Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Last year on Dec. 28th I posted some new year's resolutions for writing on my blog post at Utah Valley Writers Blog.

So it's been a year--time to check up on myself.

The black are the goals and the blue are the results:
Write another novel--Finished "Damnation"
Attend a writing conference--Went to LDStorymakers
Pitch a finished manuscript to an agent--pitched to Sara Crowe
Join a critique group--nope, didn't do this one
Query agents for a manuscript--yes, sent queries for "Wish Thief"
Read a professional book on writing, revising or editing every month--no, I've missed some months
Meet regularly with other writers (Maybe at the League meetings! Oh–and bring friends.)--yes, with League of Utah Writers and with ANWA
Set a word count goal of ______ words per (day/week/month)--no, didn't set a word count goal
Enter a piece in a writing contest--entered the first chapter contest
For the 2012 year, my goals are:
Finish Delia's Story
Start and finish another novel
Take a writing course at the college
Pitch a story to an agent
Query "Damnation"
Read professional books
Set monthly goals (on paper) and keep track of progress

Henry Moore (Artist & Sculptor) said, "I think more in terms of the day's resolutions, not the year's."

Maybe the habits I want would be more successful if I set little goals that I could track each day. Like: Each day this week I'll add to Delia's Story.

What goals are you setting for the new year? What do you think of resolutions?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

To Indie (self)-Publish or Not

It used to be that self-published books were looked at like poison-at least initially. Times have changed quite a bit since then. With the ease of publishing and the prevalence of e-readers, traditional publishers are having to scramble to change their platforms if they want to survive.
Don't get me wrong, indie-publishing faces great hurdles still, but the hurdles are getting easier to jump.

The choice to indie publish is not one to take lightly. There are many things to consider:

1. How much time do you have to spare?
2. How much skill do you have with editing, formatting, graphic artistry, marketing, promotion?
3. Do you have a lot of energy?
4. Are you flexible?
5. Can you stay positive when faced with great criticism?
6. Do you have money to spare?
7. Do you have a far-flung web of friends, colleagues, writer friends? A great support system?
8. Are you tech savvy?

Join me each time I post over the next several months, and I will discuss several of the above considerations to help you discover if you should even consider indie-publishing.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Secret

When I was a girl, my mother had a Christmas album by Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Fred Waring. There were a number of songs we enjoyed but one in particular that I learned to love a lot. Some of my fondness is because the song reminds me of her, and she died when I was fourteen.

But some of my love for the song is because of the lyrics, which culminate with

So may I suggest the secret of Christmas
Is not the things you do at Christmastime
But the Christmas things you do
All year through?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Writing: The Gift We Give Ourselves

It's December, which means it's almost time for Christmas. Right now, we're all making our lists and checking them twice to make sure we haven't forgotten anyone. Chances are, though, that most of us have forgotten someone - ourselves.

It's not selfish to place ourselves on our Christmas list, and it's not selfish to take time for ourselves during the holidays, or any other time, for that matter, to write.

Yes, you heard me. Writing is not selfish.

I've known many women who have the desire to write, but feel that taking time away from their families to do it is wrong. They feel that their loved ones will feel neglected if they indulge themselves with the fulfilling of their dream. Of course, if you lock yourself in your room for twelve hours a day and ignore the pounding and the screams of "Mom! Jimmy's on fire!" then yes, you may need to reevaluate that. A man who quits his job and stops providing for his family so he can write, without any other source of income, might want to rethink that. But there is nothing at all wrong with taking an hour in the afternoon or a few hours in the evening and writing down your thoughts and working toward your goals.

If you have the writer's bug, you will not be happy unless you are writing. I know this to be true. Due to life circumstances, I've sometimes had to take a month or three or six off from writing, and I have to tell you, I'm miserable until I get back to my project. Writing fills a need in me that nothing else can. I'm deeply devoted to my family, I ardently believe in my religion, but writing hits a spot that neither of those can. It lives in a different place in the brain and in the heart. If I'm not writing, I'm not complete.

So, this holiday season, I encourage you to think about your writing. Does it fulfill you, as it does me? Can you make time for it in your life, and can you do that without the guilt? If you recognize that it makes you happy, and you know that you are a better parent, spouse, and employee when you are emotionally fed, it's not selfish. You need to take care of yourself in all aspects in order to give the best of yourself to those you care about, and writing just may be part of that for you.

