Friday, April 29, 2011

It Stings

by Cheri Chesley

Wednesday night, I went to bed feeling pretty much on top of the world. I'd made so much progress on The Wild Queen, and the publisher had The Tyrant King. All I had to do was write, edit and submit The Lost Princess and my first book series would be complete.

Then I got up Thursday morning and checked my email.

My editor wrote me. While she likes the story, she feels there are too many things wrong with it at this point to move ahead with publishing. She'd gladly look at it again if I address these issues and resubmit. This isn't a rejection, really. It's a "we saw some issues you may want to fix" notice.

It still stings. But it didn't really come as a surprise.

I let myself get caught up in my schedule for this year, and didn't take the time to hear back from my beta readers before sending it off to the publisher. I like the story a lot--the problem is I knew it wasn't perfect. I just figured it would be "good enough."

Yeah, I know. Kind of ironic since one of my Goodreads reviews bashes my publisher as the "only publisher in Utah who will publish anything." Not. :)

This is not the end of the road. It's a setback, clearly, and will mean some restructuring--not only of the story, but also of my schedule. Some things will have to be changed. Some things will have to be put off. Some things will have to be given up.

First things first: I'm finishing my edits on The Wild Queen this week and getting it to my newest beta reader. While she's looking it over, I'm going to work on fixing The Tyrant King.

Don't count me out, yet. :)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

That's so Cliche!

I am so excited about our contest, but I don't think you guys have caught the fever yet!  I mean, think about it, we are giving you permission to use cliches.  That means no editing those cliche similies, or cliche story ideas, or cliche descriptions.  It's all legal!!  I woke up one morning with the most cliche story idea in the world...another Cinderella story.  I mean, really, how many Cinderella stories does the world need?  I was ready to dismiss the idea completely when I remembered our contest.  Ok, so I know I can't enter (darn!) but it gave me the permission I needed to say, "Who cares if it's cliche, go for it!"  So I did.  I'm pasting the first few paragraphs in hopes that it will spur your own imagination to go where you keep telling it not to go.


The Lottery Winner at a Ball

Astrid looked down at her extravagant gown and sighed.  It was an exact replica of an Elizabethan era ball gown, her mother had made sure of that.  Looking around, Astrid watched as the other similarly dressed girls twittered as the supposed prince of the ball made his grand entrance.  His eyes roamed the many rows of the girls who were arranged like the meat counter at her father's butcher shop.  She was in the third row back where you put the less desirable meat that you didn't want to be seen but still hoped someone would buy. 
She sighed again at her predicament.  She wasn't sure how her mother had talked her into this.  It was a barbaric notion to think you could thrust twenty- first century teenagers into the dark ages and find them a perfect match.  How anyone who ever read a history book could think that this was better than going on date was beyond her comprehension. 
The "Prince" had begun his walk up and down the rows of perfectly coiffed young women.  Astrid noticed he had the luxury of wearing a mask.  It was kind of like a Phantom of the Opera type model.  She turned and muttered to the uncaring girl next to her, "I wish I could wear a mask.". She girl sneered at her and opened her mouth, no doubt to say something vicious, but instead her eyes went wide and Astrid felt someone standing close.  Looking up, she already knew what she'd see. Sure enough, who else would be standing there but the prince of the ball. Groaning, she saw her mother across the room miming a frantic bow.  Winding her hands into the sides of her ball gown, she gave stiff curtsey and mumbled a quick, "Your Majesty."
She tried not to look at her mother's beaming face.  The prince gave a half smile, well it only looked half because part of his face was covered.  
"My dear Lady, to cover your face would be a sin of great proportions.". The girls around her practically swooned and Astrid had to keep herself from rolling her eyes and making a gagging motion.  But her mother had made her watch enough old movies to know what her next line should be.
" Your majesty is too kind."  She knew she should have left it at that but couldn't resist adding, "or a shameless suck up."  his eyes widened and then he began to laugh. 
"May I have the pleasure of seeing your dance card?"
Not wanting to be heard, Astrid drew close and whispered in his ear, "There are no dance cards for this period, that was the 1800's, you know, last week's dance."
"Damn it!". Everyone looked at them and he lowered his voice."How do they expect us to keep all this crap straight?  How many time periods can they really expect us to remember?"
"Well isn't that the point of this whole thing, to learn the social rules of ages past?". The crowd around them was starting to be anxious, the Prince was spending too much time talking to her.  She could feel every eye on them.  "Um, since there's no dance cards, the ball won't start until you pick a dance partner and start to dance." 
He too began to look around and saw the adults were getting ready to step in.  Whenever that happened it was never good.  "Well in that case, may I have this dance?" 
He bowed before her and she curtsied, "I'd be delighted your Majesty."  The girls around her glared.  She couldn't believe how seriously they were all taking this ball.  Didn't they have a life outside of this madness?  If not, they were bound to become some therapists dream come true.

 Well, that's just a taste of my story and it's not all that original, but boy, was it freeing to just write and not worry as the cliches came.  In fact, I think it could use lots more cliches.  Hmmm, I may have to fix that!  Now it's your turn... let your pen fly and remember to cliche away!!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Power To The People

I have watched the tumultuous upheaval of the publishing industry with a bit of distance and a lot of interest. Interest because I hope to be among the published masses someday, and distance because I don't think it's going to be any time soon. (At least if my struggles with my WIP continue unabated.) It'll be a year or two or ten before I will be able to call myself published. But by then, what will the industry look like? More knowledgeable people than me talk about this endlessly, and I'm not here really to add what little I know to the conversation.

What I do want to bring, however, is a little perspective. I tend to think in analogies, so here's one for you.

