Friday, April 30, 2010

Oops, I Did It Again!

For as long as I can remember, I've been a cluts. Growing up, it seems like I always had a battle wound of some kind. I have the scars to prove it.

I worry constantly about the things my children do, that will inevitably injure one or both of them. Things like jumping on the couch or spinning around until they're too dizzy to stand up. Their favorite thing lately is running back and forth toward each other, with blankets covering their heads. Um...ok?

For me, my nemesis is the stairs. I think they have it out for me. (Can I make stairs into the antagonist of my next novel? Probably not.)

I fall up the stairs. I fall down the stairs. So far I haven't fallen through any stairs, but give me time. It's bound to happen.

Last week, I tripped while going up the stairs. Our top stair is a safety hazard. It's got a tile edge, and I constantly worry that the kids will crack a head open. So far, they've been fine. I, however, have not avoided injury. At least it wasn't my head. I scraped up my shin in two different places from that fall.

A couple of days later I was going down the stairs. It was right before church, and I was wearing my heels. Well, one of the heels caught on the carpet and I went down, face first. My legs buckled under me, and my other shin got scraped up.

So now I'm walking around with two wounded legs, not to mention my wounded pride.

I think I need to move into a rambler.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

And I quote...

Listen up people! I just got an email that I was quoted in the Mormon Times. Can I say...Way Cool!

Until now, the only person who ever quoted me (that I know of, at least) was my three year old daughter. And trust me, that isn't always a good thing.

Check it out here!

(Thanks Tamara, for letting me know!)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Novice Writer Mistakes

As I mentioned on Monday, I spent last weekend at the LDStorymakers Conference.

I spent:
  • 11 hours in class or other instruction
  • 5 hours in Boot Camp
  • 8+ hours socializing / networking
  • 4 hours driving
  • not nearly enough time sleeping
It was a long, intense couple of days, that I wouldn't trade for anything. Well, maybe some things: like already knowing everything about the writing craft. But then I would have missed out on getting to know so many wonderful people.

I had a hard time deciding what classes to take. There were so many wonderful options. For the first breakout session, I was torn between two options. One that I was interested in, and one I felt like I should go to. Heather Moore's class was titled, "How to Avoid the Common Mistakes of a Novice Writer."

I wanted to convince myself that I had already learned most of those "mistakes", and therefore allow myself to go to the other class. When I mentioned that to a man I sat next to, he laughed. That's when I realized he was probably right. (sigh)

At least some of what I heard was a review. But I also learned some valuable information. Mostly, Heather invoked a passion in me, a new motivation that I can do this.

A few things she covered:
  • Flashbacks. Avoid them, especially in the first pages/first chapter.
  • Info dumps. Don't give too much information up front. Historical fiction needs more description in the beginning than most, but not too much. We need action. We need to know what is going on now, not yesterday or last week or ten years ago. Fiction is movement, description is static. (We want fast pace movement people!)
  • Hooks. If possible, there should be a hook in the first sentence. Next is the first page. Make the reader have to turn the page. End the first chapter, and each subsequent chapter, with another hook. Your goal is to keep them reading to the wee early hours of the morning.
  • Point of View. Don't head hop between your characters within the same scene. A couple of book resources listed were Characters and Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card, and The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes, and How to Avoid Them by Jack Bickham (he also wrote Scene and Structure). I haven't read these yet, but plan to soon. Also, when picking whose point of view you will use, make sure to pick the right one. Use the character with the most to add to the scene, or in some cases, with the most to loose. What is at stake? Who will show that the best?
  • Formatting. It really does matter. Agents do not want to see pretty pink paper, or scripty font. The just want to read your story (hopefully past the first five pages, but that's a whole other class). Use standard 12 point type (Times New Roman). Double space lines. 1 inch margins all around. No underline or bold font, use italics for emphasis.
Michael De Groote, a reporter for the Mormon Times attended the class, and wrote a fun article about it here.

Heather Moore is the owner of Precision Editing Group. She edits a lot of novels, from advanced writers down to the novice beginner. A common mistake Heather sees in manuscripts is those of only a first draft quality. The process of learning to write is not quick and easy. If we are serious about it, we have to put forth the effort. Day after day after day.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Technical Difficulties

I'm a somewhat average person when it come to technical knowledge. I'm not quite a beginner anymore, but FAR from knowing exactly what I'm doing. I think a majority of us are in that boat.

So with that in mind, please forgive me for the technical difficulty I've caused for myself, and possible you as well.

