Sunday, January 30, 2011

A House of Order is . . .

 . . . A House of God.

Did you notice that when the house is orderly, you can feel the Spirit commune clearly?
Here's a great place to start if you feel overwhelmed with keeping things in order!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Saturday Stories, Nancy Campbell Allen

My special guest today is published author, Nancy Campbell Allen.

I fell in love with Nancy's writing when I picked up her amazing Faith of our Fathers series. In the pages of those books I eagerly discovered a treasure trove church and US history and fell in love with her ability to weave a wonderful romance.

This interview was so fun that I won't waste your time on any more of my ramblings, other than to say check out her self-titled blog, Nancy Campbell Allen.
Q--Would you please share some background with us?

Well, I’m the oldest of five kids, born into a family that loves to read and travel. My mom is Norwegian, and some of my fondest memories include time spent in Norway on vacation, visiting family. While my dad was attending college and then graduate school, we moved around a fair bit. I lived in roughly 6 different places (including Germany!) before I turned 9. Then, we finally settled in Ogden, Utah, where I’ve been, on and off, ever since. 

Q--You have an amazing background in the LDS writing world. Would you please share your journey from picking up the pen to becoming published, to now?

Right after I finished college, my husband and I packed up our baby and moved for a short time to Atlanta, Georgia. We ended up back in Ogden for my husband to finish school, but the short jaunt to Georgia sparked a renewed interest in the Civil War, for me. I had just read a time travel romance, and while living in Atlanta, I decided to write a Civil War time travel romance. I had just begun it when we made the decision to return to Utah, but I kept at it. 
It took forever to finish. To date, it’s the shortest of all my books, but it took the longest to write. I kept putting it away, thinking it was such a waste of time, and who did I really think I was, anyway? In the mid 90s, I discovered the internet and made some friends online who were writers or aspiring writers. Their encouragement and friendship helped me finish the book. 
In the meantime, I had done some research on local publishers because I knew my chances of getting published were better in a smaller, local market rather than the big houses back east, so I turned my story into an LDS book and when it was finished, began submitting it. I made three copies, submitted it to three different publishers, and after much nail-biting and trepidation, Covenant Communications accepted it. I was over the moon!
In the time it took to get that first book, Love Beyond Time, accepted, I wrote the sequel, No Time for Love. Once the first book was accepted, the second was ready to go. They were soon followed by A Time for the Heart, and Echoes. 
My editor then asked if I’d be interested in doing a whole series on the Civil War, and I jumped at it. The next four years were consumed by research and writing the four volumes that became Faith of our Fathers
After a brief hiatus that involved having my third baby, my husband returning to school for his Masters, and teaching 4th grade for two years, I finally finished my spin-off to the Civil War series. Isabelle Webb, Legend of the Jewel was published in 2008, and the sequel to that book, called Isabelle Webb, the Pharaoh’s Daughter will be released in January, 2011. Yay!

Q--Would you please share any awards you've won, books (or short stories) published?

In order of publication, my books are:
Love Beyond Time
No Time for Love
A Time for the Heart
Faith of our Fathers vol. 1: A House Divided
Faith of our Fathers vol. 2: To Make Men Free
Faith of our Fathers vol. 3: Through the Perilous Fight
Faith of our Fathers vol. 4: One Nation Under God
Isabelle Webb, Legend of the Jewel
Isabelle Webb, The Pharaoh’s Daughter
The Faith of our Fathers series, volume 2, won Utah’s Best of State award for fiction. It was a huge honor and I was so excited. Legend of the Jewel was a Whitney Award finalist, which was also such an honor.

Q--Who is your publisher and how did you choose them?

My publisher is Covenant Communications, and I submitted my first book to them. They accepted it, and I’ve been with them ever since. They’ve been so good to me, and I have had exceptional editors. The marketing department is amazing and I have loved every cover my books have had.

Q--What have you done to help improve your writing talent? Any advice?

I read, read, read and I would suggest the same for any aspiring writer. You must read everything. Read things you like, branch out and try things you may never have thought of reading. I also love books about the craft of writing, and I buy them so I have my own copies to thrash and mark up. 
The more you write, the better you become. I had a reader tell me once that she was amazed at how much my writing improved over the course of my Civil War series. I wasn’t sure if I should be flattered or hurt. ;-)

Q--Computer or Notebook?

I do much of my brainstorming by hand, but do all my writing/drafting on the computer. It’s so much faster. I do love notebooks, pens, pencils, etc, but the actual work is done on a keyboard.

Q--What is the strangest thing, person, place, or event that has inspired your writing?

I saw a documentary, once, about a woman whose job it was to set herself up as bait for cheating husbands. She was a private investigator, paid by the wives, and she would allow herself to be approached by these men in question, to see if they would be unfaithful. She then turned the evidence over to the wives. I know! Cheery, isn’t it?! But it stuck with me for some reason. I found myself wondering how it would affect the view of the P.I. who did the work. Would she become jaded? Have a hard time with relationships? So this became my second book, No Time for Love. Of course, we mellowed the story line a little—my character wasn’t actually bait, but rather her job was just to follow the person around and take pictures—but in essence, that documentary shaped my whole novel.

