Sunday, January 31, 2010
This week I heard back from a small publishing company that I sent my children's picture book to. They gave me a wonderful evaluation, but said they were still deciding whether or not to offer me a contract. I was very excited, but I remembered my previous lesson and I am praying that I will ONLY get the offer that is best for me and my family and the one that will suit the Lord's purposes. I find I sense of peace in praying this way. I don't feel overanxious, or impatient. I feel empowered knowing that the Lord will answer my prayers in his time and in his way, knowing that his way WILL be best. Jenni is the queen of praying this way and I never understood how she could be so calm about it, until now. Praying in faith that He will answer is different than praying with the faith that He will know what is right for you.
Saturday, January 30, 2010
So here's the post. I hope it gives you that kick in the rear we all need sometimes to keep writing.
My niece sent me these pictures in an email this morning and as I scrolled down, taking in each exquisite detail of the artist's rendition of these beautiful animals, I thought how wonderful it would be to be born with such a natural talent. To be able to pick up a simple pencil in your hand and craft something so real, so breathtaking, so extraordinary.
I thought about my own talents and my meager gift as a writer and wondered if I'd ever be at the same degree of excellence, jealous that someone could have an easier time expressing themselves and letting their muse flow out on the page.
I thought about all the limitations and obstacles I have each day that keep me from fulfilling my dream. The mundane day to day chores, children interrupting, church callings, phone calls, errands and all those little things I let get in the way of my own muse.
And then there are the excuses. Writer's block. Too busy. Not enough hours in the day. Self doubt. Listening and believing those that have negative things to say, like you're too old, too young, not educated enough, not outgoing enough, not GOOD ENOUGH.
By the time I got to my favorite, this tiger, I thought of my character, Toran. He's a white tiger. I thought of the scenes I'd put him in and how much I enjoyed creating him, believing in him and loving him. Me--I created Toran. I breathed life into him. I gave him a personality, a voice. And then I thought of how much I loved doing that, how it is my passion and how horrible it would be if I lost my talent and couldn't create anymore. It was then that I came to the last picture, a photograph of the artist. The lead of his pencil perfectly poised against the surface of the paper.
Meet Doug Landis. A man who has let nothing get in the way of his gift, nothing stop him from achieving his dream. A man truly without excuses, without obstacles, without limitations, not because they are not there, but because he chose to ignore them, to beat them. Regardless of the fact that he has no arms, he has overcome those things that held him back, not listened to those who told him he couldn't, and become the best at what he does.
So, to all of us, no more excuses! Keep trying, keep writing, keep submitting, keep believing and keep dreaming. It will come. (Now go to my blog and become a follower.....please) *tip toeing out of the room*
Friday, January 29, 2010
LOL! So it's a long title I know, but so many people have asked me what it is that I do, to crank so many books out so fast, especially since I have 6 kids and one on the way.
Um... Can I say I'm not sure? Is that allowed? Because I'm not really sure. However, I will give you a rundown of my day(s) and maybe you can find my secret--because I'm obviously not seeing it.
First off, I never wanted to be a writer--I always thought it would be boring. No joke. So when I did finally start writing, imagine my surprise when I realized it was actually super awesome! For me, it was so much better writing my own story, than reading a book (which I honestly never thought would be possible). I'm a bit compulsive by nature, so once I start something exciting, I HAVE To finish it. HAVE TO.
Because I started out rewriting the Jane Austen novels, I had somewhat of a storyline/outline to follow --Jane's books. But after that, I just let the characters take control. They could tell a story so much better than I could. And it was really fun to see what would happen next, as I never, ever had a clue. Which is another reason why I just HAD to finish, i wanted to know what was going to happen!
That said, these are some of the things that help me daily.
* I find if I help another friend by editing their story, mine just flows faster afterword. So if I have to know what is going to happen in my book, I quickly spend an hour working on a friend's novel, and then sit down and start typing my own.
* Generally every morning I spend time doing a quick edit and read through of what I wrote the night before. It helps me get back into the story and even if I don't start typing right away, it lets me get into the groove and think about what will come next.
* I pray before I actually sit down and write. Or just say a quick prayer in my head, asking for my mind to be clear and that I will know how the story is supposed to go.
* When I get writers block, I know this means something has happened in my story which isn't right, and the whole thing screeches to a halt. I usually step back, say a quick prayer and see what it is that I'm missing, or what I'd just written that wasn't right. Usually, it's someone else needing to enter right then, or my characters needed to speak about something else--or something completely unexpected was meant to happen, like a kiss or something, I wasn't even thinking about.
* From 5-8pm every evening is family time. It's the only way kids get their chores done, homework done, I make dinner *grins,* baths, prayers, etc... I found before I started a regular scheduled family time, my life was a mess, being controlled by the other worlds I was typing.