You see, I decided to change my email address. Normally this wouldn't be a big deal, but it was the very email address I have associated with the blogging world. It was my gmail account.

Why would I change it? That is a very long (and somewhat embarrassing) story. Mostly, I didn't like it. Ninety-nine percent of the people I know never even saw the email name, because I used my yahoo account for my correspondence. But I always had to log-in with the old one, and I hated it.

Anyway, I've created a new account. I figured out how to transfer my own blogs to the new gmail account, not loosing anything, including my list of followers.

I even exported my google reader list from my old account into my new account. (Wow, actually sound like I know what I'm talking about.)

Then I deleted my old account. Bye Bye. Good riddance. Don't let the door hit you on your way out!

But wait! I have now been removed as a follower from all of your blogs. Trust me, it's nothing personal. I didn't abandon you (on purpose, at least).

I thought I'd just go back in and re-push the follow button, under my new account.


It seems I've been blocked from all your accounts.

I don't understand this, and I'm working on fixing it. I want to follow your blogs. Really.

I hope to be back soon. Anyone have any brilliant ideas?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Optimistic Mondays – Criticism

Even the most thick-skinned person out there has been effected by someone's negative criticism, although they may not admit it. We've all been there, and it hurts.

There is a good type of criticism too. Sometimes it's harder to come by and we don't recognize it for what it is. But it is out there. And that's a good thing.

How can any type of criticism be good?

When it's given with love. When it helps us become a better person. When it makes us want to improve.

As a writer, I subject myself to criticism whenever I let someone read my work. Take this last weekend, for example. I signed up for the Boot Camp at the LDStorymakers conference. I sat at a table with three other writers, and our instructor, Josi Kilpack. We each took turns reading our story, followed by receiving feedback from each other.

Without going into it with an open mind, it would have been brutal. Well, it was a little brutal anyway, but in a good way.

I can't tell you how much I learned during those few hours. I have such a better grasp on what I should be doing. I received advice for how to improve my writing. I gave advice for the same.

If I had gone into it thinking my story was perfect, and not open to new ideas, I would have been sorely disappointed.

We all have room for improvement. Not just in writing, but in every aspect of our lives. Having an open mind, and being willing to listen - really listen - will make the difference between growth and stagnancy.

I don't want to be stuck at the level I'm now on, in writing or life in general. I don't think I'm a terrible writer, but I know I have SO MUCH to learn. There are so many ways I can improve.

The next time feel like someone is being too hard on you, too critical, take a step back and think about it. Maybe they really are just being rude. But maybe they are trying to help you become better.

Here's my group from Boot Camp. They were amazing.
Left to right: Melanie Jacobson, Josi Kilpack, Jewel Allen, and myself.
Sadie was also in our group, but not here for the picture.

Thanks for all the help Ladies!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Test Drive

I've recently gone on a test drive. It wasn't anything as cool as this car though. Truthfully, I'd be scared to death to drive something like that.

No, my test drive was of more unpleasant things. I've taken procrastination for a test drive.

The result? I do not like it.

I'm not usually a procrastinator. I like to plan ahead, and challenge myself to beat my own goals.

Today, I sit two days away from the writers conference I've been looking forward to for the last six months, and I'm not ready. Time sure does move quickly when you procrastinate.

If I survive the next few days, and make it through the conference alive, I plan to get back to my non-procratination days. They are not for me.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Blog Tour - I'll Know You By Heart by Kimberly Job

From the book cover:

The day Stephanie Roberts met Jared Wakefield, she didn't realize they had met before. Running from an abusive marriage and trying to safeguard her children, Stephanie turns to Jared for support - but he needs more from her than she might be capable of giving. With her abusive husband looming in her past, the difficulties they must overcome seem insurmountable.

Is it possible for love to conquer all? I'll Know You By Heart is a timeless romance that explores the possibility that relationships span the entire realm of eternity - a story about abuse, hardship, and betrayal - ultimately a story about the healing power of everlasting true love.

I was sucked into this story from the moment I read the first paragraph. I felt instant empathy for main character Stephanie, and was cheering her on as she made the decision to escape from a bad situation.

While it is, at the core, a love story, it's not the everyday kind. Both characters had been through difficult marriages, filled with either emotional or physical pain; in Stephanie's case, it was both. Stephanie continually had to keep her guard up against her abusive husband. When she met Jared, she began to realize not all men were like the man she had run away from.

I'll Know You By Heart is Kimberly Job's first novel. While it is an LDS fiction, I didn't think it was overdone. Religion was a part of this story, but it never felt cheesy or misrepresented, and I appreciated that.