Q--Would you please share a story about writing with us? 

After I submitted my first book, I was anxious, of course. I heard from the first two publishers relatively quickly. They were very nice rejection letters. Covenant still had the book, and I was antsy. I was also flying solo in a market I knew nothing about. There was no such thing as LDStorymakers, and I didn’t have any personal friends who had ever tried to publish in this market.
Sooooo, I called the publisher. Yeah. Left a message or two for the editor who worked at Covenant at the time. I eventually connected with her, and she said something like, “if you need the manuscript, we can send it back to you.” I almost swallowed my tongue. I learned to be patient.
She contacted me again, some weeks later, and said that they were looking for more emotional involvement from the characters.  I wasn’t sure what to do with the book, so I had a few more people I trusted read the book and give me feedback. 
I rewrote a few things, and the book was eventually accepted. The moral of this story: be patient. Do not call the editor. (Unless there are guidelines on their website that instruct you to do so. I doubt there will be, but you never know.)
Truly, people who are writing today in the LDS market have more of an advantage than I did. Information is readily available. We have conferences that address not only writing, but submitting to the very companies that I blindly mailed manuscripts off to. The writers who were published at the time I was submitting were gracious and lovely, as I later learned, but I didn’t know them at the time and had nobody to go to with questions. Writers today should take advantage of the wealth of information available on websites, blogs, facebook, etc. It’s easy to get overloaded with too much info—remember the writing is the most important thing—but sort through what will be useful for you to know when you want to submit and make good use of all the info out there.

Q--At what point did you begin considering yourself a bona-fide writer?

I suppose I considered myself legit when my book was accepted for publication. Truly, though, I’d been writing for a long time. I was already a writer.

Q--Of all the characters you have ever written, who is your favorite and why?

Unfair question! I have so many favorites. I really like Claire from A Time for the Heart. She’s an archaeologist, and I want her job! I also had a fondness for Camille Birmingham from my Civil War series. She had such tremendous character growth over the four volumes. She was fun. 
Lately, though, my favorite has to be Isabelle Webb. I’ve enjoyed this character so much. She actually had her beginnings in the CW series. When I finished those books, I was so done with depressing research. I wanted to do something fun and light, so I sent Isabelle to India and she got her own adventure/mystery/romance series.  She’s an awesome character. She was a spy in the 1800s! How cool is that?

Q--Do you have a certain process you go through when you write or do you just wait for the "muse" to come out of hiding?

The muse is fickle, and I don’t like her much of the time. ;-) I brainstorm like there’s no tomorrow when I begin a new project, and keep copious notes of every little thing that comes to mind. I give myself a rough outline and then adjust it as I go. I also have character sketches so I know my people pretty well, know how they’ll react in any given situation. I see my best results when I write daily, and can keep the story fresh in my mind, rather than having to relearn it all over again each time I turn on the computer. Consistency is key.

Q--How do you balance your writing and your family?

It can be tricky. I do most of my writing at night or during nap time. I babysit my 3-year- old nephew, so when he sleeps and my kindergartner is having his down-time, I can sometimes get work done. Mostly, though, I have to write in the evenings. Mornings are a joke for me. If I tried that, all of my characters would be either dead or chugging vats of Diet Coke to try to wake up.

Q--If you could offer an aspiring author any advice, what would it be?

1. Don’t quit. Keep writing even when you’re telling yourself it’s stupid. 
2. Read. Always make time to read something for enjoyment or learning.
3. Attend conferences and/or workshops if you can. They’re inspiring and helpful.
4. Try to connect with other writers. Not many people will understand when you try to explain to them what you’re doing. Most people hate writing. It helps to have friends who “gets” you.
5. Try to be as consistent as you possibly can. Write something every day.

Q--Was there a book you read as a child (or adult or teen) that got you hooked on reading and/or writing? If so, please share the story.

So many books have shaped my desire to be a writer. It started as a kid. I loved, LOVED Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew, etc. I used to love it when my teachers in school would read to us after we came in from lunch recess, all sweaty and gross. I never wanted them to stop reading. For me, being an avid reader and transitioning into writing was very natural. It feels like one and the same. It’s all part of a world I adore. I wish I could point to exactly ONE book that made me want to write, but it’s all of them. It’s every book I’ve ever read and loved. I’m like Belle in the beginning of Beauty and the Beast, where she’s dancing all around town with a book clasped to her chest and the people think she’s a dork.

Q--If you could live or experience any story/book you've read, what story would it be and what character would you choose?

Ooooohh, good question! I think a fun book to experience would be any of the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters. Amelia is a quirky Egyptologist in the late 1800s and that was just when the Western world was becoming turned on to Ancient Egypt and digging in the sand for treasures. 

Q--Is there somewhere you go for inspiration? A quiet park, a busy people watching spot, a mountain retreat?

