A modest home.

2) Lose a few pounds

3) A tiny cabin tucked into the mountains.

4) A little space for my husband to tinker on his toys.

5) A few toys

6) Something cute to get around town in.

7) A tent to go camping.

8) Fishing equipment

9) Take in a show

10) Own a small piece of property to vacation on.

Also. Please feel free to tell us about your run-ins with people and their misconceptions of what a writer is really all about. I'd love to read them.

Friday, July 24, 2009

My Head is Full of Rocks!!!

You're probably thinking of something your mom used to say about being dumb as rocks. (Oh, you weren't, I wasn't either.) Anyways, that's not what I mean. Another thing I learned from reading my favorite writing book (at this point I probably don't have to name it, "Becoming a Writer" by Dorothea Brande; oops did I say it again??!) is that when you get a story idea you don't have to write it down right away. Let it bounce around in your head for a few days. It's amazing what happens. I was surprised when I first read this advice because I thought we were supposed to go write to a piece of paper and have one available at any given moment in case the muse should strike. But I've come up with my own analogy for what happens when we let the ideas stay in our head for a little while longer. Think about finding a really pretty rock. The rock is pretty already or you wouldn't have picked it up. You can have it fitted in a necklace as is and you would be happy, but you know that if you put it in a rock tumbler it would be soooo beautiful. So despite your impatience to show the rock off now, you start the process of letting the rock tumble. You add the chemicals and you start it turning. You don't think of it much for the next three days except to make sure that it is still turning, but you don't have to do anything else, you don't want to interrupt the process. At the end of the three days you take them out and rinse them off and see how much more beautiful they are, but they're not done yet. It's time to add the polishing. Now how does this relate you might ask, (or maybe not, it's probably quite obvious, but indulge me.) The rocks are our ideas for stories. Sometimes in our haste to get the story down we skip the all important step of tumbling and try to go straight to the polishing. When we first get an idea we let it run in our heads try to see where it is going, follow it and see where it takes, but then we usually start writing after that. But I have found that if I don't write it down and just check on the idea periodically over a set number of days, the idea becomes more well rounded. For some reason once I write the idea down it never morphs as much as it does if I let it tumble for awhile. Then after it's tumbled we take the idea out and write it down, then you will find the polishing stage (ie: editing) is a little easier. At least that's the way it works for me. The cool thing about writing is that we get to find our own process and then share it with others and they can use what works for them and discard what doesn't. So what is part of your process, or are you still trying to find what works for you?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Guest Blogger -- Shanti Krishnamurty

I've never guest blogged before. I'm not a blogophile. So why am I doing this? Because Nikki asked me to. How do I know her? I met her through Jenni (who I also have yet to meet in 'real life').
I've been plugging steadily away at my third revision of my second ms (my first one is collecting dust at the moment) and that naturally led me to thinking about query letters and the oh so dreaded synopsis. Synopsis, singular. So does that mean the plural would be synopsii? Like octopus and octopii? Platypus and platypii? But I digress...I've already written the synopsis -- but wow, it wasn't easy. And the query letter hasn't even been a blip on the map. So what did I do? Naturally, I googled! And I found two absolutely *awesome* sites. With real query letters from authors who 'snagged' the agent. And synposis' that did the same. Holy cow! Soo much better than reading 'this is how you should write, blah, blah, blah.' I much prefer tried and true methods to some Joe X telling me the formula in a dry, step by step way.
Here is the query letter site I found
and, by the same person, the synopsii site
Now, to finish this revision, so I can take advantage of what I've found :)


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Retreats Rock, k?

I was lucky enough to attend a retreat this weekend and it was exactly what I needed. I had a blast, learned a lot, and am now super motivated to work on writing and editing. (Not a small feat since everything went crazy in my life and I haven't written or edited anything in over a month)

I was so impressed by how fun and kind everyone was and by how different we all are. I think everyone had at least one thing they were really good at--this is where I want to focus my post today.

As writers, we are forced to find our faults. We have to find the things we don't do well and work on them or we will never improve. Today I want to challenge you to find your strengths. What makes you fabulous?

For me, I am very good at writing queries and I have recently gotten very strong with opening chapters. How about you?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Welcome to Forks!!!

