Thursday, March 31, 2011

Inspiration in the form of 7 year olds!

Not too long ago, my 7 yr old daughter attended a mini book club after school with her teacher and some of her classmates.  Her and I made sure she read the whole book of "The Littles" prior to the meeting.  This really was a wonderful turning point in my daughter's reading, as it was the first time she wanted to read something.  She went happily to her book club and I felt a bit left out but I knew it was something she needed to do.  When I picked her up after wards her teacher came up to the car and asked me if I was a writer.  I was a little taken aback but replied that I was.  She explained that my daughter had told everyone that her mom was a writer like one of the characters in the book.  I smiled and felt my heart swell.  Then the teacher asked if I had anything I could read to the class.  Lucky for me I'm an eclectic writer and have a picture book on my hard drive.  We set up a day and a time and that's how I found myself standing in front of a whole class of second graders reading my unpublished and unillustrated book.  I must tell you it was the most fun ever.  They loved the story and I even passed out pages of the story for them to illustrate.  As I walked around the classroom I met aspiring writers and even aspiring illustrators.  I left them with a copy of my book that they illustrated for their classroom.  Later that day when I picked my daughter up from school, a little boy walked up to me and showed me some of his handmade books he'd written that day.  As I looked at his carefully crafted construction paper covers and folded papers I couldn't help but beam.  This is what I want to do.  I want to write and inspire others to read and write.  Reading to my daughter's class lit a new fire for my love of writing and I definitely recommend it to anyone who has forgotten why they write.  What events have inspired you to keep writing?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

POD (and what that means)

"POD" could mean the alien mothership has laid thousands of egg pods with her nestlings waiting to take over your life. Or....it could mean Print On Demand. (Phew.)

Print On Demand rose in the 2000s as technology made printing individual books as they were ordered more affordable than the old traditional way of paying for a print run and then having the books sit somewhere, either in a warehouse or your garage. There were several small companies at the beginning, but consolidation has brought several names that still operate under one umbrella, AuthorHouse. Names like iUniverse and Xlibris might be familiar to you that are now AuthorHouse.

AuthorHouse and others like it offer "full-service" POD, which typically included various package options that can include everything including editing. All you do is show up with your book and checkbook. This option can cost hundreds or even thousands, but could be a viable option if traditional publishers aren't for you.

Here are the key factors to consider:
1. This is the highest priced option. It will include solid customer service, as well as as many options as you would like to pay for.
2. Other than writing the book, there's very nothing you have to do other than pay for it.
3. You have very little control over pricing. All that is determined by the house. (The most common complaint is that it rarely coincides with where current paperback prices are).
4.You have to do all the marketing yourself, though there is a marketing package you can pay for.
5. This usually has the lowest royalties, but it's still more than traditional publishers pay.

This is not the only option, however. Next week I'll cover free service POD. I'm really enjoying exploring the possibilities out there. I hope you'll enjoy the journey with me!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Rejection, Voice and Ten Thousand Years

by Tamara Passey

I received  rejection letter for a short story. It did NOT look like this:

Most honorable Sir,
We perused your MS,
with boundless delight. And
we hurry to swear by our ancestors
we have never read any other
that equals its mastery.
Were we to publish your work,
we could never presume again on
our public and name
to print books of a standard
not up to yours.
For we cannot imagine
that the next ten thousand years
will offer its ectype.
We must therefore refuse
your work that shines as it were in the sky
and beg you a thousand times
to pardon fault
which impairs but our own offices.
–Publishers

Rejection letter from Chinese publisher, from Louis Zukofsky’s “A”

Ah, they just don’t write ‘em like they used to.
I submitted a short story to an unnamed publisher and the letter I received, (well it was an email) started with “Dear Author” (–which I thought was really cool until I came across the “Most honorable” bit.)
I won’t quote the whole letter here, just the one line that cut to the chase:  “Although we did not offer to publish your manuscript, we encourage you in your endeavors to get it published. . .”
See how they quickly followed their rejection with encouragement? Nice, hunh?
I was feeling pretty good and then read near the bottom of the page:
“This is an automated message. Please do not reply to this email.”

There you have it. A punch line disguised as a rejection letter.
I had a good laugh. Hey, I’ll take all the encouragement I can get, generic or otherwise.