Josi Kilpack’s office! Josi and I live near each other, and she and her husband have an office downtown where she and I go write late into the evening. It’s wonderful, because there’s someone there for company, but we can work in companionable silence and get stuff done. I love that time!

Thanks Nancy!

Make sure to check back next week because published author Tristi Pinkston will be my guest!

I'm still looking for volunteers for Saturday Stories! Make sure to drop a comment and let me know if you're interested.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Happy Late Birthday to MMW!!

I couldn't believe it when I realized the other day that this blog was started January 5th, 2009.  MMW is two years old this month!!  How awesome is that?  I have to say it's been a wonderful journey so far.  Don't worry, I'm not going anywhere, I'm the only original blogger left and I probably will be here forever!!  I have really enjoyed all my virtual friends that I have met through this blog.  Both readers and bloggers combined.  We have met a lot of great friends here and I look forward to meeting many more.  So thank you to everyone who has made this blog a great success, but more than that, you have made it a great community.  We now have a facebook page, a yahoo group, critique groups, and even a chat room (if only I can remember how to get into it!!)  Well I'm going to end on a nostalgic note and leave you with a link to the very first MMW blog post.  I have really enjoyed this adventure with you all, as we still attempt to take the publishing world by storm.
Be sure to read some of our past posts and remember our old friends who used to blog here.  And then drop in on their personal blogs and say hi!!
Thanks again for the many friendships and the wonderful support I feel here at this humble little blog!!

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Little Demented?...Or a Writer?

Have any of you watched the TV show on ABC called, "Castle"?  The opening credits always start with the main character saying, "There are two kinds of people that think of ways to kill people, serial killers and mystery writers."  It's true that writers are a different breed.  So this leaves me often looking at my children and wondering if any of them have my propensity for writing.
Recently my 11 yr old daughter told me that at school they had to write a story as if they had expereinced the Haiti Earthquake.  Then she told me that everyone thought her story was the most depressing.  So I asked her what the story was about.  Our conversation went a little like this:
J:  Well it was about a girl who was walking home when the earthquake hit.  She was ok, but when she got to her house it was just a pile of rubble.
Me:  That is sad.
J:  I'm not done yet.  The only thing moving under the rubble was her puppy that was dying.
Me:  Awww.
J:  There's more.  So then she stood in front of the rubble waiting for her parents and sister to come out, but they didn't.  She stood in front of a tree and was hoping it would fall on her.
Me:  That's awful.
J: (evil smile on her face) Oh that's not all.  So then her best friend comes and pulls her away from the tree and together they dig in the rubble and find her parents and four year old sister, and they're all dead.
Me:  That is a very depressing story.
J:  Wait, I haven't told you the end yet.  Then the tree falls on her best friend!
Me:  Is that the end?
J: (pleased smile on her face) yep!
Me:  I see why your class said it was the most depressing story.
J:  What?  At least it's realistic!

So I am left hoping that she is a writer.  Or maybe just being the child of a writer gives her the right to a bit of demented thinking!!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Friday, January 21, 2011

Guest Youth Writer:Taegan

 In my previous ward, I had the privileged of meeting a wonderful young lady, Taegan.  She is full of energy and a passion for many things including writing.  I asked her to share some of her excitement and enthusiasm with us.  I forgot to get the link to her blog, but hopefully I will be able to post it in the comments when I here back from her.

I spent my childhood up in trees or with my nose shoved deep into books. I’d like to think my Mum passed that lovely trait down. When I was fourteen I met two girls who befriended me and changed life as I knew it. They taught me the joy and excitement that comes with writing. Dana could spend pages on details, gloriously vivid details while Sarah K had incredibly funny dialogue. I’d like to think that I fell somewhere between the two when it came to technique, but my passion burned brightest. We’re all in college now, scattered from Idaho to Hawaii, busy with school, jobs, and life. As far as I can tell I’m the only one who continues to write as if my life and happiness depend on it, and I think in a way, it does.  I’m always writing, always. I have a blog, a journal I keep faithfully, and close to 175 different files in Microsoft full of lines, scenes, and characters in my head.
Words are a beautiful thing. Nothing brings my heart greater joy, love, or inspiration than a beautiful sentence that paints an image in my head and lets my soul soar. Perhaps that’s why I am so drawn to writing, I long to give someone else the gift so many have given me. If I could have anything in the world it would be the chance to create something that would forever change the life of just one person, to leave an impression in someone else’s mind and inspire them to do the same. I can honestly say that some of my happiest moments in this world have been caused by the hands of those who embrace their craft and the gift of words
But I don’t just want to experience someone else’s magic, I want to create my own.
So far this desire has escaped me, and I envy those of my peers who have been able to take hold of their craft with both hands.
But someday it will be my turn, and you can take that to the bank.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

"The Kiss of a Stranger" by Sarah M. Eden

 I just read my friend, Sarah M. Eden's kindle edition of "The Kiss of a Stranger".  As you can see from her book trailer above it is  a regency romance and Sarah's books are always so wonderful.  They just carry me away in the story and I love them.  She originally started out by self-publishing.  Her road to publishing with Covenant is interesting and I thought you would all love to hear more about her, so I interviewed her for our blog.  Everyone, meet Sarah!

