Saturday, October 31, 2009


NaNoWriMo - The name alone makes me want to run from the house screaming, "I can do it!" For those who have no idea what this unusual combination of letters means, it stands for, National Novel Writing Month. It is a challenge for all writers to write at least 50,000 words of a novel within the 30 days of November. If you don't write on Sunday, this comes out to approximately 2500 words a day. Breaking it down a little further, at 250 words a page, that's 10 pages, double spaced a day.

Are you up for the challenge? Can you do it? Why not give it shot?

I've decided, along with many of my writing buddies, to accept this challenge and work on my romance novel, Forever In My Heart. Come join us by signing up at the website listed above. Make sure you look me up and list me on your buddy list, then let me know so I can add you to mine. That way we can cheer each other on. My user name is "CKBryant". Hope to see you there.

By the way, have a Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 30, 2009

World Building

I am still processing all the wonderful information from the online writer's conference that I went to. One of the classes I took was on world building by Christine Amsden. She highly recommends "How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy" by Orson Scott Card. One thing she had us do is interrogate our idea. Here's my interrogation of my middle-grade fantasy story:

My idea is a Dream World

Q: What does it look like?
A: A reflection of earth during the Dark Ages complete with castles, etc.
Q: What is different about it?
A: There are portals throughout the world that lead to people's dreams.
Q: What makes it special?
A: It serves as a battleground between good and evil.
Q: Can you expand on that?
A: Valuce knights fight to keep Tumbre knights from taking over the waking world one dream at a time.
Q: Is that the best you can do?
A: There is one portal that Tumbre hopes to find to release nightmares into the waking world.
Q: Is that the best you can do?
A: One girl holds the secret to the portal and she doesn't know it.

I have been working on this book for almost 2 years now and I still learned something about my world by doing this exercise. It was great!! You should all try this exercise. Alot of you are writing fantasy, I know you are! So ask yourself 3 Questions about your idea and answer them in the comments sections. For those that aren't writing fantasy or sci fi, ask questions about your plot or idea concept. I think you will be amazed at what you find out!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Writing Priority

From the LDS Storymakers: Writing Secrets, A Comprehensive Guide to Writing Fiction & Nonfiction in the LDS Market, page 121, and with Tristi Pinkston's permission, I have copied a fun test for you to take.

"Think about this: no matter how busy your day gets, you make time to go to the bathroom, right?

"But I can't help it!" I hear you say. "I have to go to the bathroom!"

Yes, exactly my point; and serious writers have to write.

. . .

1. Would you get more satisfaction out of writing four pages of the story that's been running around in your head for months, or watching television?

2. Are you able to ignore the telephone when it rings while you're busy with something that's important to you? (Like writing?)

3. If you had planned an afternoon of writing, and you got a phone call in the morning asking you to come to the school and help with an activity, would you be able to say, "No, I'm sorry, I'll be working"?

4. Would you rather write than browse through a magazine?

5. Do you carry on long phone conversations? Would you be willing to cut your phone time if it meant finding time to write?

6. Have you ever gotten so caught up in writing that you forget to eat?

7. Would you rather write than watch a video/DVD?

8. Do you carry paper with you wherever you go? (Okay, we'll draw the line at taking it into the swimming pool when you swim your laps.)

9. Are you willing to invest time to learn how to organize your things (this means getting id of whatever you don't need)?

10. Can you identify necessary tasks that you could do more efficiently? (For example, instead of cutting up a chicken and frying a few pieces at a time, couldn't you just toss the whole darn bird onto a pan and back it? It's healthier for you, too.)

11. Are you willing to insist that your family or those you live with share household, hard, and car maintenance responsibilities?

12. Do you take showers or baths for a longer time than it actually takes you to get clean?

13. If you computer is down, do you tell yourself there's no way you can write?

14. Do you regularly go window shopping or brows your way through the mall?

15. Do you find yourself running to the store several times a week for things you forgot?

16. If you're the first to wake up, of your own accord (crying babies and alarm clocks don't count), would you rather get up and write in the quiet moments before anyone else wakes up, or would your rather give in to the alluring Mattress Monster for a few more moments of unconsciousness?