Which brings me to voice.
Have you heard the ad campaign, (don’t ask me which one because I really do not pay close enough attention to the tv when its on) “Find your voice and use it?” Don’t know what they are advertising, but I may be putting that with my other writing mottos –I can do that, right? Anyway, my point about voice is that when we find it, we can withstand the rejection. Have you seen the movie (or read the book) The Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio? Based on a true story of a 1950’s housewife with an unhappy, alcoholic husband and lots of kids, she enters jingle contests and wins lots of prizes and *spoiler alert* ultimately enough money to pay the 2 mortgages on their house. Of course she finds a little contesting group who support each other in entering the contests. It’s been years since I’ve seen this movie, but somewhere in the beginning, the wife is narrating and says something to this effect – about her abusive husband, “don’t blame him, he lost his voice, but I found mine.” Finding her voice, writing and pursuing her dream, allowed her to withstand the difficulties she faced raising lots of kids with little resources or support from her husband. (At least in the movie version, we find out after he dies, he had put all his pension checks in an account for his wife.)

Whatever it is in your writing journey, rejection letters, brick walls, crashed computers, crying kids, you know, not enough chocolate: KEEP WRITING. Find your voice and use it. For your sake, and mine and all the lives you will touch with your writing.

You never know. Yours just might be the writing that “the next ten thousand years will not offer its ectype” And yes. I looked that up. It means: A copy from an original, an imitation or reproduction.  Happy writing!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Writer of Many Colors

Remember the sand art you made as a child when you would pour different colors of sand into a glass jar, creating swirls and layers--your very own rainbow? (Until you poured it all out to try again, but the sand just mixed into sort of a grayish color.)(Very much beside the point.)

As writers, I think we'd all agree that we have three colors filling our glass jars, although the amount and pattern differ between each of us: natural talent (sort of a greenish, earthy tone), love of writing (definitely purple and NOT pink), and drive (fiery, sunrise red).

I don't think that it's possible for a writer to have only one. You just can't have one without the other. Even if your jar is filled with earthy, enviable green, you need a mix of love and drive to bring your talent to life.

I feel like my jar is about three-fifths purple, one-fifth green, one-fifth red, and one-fifth chocolate-chip cookie dough (totally necessary for writing). (Wait a second, how many fifths make one whole?) What about yours?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Remotecontrol Parenting?





It's like sitting in front of the television.




Click!




Not another commercial.




Click!




Okay, I don't want to watch junkfood dance.




Click!

That's better now.

I'm guilty of doing that. With my kids. This happens mostly when I'm blogging *ahem* or writing. I don't want to get off my laptop. I'm on a role! The homework needs to be done, so I yell out, "Start your homework!" Later: "Are you done yet? Okay, clean your rooms now!" And still, a bit later, "Okay, did you hunt around the house for your junk?"

It makes me feel bad, because, when the day has wound down to pillows and PJs and whispers, I close my laptop and kiss them goodnight. It has come and gone and the only thing I did that day was write or blog and tell them what to do.


I've made it a point to NOT do this anymore. I only write on my own time: when they are at school or after I've tucked them into bed. That way I feel satisfied that I've given my kids the time they deserve with their mom.

What challenges do you face with your children and writing?




Photos found at Photobucket.com

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Saturday Stories, Rebecca Talley

Today's guest for Saturday Stories is published author Rebecca Talley. Make sure to check out her self-titled blog Rebecca Cornish Talley for a treasure trove of wonderful writing resources.

And, if you live in the vicinity of Provo, Utah you're in for a treat. Rebecca is doing a book signing TODAY at Seagull Book, 2250 N. University Parkway (the one next to Shopko, behind Olive Garden) from 12:00-2:00 as part of the "Celebrating Sisterhood" event. Swing by if you can and tell her Mormon Mommy Writers sent you!

Before you hop in your car, be sure to check out the interview!


Q—Who are you?