1.  What started you writing?
Most authors would answer that question with something along the lines of "I have always wanted to be a writer." Guess what? I'm not most writers. Even compared to writers, I'm strange--and that's saying something.

As a child, I never answered the "What do you want to be when you grow up?" question with "An historical romance novelist." In fact--now brace yourself--I didn't even like to read. Yeah. You read that right. I didn't like to read. (But that's a whole blog post in and of itself.)

Fast forward many, many years. I was at my mother's house one day talking about books and I went off on one of my rants about the frustrating lack of good, quality, morally-sound romance novels available. I'm pretty sure I didn't stop for breath for at least 15 minutes. My mom pulled out one of those motherly-nuggets-of-wisdom for which moms are so well known.

"Why don't you try writing your own?" she suggested.

At first the idea seemed ridiculous, but it wouldn't leave my mind. After months and months of reading about writing, fleshing out a plot idea, working on characters, and trying my hand at writing a novel, I presented my mom with a bound copy of my first completed manuscript. I could tell by the shocked look on her face that she hadn't realized I'd taken her off-hand suggestion seriously.

I discovered a few things during that endeavor: 1-I had a lot to learn about writing. 2-I loved writing romance. LOVED it.

I've been hooked ever since.

2.  Do you only write in one genre?
Nope. I have manuscripts in various stages of completion in everything from contemporary romance to chick lit to YA fantasy. Some of these are pretty horrible, some aren't bad. There are even a few that I think have some pretty great potential.

The problem most authors will run into when trying out a new genre is that they forget who they are as an author. Let me explain.

I received a great bit of advice not long ago: "You need to figure out what you most like to read and what you're best at writing. Where those two things come together is where you need to be as an author."

I love romance. It doesn't matter what genre I'm reading, the romance is always what stands out and grabs me. So it makes sense that when I try my hand at something outside of the romance genre that I keep it a romance underneath. If I'm going to write a fantasy, it needs to be a romantic fantasy. If I write a chick lit, it needs to have a strong romantic subplot.  That makes sense, right? I didn't always get that. So many of my forays into other genres fell apart because I overlooked the fact that I needed to be writing something that was a romance at heart.

One of my strengths as an author is humor and quirky characters. If I try to write a manuscript that is 90% drama and conventional characters, chances are it's going to fall flat. That's just not who I am as an author. Once I allow my characters have unique voices and humorous views on life, the writing improves by leaps and bounds.

Would I encourage authors to try different genres? Certainly. But figure out where you fit in that genre. Don't try to be a different author simply because he or she is successful. Be yourself. You might discover that while you enjoy reading a particular genre, you aren't any good at writing it--or maybe you just don't like writing it. Give it a chance, you might learn a lot about yourself.

3.  How many books have you written?
I have 11 historical romances under my belt as well as a whole handful of manuscripts in various stages of completion. I also have a fantastically gripping 6-page book I wrote in Kindergarten that I am pretty sure will someday be a bestseller.

4.  Tell us a little bit about your books.
I write quirky romances set in early 19th-Century England--the time of Jane Austen, Napoleon, Mad King George. I have extensively researched the time period and worked hard to give them the right "feel" without making them too heavily historical for a modern reader to enjoy.

5.  Tell us about your journey to publishing with Covenant.
I began as a self-published author. Sadly, there is not a lot of call for "clean" romance on a national level. So, I opted to self-publish while I searched out a publisher that might be interested.
My novel, "Seeking Persephone" was named a finalist for a 2008 Whitney Award for Best Romance. As a result of that, I met several fantastic people, including Annette Lyon. She took an interest in me and my books and encouraged me to approach Covenant. So I submitted an unpublished manuscript and, as they say, the rest is history.

6.  How is it different from Self-Publishing.
With self-publishing, the author has complete control over everything: content, cover design, packaging, marketing. Sounds great, right? Not always.
    •    A traditional publisher would provide (free of charge): professional content editing, line editing, copy editing, cover design, type setting, advertising, marketing.
    •    A self-published author has to either do all those things themselves or pay for them to be done by a professional. It's tempting to save the money and design your own cover, but it generally looks like a self-published cover. Ditto with not having the books edited--errors will be left in that mark it as a novel that was not very thoroughly edited.
Of course, a self-published author keeps a much higher percentage of profits. Provided a self-published author has the drive, contacts, time, money, etc. to invest in marketing their book and can sell anywhere close to the number of books a traditional publisher can, this can be a benefit. The advent of ebooks increases to some degree the chances of a self-published author selling more books. I am very intrigued to see where this new area of the industry will take books in the future.
For some authors, self-publishing is a good option. For me, it wasn't where I wanted to be as an author. I'm not a marketer. I'm not a business woman. I knew without a doubt I could never get the exposure that a publisher, even a small regional one, could manage. So self-publishing just wasn't a good fit.
(To learn more from Sarah about Self-publishing versus traditional publishing, click here.)

