Thursday, June 30, 2011

Editing Secrets?

I've been reading some self-published ebooks and have found that there is a sometimes a definite difference between them and the nationally published books.  Don't get me wrong, most of the ones I have read have really compelling stories and characters, but they lack something in the editing department.  I'm not talking about grammar errors, that doesn't bother me anymore.  I'm talking about things like pacing, tension, relevance, and satisfying endings.  Now, I have the same problems in my stories as well and it leaves me wondering, what kind of magic do editors have to be able to take an author's writing and change it into what we see as the final product?  How do they shape and mold a story?  I'm really hoping for a magic wand type of answer here.  I mean, I can point out these problems to other writers, but as a writer myself, how do I take those problems and fix them?  Especially when I'm sometimes looking at my writing and not want to cut, or sometimes, just not know a better way.  Do editors actually give you a better way?  Or do you have to research it yourself?  I guess I'm asking those of you that have worked with editors.  What secrets did you learn from your editors?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What Age Means

Two major events happened this year: I turned 40, and I had to get glasses. I have pondered off and on what turning 40 means to me, becuase it hit me harder than any birthday ever has. So here is my list (by no mean complete):

1. Unless I live into my 90s, I'm on the downhill slide of mortality.
2. Getting glasses is just another sign that my body is wearing out. (Luckily the eye doc said I didn't need bifocals...yet.)
3. My childbearing years are drawing to a close. I'm not offically over, but that's just around the corner.
4. I haven't lived up to my full potential. All the dreams of my youth about what and who I would become, what talents I would grow and develop are, for the most part, unrealistic now.

That's all the bad stuff. Here's some of the good things:
1. I'm not the crazy chowderhead I was in my late teens and early twenties.
2. I understand more about life and people.
3. I've grown in maturity that I would never want to have to give up or relive.
4. I love the people in my life even more than I thought possible.
5. I am becoming my mother. (And yes, this is a good thing. She's amazing.)

I don't know what the rest of life holds for me. I hope it has at least a few of my dreams realized before it's over. And I know that means more growth on my part. But maybe it's time to stop looking at the bad list as regrets and turn them into stepping stones.

If you'd like to share, what regrets do you have that you'd like to use as a stepping stone towards growth?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Babies and Books

Ever since I saw the two pink lines, I've been considering such things as...

What do I name this child? (Because I need to know NOW, not months from now when the baby is born.)

What do I know about taking care of a baby? (Yes, it's my third, but my memory is short.)


What can I get done before my baby comes? That is...What can I get WRITTEN before my baby comes?

With my little girl, I had this very realistic dream about finishing my book and submitting it before she was born. I even had a great daydream that involved sitting in my L&D suite, heavily medicated, and receiving a call from Dream Agent. Well, I did finish my book, but it was far from ready for submission. So no, there wasn't a call from Dream Agent, and even if all those elements did fall into place my daydream just wouldn't have worked out because that epidural came WAY too late.

So, this time, since I learned my lesson last time, I am going to have the very realistic dream of finishing my book and submitting it before the baby is born.

Wait, same goal. Remember what I said about a short memory? Well there it is.

Has anyone had a writing goal prior to the birth of a baby? Don't you think it is sort of our way of nesting?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Book Review: The Perfect Fit by Michele Ashman Bell

From the back:

“ . . . Andi is glad to be taking the Butterfly Box with her to Hawaii, where she plans to spend a few weeks participating in a reality dating show. To her surprise, the eligible bachelor, Michael Makura, soon singles her out for attention, provoking jealous acts of sabotage from the other contestants. Soon a series of unusual events disrupt the pairs’ fledgling romance, and Andi starts over in New York where she begins dating a great guy and accepts a job offer from a generous, eccentric man. But when Michael unexpectedly shows up, all is not well in the Big Apple. And soon, Andi faces a threat that could ultimately take her life.”

Michele always delivers!

The same good feeling of slipping into a comfy pair of jeans hit me when I picked up Michele’s The Perfect Fit.  No pun intended! ;)

Her stories ring of pure escapism and refreshing enjoyment.