Once phones looked like this:
 And it was amazing! People couldn't conceive of such a remarkable thing. Some people even called it the Devil box, they were so sure it was evil inspired. You could pick it up and have to tell the operator who you wanted to call, and wait for them to direct your call to the appropriate place.

After a few years the phone grew to this:

You could dial the place you wanted to call yourself. And for 70 years or so, this was the standard, with slight variations.

Then along came mobile phones, phones you could actually walk around with, instead of being tied with a cord to a base and telephone line.

Once cell phones looked like this:
And we poor peons who couldn't afford to even think about such a luxury oohed and ahhed over it.

Fast forward to today:

This generation 4 iPhone can do more than several 1980s computers put together could. And that's besides being a mobile phone.

My point is when the technology began, we looked at it in wonder. How could it possibly get better than this, we said. And yet it did. Again and again and again. And it will continue to evolve as consumers demand different things from the phone industry.

This is happening in the publishing industry. We had a standard, a framework that everyone recognized as the only possibility. And yet times change. People's demands change. All sorts of factors go into this force for evolution.

 In my mind we are at the equivalent of the 1980s cell phone revolution in terms of publishing. There are things going on now that we never thought would happen. But they are. Do we know where they'll end up? We can guess and conjecture, but like watching an old episode of the Jetsons, we won't know if our ideas are too tied to our present experience, or if they're truly revolutionary. (Watch an episode, and see if you don't see things that we already to better or differently than they thought when they made the show. Cash money vs. a card? Or just scanning something in your phone?)

That doesn't mean don't write or publish or submit or self-publish e-books. Life still has to be lived. And without that demand for the industry, it would die out. I just think it'll be fascinating to see in 10, 20, 50 years where the publishing/writing industry has gone. I hope you'll all be along on the ride with me.

Any comments on this post will count toward our mini contest!

Monday, April 25, 2011

But it's Just SO Pretty

My daughter refused to eat breakfast this morning, but only moments ago I found her taking bites out of playdough. What is it about playdough that children love? Because it's colorful? It's definitely not tastier than the cereal I offered earlier. Maybe she knows that, but it's just so pretty she can't resist.

Sometimes I wonder about that colorful lump of dough on the horizon: Publication. All the kids on the playground want it. I know I want it. I work hard for it, but when I get there will it be worth it or will it taste a little salty?

After years of staying up late writing and trying so hard to balance my dream with the bigger and larger and eternal pursuit of Family, will I hold my book in my hand, look back over the years, and say, "Oh. All that for this?"

Because being published is my goal. As much as I'd like to say I write for the love (and I do love writing), I'm driven forward by the possibility of having my work read. However, days I'm sleepy from a late writing night, too sleepy to be the mom I want to be, I have to ask myself, "What are you doing?"

I'd hate to come away from this venture knowing that one of my children missed out on something important because my head was busy creating other lives. Then again, I know writing is a part of me now. It forms who I am, and in many ways makes me a better mom.

I'd love your thoughts on this, especially if you have actually tasted playdough (real or metaphorical).

Sunday, April 24, 2011

He is Risen!




Click here for President Monson's address.

He died so that we might live.

Happy Easter!




One for the ROAD:

My book, Darkspell a YA paranormal Romance has been picked
up by TreasureLine Publishers!

SO exciting! Here's me signing my contract:

(pardon the background sound, that's my hubby watching tv.)

video



S. B. Niccum spotted at LDSFiction!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Totally Cliché Countdown #1

So it's been a few weeks since we announced our Totally Cliché contest. Hopefully many of you have spent those weeks brainstorming about clichés or better yet, writing with one (or more) of them. If you haven't started yet, consider this a reminder. GO WRITE!


You might be wondering why in the world we would choose clichés for our theme. Well, because they're fun. But are they fun because they're what we love to write or are they fun because they are forbidden? Tricky question.


Let's talk about clichés for a moment. What makes a cliché a cliché? What qualifies a phrase for this list of banishment? Well, the reason I've heard many times is that clichés are overused. They're old. We hear them so often they get annoying. If this is truly the case does that mean that in time, after years of writers avoiding them, clichés won't be overused any more? Will they be unique, a word combination on the verge of extinction that writers will once again embrace without shame?


With that thought in mind, consider this...are all clichés worthy of reintroduction into the wilds of writing? I'm not sure they are. Now, before I dive into what I'm about to say and potentially cause confusion, let me just state how much I love clichés. Maybe it's my rebellious side but I really love them. My personal favorite is "It was a dark and stormy night." I have big plans to write a story about a dark stormy night and I'm thinking I might even start the story with that line just to ruffle someone's feathers. Sounds fun! But....


Aren't a lot of the clichés out there telling? Is that the real problem with them? Let's think about this as we look at my favorite for a moment. I love dark and stormy nights. I love loud thunder and bold lightning. I can't think of a better way to start an intense scene. Such expressive weather creates a unique mood in my mind and prepares the backdrop for a great story.


If six small words can lay the right foundation for a story's atmosphere why is their combination so bad to use? The reason goes deeper than this phrase just being overused. Why? Because the phrase is telling at its best. And if I've learned anything as a writer it's that the best of us create stories that show themselves, like a little movie, in the reader's head. These stories are painted with the careful strokes of description that cannot be rushed. Rushing them results in telling and telling is like watching movie a made fifty years ago. Compared to one of today's 3D experiences, it doesn't have a chance. Visually, there's no competition.