Merry Christmas, and don't forget to keep your needs on your giving list this year.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Who are your chraracters and what are they doing?

When you start a new story you have to create characters, major ones: the good and the bad, and minor ones again, good and bad. As you write, there will be background characters that are there one minute and then they are gone--sometimes never to return lets call those the extras.

So today we are talking about the majors and a little about minors.
Your characters need a few things to be well rounded:
1- Believable
2- 3 Dimensional
3- Memorable
4- Do what they need to do

The majors will generally have all four elements and your minors will have any where from one to three of them. Since they are not the spotlighted character though, you don't need to spend as much time developing them in the story--usually.  :) The extras need to say or do whatever and leave...no need to really develop them beyond that.

So #1:  Believable. You need to make sure that you don't allow your character to overstep his or her bounds. If she is in a wheelchair she probably isn't going to jump up out of nowhere and fight off would be attackers with her mad ninja skills, round house kick and everything.

#2:  3 Dimensional. As people we want to be well rounded, so should your characters. Think about how they would react in different situations. Do they change their goals often? How do they respond when something doesn't work out? But a key here is be consistent with your character.

#3:  Memorable. Tie your reader to your character. You can make him or her identifiable with characteristic tags. Hermione Granger: frizzy hair, super smart, likes to read, level headed, all about the facts. Using things about your character helps people remember them even after the story is over because they are relate able.

#4: Do what they need to do. Give your characters the skills or opportunity to gain the skills needed to accomplish their goals. If they have to get to the Castle to kiss the princess but there's a dragon guarding it, a small bottle of water isn't going to cut it to defet that dragon. Give him time to gain courage, strength and sword skills to win and a breath mint to kiss the girl, okay that last part is more for the girl, but it could help his confidence too.

I often find that if I am stuck in my writing that I have a character (or four) that is missing a part of their development and once I go back and fix it the story can resume smoothly--if writing a story ever goes smoothly. :)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Worry the Reader

What makes you turn the page?

Or stay up late to read the next chapter?

Why do you follow one character with interest?

Why do you buy the next book in a series?


My characters have goals. For some achieving it will improve their lives, for some the goal is to ruin someones's life.

But my goal as an author is always 
to worry my readers.
•inner demons--the fight within
•background--can't outgrow your upbringing
•conflict--there's always something going wrong
•antagonist--equal to or greater than your Main Character
•pacing--stretch out that misery

How have authors you've read worried their readers?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Giving Back

Welcome to the Gratitude Giveaway Hop where we thank all our followers with the simplest entry EVER.

Just follow this blog and leave a comment where you can be contacted if you win. That's it! Good Luck.

What can you win on this site? A 
$10 Amazon Gift card.

Now go enter all the other blogs' giveaways.

And welcome to the iWriteNetwork.

If you're a WRITER, click over to the iWriteNetwork and join with other writers in a community of learning and support for writers and authors.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Social Media Shout-out

The second you think you might want to be a published author, you need to start using social media. 

Maybe, even before. 

What, you ask, is social media? It is only the very best way for a debut author to come out of obscurity or shine the light on yourself, if you will. If you aren't already using social media and don't know where to start, I've complied a list for you to click-through. 

Now you can sign-up for 9 different avenues to getting your name out there.
There are others, but these are the major ones out there.

Make sure you are signed up for each one and fill out your profiles for each. 

Some are more important than others and you should limit your time on them. Use them effectively and you will win. Spend all your time with them and you will get lost in the maze of social media. I spend no more than 1 hour a day on social media.

The top 4 are a must and the next two are pretty important. If you write non-fiction, get involved with linked-in for sure. The last 2 are extras, but you should at least have a profile on all of them.

Play around with each of them and get familiar with them, then, when you're ready to launch your books, you'll be a pro at social media and you'll be able to get maximum traction with your book. 

You will be in the light.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Congratulations, Shirley!

Congratulations, Shirley! 

You won the Amazon Gift Card.

HaPpy ReAdiNg!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Perseverance and Determination

I'm in the throes of NaNoWriMo and an election. An ugly one at that. Either of these would be enough to make me throw in the towel at times. The latter attacks my belief in the decency of the people in my community while the former makes me question my own abilities.

