Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Try your hand. . . Author Bios

I've been thinking about this for a while. Trying your hand at something where everyone who reads this blog is asked to contribute in the comments.

To start this off I am asking about short author bios.

The rules are simple, one to two sentences. List your name, a vague location, your genre, a little about yourself. See easy peasy.

To get us started I will give you mine.

C. Michelle Jefferies writes science fiction, a stark contrast to her rural life in south eastern Utah with six kids, house, husband, and pet birds. Although her heart resides in the stars, she has been known to be distracted by romance and the occasional vampire story.

Okay everyone start posting, I am curious to see what you are going to come up with.

Just a note. . .

While The Shattered Dreams Experimant is still flitting around in my brain nothing says die to a MS more as 1) Nano and 2) thinking that you can't write romance. I promise you I will get back to the experiment and if we can't use Shattered Dreams I will proceed with the same poll system and planning with another story.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Untill it shines. . .

One thing that some writers need to learn is that when in the revision and editing process there is a point where if you do any more revisions,your going to lose your voice. Or that editing it over and over is actually destroying the story.

In my opinion, you can only cut out so many words and add so many things and change the sentences around so many times before it all starts to sound like drivel.

For example I have sent a few of my first chapters out for critiques for the LDStorymaker Writers Conference First Chapter Contest. One of the stories was wordy and I spent some time revising those sentences so they read better.

The origional sentence read:

I could tell that my avoidance of the subject was garnering me unwanted attention from the man who held my existence in his hands.

I revised the sentence to read:

I could tell I was garnering unwanted attention from the man who held my existence in his hands.

See, less wordy and reads better, While still getting the message across. However I could have been tempted to revise the sentence again to look like this:

I was getting unwanted attention from him.

Sure it's cleaned up and nice and precise, but I have lost my voice by cutting it too much. There is a point in which we need to turn off the internal editor and close the notebook or word program. Is that story perfect? I don't believe it is, but at least it still has voice.

There's a time where we have done everything we can to a MS and it's time to put it away and start sending it out into the world. Time to let your MS stand on it's own two legs and be what it was meant to be.

While a shiny new car is nice to drive, the older car you have driven for years, has character.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I say write it anyway

There are two things that I disagree with most authors on. One, (write what you know)you've all ready heard me talk about. The second is that unless you know the story is good, publishable, awesome etc. don't write it. Now, granted if your a famous author and only have time to write the sequel or the new idea you pitched to your publisher definately dont write it.

But if you are an author with some time or a writer who's not famous or busy yet, and you get a good idea I say play with it. Write it out play with the plot and the characters. It can't hurt, and someday you might just come up with that blockbuster idea that makes you famous or rich or both.

Why do you ask? Even if you don't become famous or rich, your muse has been fed. You have broadened your horizions. You have added words, and I believe the more words you type, write, create, the closer you are to being published, rich and famous. Even if the story peters out at 40,000 words or less? You ask. Yes. Even if the story never sees the light of day? Yes. Even if the story is silly, or dark, or unnaturally you, or anything not normal? Yes yes yes yes.

To deny a story life, I think, supresses that creativity we as writers have and to deny is to starve that muse. Because as well as feeding that muse by reading listeing to music and watching movies. Creating also feeds that creative side of you by validating what you have inside you.

Why do I tell you this with such conviction? A few rough draft reasons. I have a few stories that I have written as the whim has hit me everyone of them is good in its own right. I have a witchcraft story and a few romances and two vampire stories sitting there on my laptop just waiting for the right time to pull them back out. So what if ALL of them need to be rewritten? The stories have merit. All of them. Do I worry that with the vampire craze that my story may seem redundant? If they sparkled yes, I would worry. But my vampire world is diferent and amazing and I will not abandon a good story because some people think that the trend is dead. There's always room for a good story especially when its amazing and diferent.

So to my fellow writers out there, feed that muse, write that story, don't deny a good story life because someone says it's not good enough, or all of the other excuses that are listed somewhere. You're a writer, wrte it. Isn't that what we do?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Story Structure and writing synopsis

I have a friend who is entering a publishers open submission period. We were talking about the submission process. The problem with this submission is that instead of the traditional two paragraph blurb about your story, in a traditional Query, and a one-four page synopsis. They want a two-three sentence blurb, and a three paragraph synopsis.