If I were going to send a story to an agent or editor that began with "It was a dark and stormy night" I could almost guarantee you that they would throw my manuscript in the garbage because my word choice shows what a weak writer I am. Weak, because instead of setting the reader up for a good story, I merely fill their minds with questions. Questions like these:


"How dark was it?"
"Was it a rain or a snow storm?"
"What time of night was it? Midnight? Twilight?"


For most readers my favorite cliché won't paint the appropriate picture in their mind. While I might be vaguely describing a massive rain and thunder storm one reader might think of a blizzard. Another might imagine a building tornado in the distance. Instead of clarity my cliché choice just creates questions and this is a big NO NO for any writer. A writer seeking publication needs to know how to create a fantastic story that leaves the reader with no doubt what the mental movie should look like.


So now that you're thinking how crazy I am for telling everyone that we are, in essence, asking you to write a story for our contest that is filled with telling, let me explain myself.


Clichés are tricky. To use one effectively a writer really has to be careful. That's what we're looking for. We're challenging you to take something that could weaken your story and use it to your advantage. You could be sarcastic with your cliché. You could use it in a humorous way with the intention of making us laugh. You could be sneaky, weaving it into the story in an unusual way. You could make your MC the cliché culprit by having their dialogue contain the forbidden phrase. There are so many creative ways to use a cliché that we know you won't disappoint.


Look at this contest as an exercise to build your writing muscles. Because seriously, if you can make a cliché a little less cliché you've got yourself some serious writing talent!




Comments made to today's post will qualify for our mini-contest.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Birthday Week


by Cheri Chesley

Yesterday was kind of a big day at my house. My twins turned 12, and their little sister turned 7. Some years ago, I wrote poems for each of my children. I've shared them online this week.

You can read Jeffrey's poem HERE.

You can read Daniel's poem HERE.

And I'm going to share Rianne with you now:

“Rianne”

When I gaze into your eyes,
I know God has a sense of humor.
Otherwise he would have sent you
to me long ago.
You are such a lovely girl.
My little mirror,
I can’t accept
I was ever so beautiful.
I know I was not so quick
or brilliant as you are.
Siblings should not compete
or I’d say God saved the best
for last.
You embody the best of all
your older siblings.
Every day I wonder,
What will you think of next?
Your vocabulary may already be
bigger than mine.
You will grow, my baby,
and will excel in all you do.
I will miss you as my baby,
but rejoice in the woman you will be.

May 29, 2006

Because I have perfectionist issues, I'm going to tell you I'm not as satisfied with this poem as I am with the other two. I wanted to write something that expressed who she is, and I wrote it when she was 2--and she's become so much more since then.

I might just have to try again. :)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Stand for Truth and Righteousness

I don't know about you, but I've grown up hearing the phrase "Stand for Truth and Righteousness".  And as a teen, I needed to stand often and should have stood more, but as an adult I've been able to make my own world or bubble that enables me to surround myself with good people and good input.  I usually can just make decisions to keep bad things out of my life and I don't really have to make a stand.  But as I've entered the world of e-books I've discovered something that makes me want to stand up and say, "This isn't ok!"  I'm talking about going onto e-book sites and browsing for books and finding erotica with pornographic covers.  I usually find these things on the $5 and under e-book lists.  This is disturbing to me on many levels.  First because I don't want to see it!  I have images burned into my head that I just didn't want there.  And secondly, because I know teenagers that have e-readers that are hooked to these e-book providers.  My own daughter wants to go digital with her books, but I can't in good conscious let her when pornography is waiting for her in the form of book covers.  I wrote to one of the book providers and got told that while there are parental controls that can prevent your or your teen's account from purchasing such books, there are no filters preventing these covers from showing up on your browsing screen.  I realize that the e-book world is new and nobody really knows how to handle these new problems as they occur, but if we don't stand and let them know how big a problem it is, they may never do anything about it.  Now I'm not a prude and I'm not talking about suggestive covers here, I'm talking about some very disturbing stuff that are on some of these covers.  If you have found this to be a problem as I have, please take five minutes to write an email to these providers.  I realize if my child wants to find pornography, they will find it, but I want them to have to work to find it and not for an innocent child to stumble upon it and suddenly become hooked because of what they accidentally saw.  I know I'm on my high horse right now, but this is the biggest problem I have with e-books right now, but I think it's a problem that can be fixed.  If the Christian world were to come together, I'm sure we could help the e-book providers come up with a solution.  So let's stand for what we believe in and not be afraid to say, "This isn't ok!"

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Multiple Channels and Piercing Questions

It's the home stretch! We've reached the end of this little series of posts about the different types of self-publishing out there. Let's discuss Multiple Channels and then I'll walk you through some things to consider when self publishing.

Multiple channels is just what it sounds like. You use one company to prep your manuscript, and they distribute it to several venues all at once. So instead of formatting it JUST for Kindle, or JUST for the Nook, you can do it for as many venues as is available through the company. It still has all the trademarks of publishing single channel but the added bonus of going lots of places all at once. There are a few out there, but two of the biggies are:

Smashwords
FastPencil (this has a small fee)

FastPencil has more in common with the POD publishers, but still has the option for doing it on the cheap.

So what questions should you be asking when deciding what avenue to take to get your work published?

1. What are my goals here? Does my work need a print edition?
2. How much help am I going to need to get the job done? Do I need to consider independent editing? Do I know how to format my manuscript?
3. Will my audience prefer digital or print?
4. Once I have a product ready, how am I going to get the word out there? (None of the 4 options I've covered the past month do any publicity for you.)