As you're making this writing journey do you ever enter a bookstore or walk up the book aisle at Costco and really look at the sheer number of published books there? I don't know about you but that intimidates me on a grand scale.

First, all those books make me question my hope to be published. There are so many of us. Never in my life have I met such a plethora of aspiring authors. A lady at church published a book for her grandchildren. Another mentioned she's writing a YA fantasy. One of the department heads at work confided tome that one of his daughters is writing her third book, and when he retires he wants to write a book. These aren't bad things.

But we writers sure seem to be coming out of the woodwork. With so many new books being published how do you make yours stand out and be noticed? I find I tend to leave bookstores depressed since I started writing.

My second issue is personal. It relates to my writing abilities (or lack thereof). Can I ever be good enough to qualify as one of those people on the bookshelf?

What's your motivation for writing? Do you dream of being the next J.K. Rowling or Stephenie Meyer? Is it just a fun hobby? Are you putting yourself out there to shut up the voices in your head?

Whatever your reason for writing and (perhaps) seeking publication, I believe it's a good thing. Human beings crave story. We can devour a great tale and immediately turn around wanting another. While the bookstores and the Internet may be full of tragedies and comedies and mysteries and fantasies, we will continue to want more.

So don't give up on yourself. We can get good at writing by writing, by reading the best authors, by learning from others. We need to find our own unique voices.

I enjoy the delightful presentation of Ira Glass's words in the following video. But I love the meaning behind the words. They lift me and inspire me when I feel insignificant and ready to give up. They fill me with determination to persevere.

Click here for the Ira Glass video (it wouldn't embed). It's short and totally worth the time to watch.

Give Thanks!

November is a great time to remember 
all the things we are thankful for.

To enter our giveaway of a $20 Amazon (US) Gift Card:
1) Be or Become a Follower of this blog (by clicking on the "Join This Site" button on the right-sidebar)
2) Leave a comment telling us what you are thankful for
3) Include your email (in case you win)

Click on the picture above to see the other blogs participating in this Giveaway Hop.

If you're a WRITER, click over to the iWriteNetwork and join with other writers in a community of learning and support for writers and authors.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

NaNo How-To: You Can!

For the next thirty days, you're going to be hearing a lot about NaNo. No, we're not talking about Mork and Mindy ... we're talking about National Novel Writing Month, which takes place every November. Thousands upon thousands of writers pour their hearts out onto paper through their fingertips to see if they can be NaNo winners and hit the 50,000 word mark before midnight on the 30th. It sounds impossible, but many succeed.

How do they do it? What are the secrets behind NaNo success?

In listening to these authors explain their methods, several things were common between them.

1. They had the support of their spouses, children, and other family members. They held a family meeting and explained what they were trying to accomplish, and asked for support. When spouses and children pitch in to help reach a common goal, chances of success increase exponentially. Kids can make dinner and clean up after themselves. They can do a few extra chores. Spouses can take over some of the tasks that usually fell to the writer. Teamwork is what makes it come together. Can you win NaNo if you don't have a supportive family? Of course. This is just one way to make it more possible.

2. Each of these writers had a plan. They knew what they wanted to accomplish. They had either outlined the book beforehand, or they would take a few minutes at the end of each writing session to think about what should happen next so they could dive right back in and get to work instead of staring at a blank screen for an hour.

3. None of these authors let themselves get hung up on the idea that what they wrote had to be perfect. In fact, NaNo is not about perfect writing - it's about getting thoughts and ideas onto the page as quickly as possible. You can edit it later - you're told to edit it later. Spend November just getting the story down.

4. Most importantly, each of these writers had a dream, a desire, and determination. They would not let something as simple as fear of failure keep them from trying. They pushed on regardless.

Now, how can you take these principles and apply them to your own NaNo journey?

A. Decide what you want. What burns within you so brightly that you couldn't extinguish it, even if you tried? For writers, it's to write. It's to touch people. It's to reach out and make a difference. Focus on that. Keep that desire in front of you at all times.

B. Whether it be in a Word .doc or a notebook, sketch out your story. You don't need every detail - just hit the highlights.

C. Sit down and write. Seems like a simple step, but you'd be amazed how many people don't take it. Don't hold yourself back. Just pour it all out on the paper. Get it out there.

D. When you need a break, jot down notes so you know where your mind was going. When you come back, you can pick right back up with that train of thought.

