Monday, December 27, 2010

Writing Is An Adventure

This week's writing quote is:

"Writing is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public."
- Winston Churchill

This writing quote was taken from The Write Planner, a day planner designed for writers. To learn more about The Write Planner, click here.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Time To Write

This week's Writing Quote:

"Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, 
I don't feel I should be doing something else."
- Gloria Steinem

Is that how you feel about writing?

For me: Not usually.

I always feel like I should be doing something else. Even when I'm working on the very thing I should be doing. There is just so much to do!

Unfortunately, writing usually falls pretty far down on the priority list. I hope to change that soon. (You know - New Years Resolutions and all....)  ;)

But one thing is for sure. When I do actually write, I feel successful. Even if I've only written garbage, I wrote!

I love the feeling of creation that comes with writing. I love the sense of accomplishment.

I love writing!  So why don't I do it more often?

This writing quote was taken from The Write Planner, a day planner designed for writers. To learn more about The Write Planner, click here.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Talent or Guts?

Today's Quote of the Week is:

"Talent is helpful in writing, 
but guts are absolutely necessary."
- Jessamyn West

So many of us are held back by our own feelings of inadequacy. We think, "We're not smart enough. We're not good enough. We're not talented enough." And we may not be. Yet.

But that's not all that matters!

Sure, it's helpful.

But having guts in this business is a necessity. It's a tough world. To quote Sarah M. Eden (from my interview on her blog last Friday) "I decided to become a writer because ninja was just too easy."

First, you have to have guts to put your thoughts on paper. Next, it takes guts to let anyone actually read what you've written. Then when you're ready, you have to face the world of rejection from agents, editors, and publishers. And after all that, when you've finally made it in the writing world, when you finally have that New York Times' Bestselling Novel, you have to face the criticism of your beloved readers. Because lets face it, not everyone will love your book. And that's okay. More people will love it!

So go ahead. Put yourself out there. Prepare to be rejected. It takes guts.

Do you have guts?

This writing quote was taken from The Write Planner, a day planner designed for writers. To learn more about The Write Planner, click here.

Friday, December 10, 2010

I Need Friends Friday - My Interview

Today I am featured on Sarah M. Eden's weekly interview: I Need Friends Friday.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I Smell Bacon. Still.

Last night I used a new recipe for Potato Soup. One of the ingredients was freshly cooked bacon. So I bought bacon, which I don't do very often.

And now I remember why.

I hate cooking it. Don't get me wrong, I love eating it, but cooking it is another story.

The smoke. The splatters. The smell.

After the bacon was done I used some of the reserved grease to cook the chopped onions in. Let me just tell you, those two ingredients together nearly did me in. I'm surprised I still have paint on my walls.

When I came downstairs this morning I could still smell bacon. And when I smelled my hands, I could still smell onions. I think I've finally got rid of the onion smell, but even this afternoon, almost 24 hours later, my house still wreaks of bacon.

I've heard before that eating too much bacon can clog your arteries. Is it possible that the smell of bacon can clog your sinus's? Because I think that's what happened here.

At least the soup was good. But I may reconsider the recipe next time, and use pre-cooked bacon and minced onion instead.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Quote of the Week

Today's writing quote of the week is:

"A writer is someone who can make a riddle out of an answer."
- Karl Kraus

Some writers know how their book will end before they even write the beginning. Some figure it out as they go. But one thing is for sure. It's not nearly as exciting to know that "Sally" did it, if we don't get to read the how, why and when. The riddle is the good part. The answer is just the perk at the end.

I just finished re-reading The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas. This is a great example of making a riddle out of an answer. We know very early that Edmond Dantes was wrongly imprisoned, and that he wants vengeance. But watching the story unfold and discovering his complicated means of achieving that vengeance is the exciting part.

I know how my work in progress will end, but I'm still not sure how the middle of the story will go. I get to discover it as I go. Hopefully sooner than later!

This writing quote was taken from The Write Planner, a day planner designed for writers. Learn more about The Write Planner here.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

It's Days Like These...

It's winter in Utah. Even if the calendar doesn't say so, twenty inches of snow does! It's cold. The roads are bad. Most of the time I just hide out at home. But even home is lacking a few of my dream necessities.

It's days like these that make we wish for three things.

  1. A fireplace. I want to sit next to it, curled up in a blanket while reading a good book. I've got the blanket. I've got the book. I don't have the fireplace.
  2. A big bathtub. You know, one for normal size people, not kids under five years old. I want to actually be able to lie down in it. That would be great. Oh, and the water needs to be hot. I mean, almost scalding. That would also be great.
  3. Finally, an in-home-at-my-beck-and-call masseuse. I shoveled so much snow yesterday that my arms and hands were numb. Not from cold, but from overuse. I could barely hang up the laundry after dinner last night. Today, when I woke up I could barely move. My arms. My back. My neck. Even my legs! Ummm... Ouch!
Maybe I'll write to you-know who.

Dear Santa,

I've been really good this year. At least, I've tried. I tried not to laugh during that over-acted roll play training meeting. I tried not to eat all the chocolate in a three mile radius from my house. I tried not to neglect my kids while I finished "one more chapter". See list above for my heart's desires.


I fear his reply would be something like this:

Dear Kim,

I received your letter of request for Christmas. I've reviewed your actions for the past year. I've come to the conclusion that I will be filling your request, at least in part. You've asked for much. Personally, I think you're being a little greedy. I'll tell you what. You get your own bath tub, and I'll send some bath salt. You get your own massuese and I'll take advantage of a nice massage when I'm there on Christmas Eve dropping off your coal (that goes in the fireplace you are in charge of getting yourself).

How does that sound?

Have a Merry Christmas. (Try harder next year.)


Monday, November 29, 2010

The Write Planner - Special Offer

I've had a great beginning with my new product,

The Write Planner

and want to give a special thank you to all those who helped me spread the word.