I hope this will help you get on the right path for you and your writing. Not everything we write has a place in traditional publishing. Having these options available can only be a good thing in the long run for the individual author and the publishing industry as a whole.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Same Church

We moved our family from Kansas to Texas a few months ago, and as I sat in Sacrament Meeting today I thought about the sameness of our church from one state to the other (from one country to the other for that matter!) In our new ward, the people may be different, but we still have Sacrament Meeting and Sunday School. We still listen to the same Sacrament prayers and sing the same hymns. We still have a bishop and his counselors. My husband still goes to Priesthood and I still go to Relief Society. And thank goodness, there is still a Primary where my son can sing the songs he loves and attend Sharing Time and CTR 4. And he can still feel that same Spirit WHEREVER he is attending church.

This sameness has made my son's transition easier. I mean, he is ALWAYS happy when he leaves Primary--there is a little hop in his step and a big smile on his face. (And I can't resist adding my son told me today in Primary he had tears in his eyes but not for very long because he wiped them away and nobody saw because they were focusing on their jobs.)

I also love that we can band together on the Internet as sisters in Zion and talk about the same Relief Society lessons and the same gospel principles and same General Conference and essentially...the same goals. I participated in the second annual LDS Writers Blogfest last week, and it was fantastic! 23 LDS writers blogged about their favorite conference talk. Here is my the link list if you are interested in checking them out:

Annette Lyon: “Desire”
Annie Cechini: “The Spirit of Revelation”
Ben Spendlove: “The Atonement Covers All Pain”
Chantele Sedgwick: “LDS Women Are Incredible!”
Charity Bradford: “LDS Women Are Incredible!”
Jackee Alston: “The Eternal Blessings of Marriage”
Jenilyn Tolley: “What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be?”
Jennifer McFadden: “Establishing a Christ-Centered Home”
Jessie Oliveros: “Establishing a Christ-Centered Home”
Jolene Perry: “It’s Conference Once Again”
Jordan McCollum: “What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be?”
Kasey Tross: “Guided by the Holy Spirit”
Kayeleen Hamblin: “Become as a Little Child”
Kelly Bryson: “The Atonement Covers All Pain”
Krista Van Dolzer: “Opportunities to Do Good”
Melanie Stanford: “What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be?”
Michelle Merrill: “The Eternal Blessings of Marriage”
Myrna Foster: “Opportunities to Do Good”
Nisa Swineford: “Desire”
Sallee Mathews: “The Eternal Blessings of Marriage”
Sierra Gardner: “The Atonement Covers All Pain”
Tamara Hart Heiner: “Waiting on the Road to Damascus”
The Writing Lair: “Waiting on the Road to Damascus”

We are such a power out there! There were only 23 particapting in this blogfest but there are so many of us. And given that we are all one day going to be published (you know it is true) what a mark we can leave on the world!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Talents

source




We all know of the story of the master and his servants with the talents, right?

We are charged to use our resources to find our hidden talents. How would we know if we don't possess them if we don't try it?

The Lord has given us the gift of writing. We express our inner thoughts, emotions and fears through writing.

Journals. Poems. Novels.


If there is a seedling of desire to go beyond the boundaries of comfort, let us do it! It is no coincidence that you are writing that book.

We won't become published unless we push ourselves into that direction. The Lord does not set us up for failure!

Friday, April 15, 2011

How Much is Heredity?

by Cheri Chesley

When my twins were 6, they delved into their new-found writing ability with relish. And a little mustard. The results were little homemade books so adorable, I actually submitted them to Lisa Mangum at Deseret Book for consideration. Yeah, I know--but a mom's pride can be blinding at times. Jeffrey wrote this adorable story called "Little Sam and the Big, Mean Fish" that I just thought was the best. (can you tell my word for the day is adorable?)In it, Sam went fishing and got tormented by a big fish that tried to eat him, but, as the last line states, "Sam, he got away."

Of course, Lisa sent back this great rejection letter--she's awesome with rejection letters; I've gotten a few from her now--where she suggested I continue to encourage them in their talents, and that will go far to help them develop.

Lately, Daniel, now a 6th grader and turning 12 in a week, has been writing things in school so fantastic the teacher reads them out loud. Just before Christmas, the teacher challenged his class to write a paper to convince him not to give them any more of a certain kind of assignment. He read Daniel's essay out loud and told the class they can thank Daniel, because he's now convinced. This is the kid who wants to be a doctor when he grows up.

I find myself wondering how much of a certain talent is heredity and how much is exposure. I mean, my kids--by default--have respect and, in most cases, adoration of the written word. My oldest is dyslexic, but he has found a hero in Rick Riordan and can't get enough. My oldest daughter has barely reached a phase where she acknowledges she can read books longer than 70 pages. Fairy books are her thing, lately.

Basically, I guess I'm wondering how much of this I can reasonably take credit for? :) It happens, but it's by no means commonplace, for authors to turn out kids who are also authors. But, Daniel writes brilliant stuff, and even my beautiful, genius stepdaughter (now in college and has never lived with us longer than 4 weeks at a time) has written a novel and come to me for publishing advice.

Check out this LINK to my personal mommy blog where I share Daniel's poem that he wrote last week. I've never even thought of describing the journey of a paper airplane with such vivid enjoyment.

