Thursday, April 29, 2010

Writing Exercises on Yahoo Group!

To get our yahoo group hopping, we are going to have a writing exercise on a regular basis (or until I run out of prompts!!) Have you signed up for the MMW Yahoo Group yet? If not the link is at the top of this page. It's free and easy to join! Here's our first exercise. You will have to join to send your exercise and read everyone else's as well:

I got this one out of a textbook from last year's writing class. The book is called "Story Matters" by Denman & Shoup.
I picked this exercise because it lets you use a current character you are already writing about:

Using 3rd person, spend 10 minutes writing a dialogue in which a character in the story you are working on gets into an argument with someone, anyone. The argument should deal with something significant to the character. Be sure to locate the argument in time and space. Next, still in 3rd person, explain how your character feels about the argument. What does he think about what happened? Next, pull back. Tell readers something about the character that he cannot admit out loud or that he does not recognize about himself. Next, write about what your character's face looks like during the argument. Finally, get behind your character's eyes and describe what he sees during the argument. Now reread the draft of your story. Can you use any of what you wrote in it? Look for spots to refocus and move readers through your story differently.

Whew! That was alot to type out. Now if the unbolded parts seem too overwhelming for you, (like it does me) just go with the bolded part. Freewrite about a character in your WIP and their argument with someone. Only write for 10 or 15 mins at the most. Then send your exercise to the group. Let's be sure to give each other the feedback we crave and need. We aren't correcting grammar or any deep critiquing. Just what you did and didn't like about what was written.

Hope to see you all soon on MMW Yahoo Group! Can't wait to see what you write!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

LDStorymakers Conference, 2010

I've posted this over at my personal blog, but felt I should share it with Mormon Mommy Writers, too!

Everyone had so much fun there. The conferences are growing and getting bigger each year. It would be so nice if you could plan on next year's if you weren't able to make it to this one.

Enjoy! :)

Caroll, Heather, Eliza, Yamile, Emile, and me at YA bootcamp.
We had sooo much fun meeting each other and sharing our WIPs.

Sheila Staley and me at the Whitneys

Double take! (She is one of the coolest people there!)

Fun at Borders Bookstore with Kimberly Job and Mary Campbell.
Two cool ladies!

Michelle Jefferies, Paulette and me!
We make a crazy bunch . . .

Jenn Wilks and me ready for the Whitney Dinner.

Me with Rebecca and her cutie pie! She let me hold him.
*Sigh* He is so sweet.

Me and Michelle Teacress.
She is an awesome friend!

Me with Laura Elliot.
She's such a crazy cool friend--you'll love her!

Me with Jenni James--she dropped by to say hello!

Here's David West. I can't wait to read his book and post a review on it!
It was wonderful seeing you again!

I finally get to meet Darvell Hunt!
He's such a neat guy . . .

I finally found Danyelle Ferguson and got a pic with her!
She's such an awesome person!

Me and Christine Bryant.
It's always good to see old friends!

Me and Cathy Witbeck.
She's such a wonderful friend. I'm so happy to have met her in person!

Me and Carolyn Vawdrey. She's such a sweet person.
It was great seeing her again. As always. ;)

Me and Bethany Wiggins.
So happy to meet the legend in person. She's one cool lady!

Donald Carey and me meeting for the first time.
What a party we had at Borders!

Danyelle Leafty! She's such a pretty and sweet friend.

C.S. Bezas and me loitering at the Marriott's Lobby.
It was so much fun getting to know her!

Angie Lofthouse and I finally get a picture together!
It was crazy trying to track down all my new friends. :)

Ali Cross and me.
Isn't she cute?

Congrats, First Chapter Contest Palz!

Ali Cross


Christine Bryant!!


At the Whitney Awards Dinner:

Gary and Nichole Giles at my table.

Christine Bryant (I think she's going to take a picture, what do you think?)

There's Tristi Pinkston and her peeps-->
(can you see my table behind them?)

Darlene and Asa

I know, I know . . .
I just can't help but show off how gorgeous
Sheila and I look in our little black dresses!

Can't wait till next years LDStorymaker's conference!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

When Destiny Calls

"When destiny calls, pick up the phone," my son quipped over his corn flakes.

