Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Scrapbook Page, Sort Of

by Tamara Passey

I tried to scrapbook for a while. I really did. I wasn't terrible at it. I could put together a page and the pictures looked pretty good. But I admit, rather nervously, that I didn't like it as much as thought I would. Or at least as much as some other friends did. So I've resorted to putting pictures in albums with protective covers and think that maybe one day either of my daughters might like to scrapbook - wouldn't that be nice? However, I still like to capture moments and record them if I can. I just have a writer's brain and not a photographer's brain. So my snapshots are poems. Fragments of moments I don't want to forget. Like the one I'm including at the end of this post. It may not mean much to anyone else, but at least I can show my daughter I was paying attention along the way. Are any of you good journalers? Scrapbookers? How much do you document of your children's lives?

Storm Watchers

We sat on the lattice-back patio chair
You and I
To watch a storm
Because in the desert, rain is a spectator sport
Water spattered on the rocks
Tapping rhythms
You sang the alphabet song
Somewhere around H-I-J-K
The thunder clapped directly above our heads
Like you had the fast-moving gray clouds for an audience
Your eyebrows snapped up like rubber bands
“What was that?” Your shock sent up a hand to cover your mouth.
“Thunder.” I explain.
You still scanned the yard and the soggy grass
Looking for a culprit
A gust of wind pushed the rain horizontal
And I knew our moment on the edge of the storm was over.
You clung to me with your four-year-old arms and legs as we scrambled inside.
We stood behind the glass door,
Watched our dusty patio chair get drenched
And laughed.

Monday, August 30, 2010

It's still Monday, right?

Today was my first day back to classes, in longer than I care to think about, and what a day it had been. I foolishly thought that it would be an easy day, intros in class, buy my book, maybe some new school clothes and supplies, relax catching up on some material and my syllabuses, a general easy first day back. NOT!! Not only did almost everything go wrong but everything else needed to be done now Which is why my Monday post is practically running into Tuesday. I know we all have those days, they aren't always Monday's but they are out there so, when you've got a cause of the Monday's here's a fun little comic strip to remind you, those days don't last forever.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Family, Our Most Important Assignment


"Our most important and powerful assignments are in the family. They are important because the family has the opportunity at the start of a child’s life to put feet firmly on the path home. Parents, brothers and sisters, grandparents, aunts and uncles are made more powerful guides and rescuers by the bonds of love that are the very nature of a family.”

Henry B. Eyring
, “Help Them on Their Way Home, Ensign, May 2010, 23

Topics: Family

I know that if I put the Lord first in my life and family next, He will always bless me and lend me strength when I feel weakest.

Temple Progress:

Looks like they have all the blacktop removed. They are bringing in pipe to put in.

Friday, August 27, 2010


By Amber Lynae
I know I'm not the only one out there with her nose constantly stuck in a book.  I don't get in many discussions that do not eventually cover a book I am reading or have read.  My life would be empty with out the stories I read or the stories I write.  Every trip to the store contains a walk through the book section.  There is something comforting about having a pile of books waiting for me.  Some books sit in the pile for months before I get to them others minutes(Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games)). I've learned not all books are created equal.

It is hard to limit myself at times.  To remember all of the other things I have to do, cleaning, mothering, writing, painting...etc.  Yesterday for instance I spent ignoring the gym, the kitchen, and the dirt.  I read and read.  My current distraction is Mockingjay.  It steals away reality and makes it hard to escape Katniss's world. If you haven't read the series give Hunger Games a read.... you will not want to stop until the end of the series.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Mormon Mommy Writers Critique Groups

Aloha, sisters! I'm guest-posting for Nikki this week from my new home in La'ie, Hawaii, and I'm here to organize our Mormon Mommy Writers Critique Groups. We hope that many of you will sign up and participate. Being in a good critique group is an amazing way to improve your writing skills and to make new friends that can last through your writing career and through a lifetime. Here's how it's going to work:

I'll be assigning those who sign up into groups of three or four participants, with one person designated to be the group coordinator. Each member of the group will e-mail a chapter to the others in the group once a week, putting the chapter in the body of the e-mail. Then each member will read and reply to each e-mailed chapter with comments. The group coordinator will be responsible for initially contacting the group members and working out what day of the week the chapters should be sent out, and letting me know if any group members wish to retire so that I can add a new member to the group.