For the record, I always tell the kids I will support each one of their dreams--within reason. I want them to do what they love in life, provided "being a bum" and living in mom's basement is not their life's goal. :)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

E-books and Editing

I'm really getting into this e-book thing.  I love being able to find free or less expensive books at the touch of a button.  What's even better is that I don't have to leave my house or search aisles and aisles of books to find what I'm looking for.  I simply click and start reading.  I didn't think I would like e-books.  I was reticent to even try them, but try them I did and now I'm in love.  Now don't get me wrong, I still love to hold a real book and see it's beautiful spine on my shelf.  But with e-books, I can read a book and then decide if it's one I want on my bookshelf at home.  I don't have an e-reader, I have an iPad.  I enjoy it because I can download the apps to all the bookstores including Borders, Nook, and Kindle.  I also discovered that Deseret Book just launched their own bookshelf app as well.  The e-store hasn't launched yet, but the bookshelf came with eight free books right off the bat!  I'm not sure how people with e-readers would access this app, but for those that don't live near any Deseret Bookstores, this new app could really be convenient. 
Now on to another train of thought.  My friend Sarah Eden has a podcast with Robison Wells and Marion Jensen called "The Appendix".  I was listening to one of their podcasts about self publishing.  And since our blog will be self publishing an anthology soon, (featuring YOU!). I thought I needed to pay special to it.  The one thing that stood out to me when they talked about self-publishing (and e-publishing) is that the editing needs to be good.  They even suggested that you may want to spend the money on professional editing services.  I'll get to that later.  But I thought about my Nanowrimo book I wrote this past November and how daunting the task of editing feels.  I'm much better at helping other people fix their books than I am at fixing my own.  It's been difficult for me to even begin.  This is where a wonderful writer's group comes in.  My local ANWA chapter had Aprilynne Pike, author of "Wings", (which is free on e-book format for a limited time!  I've seen it on both Nook and Kindle!) come talk to us about editing.  She showed us the edits her editor sends and even showed us a manuscript that had edits in the margins.  It was interesting to see that the editor first sends pages of suggestions before she ever starts with inline edits.  I asked April how I could apply this to my own edits.  She said that after working with her editors these past few years she has learned a new method for her editing process.  She writes the outline, then writes the book.  After the book is written she checks it against the outline and makes any changes.  Then she reads her book and without making a single change, she takes notes.  Hmmm, that sounds kind of easy to me.  You mean the first step is just reading my book and taking notes?  It sounds simple enough for even me!  Then she takes the notes and categorizes them by things such as voice, plot, character development, etc.  When she goes back through her story, she checks off each bullet point as she completes it, then she does it again if needed.  This system really sounds like something I can do and I dove right in.  I have already read my story while taking notes.  Now I will be writing an outline (because I'm a panster and don't start with silly things like outlines!).  I will be categorizing my bullet pointed notes as well.  For the first time ever, I'm actually excited about editing a book!  I can visualize the final product and am ready to do the work to get my book there!  I don't know yet if I want to e-publish or traditional publish, but the step of editing is necessary in both choices. 
I'm excited to edit my book and get it to a product that I will be very proud of.  Once I do that, I will have to decide if I will send it to agents or think about e-publishing.  If I do entertain e-publishing, I think I will want to pay for editing services to help me polish my book.  One such service that I know of is Precision Editing services.  Heather B. Moore is one of the founders of this service and other LDS women are part of it as well.  Do you know of any other editing services out there?  What services would you pay for if you were e-publishing?  What system do you have for editing?  I really would like to get a discussion going, for some reason I'm missing all my virtual friends and need some stimulating conversation!  So be sure to drop me a line in the comments!  Oh, and I can't wait to see all the stories you will all be submitting really soon!  Be sure to pass along the contest to all your writing friends!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Electronic Publishing: Single Channel

Morning, all! I would have written this last night, but I was up making Butter Bars for my hubby to take to work and then I wrote before crawling into bed around 1:30 am. Then I woke up at 5:30 when my youngest threw up and whimpered in misery for the next two hours. Yeah. Been one of those days, and it's only 7:56 here.

Enough about my woes. Let's discuss Single channel e-pubbing.

If you've been following the market at all, then you've got a pretty good idea as to what e-pubbing is: the release of your work in digital format through a single venue. And you can probably name the leaders off the top of your head.

Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing
Barnes and Noble pubit!
Google ebookstore
Scribd

Each have their advantages and disadvantages (Google is dealing with lawsuits right now), but the basics remain the same.
1. This option is absolutely free. They offer you nothing but a platform and online store for your work.
2. Your royalty is typically 70-85% of your book price, which you set.
3. You have to all the work to transfer and format your work to their unique requirements (and they're all unique).
4. You have to design your own cover, as well as doing all the editing and polishing yourself.
5. You can pull your work at anytime if you get a deal with a traditional publisher, or you just want to do something different.
6. There is no exclusivity agreement--you can publish in one or all of these places.

I hope this series of articles is as helpful to you as it is for me. I've started thinking that publishing a series of short stories I have via ebook would be a good option for me.

Next week we'll talk about e-pubbing on multiple channels, and give you a few questions to think about when you are deciding what road to follow.

By the way, comments on any of my posts the last couple of weeks and today count towards our mini contest!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Toaster Lesson

I knew it was Tuesday, really I did.
The entire day went by in usual Tuesday fashion, you know, slightly less outrageous than Monday. 
At one point I even remember wanting to read the MMW post for the day.
Hmmm. You think it would have hit me then. Tuesday, MMW -my day to post!