* Almost as soon as I started typing my first book, and realized this was going to be a full-fledged novel, I made writing a full time job. I don't do anything halfway, so if I was going to spend days, weeks, months of my life creating and rewriting and editing this book--then it was getting published, period. By the time Pride & Popularity (Jan 2011) was finished May 2, 2008, I was already working on a website, and reading up on famous authors' marketing strategies and learning their secrets, learning the craft of editing, and researching the best way to get an agent.
* I don't give up. Some people call it drive. I call it insanity. Yes, I cried like a baby during the whole process of the *hard* editing, rewriting, querying...and ugh! Don't even get me started about how bad I cried while I wrote my synopsis. That was like death, I'm not kidding--DEATH! LOL! But, my hours of persistency paid off, by August 5, 2008, I had an NY agent who LOVEDLOVEDLOVED Pride & Popularity. And couldn't wait to read Persuaded which I had finished while querying the 50 agents I queried in the month of July.
* I also asked the advice of great editing/book reader friends of mine. Anyone who I knew would give me good, honest advice whether hurtful or not, that would improve the story, I included them in my circle of critique friends--and helped them edit their works in turn.
* I woke up one morning and decided, I was going to LOVE editing. I was tired of wasting my time complaining about something for hours, that should only take me moments to do. Ever since then, my attitude has changed, and now--editing is like school for me. I'm constantly learning and growing from it, and I take the challenge it provides and use the opportunity to fall in love with my characters all over again. The longer I wait to edit, the more I convince myself the book is worthless--yet, I always find when I go back to reread--it's good, better than I imagined.
* Whether you believe in God or not, I truly believe there are always two forces working on you--good and evil. The evil will constantly whisper and tell you what you're doing is worthless, and horrid, and no one will ever want to read it anyway. You become depressed and anguished and disgusted with yourself--giving up, before you've even began the real work of rewriting, or even finishing the book. The evil force is especially good at making you feel like you'll never finish your novel. Once I'm in that sluggish middle part--Ugh--I just chant constantly--come on, Jenni--this is the middle. You know the middle is hard, lets get through it.
* I have always been able to visualize myself as a successful author at book signings and speaking events, school visits, TV interviews, etc. Sometimes I was overwhelmed by the road I had to take to get there, especially the parts that turned dark on my path in front of me, and I had no idea what was to come next. But the excitement and almost scary prospect of seeing my future and where this path would lead me--has helped tremendously in achieving that dream.
* I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. So when an agent turned me down, or a publisher... I just took it in stride and realized that I wasn't meant to work with them. Now, I'm so, so, so grateful for all of the editors, publishers, and agents who turned me away. Because had they not, I would've never found my awesome agent, Kirsten Manges, or THE MOST AMAZING PUBLISHER IN THE WORLD--Valor Publishing.
Anyway, the point is, just because you think it's horrid to get a rejection, just remember, that rejection may be because something more amazing is waiting for you, just around the corner!
LOL! Okay, I think that's it. So did you find the secret? Let me know!
If you want to know more about my series or me and my crazy life you can go to my website:
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
I have been thinking about this for a while now and would like your feedback, please! I would love to start a clipart section for Mormon Mommy Writers. The art will all be done by me and of just about anything (from Valentine's cards to FHE coloring things).
I would most likely need to go over everything with a fine-point marker and scan them drawings all into the cyberworld first. I've never done anything like this and am not too computer savvy. When this goes up, if there is any problem of any kind, please let me know.
I hope I get it right the first time so we can get straight to it! There's nothing more that I love than to share my art with others!
If you have any ideas (as in drawings) of what you might want to see there, please feel free to post a comment here.
Oh, yeah, another crazy thing from me!
I've spoken with Jenni about this and she okayed that I post about it here! (Thanks, Jenni!)
I am so excited about this crazy idea I have for running a contest. I will draw a book cover or a portrait of any one of your favorite characters (for fun, nothing official) from any book you are writing or have written. All you need to do is become a follower on my personal blog if you aren't already, and post a comment--it is not too late to enter!
You have until this coming Saturday (the 30th).
PS--don't forget to let me know your thoughts regarding the clipart and what you'd like to see there. Thank you! :)
The visiting teaching message for January. What does that mean to you? Becoming self-reliant. The first thing that comes to my mind is independence. Heavenly Father wants us to take responsibility for the things that He has blessed us with. Our spiritual and temporal living.
Becoming self-reliant is following Christ's footsteps.
Imagine you are a young child still living with your parents. They teach you the ways of the Lord and life. Reading scriptures, attending church, praying, balancing a check book, shopping smart, driving a car. Think about it. If you were never taught those essentials (along with much more in between), would you be able to reach out and help others?