I love the realism of the well-researched makings of the filming crew and the feel of their orchestration. The characters acted out their parts true to their director’s (Michele) lead. Everything felt believable. I was transported to beaches, sunsets and romance!

If you want your breath taken away, I highly recommend adding The Perfect Fit to your library reads!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Saturday Stories, Kimberly VanderHorst

My guest for today's edition of Saturday Stories is someone very special. Now, before I tell you why I must first say that I solicited (or she volunteered I'm not sure which) her interview BEFORE she became famous! Now by famous I mean she won the LDStorymakers First Chapter Contest  "Special Recognition" award. That is a much coveted after prize. If you'd like to read the award winning chapter from her story S.U.P.E.R. click here.

For those of you intrigued by this interview you can check out more from Kimberly at her blog Temporary? Insanity.

Now on to the good stuff...the interview.

Q–Tell us about yourself.
I’m quirky, 32-year-old Canadian, I suffer from a very intense delusion which leads me to believe I’m funny. I have three actual children, and three literary children, all six of whom bring me great joy and great frustration. I blog at:

Q–On your blog you have "Letters from Kim." Tell us about this--what are they and what inspires you to write them?

I have conversations with people inside my head. My “Letters from Kim” segment allows me to bring them out into the open so that they exist somewhere other than my own imagination.  When I’m out and about and someone does something funny or annoying, I keep my thoughts to myself. I’m polite like that. But under the cowardly guise of blogging anonymity I can post about them and have a good laugh, or a small rant.

Q–How did you get started writing?

From the moment I was old enough to string two sentences together, I’ve been a storyteller. It was rather adorable to start with, especially my five-year-old self’s story about how the Easter Bunny let me help him paint his eggs, but later this tendency began to worry my family and friends. I started writing my stories down on paper because that’s far more socially acceptable than becoming a pathological liar.

Q–Why do you write?

The people in my head yell at me if I don’t. Really loudly, too.

Q–Quick! Drop everything! Think fast and give us a quick pitch of one of your stories. Pretend an Editor or Publisher is reading this. You never know...

 Umm . . . define “quick.”
Fourteen-year-old Alexandra Earhart is being blackmailed by her employer, a powerful organization named The Agency, which regulates the world’s superheroes. And she has no idea why. Though she’s used to living a life of mystery and has recently dealt with superpower-wielding ninjas, duct tape spider webs, and radioactive toilet plungers, the level of mystery in her life is seriously starting to tick her off. Plus, she’s scared. And Alexandra? Does not do scared.
Worst of all, the snarky teen secret agent has no idea who to beat up. One potential victim is Agent Bob Johnson aka Jonathan Earhart aka Dad, who knows exactly why they’ve been put into “protective custody” in small-town Colorado but refuses to dish. Also on her to-hit list is ten-year-old Zoe (the morphing superhero who’s stalking her dad), Quinn (local dork extraordinaire), and anyone else idiotic enough to annoy her.
Alexandra is mystified when The Agency orders her to befriend Quinn Underhill and pump him for information. But her belief that Quinn is worse than useless rapidly changes when, together, they battle brainwashed teenage superheroes, jellyfish attacks, and their intense dislike for each other. With agency operatives hot on their heels, Alexandra must find a way to break free from The Agency’s hold on her before it uses her to brainwash the world’s superheroes or makes good on its threat to detonate the neural chip in her dad’s brain.
Q–What is your favorite writing attire? For example, are you a lounge all day in your pjs and hope no one comes to the door kind of gal or do you get all prettied up for the day?

When I leave my house I’m the dress pants, nice blouse, earrings, and light makeup type. When I’m at home? Yeah. PLEASE call before you drop by. I am all about dressing comfy in my yoga pants when I’m writing. In fact, writing with proper trousers on feels wrong to me.

Q–What is your personal kryptonite?  That one thing that weakens you. Is it chocolate? Perhaps a foot massage? Name your nemesis.

Cookies. I used to hate them and plot their destruction (which I usually accomplished in a gastro-intestinal fashion), but we’ve made peace with each other. They now send me a once-a-week sacrifice to appease my wrath (and stomach).

Q–If you could have any super power what would it be and why?