7.  What tips would you give to writers trying to get published?
Study the craft. That's absolutely first. No amount of querying or following market trends will make up for sub-par writing. Read everything you can get your hands on--both fiction in your genre and how-to books on writing. Attend writers conferences--they are invaluable sources of information.
Get a critique group. You need to have other writers who are willing and able to give an honest, accurate and helpful critique of your work. Writers have to have that feedback--it's essential. You also need writers around to buoy you up when you're frustrated and pat you on the back when things are going well.
Get to know others in the industry. Follow the blogs, tweets, etc. of agents, authors, book reviewers. Subscribe to Writers Digest. Network at conferences. This will help you keep your thumb on the pulse of the publishing world as well as pick up valuable insights and tips.
Make sure you're doing it for the right reasons. If you love to write, keep writing. If you're in it for the money, you won't last. This industry is tough, sometimes even brutal. You have to love what you're doing to endure dozens of rejections (because that's what it takes to get an agent, not to mention all the rejections that come afterward from publishers), bad reviews, sour grapes (yes, some authors aren't as nice as they should be), disappointments, etc. Sure, there are some great moments as a writer, but you need to love it, or even those highlights won't be enough.
Wow. That sounded so philosophical.

8.  Do Cheetos really give you super powers?
Absolutely. They also give you orange fingers. Both are fabulous.
I recommend keeping a bag within arms reach at all times.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Query Resolutions?

Megan will be taking some time off of the blog while she and her family move.  Until then, I thought you may like this blog post about querying in the new year.  It's by editor and author, Anne Mini.  She gives lots of advice that I hadn't heard before and think it's worth passing on.  If you are thinking about querying, read this now!!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Guest Blogger: Crystal Collier


When true inspiration hits, do you simply walk away?

Joel 2:28 And it shall come to pass…I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions…


Eight years ago I dreamed a dream (literally): a musical, about a vampire—who was a good guy! (Long before Stephanie Meyer, thank you.) I woke and scrambled to my piano (keyboard), fumbling in the early dawn with pen and paper to capture the song still echoing through my head. But that’s not where it ended. After a week I’d composed 10 songs. Music flooded into me through what felt like a conduit of light, and it’s all I could do to keep from drowning. Our lives became a whirlwind of midnight waking and crazy writing sessions.

Crazy. That’s the best word to describe it.


Matthew 7:20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.


Well my friends, here’s the end product:

This is the first time since conception the musical has been available to anyone not sitting in our living room. The site features 6 of 34 musical numbers (with more music in the works), a story teaser, character descriptions, character blogs (this is where the real fun comes in), and the opportunity to get involved. In the coming months we will host contests (primarily writing contests), and other promotional events to spread the word…and the insanity.

Who knows how this will play out, but we (my creative parter/husband & I) are dead set on Broadway, and through our website you can join in the journey.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

What Heaven Sees in You

When you're heart is down, please remember you are a beloved daughter of our Father in Heaven. He loves you.

(Doug Walker / Sherry Marks Walker)
Performed by: Doug Walker

Sent to this earth
You were saved through the ages for this day
and time
Child of great worth
Child of promise, daughter of the Divine
Pure and holy in a little, white dress
You were held in a circle and you were

And the Father looked down
And the angels surrounded that place
They knew the truth, all that you could do
And you will, too, if you have eyes to see
What heaven sees in you

Dressed in white once more
Making promises to follow in God’s way
So much lies in store
For the little girl who enters at the gate
Pure and holy in a little, white dress
You were led into the water and you were

Repeat Chorus

Do you understand who you are
Part of the Father lives in you
If you continue on this path
Every promise God has given will come true

Heaven on earth
In the house of God, so much fills your heart
and mind
Woman of great worth
Woman of promise, daughter of the Divine
Pure and holy in a long, white dress
You promise forever and you are blessed

And the Father looks down
And the angels surround that place
They know the truth, all that you can do
And you do, too, ‘cause you have eyes to see
What heaven sees in you

Will you have eyes to see
What heaven sees in you

Friday, January 14, 2011

What is it about triangles anyway?

I read my fair share of young adult fiction.  My current  project is a young adult fantasy.  I know I'm not the only one out there who has noticed the trend for love triangles in Young Adult fiction.  How did this plot line become so trendy?  Is this the only way for authors to create tension in a love story? Is the whole idea just way overdone to make it in today's market?

I actually quite enjoyed a post by some fellow Mormon writers over at Midnight Meditations discussing this topic.