For those who have a full manuscript complete, I'll also be pairing up partners to do a one-time full manuscript swap. Full manuscript critiques won't be as detailed as the weekly chapter-by-chapter critiques, but on the other hand they give a valuable perspective on the whole work.

Before we begin, here are some guidelines for giving and taking critiques:

Guidelines for Giving Critiques:

1. Begin and end every critique with something positive. It is just as valuable to a writer to know what worked as to know what didn't work.

2. Tell the writer your honest reaction to the piece, then let the writer decide what might need to be changed. You don't need to make suggestions on how to fix things. Simply say how the piece made you feel, what it made you see, or think, or experience.

3. Give critiques with a gentle intent to help others grow as writers because you want them to write the most awesome books possible so that you can enjoy reading them!

Guidelines for Taking Critiques:

1. You signed up for a critique group because you want to become a better writer, and you can't do that unless you find out what you're doing wrong, so don't take it personally, get upset, or feel like giving up if others point out weaknesses.

2. As much as you may want to defend your writing or explain things that the person giving the critique didn't understand, simply thank them for sharing their reaction to your work and then take some time to consider what was said.

3. Be careful about making changes. Don't try to please everyone. Give yourself plenty of time to think before you revise based on a critique, and then only make the changes that feel right to you.

So, here's how to sign up:

Send an email to me (becka at byu dot net) with the following information:

1. Your name
2. Your level of writing experience
3. If you want to sign up for a weekly chapter exchange group
4. If you want to trade full manuscripts with a partner
5. If you are willing to be a weekly chapter exchange group coordinator

I'll start putting the first groups together next week, but I'll be happy to form additional groups as more people sign up. And if anyone wants to leave a critique group at any time, just let your coordinator know.

Once again, we hope these critique groups will be a great success. I look forward to hearing from you.

-Rebecca J. Carlson

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Good Beta, Bad Beta

"Beta" is a relatively new term in the writing world, but I think most of you are familiar with it. I've heard two different definitions of it. The first definition is where you give your manuscript to someone to pick apart, line by line, chapter by chapter. The whole kit and caboodle.  The other is someone who does a quicker read through, and comments on things like plot holes, character development, tension, and story arc, leaving the line by line to others.
Some people like to differentiate between them by calling the quick reader "Alpha" and the more methodical reader "Beta". So as you hear these terms bandied about, you can have a good idea of what they mean.

Soooooo.....anyway. I have a WIP that I had written a lot in. A lot for me, that is. But the story had stalled, and I hoped that by having an "alpha" read, I could get some feedback and see where there were problems.

A week later I got a shortish email that basically said that while she enjoyed the first few chapters, it started to get confusing, so she stopped. And that was it.

Needless to say, the already stalled story completely derailed. I haven't so much as looked at it in months. In desperation about a month ago I talked another writer friend into doing another alpha. I didn't hear back for a while, and then I heard from her that she was going through some personal difficulties, so it would be a little longer. I forgot that I even had it out as I worked on other things.

Then I got that alpha back a couple of days ago, with comments that helped me know WHERE it got confusing, what issues needed to be cleared up, places where it needed more characterization, etc. It was a great critique. And for the first time in a long time, I'm anxious to finish this and get it polished for the Muse It Up Conference in October. Maybe I'll actually try to pitch it to an editor or agent....

So my point in all this is...if you're asked to give an Alpha or Beta read, consider these things carefully:
1. Do I have time to do either of these types of critiques? Can I be fair about that with the writer?
2. Which one would play to my strengths? Do I do better with grammar, sentence structure, etc.? Or do I prefer to look for plot issues, characterization confusion, etc.?
3. Can I be tactful, but thorough? Can I share my concerns with the writer without making it personal?
4. Am I open to questions from the writer? Will I get defensive if he/she wants clarification of my comments?
5. Can I be impartial about the writing? Am I too close (or not close enough) of a friend to be honest? Do I feel like I would have to tiptoe around the person if I said it needed work?