While it would be fun (although embarrassing) to read minds or have superhuman strength, I am all about wanting to fly. This might be why the character in my book who can fly is patently unlikable. I envy the heck out of her, smug twit that she is . . . Anyway, I just love the swooping feeling I get in my stomach when I feel like I’m soaring. Certain carnival rides, elevators, even just climbing up a really tall ladder . . . I love the thrill of it.

Q–What's the most embarrassing thing (that you're willing to admit to) that you've done as an adult?

I ate an entire box of thin-mints in one sitting, got sick from it, threw up, and then a couple hours later ate another half a box. I cringe at the mere thought of thin-mints now, even as I crave them . . .

Q–What's your favorite blog to visit and why?

I love I never fail to be uplifted, inspired, or empowered after reading one of the posts there.

Q–Tell us about

Though I have a hard time making time to spend there, I love this site. For every critique you write, you receive one back. Simple as that. No currying favour or anything. It’s a great way to get unbiased feedback on your work.
Q–Finish this sentence:  "If I had only known...."

I never would have strangled that goat. Ha, kidding. Okay, I would have laughed in my husband’s face when he suggested we try thirty-six different cookie-in-a-jar recipes in the space of one month. It was the beginning of the end, that was.

Q–What is the strangest person/place or thing that inspired your writing?

I picked up a small quartz rock on a beach a few years back and it turned out to be a whole world in embryo. I have a fantasy novel completely outlined and half written that will be complete and ready to share some day because of that simple rock.

Q–If you could be a fly on the wall of any room in any building anywhere in the world...Where would it be and why?

The headquarters of the people who secretly control the world, of course! Think of the secrets I would learn!

Friday, June 24, 2011

It's Been a Long Week!

by Cheri Chesley

Yesterday I took my twins to the dr for their scout camp physicals. I love my kids. I'm not sure they'd be everyone's cup of tea, but I really, really think they rock. That being said, I apologized in advance when the doctor walked in the exam room. My boys have a tendency to get silly, synergize, and completely lose focus. It got real goofy, and I kept reminding them to calm down, remember where they are, etc.

Sometimes I just look at them and say, "Is this a playground?"

But my kids, being mine, say, "Um, yes."

So then I really give them the "Mom Look." That usually settles them down.

Yesterday, while one was being examined, the other one started getting really silly. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: I just want to let you know if you don't chill there will be repercussions."
Son (grinning like a loon): What are repercussions?"
Me: Consequences.
Son (smile falters ever so slightly): Oh.

The doctor suggested I send their scout master to him for a Valium prescription. ;)

Speaking of Valium (weird, huh), I spoke to my friend Rebecca last night. Now that her hair is gone, she's got the cutest little hats. I haven't seen her in a bit because she had chemo last week, and it takes a while to recover, but I wanted to take her the little present I'd found at The King's English Bookshop in SLC on Wednesday. Dean Hale, husband of Shannon Hale, published a children's book that's pretty dang cute, and I went up there because Shannon had announced she would also willingly sign books--and I had a stack for her. (I have a cousin in Indiana who's a big fan, and can't get out here for signings, but that's another story)
Rebecca makes these cute butterfly pins for breast cancer awareness. She's made me a bunch so I can sell them at book signings. I picked her up a copy of Ella Enchanted, because it was signed by the author. Pretty cool find.

Remember, it's not too late to HELP me help Rebecca with her medical bills. You can use the link to head over to my blog for info.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Make Mistakes!

I just read a blog post by J. Scott Savage that I think you all should read. It's about allowing yourself to make mistakes. I definitely needed to hear this. I'm on the second draft (ie:complete rewrite) of my WIP. I am on chapter 4 and thinking how much better those four chapters could be and despairing that my current abilities aren't up to my current standards. I was very tempted to start over...again. But that's when I get myself into trouble always starting over and never finishing a final product that I'm proud of. But if I were to give myself permission to write to the best of my ability and not set such outrageous standards, I may actually accomplish my goal. So thank you Mr. Savage for your wise advice!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


I'm sure I always dream, but sometimes they're more memorable than others. This morning I had one that I had to share. It was full of the normal weirdness that inhabits dreams, the peripherals a twisted combination of my life and dreamscape. But the one thing that stood out was that I was under a writing deadline. I have a couple of books that I'm working on--and struggling with--right now. And I was still struggling with it in my dream, knowing that I'd been doing too much thinking and not enough writing.