I was in shock for a few moments. It's hard enough to summarize a 300-600 page book in a few pages. But to do it on three paragraphs!!!!!!?????

The guidelines intrigued me, so I thought I'd tackle the problem myself as a challenge, especially if I ever need to do the same thing.

After an evening staring at the guidelines I was beyond frustrated. Three paragraphs is just not enough to properly describe a complex story. Then I had the epithany.

"Story Structure." Doh! I almost smacked my head with my palm.

What are the most important parts of the story?
The introduction.
Plot Point #1, along with the reactive stage.
The mid point and the active stage.
Plot point #2
And Resolution.

Now the idea became clear. Use the important parts of story story structure to write your three paragraphs of synopsis.

So I sat down and in three sentences I wrote the two main plotlines and a sentence to draw them together.

Then I wrote one paragraph about the characters and thier desires and inner demons.

The second paragraph I wrote the first plot point, the reactions, and the midpoint.

The third paragraph I wrote plot point #2 and the resolution making sure I told them the end of the story.

I couldn't believe how easy it was once I applied "Story Structure" to what I needed. I'm in shock at what my knowledge of "Story Structure" has done to my wirting. I know I probably sound preachy but I am sold. It has changed everything I know about writng. Try it for yourself, I promise you wont be disapointed.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What makes a writer publishable.

I've been writing for 20+ years, granted, I have been working towards publication for about 6 of those years. As I have attended diferent conferences and been in diferent writing and critique groups, and worked on writing myself, I have seen something interesting. Those writers that have sucess in thier own writing are those writers that are adaptable. Those writers that are willing to learn and change EVERYTHING they know or have written when they learn something new. Those so dedicated to the craft that they are allways seeking to grow as a writer. Those are the ones who I have seen actually get published.

I have been in three amazing writers/critique groups. The members are such hard workers and so amazingly tallented. I have felt the loss when I have moved or the group broke up.

I have friends that have completely changed a book from first person to third, I have friends that have taken a memoir and changed it to fiction, I have a dear friend that has taken an almost complete book torn it to pieces and is in the process of rewriting it again. I have other friends that have taken fledgling writers under thier wings in spite of thier own time constraints and fostered the skills and knowledge they need to be a better writer. I have many other examples but these are the ones that stick out in my head this morning.

To the writer that is willing to make HUGE sacrifices to get your books ready to publish and actually published I salute you. You guys are my heroes.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Right up my alley. . .

As many of you know I am highly influenced by Asian things. I saw this commercial and absolutely loved it. I hope you do too.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

I think I've lost it. . . .

So I was in the fabric section of Wal*Mart waiting in line to have some vinyl cut for a table cloth. (expensive table + 6 kids = disaster) there were three people in line in front of me so I had alot of time to stand around and stare at bolts of fabric. (believe me, I actually love doing it, I just hate that I cant have 5 yards of every fabric that I like)

So anyway as I am looking at the fabric I think: "I should look for some fabric to make a sword case so I can take my sword places and it wont get scratched and dinged." I begin to look around, thinking that an Asian theme would be cool then I see it . . . pink fabric with pastel butterflies and sparkles. I am instantly in love!

THIS is the conversation that I and my main character Noble/Antony had.

Me: It's so pretty and it has butterflies! *swoon*
Noble: It's pink.
M: It has sparkles!
N: It's still pink.
M: What about this one? (picks up a black fabric with the same pastel butterflies)
N: It has sparkles and the butterflies are pink. What about that one? (he looks at a black fabric with golden dragons and red flames)
M: Well. . .
N: Well what?
M: It's so manly, all black and flames.
N: I like it.
M: Your a guy of course you like it. I like this one. (still fingering the pink butterfly fabric)
N: No!
M: Why?
N: Because I'm a guy. No pink!
M: You like pink.
N: Only in your imagination! What about this one? (looks at another bolt)
M: No skulls and muscle cars. I'm the one who has to cary this sword case to class.
N: Awwwww but I liked the skulls.
M: Well good for you you can have it in your book world.
N: You're so picky.
M: And your not? You don't even have to carry the bag and your having a fit.
N: I have to be in your head when you carry that pink insane thing, absolutely not.
M: What about this one? (fingrs a green flanel with butterflies on it)
N: It still has butterflies.
M: It's green you like green. And I love butterflies.
N: I do like green. Butterflies are for girls.
M: Well I am a girl. So you like it? Can I get it?
N: silence. . . . . . . . .
M: Good I think I need one and a half yards.
N: grumble

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

on writing . . . . . . .