I'm working on a new line of fabric designs to submit proposals/portfolios of my designs to fabric companies while I am still waiting to hear from publishers on my Craft/How to Books. While on my U.S.A circumnavigation of the Pacific Coast to the Rockies tour (this was my adventurous husband's idea of a vacation-7 people strapped into a mostly un-air conditioned car for 2 weeks straight, but I have to say that he was was pretty awesome), I was inspired by all of the scenery around me and started filling a sketch book full of designs. My 12 year old daughter during this car ride was inspired to write more of her book (she's getting better with each revision).

When you are out and about on vacation or at home, and even work try soaking in your surroundings; drawing on people, places and experiences for your book. You can even be like Stephanie Meyers and never leave your abode and research the Internet for the location in your book. What ever you choose, just explore! The world is truly beautiful and from what I have learned in my 2 weeks of exploration is that the place where you stand is "God's Country". From the tiniest dessert, remote location, or snowy glacier mountain top. It's beautiful! Explore it! There's a story to be told in any form!!!

I thought this sign from a Forks gift shop was pretty funny :)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

What's In a Title?

I have a dilemma with the title of my book, currently named "Taming the Heart". The publishing company that might be interested in it (no contract yet) doesn't like the title and wants something that does not include the word heart. I will post more information in the future about this possible publication, but for the time being I need your help. I've been through just about every title I can think of, hundreds actually, and am still coming up empty. So, here is the little blurb about my book:

In this tale of magic, mystery and forbidden love, Kira Edwards finds herself falling for a man who’s been cursed with the heart of both a lion and a tiger—a hybrid. His overwhelming desire to devour anything with a pulse causes him to put his feelings aside to keep her safe. However, the spicy little red head that’s captured his heart has other plans.

Kira thought she knew everything about her best friend, Lydia, until a brutal attack during a photo shoot leaves Lydia seriously injured and the two of them stranded on a secluded mountain. When Lydia refuses to let Kira go for help, Lydia is forced to reveal the fact that she’s from another world—a world filled with powerful magic and evil forces. Kira soon discovers Lydia’s sister, Shandira, is behind the attack and seeks to take Lydia’s life. To make things worse, Lydia summons her brother, Octavion, who blames Kira for the attack, almost killing her. When she volunteers to accept a healing charm, risking her life to heal Lydia, he finds himself not only fighting his primal hunger, but his unbridled feelings for Kira. The decision to stand by her friend, even though the world around her is falling apart, helps Kira embrace her inner strength, bringing her the confidence she needs to stand up to the forces that seek to destroy them all. Her quick witted sense of humor makes a wonderful contrast to Octavion’s explosive temper, causing both to give in to their only common emotion…love. Will that love be enough to suppress Octavion’s fierce desire to take her life? Or will Kira be able to tame the wild beast that lives within his heart?

This is a romantic fantasy, but I think they may be leaning more toward putting it in the fantasy section, which explains the whole "no heart" thing. Keeping that in mind, I'd love to hear what you come up with.

Also, if you have your own "title" horror story, I'd love to hear that as well. Maybe I won't feel so panicked.

Friday, July 17, 2009

More Writing Excercises

In case you haven't noticed by now, I rely heavily on writing exercises. Whenever I feel stuck on my WIP (which is often unfortunately) I need to write something so I turn to a writing exercise. I have found that though sometimes the excercises don't seem fun to begin with, they are really quite helpful.

I recently borrowed a book from the library called "Writing and Illustrating Children's Books for Publication" by Berthe Amoss and Eric Suben. In it they talk about trying to remember what childhood was like for you and they gave an usual writing exercise. It seemed unusual to me because it didn't include writing anything. The exercise was to draw small basic pictures of things you remember from your bedroom as a child. Well since I'm trying to get in touch with my inner twelve year old, that's the room I used for this exercise. First I drew the door, then the bunk beds my sister and I shared, then my dresser, then my boom box, then the window, etc. The funny part was that as I began drawing each of these items, how I felt about each one, or the memories that item triggered came to the surface. Before I knew it I was writing a brief thought on each item. Then I was suddenly reliving childhood moments and remembering friends from that time, books I had read, how I felt about my family members. It was amazing and I really needed that.