The only time we can serve others is when we have strengthened ourselves. Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said: "It is important to understand that self-reliance is a means to an end. Our ultimate goal is to become like the Savior, and the goal is enhanced by our unselfish service to others. Our ability to serve is increased or diminished by the level of our self-reliance."
It is my testimony that, no matter how small the steps we make toward becoming self-reliant as we serve others, we will truly be blessed. In application to our writing, if we choose to help others with theirs (critiquing, building confidence, mentoring, batting around ideas, etc.), I have no doubt that Heavenly Father will help us become powerful, influential and yes, even successful!
I have transferred this info below from a handout so you could (hopefully) copy it and print it up. It is food storage for 2 people. You can double or triple, depending on your family size! I hope it helps!
Food Storage for about $5.00 a week
Week 1: 6 lbs salt
Week 2: 5 cans cream of chicken
Week lbs sugar
Week 4: 8 cans tomato soup
Week lbs of flour
Week 6: 6 lbs of pasta
Week 7: 6 lbs of brown sugar
Week 8: 8 cans of tuna
Week 9: 1 lb each of yeast baking soda & powder
Week 10: 50 lbs of wheat
Week 11: 8 cans of tomato soup
Week lbs of sugar
Week lbs powdered milk
Week 14: 7 boxes of Mac & Cheese
Week lbs of rice
Week 16: 5 cans cream of chicken
Week 17: 1 bottle of vitamins
Week cans of evaporated milk
Week 19: 5 cans cream of mushroom
Week lbs of wheat
Week 21: 8 cans tomato soup
Week lbs beans
Week 23: 8 cans tuna
Week 24: 3 lbs shortening 3 lbs oil
Week 25: 25 lbs rice
Week 26: 5 lbs honey
Week 27: 10 lbs powdered sugar
Week 28: 20 lbs sugar
Week 29: 5 lbs peanut butter
Week 30: 50 lbs wheat
Week 31: 7 boxes mac & cheese
Week 32: 2 quarts of Mayonnaise
Week 33: 1 bottle Aspirin
Week 34: 5 cans cream of chicken
Week 35: 50 lbs wheat
Week 36: 7 boxes mac & cheese
Week 37: 6 lbs salt
Week 38: 10 lbs beans
Week 39: 8 cans tomato soup
Week 40: 25 lbs flour
Week 41: 5 cans cream of chicken
Week 42: 20 lbs sugar
Week 43: 1 bottle vitamins
Week 44: 8 cans tuna
Week 45: 50 lbs wheat
Week 46: 6 lbs pasta
Week 47: 20 lbs sugars
Week 48: 5 cans cream of mushroom
Week 49: 5 lbs honey
Week 50: 10 lbs of rolled oats
Week 51: 8 cans tomato soup
Week 52: 10 lbs wheat
You will end up with:
300 pounds wheat, 100 pounds sugar, 20 pounds of powdered sugar, 12 pounds salt,
10 pounds honey, 5 pounds of peanut butter, 45 cans of tomato soup, 15 cans of cream of mushroom soup, 15 cans cream of chicken, 24 cans of tuna, 21 boxes of mac & cheese,
1 bottle of Aspirin (Tylenol), 1 pound of yeast, 2 bottles of vitamins, 3 pounds of shortening
12 pounds of Pasta, 50 lbs flour, 12 cans of evaporated milk, 2 quarts of Mayonnaise, 1 lb baking soda, 6 lbs brown sugar, 50 lbs rice, 10 lbs of rolled oats, 20 pounds beans, 1 lbs baking powder, and 20 pounds of powdered milk.
This is almost a complete year supply for two people of everything that is needed. The things that you might need extra of is rice, beans, milk (canned) and rolled oats, so if you get extra cash buy more or those. They also recommend fruit vegetables, jams and jell-O. You will also need 28 gallons of water.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Hi Beth! Thanks for doing this interview. Could you introduce yourself a little to our readers?
Hi Rebecca! I'm a teacher by day and a writer by night. I've always known I wanted to be a writer, but made the economically unsound decision to supplement writing by teaching as well. I write speculative fiction--fantasy and sci fi--for teens and middle grade, and my favorite authors include CS Lewis, Patricia Wrede, and Robin McKinley.
You’ve just signed with a literary agent to represent your YA science fiction novel. That’s really exciting! I’d like to ask you a few questions about the process of finding a literary agent. First of all, I understand this isn’t the first manuscript you’ve submitted to literary agents. What do you think was different this time that led to your success?
Honestly, I think it was a level of readiness. In the past, I sent my work out before it was ready. I didn't know that at the time--experience teaches us so much--but the work I sent out previously just wasn't ready.
Why did you decide to get a literary agent?
I always knew that I wanted to make writing a career--to do that, I also knew I needed an agent. I'm not a business person. I'm 100% willing to find a business person--an agent--to handle that side of my career. Besides, if I didn't have an agent, my chances at publication would be slashed.