Okay, now tally up your answers. Give yourself one point for every "yes" you answered on the first 11 questions, one point for every "no" from 12-15. (I'll give you 16 for free.)

If you have 10-15 points, you're a writer, and your goals are well within reach. Just validate your writer status.

If you have 5-10 points, you have potential. You need to look at the places that are stealing your time and see if you're willing to do some rearranging.

If you have fewer than 5 points, well, then writing may just stay a pleasant daydream, unless you really want to shift gears and rev up your writing engine.

. . ."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The First Five Pages, by Noah Lukeman

"The ultimate message of this book, though, is not that you should strive for publication, but that you should become devoted to the craft of writing, for its own sake. Ask yourself what you would do if you knew you would never be published. Would you still write? If you are truly writing for the art of it, the answer will be yes. And then, every word is a victory."-- Noah Lukeman, The First Five Pages.

In memorium of the book, consumer reviewer RLoughran says, "I believe that superior writing will, eventually, be recognized and published. Agonizing over publishers or agents or sales of books you have in print is hell; real writers are in it for the writing. The First Five Pages reminded me that if I control what I can--working at writing a superior book--I have a chance at publication."

Isn't this message inspiring? I have not read this book yet, but I have attended a class that was based around some of its principles, and I have heard many good things about it. Noah Lukeman is a literary agent in NY and he says the outstanding quality of your book must be apparent in the first five pages. Sounds like a great read... I can't wait!

I'm going to quote it again, just because I love it so much:


Monday, October 26, 2009

Love is in the MIx

I thought that I would add some some fun to the mix. I have begun writing a new book tentatively titled "Love is in the Mix." I have been dreaming and testing over 100 ways to transform your dull boxed cake mixes into exciting adventures and treasured moments with your kids. These loving additions to your cake mixes will create bonding moments with your kids as well as taste good with everyday ingredients (no special shopping trips to exotic stores required)! Here is one kid tested recipe to try!

Cake Mix Pancakes:
1 box cake mix (we used yellow cake mix but white or chocolate would taste yummy too)
2/3 C flour
2 eggs
2 2/3 C Milk

Makes 16 3-4" pancakes
***Try adding chocolate chips or blueberries to the mix***

Mix ingredients till slightly lumpy. Lightly butter a pan (I use a generic Pam non-stick cooking spray)and heat on medium heat. Use a 1/4 measuring cup to scoop out the mix and place on hot pan. Cook until bubbles break on surface. Flip; cook until golden.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

When the MUSE hits!

Hi everyone, I had a wonderful, crazy, awful, full week last week and I didn't even remember to post!! Let me tell you a little bit about why I was so busy. I attended an Online FREE Writer's conference. It's called The Muse Online Writer's Conference. There was so much information, my brain was spinning! I didn't participate alot, I mostly lurked in the forums and copy and pasted information to be processed at a later date, when my brain can handle it.

I also got to pitch my children's picture book to an agent. When I say an agent, not just any agent, it was Caryn Wiseman from Andrea Brown Literary Agency, one of my top choices!! I was super nervous and didn't even copy my pitch into the chat room correctly, but I got the point across. Then instead of gushing praise (I think I really did expect that!) she said she liked the concept, but why did the mom have to be sick? I stared at the screen for a moment then began groveling, "I'm willing to change it! It can stand alone, the first draft didn't have her illness, I just thought it would add depth." At that point we got our two minute warning and she said for me to cut it to 1000 words, change the title to Imagination Vacation, take out the mother's illness, then send it to her. I complied and sent it to her on Fri. I'm still waiting for a response, but after I made the changes the story is something I'm finally proud of. So even if I get a rejection I'm ready to send out to other agents and publishing companies!

Now I'm going to share a fun exercise I learned at the online conference in a class given by the organizer of the whole conference, Lea Schizas. The class was called "Assaulting a Writer's Thinking" It is designed to help jump start your juices and get your writing to flow. I really needed it. This is straight from her class, read her exercise and example then write your own in the comments.