My daughter glowered at him. "That isn't funny. You've already said it before."

"We could make a book," I said. "Destiny calls. It would be about a girl named Destiny."

The ideas flew around the table.

"She's always calling people."

"She's trying to get a date."

"She's always talking to her friends."

"They could have adventures over the phone."

"It could be about a boy who likes Destiny, and he's waiting for her to call him." I suggested. "Or maybe he doesn't like Destiny, but she calls him anyways."

My son snickered.

"And he really likes her best friend, so he can't be rude to her because she'll say mean things about him to the best friend, and he's just using Destiny to hang around with the best friend, and it gets to be a big mess..."

"This is getting really good, mom!"

"What's a good name for a boy your age? Something a little unusual, but not uncommon. Something that makes it sound like he was born in 1995."

My daughter thought for a moment. "Bryce. I know two boys my age named Bryce at my school."

"Bryce it is, then. And in the end he'll find out he really does like Destiny," I said, then leaned back and slapped my hands on the table. "There, perfect. It's a book. I'll put it in my outline file."

"You can't escape Destiny," my son quipped.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

LDS Writer's Conference

I didn't get to go to this conference, so when a friend sent me this link to an article about it, I read it enthusiastically. I hope you do the same. There are also links to other articles about the conference on the page as well. And those of you that tell. What was your favorite class? What did you learn? Who did you meet? I need to live vicariously through you!!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Quotes that make you think

"Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly."
Robert Kennedy

I heard this quote yesterday at my son's speech contest at school. It really hit home right now since I am once again sending my picture book manuscript out into the publishing world knowing it will probably fail more times than it will succeed.

"Trying to force creativity is never good."
Sarah McLachlan

"Indecision may or may not be my problem."
Jimmy Buffett
This is sooooo me!

An author ought to write for the youth of his own generation, the critics of the next, and the schoolmaster of ever afterwards.
F. Scott Fitzgerald
He would know!!

An artist is a dreamer consenting to dream of the actual world.
George Santayana
We are definately dreamers who not only dream of the world but despite the world.

It's not easy to cut through a human head with a hacksaw.
Michael Crichton

This one just made me wonder, "how does he know that?" Things that make you go hmmmm!!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Mold, Shape, GO!

My friend Carolina from Carol's Prints was expressing her wonder in having to do headshots as a published author and if branding is necessary and how she feels all squished inside a mold.

This inspired today's post.

At the start of my career, I had mixed feelings about this. Rules. Rules. Rules. We are being molded, beaten and shaped to please editors, agents, publishers, readers and more. (I'm thinking there's no wonder writers are so needy!)

I feel that being an author is one of the bravest things anyone can do because, in so many ways, it takes away our identity. (The rules tell us how to write). No POV changes. No adverbs. No purple prose...

A commenter from Roland's blog had so much about rules and purple prose and how we need to write to please others.

I think that having a brand is important because that's how our fans will know us and find us and love us!

What is your author brand? How did you deal with squeezing yourself into that mold as you started out?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Chat With Illustrator Rachel Hoffman-Bayles

This week, I'm pleased to introduce one of the most gracious and talented women that I know, Rachel Hoffman-Bayles, who also happens to be my little sister. She's in the middle of an illustration job, but she took a few minutes to chat with me about her life as a Mormon Mommy Illustrator:

Rebecca: So, first off, tell me what you've done to prepare to be an illustrator.

Rachel: Well, I certainly didn't know I was preparing for this when I really started. I started like anyone with just drawing as a kid, and I did a lot of it.

"Illustration" was a term I didn't really hone in on until 11th grade. I idolized an artist named Susan Dawe, who airbrushed unicorn pictures for Mead folders. We had a "shadow day" for school where we could choose to follow around someone in the career we wanted to pursue. Somehow I got her phone number and got up the courage to call her.

Rebecca: So what did you learn on your shadow day with a real live professional illustrator?