What resources did you use to find literary agents?
I used QueryTracker.net to keep track of my queries and agents I was interested in, and that was my base for all research. It has great tools, and it is much more user-friendly than other websites I've used.
I also subscribed to every writing and publishing blog I could get my hands on. I organized it through my feed reader, and while writing, whenever I got to a blog that mentioned anything relevant--specific books an agent worked on, details about what she was interested in, etc.--I starred it. I did this the entire year while writing my book. When I was ready to query, I just opened my starred folder, and started my work there. Also, I did find that most of my starred feeds, and typically the most helpful articles, came from Casey McCormick's blog, Literary Rambles. She does regular "Agent Spotlight" posts that are some of the most comprehensive, best organized posts on the web.
How many agents did you query?
For my whole writing career? Close to 100. For this specific project? Close to 30.
How long did it take to hear back from them?
It varied. I still haven't heard back from one agent who ecstatically asked for a partial. Some rejections happened within minutes.
What were their responses like?
Again, it varied. But (and I can only say this because Query Tracker kept track of it for me) I did receive about a half-and-half positive/negative response. So, about half rejected right away, about half asked to see something more of my writing.
Can you outline the major steps a writer should take in finding a literary agent?
1. Write a fantastic book
2. Get a fantastic critique group
3. Get fantastic beta readers (I actually used alpha, beta, and gamma readers)
4. Revise--but don't revise blindly. Do what makes your story better, but what still keeps your story your own. I once killed a manuscript by changing too much for everyone else.
Then, base what you do next on your response. Are you just getting rejections? Then figure out what's wrong--your query, or your manuscript. Revise again. If you're still getting rejection, revise again. Or just write something new. And then repeat the process.
Agents read hundreds of query letters, and reject most of them. What do you think made your submission stand out from the rest?
Luck? Also, the fact that my manuscript was pretty polished. I gathered that one of the number one reasons many authors are rejected is because they query too soon.
How does a writer know when he or she is ready to seek representation?
I knew when every reader I got (and these were fellow writers, not my mom or my husband) told me that my work was ready. I was skeptical even then. But I also knew when every comment that the readers made on suggestions of things to change were things that I knew I didn't want to change, either because it changed the story or it changed my style. When the readers could make no suggestions I was willing to do, I knew it was ready--because I knew at that point I'd either be able to attract an agent as it was, or that book wasn't meant to be published.
Do you have any advice you’d like to give to someone who is looking for a literary agent?
Whenever I queried one project, and it was rejected, I'd write something new. And then I'd repeat the whole process. When I first started writing, I thought the first manuscript I wrote would be published for millions of dollars. Then I thought it would be the second. Then the third. It wasn't any of them. I just had to keep writing--and, without realizing it, keep improving at the craft of writing--until I found a winning combination of premise and style.
Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and experience with us, Beth! We’ll be watching for your book to come out.
Learn more about Beth and her writing by visiting her blog, writing it out, or her website, www.bethrevis.com.
Monday, January 25, 2010
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Her message is quite clear, that what we do, we do for the Lord and that He sees everything. Please think about this when you don't feel you'll ever get published or that you don't think you or your writing is good enough. The Lord knows every word you put on the page, every second you spend improving on the gifts and talents He gave you, every tear shed when that manuscript comes back after being edited by your critique group. He knows you and He loves you and it will all be worth it . . . in His time.
Friday, January 22, 2010
BTW, anyone interested in going to LTUE 2010 (FREE writer's conference at BYU) the schedule is up and it's AMAZING!! A few big names that will be there are: Brandon Sanderson (He's the new writer of my all time favorite series "The Wheel of Time"!) Brandon Mull, L.E. Modesitt jr. (The Saga of Recluse), Jessica Day George, and many, many others!
ANWA Writer's Conference in AZ
2010 ANWA Writers Conference
"Start Write Now!"
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Best Western Dobson Ranch Inn
1666 South Dobson Road
Mesa AZ 85202-5699
J. Scott Savage
On a personal note, I am no longer unemployed! I recieved a job working part time at a school as a reading tutor. I get to help kids learn to read and enjoy it! It also gives me time to write, and still be home for my kids when they get out of school! The Lord has really blessed me with my new job!! He is ever mindful of our needs!
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
It is a lively story about a princess who detests being the middle child of the royal family and does everything she can to break out of that mold. While Fortuna works hard to earn the label of being clumsy, something awful has happened in the lands near and far.
All princes have vanished!
And Fortuna is just the one to find out why, so she sneaks off on a quest to perhaps even rescue them. Her plans for a true adventure are ruined when her father, the king, assigns the traveling troupe staying in the castle to protect her from any harm.