So what are your thoughts on the love triangle?  
Take it or leave it?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Smell of Success

Earlier this week I wrote this on the MMW Yahoo group:

Hi all! I really enjoyed reading everyone's New Year's Resolutions. The one thing I want us to recognize this year is that when we try to achieve our goals using an iron fist, our subconscious often rebels. And let's face it, as writer's we NEED our subconscious. Our subconscious isn't verbal. It gets information from our senses and interprets that data. So I want you to all to think about your goals for the new year. Now I want you to create an image in your head of already having accomplished those goals. How do you feel inside? How do you look? Do you stand taller? Is your chin held high? What do you hear? How do the people around you act now? Are they happy for you? What does your accomplishment taste like? Does it taste good? How does it smell? Find a candle or oils in that scent and use it around your house. Sending all the sensory information to our subconscious helps it to know what we want and then it is programmed to help us. You will probably need to recreate this image in your head often. Let's also remember to just breathe! Don't get mad at yourself if you aren't achieving your goals as quickly as you would like. Recognize that the Lord is going to help you achieve your goals on His time, not yours. Be willing to wait for His blessings. They will be worth it!
I have to be honest, I had visualized my success but I hadn't really thought about the taste or the scent.  When I went to Walmart with my hubby I left him in the sporting goods section and decided to look at the candles.  I wanted to know what scent I could give my goals.  First I had to think of my goals, to successfully pitch and finish my LDS non-fiction book.  Well that's the only one I really thought of.  I have others but as far a visualizing them and all that, I'm only focusing on one at a time.  Then I began to sniff every scent imaginable.  My favorite smell is cinnamon, but surprisingly I found that my goal didn't smell like that.  It was down to two scents, Fresh Cotton, and Juicy Apple.  I realized the Juicy Apple reminded me of a time as a young girl when I took a step in caring for my body by saving money and purchasing my very own shampoo and conditioner, Salon Selectives.  (The commercials guaranteed the best looking hair ever!)  It smelled like apples and I was convinced I looked fabulous because I used it.  I don't know if it was true or not.  It doesn't really matter, because as long as I thought it was true, then it was.  Why this long story?  Well my book is about finding balance between our bodies and our spirits and knowing that we can and should care for our bodies as much as we care for our spirits.  I had completely forgotten that memory until I smelled that candle and suddenly I knew what my goal smelled like.  So I trudged up to my husband carrying my new candle and he wanted to know what it was.  "It's the smell of success!"  I announced proudly.  He looked at me incredulously, "Really that's what it's called?"  I just smiled.
What does your success smell like?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

How Can I Miss You If You Won't Go Away?

My husband has an amazing voice. (One of the reasons I married him, actually.) He's a baritone with a fabulous range and a tone like butter. Yeah, I lucked out.

But my point was not to brag. (Okay, a little, maybe.) Several years ago when we were newly married (read: before kids) he and I sang in a barbershop quartet. (Hi, low alto over here that can pass for tenor most days.) We sang an old barbershop song titled "How Can I Miss You If You Won't Go Away?". It was about a young man who has a young lady actively pursuing him, and he wants to tell her to leave him alone, but doesn't know how. It's really cute and old fashioned, but the title has played many roles in my life.

One more recent one is that of placing a manuscript in a drawer (figuratively if you write on your computer) and letting it stew in there a while. I know that I am horrible at this. I think that all my stuff when it first flies out from my fingers is publishable. (I told you I had an ego problem.) I have to force myself to let things lie for weeks, sometimes months before I can revisit it again with a fresh eye with no more rose colored glasses.
I do this sometimes to myself, but most often after I've gotten a critique. Mostly because I have to let my ego heal (I told you I had an ego problem), but also so I can be objective about the advice given by the critter.

I usually only go back to it when the story won't leave me alone and I think about it all the time, wondering how my characters are doing.

I'm sure most of you are better at this than I am, but I was wondering how long you've let things sit. Joyce DiPastena is an author that I know from when we lived in Arizona after my hubby graduated with his undergraduate degree fourteen years ago. When I knew her, I didn't know she was a writer. (Come to think of it, I didn't know that I was a writer, either.) Anyway, she has a couple of great books published (sweet historical romances), and she mentioned on Facebook that she had dug out the first novel she ever wrote, written in college. (I won't make her hate me by guessing how long it's been. A few paltry years, I'm sure.) She commented that while she still liked the characters and the plot and general premise, the execution of it was horrible, so the writing would be 99.9% new.

How long do you let your babies stew?

(P.S. My husband finally got a job offer, but it requires a move...back to Arizona after 10 years back in Utah. We're very excited, but we have to be down there in about a month for him to start...and there is a lot to do between now and then, so I am going to "go away" for a while. Hopefully not longer than about 4 weeks, but I'm not sure. So now I'm giving you a chance to miss me. :P)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Am I On The Set of Star Trek?

by Tamara Passey

Okay, I don't have a food replicator. (It would be nice.) Or a way to beam my kids to school. (Even nicer!) But does anyone remember when Riker handed Picard a small electronic device the size of a book, only it was super thin and it was supposed to contain volumes of documents or research for him to review? You don't have to remember the episode - I just remember watching in awe at the possibility of that technology. And here we are some fifteen or twenty years later.  Enter Kindle, Nook and E-readers galore. I loved Nikki's Thursday post on Innovation and I thought I'd share my test run of some new technology.