I grew up in Santa Barbara, CA with my sister and maternal grandparents (my parents passed away when I was young). I attended, and graduated from, BYU where I met my husband. He was the "dad" of the FHE group and I was the "mom." We now live in rural CO with a dog, cats, a spoiled horse, and a herd of goats. We have 10 children who are all very creative. 
Besides writing, I love to date my husband, play with my kids, swim in the ocean, and dance to disco music while I clean the house. I doubt I'll ever tame the always-growing mountain of laundry and I'm the world's worst gardener. I also don't can or quilt (something I have in common with my main character in my new book). But, I do make pizza, lasagne, and bread pretty well. 
I am currently serving on the Board of Directors of LDStoyrmakers and am the co-chair for Boot Camp this year at the LDStorymakers conference
Q—Would you please tell us about your book The Upside of Down
It's a story about a woman raising a large family who thinks she's spiritually invincible. A series of events prompts her to begin questioning her faith, including giving birth to a child she didn't expect and that child's resulting diagnosis. It's an exploration of faith. I've included some humorous experiences from my own life raising so many kids. It was a fun book to write. 
Q—What other books have you published?
I've written children's stories for print and online magazines, including the "Friend." One of my articles was picked up for a state testing packet. My children's picture book, "Grasshopper Pie" was published by WindRiver in 2003. I have three novels published, "Heaven Scent" (2008), "Altared Plans" (2009) and "The Upside of Down" (2011) with Cedar Fort.
Q—Who is your agent/publisher and why did you choose them?
I don't have an agent. The LDS market doesn't require an agent. Cedar Fort is my publisher and I love working with CFI--the people are wonderful. CFI believed in my first book and gave me a voice and I will always be grateful for that. CFI has awesome covers, too. I like that CFI is committed to publishing new authors and helping its established authors. 
Q—I understand you’ve published an ebook titled Hook Me: What to Include in Your First Chapter. Would you tell us about it?
It's a short ebook with advice on what to include in your first chapter. It's for aspiring authors to help them prepare that very important first chapter so it will, hopefully, catch the eye of an editor or agent. It's based on my own experience as well as generally accepted writing advice. I haven't seen anything specifically for writing a first chapter so I'm hoping this ebook fills that void. My favorite part is the checklist at the end of the book because I'm such a "list person." It's available at Amazon and Smashwords.
Q—What is your favorite genre to read and your favorite genre to write?
I read, and write, all genres. My favorite genre to write is what I'm writing at the time. I do tend to like YA, but my last book was Women's Fiction and I really enjoyed that. I'm currently working on a YA paranormal (who isn't?). My favorite books to read, in any genre, are the ones that suck me into the story and then make me feel and think. I love to rethink something based on a book I've read. 
Q—What writing resources have you found the most helpful?
My critique group, my membership in LDStorymakers, and attending conferences have been the most helpful for me. I've also read a zillion writing books, but nothing can compare to real people reading and critiquing what I write. Conferences are invaluable for meeting other writers and networking. 
Q—On the road to publication...what was the hardest lesson you learned?
I've learned that not everyone will love, or even like, what I've written--I can't please everyone with my books. Hard lesson learned through some tears.
Q—What is something your friends would be surprised or shocked to learn about you?
I'm addicted to newborns--no, that's obvious. I used to play basketball in high school--again, obvious, since I'm so tall. Oh, I know, I'm OCD about vacuuming carpet--the pile has to all lay the same way--which is why we've ripped almost all of the carpet out of our house (that and I about went crazy trying to keep it clean with so many kids).
Q—There are a lot of people out there uncertain about Twitter but I see that you use it. Would you tell us why you tweet?
I Tweet because someone told me I should. :) I'd much prefer to spend my time writing, but the world is so tech-oriented these days that if I want to get the word out about my books I have to jump into it and Twitter is one of the best marketing tools. I admit, I don't understand all the ins and outs, I just kinda follow along using hashtags and such. I have no idea if Tweeting is beneficial or not. I actually prefer Facebook because that is more intuitive for me and it feels more social. 
Q—If you could be any animal for a day, what would it be and why?
I'd be a horse running free through the waves along the seashore. I have always loved horses and when I was a girl, my favorite place to ride was through the ocean just as it lapped against the shore--it felt so free and exhilarating.
Q—What piece of advice (writing or life) do you wish you had taken seriously and heeded?
I wish I had grown a thick skin much earlier. My very first submission was to the "Ensign" and when it was rejected, it crushed me. I wish I'd learned early on that a rejection is about the work, not about me personally. Knowing that, and that everyone has his or her own reading preferences, has helped me to grow a thicker skin.
In life, I wished I'd learned to just enjoy my kids more and realize the cleaning could wait. I have since realized that. Kids grow so fast and time flies by. The cleaning can wait, the kids can't.
Q—Finish this sentence: "The strangest thing I ever..."
...saw was my first child actually coming out of my body.
Q—What's your favorite quote? Why is it your favorite?
"No other success can compensate for failure in the home" by David O. McKay. I love this quote because it reminds me that my eternal family is first and foremost. I need to keep my focus on raising my family because that is what really matters. Even if I wrote the most popular, greatest-selling book in the history of the world, but sacrificed my family to do so, it wouldn't matter in the end. My purpose is to raise children up unto God so that we can be together eternally. 
Q—Plain or Peanut M&Ms?