Rachel:I learned the difference between fine art and illustration. There is certainly some overlap, but I learned that an illustrator's art is for reproduction. One of the biggest appeals is that I get to keep the originals. An illustrator usually has to express a specific idea. There is usually an article or a story to enhance. You answer to an art director, who dictates some of your creative process.  That can be seen as a draw-back.  But you also get to be a story-teller, and I really enjoy that part. A fine artist, on the other hand, says what they want to say whenever they want to say it, and hopes that someone likes what they said and wants to purchase it. And then you kiss your baby goodbye and send it off. IF it sells. An illustrator gets commissions. And deadlines. And paychecks.

I also learned that a free-lance illustrator's life can be a little lonely, so I'm very grateful that I have a husband and children to keep me grounded in reality! Susan lived alone...I think with several cats.

Rebecca: Authors get into publishing by writing a manuscript and then trying to sell it. Illustrators have a different process, is that right?

Rachel: Yes, almost the opposite. An illustrator still has to have something to show, but the art you submit to an art director is just an example of what you CAN do. You introduce yourself to a publisher's art director by sending a postcard or a packet of sample illustrations showing your very best work. The packet should include a cover letter that explains you are an illustrator seeking work. You can mention what you like about their publishing house, and promote yourself by listing past clients or accomplishments.

Rebecca: Is that how you got the illustrating job you're working on now?

Rachel: Sort of... hahaha!  I have had so many unusual paths to my jobs!  It just goes to show how important networking is. I believe my current job was the result of a postcard, but I never mailed one to this company, or the company they said handed my postcard along to them. Someone handed it to someone else who handed it to my publisher. It's a great mystery, but I have no complaints!

Once you've sent a packet like I described, it's good to send follow-up postcards showing more recent work, probably at least every 6 months. This helps keep you fresh on their minds, and gives you the chance to show more and more of your work, which hopefully will be better and better as you go along. Having an online portfolio these days is also ESSENTIAL.

Personal contact is, of course, very helpful. For instance, for a long time I wanted to illustrate for the Friend. After I spent several years trying to get their attention, I finally met the art director at an event, and he recognized my name on my name-tag from a recent submission I had sent to them. That's when the job offers started coming. Even though he was impressed enough by my submission to remember my name, I don't know that I would have gotten an actual job without meeting him.

Consistency is key. You have to show you're serious about your work. Then someday, you get a call or an email asking if you are interested and available to illustrate a manuscript they have. And you say YES!!!

Things are a little different if you write the book yourself.  I haven't gotten one like that published yet, but someday I hope to. In that case, you prepare what's called a "dummy" which is a mockup of the book. The text should be in it's proper place on the page, and the illustrations sketched out clearly enough that an art director can visualize the pages. A few illustrations should be rendered to finish level so the art director can also see your vision for the style of illustration you intend to use. You turn that in with a cover letter, very much like an author would submit a manuscript.

Rebecca: Can you tell us a little more about the project you are working on right now?   

Rachel: The title is Sensing Peace. It's a full-length (32-pager) children's book about sensing peace in the world around us. I have lots of urban scenes, multi-cultural characters, architecture...that really scared me. I'm not good at architecture, especially modern urban, but I've learned as I go.
Rebecca: In picture books I sometimes see the illustrations telling a side story that isn't implied in the text. Is that something the illustrator decides to do?

Rachel: Yes, and that's something I LOVE to do. Children's book text is usually best when it stays very simple. The pictures tell a lot of the story. For instance, in this book, there is no central character implied in the text, but I felt like a thru character would help tie it all together.  I actually have 2 main characters, a boy and a girl who are friends. I've decided things about them, such as the boy's favorite color is orange and the girls mom is an avid gardener. Those things show up in the pictures, and may or may not be noticeable to the reader, but they give me a sense of reality to work from.

Rebecca: You have three children and are expecting your fourth one in May. So how do you find time to pursue your dream while raising your beautiful family?

Rachel: Well, I honestly haven't done much since I got married and started having kids. I really struggled with that for many years. I shed many tears, and I have many journal entries talking about how frustrated I was that I didn't have time for art. When I read them now, I remember feeling that way, but I can't create those feelings in my heart anymore. They just seem to be gone.  I still love art, but I no longer define myself as being an artist---that when I'm not creating art, I'm somehow not being my full self. It's just something I can do, not something I must do.