Thank you!!

My resources only get me so far, but you've helped me extend my reach.

If you haven't heard about The Write Planner yet, listen up!

It's a day planner designed especially for writers. It includes:

  1. Sturdy Cover with inside pocket
  2. Weekly motivating quotes
  3. Full 2011 Yearly calendar
  4. Monthly Calendars
  5. Weekly layouts with daily goals
  6. Monthly writing goals
  7. Card stock dividers
  8. NaNoWriMo tracking sheet
  9. Track your progress
  10. Visual progress bars
  11. New contacts
  12. Critique group info
  13. Notes
  14. Upcoming conferences (blank)
  15. Built-in Ribbon bookmark

Check out my website, Writer Remedies and see sample pages here.

As a special offer, if you order before November 30th, 2010, in addition to the full 2011 planner, you'll get the month of December 2010,  included for free. That way you won't have to wait until the new year to organize your writing.

I only have 12 more of these special edition planners left in stock, in the following color options:

  • (5) Blue
  • (3) Green
  • (2) Tan
  • (2) Cream

Get one as a gift and one for yourself! (Especially since shipping is the same amount whether you buy 1 or 2 planners!)

Included in the planner are weekly quotes from famous authors to motivate and inspire you, and sometimes just make you laugh. This week's quote is,

"I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, 
and took out a comma. 
In the afternoon I put it back again."  
- Oscar Wilde

Sunday, November 28, 2010

I'm Finally Beginning to Understand.

Now that the holiday season is officially upon us, it's time to get down to business. For the first time in my life, I took advantage of Black Friday. When I heard that Walmart was opening at midnight I decided it would be easier to stay up late than wake up early. I waited on my couch reading a book while watching a movie (not sure why I was doing both) until 11:30. I figured it was close enough, so I headed out.

What a Joke!


I didn't know that many people lived in Utah. The parking lot (which is quite large) was full.

Completely full.

A miracle happened and a car backed out (someone who had decided it wasn't worth it) and I got their spot.

I noticed that the doors to the store must have been opened early, because no lines were gathered outside in the freezing air.

Lucky me. (I thought.)

While walking into the store I passed another woman who was leaving, while muttering under her breath that it was definitely not worth it.

I should have listened. But I was on a mission.

I rounded the corner and immediately I saw what I was searching for. A young woman was holding the very cowboy doll (Woody from Toy Story) I wanted.

I looked around for more.

She had the last one.

I looked down, searching for the companion doll that was even more of a necessity than the first. But there were NO JESSIE DOLLS!

While I searched the young woman standing next to me set the Woody doll down and walked away. Before she'd taken two steps I snatched it up, holding it close to me.

But what about Jessie?

I wandered the store for a half-hour looking for her. It still wasn't even midnight, but lines had formed at the registers, continuing all the way to the back of the store. I looked everywhere. I sqoze between carts, people, racks and shelves. Several times I looked down and saw her in other people's carts.

That's when it hit me. I finally began to understand all the stories about people fighting like crazy animals over silly little toys.

They had what I wanted. No, what I needed. How could I not get it for my sweet little daughter? It's all she's asking for. She can't wait to see Santa, so she can tell him she wants a "Big Jessie". (The one she has now is about two inches tall.)

And I didn't get there soon enough. I failed.

Inside my head I joked to myself about elbowing the woman next to me, grabbing Jessie and making a run for it. Surely I could run faster than her, right? I could blend in with the crowd!

But of course I didn't give into such foolishness. I waited in line for an hour and a half to buy the one I did get. Then I went back again at 7:00 in the morning. Still, no Jessie.

I sent my husband back in the afternoon. And I went again on Saturday.

I still don't have. But I will get her! I'll pay full price for her too, when I do find her. And on Christmas morning I'll see the light come into my daughter's eyes when she sees the Big Jessie popping out of the top of her stocking.

I'm not sure if I'll do Black Friday next year or not. I guess that depends on how bad I want to make my kids happy. If I do, I will certainly be going earlier!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Praise For The Snow Plow

You know the story. You spend an hour of back-breaking labor shoveling your sidewalk and driveway only to go inside and have the snow plow come and block it again with a two feet tall wall.

Happens every time, right?

Not in this story.

My husband had just finished the driveway. He was about to go inside when the plow turned onto our street. He braced himself to re-clear the driveway.

The snow plow passed and as expected, blocked the driveway. But instead of continuing on his way, he came back, adjusted the plow and CLEARED IT FOR US!

Have you ever heard of such a thing?

I haven't.

Until now.

So today I'm singing praise for the snow plow!

To snow plow drivers every where: Thank you.

Thank you for making the roads safe for us. Thank you for working through the night. Thank you for putting up with complaints that you're not fast enough, and that you throw salt on our cars.

I think you're wonderful!

Thank a snow plow driver today. Thank any and everyone today. Be thankful for all you have been blessed with.

And have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010

You Know You're At Grandma's When...

We recently got back from a trip to see my husband's grandpa (92) and grandma (84). They are both in good health and enjoy seeing their grandkids. But lets face it, they enjoy their great-grandkids even more.

And you know you must be at Grandma's house when she showers your kids with presents.

Like a talking Teddy Bear.

And a harmonica.

(The ride home was so much fun!)

But the kids loved them. So I'm happy.

Another sign you must be at Grandma's? When you arrive at 2:00 in the afternoon and the table is already set for dinner. A wonderful, homemade dinner of rolls, jello salad, a veggie tray, green beans cooked with bacon, and scalloped potatoes with cubed ham. Oh, and dessert!

Dessert consisted of little bowls of ice cream and homemade cookies. Last time we visited we had the same dessert. Is that a generation thing, or just this grandma?