Aaron manages to catch her while the others struggle to keep up. He follows her into an old woman's home who claims Fortuna as her long lost daughter, through woodlands filled with fairies, and kingdoms wrought with danger. Will the princess ever discover where the princes have gone?
Shanna has a knack for creating tension and a real talent for spinning a true adventure tale. She is full of surprises and is an expert at whipping the reader around unexpected corners. And best of all, she knows how to weave a love story.
I really enjoyed her book and have no doubt of Heavenly Father's plans for Shanna! Thank you, Shanna, for letting me share this with everyone.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Monday, January 18, 2010
Sunday, January 17, 2010
I write best, think best, and work best when I'm helping others period.
So if you're struggling with your writing, editing, or promoting... get out there and request to help other authors on their way, you will be blessed. Very, very blessed for your efforts. The Holy Ghost will enlighten you in many different ways on how to succeed. Don't wait for inspiration to hit you--go out, find someone to serve and help--then the inspiration will come.
I promise. It's biggest secret to writing. Helping others.
So guess what I do every Sunday? Instead of working for myself, I reserve this day for serving others. Now, you'll have to excuse me, I have an awesome book called Oracle written by a friend of mine to finish editing...
Saturday, January 16, 2010
What am I doing wrong?
I mean, it's obvious (because I found the book in the car) that I took it everywhere with me, in hopes to catch a spare moment to read it. And I don't think it's the book, it came highly recommended by a friend and I do vaguely remember enjoying what I'd read so far. So why am I having such a hard time finding time to read? Isn't reading part of writing?
So, please tell me how you squeeze in your reading time. I'd love to hear how, where and when you find the time.
Friday, January 15, 2010
While watching this weeks episode, (only the second of the season) they had a challenge where they had to walk a balance beam over the pool. One woman was deathly afraid of water. It took her a long time to finally get up the nerve to put her foot on the beam, then she put both feet on the beam, then she looked down. Fear caused her to jump off the balance beam and onto the pavement in such a way that she fell face first onto the concrete. Her nose was bleeding, she had a black eye and she broke one of her fingers. She was so afraid of getting hurt, that she made it happen.
Why do we allow fear to do this to us? Just by acknowledging a fear, we give it power. Alot of times we bring the fear into reality. For example, when I was writing obsessively, I was so afraid of getting writer's block. So what happened? I got writer's block! I did it to myself, then of course, I felt validated in my fear. "See, I knew this would happen." I thought to myself. Well of course it did, I MADE it happen.
So how do we get over our fears of writing, of rejection, of success, of failure? I think a big part of it is making the fear happen then getting through it as quickly as possible. The biggest challenge in our heads are always the ones we haven't faced yet. So face it, write, get rejected, succeed at something, fail at many things. Once we do, we realize it wasn't as bad as we thought it was. The fear becomes smaller in our heads.
Remember fear is brought about by uncertainty. We don't know how we will face certain things so we create a fear so we never will face them, which is exactly what we must do. Face a fear before you allow it to get too big in your mind. Remember what Kasie said, it's ok to fail, but fear is just another form of quitting.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
I am feeling solemn as I write this. Our ward has had another death—this time it was one of our Young Men. He was suffering from severe depression and it had only worsened the last 2 months. His mother did everything she could, including home schooling. He had actually begun to show a turn around.
During his funeral, our bishop encouraged every person present to enjoy life. The sound of a baby’s laugh. The smell of flowers. The warmth of an embrace. The joy of a smile. As he said this, I cried because this young man lost his chance to experience the joys of serving a mission, marrying in the temple, having a family and holding his babies as they are born, along with many more pleasures this life has to offer. But we know he is in a happier place.
On Sunday, the topic was on the Plan of Salvation. I am ever grateful for Christ’s love for me and how He sacrificed His life so that I can live with my Heavenly Father again.
In times of darkness, when all seems lost and impossible—remember to hold tight to the iron rod. We are truly loved and blessed by our Father in Heaven and never, ever are alone. If we could only view ourselves as He does, we would stand in awe every moment of the day.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
As writers, we can question anything and everything! Questions often give birth to new books. What if a boy grew up not knowing he was a wizard? What if one of your classmates was a vampire? What if there really were dragons? What if nuclear fusion solves all our energy problems but creates other troubles?
Try this: Write down ten questions a day. They could be questions about your book, your characters, your life, the world, anything!
Writers and poets have been described as those who can see clearly the human condition. We must observe in order to understand. We must draw from life to create living, breathing characters who respond in authentic ways to the things that happen in our stories.
Try this: Watch the people around you. Each day capture some small incident in words. Try to write it exactly as it happened.
Try new stuff! If you write paranormal romance, try a rhyming picture book, or a biography. Trying new things makes new pathways in your brain, and you’ll never know what you’ll find when going down a new path!