The funny thing was, once I truly fully reached that point, things started falling into my lap. This book came out of the blue, then I had another book offered, and another commissioned project through an art gallery. Those are all in the lineup for whenever I feel ready after the baby comes. I look at it as a blessing in connection with my willingness to turn this part of my life over to the Lord, and let him decide when and how I use it, rather than my demanding more time for it. Funny how that works.

Rebecca: God remembers our dreams even when we forget them.

Rachel: Yes, he does.  I think that a lot of our dreams, the ones that really matter, are in us because they are connected to our purpose in life.  So of course He won't forget those.

Rebecca: This has been a GREAT interview, Rach. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge and your thoughts.

Rachel: You are so welcome.

To see more illustrations by Rachel Hoffman-Bayles, visit her on-line portfolio at

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Friendly Face

I'm so excited about the LDStorymakers Writers Conference. This will be the 5th one that I've attended, but because I made so many friends online this year, it seems to have new meaning. As much as I want to take the classes, learn from the presenters and meet agents and editors, I find myself being much more excited about meeting my new friends in person. I felt a little of this last year, but because I only met a few people online and hadn't really gotten into the Facebook/Twitter scene, I had no idea what anyone looked like. After spending the first day with my eyes glued to everyone's name tags, I gave up and spent most of my time as a wall flower. Not a good thing.

So this year, thanks to all the great pictures on Facebook and being more involved in blogging, I have familiar faces to look for. That got me to thinking, though. I look nothing like the picture I have posted on this blog. For one thing, I wear glasses and my hair is a little different. And for another, well . . . let's just say you can't see ALL of me in that picture. I'm rather, what's the word? FAT! Yep that's it. But that just leaves more of me to love, right.

So when you're looking for me, and I hope you all do, just search for the rather ROUND woman whose lovable, cuddly self is waiting to hug a new friend. Hope to see you all there.

Don't you just love the resemblance?

I love Miss Piggy.

OH, And on a side note. Because I will be at Conference next week, I won't be posting here. But I hope to have some cool pics to post the following week. WOO HOO!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Seriously in Real Life Meeting

I have been away from home since the end of March (and I am still away) and my online access has been limited.  So I am sorry that I haven't been as active in the blogosphere. 

I wanted to put up a reminder that tomorrow at 1pm I am having a get together for any who would like to get together at the  Provo, UT Olive Garden.  If you plan on coming please let me know.  They don't accept reservation on Friday's and Saturdays.  So I plan to be there early to put our groups on the waiting list.  If you plan on coming just let me know in the comments so I can get a close head count.

Can't wait to see you.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Writing Excuses

If you haven't been introduced to this wonderful podcast let me be the first to tell you all about it. "Writing Excuses" is a podcast put on by Brandon Sanderson, Howard Taylor, and Dan Wells. It is very funny and very informative. It's a little hard to figure out who is who to begin with, but after you listen for awhile you figure it out. I was lucky enough to watch them record 2 of their episodes while at LTU&E this year. They are episodes 4.6 and 4.7, this is one part of the conference you can experience like you were there. I love all the guests they have on often as well. You will definately want to listen to as many of them as possible. And remember, it's only 15 minutes long, because you're in a hurry, and they're not that smart!!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Trusting . . . me

(This is a post I've written for my blog. I told a good friend about it and she recommended that I post this on MMWs because there are many of us moms who are feeling this way, too, so here it goes!)

Lately, a priority shift has thrown me.

I have a good friend who is a wonderful mom. I've seen her in action. She has more than six kids and is a wonderful writer. She can edit during the day and free write when they all in bed at night.

I really admire and look up to her. Because I do, I thought to try her method. Sadly enough, I crashed and burned. I am not her. I can't be her. I am me.

There are things I've noticed slipping as I did those things (editing during the day rather than night...) I know I can still stop what I am doing and attend to the needs of my kids as they need me, but I really expect more from . . . me.

Yes, I am there for them. I talk to them about any pressures. I make sure I lead by example. Not do as I say and not as I do type thing. I teach them spiritual things. Temporal things. All things. We have scripture study every morning, family home evening, prayer . . .

But I have fallen short. I am not there for their interests.