A good friend had recommended a book a little bit before the Christmas holiday. I made a mental note (trusting  this friend's literary tastes) to pick up the book or even ask for it for Christmas. That didn't happen. How busy is the month of December? So somewhere around the late afternoon lull on Christmas day, I thought of the book and wished there was a way to get my hands on a copy. I didn't receive a Kindle or e-reader, but I did have a smartphone (of the droid variety). I remembered something about a "Kindle App". So. . .tap, tap, tap and I downloaded the app, some free classics and then searched for the book Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. I hesitated for a few minutes, wondering if I wanted to read an entire book on my phone - it has a much smaller screen than an e-reader. Then I realized I'd already been reading my scriptures every day on it with and LDS Scripture app -(and loving the instant cross-referencing and notes feature). So I saw the option to download a sample of the book for free. HOW TOTALLY AWESOME IS THAT! Which I promptly did and started reading. You can see where this is going, right? By the time I was done with the sample, I was ready to buy and for only $5, I had the whole book downloaded. I think I finished it in three or four days. I LOVED reading it in digital format. I think the same thing will hold true for digital books as it does for printed ones - when they are well written, you don't want to put them down. If there was one thing I think I missed, it was just the feel of holding the book in my hand and opening it and closing it. (I didn't really have a good idea of how long the book was as I dove into reading it.) I won't make a special trip, but next time I'm at the book store, I might find it on the shelf so I can do just that.

I love the convenience of technology, especially when it's combined with awesome literature!

Monday, January 10, 2011

I'm Soooo a 10!

Ha ha...fooled you. No, this is not a column about how I look like Bo Derek or Cindy Crawford or Beyonce'. There are no dramatic photos of me running on a beach. (I promise, no one would want to see that.)

What am I talking about then? 70 Solutions to Common Writing Mistakes by Bob Mayer. I posted the link to the free pdf last week. I believe the "free" part lasts through January, so get it while you can.

I feel like this blog is almost like AA--I'm in a group of friends that I can confess my greatest writing sins to and you'll know exactly how I feel. So today I thought I'd share one of the 70 mistakes I'm really relating to right now.

Number 10 in the book is "Waiting for the Mood to Strike". How many of you are the same way, making a cozy spot for your muse (with a nice bowl of chocolates), waiting for her mercurial self to show while you do laundry, clean the kitchen, or play Facebook games? I know I do that way too much, that waiting around thing. We hear stories like J.K. Rowling riding home on the bus and getting a vision of a boy in glasses with a lightning shaped scar on his forehead. But Harry Potter would never have seen the light of day if she hadn't been willing to sit and write it out.

Developing this habit is key if we want to truly achieve our goals of being a published writer. I have writing friend that had honed her craft through regular writing and had written several books, but wasn't sure if she was ready to start submitting. Her crit partner bugged her into entering a well-known national contest for unpublished writers. She won her catagory, and through a series of crazy coincidences, met the agent of her dreams at this convention who offered to represent her. She then sold SIX books in two separate three-book deals to two separate publishers. And now she has to write and keep up with editing schedules. If she hadn't developed that "write every day" habit, she'd be overwhelmed now. But she was prepared, and now she can use that habit to continue in her writing career.

So today decide when your writing time is. Do whatever you have to do, but make that time sacred. And then write. Grind it out if you have to. But as you put in the daily practice, you will find that your writing becomes better, the ideas come easier, and your ability to keep going grows.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Writing and Sundays

I have to admit that posting on Sundays has been one of the greatest challenges here on this blog because of how we feel about keeping it holy.

Before, I was able to post about technique, experience, queries and so on. But, if I really think about it, it's not Spiritually uplifting or brings you closer to the Lord.

So, how do I do both?

I'm not sure, but I'll have to revamp my thought process.

One thing that does come to mind is writing on Sundays. This would include editing or self-help books on improving your craft.

Even though I am not a published novelist as of yet, I feel it is only right to NOT edit or write for myself. Why? Because it is my intention to be published and my previous labor into it is what will bring me to that point. If I do this on Sundays, then that means that I broke the Sabbath to achieve my goal as a paid writer.

So what I will do is service to others. I will critique friends' work on this day with a prayer before and with a prayerful heart.

How do you feel about writing and Sundays?

photo found at

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Saturday Stories, Chantele Sedgwick

Today's Saturday Stories guest is a member of my Mormon Mommy Writer's critique group. Her name is Chantele Sedgwick and she has got one of the best story ideas I have heard (keep reading because she'll give you a taste).

Make sure to check out Chantele's writing blog, My Writing Bug, and her book blog, There is Always Something to Read.

Please, allow me to introduce my friend and fellow writer, Chantele Sedgwick.

Q--Would you please share some background with us?