The next morning Grandma apologized for only serving us cold cereal. Of course there were three kinds to choose from. Plus orange juice, raisin toast, apples and bananas.

And the final sign that proves you're at Grandma's house? When she tries to pour the milk (from the store-bought container) into a pitcher for the table.

I convinced her that was not necessary.

But it did make me smile.

Only at Grandma's!

They live about 3-1/2 hours away. Most of the drive was pleasant (well, except for that harmonica!). Traffic was calm until the final hour as we drove into the city. It's my least favorite part of a trip.

The re-entry.

With semi-trucks on all sides we all managed to all stay in our own lanes, though some cars just barely.

We got stuck behind one particular car that didn't think they needed to drive the speed limit. (Just to be clear, the roads were dry, the weather was clear.) It took a few minutes before we could pass, but as we did we got a good laugh.

On the side of the car was a giant size logo that read ASAP.

Hmmm.  Did someone change that to mean As Slow As Possible, and not send me the memo?

Friday, November 19, 2010

And the Winners are:

Thank you all for your participation in my giveaway for The Write Planner.

I hope to continue to spread the word.

I hope writers everywhere will find it helpful.

But now, the winners!

The winner of The Write Planner is: Okie

The winner of the non-writer prize goes to: Andrea

Congratulations to you both!

Last Day To Enter

Today is the final day for The Write Planner giveaway! I'm away from my computer until later, so this post is coming from my phone, and I don't know how to link to the contest post. But look at Mondays post (November 15th), and comment there for a chance to win!

One winner gets The Write Planner (your choice of color). Another winner, for those of you who are not writers, gets a copy of Annette Lyon's newest book

Chocolate Never Faileth
(a chocolate cookbook)

Let me know whether or not your a writer.

Good luck to you all!

I'll post the winners this evening!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I Was Going To Read It...

Many years ago while flipping through the channels I was drawn into a movie. I didn't know the name of it at first, but then found out it was called Les Miserables. I don't remember much about it, other then I liked it. Last week when the book came to my attention on Goodreads I decided I would like to read it.

That was before I picked it up from the library and realized it is 1432 pages.

Umm... maybe not.

I don't have time to make that kind of commitment right now!

So, it's going back to the library today, unread. I think I'll have to just watch the movie again. Maybe when life slows down a little (ya, right!), I can try again.

Have any of you read Les Mis?

Also, if you haven't already entered, check out my giveaway! It ends this Friday.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Introducing...The Write Planner

The wait is over! 

I'm excited to finally announce the product I've been working on for the last few months.

It's called 
The Write Planner.

What is The Write Planner? It's a day planner designed especially for writers. 

That's right, for you!
(or for that writer you know)

To celebrate the arrival of The Write Planner finally being ready, 
I'm having a give-a-way contest.

The lucky winner will receive their own copy of The Write Planner for free! 
Not a writer? Don't know a writer?
That's okay. Just let me know that in the comments,
and you'll be entered to win another (secret) prize!

Here's how to enter:
  • Visit my website. Look at the list of features. Preview the sample pages. Leave a comment telling me what color option is your favorite.
  • Blog about this contest, linking back to this post.
  • Put this contest on the sidebar of your blog.
  • Find my company (Writer Remedies) on facebook and 'like' me.
  • Post this contest on facebook, linking back to this post.

Each item will give you one entry, for a total of five entries. Tell me what you've done in the comments. 

Contest ends Friday, November 19, 2010 at 5:00 p.m. (MST).

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Mark Your Calendars...

I have a wonderful announcement!

Are you as excited as I am?


But you'll have to wait a few more days.

I'll be revealing this fun and exciting news on 

Monday, November 15th, 2010

Let me just tell you,

It's gonna be great!

If you are a writer, you won't want to miss this.

If you know a writer, you won't want to miss this.

The announcement (and contest that goes with it) will happen in

Just 5 more days....

See you all on Monday!

Friday, November 5, 2010

My First Day of Kindergarten

If you would have asked me last month when I decided to become a writer, I would have told you it started about three years ago. I went to a presentation where a local author spoke about the message in one of her books.

That's when the idea started to grow within me.

At least, that's what I thought.

A couple of weeks ago I was deep cleaning, and found a box of childhood memories. Inside that box, I found this:

My first book!

I wrote it in the fourth grade. I even won a contest with it, and got to go to the local library for an award ceremony. (Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I will admit to only remembering one other book submitted from my class, and there may have even been two awards given, but still - I won!)

Apparently I have wanted to write since I was a 10-year-old kid. Now that I've found this book, the memories are flooding back. I remember the feeling I had as I walked into the room to receive my award. I imagined dozens of people (what I now know to be called "agents") to be waiting for me, each wanting to buy my book.

I was going to be famous!

I was going to be rich!

Then reality settled in.

There were at least a hundred other kids sitting in their chairs, each having "won" their own class contest. And can you believe it, no one had to protect me from the onslaught of raving fans I was sure would pop around the corner any second....

While reading through this masterpiece, I was overwhelmed by how much I've learned in the twenty years since its publication. (And by publication, I mean my hand drawn, hand written on uneven sheets of hand cut paper.)

It's time to redeem myself. Surely this time I will be famous. Surely this time I will be rich.

Without further ado, I present:

My First Day of Kindergarten
(Type-o's, tense, and grammar errors left intact)

Hi my name is Jenny. I am 5 years old. I have lots of friends and I am a popular girl. I live in a strange pretty house.

"Jenny," your father and I talked about moving to somewhere else. she said. "Where" I demanded. Rigby. "She said" I didn't want to but I had to. The rest of the month I was  glomy.

The days past. Tomorrow was the big day. I did a lot of cleaning. I packed and gave half of my stuff away. I hated it.

I went to bed. Jenny time to get up. So I got up and finished packing. The truck got here. We put all the things in the moving van. and we said good-by to our friends and went.