There are lots of other places online that give great instructions on how to be a good secondary reader. If you're interested in giving and receiving alpha or beta reads, then please, I suggest reading up on it, so you know what to expect.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


by Tamara Passey

I knew the day would come that I'd need to rewrite the book I spent a year writing. I reassured myself that I'd learn how to cross that bridge when I came to it. Well, I'm on that bridge now, only it doesn't feel like a bridge. It feels like I am in the kitchen and I've started dinner - say something like BBQ chicken and mashed potatoes. And I've decided I want teriyaki chicken instead. No problem, except rice would be much better than mashed potatoes. So I marinate the chicken in teriyaki sauce and reach for the rice and its gone. Plan C develops as my toddler wanders in and begs for spaghetti. Begging is an understatement. So I use the water boiling for the potatoes from plan A to boil the pasta. I stash the chicken in the fridge for the next night's meal, steam a vegetable and whip up a tasty marinara sauce. All's well that ends well. Right? I can only hope for as much with my writing. I make one little relationship change with the main character and it is like setting off a domino train, knocking out plot lines throughout the remainder of the manuscript. I'm brushing up on my relaxation techniques. You know hyperventilating is counterproductive to most writing, rewriting --well most anything. I'd love to hear your ideas for a sane way to rewrite.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Delete Challenge

So I've written about four different posts today. Each time I get about half way through, decide it isn't good enough, and put my delete button to work. I keep spinning my wheels and am getting nowhere.

I often feel like this in my writing. I write something, go back and read what I wrote and hate it and put my delete button to work. I think I'm wearing it out. I get nowhere in my writing and become discouraged.

Having realized this I'm setting a goal for myself. For the next month, whatever I write, no matter how bad it is, I'm not deleting it. I'm just going to plow forward. I'll give an update at the end of the month and let you know how it went.

I encourage anyone that struggles with an overactive delete button to join me in this challenge. Give that button a much needed vacation!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Time Out

As a writer, I feel the need to get myself out there. Blogging. Facebooking. Conferences. That way, I have a following for when I am published.

For now, I need to put that away and do what is really important.

I mean, really . . .

This message made me cry. I love how the dad folds his laptop and listens to his son.
I should be doing that. And I will.

Brigham City Temple Progress:

Not much different. They have removed most of the blacktop and are starting to stake out the boundaries.

Friday, August 20, 2010

My Characters need your Help (Or maybe I do)

By Amber Lynae

I told you all about  the 50,000 words in 50 days challenge. I wrote with a fury. My word count grew. My esteem soared. Then after two weeks (a short 14 days), it happened. I got stuck. Not just a little Elmer's glue holding me back.  This was more like I glued, duct taped, screwed down, cemented in place, surrounded by brick and mortar, with  a fish hook pulling me away.

I knew I should just skip the scene and move on. Yet I knew the importance of the events that needed to happen.  How can you just skip over something to significant?  How can you just move on without understanding who your character got to the other side?

Days have passed.  Many days.  And I have not escaped.  I open my word document and stare.  I start a sentence, I delete a sentence.  M y characters are standing in my mind, with hands on hips, feet tapping.  They are frustrated.  I am frustrated.  I'm stuck.

Any suggestions?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Write & Shine


Last month I was lucky enough to attend ANWA's writer's retreat in the pines.  It was so much fun and I learned alot.  So of course I want to share with you what I learned.  Our keynote address was given by Valerie Ipson, Vice President of ANWA.  Her address was called "Write & Shine" which was also the theme for the whole retreat.  I'm now going to attempt to share the information she gave, but I know it won't be near as good a job as she did.  Plus I'm sure I'm putting my own spin on things because alot of times we hear what we need to hear and not always what was said.  Sorry Valerie if I mess it all up!! 

"A man can succeed at almost anything for which he has unlimited enthusiasm" - Charles Schwab

"While life requires things of us that take time, it is also important to remember each day what's MOST important to us and to devote time and energy to those things." -Anita Stansfield

Life as mothers in the LDS church is crazy busy and sometimes adding just one more thing seems insurmountable.  But we need to remember why we write.  We write to develop our God given talents, we write to bring good wholesome values to life, and we write to keep our sanity (or lose it, whichever way you see it.) 

Valerie used Write is a Verb by Bill O'Hanlon to give us an exercise to find more time in our lives to write.

Identify Non-Writing Habits (Time wasters):
Make a list of the things that you typically do instead of write.