And then the ultimate dream happens: an agent calls and says "I love your you have more? Send me everything you have." This probably won't happen, but a girl can dream, can't she?

But I spent the rest of my dream freaking out because I was trying to find time to sit down and write, but all kinds of emergencies kept coming up, keeping me from my writing. And I knew I had a few months of writing left to do, but the agent wanted right away, and I wasn't getting it done.

When I woke up, even though the book I thought I was writing in my dream was NOT what I am working on right now, the impetus to work on what is on the front burner drove me right out of bed and to the computer to write down the ideas that were rattling around in my brain for the various chapters. And I feel much better. :)

So I've discovered a truism: It's a lot less stressful to do the work than to stress over the work you have to do.

So go and do!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Lois D. Brown Interview

So I have a little treat today...another e-book prize to dangle before you. I know the submission deadline is past so those of you that entered can be more excited and those of you that didn't enter can learn more about a really great author and e-book.

Today we welcome Lois D. Brown and her non-fiction e-book Be Still: Stress and Anxiety Management for Latter-day Saints.

Lois D. Brown received her bachelor’s in journalism and a master’s degree in communications. She has worked in Washington, D.C., as a news correspondent and in Utah as a corporate communications specialist. Since 1994, she has been a freelance writer, editing and writing nearly fifty articles and books on varied subjects. In her own life, Lois has put into action the material in this book to better manage stress and anxiety.

She is even more interesting than that! To read longer bio, go to her website.

How diverse are the nonfiction subjects you've written on? What are the subjects that you've most enjoyed or are dearest to your heart?

I studied journalism in college, and I don't think I'll ever completely get newspaper writing out of my system. I'm a news junkie at heart. As a news correspondent in Washington D.C., I covered everything from "happy feely" stories (like the visit of the queen of England) to political nitty-gritty congressional hearings.

One of my favorite things I've written is a historical article for the Ensign about the LDS Church in Russia. I wrote it years ago, but every once in a while I pull it out and re-read it. Each time I do, I get this joyful, excited feeling like I had while I was researching and writing it. Kinda weird, but true.

Not weird at all! I'm intrigued by Russian history.

Your past careers sound fascinating! And where did writing fit into all of this? Did you always know you wanted to write? Would you say your past work experience has contributed to your nonfiction works?

I'm the youngest of seven children. All of them graduated from college with either an engineering, math, or computer science degree . . . except me. I'm definitely the black sheep of the family, but I've always loved reading, writing, researching, and discovering. I think writing has been a great way for me to combine all my loves.

After I married and had a child, I stopped working full-time. I wanted to start a freelance writing business that I could do from home. I sent out a bunch of contact letters, made a bunch of phone calls, and got absolutely no response. What is interesting is that months later I got a call out of the blue from someone who needed a ghostwriter. They had never received one of my resumes, but had heard of my name through a friend of a friend.

In the end, that first project kick-started a 15-year career as a ghostwriter. I feel I was very blessed. I believe when we keep moving forward with our writing dreams, good things happen. BUT the waiting can be hard. I know firsthand.

I think most of us are in the waiting part of this journey, so stories like yours are always very encouraging!

How did you and Dr. Anderson come together and decide to write this book?

Victoria is such a fascinating person, and I feel lucky to be her friend. We met when she worked in Utah but lived in California. She commuted (by plane) each week to Utah. Can you imagine? She loved her job and her clientele, and that made it worth it to her.

She knew I was a writer, and I knew she was a fabulous psychologist. The desire to write a book about stress management for Latter-day Saints evolved over a year or so. When we finally set out to do it, it didn't take long. She had a lifetime full of stories to incorporate into the book, and I loved organizing them and putting it together. After writing Be Still, we had the opportunity for several years to teach about stress management at BYU's Education Week. After the classes, students would come up to talk with us, and I was struck (again) with the amount of pressures members of the church face. It is sad to see how some of us perceive anxiety and stress as a mark of weakness, when in reality they are part of normal life.