My son is recent WeBeLos. But I haven't cracked open the book to read and help him with his goals like I used to. My daughter is very needy. She loves to read with me. She loves it when I make up stories about her and Prince Spicy. My other daughter needs me with her Personal Progress. And maybe just to hang out with her and read while she reads. My little boy needs me to be insistent when it comes to learning speech words for preschool.

It's the little things, you know? Those are the most important things. And I've been failing them. All because I've decided to emulate that good friend. I am not her. I am me. I need to press the reset button and start all over again.

I need to give myself permission to know that it's okay to be me.

Life is too sacred. Too precious. Too fleeting to let Goliaths take
control of ourselves. I need to remember that all the time so that I won't forget.

How do you do it? How do you meet your family's needs without leaving out the little things?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Almost There or Just Beginning?

Sometimes I think I'm almost there. So close.

And sometimes I think I'm only just beginning.

Three years ago, when I completed my first novel, I thought I was almost there. Then I learned about query letters. Six months later when I got my first partial manuscript request, I thought I was almost there. Then I learned about rejection. One year later when I had my first full manuscript request, I thought I was almost there. Then I learned about requested rewrites.

Every time I come to a new corner, I think publication is right around the bend. Then when I find it isn't, I feel lost in the maze. Will I ever get out?

So I'm through thinking that I'm close. I won't tell myself that anymore. I'm going to tell myself that I'm only just beginning.

There's so much to learn. All I want to do is write the very best books that I can. Yes, I care passionately about becoming a published author, but what I care most about is creating the kind of reading experience I love. That isn't measured by publishing contracts.

And when I do hold my first published book in my hands, I will tell myself that I am only



Saturday, April 10, 2010

Guest Blogger - Jane Still

I'm taking the next couple weeks off to work like crazy on my book so it's ready to pitch to an agent at LDStorymakers Writers Conference. So, I've asked Jane Still to blog in my place. Everyone make sure to visit her blog and leave a comment below, welcoming her to MMW.

Jane Still was born in Dawson Creek, British Columbia. The first two years of her life she lived in a log cabin with a dirt floor and slept in a cardboard box. Her best friends were a dog that was half wolf and a baby deer. They kept her from wandering off into the woods.

She grew up in Cardston, Alberta Canada and attended College in Rexburg, ID. She is married and has six children. Jane writes books for fun and revenge.

Her first book, Mother's Daze, hit the National Market. in March. She is currently working on Mother's Daze 911 and will share a gem of her life from it.



When my husband and I applied for our marriage license, we simply walked up to the clerk and paid our money. He handed us a little piece of paper and said. "Next."

That was it. No interrogation, no further screening of any kind. No one asked me if I was an ambulance driver, a paramedic, a pest exterminator, a dog whisperer, a plumber or an emergency responder of any other ilk; nor if I was likely to ever become one.

I do have a college education where I trained in the quintessential art of shorthand. Not once in my entire life has there ever been a need, let alone an urgency, to use that skill. Never have I been faced with an emergency where I said, "Boy is my shorthand coming in handy now."

It wasn't that I went into marriage completely inept. I had skills. I knew how to shave my legs and under my arms, how to apply makeup and the importance of smelling nice.

However, college wasn't a complete waste of time. I did accidentally learn a little about plumbing. One day I walked into the bathroom and noticed a mountain of toilet paper. Naturally, I flushed. The water rose higher and higher. I started to panic. Where the heck was the toilet plunger? I did the only logical thing. l closed the lid. To make sure it was on tight I stood on it.

It didn't work. Water surged out of the toilet, onto the floor and then headed for the bedroom carpet. I had to do something intelligent fast. I screamed. "Help the toilet's flooding.

I heard feet pound as my roommates stampeded down the stairs. What a bunch of morons they turned out to be. Instead of helping me, they collapsed on the floor laughing. Someone finally waded into the bathroom, removed the lid to the tank, jiggled something and stopped the flow.

"Why are you standing on the toilet waving your arms like a wild woman?" they asked.

"Duh, I was trying to keep the water in. Where I come from when you put a lid on something the contents stay inside. This lid is defective."

That was good for another round of hysterics while I stood on the toilet wondering; how were you supposed to know what you didn't know, if you didn't know that you didn't know it?

Find Jane on the web at:

To get your copy of Jane's new book, Mother's Daze, click HERE.