Choose one you will avoid for a certain length of time - say maybe a week or one month.  Place a sticky note in the place you typically indulge this time-waster, or on your bathroom mirror, or all over the house as a reminder.  At the end of the designated time, evaluate and tackle a new time-waster.

Another tactic is to set a timer when you begin your time-waster, then turn it off when you have finished the activity.  After a week add up the time spent and you will see how much time you could have spent writing - multiply it by 52 and you'll really be scared.  You'll want to quit that time-waster for sure.  - Write is a Verb by Bill O'Hanlon

"Being busy is a good thing-too much time to write is a ton of time wasted." - Write is a Verb by Bill O'Hanlon.

We usually have several good reasons for not writing.  What we need to do is really evaluate those excuses and see what they tell us about ourselves. 

Excuses, Excuses...
Write down your top three excuses for not writing -  the things you tell yourself to talk yourself out of writing.
Think about your answers and come up with a rebuttal for each excuse.  Pretend it's someone else who has those excuses, a friend who you feel has tons of writing potential, what would you tell them? 

"Write everyday!  There are two reasons for this rule: getting the work done and connection with your unconscious mind."  - from This Year You Write Your Novel by Walter Mosely 

"Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly." - from Write is a Verb by Bill O'Hanlon

"I'm not a very good writer, but I'm an excellent rewriter." - James Michener

"What you need to write a novel is, of course, a deadling." - from No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty, founder of National Novel Writing Month

Use plotting timesavers...

In Will Write For Shoes by Cathy Yardly takes her 3-act story structure from The Weekend Novelist by Robert J. Ray and Story by Robert McKee. 

You may also benefit from The Snowflake Method.

You can write bios for your characters, there are many methods on how to do this

The bottom line is that we need to write.  We need to step away from our insecurities and fears and write until we can't stop.  Get inspiration from other writers, and of course writing groups and conferences. 

Her last page on the handout was a bunch of tips of writing with kids around.  Click here to go to the link where she got the wonderful tips!

Next week I will feature another workshop that I attended at the retreat.  They were all so good I can't wait to share everything I learned!!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

While A Meteor Destroyed My House I Sold Six Novels!

So life of late has been, to put it mildly, interesting. Things I thought I'd outgrown, personality defects I'd rubbed away against the pumice stone of life, suddenly have come rushing back to the surface. Where there had been a shiny reflection of God's beauty, it's now pock-marked, dull, and lifeless.

So my title. What does that have to do with my angst, you say? I had signed up a few months ago for the Muse Online Writers Conference that Nikki talked about last week. A couple of days ago I got an email with the info on the different things available to participate in.

One presentation (I won't name it, but if you see it, you'll know which one I'm talking about) was from someone who is a lovely lady, a perfect mother, and a prolifically fabulous writer. I assume so, anyway, because her blurb for her presentation said something about having every disaster known to man crash through her house, but she still sold a bajillion novels, and "YOU CAN, TOO!" 

I don't doubt it. I'm sure when the time comes, I will participate in that particular presentation because I want to know the secret. (Which I'm sure is something basic like "write everyday", "have a great outline so you never lose your way while writing", or "put all your kids in a spaceship and welcome them home in twenty years while you write".)

But until then, I'm going to crawl under a rock and lick my wounds. This writing business is brutal on the ego.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Happy New School Year

by Tamara Passey

Something about school supplies and fall fashions in the stores and I get nostalgic. I think the student part of me loves learning and gets excited -even though I'm not the one returning to school. Of course, being the mom of kids going back to school, I appreciate some order resuming to our household routine. But this is not a blog post about how nice it is to have a (partially) quiet house or a pantry that isn't raided every hour, on the hour. I happen to love spending time with my children over their summer break and I also love when a new school year begins.

I realize no ball dropped in Times Square, and we didn't count down at midnight on the First Day of School Eve. But I have caught myself in reflective moods, taking stock. Sort of the way I feel around the first week of January. Making a mental inventory of my projects and goals. And I think I figured out why I love the back to school time of year (and it's not just because of the bargains!) I love beginnings and all their possibilities. I know beginning some things are more daunting than others - starting a new school, learning a new skill or hobby, moving to a new state. But tucked away behind the apprehensiveness and fear is the possibility, all the things that could happen, the hope of something grand. So, in honor of the new school year, begin something new, even if its as simple as using a new notebook for your journal - imagine the possibilities!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Inspired by...