Definitely Peanut M&Ms.
Q—I know I've caught myself saying or doing something my mother did and thinking "I never thought I'd do that!" What is the one thing you never thought you'd say or do that you've caught yourself doing?
I grew up in a critical home and I've tried not to be critical to my kids but rather encourage them with positive words. Sometimes, though, I catch myself resorting to being critical and I don't like that. I didn't have very high self-esteem as a teen and I don't want that to happen to my kids. I want them to realize they each have a divine nature and they each have gifts and talents.
If anybody is interested in purchasing one of Rebecca's books I've put links below.


Friday, March 25, 2011

So Glad To Be Here


When I auditioned for this blog last year, little did I realize they'd be asking me back on a more permanent basis. What a wonderful place, and what a beautiful blog. (Thanks, in part, to the fabulous artwork of Elizabeth Mueller) I feel a little like I just won an important award. What was Liz Taylor's famous line when she won the Oscar? "Thank you from the bottom of my heart."

My name is Cheri Chesley, and my first novel, The Peasant Queen, was published by Cedar Fort December 2010. I recently (as in Monday) finished the second draft of the sequel, The Tyrant King. I'm spending this week fine tuning the manuscript and will submit it for (hopeful) publication next week. And, I've set aside the entire month of May to write the rough draft of the third and final novel in the series, The Lost Princess. That final novel has become dear to my heart, as during down time at my 11 book signings in December, I plotted out the entire book. I am so excited to get to know Jessenia better as a character--she's the titular "lost princess."

After I submit The Tyrant King to Cedar Fort, I'm going to treat myself in April to publishing a few short ebooks. I know it sounds like I'm blitzing the publishing world, but that's really not the case. Part of it is an effort to get my name out there, and part of it is testing the ebook waters. One of my favorite stories from The Peasant Queen series does not fit the standard mold for traditional publication. It can't be a romance because the two main characters are not together at the end of the book. It can't be a happy ending story because the bad guy wins, and gets away with it. He isn't even revealed to the characters by the end of the book. And, best part, the main character disappears 3/4 of the way through--although I may have sorted that out. I've spent three years trying to make this story fit into the traditional mold, and it won't. But, I know readers of the series will appreciate knowing that it's available somewhere, so I will put it out as an ebook.

But, I owe my kids a summer off. And, when their last bell rings at the end of May, I'm folding up my laptop (so to speak) and putting all my writing on hold. Which I guess is why I'm working so hard now, so I can justify taking that time off. Once they get back in school in August, though, I'm pulling out my rough draft of The Lost Princess and making it beautiful. I'm submitting it before the end of the year. :)

For more information on my series, ebooks, story ideas, signings, etc, you can check out my BLOG or my website HERE. I'm particularly proud of that website--my nephew helped me build it. Who am I kidding? My nephew did it for me. :)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

They Know My Name!

When my oldest daughter was two years old, my husband and I took her to Disneyland.  I've never had so much fun in my life than when we got to experience the greatest place on earth with a two year old.  She was in love with each of the characters.  Every time she saw one her eyes lit up.  On our last day there, we bought her the much coveted mickey mouse ears with her name on the back and promptly went to frontier land and who should we see but Aladdin and Jasmin.  She was so excited because Aladdin is a little dreamy.  When he walked up from behind and called her by name her eyes got as wide as saucers and in her whispiest voice she said to me, "Aladdin knows my name!" 

Well that is how I felt at the ANWA conference last month.  People knew who I was and not just because I was wearing a name tag, but because of this blog. It was the Aladdin moment for me when Karen Hoover, author of the "Sapphire Flute", walked up and called me by name and asked how I was doing.  Yes I had met her twice before, but I never thought she would remember me, after all, it had been over a year!  But she did remember me, and why?  Because *gasp* she reads this blog!!   How awesome is that?  I also had other people admit that they stalk the blog.  (Did I mention that I love blog stalkers?  Stalk away!)  And I met Kaylee Baldwin, one of our Saturday Stories that Lisa interviewed.  It was so cool to meet her up close!  (Below I am shamelessly taking a picture with Karen Hoover)
 I also had support from my local ANWA chapter that meets once a month, above is the lovely Lisa D, and our wonderful chapter president DeAnn.  Below is Lisa again with our musically talented Kiera.
And last but definitely not least, I got to meet Tamara Passey (isn't she wonderful?)
And the Amazing Megan Oliphant!
 I was so excited to meet these girls in person finally!  They are just as amazing in person as they are on the blog!  I love this blog and the people I get to meet because of it! 
And because I like meeting new people, you get to meet new people as our blog invariable adds new writers.  You may have noticed that Jessie Oliveros has started writing for us in February.  We will be saying good bye to Amber Lynae as she has the important task of having a new baby soon.  Be sure to let her know how much she will be missed.  To take her Friday spot, we have our newest MMW blogger, Cheri Chesley!  Be sure to give her and Jessie a nice warm welcome to the family.  And, as always, leave lots of comments on the blog so I can learn your name and know who you are when I see YOU at a writing conference!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Amanda Hocking And Why We Should Care Who She Is