Thanks for being our guest today, Jane. Your story is hysterical. I'm still laughing. It sure makes me want to get to know you better, that's for sure. And I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of your book.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Little Fish in a HUGE pond

If you read Elizabeth's post on Summer in Paris and thought you would love to read it,
then you need to head over to my giveaway post and comment before the April 12th.

Are you getting very excited for the LDStorymaker conference on April 23rd-24th?  I am.  But I am also a little scared.  This will be my first writer's conference.  I am a total newbie.  I feel like a guppy swimming with the whales.  I would be lying if I said I am not intimidated.

While I am completely excited to meet all of the bloggers who have inspired me in my writing.  I am at a loss for how to prepare.

Are  you attending?  
Can you help a girl out with some pointers and advice?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Guest Post--Crystal Collier

Feeling Generic
*Sarcasm warning* (May contain elements of sardonic ranting.)

I honestly think bookstores are built to depress writers. They look so beautiful from the outside, so inviting. Posters advertising the latest best seller, (What we all hope to be deep down, right?) the smell of paper and anticipation of adventure lure hungry thrill-seekers forward. Aisles are clean. Countless colorful jackets beckon your touch… And then you pick one up.
Cue the plot depression. “Nope, no more vampire stories.” You tell yourself. “They’re overdone.” “Nope, no more wizards.” Again you say. “Can’t risk them being compared to Harry.” (--The way you compare everyone to Harry!) “No more crime mysteries. How many times do we have to suffer through the exact same plot?”

By the end of the visit you’ve crossed 90% of your current projects off the list. What’s left?
While your developing plots may not be completely “unique”, they are yours. Your babies. If you love them enough, if you study and refine and strengthen those characters, your prose, each fine element, detail and twist, someone will appreciate them besides you, right?
In music composition there’s a method. Formally educated individuals use the method, breaking the rules where necessary to throw their audience off and take them to new heights. Each note, its duration, emphasis in the score, selected voice, and individual performance makes it unique. So what if three measures in a sequence are exactly like someone else’s song? That may actually serve to subconsciously endear the piece to listeners.

Readers gravitate toward elements they’ve loved in other books. I know I do! As in music composition, if method is applied (yes, study, study, study!) and the rules broken in the right places and at the right times, you just may send your readers to cloud-nine. Let people compare and say your story reminds them of this or that. In the end they either love the work, or they don’t—and as no two songs are exactly alike, neither are stories.

Don’t be afraid to write what you love! (And especially what sells!)

Books, music and more:

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Book Review: Summer in Paris, by Michelle Ashman Bell

Kenzie Williams is in for a huge surprise when her parents tell her she must spend her summer in Paris. Visions of a romantic stay in grand France are soon shattered when she learns which Paris.

What? There is more than one Paris?

Yep. The kind where quaint little parades float down the middle of town. Where you can't hide, because everyone knows who you are. Where kids get so bored, they invent their own fun.

Welcome to Idaho!

What? What about her ballet school? Bottomless credit cards? Her boyfriend?

Kenzie learns the hard way as she's literally thrown into farm life. Weeds, vegetables--what's the difference? The chickens are monstrous beasts that don't like her. Cleaning toilets? You've got to be kidding!

She's in for one horrible summer until she sees Adam White. Tall, dark, stunning. Suddenly, the chickens seem to like her and toilets aren't that big of a deal. She soon learns that poor Adam is the town's skeleton in its wardrobe, and is determined to solve the mystery.

Besides, what real harm could this handsome boy really be when he melts her heart with a single glance?

Michelle Ashman Bell is a genius at capturing the spirit of bored country teens, which all rings true--my husband, once a ranch hand, can attest to it all! It had me shaking my head, laughing, as I tagged along in their obnoxious ventures. Gasping when disasters struck. Even crying when someone nearly died. A recipe book for restless teens.

She had me rooting for Adam's innocence, rolling my eyes at the macho acts of the local boys, and swooning when Kenzie finally shared a quiet moment with Adam.

Welcome to the front row seat of Summer in Paris. I promise you a sweet, lighthearted, fun read!

Wait, are you still here? Hurry over and buy a bundle for you and your friends!


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