I was a good choice as a co-author for this book because I've had to work hard at trying to "Be Still." A lot of my learning on the subject is hands-on. You know how in Relief Society the person giving the lesson learns more than the ones listening? That's how I feel about writing this book.

It sounds like you were the perfect person to co-author this book. The best advice comes from somebody who has been there in trenches.

I see from your website that you have recently turned your hand to fiction. Do you have any big projects in the works?

For years I was scared to write fiction. It seemed overwhelming, and I worried it would sound cheesy. A few years back I finally got the guts up and wrote a young adult urban fantasy. I had so much fun I then wrote a middle grade mystery. Recently, on Amazon I e-published a collection of short adventure stories for any age about treasure hunting. I wish I hadn't been intimidated by writing fiction for so long. Lesson learned? Face your fears!

For only $2.99 I think I'm checking that one out:)

And the BIG question each MMW REALLY wants to know...How do you balance motherhood and writing? Any secrets or magic spells are appreciated.

Wow, hard question. Like everyone else, I have moments when I feel I'm spending too much time with my writing and ignoring my family, or when I feel frustrated that I never get to write because of all my mom jobs. Everyone is different, but I think it never hurts to do a monthly "time inventory." This is when I purposely pay attention to how much time I spend on certain things. Lately, I realized I spend WAY too much time on email, so I made a goal to check it only twice a day. (I know some of you are probably thinking that's excessive too, but for me it will be a great improvement.)

Balance is one of those things that is going to take me a lifetime--or more--to figure out. But I figure the most important thing is to keep trying.

You are right! It's so easy to get discouraged, but the whole point is that we just keep the time inventory idea. Thanks for your time, Lois. I'll be checking out your book very soon :)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Saturday Stories, Cindy M. Hogan

Today I am joined by newly published author Cindy M. Hogan. Cindy's debut novel Watched hit bookstore shelves this month.

Click here if you want to check out Cindy's self-titled blog.

Click here if you want to visit the blog for Watched.

Click here if you want to learn more about the upcoming novel in the Watched series called Protected.

Q--Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born in Utah but moved to Oregon when I was 13. From there we moved five different times and I attended four different high schools in three different states. It was quite the fun ride. I came back to my favorite four-season-state, Utah, once I finished high school and then I graduated from BYU with a BA in education. Speaking at my college’s graduation was the most heart-stopping thing I’ve ever had to do. I married the love of my life and had two cute little girls who are now extremely fun teenagers. I’ve worked as a teacher for the last nine years and love spending time with unpredictable teenagers. If I’m not writing or reading, you’ll find me doing something outdoors or sacked out watching my favorite flicks. I spend my summers teaching swim lessons to the most amazing little ones. I love my life.

Q--Please share your road to publication. From when you decided you wanted to write to when you got your contract.
After writing my first three chapters, I went to my sister for some advice. Much to my surprise, I found out she had also written a book. She encouraged me to go to a writers’ conference with her. It changed my whole outlook on writing. Even though an editor asked for my first three chapters, I never sent them to him. The conference classes had opened my eyes and I didn’t want to submit until I had implemented everything I’d learned. I joined a critique group and fell into a consistent pattern of writing and editing for the next two years. At my second conference, an agent requested my first three chapters and yet again, I wanted to polish my work even more before sending it in and then never did. When the 2010 ABNA contest rolled around, I decided to enter it, hoping it would give me courage. It did. The contest started with five thousand entries and I made it all the way to the cut down to 250 entries. Using the prize Amazon gave me for getting so far in the contest, I created my print book. I was thrilled with how it turned out. So, I showed it off to everyone and most wanted to buy it. I told them it was just a proof and for fun. It spurred me to investigate indie publishing. With the crazy changes taking place in the publishing industry right now, I decided it might be just what I was looking for even though I was about to sit down with yet another agent to pitch my book. I set the wheels in motion to indie publish—and these are big, heavy wheels—and even made it available for sale as an e-book. Once again the agent at the conference was intrigued with my book and wanted me to submit those three chapters. I almost convinced myself to stop those indie wheels, but then remembered why I’d chosen indie publishing in the first place and let them roll.
Q--What were you shocked to learn during the publishing process?
I was shocked to discover that even published with a publishing house, a debut author is almost solely responsible for her success. It takes a lot of time and serious effort.
Q--Tell us about your book, Watched.