Where do ideas come from? In Chapter Two I gave you tons of ideas if ever you get stumped…writer’s block. Now, funny enough, I never get writer’s block. As a matter of fact I have way too many ideas floating in my head and no time to write them all. However, I do keep a notebook just for ideas. If you don’t write your ideas down on paper when they strike you, they will be forgotten quicker than you can say, HUH?
The one thing I have constantly used and has never failed me to get new ideas is a fairy tale. That’s right, a fairy tale. How? Let me show you:
Let’s take the three pigs for an example:
Three pigs = three musicians – college buddies who form a band and want to make it big
The bad wolf = their manager – embezzles from the boys
The straw house = their first shabby apartment they rented in college while going to school and building their music career
The wooden house = their first home after their agent signs them up and gets them several gigs and small tours
The brick home = the mansion the boys get after they hit it big

Back to the wooden home = the home they need to downsize after they are left in debt when their manager takes off with their money
At this point I begin to build their fairy tale happy ever after finale where the boys struggle to make the comeback and overcome the deficit they are faced with; the fans who turn on them because the manager spread rumors about them, etc.
I use a fairy tale for the basic background of players but change the setting and pitfalls.
For this Day Two lesson I want each of you to use The Three Little Pigs fairy tale and come back with your own bulletpoint outline as I have.
At the end of this lesson you will see the various storylines anyone can come up with if you use a fairy tale as a storyboard.

Everyone try this excercise, and I hope to see you at next year's online conference. Registration starts in November!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Unfolding A Rose

It is only a tiny rosebud, A flower of God's design;

But I cannot unfold the petals, With these hands of mine.

The secret of unfolding flowers Is not known to you and I.

GOD opens these flowers so sweetly,

While in my hands they fade and die.

IF I can not unfold a rosebud,

This flower of God's design,

Then how can I think I have wisdom

To unfold this life of mine?

So I'll trust in Him for leading, Each moment of every day.

I will look to Him for His guidance, Each step of the way.

The pathway that lies before me,

Only my Heavenly Father knows.

I'll trust Him to unfold the moments, Just as his He unfolds the rose.

--author unknown

This was a beautiful poem given to my daughter in YW. How do you think it applies to us as writers?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Romance Novels

I recently read a magazine article that related reading romance novels to porn. A concerned reader wrote in asking if she was getting a distorted view of men since the men in romance novels generally represent the "perfect" or ideal man, and her husband didn't fit the profile, as he has flaws.

The magazine editor responded that, wouldn't it be considered porn if your husband's reading material consisted of women who were flawlessly gorgeous, emotionally stable, and always wealthy?

As readers/writers of romance, what are your thoughts?

Do you believe romance novels cause you to place unrealistic demands on your husband and set you up for disappointment?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Writing From a YW Perspective

Recently my 13 year old daughter decided that she wanted to finish her book before she was 14. She devised a very clever method to reach her goal and has been very successful. You all have heard this before and it is sooo simple. She decided that there were certain events that she wanted to cover in her novel and she knew that each event would take about 10 pages. She wrote a list of 24 events total. Since writing down this "outline" list she has been moving along at a much faster pace then before! Each day she tells me of her accomplishments (aka pages finished) and I am very excited for her! I can't wait to read the entire first draft :)

So on Writing from a YW Perspective try:
  1. Creating a list of events that you want to see happening to your character (this outline will help you to NOT paint yourself into a corner)

  2. Find a friend/family member that will help encourage you and celebrate your successes(how ever small or large they are)!

Remember the trick is to JUST DO IT and WRITE! If any of you have little writing tips, drop a comment and let my daughter know! She would love to hear "Writing from an Adults Perspective!" :)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Killing Off Your Characters

I've recently been working on a romance novel I started years ago. The characters have been calling out to me to give them a voice and get their story down on paper (or computer screen). I've had all the research done and the outline finished for quite a while, so know exactly how it ends. I was told that in order for a book to fit into the romance genre, it has to end happily with boy getting girl. In the beginning, that is exactly how my book ended, but recently I've been hearing this voice in my head that's urging me to kill off one of the main characters. YIKES!! Now what? Here's the set up:

Jake has been searching for Annie for over 16 years after she disappeared one night with no word. He's spent every dime of his country music career on PIs and still come up empty. As a favor to his agent, he agrees to judge a talent contest in Ketchum, Idaho, hoping to get some time off from the band and long hours of touring. The last participant in the contest is a 15 year old red head girl that sings a song that is familiar to him. He and Annie wrote it together when they were in high school. He tracks the girl down after the contest, finding Annie.