Anywaaaay-at least the day is not over.
And I can share my toaster lesson.
I'm not even making this up.
If you don't know by now, I have a thing for Thomas' English Muffins. It's probably the nooks and crannies. That and the real butter I put on them. So most mornings, the toaster and I get along great. Only today, I put the English Muffins in, pushed the plunger (is that the name of it?) and nothing. It didn't stay down, no little blue light came on the side. And certainly no heat came on to toast. That didn't stop me. I kept pushing the tabby-thing down. Once, twice, third time's a charm, right? No. Not even close. I pushed it probably seven more times before the thought registered, It's not working. I'm not sure how many more times I tried because I wasn't counting, but I kept at it, to get it to come to life. Finally, I wiggled the plug, and then held the plug a certain way and what do you know, it worked. I made a mental note to put new toaster on the list. Although, it will probably take me many more days of that routine before I really break down and go buy one. Toasters have a personality and I'm not happy about needing a new one and having to get to know its quirks. Silly, isn't it? I know. But it did get me thinking. I was in denial for a long time, pushing that plunger down and thinking it was going to work. I had to have the realization that it wasn't working before I tried other measures to finally get it to work. I wondered about the other areas of my life where I could do the same thing -like when I put on the same pair of jeans that don't fit (should probably cut back on the real butter I mentioned earlier) and thinking that any day, I'll actually be able to button them. Ha! Or how about asking an unnamed child to pick up toys, as I pick them up myself. If I stop to admit it isn't working, I might be able to change my approach. And finally, I thought of writing. Sometimes my tried and true methods of writing don't produce the results I hoped for and I have to be willing to admit it, change and even learn new skills. Sounds tedious, but what's the alternative? Standing at the counter, staring at cold toast. Not pretty. 

Well, that's my Tuesday. With my toaster malfunction, no wonder I forgot what day it was.
Happy Writing.

Monday, April 11, 2011

How My Son Learned to Enjoy the Scriptures

When I started reading the scriptures to my son, I'd read only a verse or two. His mind was on more important things like pulling on his baby sister's limbs and what can I eat next? After our very succinct scripture reading, I'd repeat the verses in a way a four year-old might understand. (After awhile, he caught on and started interrupting my reading with, "Yes, but what does it MEAN?)

Lately I've found a great online tool that has sparked his interest in the scriptures much better than his boring mom ever did. Remember the scripture storybooks we read as children? There are now narrated videos on lds.org you can watch with the storybook pictures. My son loves it. He's always excited to watch another, and he's learning his stories.

Now this fascination with scripture stories is a blessing to see, but er...it's not so much Moses or Nephi or Captain Moroni that he cares for.

No. It's the...

River of Blood!
Goliath!
Laman and Lemuel!
Evil King Noah!
Korihor!

You get the picture. Whenever I pick out a new story, he asks, "Are there BAD GUYS in it?" Yes, my son only cares for the bad guys in the scriptures, and I can only hope it is not because he wants to emulate them.

Whatever gets him reading the scriptures, right?

(You can also find pages from the storybooks at the same link. Really, if you get started you will find an explosion of tools for your children on lds.org. Some of you may already know this, but as a not-yet seasoned mom, the children's side of our church's website is still pretty new and exciting to me.)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

You are Not Alone

source


"There are those among you who, although young, have already suffered a full measure of grief and sorrow. My heart is filled with compassion and love for you. How dear you are to the Church. How beloved you are of your Heavenly Father. Though it may seem that you are alone, angels attend you. Though you may feel that no one can understand the depth of your despair, our Savior, Jesus Christ, understands. He suffered more than we can possibly imagine, and He did it for us; He did it for you. You are not alone."

Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Your Happily Ever After," Ensign, May 2010, 126 

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Wild Queen

by Cheri Chesley

The Wild Queen is the brand new ebook I'm offering as part of the prize package for our CONTEST! I'm launching this ebook right around the first of May 2011.

Here's a little about the story: Roweena is the crown princess of Norvallen, a tiny kingdom with only one thing of value—the Healer’s Grove. The trees in this small section of forest are enchanted, giving a sap that can be mixed into potions or salves to heal almost any wound.

And it’s in high demand.

Lucien, the young king of neighboring Demarde, comes to Roweena’s father seeking an alliance, but comes away with a marriage contract for young Roweena’s hand. Furious and stubborn, this untamed beauty vows he will never conquer her. But the contract purposely gives her time to come to terms with her fate.

It gives her too long. Before Lucien can return, Roweena’s home is attacked and her parents are murdered. The Healer’s Grove is also attacked—burned to the ground. With nothing more than her horse and the clothes on her back, Roweena goes to the only person she knows can help her. Lucien. But he can do nothing with no legal claim to Norvallen, so they marry.

Lucien and his army destroy the invaders and rescue what remains of Roweena’s people. He then makes Norvallen a part of his kingdom, but separate, ruled by a man Lucien trusts who answers only to him.

Roweena tries to carve a piece of life out for herself in Demarde, but her wild ways often clash with Lucien’s calm, reasoning manner. They have a son, Gregory, and then a daughter, Falina. When Roweena is pregnant for the third time, she vanishes. Speculation runs rampant. Was she kidnapped, fallen victim to a mysterious enemy? Or did she run away?

Aside from being an incredibly fun and entertaining story, The Wild Queen is something of a study on what creates a tyrant. Gregory has become one of my most popular characters, and several readers have expressed an interest in his past. And, of course, you can give the credit for my amazing cover to Deirdra Coppel.

Remember that comments on this post will count toward your points tally for the mini-contest, and put you in the running for prizes! Good luck everyone. :)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Guest post...sort of!!

Hi all!  Today Jenni James guest posted for us...on the wrong page!  LOL!  No big deal, just go to our "Where MMW's Hang" resource page and scroll down.  There you will be serenaded by the wonderful Jenni James, you will be glad you went!!  Be sure to check it out!!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

"Free" Service PODs

This week I wanted to talk a little bit about "free" service PODs. I say free in quotes because this is still a business. They are still going to require some money to produce your book. However, if you're willing to do most, if not all the work yourself, you could see your book in print for less than other POD options.