I got there and I like my new house. it was pink and blue. it is very pretty. I live in a fansy place.

Jenny, we are going to start school next week my mom said. your going to be in kindergarten. "I am" I ask. Ya! said my mom. I can't wait "I said." Let's go get suplies I said.

So we went to Shopko, and got all our suplies, and then we went home. we put our name on everything.

School starts tomorrow so I went to bed at 7:00. Jenny get up school starts in 2 hours. So I got up and got in the tub.

and got in my best dress. And went Down stairs and ate

and brushed my teeth and went to school

my teacher was pretty. Her name was mrs. Rose.

Recess. Jenny, do you want to come play with me on the swings. A girl ask me. I guess. I said, and we went and played on the swings. My name is Debbie. she said. Hi Debbie I said.

The bell rang. Time Passed. Time to go home and eat. Debbie can you come to my house I ask. yes. She said. So we went to my house and she called her mom.

her mom said she could eat at my house so we had some soup.

Then we went to her house and got some milk and cookies.

And went up stairs and played Barbies and other games like
     Hid and seek
     man in the moon 
     we drew
and had fun.

I always had days like that until...Jenny, we had another talk and we desided to move to Salt lake.

here we go again, I said.

I know!

Please send fan mail via the comments section of this blog. I will await to hear from you with the patience of a 10-year-old.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

National Day on Writing

Today, October 20th, 2010, is the 2nd Annual National Day on Writing. Didn't know there was a National Day for writing? Me either. Until another writer friend pointed it out.

So, what should we do today?

Write something special! 

I, for one, am actually planning on sitting at my computer and...get this - writing something! I know, shocker. Lately writing has been something my heart yearns for but my reality says "wait until tomorrow". Well guess what? Tomorrow never comes! So I'm writing today.

You don't have to be a novelist to take advantage of todays National Day on Writing. Write a letter (or even email) to a friend or loved one. Write an article for a local newspaper or magazine. Write in your journal. Pretend you just won a Nobel Peace Prize and write an acceptance speech. 

If  you want to learn more about the National Day on Writing, visit the NCTE website.

Go. Write. Enjoy!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Pitching Your Book

First you write.
Then you re-write.
Maybe multiple times each.

But at some point, if you want to get published, you're going to have to present your book to an agent (or publisher).

You can write a query letter *shudder*, and wait to hear back, or you can try an in-person pitch.

These pitch sessions are available at most writing conferences. You pay to have a small window of time with an agent, in which you tell them about your book. At the end of your pitch session, you just might (crossing fingers!) be invited to send in your entire manuscript. But you only have 10 minutes (usually), so you've got to make it good.


My final class at the Book Academy conference covered how to do it. Author and presenter Julie Wright has five published books, including Cross My Heart, which was just released this month. She is also an editor at Precision Editing Group.

Be Prepared!
  • Finish the Book!
  • Do NOT turn in your First Draft! Remember, this is essentially a competition. You're trying to convince them why your story is better then everyone else's.
  • Have alpha readers read your book first. (Alpha, or beta, readers are just people. Have other people read it. Readers, writers, ect. Get their feedback. Fix the problems they point out.)
  • Taylor your pitch to the person your pitching to. Know what kind of books they invest in.
  • Practice Out-Loud! Don't ramble or stutter.
  • Don't forget about hygiene. Seriously? Be presentable. Brush your teeth. Eat a mint.
What to Cover:
  • Character. Who is your hero and what does he want? What is at stake?
  • Conflict. What keeps your hero from getting what he wants?
  • Setting. Insure your setting, or at least your genre, is obvious.
  • Action. Your hook-line needs to promise excitement.

Figure out how to describe your book in three sentences or less, using the four areas above.

What? Only three sentences?

Yes. But you can do it. You're a writer!

The Pitch Session:

  • Be comfortable selling yourself. Don't sell yourself short.
  • Be confident. But not cocky!
  • Don't talk bad about other authors.
  • Prove that you are different.
  • Don't get defensive.
  • Don't be hard to work with.

Four ways to be an editor's favorite author:
1. Write well.
2. Don't be a jerk.
3. Don't be a jerk.
4. PLEASE, don't be a jerk.

  • Don't forget about hygiene. Seriously? Be presentable. Brush your teeth. Eat a mint. (I know, I put this above too. But it's pretty important!)
  • End the right way. Don't overstay your appointment.
  • Get their business card.
  • If they ask for your manuscript, submit it! And when you do, remind them that you've met.
Okay, if you're anything like me, you might be feeling more intimidated about pitching your book then you were before you read this post. But that's okay. At least you'll be prepared!

Courage is being afraid, but doing it anyway!

Thanks to all the presenters at this conference, for allowing me to blog about their classes. I learned a lot, and hope someone learned something from these posts!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Self Editing

Heather B. Moore is the award-winning author of several historical fiction novels which are set in Ancient Arabia and Mesoamerica (Book Of Mormon fiction). She also has a non-fiction book called Women of the Book Of Mormon.

Heather is the owner of Precision Editing Group, and contributes to The Writing on the Wall blog. She's one busy lady. But she also knows her stuff!

I took her class on Self Editing at The Book Academy Conference.

Did you know that non-fiction sells better than fiction? I had heard that before, but kind of forgot about it. So, if your passion is in fiction, keep at it. But if you have a nonfiction idea, you may want to get serious about writing it!

Heather outlined what to do after the first draft is done.

By the First Draft Stage you should have:
  • Selected your genre and studied your target market.
  • Selected POV
  • Researched word count for genre. The first draft should be aimed for about 5,000 words under target.
After you finish the first draft,

Take a Break!

Whether this means leaving it alone for the weekend or for a month, a break is needed so you can use fresh eyes.