The book continues with him wanting answers and her not willing to give them until he finds out the real reason she left. (not giving this away) The orginal storyline has them getting married and sealed in the temple along with the girl (Sage) being sealed to them. But now I'm thinking Annie may die, leaving Jake to take care of Sage. There's a lot within the story that would make this new storyline make sense and as we know, real life doesn't always end happily ever after, but would this make my readers mad?

I remember watching the movie, "City of Angels" with Meg Ryan and Nicholas Cage. I was so upset at the end when Meg's character died. But thinking back, it sure was a powerful ending and brought a lot of emotions up, including me crying my eyes out.

So, what do you think? What genre would this alternate ending fit into and how do you think it would be received by my readers? Would you kill off your main character? Have you? And, if I go with the first ending, what would make it more powerful?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fail if You do Not Try


"You have not failed as long as you have tried."

I took this phrase from October's visiting teaching message. Alone, this phrase has multiple meaning. How would they apply? Can you think of them?

School. Writing. Home.

It is a promise given to us straight from a prophet's mouth on behalf of our young ones. Can you think of good parents with wayward children? Have you wondered how that happened? Do you worry about your parenting skills or even blame yourself for their wrong choices?

I do. All the time.

I think of Jacob and how he lost his young son, Joseph who was sold into Egypt by his corrupted older brothers. Jacob was a good parent. What about Lehi and Sariah? They were good parents and yet, Laman and Lemuel were not. There are countless other examples--even around us today of good parents with struggling children.

I often worry how my kids will go about life with the teachings I have nurtured them with.

When I read this message, my heart was filled. Can it be? Can I really trust in that promise? The Spirit answered me yes!

I take great comfort in those ten small words. Words of the Lord given by President Gorden B. Hinckley.

I know that as long as we do our best in this lifetime by following Christ's teachings we will not fail in our duty as parents.

Some cool sites
I came across this site the other day and found it had quite a bit of helpful information. Here's the welcome message:
"Welcome to Writing Fiction Right. Learning to write well is the task of anyone wanting to be published in fiction. Publishers are looking for dynamic plots, believable characters, realistic dialogue, deep emotion and stories that hook readers. If you want to write quality fiction, then hopefully this blog can provide you with some helpful information."
Okay, so I haven't really used this a whole bunch yet, but I just like the idea of having a dictionary and a thesaurus at the same place when I'm on the go. It's very visual too, which I like a lot.

Writer's Digest of course has a wealth of information. But many prefer not to pay the fee to get at it. Still, I appreciated their 101 Best Websites for Writers article, which you can access for free.

Here's a link if you're looking for contests:

A great post on writing a query letter:

And a great post on writing a synopsis (by the same author):

What are some of your favorite writing sites?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Prada and Prejudice Book Review

Prada and Prejudice
by Mandy Hubbard
Recently I put a shout out on facebook asking authors if they had written or know of any books that were appropriate for my now teenage daughter. I had to be specific about appropriate: no sex, drugs, swearing, and crudeness. Out of the hundreds of authors that I am friends with on facebook one responded back that they had one out in publication!!! Prada and Prejudice by Mandy Hubbard. It's a traveling back in time Jane Austin era story. I'm not going to give away more but what a fun light easy read! How refreshing not to be constantly offended and bombarded by smut. I could read this book proudly and even pass it on to friends and family without shame. My daughters YW class are all in line wanting to borrow it. I haven't found a book like that in a while. It was no epic romance like Eragon or Twilight but it was fun and refreshing. It gave me hope that all of you out there who are writing clean romance for teens and even adults have a market and we are waiting! So write on without fear and pick up Prada and Prejudice for a fun, quick 2 hour read. It will give you hope and inspiration as you write your clean novel!!!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Something Uplifting For Your Day

I didn't have time to write something inspiring this week, so I thought I'd share a music video with you sisters. You've probably heard "Vocal Point" before, but I hadn't and love the way they did this song.