I first heard about Amanda Hocking by following former agent Nathan Bransford on twitter. He wrote a blog post about how even Amanda Hocking didn't consider herself a true example of e-book self publishing circumventing traditional publishing.

So a little back story. Amanda Hocking is a 26 year old writer who, through the process of multiple rejections and trying to find a home for her YA paranormal trilogy, decided to go through the self-publishing route on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com. In the link I provided earlier, she talks about how much work it is and how her lack of writing time is seriously curtailed because of the "everything else" she has to do to get her books up.

But that doesn't diminish the fact that Amanda, by pricing this ebook series between 99 cents and $2.99, sold over 450,000 copies of not only this trilogy, but another 4 book series about vampires that she self published.  In January of this year ALONE. That's right. 450,000 copies in ONE MONTH. 99% of those sales were ELECTRONIC. She keeps 70% of all revenue from books sold at the $2.99 price point, and 30% of all 99 cent sales. She's now a millionaire.

Now Amanda will be the first to say that she could never have predicted that they would be this popular. But she also said that she worked really, REALLY hard to get the books to the point where they could take off like this. She also said, and I quote:

Everybody seems really excited about what I'm doing and how I've been so successful, and from what I've been able to understand, it's because a lot of people think that they can replicate my success and what I've done. And while I do think I will not be the only one to do this - others will be as successful as I've been, some even more so - I don't think it will happen that often.


Traditional publishing and indie publishing aren't all that different, and I don't think people realize that. Some books and authors are best sellers, but most aren't. It may be easier to self-publish than it is to traditionally publish, but in all honesty, it's harder to be a best seller self-publishing than it is with a house.

I don't think people really grasp how much work I do. I think there is this very big misconception that I was like, "Hey, paranormal is pretty hot right now," and then I spent a weekend smashing out some words, threw it up online, and woke up the next day with a million dollars in my bank account.
This is literally years of work you're seeing. And hours and hours of work each day. The amount of time and energy I put into marketing is exhausting. I am continuously overwhelmed by the amount of work I have to do that isn't writing a book. I hardly have time to write anymore, which sucks and terrifies me.

So as we celebrate this for her, listen very carefully to what she has to say. Decide for yourself if that is what you're willing to give to get published. It's hard work, no matter how you slice it. And while e-books may be a solid part of the publishing future, and the ability of individual authors to self-publish not only their family history, but more mainstream novels that haven't found a publishing house, the amount of work involved is tremendous.

By the way, the writing still has to be good. I purchased her "Trylle Trilogy", and it's good. It's well-written AND edited. We have to do the same sorts of thing we would if we go a more traditional road. There are never any shortcuts to anything worthwhile.

Over the next few weeks I'm going to share the four main types of self-publishing out there. I hope you find it as fascinating as I have.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

If You Love Writing

by Tamara Passey

"If you love writing it must be easy for you, right?"

Has anyone ever said this or some variation of it to you?
I've now been asked this (or had it assumed of me) a few times. I'm slow on the verbal comebacks but I've been mulling this one over and thought I'd share it with the awesome MMW readers & fellow writers.

So I'm sure Olympic swimmers love to swim. But does that make their grueling training hours in and out of the pool easy? If they have a natural athletic talent or ability, does honing their skill or becoming the best in their sport happen magically as they slip into the water on race day? I don't think so.

We can love something, like writing, but that love of creating doesn't automatically translate into effortless composed pages. Writing takes hard work, whether we love that work or not--that's what it takes. Isn't the same true with mothering. I love being a mother, but no one would say to me, "So if you love being a mom so much, it must be easy for you." I suppose what the 'love' does is make the work tolerable, endurable --not effortless or easy.