It's very similar to the types of companies and programs I talked about last week, but these same companies, plus a few others have options that allow you to choose the help that you want, a la carte. So if you want editing, you can purchase just that.

Along with the things to consider that I included with the previous post, a couple other things are:

1. This is not really "free". It give you the option of picking and choosing the kind of help you are willing to pay for. It still could cost hundreds or thousands of dollars to go this route.

2. This has the lowest royalties of all the options, except for the "full service" POD. It still has more of a possible return than than traditional publishers, however.

Here is a brief (but not exhaustive) list of full service and "free service" companies if you want to do some more research on your own:

FULL SERVICE
AuthorHouse
Balboa Press
WestBow Press
Abbott Press
Outskirts Press

FREE SERVICE
CreateSpace
Lulu.com
Amazon POD

There is also another option, called Lightning Source which has none of the stigma attached to self publishing. Lightning Source is a company used by traditional publishers for print on demand services. If you can be a complete professional and still willing to do most of the work yourself, Lightning Source is the cheapest option of all the POD companies, minus any negative impressions about your work.

Next week we'll dig into the ebook single channel world!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

(Semi) Personal Thoughts on General Conference

by Tamara Passey

I do two things when I watch General Conference. (Okay maybe more than two if you count helping a five year old stay reverent for hours.) First, I listen for ideas that come to my mind in relation to what is being said. Ideas or thoughts that usually nudge me in a direction I need to be going. Of course I pay attention to the suggestions and counsel of each talk, but I’m usually on the lookout (well, in an internal hearing kind of way) for how to apply it personally to my life.

The second thing I do is pay attention to anything I hear that, (how do I say this?) doesn’t sit well with me –at first.  Are you gasping? Yes, I have heard things from time to time during General Conference that AT FIRST I didn’t understand, wondered why it was being said, or most often, made me uneasy because I knew I needed to change. *sigh* (If you know me and my faults, maybe you are thinking how I could be ‘uneasy’ through all of conference!) Anyway, what I’ve learned to do with the messages, sometimes a sentence, that get my attention –is hang on to them. I make them a matter of prayer. I ponder them. I reread the talk to make sure I understand the context. I take an honest look at why I feel the way I do. I am humbled by how many times this has helped me change. In needed and important ways.

So this post is not going to detail my weaknesses or divulge all my ah-ha moments –blogs are personal, but not THAT personal. But I did want to share what I was thinking during Elder Christofferson’s talk and I thought that having some background—it might make more sense.

If you didn’t see it or hear it, here it is.

Around the 2.40 mark he says this,
"There is an attitude and practice we need to adopt. . . It is this: willingly to accept and even seek correction.”
Did you catch that? EVEN SEEK correction? Yowzers! I’m sure I looked calm sitting with my family, but I got shaky at the thought of seeking correction, you know what I mean? My thoughts raced along something like this. “Oh, I can accept correction. I know I need all the help I can get. Wait, did he just say, SEEK it? Isn’t that asking for trouble? I mean if I go asking for correction won’t I have a whole lot more criticism/advice/suggestions than I can handle? I don’t see why I have to seek it.” 

So there is it was. One little phrase inside a sentence that had me fluttering with protest. Once I realized I was resisting it, I quickly made a mental note, and followed the pattern mentioned above. By sundown of that day, I had a new thought.
            “So why are you worried about seeking correction? Isn’t that what you do with your writing? You want your writing to be the best it can be so you ASK for help, you want people to critique it.”
            Of course, asking for correction about the way I live my life might be a little harder. But eternally more important.

So I’m grateful today for my love of writing and the hard work it takes to get better at it, and how that process has helped me be a little less scared at accepting and even seeking correction in real life (you know, because writing is all make believe!) And I’m sharing this today because I thought maybe some fellow writers out there might be able to relate.


Monday, April 4, 2011

Whose Name We Bear

by Jessie Oliveros

I hope everyone had a great General Conference weekend! I always feel so spiritually renewed after listening to General Conference. There is also this wonderful spiritual energy knowing that Saints all over the world are listening to the same talks and feeling the same Spirit at the same time.

A couple members of my family were lucky enough to attend the Saturday morning session at the Conference Center. I wish I could have been there, but I am so grateful that I can listen to General Conference in my own living room. Plus, all those conference talks I missed because my children were screaming or I was feeding them or putting my baby down for naps (or um, dozing off myself which may have happened once)...well, I can watch them on the Internet. How blessed we are by technology!

I always love Elder Uchtdorf's talks, and this time was no exception. I took a few notes, and what really stood out to me were his words on sharing the gospel. He said (approximate quote) "Testimony of truth is given to those that share it." I KNOW there is much room for my testimony to grow, and I think that this is an essential ingredient that I've often left out. To be honest, I'm afraid of sharing because I'm afraid of how people will take it. But Elder Uchtdorf said that we shouldn't be wary of sharing our testimony because we have a GLAD message, a message of JOY.

We do have a joyful message! Sometimes I forget this...even for my own benefit. I forget to take joy in what I know, which is amazing and eternal and beautiful.

He also spoke of true discipleship, of remembering whose Name we bear. Which is really behind everything we do and stand for...including what we do on our blogs and in our writing. Sometimes it seems easy to just read and write and say what is trendy in our chosen calling as writers, but how then do we stand apart? Without Christ, our gifts are nothing--dust. Let us not forget whose Name we bear!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

It's a CONTEST!