Friday, October 9, 2009

More to Learn -- Guest Blogger Rebecca Carlson

You all know the Parable of the Talents. In the story, the master of the household distributes his money among three servants, then goes on a long trip. When the master comes back, two of the servants have doubled their master's investment. They used the talents he gave them to earn more, so now they each have twice as much as they had to begin with. The third servant went and buried his talent, maybe to make sure he wouldn't lose it. The servants who earned more talents are praised and rewarded, while the one who buried his talent is cast out.

In terms of writing, this means that if God has given me some talent, He expects me to double my ability through my own efforts. Maybe I have an ear for dialog, a solid sense of setting, and the ability to create charming and sympathetic characters, but I still need to learn to evoke powerful emotions, tell a strong story, and convey my ideas clearly. I'm sure there are other things I could learn that I haven't even got words for yet.

The great thing is, this means that no matter where I am now, I can learn more! I can get better! Talents are talents, whether granted or earned, and the only way I will lose them is by burying them up and not using them.
--Rebecca Carlson

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Do not disturb (I'm reading)

Just picked up this book today and I'm excited to read it. It was written by James Dashner, an lds author. Wish I could give you a review, but instead I will give you the blurb from the book and then retreat into my happy place to read.

"When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. He has no recollection of his parents, his home, or how he got where he is. His memory is blank.

But he's not alone. When the lift's doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade, a large expanse enclosed by stone walls.

Just like Thomas, the Gladers don't know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning, for as long as anyone can remember, the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Ever night, for just as long, they've closed tight. Every thirty days a new boy is delivered in the lift. And no one wants to be stuck in the Maze after dark."

Tell me that doesn't sound awesome! I'm excited. Okay, time to read. :)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

To My Grown-up Child

My hands were busy through the day

I didn't have much time to play

The little games you asked me to.

I didn't have much time for you.

I'd wash your clothes, I'd sew and cook,

But when you'd bring your picture book

and ask me to share your fun

I'd say: "A little later, hon."

I'd tuck you in all safe at night

And hear you prayers, turn out the light,

Then tiptoe softly to the door

I wish I'd stay a minute more.

For life is short, the years rush past

A little child grows up so fast.

No longer standing at your side

With precious secrets to confide.

The picture books are put away.

There are no longer games to play.

No goodnight kiss, no prayers to hear

That all belongs to yesteryear.

My hands, once busy, now are still

The days are long and hard to fill.

I wish I could go back and do

The little things you asked me to.

(Author unknown)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Mucky muck Pick me up

Overworked and Underpaid: The life of a writer.

Endless days and sleepless nights are put into creating the very words in a book it takes you only a few mere hours to read.

Writers are seriously under appreciated. Most movies are made from books. Movies make millions. Authors.... don't. Even for the movies that aren't taken from the premise of a book still needs writers to create the story, the words the actors speak... and yet, who gets the credit? The actors.

When is the last time you picked up a movie based on who wrote it? Uh huh. And when was the last time you saw a movie because of who was acting in it? I see.

Okay, so I'm sure acting takes a lot of hard work... I'm not saying it doesn't. Still, there would be no story for them to act, no words for them to speak without writers. And from what I hear the movie industry treats their writers pretty darn bad.

SO! If we write not for the money... or the respect... or the fame... that will *surely* come with our next big sell (if we can just get past the 835 rejections beforehand!) then WHY do we write?

I've been thinking about this a lot lately as I've been struggling with "writer's doubt." I write because it centers me. I know who I am when I'm writing. It connects me to my inner-self, my soul. I feel at home with a pencil in my hand. Whether I'm writing a poem, a novel, a research paper, or in my journal... it doesn't matter. For some reason putting words down on paper (or into the computer) makes me happy.

If I could just forget the rest of the world, maybe I could stay that way!

Why do YOU write?