Any thoughts on this? I always love to hear your ideas.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Our Creative Potential

I've always found some venue for creativity...piano, scrapbooking, crochet, a small and unsuccessful flirtation with oil paints. But it is only since I started writing that I've realized how important creating is to my spirit. It buoys me up to a higher plane and helps me see beyond today.

Writing gives me energy and vision. It teaches me more about goal-setting. It teaches me (and is still trying to teach me) about balance.

I really feel that creative expression makes us better, and I'm always encouraging my sisters to find something...sewing, dancing, cooking...something that they can call their own.

In an earlier post this month, Amber shared an quote by Elder Uchtdorf, but it really stuck with me and I'd like to share it again.

"The more you trust and rely upon the Spirit, the greater your capacity to create. That is your opportunity in this life and your destiny in the life to come. Sisters, trust and rely on the Spirit. As you take the normal opportunities of your daily life and create something of beauty and helpfulness, you improve not only the world around you but also the world within you." - Dieter F. Uchtdorf

I love that because he addresses us, Sisters, who have been given that capacity to create. And even if, as moms, we really find that we don't have much time to write or (insert other creative hobby)...how many infinite opportunities are we given during the day?

We create new stories at bedtime.
We create new ways to teach.
We create new dishes for picky eaters.
We create silly songs and amazing birthday cakes.
We create new places to put our children in time-out. (Couldn't resist. That's been my dilemma lately.)

How do you find yourself using your creative potential during the day? What other creative hobbies do you have besides writing?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Like the Pioneers--

source



The Mormon Pioneers fled the eastern coast for a place where they could find hope and life. Many had to leave by the seat of their pants: pack only what they needed.

Heirlooms? Abandoned.

Blankets? What could be piled in the tiny handcarts.

Cookware? Only the bare necessities.

Shoes? What was on their feet.

Children? Well, only the tiniest got to ride, while the older ones helped pull or carry the younger ones.

I was praying earlier this week about my writing dilemma, and as I prayed, I a sudden thought about how these people struggled with the thinnest of things came to mind. I can only imagine having to pack up and leave immediately, taking the stuff that would help keep my family of 6 alive in the wild.

The reason why I bring this up is because it relates to my writing. I've been burdening myself with figurative heirlooms, the extra blankets, extra shoes, a few more pillows, a handful of plates and extra tin cups and maybe a jar of pickles for the craving.

source


I've realized that, on my journey across my writer frontier, I should only take with me what I absolutely need and not what I want. I've found my thoughts to be cluttered with things that have been weighing my heart down to the point that writing has lost pleasure. I need to review my inventory and weed out the things that aren't aiding in my adventure to publishdom.

Since then, I can feel my internal balances shifting to a better fulcrum; a new starting point that has promising

venues with a lighter weight to pull as I go along this terrain that is familiar, yet strange. Daunting, adventurous and magical.

How do you pack your handcart and handle the journey?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Saturday Stories, Regan Brianne Guerra

Today's guest for Saturday Stories is Regan Brianne Guerra. Regan is an aspiring author who is also a major Shakespeare Buff. Boy, I could have used a friend like her in English class!


Make sure to go check out Regan's blog at www.reganguerra.blogspot.com where you can check out what she's posting and get a glimpse at her stories.



Q—Would you please begin by telling us a little bit about yourself?
I have loved reading since before I can remember. I love the way that authors, like artists, create vivid people and scenes with the written word. I started writing my own books when I was twelve and have enjoyed creating worlds and characters youth can fall in love with. I'm roaming the nation with my incredibly dashing husband, seeking to understand the many mysteries placed upon this beautiful world.
Q—On your blog you call yourself a Shakespeare buff. Tell us which is your favorite play sonnet, and why?
Gosh, talk about picking a gem out of a treasure trove! I'd probably have to say that my favorite play is "The Merchant of Venice," mostly because of the character Portia. She not only sacrifices her honeymoon to save the life of a man she's never met, but she also dresses up as a lawyer to make certain that man's life is successfully spared. Her personality in general is awesomely quirky, too.
My favorite sonnet... For the sake of time, I'll say my favorite is number 14. It talks about how he can't predict much, but this he does know, that truth and beauty would die if his lover ever did.
Q—How/when did you get started writing?
I started writing when I learned my ABC's and spelling has always been my favorite subject. I really got into writing stories, though, when my 2nd Grade class had an assignment to write a sequel to a children's book. My teacher submitted my story to a school writing contest and I found out that I'd won first place at the school fair.
Q—What is your favorite genre to read/write?