Watched. It takes more than a school trip to Washington, D.C. to change fifteen-year-old Christy’s life. It takes murder. A witness to the brutal slaying of a Senator’s aide, Christy finds herself watched not only by the killers and the FBI, but also by two hot boys. While the danger deepens around her, she must face her own feelings of inadequacy as the boys coax her into changing in ways she feels ill-equipped to handle and somehow settle on beliefs and values of her own. She quickly discovers that if she can’t help the FBI, who want to protect her, it will cost her and her new friends their lives.
Q--This is a chicken and an egg question....Which came first, the voices in your head or the desire to write?
The voices in my head definitely came first. After an awesome dream, the main character, Christy, wouldn’t leave me alone until I’d written her story and it’s still unfolding.
Q--Which do you prefer, chicken or steak?
I love steak in all its forms. No offense, Chicken, I eat you most of the time.
Q--If you could re-write the ending to any book or movie, what story would it be and how would you change it?
I'd like to change the endings of three books: Mocking Jay, Breaking Dawn, and the Deathly Hallows. All from series I loved. (In fact, I find myself reading the Harry Potter Series about once a year) However, I have no idea how to change the endings to make them satisfactory. Maybe I just didn't want the series to end.
Q--It’s obvious from your blog you love to cook. What’s your all-time favorite dish and where can we get the recipe?
My all time favorite treat to make is orange rolls. You can find the recipe on a blog post dated May 23 on my blog, So easy and so delicious.
Q--Finish this sentence: ”I never thought I’d....”
I never thought I’d snorkel over a huge ship in the Caribbean and be able to touch its mast. Incredibly cool.
Q--How have your children influenced your writing?
I love to see my girls melt away into a series of books. There is just something so satisfying about seeing them curled up in bed or on the sofa engrossed in a book. I wanted them to have the same experience with my books. I just love it when one of my daughters reads a new chapter I’ve written and comes to me begging for the next or telling me that “such and such better not happen,” or “so and so better not end up with so and so, OR ELSE” I just grin. I also want my girls to know their friends can read my books without their parents having to read them first.
Q--What is the strangest thing to ever inspire you?
While in D.C. I couldn’t help but notice the over-abundance of “No Parking” signs. I just knew I had to get that little detail into my book. It just happens to show up on the first page.
Q--Which genre(s) do you love to read? Which genre(s) do you love to write?
I love to read almost anything I can get my hands on, but my true love is in Y.A. I love writing about teens and their world. YA all the way.

If you're interested in purchasing Watched check out the links below.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Me Again

by Cheri Chesley

Last week, my son hijacked my weekly post with a short story of his own. Imaginative, isn't he? Today, you're stuck with me.

Sunday is Fathers' Day. For years, I had a really hard time with this holiday. My own father divorced my mother when I was four, then died when I was 7. Each year as I grew older, I lamented what I was missing. But how could I miss what I'd never known? It's easier than you might think.

As I married and had children of my own, I wanted to focus the day on their father (my hubby), but often my own resentment toward the day would make it difficult. We went through the motions, but it didn't have the right feel to it. It frustrated me to think, in this at least, I was letting my kids down.

Then, about 5 years ago, I was at the cemetery with my dad for Fathers' Day talking things out. As I sat there in the grass, I had a revelation. (a series of them, actually) I stopped thinking about how awful it had been for my family that my dad died, and started thinking about his quality of life had he lived. My whole understanding shifted that day. My dad's death stopped being about *me* and started being about *him*. Obviously, I can't know for sure how things would have been, but I have a pretty good imagination and a fair understanding of human nature.