When I took a creative writing class at college last semester we did lots of writing exercises. But I'm just going to tell about a couple of exercises that helped me the most. I like to write in 3rd person POV but my teacher said that I don't always attach the reader to the character's thoughts. So she told me when I have that problem to write the scene in 1st person POV to begin with the go back and just change the pronouns, etc. to 3rd person. It works really good and helps me to get into my character's heads a little better.

My favorite exercise we did in class was when my teacher gave us a vague situation, it was something like a woman comes home and finds her husband has been waiting for her for three hours, now let them have a conversation. We were only allowed to write dialogue, no tags, no staging, no action, just straight dialogue. It was amazing how each person in the conversation began to have their own voice. You could tell who was talking without having to say. Dialogue is sometimes hard for me so I was amazed at how the dialogue just flowed out of my pencil. It wasn't only easy, it was fun. (Writing dialogue is rarely fun for me!). So after we wrote for 10 mins we shared our writing and then the writing exercise for the next day was to go back to the same conversation and this time add the staging and acting, but to use as little tags as possible. By the time I was done, I was so proud of the piece. The teacher kept using mine as an example to the class. It was a major accomplishment for me to have a piece of dialogue I wrote to be singled out as the best. So now when I get stuck on dialogue, this is the approach I take.

Well these are just a few writing exercises I like. But I'm always up for learning about new ones. If you have any favorite writing exercises that help you when you're stuck please share them in the comments! Thanks!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

My Novel's First Rejection -- Guest Blogger Rebecca J. Carlson

My Novel's First Rejection
By Rebecca J. Carlson

July 16, 2007

Went out to get the mail a few minutes ago. Horrors! There was a big white envelope! My SASE! Oh, I hate this part! Will I ever get used to it?

I couldn't open it.

"It's okay. It's okay. She gets hundreds of queries. She doesn't care. That's her job, to read queries and reject almost all of them! She probably didn't even think about it! She's forgotten it already!" I tried to reassure myself as I slammed dishes into the dishwasher.

I looked at the envelope. I didn't see anything pink inside. Do agents send back pink slips for rejections, or is that just publishers? I could read the response letter through the side of the envelope. Dear something starting with A? My name doesn't start with A. OH, it's Dear Author, a form rejection letter. I don't even want to read it! It will give me no clue as to what I did wrong. Did the agent bother to sign it? Did the agent read it, or did the agent's secretary read it? Maybe the janitor read it and told the secretary to put it in the reject box. I'm hungry. Maybe I should eat a snack before I read my form rejection letter? Some victuals to brace myself against the disappointment.

I wrote in red ink on the outside of the envelope: "Somewhere out there is someone who will be my agent. I will find this person."

I still haven't opened it yet. The suspense is all gone, so why can't I open the thing?

Oh dread, now I have to do it again! Now I have to hunt up another agent to query!

Maybe I should take up the ukulele instead. That way I can irritate people en masse instead of just one literary agent at a time.

Looking for a good book?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Perspiration/Inspiration/The Muse/Tow-Truck

Lately, I've been feeling a little tug at the back of my mind.Okay, it started as a tug and has turned into a tow-truck. It is hooking me up and hauling me away. It wants me to write something I'm entirely uncomfortable with.

I tried ignoring it. I tried plugging my ears and humming to myself. I tried crossing my arms and pouting. It is insistent--and becoming somewhat annoying.

I know how persistent the voices of my characters can be, and I've grown accustomed to them. We get along fine, and I have plenty of ideas from them to keep me busy for years to come.

So, why is this new and unfamiliar idea demanding my attention? Can't it see I'm busy? Can't it see that I don't know what to do with it? Clearly, I am not the right person for this particular venture.

It doesn't care.

It wants me and I am going to have to give in.

So, ladies, I suppose some time in the not too distant future--I will be venturing into the frightening world (for me anyway) of non-fiction...

and it scares my little booties off.

Anyone else have an experience like this? Any ideas or advice... words of comfort or maybe just magical earplugs would be much appreciated. :)

Monday, July 13, 2009


Eeeh! I got an offer for one of my books! The top secret one that I can finally reveal: Gentle Jasmine!!! YAY! I'm gonna be published! WAHOOO!