Now, on to the Second Draft:

Are your hooks in place?
  1. First sentence/paragraph.
  2. End of first chapter.
  3. Why should we read to the end of the book?
Dialogue Tags:
  • Use Said! (Most of the time at least.)
  • Use "he said" not "said he"
  • Delete adverbs! "She said excitedly" "She said sadly" "She said rudely"
  • Know how to use a beat. That way you can delete some of the dialogue tags all together.
He moved the chair. "Come and sit with me."

(He moved the chair is the beat. We know "he" is the one who said "come sit with me", without being told.)

  • Don't have characters repeat what has already been said. This happens a lot in introductions.
  • Do a search for "favorite words" and see if you can change some of them.
  • Be careful about overused words. Felt, saw, knew, could, that, then, ect.
  • Be careful with name calling:
"Hello Jenny, how are you?"
"I'm fine, Sara. How about you?"
"I'm doing great Jenny. Thanks for asking"
"So, Sara, do you want to grab some lunch?"
"Oh yes, Jenny. Lunch sounds wonderful."

(Lots of repetitions, lots of name calling. Yikes!)

  • Exclamation points should be used sparingly!!!!! When the person is yelling is about the only time to use them.
  • Know the basic rules of commas. (What? There are rules for commas? I thought you should just put one in every time your fingers took a break on the keyboard. Whoops! I better learn those rules!!!!) (There I go breaking the exclamation point rule again. Man!)
Power Positions and Verbs:
  • Single word sentences are okay for impact. Seriously. (But don't overuse them!)
  • Look for more accurate verbs to bring in stronger meaning.
Walked: sauntered, strolled, ambled, paced, marched, ect.
  • Flag adverbs (ly). Take out of dialogue tags completely. Find stronger verbs, so you can delete the adverb.
Instead of saying "She walked anxiously" you could say "She paced".
  • Pay attention to the use of "was" and "were". Avoid them when possible.
  • Use spell checker.
  • Have your facts straight, based on time, period, and setting. See Research Post.
  • Actions must be physically possible.
  • Use dialect lightly or it will slow the pacing (accents/ foreign language, ect.).
Point Of View (POV):
  • Choose the person with the most to loose (in that scene).
  • Watch for info dumps.
  • Is there sagging middle of the book?
  • Do you need more conflict?
  • Make sure the overall hook is strong enough.
  • Are you excited to be reading your own story? (If not, no one else will be!)
  • Every scene must move the story forward.
Sense of Place:
  • Where are we?
  • Establish setting for each scene.
  • What are the characters doing as they talk?
End-of-Chapter Hooks:
  • Read each chapter end, separate from the rest of the chapter. Does it make you want to keep reading?

Okay, now to finish my first draft so I can start applying some of these!

Thanks to Heather, for dedicating so much time to help teach the rest of us what to do! If you haven't checked out her editors blog, do it now. You'll find help on every topic you can imagine, within the writing world.

Next up: Pitching your book. (I'm scared already!)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Know What You Write

We've all heard the saying, "Write What You Know", but this one's a little different. You don't have to write what you know, as long as you know what you write. And how do you do that?


The Book Academy Writing Conference presenter Sarah M. Eden talk all about it. Sarah's the author of several romance novels based in London in the Regency Era (her most recent is Courting Miss Lancaster). Since Sarah has neither been to London, nor has she lived in the early eighteen-hundreds, she had to resort to the painstakingly grueling job of doing research. Lucky for her, and us, she loves it, and even majored in it.

Doing research can be boring. It can be intimidating. We tend to procrastinate doing it, so we can spend our time on something fun. But we have to do it.

Feel the Research Love:
  • Every book of fiction requires some research. EVERY SINGLE ONE!
  • Don't give your readers a reason to hate you, by getting things wrong.
  • You don't want to look like an idiot (who does?).
  • While researching, you just might come across ideas for another book!
Foundational Research provides background and backbone of the setting, characterization, historical/cultural content.
  • language and wording
  • knowledge base of characters
  • words they would/would not use
  • philosophies
  • world views
  • demographics
  • geography
  • feel and time of place
Itemized Research provides specifics.
  • order/location of events
  • dates/times
  • disease/injuries/treatments
  • specific procedures
  • account of events
There are two types of SOURCES.

Primary Sources (more reliable):
  • provide firsthand accounts/info
  • this includes videos and photographs
Secondary Sources (less reliable):
  • these are at least one step removed
  • textbooks, someone who heard the story, history books
When thinking about using material you found, consider a few things.
  • Read about the author. Are they qualified to teach you?
  • Look at the bibliography. It needs to site more reliable (Primary) sources.
  • Can you back it up? Find it in at least 2 different places.
Be careful about what you use from the internet.
  • digitized libraries
  • websites run by museums, libraries, special-interest organizations
  • copyrights and citations are often ignored
  • no guarantee of accuracy
If there was one thing that Sarah wanted us to remember at the end of the class, I think it would be this:

Wikipedia is NOT a source. EVER!
(seriously, she made us repeat this out loud!)

Wikipedia is a great starting place. Don't stop there!

Tips of the Trade

Plan ahead. Decide before you start what you want to know, why, where you plan to look for it.
Set aside time for researching! The research may change the outcome of the story.
Learn (from primary sources) how the people feel about what they see. Emotionally connect, so your readers will too.
Ask People who are experts on the topic you're researching.
Keep a File or resources you used in the past. Chances are good that you'll need them again.

Sarah promised that if you do your research:

Your work will improve. Guaranteed!
(Now, who doesn't want that?)

So go, research what you've been avoiding for the past six months. (I'm talking to you Kim!)

Next up: Self Editing

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I Can't Make You Be Funny!

The Book Academy Conference, continued...