Writing is not easy. It's not just picking up a pen and paper and becoming a bestseller. It's not just having a dream,writing a book and selling it on your eighth query.

Writing is having so many characters in your head you think your going to go crazy. It's having that drive to create something of worth and working your behind off to get it. It's learning the craft while trying to get blood to come out of your forehead. Its going back to school if you have the opportunity and learning the language all over again.

Writing is not like any other job in the universe. Well writing and performing music and creating art may be close. You write until your forehead bleeds taking in no sallary for your efforts and then spend your own money sending your work out only to be rejected repeatedly. It takes most writers somewhere around five years to get to the point of being accepted. FIVE YEARS! Meanwhile your family has written you of as a heritic, your spouse thinks your completely crazy and your kids have subsisted on cold cereal and sandwitches for thier daily nutrition.

While writing is a solitary activity, it is something we writers don't do alone. We crave validation, we need to have someone tell us that that last scene was really great, that our plots are awesome, that we'll get through that writers block, that we have value as a creative person. That that blood on the page, straight from our foreheads, is worth the pain.

I am a writer, I have something of value within me, I am a creator of worlds and people, I have worked hard to get where I am.

I didn't chose this as a profession the muse chose me by creating amazing stories in my head. I must bow to the creative urge or I will go insane. I must write because it is the source of creative outlet in me that keeps me sane and happy.

I am a writer.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Life . . .

At home again with a sick kid, having massive headaches from a sinus infection and a messy house because I don't feel well or have time. Sigh.

Feeling blah about alot of things. At least this week is Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I have a fan?

A dear friend of mine is a beta reader for me. I've bent her ear many times and she never seems to get bored with my life as a writer. (That's amazing because I spend day after day at the computer staring at a screen or keyboard)

I gave her a copy of my WIP a few weeks ago for her to read. She takes it to work to read on the days she works late because the last hour or so is really slow. A couple of days ago she left the MS at her work and the cleaning lady came in and began to read it while cleaning. The cleaning lady admits to trying to clean and read at the same time. Well I guess I hooked her becasue she "stole" it from my friend with a promise to return it today.

I'm laughing about this, who knew? I guess my book is appealing to some people and thats a good thing right? My hook is effective, at least enough to make people commit thievery.

So what do you think? Is it theft or fandom? I don't know what to think.

Friday, November 13, 2009

One drafters VS Multi drafters

Just as there are plotters and seat of their pants (pansters) writers and levels between those two extremes. There are One drafters and Multi drafters, and all sorts of levels between these too.

Multidrafters write the rough draft and then proceed to write several other drafts before even thinking of editing it or sharing it with a group or friends. They will also think of a cool idea and rewrite the whole MS to accomodate said idea. The great thing about Multi's is that if they actually get it done, it should be awesome. The drawbacks, would be that they get so bogged down in re-writes they never finish.

One drafters on the other had write one draft and usually think it's pretty perfect. Often times they don't like to revise and instead of working to perfect a story they move on to the next idea and the story regardless of how awesome or not it is, never sees the light of day. The good thing about One's is if they actually put thier but down in a chair and suffer a little revision and editing the story should be awesome. The drawback is getting them to work on one idea long enough to prodouce a story that is ready to be seen by anyone.

I'm sure just as every writer is somewhere in between pansting and plotting they are also somewhere in between one and multi drafting.

The point of my story is this, I am a story structure panster and more of a one drafter then a multi but I know the benefit of good edits and revisions. Ask me to rewrite and my head might just roll off my shoulders and hide.