Try this: Take a small piece of writing, yours or someone else’s, and experiment with it. Change the prose style, write the scene from a different point of view, write it for a different audience. See what happens.
As writers, we can spend our lives cooped up with our keyboards, perfectly content to hang out with our imaginary friends. Pleasant as this is, it can lead to stagnation. Call a friend, go visit a neighbor, join a writer’s group. Go to workshops and conferences. Talk to other writers, learn what they’re doing. Their exciting new ideas can spark your own.
Try this: Seek out writers or other creative people and say, “So tell me what you’re working on right now.”
Now put it all together. Take what you’ve gained by questioning, observing, experimenting, and networking. Look for the connections. Try putting seemingly unrelated ideas together and see what you come up with.
Try this: Take a few of your questions, put them together with something you’ve observed, and use it all to write an experimental short story in a genre you’ve never tried before. Then find a friend who will read it for you. I volunteer!
Monday, January 11, 2010
#1 "Don't say no to yourself... edit later." Just do it and write what comes to you. Have no fear!
#3 Keep a sketchbook near by (you never know when inspiration hits).
#4 "Give yourself permission to exercise your creative muscle!"
#5 Be in an inspiring space (find a writers nook all your own if possible).
#6 Involve your family in the creativity!
Sunday, January 10, 2010
And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.
I feel as a newborn author that I was called to write. Why the Lord chose me, when it could've been any one else? I used to ponder a lot--especially when i was first starting 10 1/2 months ago and still hadn't learn to balance and juggle my writing and family. I found myself fascinated by the addictive qualities in writing and I couldn't wait to get on my computer to find out what would happen next. But I also resented that it took so much time from me... ei: sleep, friends, family, life! LOL!
Now, I'm resigned. Now I see my purpose as a writer becoming more and more clear every day. I am His missionary. I am spreading what millions of other writers try to do every single day, but can't. I feel strongly that my work is succeeding, because my characters stick to the Lord's values. He needs my work out there to battle against Satan--not to join his forces. Anyone can join Satan and write what millions of others do. I am writing against him, hence I am succeeding.
My characters attend church, they say prayers, they don't take the Lord's name in vain, and a curse word--no matter how vile the character is--NEVER gets placed in my MS. A character may swear without me having to type it. When I think of what an amazing calling (and burden) the Lord has placed on my shoulders, to give the youth of the world another option to read rather than the countless books with bits of Satan's influence scattered about them--when I think of that, I know why He called me. I know why I was meant to become a writer. Because I don't back down. I don't compromise who I am to fit in with the crowd. I NEVER have. I am the trendsetter. People follow me, not the other way around.
I encourage you all to look again through your manuscripts and find places where you can add bits of who you are in them. Add what you know, and what you believe. And when you do, I promise you, the Lord will bless you. You will succeed--and fly above the masses and hoards of writing below you--to Shine.
Take a stand and stand up for what you believe in.
Saturday, January 9, 2010
I apologize for its length.
Most of you are aware of the journey my writing career has taken lately, with its ups of being published and downs of losing my contract. Among all the little things mingled between the normal disappointments of life, I found myself slipping into depression. For many reasons, this past Thursday was one of the roughest days.
As I lay in bed that night, praying to understand the Lord’s plan for me and begging for direction, I suddenly felt peace. It was as if I were wrapped in a warm embrace, as though I were literally in the arms of the Savior. I rolled to my side and curled into a ball, surrendering to the comfort I knew He was giving me. As I did, I continued to pray, this time not holding back the tears I’d managed to suppress moments before.
As I fell asleep, I could still feel the Savior’s presence as I dreamed, and I knew what I was being shown was something I needed to see, but still didn ’t understand. I was in a room without walls, and now that I think about it, I guess that would mean they went on forever, but honestly, I saw no boundaries. There was nothing, just white, but not the blinding kind, just a soft comfortable lack of darkness.
All around me there were beautiful women, some walking in lines, as if they were moving with purpose, and others gliding around in small groups. None seemed lost or confused. In fact, they all stood straight, facing forward, their heads held high. Each one had a peaceful smile on her face and all were dressed in white, yet their clothes seemed to reflect their personalities. The garments were all modest and made of the purest weave of fabric, flowing with the breeze the women made as they walked.
As I stood there, wondering why I was being shown this, I noticed something else about them. Each one held a small box in her hands about the size of a small loaf of bread. Each box was unique and woven with a natural material like reeds or wicker or a variety of grasses, yet were all the same color, a warm reddish-brown with darker grains within each woven strip. The corners were rounded with no sharp edges. The women held them close to their hearts, as if what was inside was precious to them.
Although I didn’t see Him, I continued to feel the Savior’s spirit around me. Questions about what was inside the boxes escaped my thoughts, but instead of getting answers I was given the impression to look into my own arms. There, held tightly in my hands, was my own box. It was at that moment I woke.