The powerful connection made between these characters could not be possible without the trials they had to endure first. Just like in our own lives, we sometimes have to taste the bitter to fully enjoy the sweet.

If you're looking for a light and fun romance, this may not be the one. But if your looking for a story that's a little more serious, that will touch you and stay in your heart, I'd recommend this book.

For more information about the author, you can visit her website.

You can find the book here.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Dimes Make Me Happy

Like many people, I have a jar full of coins. Every now and then, I cash it in and get something fun. I actually have two jars. One contains quarters, nickels and pennies. The other has only dimes.

Why? Dimes make me happy. They're my favorite coin. If I'm in the store, and trying to come up with spare change to pay for something, I will usually skip the dime in my hand, and give the cashier either two nickels or a quarter. I don't like to part with dimes.

It's a habit I got from my dad. Growing up, we always had a container of dimes around. If I remember right, it was a large coke bottle, about two feet tall. You know the ones. I also remember hearing that it was that very jar that funded a trip to Disney Land for the family. I'm not sure if it paid the whole way, but it most certainly helped out.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do with my little jar full of dimes, but it has to be something great, or I won't be able to part with them. Until then, I'll just hang on to them and keep them safe.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Don't Just Talk...

One of my new favorite quotes says,

"Don't just talk,
Say Something."

What wonderful words. If only everyone would apply it into their lives. There would be a whole lot less talking, and maybe a little more listening.

What if we apply it to writing? It would read,

"Don't just write,
Write Something."

I recently participated in a Write-a-thon, and spent 4 hours typing away at the keyboard. I was excited to see my word count at the end of the 4 hour block, but have since realized that I'm not going to be keeping much of what I wrote. I thought I had planned for what I'd be writing, but the story took a turn, and ended up at a dead end.

Now I've got to get back in and re-write. Instead of just writing whatever comes to mind, this time I hope to actually write something.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Optimistic Mondays – One Person

I've read a lot of blog posts lately about people feeling small and insignificant, especially when compared to the achievements of others around them.

As I've read these posts, I've nodded my head in agreement. I have those feelings too.

But with each of these posts, there is usually an uplifting message of how they overcame these feelings of inadequacy. Or at least how they are trying to.

With so many things vying for our attention, it's hard not to let it overwhelm us.

I am just one person. How can I fit it all in?

One day at a time. Sometimes it's one hour or one minute at a time.

Rather than feeling like I'm small and insignificant, I like to relate the following quote:

"To the world you might be one person,
but to one person you might be the world"

There are countless people out there who mean the world to me. Look around you. I'll bet you have that impact on more people than you realize. And one of them just might be me.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Blog Tour - Secret Sisters by Tristi Pinkston

I was given the opportunity to read and review Tristi Pinkston's new release, Secret Sisters. It was a quick read, that was a lot of fun. The characters really came to life, and felt real.

From the back cover:

Ida Mae Babbitt, president of the Omni 2nd Ward Relief Society, didn't mean to become a spy. But when visiting teaching stats are low, and she learns that one family under her care is in financial trouble, she'll do whatever it takes to make sure they have what they need. If that includes planting surveillance cameras in their home and watching them from a parked car in the woods . . . well, isn't that what any caring Relief Society president would do?

With the help of her counselors, Arlette and Tansy, Ida Mae soon learns that there's more to the situation than meets the eye.

But it's all in a day's work for the Relief Society.

With their bishop encountering health problems, Ida Mae and her counselors decide it is their duty to relieve him of as much stress as possible. They decide to deal with whatever problems they can themselves, and not worry him with the details. What starts out as a small concern over whether a family has enough food quickly turns into full-fledge spy work.

Tristi really took on the challenge for getting into her character's head. I can totally imagine the things they say coming from my own grandma's mouth. These women were lively and fun, and totally convincing as elderly women.

I have to admit that even though I've served in a few Relief Society presidencies, I've never taken my job quite this seriously. We could all learn a thing or two. Putting aside all the illegal acts Ida Mae and her presidency participated in, they really did know how to serve and watch out for the women in their stewardship. I feel a new motivation to personally maximize my own calling.

To get your own copy of Secret Sisters, click here.

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Magical Time of Day

Random Tidbit about me: Week 3

On any given day, there are certain times I look forward to. Take meal times, for instance. I love when the clock gives me permission to eat. I wish I only ate when the clock says it's okay, but that just aint happening.

During the weekdays, I look forward to 10:00 am. That's when my daughter's favorite TV show comes on (Word World), and I can get a few things done without feeling (too) guilty.