Two nights ago I had written about 900 words of some beautiful prose when my laptop freaked out and started to eat my MS letter by letter. I lost the whole 900 words and had some long moments of extreme frustration. Because I am a one drafter I was not able to reprodouce any of the origional prose and had to write something comepletely new. To be honest I am not as happy with it and I mourn the loss of those words. :(

I guess the moral of the story is, if your a one drafter and your computer has a tendency to do weird things, BACK UP your darn computer!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The beauty of mid-point

Acording to Brook's Story Structure, the Mid-point is when the MC's character arc changes from Reactive, "I can't believe that happened" to Active "over my dead body". It is also the place where the author can give the reader information that the Mc doesnt know. Often times this information changes everything or if it doesn't, it definately changes the readers sympathy for the MC or other characters.

The beauty of Mid-points is that it's the perfect place to twist the story.

I have been having the best time writing this NANO WIP. As I am writing My brain is also working chapters ahead of my fingers. THe mid point in this WIP is awesome and theres such a revelation about the MC and the female #2 MC is standing right there as the information is revealed. Not only that, the person giving the information is the one person in the book that SHOULDN'T know this information because of the potential of maximum dammage.

This story is becoming so much fun. I am itching to finish it and let my readers take a look. My brain is obsessed with the story. I dream scenes, I plot as I eat. I think I am driving my family nuts. LOL

To be honest I can't stress learning Structure enough. Having an awesome Mid-point is Such an amazing tool in the overall arc of the story, I can't imagine how boring my story would be without it.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Little Funny. . . .

So I am writing Latent, a MS for Nanwrimo and I am still editing Emergence. My "editor" is a wonderful friend who is helping me with my MS Emergence. This person is amazing and I learn things everytime I work with them.

Well I am sitting at my computer yesterday and I was writing about a sub character ordering pizza. As the scene closed, I wrote about the character taking the pizza box from the delivery guy and placing it on the coffee table. In the back of my head I hear my "editor" ask: "did he pay for the pizza or did he steal it? Please clarify."

After I laughed for a while I went back and added that he placed it on the coffee table after he paid for it.

Now I not only have characters in my head, my editor is in there too. At least they're wonderful company.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

I'm back!

Well, I survived a whole month of being sick. What was a cold turned into pneumonia and I battled with that for days on and off.

I have signed up for Nanowrimo which is a world wide writing challenge. The goal is to write a 50,000 word novel in a month. I don't know if I will even get near that goal, but I did write 44 tho last September so I know I can come close.

I debated for a long time on what I should work on in November, my space western or me sequel to my current WIP sci/fi. It has been a long and hard decision, because in someways I am ready for something new. But in some ways I have the sequel in my head so strong, that it's impossible to escape thinking about it. Almost like I was obsessed. :)

In the end I deciced that I would work on the sequel since the plot is completely hammered out and is complete. The rough draft was written last year the rewirte should be easy and fun.

Either way, I am looking forward to a month of great writing.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Bear with me

I am sick sick enough that my baby wore pajamas all day and watched too many movies and I laid on the couch wishing I could die. I'll be back soon enough.

Monday, October 19, 2009

I am cursed now. . .


Now that I understand Brooks' Story Structure (see link above) I see it everywhere and can't read a book without figuring out where the plot points were. I'll be sitting at the dinner table and say "Plot point #2 was . . . " I am driving my kids insane. We were watching Van Helsing last night and I was doing it again. My kids groaning only added to the soundtrack I am sure.

No doubt about it. I am cursed, and it's in a good way. Who knew just 13 simple lessons would have me understanding plot and structure so well that I plotted out almost all the books buzzing around in my head. This morning! Bwahahahahaha!

Back to Van Helsing, I didnt watch any editors comments but I am way curious if the director/prodoucer had a "thing" with windows. Looking out of them, looking in, crashing in them and getting thrown out of them. Just curious.

Wednesday: SDE post and another poll. :)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Story Structure and Hero's Journey combined

This is the second guest blog on Jordan MeCollum's blog. This article is on how to combine the Hero's Journey and Story Structure.

Jordan McCollum
I have had so much fun doing this. :)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

It's here!

I'm the guest blogger on Jordan McCollums blog today. I am talking about Story Structure. Go see!