Immediately following Brandon Mull's Keynote address, in which I decided I need to add more comedy to my writing, I stepped into Becca Wilhite's class. Let me tell you, she is adorable. And funny. And adorable (did I already say that?). I found myself suddenly wanting to cut my hair just like hers. That's how adorable she is.

She walked into the room with a burst of energy I can only dream about. And I do - dream about it, that is.

Becca is the author of two books (with more to come). Her first is Bright Blue Miracle, and her second is My Ridiculous, Romanic Obsessions. I have to admit that I hadn't read either of these before the class, but after meeting Becca, and seeing her personality and sense of humor, I've added them to my "To Read" list. Check out her website here.

Okay, onto the class notes.

The first thing Becca said when she walked into the room was:

"If you're not funny, I can't make you be funny."

We all laughed, and she announced that because we had, she could teach us how to use our funniness (my word, not hers. I'm not sure if is really is a word).

First thing? Read funny books! (Do you see a pattern here? Writers have to read!)

She identified Three Kinds of Humor:

  1. Silly
  2. Sincere
  3. Sophisticated
Silly humor is things like puns. She used the movie Shrek as an example.

Sincere humor is everyday funny.

Sophisticated humor is a little more complicated. First, she said you are required to be British to pull it off. (Jane Austen, for example.) This type of humor is intellectually demanding. You have to understand the back story to understand the humor. No one-liners here.

Testing your humor:
Not sure if your stuff is really funny? Test it by having three different people read it out loud to you. Not just any three people though. Becca provided a formula to make sure you cover all the basis.

Person number one: Someone who reads like you.
Person number two: Someone in your target audience.
Person number three: Someone with no sense of humor.

After listening to all three, you will have a better feel for how it reads. Did they understand? Did they laugh? Did they stare at you like you're an idiot? (That might be okay if person number three is the one staring. But on a personal note, I think you need to find someone who is more fun to hang out with.)

Sometimes swear words are used for humor. Sometimes they work. (For me, most of the time they do not.) Whenever you are tempted to use swear words, think of them as cliches. And as writers we want to avoid cliches like the plague! (Did you get that, or are you a person number three?)

Lastly, make your story funny for different age groups. If your writing children's books, add something that the parent will laugh at. If it's for adults, don't forget to include humor that a teenager will get.

For example: One of my daughter's favorite movies is Toy Story 2. She loves the part at the very end, where Jessie skateboards down the loopty-loo ramp, flies across the room, and opens the door for the dog. Buzz Lightyear watches in amazed awe, and... (do you remember?).

She laughs every time. I laugh too, because she has absolutely no idea what it means. She's three. When she's older, I won't think its funny anymore.

Check back tomorrow to learn about Research! (Seriously, come back. It's not that bad. Every writer has to do it!)

Now go. Write something funny.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Write What You Love

The keynote speaker at last weeks writing conference, The Book Academy, was New York Times Best-selling author Brandon Mull. He wrote the Fablehaven series, The Candy Shop War, and has a new series coming out soon, called Beyonders.

Since he became an author, he's become many more things. He's become a public speaker, a teacher, a reading advocate, an entrepreneur. He's in marketing. He's also a professional "liar", although he corrected himself and changed it to an illusionist. And maybe worst of all, he's become a murderer. He says it's amazing how many people come up to him disturbed, and demanding to know why he "killed so-and-so". I don't hold it against him.

Who knew that becoming an author meant doing so much more than just writing?

Brandon posed two questions that writers need to ask themselves.

First: What makes a story worth telling?

This is something inside you. You either have it, or you don't. You, the writer, has to love what you are writing. If it doesn't interest you, no one else will care either.
The Characters are the life of the story. The reader has to love (or hate) them. They can't just be there. We have to care! We need to get to know them. What do they do, how do they think? Show us their personality. Write characters you love!

What are the Relationships between your characters? Who are their friends? Family? Pets. What is the relationship between the "good guy" and the "bad guy"?

What kind of Trouble does your character get into? This is also called change/conflict, but Brandon likes the straightforwardness of the word trouble. There has to be trouble. There has to be conflict!

What Decisions will the character make? Sometimes they are good, sometimes they are bad. But they have to make decisions. They have to figure things out for themselves.

What are the Consequences of their decisions? There has to be consequences. Our characters cannot always get a free ride. (That would be boring!)

The story does not happen with the words on the page.
The story happens inside the mind of the reader!

Second: What is the best way to tell your story?

This is technique. Unlike the first question, where it resides inside of you, this can be learned. It's the rules of writing. It takes time. It takes effort.

Go to conferences. Join a critique group. Read books about writing. And maybe even more important than all of that:

Read a lot


Write a lot!

But the most important thing of all?

Write what you love!

During Brandon's speech I had to ask myself, what do I love to write? What do I love to read?

The answer?

I love to laugh. I love books that make me laugh right out loud.

Lucky for me, the workshop I attended immediately after the keynote speaker was about

Using Humor in Writing!

Check back tomorrow for that post.

Friday, October 1, 2010


Yesterday I attended the Book Academy writers conference. I suffered from a major sinus headache the entire day. It wouldn't go away! I tried to be social, to make conversation. Mostly, I failed. It's just not fun to be overly friendly when your head feels like exploding.

Besides my headache, I was freezing! Seriously, I couldn't keep the goose-bumps off my arms. I tried to suck it up, but caved while eating a cold (but delicious) salad for lunch. Off to the bookstore I went. Maybe it's a conspiracy - between the conference committee and the bookstore manager - to keep the temperature down so low.

I wonder if anyone else had to spend their novel-buying book-money on a stop-the-shivering sweatshirt? I'm now the proud owner of a UVU zip-up hoodie. At least, because of a Back To School sale, I got a $40 souvenir for only $25!

But even with a couple of personal complications, I rate the conference a success!