Last week Lisa wrote about Jane Austen... I love Jane she always inspires me. I particularly love this quote from Northanger Abbey.

"Only a novel"... in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour are conveyed to the world in the best chosen language.

It says, very passionately, exactly what I feel in regards to novels and when I'm feeling particularly down about writing in general this picks me up.

What kinds of thing do you use as a pick-me-up? What inspires you to get back up when you are down?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Building of our Brigham City Temple

by Elizabeth Mueller

"I am home," President Boyd K. Packer said at the Ground Breaking Ceremony, Brigham City's Temple site.

There were many who were present July 31, 2010 at 9 am downtown, Brigham City.

What a blessing it is to have the Lord's very own temple within the boundaries of the city we live in!

I remember snuggling in, ready to fill my spirit with divine insight. It was the 179th Semiannual General Conference when President Thomas S. Monson announced the building of the Brigham City Temple.

My eyes filled with tears and I was left speechless. What a precious and exciting moment it was for me.

I am so very grateful that the Lord has chosen our humble, little city for His great work. I am especially grateful that my daughter's heart was so touched, that she has a burning desire to marry there when her time is right.

What a special blessing this has been for everyone of us!

I feel it exciting and want to share how the landscape changes. Click here for official Church updates!

Here is a bit of statistics on the temple:

Location: 250 South Main Street, Brigham City, Utah, United States.
Site: 3.14 acres.
Total Floor Area: 36,000 square feet.

This is an exciting time and feel it very important to track our thoughts and feelings about this significant event. Here is a start for journal sheets that you can work on with your family that I've gathered from a friend whose primary has worked to compile.

My heart is full.

I will see what I can do to update my sweet sisters here at Mormon Mommy Writers as the temple progresses in its construction stages.

"When you come to the temple you will love your family with a deeper love than you have ever felt before. The temple is about families."
—Richard H. Winkel

temple pic here
gen conf pic here

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Online Writer's Conferences

Thanks to Megan for posting the information about WriteOn Con that is going on this week.  I believe today is the last day.  But like Megan said we can still access the information after it's over for those of us like me who had to work and barely got to get on. 
Online Writer's Conferences are a wonderful new invention and I love them!  Another one coming up soon is "The Muse Online Writer's Conference".  It too is free if you register before the 15th of this month.  That is in just in THREE DAYS!!  After the 15th, there will be a $5 late charge and after Sept. 10th registration is closed.  I attended this conference last year and learned more than I could imagine.  I even got to do an online pitch to an Andrea Brown Literary Agent.  It's awesome.  Can't wait to see you all in the chat rooms of The Muse Online Writer's Conference in October!!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


I don't know how many of you know, but yesterday, August 10th, began something new in the writer conference world, Writeoncon. A bunch of kidlit authors got together (cyberly) and decided to create an online conference for kidlit authors. For free. They still have great speakers, agents, editors in the biz, everything you'd find at a regular conference...minus the hotel rooms and food that doesn't agree with you. It lasts through the 12th, so you've got a couple of days to catch up. I believe all the info will stay up for while after the conference, so if you can't make it right now, you'll be okay for a while.

Now living in Utah is usually a great place for kidlit and fantasy writers. There are many of us here, and we like to get together and chat and improve our networking and our writing skills. But because I had three kids in three years, plus the two older ones, I've been busy/out of money for conferences for a long time. I finally felt like my kids were old enough that I could do a conference, but they all coincided with times I would be out of town. And then the hubby lost his job, so now there's really no money for writing conferences. But I digress...

One of the speakers, Molly O’Neill, an associate editor with Katherine Tegen Books, gave a great presentation on giving yourself permission. Permission for what, you may ask. Permission for all kinds of things that can improve you as a writer. Take a look, and tell me that isn't the most inspirational list for a writer. If it wouldn't take so blasted long and take time away from writing, I just might needlepoint it on a pillow. So go ahead. Give Yourself Permission. Give yourself permission to take another couple of minutes and read something that will help open a new window in your writing. Just do it.

The one that was most powerful for me today? "Permission to write a scene or a story that might make certain people who love you shocked and surprised."  Tomorrow it might be another one, but this list of thirty empowering statements has been printed out and taped up next to my computer. I need that daily permission from myself to write what needs to be written by me. And I'm the only one who can tell the story the way it needs to be told. And so I give myself permission.