Ooh... Personally, I like to read anything with a message. If that message includes scientific or fantastic creative amazingness, then all the better! To write? I definitely have a favored lean toward sci-fi and fantasy. I'm trying a new route (for me, anyway) in rooting the main character's world into ours. It kind of creates a challenge, since you want to make the world within a world as believable as possible without losing the spark of imagination ignited in a fantasy or sci-fi novel.
Q—Who is your favorite modern author?
JK Rowling. I so admire her ability to keep the story connected and building throughout her books. She must have a LOT of patience to put that much time into plot setting. I'm still working on that...
Q—What is your all-time favorite book/movie/song?
Favorite book? Anything by CS Lewis (Particularly "Voyage of the Dawn Treader" and "The Last Battle" from the Chronicles of Narnia). Favorite movie... The Scarlet Pimpernel. Favorite song is "Say Hey" by Michael Franti.
Q—If you could be any character in any book you've read or written, who would it be and why?
Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee from Shannon Hales' "The Goose Girl" because of her courage and humility in whatever trial was placed before her.
Q—What is your favorite blog, besides Mormon Mommy Writers, of course? Make sure to tell us why your favorite is your favorite!
I really enjoy reading Sarah M. Eden's blog (www.sarahmeden.com). Her authentic humor gets me every time. I also enjoy my cousin's blog (kdoodle-kennedyscorner.blogspot.com). Her pictures are incredible!
Q—This is your chance to tell us about one of your current WIP. Give us your pitch! What would you say to sell it to an editor?
In the land of Jagumas, an uprising has begun. Ryedor, a quirky student inventor, has discovered a secret to her past that throws her into the center of the rebellion. She always knew she was meant for greater things, but now her path to greatness has been quickened...
Q—What do you love about writing?
I love words. I love how they can play with the human mind in creating pictures and people that last through ages. I also love portraying accents in dialogue. It makes the character really come to life for me.
Q—What do you have about writing?
I'm assuming you meant "hate" ;). The Dreaded Writer's Block seems to lurk at every corner if there isn't sufficient planning or communication outside myself. That and admitting to myself that there really are voices inside my head, each scrambling to tell a story.
Q—A lot of writers talk about piles of dirty laundry and sinks filled with dirty dishes--things they sacrifice to spend time building stories. What's the one thing that you tend to sacrifice so you can write?
Currently, I feel that I am very spoiled in this regard. It's only me and my husband moving around, so we have minimal dishes and laundry to do. I guess you could say that I'm taking as much advantage of our position as I can. :)
Q—When I write there's always something on my computer to snack on--peanuts, raisins, M&Ms, etc. What's on yours?
A waterbottle, my scriptures, a folder of notes, and I always wear my thinking cap.
Q—How has writing changed your life?
Everything has become a story. I see people driving, walking, shopping, talking, etc. and I think about what their life must be like. This practice also helps create a sense of empathy for my spirit brothers and sisters.




Thanks for the interview Regan!




Make sure to check back next Saturday for another installment of Saturday Stories.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Again. And Again. And Again, Please.

How many of you have ever taken a lesson? Say you learned to play the piano or some other musical instrument. Or you're an athlete, and you trained everyday for years for one race, or you retrain yourself every year for a marathon, hoping to better your time.

I am musically trained. (Meaning I have taken lessons in various forms over the years.) I have done that train and retrain, practicing until the music no longer has meaning, it's been broken down into so many phrases, notes, or atoms. I have taken it all apart and put it back together again so I have the music down cold.

I came into writing with the attitude: 'Hey, I'm a reader. I know what I like. I can predict so many of these books, I could write one in my sleep."

Yes, you can laugh at me, too. Even right now I want to reach back in time and slap myself silly for such arrogance.

I know better now. I've gone through some stages here, though, and wondered if anyone else had travelled the same path as well. Here's what I've identified as the   stage process of becoming anything worthwhile:

1. ADMIRATION: when you look at a performer, be it musical or some other form, and think, "I can do that. I bet I could do it better than they did, even though it was breathtaking."

2. ENTHUSIASM: when you begin the path to your goal, and nothing seems to slow or halt your progression towards it.

3. REALITY: when you realize that the person you were so sure you were better than really knows a whole lot more than you do about the topic. They have achieved of level of proficiency that is far above your skill level. It will be years before you can even come close, and even then it might be a false hope.