Seriously, this is like the longest blog post EVER. But it is well worth your time. Stick it out and keep reading through to the end!
We have been really excited at Mormon Mommy Writers to see our Followers growing. In the last few months we’ve passed the 200 mark! Hopefully, this means that you guys find something of value in our daily posts (even if it is a good laugh at our attempts to sound knowledgeable).
Because of this we wanted to do something special. Something to show our readers (you) how much we appreciate your support. So....we are going to hold the first ever (and hopefully first annual) Mormon Mommy Writers Fiction Contest. You heard right, folks. We’re holding a super-duper fiction contest!
Hurry and get your excited screaming out of the way and then I’ll continue.


.......
Okay, have you contained your excitement?
Good. First things first. The fiction contest will run from today, April 2, through May 31. Submissions will be accepted until midnight, mountain standard time, on May 31. Winners will be announced June 15.
Be prepared to get even more excited. The culmination of this contest is the publication of an ebook. That’s right. You could see your writing in digital print! We will guarantee the top three winners a spot in the ebook. And, depending on the quality and quantity of submissions, we will select more to be included in the compilation. But we’ll get into those details with another post.
Before I get to the technical stuff let’s cover what the prizes are: 


1st Place--The first place winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card and three ebooks in addition to a copy of the upcoming MMW ebook Totally Cliché.


2nd Place--The second place winner will receive a $20 Amazon gift card and two ebooks in addition to a copy of the upcoming MMW ebook Totally Cliché.


3rd Place--The third place winner will receive a $15 Amazon gift card and one ebook in addition to a copy of the upcoming MMW ebook Totally Cliché.


**All other submissions accepted for inclusion in the compilation will receive a free copy of the MMW ebook Totally Cliché.
Now that you’re excited (and I’ve got your attention) let’s get down to business. Here’s the contest breakdown: (Warning, it’s long.)


1.  Our theme will be Totally Cliché. What this means is we want you to go out there and have some fun with one or more of the many banned writing clichés out there (you know, the things agents and publishers supposedly hate). For example you could begin your story with “It was a dark and stormy night.” Or, your hero could be “tall, dark, and handsome.” You get the picture. The more creative your spin on the cliché the better your chances (though good writing will always win the day). Pick any cliché you like and have fun!


2.  The word count is 3500 or less. This count includes body, title and author’s name. 3500. No more. Not a word.


3.  Content must be clean. We will be the first to admit that this is completely subjective. Our version of clean may not reflect yours. So here’s a general rule of thumb:  No swearing. No gratuitous sex (never thought I’d post that line). No vulgar romantic stuff. And no graphic violence. The characters DO NOT have to be LDS. We’re open to a lot. Just make the content clean. Show us how creative you can be. Warning: any attempt to glorify inappropriate behavior, for example drug use, will get you booted from the contest.


4.  Every writer is welcome to submit up to two stories.


5.  There are no professional restrictions. This means entries will be accepted from both published and unpublished authors alike. Everyone will be judged on the same things so make sure your work shines! 


6.  Any and all submissions must be the original work of the submitter. By entering the contest, each participant accepts responsibility for any liability incurred by false claims of authorship. (Technical enough for ya?) Submissions cannot be previously published anywhere, including online, and cannot be subject to publishing rights from other parties.


7.  The big question: Who can submit? Answer: Anyone. That’s right, even those of you with a Y chromosome are welcome to enter your work (i.e. men). Really, we hope that you do! Religious affiliation does not matter and will have no bearing on the judging. Anyone and everyone who feels inclined to participate is welcome to do so. Don’t let our name stop you.


8.  Judging will be done by the seven contributors of this blog.


9.  Stories selected for the compilation are subject to first publishing rights only. We reserve the right to include the work in unlimited ebook sales with no hold beyond that. Since we can’t guarantee any sales of this compilation anymore than we can guarantee a profit beyond our incurred expenses, there will be no compensation beyond the prizes listed above, monetary or otherwise.
Guidelines for Submitting
1.  Submissions should be emailed to: mormonmommywriters@gmail.com
2.  The subject line should read Totally Cliché.
3.  The top of the email should look almost EXACTLY like this:
Fanny Price (Your name)
fprice@janeausten.com (Your email address)
fannywrites.blogspot.com (Your web or blog address---if you have one)
Word Count
Cliché(s) you are using
4.  Below your personal information, paste (do not attach) your submission. Please include the title and author name before the body of the story.





Contest within a Contest
To help spread the word we are going to hold a little mini contest along with the fiction contest. The winner of this contest will get a $10 gift card to Amazon. Sound good?
To enter this contest do one or more of the following—the more you do the more points you earn and the better your chance of winning:

1.  Paste the contest button on your blog. (You can find it in this post and on the sidebar--to your right.)

2.  Become a follower.

3.  Comment about the contest on Facebook.

4.  Tweet about the contest.

5.  Write a post about the contest.

6.  Comment on any or some or all of the posts about the contest. (There will be multiple posts throughout the contest period so you have lots of chances.)

7.  Like us on Facebook.
It’s simple to enter. But you must let us know in a comment what you’ve done so that we can check. If you don’t tell us, we won’t know and you won’t be entered. If you’re already a follower or you already like us on Facebook that will count in your favor so long as you let us know. At midnight on May 31 we will tally the points and hold a drawing. The winner will be announced on June 1.

•••••••••
So, that’s the gist of our contest in several, rather large, nut shells. Through the following weeks we will take you on the journey with us from researching ebooks to the actual digital publication. We know the self-publishing route is a hot topic right now. A lot of writers are taking into consideration this new possibility and we’d like the opportunity to educate not just ourselves but our readers as well. So, stick with us as we explore this new and exciting digital world!


Now go start writing! This is the chance to indulge your secret love of clichés. Why wait?

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