I lay flat on my back, something I never do. I can’t sleep on my back, or so I thought. I closed my eyes, hoping that, with the dream still fresh in my mind, I might be able to fall back to sleep and finally get answers to my questions, but sleep didn ’t come. Instead, the dream continued to unfold in my conscious mind, as though I were asleep. It was then that I notice something strange. None of the boxes had hinges. They didn ’t have clasps or individual pieces that made a lid or a base either. I somehow knew they were hollow, but could see the outside was one solid weave, with no way to be opened—at least not by our own hands.
I didn’t understand, and I wanted so badly to understand. Why would I have this dream if it didn’t answer any of my questions? But then I had a sudden understanding and I knew what was inside each box. They were filled with our gifts and talents, our futures and those things we don’t know yet. The things we brought with us to this life, but that we are not allowed to see. If I were to open my box, seeing what lies before me—my future—the precious box would be destroyed, would crumble in pieces to the ground.
Then I looked up at the women again and realized what I was really seeing. They were all walking upright, with heads held high, their eyes forward. Not for a moment did they waver or deter in any direction. They all knew they had a purpose and trusted that the Lord would guide them. They all had faith, something I was obviously lacking in my life. It was not my place to question what was in my box. It was enough to know that it was unique to me and that it was filled with wonderful, glorious things that were promised to me by my Father in Heaven.
I’m so grateful that I was given such a precious gift, that I was shown something so sacred. I know now that I, too, need to walk as those other women were walking, with faith, not wavering. I need to trust the Lord and know that the wonderful things he has in store for me will come in His time, not mine, and that I need to hold that future close to my heart and protect it and honor it by being obedient.
I hope, in some small way, my sharing this dream has helped you to realize that the Lord loves each one of us and has a plan for us. Just because we can’t see it right now,doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. May the Lord bless each of you with whatever your heart desires. And may all your dreams come true . . . in the Lord's time.
Friday, January 8, 2010
I'm hoping this tutorial shows up. If not you can watch it on the link above. It sounds really good. You can make the outline as in depth as you want. I may even give it a try. I will have to let you know if this pantser can actually be converted to outlining!
Do you have any tips about outlining? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
But you power through. You take the suggestions. You evaluate them. You edit. You make your book shiny and new and you start querying your new and improved baby. You say you'll be okay with rejections, but secretly you think yours is going to be the first book ever to get an agent without a single rejection letter. So when the letters start coming in (some as soon as 7 minutes later) you get discouraged. And this is only the beginning after you land the agent, publishers start rejecting you. Even when you are published, the critics are waiting.
So how do you stay positive in an industry that tries to beat you down at every turn?
1. Educate yourself. There are so many resources now for the amateur writer. They range from how to write a query to how to market yourself. Knowledge truly is power.
2. Surround yourself with writers. No one can know exactly the feelings you're going through unless they've been through them as well. Who better than to understand you and help you through it all than other writers? The blog world is full of amazing, supportive people. Get to know them.
3. Keep the right perspective. Nobody gets published overnight. Even the writer's who seem like they came from nowhere have a story to tell about the climb to publication. Remember that everything takes time and prepare to spend at least 3 years from the time you type the first word before you see your book on the shelf. And that's on the low end. If you are mentally prepared for the time it takes, the waiting doesn't seem so frustrating.
4. Keep practicing. While in the various stages of waiting, keep writing. It not only makes the time pass quicker, it also helps to develop your skills.
If you have tips on how to beat the publishing blues, feel free to share them.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
My sister sent me an *email, a motto for her Homemaker's group! I hope this will help a little with the start of our grand 2010! Let's make the best of what we have!
Someone will always be prettier.
Someone will always be smarter.
Some of their houses will be bigger.
Some will drive a better car.
Their children will do better in school
And their husband will fix more things around the house.
So let it go, and love you and your circumstances
Think about it!
The can have trouble in her heart.
The most highly favored woman on your job may be unable to have children.
The richest woman you know, she's got the car, the house, the clothes~ might be lonely.
So, love who you are.
Look in the mirror in the morning and smile and say,
'I am too Blessed to be Stressed and too Anointed, to be Disappointed!'
'Winners make things happen~~ Losers let things happen.'
Be 'Blessed' sisters and pass this on to encourage another woman.
'To the world you might be one person, to me you are special!
*I've changed a few words to fit!
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
This means I’m in trouble, right?
He had stormed off to his room after a fight that started with me telling him he had to load the dishwasher before he played his computer game, and ended with him saying, “Well, you spend all your time working on your book!”
I sat down in his desk chair, reviewing the reflective listening techniques I’d learned in parenting class. Whatever he said, I had to stay calm and just let him know I’d heard and understood him.