And just for a side note... man, the Lord knew I need to hear this today and not before--no matter how many times I begged Him to hurry up the process--lol! He knew best. I so needed this today.

This has the been the best pick me up EVER!

And thank you for all of your sweet comments on my last post! What a crazy 24 hours it has been.


Dropped the Ball

I'm so sorry I dropped the ball this past weekend. I had promised Christine I would find someone to cover for her yesterday and then my own post--today, I never got out! Please forgive me! There is no excuse for Saturday, since I just plum forgot--Love you Christine! Again so sorry.

But today, I haven't been feeling well. And now--well just now--I've miscarried yet another baby this year. Anyway, I know that Heavenly Father loves me and my family very much and I know that everything happens for a reason. So I'm going to head to bed now and hope for a much brighter day tomorrow.

Love you all! And thanks for your patience with me.

Hang in there Ethan we haven't given up yet. You will come to this family.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Writer's Groups, Websites, and Publicity

Ok, so we've heard alot about the importance of networking on sites like Facebook and Twitter. (BTW Add me as your facebook friend, Nikki Hogg Wilson) But what other sites are out there that help authors specifically. The first one that I want to talk about is Goodreads. How many of you have Goodreads accounts? If you have one, add me as your friend. Now let me tell you why I think this is great promoting site for authors. I have a friend in my ANWA writer's group that self-publishes her books. It's really hard for self published authors to get the publicity others get. So I put on my Goodreads that I liked her book and soon I got a Goodreads alert that a friend of mine put it on her to-read list. I was all excited that my review of a book would influence someone else to read it!! So not only can we help promote our friend's books on there, we can also get suggestions on good wholesome books to read. And the more people reading good wholesome books, the more the market opens up for our own books!! See how my madness works???

Another site that I learned about at an ANWA conferences is It's a site dedicated to writer's and illustrators of children's books. It's a network of writers, you sign up and make a page, kind of like facebook and then you can add friends and go to the forums and meet more children's authors. It's great way to get out there and learn more about children's writing and illustrating.

The newest site I have discovered is I discovered this through ANWA's online group. Authonomy is a webiste created by HarperCollins to flush out writing talent. You sign up for free then if you are a writer you can upload at least 10,000 words of your novel and people can read it. If they like it they can put it on thier watchlist or their bookshelf. The more people that put your book on their bookshelf, the higher you rise in the rankings. If at the end of the month you are in the top 5 of the rankings, editors from HarperCollins will read you 10,000 words and give you a critique. You can also sign up and just be a reader if you would prefer. But I challenge you all to sign up immediately and support our very own Jenni James. She went on three days ago and uploaded one of her modernized Jane Austen books, "Northanger Affect" and her book is slowly going up the ranks. Be sure to read hers and add it to your bookshelf. The girl from ANWA (an LDS women's writing group) that told me about it is Krista Darrach and her book is "Riley's Gift". Check it out. If we want the market to produce more good wholesome books then we not only have to write them, but we have to promote them as well.

There was an underlining theme in each of these sites I told you about. ANWA is a group for LDS women writers and through it, I have found a lot of tools that help me on my journey to authorhood. It's worth the $20 a year it costs to join. If there are no chapters around you there is a cybergroup that meets once a month in a chat room or you can start your own chapter. There are lots of opportunities available when you belong to a writer's group. So find one that works for you or go to and join today. I think we need to stick together and this group is one way to do it. Plus they already have online critique lists and social lists.

Now that I've shared my favorite sites for authors, it's your turn. Put your favorite sites in the comment section and I will add them to the "Where MMW's Hang" page. Speaking of that page, my sister, Tiffany, made the header for us on that page and I think it's really cute, be sure to check it out. I am in the process of putting all the blogs from our followers on that page as well. So if you want to get know all the people that read MMW check out their blogs. If I put your blog on and you don't want it there, please let me know. Thanks!!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Top 10 ways you know you're a writer

by, Kasie West

10-You narrate your own life.

9- You hear voices in your head and the only way to silence them is to tell their story.

8- The best way for someone to become your friend is for them to tell you they love your work.