Story Structure

Monday, October 12, 2009

Shattered Dreams Experiment #1

Okay, In chapter one we meet Anna. She is the wife of Jeff. they've been married a number of years and he is a brutal abusive man. Anna has dreams. Things that in this "life" she will either never attain or must be done in secret.

In chapter one Anna has written a story on a typewriter she bought from a thrift store. Although we find in a later chapter she doesnt have a car. Todays question is: How did she get the typewriter? If you have your own answers please feel free to post.

Poll is on the sidebar.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A new feature on my blog. . . The Shattered Dreams Experiment


Two things have happened that have moved the fruition of my epithany. One, it's a writing challenge month, second, I now have two writers groups.

This means one thing.

I. MUST. WRITE.

Therefore I am announcing the plans that had me so excited last month. You my blog readers, (yes you, not the guy behind you) are going to help me write my new book. The idea started as a small idea niggling the back of my brain and as I was taking one of those humoungous long drives we do living out here in the boonies--I let that idea become a serious reality.

I am going to add a poll feature to the side bar below my butterfly and I am going to ask you the readers to help decide what's going to happen in this book. I will be posting some details of the book and be asking you readers what you think should happen in the story.

A little background on the story: Shattered Dreams
Anna is an abused wife stuck in an abusive marriage. Fate changes that one day and she is released from the Hell she called life. The story is of her life as she climbs out of the hole of her previous life.

I will be posting and asking your opinions on a regular basis. Hope you join in, I think this will be an amazing social experiment and those participating will be mentioned in a hopefully long acknowledgement page. :)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Just a note,

That epithany that I was so excited about? Well it's time.
I'll post about it tomorrow. (or the next day)

The influence of television on telling in writing.

I find it interesting that I see alot of telling in first time writers. Granted, writing is a skill that is learned, and something like music and art that must be practiced to become good at it. Could that be why begining writers so often fall into the pattern of telling me what the main character is doing instead of immersing me into the story by showing? I know when I started to write, I wrote alot of telling interspersed with a ton of unnecessary detail.

As I have learned to write, I have learned to move beyond telling my reader what happened. I have learned to drag my reader gasping and choking into the scene and have them experience it in a similar way to what I see in my head.

I wonder if the increase of watching TV, playing games, whether on a game system or online, or perusing the internet at all is part of the reason. When we sit and watch something on TV we see and hear everything that is going on leaving out the other three senses. Everything the prodoucer/director wants us to see is on that screen and in the soundtrack. TV can be, regardless of the intense visual/audio bombardment, a one dimentional system of input.

It has been proven that as we watch TV part of our brain shuts off and we can become zombie like. Whereas, reading opens up a diferent world in our minds. In a book with good writing, description, and showing we engage all of our senses by using our imagination. We hear internal thought as well as dialogue, we smell scents that are described, we hear, feel, smell, see and taste what the writer wants us to. We are drawn into the setting and experience it to the fullness we choose inside our heads.

As the rate of electronic entertainment increases and the occurance of reading decreases, are we setting ourselves up for a world of sitting back and just watching life go by instead of experiencing it to its fullness?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

October is a writing challenge month.

And while I am a week late I think I will sign up. I have two writers groups now and I need some material for them to look at. Of course my first submissions will be something I have allready written. I wonder if some of the members will get tired of seeing the same things twice? Oh well, I only have a few things that are ready.

If your interested go HERE.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Good news Sunday. . .

Well the drought is over and I am in a deluge of good things. I went to a writers conference called "The Book Academy" a few weeks ago. I learned alot. It was a very good conference. Thanks Julie Coulter Bellon among others.

The best thing that came out of the conference is I am now part of TWO crit groups. Both an online one and a in real life (email for me but they will meet IRL) one. (Thanks Tristi!) I am also a group mom for a teen group too. These are realy GOOD things. I have needed a group for a long time. I had literally exhausted all resources to get one. I was lost and depressed in the area of writers groups. And while some people insist that writers are solitary and can do this craft by themselves, for me it's not possible. (Thank heavens for friends, I have only survived because of them.)

Just celebrating today. It's been a good weekend. :)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I'm so excited!!!!!!