4. HEARTBREAK: when you know that the dreams that feed you so full have now dried up, and you are abandoned on the path to mastery. It's swim or be swept back down stream.

5. RESOLUTION: It doesn't matter know what came before or who you were, what thoughts or pride you may have had. You look neither left or right, but trudge forward, keeping your eye on the prize.

I've only recently discovered this applies to writing as well. I know. Shocker.

What about you? Are there any of these rules you agree with? Would you add more? What do you do to get over the hump of rule number 4?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Japan Thoughts

by Tamara Passey


The people of Japan have been in my thoughts and prayers these past few days. The shock has given way to sadness and even dread with the ongoing nuclear crisis. I saw a report last night that highlighted the orderliness and great calm the Japanese people have demonstrated, even distributing supplies evenly among themselves when they came upon shortages. Not exactly what we see here.

I remembered a short poem I wrote after the Tsunami in December of 2005.
I realize I may not have any shirts made in Japan, but I think the sentiment is similar.

Tsunami 

India and Thailand with ocean shores
So far from my dry desert home
If I hadn’t heard the news reports of you
I wouldn’t have known
I couldn’t have known, or believed
How many lives you lost
To waves travelling at jet-plane speeds
My desert life goes on uninterrupted
No un-channeled water here.

Until I pull the iron out to press some laundry and
Open the collar of a clean white shirt
And there on the tag are those oft ignored words
Made in Sri Lanka

While the iron steams in my motionless hand
All I can think is that this someone made this shirt across that ocean
And I wonder amid the news-report scenes of destruction
Replaying in my mind
Is the factory is still there? Are the people still alive?
Do they still have a home?
And with as little warning as Mother Nature gives
One drop, then two, and
I am taken over by a wave of tears in the desert.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Join the Mormon Writer Blogfest!

Recently I received an email invite for Mormon Writer Blogfest (the Second). Some of you may have already heard about this, but with the go-ahead from organizer, Krista Van Dolzer, I wanted to post a general invite on MMW to all who are interested.

Here is an excerpt from the email:

Last year, I organized a Mormon Writer Blogfest in which LDS writers from around the country blogged about gospel-related topics on a specific day and linked to everybody else’s posts. Since the first blogfest turned out so well, I’m organizing another.

I’m planning to hold this year’s blogfest on the second Tuesday in April, April 12. Last year, we blogged about basic doctrines of the gospel, but this year, I thought it would be great if everybody blogged about their favorite general conference talk from the upcoming April 2011 conference.


Are you in? Here is a great chance for the force that is LDS writers to bear testimony. If you would like to participate, you can email Krista at kvandolzer (at) gmail (dot) com. As the time draws near, she will send you a list of all participating bloggers so that you can link to them in your post. And if you know any other LDS writers who may not read MMW, pass the word on!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Something to Hide








I've been struggling lately, to my chagrin, with writing. Yes, I've actually considered giving up because it hasn't brought me the pleasure of thrills I used to experience. Even the thought of attending my most favorite writers conference where I feel like queen, made me feel numb.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Handling Criticism Appropriately



"Who cares what that person thinks?" 
"What do they know?"  

My first response to criticism is defensiveness.  I pout, I kick, I scream.  I realize that I can be a bit of 3 year old sometimes.  However, I am not ignorant enough to allow my inner 3 year old to get the best of me.  I've learned that when it comes to writing critiques, the critter is never wrong.  They are telling you what and how they felt about your work.  If you are wise you will take this response, good or bad, and learn how to make your work better-- the best.


The first time I put my work out there for the world to read and comment. I had many cheerleaders, praising my story and the emotions that I touched on.  I was floating on cloud 9.   There may have been some crazy victory dancing, or not.  Then someone reminded me about gravity.  


The critter didn't even put his/her name on the comment.  This horrible person had the nerve to say that:
1. I was telling, not showing.
2. I could develop my character more thoroughly. 
3. I had to readdress my POV discrepancies. 

I sulked, I pouted, I complained.   I was a royal pill.  Then, I was thankful.  Why hadn't I noticed these faults?  I was so stuck in my own story that I didn't see its weaknesses.  We should be grateful for those people who are willing to lay it out there for us. 

I am not saying that we should weight every critique equally, because ultimately it is our story to tell in the manner that we feel is appropriate.  However, approach a critique with gratitude-- even if it takes some kicking and screaming to get to the thank you.  


Amber Lynae


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