7- The easiest way for someone to become your enemy is for them to criticize your work.

6- You are rejected more now than you ever were in high school.

5- Your daily mood is directly correlated to your daily word count.

4- The blinking cursor has become your nemesis. Seriously, as in, if there were a way to kill it, you would.

3- You spend more time with your imaginary friends than with your real ones (and you’re perfectly fine with that).

2- If you’re not writing you’re wishing you were.

1- For you, writing falls into the same category as breathing, eating, and sleeping (the last two being optional).

I made this list when I first started writing and it hasn't changed much. What about you? Can you add anything the list? How do people know you're a writer?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

I Haven't Been Punished Yet---Guest Blogger Rebecca J. Carlson

I Haven't Been Punished Yet

Three years ago I did a Career Week presentation at our elementary school on being a homemaker. Why not? No one pays me for it, but that's what I do. One of the teachers made me feel really good by saying, "I want to come live at your house."

This year I went ahead and signed up for Career Week as an author. Why not? No book contract yet, but I've sold a few stories to magazines, and one editor said she'd look at a rewrite of my latest manuscript. I'm up and coming!

I presented eight different thirty-minute sessions for groups of children ranging in age from Kindergarten to third grade. The third-graders impressed me by naming over a dozen authors in just a minute or two. It reminded me why I'm doing this. We talked about practicing writing every day, I showed them how to write a cover letter to submit a story to a magazine, and then I talked about how to get a book published (that last one on a theoretical basis only).

One of my friends told me that her son came home and reported, "We saw Mrs. Carlson at school today. Did you know she's written three books but she hasn't been punished yet?"

Someone punish me, please.

-Rebecca J. Carlson

-- Looking for a good book?

Monday, July 6, 2009


Here is a song that I hope will inspire you to GET UP and write or just GET UP and LIVE!!! :) I LOVE this song and it always puts me in a happy mood! I'm on vacation next Monday so I'll be back after that!


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Following the Promtings of the Holy Ghost

The Lord really does know best.

I have to keep reminding myself of that fact many times a day. Even though my life is in a series of unexpected heart falls and short triumphs, I have to see that Heavenly Father has a hand in all.

A couple of weeks ago. I had a TV producer call me. She had got my info from some people I was working on a story for, back in England. This TV producer lives in the US. She wanted to talk to me about making a movie for the children's book I was writing. I referred her to my agent and went on with my life (ei: settling in and seeing family for the first time since moving back to the US) The producer called me back, my agent hadn't got back with her. The producer was very busy and wondered if I could just email the story to her.

I prayed about it. Not sure what was going on with my agent... but I felt good about sending on the story. So I did. Explaining to the producer there wasn't enough material in the small story to make a movie. I told her she wouldn't like it.

She didn't. She called me two days later to tell me thanks, but no thanks. I talked to her for awhile wondering why I was still on the phone with her. Shouldn't she hang up now? Not wanting to be rude, I listened and chatted.

After several more minutes, the producer paused and said, "Hmm... there's something about you.... I don't know... I can't put my finger on it.... but..."

My heart began to pound. "Yeah?"

"Can you write better than this?"

"I'm sorry?"

"Can you write better? What do you normally write? Is there something else you normally write other than children's books?"

"Yes. I write for YA and Middle Grade."

"Hmm... is there any way I can see a couple of those books? Just to see how you write. I may still use you to rewrite this children's book for me. But first I want to audition your work and see how well you write."

Long story short, without the advice of my agent (who still hadn't got back to me) and with much prayer, I sent Pride & Popularity to the producer, with the promise of sending book two of the Austen series after that. She promised to get back to me the following week to let me know what she thought.

Finally get a hold of my agent, she cautions me and believes this producer is a fraud. I panic for a second until the Spirit calms my heart and reminds me I'm doing what the Lord wants.

The producer calls me the next day, she wants all of the JA books, not caring what stage I'm at with them she wants to read them all. Another reassurance from the Spirit and I send them to her. She calls a few hours later and offers to produce the whole series. She's excited. I'm freaking out.

I call my agent. She doesn't believe this lady is real, she's positive she's not. TV producers do not contact unknown, unpublished authors. Again the Spirit calms me down. My agent has just had her twins prematurely, but promises to get a hold of the producer when she has a moment. She passes me on to an associate to talk to me about the producer, just in case this may be the real deal.