I have been invited to do two guest blogs on the story structure, by Larry Brooks, that I love so much. This is awesome for me. I want to share how this has changed my writing and help others to change their's too. So look for me on Jordan McCollum's blog in October. I'll remind you and post a link when we are closer to the date.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

My closet. . .

Okay I am feeling brave enough to tell you the truth.

I. AM. COLORBLIND.

I know I know, I am famale and therefore it shouldn't be possible. But after some research i have found that if there is the colorblindness gene on both sides of the family it is possible for a female to be color blind. (thanks guys)
I can not tell light blue from lilac or pale green, browns from plum, dark blue from dark green or black, or flourescent yellow from flourescent green. Today as I was getting dressed my daughter was sitting on my bed. I told her I was going to wear my blue sweater and she started to laugh. "Remind me to never ask you if my clothes match," she said as she left my room. She told me as she left that my sweater is lilac.

Thanks daughter. So If you see me and I don't match or I am wearing my safe black and white. There you go.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

My new website!

I have been working on this for a little while. I found a much more professional template that still had a butterfly on it. (Lucky me!) I have worked on the content and am ready to show it to the world.

It's right here, C.Michelle Jefferies Author

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Using Story Structure and The Writers Journey together


I am still editing and while writing and editing has been my life, (besides my 6 kids hubby and house)I have also been pondering plot. My awesome editor has asked me to revise and rewrite some things. Alot of it to make sure the plot is one solid wonderful thing. I am loving what I am doing I am learning tons and having alot of fun too.

The purpose of my post however is using some tools to get the plot of your book in publishable shape.

The first tool is Story Structure by Larry Brooks of Storyfix.com. This tool has REVOLUTIONIZED how I look at look at my MS and my writing. I'm dead serious when I tell you to go read the series of blog posts print them up and read them again and again. Print the questions he so convienently provided and use them. I promise you wont be sorry.

He describes a book as a series of four sections, and a series of points that when pre-decided will give you what you need to write what should be a publishable book.

Section one Introdouction: This is where we get to know the characters and setting, including the inner workings of the main character at least.

Next: Plot Point #1, this is the scene/experience that changes the MC's ordinary life into something completely diferent.

Section two the Reactive Stage: The MC experiences Plot Point #1 and then reacts to that point for the first half of the book. The MC is dealing with the shock of the PP#1.

Mid-point: changes the book from reactive to proactive. It's also that point where the writer can give the reader inside information that changes the readers opinion of whats going on whether the characters know about it or not.

Section three Proactive Stage: After the mid point the MC's reactive actions become active and we enter the proactive stage. The MC is circling the wagons and protecting what's left of his "ordinary" life after PP#1

Plot Point #2 this is the crisis point in the book, the last battle, the final major event. Everything comes to a head at this point. Things need to be resolved, and nothing new can be introdouced after this.

Section four Resolution: This is the end where you tie the loose ends up and make the reader feel good after taking them through the events in the book.

I'm giving you the extreme cliff notes version I strongly suggest you go and read it for yourself in its entirety. He does a much better job of it.

Second Tool is "The Heroes Journey" by Joseph Campbell The article I read that started my own study of this idea is here.

While I don't see this as solid structure like Story Structure. I believe that The Heroes Journey is good for character arc. It also draws an analogy to Star Wars in order to illustrate the certain points talked about.

First we are introdouced to the "Ordinary World" where we again see the character where they live and what they are doing.

Next our hero is "Called to an adventure". Sometimes he refuses the call, sometimes he accepts it readily. Sometimes he meets his mentor at this time too.

Next we have our "Threshold Guardians" these are events that move the character along towards the end goal which is resolution of the call to action.

As we near the end of the book we get to what is called "Approach the Innermost Cave" This is where the events start to build towards the Crisis point.

Some times you will have your MC experience a "Death and Resurection" to add tension to the story.

"The Ordeal" is the crisis point where everything comes to a head.

The last two items are "The Reward and Road Back" where the MC suceeds and he begins the road back to that origional "Ordinary World". And "Return With Elixer" Where the story has it's resolution, and leaves the reader feeling good.