Go get your own.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Rules are for Sissy's

I don't hate all rules... just the ones I don't like. I like to live outside the box. Make my own rules and break them. Live life in the fast lane. OK, I'm not that extreme but when it comes to writing, rules and I never really got along.

In high school I used to zone out when my teachers tried to teach us about writing elements. I would think to myself when will this ever matter or no way do writers actually think about this stuff while writing. Obviously I didn't come to enjoy writing till later.

In first drafts, my thoughts in high school pretty much apply. I just get the story on paper. It's amazing though how much those elements of writing appear. They may need copious amounts of TLC to get them up to par but they are there. That is when I realize that those little lesson throughout school stuck and that they are helpful.

As I go through the rewriting and editing process I begin to realize just how important and helpful those elements really are. They make life so much easier and lets face it life can get pretty difficult all on it's own, it doesn't need my help. These literary elements, symbolism, characterization, foreshadowing, irony, point of view, etc, are like guide posts to writing a great piece of literature. Of course there's more but don't be like my high school self and ignore them, they will only serve to help.

What are some other elements you like to include? Do you find it difficult or easy to include them?

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Very Sad Goodbye

Hello my wonderful writing sisters. This post is to inform you all that it's time for me to pass the blogging baton to someone else. I've loved being a part of MMW and will miss you all very much. But, hey, I'm still here. I will be just an email away and I'll be participating in the yahoo group and leaving comments on all your posts, so I'm really not gone, just letting someone else share their wonderful talents with our loyal and loving followers.

Also, I will occasionally be available as a guest blogger or sub, so don't forget to contact me if your new sub isn't able to blog for you. Life is just getting too hectic on my end and I've decided to simplify my life so I can concentrate on my writing career. I'm sure you can all relate. I will miss you like crazy. Keep up the good work and let me know if something fun and exciting happens in your life. Keep writing and believing in yourselves as I believe in each and every one of you.

Forever yours,


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Hometown Girl, book 2 book review

by Elizabeth Mueller

Being a fan of Michele's, I knew that I was in for a real treat as I snuggled into my bed to read Hometown Girl, Book Two of the Butterfly Box Series. (I know that I'm missing out in the series if I don't read Book One.)

Jocelyn Rogers is living comfortably in her little life surrounded by everything she could ever want. Good friends, a great job, and the nice city of St. George.

That all changed with a single telephone call.

The mayor of quaint little Milford Falls is distressed over the condition of a dollhouse cottage in his trim residence. Jocelyn must return and fix it up or he'll sell it. What makes it a hard choice is that she loves her life, but yet, she also loves the cottage, once belonging to her grandmother before she had passed on.

Encouraged for a fresh start and adventure, Jocelyn follows her friends' enthusiastic urges.

This story is about growth, friendship, love, and forgiveness. Every character is vividly painted, realistic, yet lovable. They breathe their heart into mine, sharing their love, and secrets that whisper quiet strength to me.

My favorite part is when Jocelyn finally finds the courage to move on, and realizes that the Lord loves her and that she can love others wholly as well. That part really brought tears to my eyes because I've been there, too!

Michele Ashman Bell still amazes me with her perception of heart, love and courage and what it takes to reach across the pages of a book to touch the reader in so many ways.

Please hurry on over to the author's blog, she is holding a fantastic contest! (Ends August 31st)

Add this wonderful read to your library today (here or here)!

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Bachelor: A Fairy Tale

While working on the 50K words in 50 days my muse ran off on a vacation.  After reading some posts from fellow writer friends, I think all of our muses ran away together.  I hope that they don't get any ideas of making the vacation long term because I'm sorely missing my muse.  Anyhow.  In the mean time I hope you enjoy the Fairy Tale version of the Bachelor.

Meet Prince Charming (or boy as my little girl calls him). He has it all: a castle, a carriage, a horse, and most importantly a star role in today's post.

Meet the princesses. Anyone familiar with Disney princesses can quickly tell these girls are pretending to be someone else. They haven't quite got their acts together. And they don't even know which fairy tale they belong to.

The Prince smiles to cover up the akwardness of being the only guy around. He has realized just how petty girls can get  when they feel competition.