Guest Blogger--Melissa Mitchell Again

Best Quotes of the Week
Here are the top 3 quotes at my house this week:
#3-courtesy of my two-year-old
She is sitting on the stairs with my father-in-law, just jabbering away. He has no clue what she is saying, but nods his head, and saying 'uh-huh' at what seems like appropriate moments.
I tell her, "Grandpa has no idea what you're saying."
She says, "NO MAMA! I not talking a YOU. I talking a GRANDPA." Wow, I guess that's the end of that.
#2-courtesy of my five-year-old
Our friend's sister passed away, leaving behind four young children. We were talking about this, and my daughter chimed in: "But mom, you can't die! If you died, then Daddy would have to do all the cleaning all by himself!"
Well, it's good to know that I'd be missed
#1-my darling husband
Although we are both incredibly sleep-deprived, I am also an insomniac. I just can't get my mind to relax at night, and I will lay there for hours and hours, my mind racing. The only thing that has been helping me is ambien, which I don't take with a newborn that will need a feeding in the middle of the night. Last night he told me, "You're just not tired enough." I said, "So insomnia isn't a real condition, people just aren't tired enough?" He said, "Yes, if people were tired enough, they would fall asleep."
I wanted to call the news. Why are we wasting all this time and money on sleep clinics, centers for sleep disorders, scientific research, etc? The answer has been staring us in the face all along:we're just not tired enough. I think he should write a book and make millions. I even have some ideas for future books:
*Hey fat people, put down the cupcake
*Depressed people, have you heard of PMA? Positive Mental Attitude?
I had no idea I was living with a genius.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Given a Chance, They Can Do Anything

A friend of mine recently sent me this video. Some of you may have already seen it, but I wanted to share it for those of you who may not have. It touched a special place in my heart because I have a 15 year old son with autism. I've spent years fighting with the schools to let him be involved in the "normal" activities that are given to other students, only to be met with much friction and negativity. No one believed that Joshua was capable of great things--except his mom and dad. We didn't give up.

Today he is in a Special-Ed class for most of the day, but participates in all the activities with his peers. He was even on the home coming decorating committee and did a fantastic job. AND, he's loved by the students there. They all go out of their way to make him feel like he is special and that he belongs.

Okay, now for the video. Get out your tissues, ladies. You're going to need them.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Fame Vs. Success

I went with my cousin last night to see "Fame". I was a little disappointed in the storyline. They had so many characters and plots going on that they never really developed any of them fully. But the message of the movie was great.

There was one part at the end where a girl talks about the meaning of success. I have to paraprase here, but it was something about success is waking up in the morning and being excited to do what you love, it's have a group of friends that share your dream, it's working hard towards and being happy at what you accomplish.

That resonated with me. Right now, I've been letting the job I hate be the only thing I see. I haven't allowed myself to write and be happy. So I haven't been feeling success...until the last couple of days. I am pitching a children's book of mine to an agent at the online writer's conference I signed up for. I've been rewriting the story and reworking the pitch, and for the first time in awhile I do feel like a success. I'm doing it, I'm writing and I'm working towards my goal. It does light up my world, and I let myself forget that. I focused on the fact that I had been rejected by agents and that I had to get a real job that I don't like at all. I focused on the negative and I didn't let writing lift me up. I was a failure because I wasn't allowing my self to be happy during the lowpoints. I'm starting to feel that all change. I can't guarantee that I won't go back to that dark place, but hopefully next time I'll recognize it sooner and pull myself out faster.

I actually have two questions for you today. What do you think success is? Oh, and what do you think of my 100 word pitch? LOL! I definately need feedback. Keep in mind it can only be 100 words and mine is at 98. Would it get your attention? Here it is:

Imagine enjoying a gondola ride in your backyard, having chariot races on your sidewalk, or building the Tower of Pisa out of pepperoni pizza. When Drake’s mother gets sick their family comes up with an Imagination Vacation to Italy. Their wildest imaginations are realized as they encounter excitement around every corner.
Imagination Vacation to Italy is a picture book for school aged children designed to help them use their imaginations to visit the world. The book could be marketed to parents and teachers with an accompanying website where an exchange of imaginative ideas could take place.

Thanks for all your help!!


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