Again this is the Cliff Notes version and you need to read and learn it for yourself.

As I plot my book now I use both of these tools alot. Story Structure for what needs to go where and Heroes Journey for detailes information on the characters arc in the story. Together these have completely changed how I think about my writing.

Want to test it? Read both sections and then go watch a movie you will see where each of these tools come into play within about 2 hours.

I hope this helps you as much as it has helped me.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

the joys of writing

The last two days have been an experience to remember.

I finished my fith chapter edit and am anxiously awaiting the next chapter from my editor. I also had an awesome apostrophy about my sci fi book that directly influences my MC. It is one of those revelations where you get chills just talking about it with your writer friends.

Second, I had two awesome ideas come to me for my romantic fantasy. One a change in plot that effects my midpoint in a much more dramatic way then I thought it was going. And, I had an awesome idea that I will tell you about as soon as it is solidified. It involves you guys, my readers, and it's going to be awesome.

Today was a good one.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

My entry for the Christmas story contest on LDSPublisher

I got a 26.5 out of 38. I feel really good about it.

U16: A Real Tree

“What does he think he’s doing?” I asked my twin sister, Ellie. Outside the front window, my father wrestled with a gigantic pine tree. I sat at the kitchen table, my homework piled in front of me. Christmas break started yesterday, and I had work to do if I wasn’t going to be behind when school started again. My twin pulled a sheet of sugar cookies out of the oven and placed another sheet in. “Couldn’t we just have a hologram tree like everyone else?”

“Kai, you forget. Dad lived on Earth. He likes to do things traditionally,” Ellie said as large mechanical hands washed the dishes in the sink, and placed them in the dishwasher. An old scratched record belted out a choir singing Christmas tunes. My mother was upstairs wrapping presents. The house was stocked to bursting with holiday food. The family was arriving like a steady trickle of water.

“It’s stupid,” I said. “Doesn’t he know what he looks like fighting with a tree that is bigger than him?” I leaned back and pulled at the blond hair that kept falling in my face. While I looked like my dad, down to the green eyes, my twin was a striking image of my mother, dark red hair and blue eyes. Her pale skin rivaled my mothers in whiteness.

“You hate everything lately, little brother. What’s gotten under your skin?” she said as she opened a large can of white frosting. The Christmas colored sprinkles were all ready lined up on the counter. I really hated that she can read me like a book.

“Nothing,” I replied, but I knew part of it was that my friends thought my dad was old fashioned, and I heard about it all the time. Noble Standing, the Head Elder of Caledonia, and object of jokes among my friends. Ellie dipped her knife in the can and pulled out a gob of sweet white goo.

“I’m frosting cookies, want to help?” she asked as she smeared the blob onto a bell shaped cookie.

Where in the world did they find cookie cutters in Christmas shapes any way? I thought.

“Nah, I’ve go to get this stupid homework done if I want to go flying with Ash and Doran over the break,” I answered. I turned back to my electric reader where my Astro-Physics book was loaded, and pulled my writing pad and stylus toward me. “Ash said he’d teach me to fly his glider if I aced my Astro-Physics class.”

“Well then, you better start studying.” Ellie turned back to the cookies. There were three more trays of unbaked cookies on the counter. I touched the button that turned the page and began to read.

“Some help here?” I heard my father ask. Outside the door a storm blew in, rain pelted the windows and I could hear thunder. There was no such thing as snow here in Hollis.

“Let me help you, Dad,” I heard Ash’s voice and I restrained myself from getting up and going to see my brother. I needed to pass the quiz when I got back to school to pull an A in the class. Physics bored me to death, but it was required if I was going to be a Star Captain like my brother Doran, Ash’s twin. After being gone for years, Doran and Sarah his wife and their kids, would arrive early Christmas morning.

I finished my studying and gathered my school books in my arms while Ellie arranged cookies on platters. In the living room, I heard my father and brother working on the tree. Last week, much to my friends’ amusement, my father had wrapped everything in the yard and the eaves of the house in colored lights. I didn’t live that one down all day.

“It looks beautiful, Noble.” I heard my mother’s voice as she descended the stairs. I looked up and watched her step onto the black marble of the foyer. She wore her long red hair up; I remember playing with it as she rocked me to sleep.