He sat down on his bed, hunched forward, still scowling, “Mom, what’s so good about reading books?”
I leaned back in the chair, digging through my brain for a good answer. “For one thing, when you read a book your vocabulary improves. You learn new words.”
“You learn new words when you play computer games too. Computer games have words.”
Technique went out the window. “Whoa, Ben, listen, if you want to try and convince me that computer games are better than books, then it isn’t going to work. I am not going to have that discussion with you. We have different opinions on that subject. It is no use trying to argue opinions.”
He took a deep breath and let out a shaky sigh. “Okay, but mom, I feel like... well, I want to be a computer game programmer, and you said that computer games are a big waste of time.” Fresh tears dripped off his cheeks.
I closed my eyes, and I was a teenager again, still in pajamas on a Saturday afternoon, with drawings for my science-fiction graphic novel all over my bed, and my mom came in and said, “I can’t believe you have wasted this entire day. Now get up and clean your room.”
It hurt. I felt like she was saying my writing and drawing were a waste of time, something so dear to me that I enjoyed so much was an utter waste of time. Now, as a mother myself, I knew that’s not what she meant. But that’s what I had heard.
So I told my son, “I’m sorry. It wasn’t fair for me to say that. There are good computer games. Some computer games help you learn things, and some computer games are fun and good recreation, and they help you learn to keep trying, and to solve problems. I said what I did because I was frustrated that you spend so much time thinking about computer games and playing computer games, and sometimes you are inconsiderate of your family. I’m sorry I hurt you.”
My son nodded. “I think computer games are way better than books because when you’re reading a book, you don’t get to make any of the decisions.”
I smiled. “There are good computer games, but anything taken too far can be bad, and there are bad computer games. Really awful ones. Same thing with books. There are lots of good books out there, but there are bad books too.”
My son jumped up. “That’s why I want to write computer games! I want to write good games! I want to be a game editor that families can trust, for people who are looking for games that don’t have anything bad in them. I want to prove that I can write a really fun game that has nothing bad in it!”
Tears came to my eyes as I realized that my son wanted the very same thing I did. My heart echoed the thrill of conviction in his voice. “I didn’t know you were so serious about this, Ben. That’s great.”
“I’m serious about it. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get to be a computer game editor. I don’t care how hard it is. I’m going to do it.” He rubbed the tears off his face. “Well, mom, I’m ready to go load the dishwasher now.”
“And when you’ve got a game written, I’d like to try playing it.”
Monday, January 4, 2010
(It may not be a lot but at least it was something and that perked me up a little bit and encouraged me to not throw in the towel)
- 1 load of laundry washed
- Changed a bunch of diapers
- Witnessed my 13 year old change her first newborn baby diaper
- Got 3 kids to exercise 30 minutes each on treadmill
- Baby nursed and held all day
- Helped 3 kids finish a day and a half of home school
- Dished washed from baby blessing buffet for 40 people
- House put back together after baby blessing party
- Morning prayer + scriptures with kids
- Called and talked to oldest son who went to grandparent's house for the week
- Organized and got rid of 1 big box of stuff
- Cleaned up baby powder and toilet paper mess around house
- Did flash cards of times tables with son (he knows tables 2's, 3's, 4's, 5's and 6's
- Talked with sister
So have a great one of "Those" days. :)
Sunday, January 3, 2010
Saturday, January 2, 2010
So, I thought maybe it would be fun to do a little exercise. How about writing a fun short story. Each of you can add a sentence or two and take it in any direction you like. I'll give it a few days and then try to end it with a final paragraph or two (that is if someone doesn't kill off all the characters by then).
Okay, lets go with clean YA romance for our genre, maybe it will get us in the mood for Valentine's Day. (I know. Who wants to think that far ahead, right.) You're limited to 3-4 sentences, so make them count. I've provided a picture for inspiration. Have fun. The first one to comment gets to give it a title. Enjoy!
Friday, January 1, 2010
Our friend Jenn Johanssen went to this conference last year, here's what she has to say:
I've been to several writer's conferences in the last year, but LTUE was my favorite. It was informal and informative. The authors/panelists were entertaining and helpful. They also were incredibly friendly and happy to answer questions and spend time with aspiring authors. They had a very talented group of people participating from a variety of areas. I also enjoyed that they had panels on a variety of aspects of writing. They had panels on Sci-Fi and Fantasy, but also panels on World Building, maintaining Tension, writing a good hook, and many others. It was awesome... I would have glady paid money to attend again--but it's free--which only makes it better. If you are a writer and live in/or are able to visit Utah in February... I highly recommend attending.
Also, there is a contest going on Cami Checkett's Blog be sure to check it out! It's great to get to know more mormon mommy writers! I would love to see you in person at the LTUE conference!