E. Eat and drink plenty of good, healthy food during this time. When a writer is on a roll, they often forget to take care of themselves, and then they burn out. Don't do that to yourself. And no, Coke and chocolate do not constitute good, healthy food.

F. Do not turn your computer off at night until you know what you're going to write the next day. Brainstorm. And keep a notepad next to your bed in case inspiration strikes while you're drifting off ... because you know it will.

I'm not much of an outliner. I like to fly by the seat of my pants. But in a challenge like this one, you need to determine your course before you take off, or you'll spend too much time flapping around, trying to find the right wind current. Jotting down your next set of ideas does not limit you - it helps you get those tail feathers turned in the right direction.

Good luck with all your NaNo goals, and be sure to check out the website for the rules. Even if you don't win, or even if you only get a few thousand words in, you will feel such a sense of accomplishment for having participated.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Back Cover Blurbs

        When I am looking through the bookstore with some $$ burning a hole in my pocket, I look at covers that catch my eye then the very next thing I do is to read the back cover blurb and go from there. So what does that have to do with your writing?
       I went to a conference at Utah Valley University recently called Book Academy and in a class taught by Lisa Mangum and Kirk Shaw. Kirk said that you could write the back cover blurb before you begin the actual book. You have the Who, Goal, Obstacle, Consequence of Failure right? Then write your book. Go back and read the blurb you wrote and check to see if it still applies.
       Are all the key elements in the book? Would a reader fill like you kept your word and delivered on the story you promised? If yes, Great! If not, go back and revise. Flesh out your weak points and sharpen that climax.

I'm going to try this for my NaNoWriMo book. Have you done it before?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Birthday Giveaway Winners

The winners for our birthday giveaway are...

Inspired Kathy---The Art of Racing in the Rain

Burgandy Ice---Outliers

Maria Hoagland----Infinity

Congrats to the Winners! Look in the NING to see who won a 30 page critique by Tristi Pinkston.

Creating Scenes

Sometimes I feel like this at conferences--

Last week, Jenny Hansen shared these ideas about scenes at UVU Book Academy:

•She begins a scene with revealing the goal the POV character has.
•That's followed by a dilemma to achieving that goal.
•Then there is a disaster to achieving that goal making it doubtful that it will happen.
•Next, the POV character has to reconsider the options available to achieving the original goal.
•Finally, the POV character makes up their mind how to move forward to the resolution of the dilemma. (This becomes the initiating goal for the next scene.)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Blog Hop

Welcome to all you blog hop followers. We are a  blog dedicated to the nuts and bolts of writing, as well as connecting to other writers. Come on back to learn more about workshops, BlogTalkRadio interviews, our online group powered by NING, and our conference in July. You can see our website HERE.

We are giving away a signed copy of The Kiss of a Stranger by Sarah M. Eden.
When Crispin, Lord Cavratt, thoroughly and scandalously kisses a serving woman in the garden of a country inn, he assumes the encounter will be of no consequence. But he couldn't be more mistaken--the maid is not only a lady of birth, she's the niece of a very large, exceptionally angry gentlemen, who claims Crispin has compromised his niece beyond redemption. The dismayed young lord has no choice but to marry Miss Catherine Thorndale, who lacks both money and refinement and assumes all men are as vicious as her guardian uncle.

Trapped between an unwanted marriage and a hasty annulment, which would leave his reputation tainted and Catherine's utterly ruined, Crispin begins guiding his wife's transformatoin from a socially petrified country girl to a lady of society. Their unfolding relationship reveals encouraging surprises for both of them, and privately each of them wonders if theirs may become a true marriage of the heart. But their hopes are dashed when forces conspire to split asunder what fate has granted. As a battle of wits escalates into a life-threatening confrontation, will it be possible for Crispin and Catherine to live happily ever after?