It was just what I needed to recharge my muse. I learned some new things. I was reminded of some things I already knew. I met a few new people. I ran into one of my cousins (in the restroom, of all places!). I even approached someone from the virtual blogging world, and introduced myself (Hi Don!).

There is nothing quite like a writers conference to lift your spirits and get you re-motivated.

And just in time too! Today is the beginning of Tristi Pinkston's quarterly writing challenge. I SO need to do this. If you want to push yourself a little this month, check it out here.

Stay tuned for more posts about the wonderful things I learned!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Carefree Drive

Today I went for a drive. It was not a "carefree drive". It was a drive filled with construction, traffic, errands, and whiney and tired children. Children who did not eat their lunch, but now complained of hunger. Children who refused to go potty before we left, only to announce they now needed to go.

There was nothing really unusual about this particular drive.

Not until I passed a neighborhood street sign that read:

"Carefree Drive".

Did you know that people actually LIVE on Carefree Drive? How great would that be!?!

I really think I must move there.

How would it be to have no worries. No cares.


Does that mean that I don't care about anyone? Does that mean that no one cares about me?

Hmmm... maybe this is not such a wonderful place to live after all.

I want to care about people. I want people to care about me.

I don't want to be Carefree!

I want to love and be loved.

I want to know sorrow and pain, so I can appreciate happiness and pleasure.

I want to fail, so I can more fully enjoy success.

I don't want to live on Carefree Drive.

But maybe a week long vacation there wouldn't be so bad!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Upcoming Book Academy Conference

As writers one of the most common things we are encouraged to do is attend writers conferences. In them we meet authors, gain knowledge, network with other writers, and get a free lunch. Okay, so we paid for the lunch in the registration fee but still!

I love attending conferences. I always promise myself that I will be outgoing. That I will seek new friends, start lively conversations, ask inspired questions, and maybe even motivate someone newer to the writing world than myself. I promise myself that I will not hide in the corner.

Easier said then done.

It's hard to meet new people. It's hard to put yourself out there. But...

It's important to do it.

And I'm going to try it again.

I'm going to the Book Academy Writer's Conference on September 30th, 2010.
It's at UVU, in Orem Utah. For details check out their website.

It's just over two weeks away. That's enough time to line up a sitter, take the day off, and enjoy a day surrounded by other writers like you.

Early registration is open until this Thursday, September 16th. The conference is only $49 until that date, then it goes up to $59.

Are any of you going? I'd love to see you there!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

And The Winner Is...

I'm a day late drawing the winner of my contest, but as they say: Better late then...

I'm thrilled with the amount of entries I had. I wish you all could have won.

However, if you're anything like me you've stopped reading by now, and are just skimming, in hopes of reading your own name.

So, without further delay - the winner is:


I'll get your winning package in the mail soon.

Thanks to everyone for making this so much fun.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Last Day to Enter

Just a reminder that today is the last day to enter my Give-a-way Contest.

Who doesn't love a new book to read,
while enjoying a luscious piece of cheesecake?


My mouth is watering, just thinking about Red Velvet Cheesecake!


Click over to my contest post, and leave me a comment.

I'll announce the winner tomorrow!

P.S. After a full 10 days, my office is STILL CLEAN!

That's gotta be a new record!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Celebrating 100 Posts

Today, we are celebrating. Why? Lots of reasons!

First: This is my 100th post on this blog. This is a feat I hoped to accomplish months ago, but...well, that didn't exactly work out.

Second: I'm back in the world of blogging. My July Hiatus took an extension, but now it's September and I'm returning. I'm not sticking to a blogging schedule like I tried previously. It was just too much pressure, and it took the fun out of it for me. No more forced blogs. If I feel like posting, I will. If not, well, there are plenty of other blogs out there for you to read. But I hope you'll still hang around.

Third: I finally managed to clean out my office. This has nothing to do with blogging or my 100th post, but it's a serious accomplishment for me, so I'm celebrating. You should see it - it looks amazing! Now to keep it that way...(ahem!)

Fourth: I missed you all. And I hope I still have readers out there. Thank you for reading. And what better way to say thank you then having a Give-A-Way?

I am giving away a copy of Rachael Renee Anderson's newest book "Luck of the Draw", along with a $10 gift certificate to The Cheesecake Factory. My recommendation for the winner: buy a delicious slice of cheesecake, take it home, hide in a closet if you must - so you don't have to share - and enjoy while reading your new book.

Leave a comment in this post if you want to enter the drawing. If you spread the word and tell me about it you'll get another entry.

Contest runs through September 10th.

I look forward to getting reacquainted! Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Official Hiatus

Okay people, I'm making it official. I can't keep up, and something's gotta give.

I'll miss you all. I hope a few of you will miss me too.

But I have too many logs on the fire this month.

It's either giving up the blog (only for the month of July) or going completely insane. (Yeah, I bet some of you would love to see that, huh?)

Have a great month, and I'll see you all in August!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Optimistic Mondays – Laugh So You Don't Cry

Lately, I've been surrounded on all sides by things I "Need To Do". I acknowledge the fact that many of them are self imposed, but that doesn't diminish the importance of getting them done. At least not for me.

I've divided my life into four quarters.
  1. Home/Family
  2. Church Responsibilites
  3. Work
  4. Writing
Each of those sections has many subsections within it. They swirl around me, each begging for proper attention, none able to get it.

It's very overwhelming, but I've chosen it. I choose to clean my home
. I choose to interact with my children. They demand to be fed, and I choose to quite them by listening.

I've chosen to accept my church calling. It takes more time/thought then I imagined it would.

My work is less of a choice than a necessity, but nonetheless I still choose to do it. Like I said above, my kids like to eat. Who am I kidding, I like to eat.