Belle on the other hand can't seem to take her eyes off of the horse. (I guess that makes sense she will eventually fall in love with a beast.)

What is this?? Are they trying to hold hands? Could it be the blossoming of love?

Woah that was fast.... didn't you guys just meet? Well, when you know, you know.  Prince Charming has decided to forgo faking being in love with every girl in town, and he is following his true heart's desire. I think he said, "To Neverland with the ratings, I know which girl is for me."

True loves kiss on a starry night. How romantical. I get all twitterpatted just watching.

It is good to see that the pretenses are up and the girls have learned more of themselves. Unfortunately, Cinderella's double doesn't look all together happy that she wasn't the one to win Prince Charming's heart. Oh well better luck next time.

And there you have it. A true fairy tale. Cinderella has her Prince. They look like they may want some privacy. So until next time.

No princess pollies were harmed in the photographing of this short story. Although Aurora's hair was recently pulled off by my niece, she is recovering quite nicely.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Nothing Comes

Last week I attended a writer's retreat in a cabin near Heber, AZ.  The first 24 hours were set aside for a writer's retreat where there were several quite places to write til your heart's content.  Unfortunately for me, all I could do was stare at my blank computer screen and try not to let the tears of frustration fall down my cheeks.  Determined to write something I picked up a pen and my notebook and began to write what came to my mind and this is the result:

Nothing Comes
By Nikki Wilson

I sit with computer in front of me and wait for my muse to visit.  Nothing comes.  I read the beginnings of many stories and still...nothing comes.  I pray with all my heart for my fingers to fly across the keyboard but alas...nothing comes.  What wrong turn did I take that my muse has forsaken me?  Will I ever write again?  Can I even call myself a writer?  I wait for an answer to my questions, but still...nothing comes.

I decide to name my muse, maybe she will come when called.  I think of all she's done for me and a name comes to mind.  I will call her Nothing and then wait and see.  My mind sits blank like my computer screen.  I am ready to give up when suddenly...Nothing comes!!

(I was eventually able to write something and I thoroughly enjoyed the retreat.  I will be posting things I learned here and on the MMW yahoo group as well.)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Writer's Fairy Tale, The Conclusion

"It is simple," said the hermit, "but the most simple things are the most difficult. Come with me."

He turned and hobbled back to his hut.

The writer climbed to her feet and followed, careful to bring her bag of seeds.

The hut surprised her. Instead of a filthy hovel, the inside was bright and airy, full of sunshine and very tidy, with a whole wall full of windows and a table that held delicate sproutlings.

Drawn to the tiny plants, she examined them, noting how each plant was in a different stage, but each had its own schedule and system written down and laid on the table. "Why do you do this?" she asked, turning to the hermit. "I thought all that was needed was to toss them on the ground in my garden."

The writer was dumbfounded. "You mean the fox lied to us? It's not enough to cast it in the fertile soil of my imagination garden?"

The hermit smiled. "That is the fox's role, you see. Not everyone has the dedication needed to grow these seed to ultimate fruition. His part is to confuse and distract those that will be easily swayed by the perceived easiness of the way. Only those who are truly dedicated to the craft will become a hermit, someone willing to succor and shelter these seeds to their ultimate destiny.

"I learned this from the hermit before me," he said, touching one plant with a soft finger. "Each idea seed is a good one, as they fall. But, and here is the secret, each seed needs nurturing, a steady eye and a plan. Without those things, the seed might catch root, and grow a little, but it will not become a Pillar of the Forest."

The writer watched the hermit for the rest of the afternoon as he showed her the steps. Sometimes he grafted two or three seedlings together, creating a new and stronger sapling. Other times he clipped off branches that threatened to topple over a tender young tree. Always he stopped to explain what he was doing to the young writer, making sure she understood all the ways in which to nurture the seeds.

By the end of the day, the writer's mind was full of the hermit's wisdom, her heart anxious to return home to begin her own process.

"Thank you, Learned One, for all your help today. I hope I can fulfill the destiny of the seeds as well as you have."

The hermit patted her hand. "It will come, if you have the determination to see this through. Do not fear the changes that will come to you. And you will see," he said as shooed her out the gate, "Someday you will be the one sharing the magic with the writers that will come behind you."