To enter: Follow our blog and leave a comment saying why you would like to win this prize. Then go to the next link in the blog hop train. :)

October Blog Hop Participants
1. Tristi Pinkston
2. I Am a Reader, Not a Writer
3. Bonnie Harris
4. Michael D. Young
5. Misty Moncur
6. Debbie Davis
7. Mandi Tucker Slack
8. Mary Ann Dennis
9. Deanna Henderson
10. Laura Bastian
11. Kristy Tate
12. Kristy Wilson
13. Jennifer Debenham
14. Jenny Moore
15. Elizabeth Hughes
16. J. Lloyd Morgan
17. Close Encounters with the Night Kind
18. Billy Boulden
19. Scott Bryan
20. Maria Hoagland
21. Shirley Bahlmann
22. Shelly Brown
23. Marcy Howes
24. Lynnea Mortensen
25. Jaclyn M. Hawkes
26. Diane Stringam Tolley
27. Gail Zuniga
28. Betsy Love
29. iWriteNetwork
30. Canda's InkBlast
31. Stacy Coles

Learn more about October Blog Hop here.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Are you a Pantser?

If you think there's one right way to write a book, better think again.

Some authors are planners and some, quite frankly, are not. If you were to ask a handful of authors what their writing process was, you better believe you'll get a handful of different answers. I guess the real question is, is one way better than another? An avid outliner might scoff at a pantser's method as too chaotic and relying on chance, where a pantser might protest that an outliner takes all the creative freedom of writing away.

I freely admit that I began as a wild and free pantser. Sure, I knew the beginning and end of my story, but what happened in between presented itself as I wrote. Do I outline now? Not exactly, but I do plan a bit more. I find myself wanting to pick out important benchmarks in my stories before I go hog wild.

Could it be that the answer lies somewhere in the middle? What's your writing process?

Want to learn more about Tristi Pinkston-author extraordinaire? Come to the iWritenetworkning site this Saturday from 9-9:30 AM MST here. Just sign in and then scroll down to the blog talk radio and click on it. (It says something weird in the box before you click on it. Ignore it.) A screen will be there for you to listen when we start. Enjoy.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Our FIRST Blog Give-Away

It's our BiRthDay and we're giving away the gifts! 

Take your pick. All three are great books.

The Art of Racing in the Rain (yes, it is a dog's life)

Outliers (oddities that twist opportunity and fortune)

Infinity (YA and zombies--I liked this one too)

To enter the drawing for one of these books
Become a follower
Leave a comment
Leave your email address IF you want to receive an invitation to
the iWriteNetwork Community or go directly there through this link

You're invited to join with other writers in a supportive learning organization. Our goal is to help everyone reach their writing goals. And to promote the publishing of great stories.

*There's another contest on iWriteNetwork. 
We're giving away a 30-page edit by Tristi Pinkston
You know you want this one. Come on over.

MoviesTo Books

When I start writing, I first have little movie trailers running through my thoughts. I see the funny bits or sometimes the moments that are leading up to all hell breaking loose right before the climax. I never know the whole story until I start writing, then as I get closer I figure that part out. I don't have massive outlines. I don't know who all the characters will be or what their personalities are like. And I think I prefer to write this way. I like the story unfolding as I write and not knowing every detail before I start. I find, for me, the lack of knowing all the pieces is more entertaining and holds my attention.

So, how do you write? Do you find it works better to outline everything, chapter by chapter? Do you know anything about the story before you start? Do you plot the tension points? Have you tried another way? How did that work out for you?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What's in a Title?

In my other life, I teach reading and writing.

Tip #1
One of the secrets to becoming a good reader that we teach is that you can use the title to help you understand the book you're reading.

If it's fiction the titles often tell you the

main character,



or a turning point to pay attention to in your reading.

As writers --
we can use these ideas to help us attract attention to our stories through the title we choose.

What's the title of your Work-In-Progress or a book you like? What kind of title is it?


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Reading Fantasy while Writing Contemporary

I love to read. I didn't always love to, though. In high school and college, I never read for fun. I only read what I had to and often hated every moment.

Now, I write YA novels and can't find enough hours in the day to read all the books I'd like to. I enjoy all types of books, not just YA. The problem is, when writing a contemporary YA novel, I can't seem to get away with reading YA fantasy. If I do, I have to fight the urge to give my characters some power or have them sprout wings.

What about you? Can you write one genre and read another at the same time? If so, how do you keep your mind from going where it shouldn't when you write?

Right now I'm reading Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, Story Engineering by Larry Brooks, The Armor of Light by Karen Hoover, Millie's Fling by Jill Mansell, and Raven.

I just finished The Hidden Sun by J. Lloyd Morgan, Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys, Delirium by Lauren Oliver and Exile by RaShelle Workman.

I'm about to start Bound by Christine Bryant.

What are you reading?