I'm really grateful for that day. I'm also grateful for the Gospel, and with it the understanding of what happens after this life. It doesn't hurt that many of my priesthood blessings mention my dad, how proud he is, and how he longs to be a part of my life. No, that doesn't hurt at all.

Fathers' Day has a new meaning for me, now. And I love helping the kids plan and do something special for their dad. This year--strawberry cake!


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Delay of Winners Announcement and Other Thoughts

Since we extended the deadline of our "Totally Cliche" Short Story Contest, we will be changing the announcement of the winners to July 1st.  This will give us more time to give each story the personal attention they deserve.  I must say each story is awesome!  I have loved reading each one of them and can't wait until the ebook comes out and you can all read them as well.  It will be well worth downloading!!

Now on to other thoughts:

 Yesterday, Megan broached the question of what to do when you are stuck in your writing or editing.  This is something that plagues me quite often and I have spent a lot of time contemplating it.  This is the main thing I've realized when I'm blocked:  I'm out of balance between my body and my spirit!  Our Body, Mind, and Spirit are so interconnected that they all need to be given the same attention or none of them work up to their potential.  For me, I am usually neglecting my body when I am blocked.  I've learned to take the time to do a short workout.  I have to make sure it's a bit difficult so that I feel a sense of accomplishment when I'm done.  This usually only takes me 15 mins. (yes, I'm out of shape!)  Then I can take a shower and think about my writing and when I get out I'm ready to write, write, write.  Each of us have to find our own routine, but definitely experiment with exercise and see how it affects your writing. 

Another thing that has been helping me is the tip I got from our follower, Jen, to go to #wordmongering on Twitter.  It is more than a typical hash tag.  You search for #wordmongering and will find people who are getting ready to start writing at the top of the hour and go for 30 mins.  At the end of the 30 mins they all report their word counts and congratulate each other on the progress.  Even if you only get 20 words they remind you that it is still 20 more words than you had before.  I have also found that if I use Tweetdeck I can set up columns for the different hashtags.  Then instead of searching for #wordmongering, I just go to that column and can see all the recent activity.  What a wonderful tool this has been.

What things help you to write amongst the hustle and bustle of life?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Personal Motivation

I had a very good friend pose this question: What do you do if you hate the book you're working on right now?  She's much further along in her project than I've ever been, doing final edits to polish it before sending it to an agent. I'm no where near that, but this is something that happens to all of us during the writing process.

So while I did give her one small bit of advice, I don't know exactly what will help her. I know her well enough to realize that even though she's hating working on this book right now, she's still doing it. Which is MINDBLOWING to me because I cave under the mental pressure of project loathing. Even recently I put aside a project that had so much potential because I got stuck and couldn't muscle through.

So I'm posing this question to you: How do you motivate yourself with your writing when you either a) have written yourself into a corner, b) have a personal deadline that you want to meet but feel blocked, or c) have an outside deadline (from an agent or editor, you lucky dogs) that you need to meet?

And I REALLY want to hear your responses, because I NEED HELP!!!!!!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Words to Cherish

While teaching your child basic gospel principles, you may realize that you instilled unnecessary fear of the afterlife when your child asks:

"If I pretend the lego guy is bad will I go to Spirit Prison?"

They may also ask really deep questions that, frankly, you may not have a ready answer for, such as:

"Who do Heavenly Father and Jesus believe in? Nobody?"

Or you have to wonder what they may learn from watching you and your husband when they state:

"When I am married, my wife is going to peel my pear."

(For the record, my husband doesn't eat peeled pears, and even if he did, he'd peel his own.)

But, in the end you know something went right when he tells you, in his own way, that he felt the Spirit...

"Today in Primary I had tears in my eyes when the teacher was talking. But nobody noticed because they were too busy focusing on their jobs."

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Paranormal Invitation and GIVEAWAY!

I cordially invite you to


Deanna Jewel is hosting coolawesome paranormal chat June 18th! Vampires and Ghosts and all others welcome!

Darkspell JULY Giveaway

Join me in my celebration the entire month of July for Darkspell’s release this fall at my blog!

Here's what I'll be giving away every week in July!