I don't always choose the story lines that pop into my head and talk to me, but I do choose to write them down. Writing is so much bigger than non-writers think. There's the actual writing. Then the rewriting/editing multiple times. I have to continually learn the craft. I have a critique group that I submit to, and critique for.

Blogging is pretty much a necessity for writers now. This means not only do I need to have my own blog, but I need to read other blogs. To network. To learn from others.

These four main sections of my life each try to take over as "the most important". It's a battle every day. Sometimes I just want to sit down and cry.

So what's a girl to do?

Sometimes, I cry. But the rest of the time I've adopted a new attitude.

When something goes wrong, instead of crying, I try to laugh it off. It doesn't always work, but most of the time it eases the tension just enough to where I can deal with it.

So, my advice to you on this Optimistic Monday?

Laugh, so you don't cry.

Happy Monday.

Friday, June 25, 2010

My Tale of Two Shoes

Random Tidbit About Me: Week 8

I can’t stand loosing things. It makes me crazy.

And I don’t like to buy shoes. I have bigger feet, and they just don’t look as cute in the bigger sizes then the cute little size 6. So I only have a limited supply of shoes. And why would I want to spend money on shoes when I could spend it on something important. Like books. Or chocolate.

Today’s post is a re-post from my other blog’s archives.

It’s a Tale of Two (lost) Shoes.

I hope you enjoy.

It began like any other Sunday morning. I was being lazy. I knew I needed to get moving so I wouldn't be running late when it was time to go to church. But knowing I should be doing something, and actually doing it, are two separate things.

After a couple hours of laziness, I hurried to get ready. I went to put my shoes on, so I could head out the door. It was then that I noticed something was missing from my closet.

My shoes!

Well, that's not entirely true. I was missing two shoes, but they were two different shoes.

I'm not like so many women out there that have seven pairs of the same black shoes. I don't really like to buy shoes, and therefore only have a bare minimum of them. I have one pair of dress shoes, and I wear them every week to church. (I need to fix that!)

Because I had spent the morning milling around I found myself rushing to get out the door. So I wasn't happy about finding only a single church shoe.

My daughter Emily has this game, where she puts anything she can find in a cupboard, or a drawer, or anywhere "hidden". She tells me it's "baking." (Thanks to the toy kitchen set at the church nursery.) Because of her game, I've found myself searching the house many-a-times for something I was missing. It always turns up, eventually.

I spent 10 minutes going through every hiding place I could think of. I was getting more frustrated by the second. I tried asking her where she had put them, but she didn't have an answer for me. (She usually does.) By this time I was late and realized I had to give up. I went back to the closet to consider my options.

The two shoes that looked back at me didn’t match…but maybe…hmmmm… No, even if I were desperate enough to try that (which, I wasn't), they were both left shoes. I've heard of people having two left feet, but come on now!

So I resorted to wearing a pair of black boots that looked ridiculous, and hoped no one would look at my feet.

After I got home my husband helped search the house again. Nothing. Nada.

I pride myself on keeping a fairly clean and organized house, and it drives me crazy to have things go missing. I finally had to give up again, because I was so annoyed about it.

Maybe the shoes decided to divorce their matching shoe companions, and run away together? I thought.

But no, it was nothing quite so exciting and scandalous. I found them both the next day, in the bottom of the dirty clothes basket, as I did the laundry.

Turns out I have to blame my son Ryan for this one, and somehow make it up to Emily for blaming her. Ryan loves to put things in the laundry. The best part is, I probably covered the shoes up myself, when I put my towel in the basket after my shower.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Book Review - Alma the Younger, by H.B. Moore

Alma the Younger is the third book in H.B. Moore's current series about Book of Mormon prophets. (Abinadi and Alma are books one and two.)

If you like Book of Mormon fiction, you'll love this book. If you've never tried it before - this is a great place to start. Alma the Younger takes place about 20 years after the second book, Alma, and the story lines are not closely tied together. So if you haven't read the first two yet, you can just dive right in to Alma the Younger. (Although you'll probably want to get a hold of the others soon, because you'll love them too.)

I've read the story directly from the Book of Mormon (several times, in fact), but I've never connected with it the way I did in Moore's telling. Immediately after finishing Alma the Younger I opened my own Book of Mormon and read the account again. This time it really meant something to me.

While Alma the Younger is a work of fiction, H.B. Moore's knowledge of the Book of Mormon and the people's culture brings the story to life in a way that connects with the reader. She takes facts from the Book of Mormon and weaves them together with fictional characters, powerful emotion, and a well written storyline.

Before I even got started on the novel, I was impressed with the message H.B. Moore delivered in the Preface:
...The question is whether Alma the Younger knew that what he was doing was wrong. Or had he been so carefully led by Satan down the path of idolatry, and an anti-Christ pattern of belief, that he truly believed he was in the right?
Another question we might entertain is how Alma the Younger could exert so much influence over people as to lead them astray from the church. The record tells us that he did "speak much flattery to the people" (Mosiah 27:8). He must have been a natural leader, charismatic and easily loved by people, with the power to persuade. His influence nearly toppled the Church in Zarahemla as he stole "away the hearts of the people; causing much dissension" (v9), so his preaching was no small thing.
In studying Mosiah 26-28, I was struck with the idea that Alma the Younger was no rebellious teenager, playing pranks or skipping Sabbath meetings to go fishing or hunting...
A final question we might ask is why the Lord saw fit to send an angel to intervene in Alma the Younger's behalf. Yes, his father and many others had been praying and fasting for him to have a change of heart. But there are many parents who pray for their errant children and angels aren't sent. This led me to believe that what Alma the Younger was doing had such grave consequences and the potential to devastate an entire nation - thus thwarting the Lord's plan - that extreme action was needed.

Alma the Younger is a great reminder of Heavenly Father's promise that through sincere repentance, all men can be forgiven, and with that forgiveness they will find a peace and joy they never knew they were missing.