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A World All My Own

I love fantasy, I love reading it, I love writing it, I love obsessing about it. I love it so much that my town librarian noticed that every time I come in, which is often, I head straight for the fantasy section and I know it's layout better than many that work there. The librarian asked me why I loved fantasy so much he didn't understand what was so appealing about reading fantasy novels. As I thought about it I found several things that I loved about fantasy, all of which boil down the worlds.

All fantasy novels have elements to their worlds that are all their own, whether it's a completely new world with it's only laws, people, magic, creatures, cultures, etc, or it's based on our world with fantasy elements woven in. As a fantasy writing I'm learning that while it is fun to create a world it is no easy task. I'm also learning that the more detailed it is the better it is for the reader. I've often joked with my husband that I need white boards for walls so I can keep track and map out my worlds.

Here are some things to remember when building you worlds, be they intricate and completely your own or based in this world with elements that are your own:

The world itself; is it earth or like earth, or is it completely different?
If it isn't like earth what's the geography, the weather patterns, seasons, natural resources?
What's the history of the place both political and social?
How are people divided? Countries, states, regions? Is it political, racial, or religious?
Are there supernatural elements? What are the laws?
Whats the social structure? Political Structure? Religious structure?
Who are the people? What are the customs? Rites of passage, holidays, greeting, eating, ethics, values, language, education, etc.
What's the monetary and trade system?
What are the social organizations? How do people relate? From governments all the way down to families.
What's the law and legal systems?
What's the day to day? Fashion, diet, work, etc.

Those are just a few things to think of when world building. What experiences can you share? What are things you've learned from world building?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Know Your Audience

Saturday night my family went to a BBQ at a friend's house. This friend does nothing small. In fact, she not only invited her entire ward, but ours as well. The two wards used to be one, so most of us knew each other and it was a fun time to rekindle relationships and friendships. There were well over 100 people there. Good thing she has a huge yard and family to help her.

As the night wore on, the entertainment began. Her son-in-law is from Tonga and used to dance at the Polynesian Center in Hawaii, so got some of his buddies together and performed several dances, included a fire sword dance. It was impressive and fun. While waiting for it to get dark enough for the fire dance, they played some popular music and invited everyone to come up and dance. Most of the adults held back, but the youth were like a swarm of bees ascending on the dance floor. It was fun to watch.

My son is 16 and has autism. I've always been concerned about how the kids at school and church may tease him. My concerns were put to rest as I saw my son make his way through the crowd and join his peers. Honestly, it's how I envision our ancestors greeting us in heaven. Several of the kids called out his name, welcoming him. The tight knit crowd opened up and engulfed him. For most of the time, I couldn't even see him because he was surrounded by his friends. At some point, someone got the idea to hoist one of the boys up in the air and pass him around the group. They were having a great time. Soon, it was Joshua's turn to be lifted up, and I must say, I've never seen a wider smile--a smile that brought tears to my eyes. He was being included.

You may ask what this all has to do with "Knowing Your Audience."  Well, I write Young Adult and because I don't spend a lot of time with teens and have only my autistic son as a daily example, I tend to rely on what I see on television or the internet and gear my books toward that audience. Well, no more. I've never been more impressed with a group of individuals in my life. The youth in this little Idaho town have impressed me beyond my expectations. And, NO, they were not all LDS. In fact, there were a lot that weren't because the host children invited all their friends from school. And they have a lot of friends.

So, I've learned that in order to write true to your audience, you need to observe more, take them in and get to know them better. Whether it be Middle Grade, Young Adult or the Geriatric community, absorb yourself with their ways so you can entertain them with your words.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

First Sighting Contest

by Elizabeth Mueller

Okay, now that I got your attention--it's NOT what you think.

It's even better . . .

Kathi Oram Peterson is holding a race, if you will. What kind? Well for the first five people who 1) Find The Stone Traveler in a book store, 2) Take a picture of YOU standing by the book on the store shelf, and 3) email (kathiorampeterson[at]yahoo[dot]com) the picture to her, she has a prize for you!!! (For more details, go here)

Behind curtain number 1:

Behind curtain number 2:

First runner-up gets first pick and so on down the line.


What are you waiting for? Go hunt it down and be the first one! ;)

(Look for my review on her fantabulous book in September!)


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