I love 1:00 pm because that's nap time. (Don't judge me!)

I'm not a fan of 8:00 pm, because that's bed time. (Too much work!)

I'm definitely not a fan of 6:00 am, or any earlier. I need my beauty sleep. (Really, I need it!)

But my very favorite time of day?


I love it.

I can't help but smile when I look at the clock and see those cute little numbers all lined up in row, and in order to boot. So much fun. It's a magical time of day.

Of course, I prefer the 12:34 pm time over the 12:34 am time. When I see the later, I know it's going to be a short night. Especially when my son's new favorite time is 6:30 am.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Writer or an Architect?

I’ve always had a fascination with architecture. While in junior high school, I decided I wanted to be an Architect. I signed up for a drafting class when I got to high school. (Good thing too, because it was in that class that I met my future husband!)
While taking the architectural drafting class, I was given a wonderful opportunity. An actual architect called the teacher of my class, with an entry-level position in his firm. I called immediately after school, and was interviewed and offered the job.
Working in that office I learned a valuable lesson about designing a home. I learned that you couldn’t just design a floor plan, without thinking about the rest of the structure. What will the exterior look like? How will the roof work? And even more importantly, does the design meet the needs of the client it’s designed for?
As I’ve been working on my latest novel, I’ve come to realize that writing a book is like designing a home. I can’t start at the beginning, without having at least an idea of how it will end. I need to think about the middle, before I write myself into a corner. It’s a process that requires planning, and problem solving.
Just like I don’t want a large hole in the middle of my kitchen, I don’t want a hole in the middle of the story. I want to sit down and write this story, but every time I do, I realize how much more planning, or I should say research, I need to do first. I don’t really like to outline, but I’m finding it to be necessary on my WIP.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Optimistic Mondays – Live Like You're Dying

Okay, so I know this post is later than usual, but hey – it’s still Monday – at least for a couple more hours.
Sunday, I drove up to Idaho for my grandpa’s funeral, which took place today. I didn’t get a post done before I left, so here I am.
After such a weekend, I’m feeling especially optimistic.
I’m not particularly sad over my grandpa’s passing. He was 90 years old, and suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. He didn’t know anyone, and he didn’t remember who he used to be. I’m happy for the reunion that must be happening on the other side. My grandma passed away 23 years ago, and they are now re-united. I am sad for those he left behind, who will miss him. He left a wonderful legacy.
My grandpa had 27 grandchildren. All but one of them was able to be there for the funeral. They came from all over the country, to pay tribute. I spent several hours with family members I hadn’t seen in a long time, and got to know them a little better.
I even got to do a little research for my newest novel, and made a wonderful contact that will help me along the way.
Tonight, I’m thankful for so many blessings in my life. Among them, I was blessed with safe travel. I was blessed with helpful family members, when both of my kids needed attention at the same time. I was blessed with inspiration, and motivation.
While gathered for the funeral, one of my cousins requested a certain picture. Three of us cousins were born within months of each other, and we each turned 30 within the last few months. She wanted a picture of the three thirty-year olds together. After the picture was taken, we realized that our combined age totaled that of our grandpa.

When I think about how much I’ve learned, grown, and matured in the last ten years alone, it makes me look forward to the years that wait ahead for me. Grandpa got 90. I’ve had 30 so far. I hope to have another 60 in me, and I hope to use each one of them wisely.
Are you happy with the direction your life is going? If not, go and do something about it. Don’t waste another day.
Happy Monday

Friday, April 2, 2010

I Like It Hot

Random Tidbit about me: Week 2

When it comes to food, I like it hot. Or cold. Never luke warm.

My husband and I have very different opinions on when our food is hot. I like my hot chocolate to be just that: Hot. Once it's cooled down, even just a little, it is not longer appealing to me. However, when I make some for him, he lets it cool down for a good five minutes before trying it. By that point, mine is already gone.

The same goes for soup. Luke warm soup tastes terrible to me. It's not uncommon for me to re-heat mine halfway through the meal. It's the way I like it. He just looks at me and shakes his head, then blows on his own before taking a spoonful.

There are, however, some things that should be served cold. Take ice cream for example. I like my ice cream to be good and cold. It's better that way.

I few days ago my family was having ice cream for dessert. I pulled the container out of the freezer, so it would soften a little. (I like it cold, but not rock hard.) When my 3 year old daughter asked to have some, I told her it had to warm up first.

She said, "But Mom, I like it cold."

I guess she has preference on food temperature too.