Nox Arcana's Shadow of the Raven for the FIRST WEEK

Canvas Wall Scroll Tapestry: 12"X 17" for the SECOND WEEK

Dragons Sculpture Bookends: 4"X5"X8" for the THIRD WEEK

My favorite: 13" tall. Dark Shadows Lamp for the FOURTH WEEK

Visit my blog for my official announcement July 1st!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Saturday Stories, Maggie Fechner

Today published author, Maggie Fechner joins us for Saturday Stories. I'm excited to highlight a fellow Wyoming writer!

If you want to learn more about Maggie check her out at her blog Mommy's Always Write.

Q--Who are you?
I am a wife, mother of four, portrait photographer, and author.
Q--Tell us about your book Growing up Gracie.

Here's the blurb: Burnt sienna, auburn or even ginger colored hair was what Gracie Fremont longed for as her bony fingers held waxy crayons next to her long locks one by one. But if the timid, skinny five-year-old were honest with herself, the closest match was brown. Plain old brown.
And that brown crayon defined Gracie Fremont’s life: Average.
Nothing difficult or unusual or even interesting ever happened to this little girl sandwiched in an LDS family of eight. But growing up in rural Cody, Wyoming, Gracie learns that lasting friendships, hidden talents and developing a testimony of her own are some of life’s most precious gifts. And finding true love is a fantastic bonus.
Growing Up Gracie is a LDS YA novel.
Q--What was your inspiration for the book?
I wrote the book when my first child was a newborn. The story isn't about her, but it is named after her. I simply wrote about a character who had been in my head awhile. I hope the book helps teenage girls who might be feeling average know that they are extraordinary daughters of God.
Q--What other stories do you have in the works? Tell us about them!
Letters Never Sent:
When Lily Foster makes a major life change and discovers secrets about her ancestors she never bargained for, the first step of an exhilarating journey is taken. As she struggles with her own trials Lily finds a link that will take her from present day to that of her great-great grandmother Ailsa MacDonald Ritchie, making her own way from Scotland to Wyoming. This book is about a journey of redemption and a search for sense of self. And the realization that sometimes what we long for the most is the one thing that was right in front of us all along.
Letters Never Sent is a mainstream family saga about the women of the Ritchie family.
I'm in the final revisions on this and hope to submit it in early April.
I also have a start on two other novels. The first is called Emmy, Ever After and the second, which is in the same series as Growing Up Gracie is called Danielle, Never the Bride.
Q--What was the first story you ever read that really made you fall in love with reading?
I think Shel Silverstein. I memorized "Ickle Me, Pickle Me, Tickle Me Too" and thought he was an amazing poet.
Q--Finish this sentence: “I always thought you could...”
get your children to do whatever you wanted them to... :)
Q--What is your writing routine like?
Write from 5-6:30 a.m. Monday-Friday.
Q--Who is your publisher and why did you choose them?
My first novel is with Cedar Fort. I went with them because their reputation in the LDS Publishing world is well-established. Finding out they have some of the best covers in the business was a nice bonus. I love the cover of Growing Up Gracie!
Q--What was the hardest lesson to learn as a writer?
That even after you've landed a contract, you STILL have moments of self-doubt. Writers work so hard to hear the words, "we would like to publish your novel" that they forget there is still a lot of work after that too. Marketing has been a real eye-opener for me.
Q--What advice would you give your 12-year-old self?
Don't ever wish away your childhood! Be happy and have fun.
Q--If you were ever going to write a story about a new fantasy world, what would you name this place? What would you inhabit it with? Maybe blue people with tails? Perhaps pink monkeys with horns?
Oh wow. I have seriously the least fantastical mind out there. I have a hard time thinking outside the box. I don't think I will ever write fantasy. That being said, there is one super power I would enjoy: being able to eat anything I wanted and be forever thin. I love sweets!
Q--Which do you prefer, french fries or tator tots?
French fries. In fact, I hate tater tots. However, I only buy tater tots because that way I'm not tempted to eat them (and the hubby and kiddos will)
Q--What’s your biggest phobia?
Hmmm. Something happening to our kids while we are boating. We boat a lot in the summer and I'm usually a nervous wreck.

Thanks for the interview, Maggie!


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