The associate is supposed to call the producer, but doesn't. Instead she calls me to tell me this lady is a fraud, it doesn't happen this way, there is no way this producer is legit and she wasn't going to call the producer and even talk to her because it would be wasting her time. I cry. The producer calls a few hours later wondering why the associate hasn't called, I have to tell her she wont' be calling. The producer is livid.

It's a huge mess. I'm a crying mess. The Spirit again calms me down.

I write a letter to my agent, knowing she is going through her own crisis, but telling her all that has happened and how much I believe this producer is real. That I know she is and to please take her seriously.

My agent calls and we talk and she agrees to talk to the producer. Thursday my agent calls me back, she is amazed and happy for me. The producer is real. She's legit and she's really interested in my work. She loves my story. And after talking to my agent for awhile, she's agreed to go slowly and work on one book contract at a time.

The producer calls me she is excited, loves speaking to my agent and will have her lawyer contact my agent on Monday about a contract for book one in three months. Yes, this world moves slowly. It's still a long uphill battle, but the producer would like to meet with me in August, depending on schedules. And she has to see if she can get TV affiliates, directors and such to back the story as well, before she can close a deal. So there's still a lot of prayer to go into this. And it may all be gone in the blink of an eye, but for the moment... I'm grateful I chose to listen to the Spirit--no matter how unlikely it seems--and do what the Lord would have me do.

And I have to realize that if the Lord went to this much trouble for me already, then he isn't about to give up yet.

The Lord really does know best.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Being a Good Critic

I recently finished a debut novel by an author who is receiving rave reviews from her readers. For the most part, I enjoyed the story and felt she did a pretty good job telling it. I even liked the characters and the unique ideas that formed the story. However, there were a few parts in the story where I wanted to smack her upside the head, or at least put the book down and stop reading. What on earth was she thinking? I won't say the title of the book because I certainly don't want to offend the author or her fans, and after all, I am only one person and my opinion really doesn't matter, right?

Anyway, I've been posting book reviews on my blog for quite some time and have enjoyed doing so. Some I've loved, others have been great writing, but just not something I would normally pick to read so didn't connect with and then a few were not well written at all. I think the biggest problem with me as a reader is that I'm a writer. I never used to pick books apart like I do now, but I've been reading for other authors and helping them edit and critique their works and find myself doing it when I read an already published novel. It's down right irritating when I can't highlight a section and make a comment in the sidebar, then send it back to the author with my suggestions and ideas. LOL

Am I becoming too critical of others' work or am I just learning so much about my craft that it's all starting to make sense to me now. I'd like to think all this nitpickiness will make me a better writer, but what if it's just making me brash and insensitive? When it comes to posting a critique, do I be honest and voice my opinion or do I be kind and uplifting, possibly recommending a book I found unsatisfying?

Let me know what you think. I'd love to hear how you handle doing book reviews or even recommending books to friends and such.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Meet Guest Blogger Elizabeth Meuller

Our guest bloggers are so amazing I just can't help wanting you all to see their posts as soon as possible! Keep the posts coming. Don't be shy! And we would love repeats too, just cuz you've already been a guest blogger doesn't mean we don't want you again!!

My name is Elizabeth Mueller. I am a mother of four kids ages 13, 10, 7 and 4 (every one of their birthdays is in the fall, so I thought I could get away with rounding off their ages)!
I have been writing for as long as I can remember along with my drawings that have inspired me as a child. I love to write anything with a romantic element woven throughout the plot. I have written six books that are cowering in my hard drive, some of them have successfully gone through the fingers of my alpha readers. I took a creative writing course in High School where we published a class magazine containing my art and poetry. National Poets Society published two of my poems and I have placed second in the Peach Days Writing Contest in 2008. I created a blog that feels a little bare—I haven’t been able to get into the groove of blog writing since it’s my very first one!

Where to begin?
Ever since my eldest child was two years of age, I created something wonderful. Quiet Time. For one hour, my kids spend quality alone time. They get to read, write, draw, play dolls, whatever they want as long as it doesn’t come with a screen). I am the exception to that rule since I am the mommy. I get on my laptop and write write write for that hour without interruption. My kids honor it to the letter and I am forever grateful for it.