A--Let's see... I am the oldest of four. I spent my childhood years playing soccer, softball, learning to play the harp, singing duets with my sister and of course, daydreaming. My family was very close, and we still are. I met my hubby when I was twenty. We even went to the same high school and he was a year older than me, but we never knew each other. We started dating and were engaged within a  month. Yeah, I know. Kind of fast. But, when it's right, it's right! And it was definitely right. :)  We have three kidlets, ages 5, 3 and 9 months. I stay at home with them and teach harp lessons every week. 

Q--Would please share any awards you've won, and anything you've published?

A--No awards yet. Probably because I've never entered anything. LOL. I haven't been published, but I will be someday! (Think positive...think positive...)

Q--What have you done to help improve your writing talent? Any advice?

A--Well, I'm not really one to give advice, since I'm just an aspiring author and all, but I will share what has helped me. When I first started getting serious about writing, I didn't know anything. I wrote my stories, but didn't know formatting, didn't know about agents, or how brutal the publishing industry can be. Since then, I've read agents blogs, authors blogs, aspiring authors blogs, "attended" a few online writers conferences,and I plan on attending my first "in person" conference in the spring! :)  I also read books in the same genre I write. That has helped me a ton. And I joined a critique group. Their input is priceless, and I'm so thankful I found these amazing ladies who are honest with me and don't try to sugarcoat things. It's hard to hear things about your writing, but they have pointed out several problems I've had with my manuscripts and have overall made me a better writer. I have an online one and one that meets in person and love both. So, if I could give one piece of advice, join a critique group. It's worth it.

Q--Computer or Notebook?

A--I have a notebook with me at all times and jot down little things from time to time if I'm not home, but I write on the computer. :)

Q--What is the strangest thing, person, place, or event that has inspired your writing?

A--Just one? :) I think my WIP right now is the strangest. I had just finished reading a retelling of Cinderella. I remember sitting there, thinking back on what I'd just read and an idea popped into my head. Why don't we ever hear the Fairy Godmother's point of view in that fairytale? And to make things more interesting, what if the Fairy Godmother was a guy? Like, the first male fairy godmother, ever? And what if the girl he had to grant three wishes to, fell for him instead of the prince?  Long story short, I wrote the book, and am getting ready to submit it to agents in a month or so. I love it, and even though it sounds really weird, it's the first book of mine that I've absolutely fallen in love with. :)

Q--Would you please share a story about writing with us?

A--I never really thought about writing a book until I realized how often there were characters swimming around in my head, talking to each other. I'd find myself making up stories while I was driving, watching my kids, taking a shower, or whatever. So, one day, I thought I'd start writing my stories down. The moment my fingers touched the keyboard is when I knew I was onto something great. I wrote constantly, keeping my secret from everyone, including my cute hubby. I was embarrassed at what he would think. One day about a year or two ago, I asked him what he thought of me wanting to be an author. He smiled and said, "Why not? You should do it!" I told him about the secret manuscripts hidden on our computer and he just laughed at me, asking me why I didn't tell him sooner. I told him I was scared of what he would think, since it was a really hard career to even get in to. He has been so wonderful since. Cheering me on, and letting me write at night once the kids go to bed.  So, all you "closet" writers out there? Don't be afraid to tell people about your love of writing. There is nothing to be ashamed of. I'm so happy I told my husband and my family. Now my friends know, and their reactions have given me more confidence to get a book into print someday! 

Q--At what point did you begin considering yourself a bona-fide writer?

A--Probably about six months ago. I looked back on some old manuscripts and compared them to what I'm writing now and thought "Did I really stink that bad?" Just kidding. Sort of. What I really meant was "Look how far I've come."

Q--Do you have a certain process you go through when you write or do you just wait for the "muse" to come out of hiding?

A--I just sit down and write whatever comes to mind. I'm not an outliner. It stresses me out. I just let my story come to me and write by the seat of my pants. I also have a nasty habit of editing as I go along, but it works for me. 

Q--How do you balance your writing and your family?

A--I only write when my kids are in bed. Usually at night. My husband does homework while I write. It works out quite well. :)

Q--What is your favorite genre to write?

A--YA all the way! :)  I love young adult fantasy. I'm also working on an LDS young adult as well.

Q--What is the best book you've read in the last six months?

A--Tough question. I loved Paranormalcy by Kiersten White, and Matched by Ally Condie. There are way too many others to list.

Q--Was there a book you read as a child (or adult or teen) that got you hooked on reading and/or writing? If so, please share the story.

A--I have always loved reading, but didn't really read in high school since it was "required." It wasn't fun for me. I got introduced to the Harry Potter series right before I got married and have loved reading ever since. It wasn't until about 2 years ago that I started calling myself an avid reader though.

Q--If you could live or experience any story/book you've read, what story would it be and what character would you choose?

A--Seriously? Too many tough questions! Ha ha!  I'd LOVE to be a part of the Hogwarts crowd. That world is fantastic! I'm a sucker for a sparkly vampire too, but I would refuse to be as annoying as Bella. :)

Thanks Chantele!

I'm still looking for volunteers for Saturday Stories! Make sure to drop a comment and let me know if you're interested. 


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