Do you know how hard it is to stop a train from charging? That is how I feel a lot of the time when I am creating a story and the timer calls my precious quiet time to an end. But when it rings, most of the time I can force myself to stop as we all emerge from the bedrooms. Feeling refreshed!

After that, I can’t help but think about the plot I have just woven. The characters that are tapping their feet, waiting to come alive again when I crack open my computer after the kids are tucked away that night. I stay up until about 11:30pm —especially during the school nights. On the days that my four year old is in preschool, for those few precious moments, I write rather than clean! (So good to do that when there are no little voices calling out for help.)

There are times when I feel really torn. Mother or Writer? Which and when? Even when my kids are playing happily in the backyard for hours and hours and hours, I still feel guilty for cracking open my laptop. I always feel guilty when I do that. Even if they don’t need me because they are having way too much fun, I still think: I should be there with them. I should spend time with them right now. I should stop and smell the flowers with them. They are this age for a fleeting moment . . .

My obsessiveness over my writing got so bad one day that I cried into my husband’s shoulder one night. “How can I balance myself so that I don’t feel so guilty all the time? All I can do is think about my writing. I feel guilty even when the kids don’t need me, how should I do it?”

In my patriarchal blessing it urges me to seek the Lord’s work first and I will be rewarded. This is true for everyone as it says in the scriptures. I have been inspired on how to create opportunities for my writing. I found that investing in a laptop with our child tax credit opened up many avenues for me. I take it with me on long and short drives, visits to relatives who find me boring, to the park. I read somewhere that an author had her husband cart her around the grocery store so she could get some writing done. I tried that once—it was fun! (I was too engrossed in my writing to notice any stares).

Another thing that helps with my writing is praying and reading my scriptures before I write. I will not open my laptop until I’ve read my scriptures. I won’t write until the lesson is prepared for my Sunbeam class on my prep day. I won’t write until everyone is safely tucked away. I won’t write until I know I have done the things that are required of me. I am blessed with the discipline to keep my insatiable writing appetite at bay while the kids are up and about.

For the most part.

It can still a struggle, but I know that I can do it with the Lord’s help!
~Elizabeth Mueller

"Home should be the center of one's earthly experience,
where love and mutual respect are appropriately blended."
Elder L. Tom Perry

Thursday, July 2, 2009

I Hear Voices --- Guest Blogger Amber Lynae

About Amber Lynae: I am a person who is flirting with the goal of writing the novel that has been buying up my brain real estate for almost a year. No truthfully I am completely committed, and some day my baby will be born both black and white and as easy to read as a book. Which is not the case with my real daughter. She is 2 going on 12 and surprises me everyday with her wit, and humor. My husband of almost 6 years, won my heart when we were attending BYU. We now live in Virginia Beach, where it is my challenge to find a balance between : laundry, dishes, diapers, dirty, writing, mothering, sewing, cooking, and singing. To read more of my crazy life and thoughts head over to Seriously Amber Lynae.

In my attempts to improve my skill and tecnique as a writer I read many blogs by other aspiring (and some published) authors. The other day on Crash Tests Dummy Diaries I saw a quote that made me laugh. "WRITING IS A SOCIALLY ACCEPTABLE FORM OF SCHIZOPHRENIA"

Why did it make me laugh? The previous night I was trying to figure out how I can understand some of the happenings of my plot better. I had this persistent voice in my head. It reminded me of how small children will stand there repeating, "Mom.... Mom.... Mom." until they finally get you to answer. That was the first night I sat down in some corner of my mind. Instead of thinking out the plot and my characters background, I sat down with the character that started all my story. Him and I had a nice chat. I saw his mannerisms. We laughed at stuff together. I had a friend in the corners of mind. No one knows him but me, and that makes me sad. He is a great kid.

I thought to myself I must be crazy but I was learning so much and I enjoyed our conversation. It was just as much fun as reading a good book. I talked to another aspiring writer, and she said she talked to her characters as well. I felt a little less crazy hearing her say that. Do you talk to you characters? I think you should.

-- Amber Lynae


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