“I’m glad you like it, Lyris, It took me hours to find the perfect tree.” I turned to look in the living room on my way up the stars to my room. My dad was somewhere in the middle of putting lights on the tree. He had the strings laid on the floor and wrapped around his arms. I had to admit, the smell of real pine was much more convincing than the scented plug-in things that came with the holograms. Dumping my school bag on my desk, I shut my door only to be startled by the ring of a million jingle bells. I opened the door to find a wreath of red bells now hung in the place I used to have my keep out sign.

“Ellie,” I groaned. She hated that sign. She took it as a personal offense that I, her twin, wanted her to knock before she invaded my personal space. I saw that across the hall, she had adorned her door with a matching wreath. Sometimes, I think she wished that I were a girl like my oldest sisters Madi and Meri. I shut the door again and lay on my bed.

Why did my family have to be so weird? I asked my self. I breathed out hard and listened to the rain as I let my eyes fall closed. I rested as I went over the equations that were most likely to be on the quiz in three weeks.

***

I woke to the sound of rumbling. Opening my eyes, I saw my book bag teeter on the edge of my desk and then fall to the ground. Thankfully my reader and note pad were still on the desk. Leaping out of bed, I made it to the window as a large space ship flew over our house. It was so close to the ground that I could see the large black letters IPX 100 stenciled on the bottom.

“Doran!” I said and opened the window. The rain still fell, not a surprise in month ten, and I was soaked in seconds. The IPX flew away from the house toward the station flanked by two smaller ships as escort. Lights flashed in the distance until they disappeared behind the buildings of Hollis. I wanted to be in one of those ships at the helm. I wanted it so bad, that I suffered through all of the classes I hated in order to get into the academy next year.

“Doran’s home!” Ellie shouted downstairs. Making my way to the living room, I heard the commotion as my mother directed the family members in last minute preparations. I could smell the salty sweet aroma of baked ham and cheesy potatoes. It smelled so good. Much better than the instant food that seemed to be so popular lately.

“He said he wasn’t going to be here until tomorrow morning,” my mom said as she added two more plates to the adult table. “I hope I have enough food.” She turned. “Ashby, do me a favor. Go get two more chairs from the downstairs storage.”

“Lyris,” my dad said as she whirled to shout more orders. “Lyris,” he took her shoulders turning her to face him. I saw their eyes meet and something passed in between them that I had witnessed before but didn’t understand. “Relax, it’s Christmas Eve. Don’t stress about it.” She closed her eyes and sighed.

“You’re right.”

Ashby came up the stairs with two chairs under his arms. He wore his scrubs, his long black hair tied back in a braid like my dads. Although my dad kept his blond hair cut at around the middle of his back, Ash’s was to his knees.

“Hey, squirt,” he said. I winced. He had called me that since I was a kid. He rubbed my head after setting the chairs down.

“I’m almost as tall as you,” I reminded him.

He laughed, “Your height has no bearing on your nickname.”

“Are you going to work?” I asked, hoping he was not going to miss another Christmas.

“Nah. I stopped at the clinic this afternoon. Everything’s calm for now. I thought I’d come early to see if Mom needed help.” His wife, Kira, some of my fourteen siblings, mostly twins like Ellie and I, were talking in the living room where the now encrusted tree stood. It looked so gaudy—I liked the more simple looking trees my friends had. One of my friends had decided that they weren’t going to have a tree this year. They said Christmas was an old Earth holiday and wasn’t relevant to us Caledonians.

“You’re still going to take me gliding right?” I asked. I couldn’t help myself. The thought of it made my fingers tingle in anticipation. “I’m getting an A– in physics.”

“A deal is a deal. I’ll talk with Doran and we’ll find a day that is best for both of us.”

“Smashing!” I said.

Ash raised an eyebrow. “Go help Mom and I’ll see what Dad needs.”

Ellie rushed past me, her long red curls bouncing as she stepped. “Mom wants you to make up the bed in Doran’s old room. They should be here any minute,” she said, dumping a load of clean sheets in my arms. I was happy to oblige.
It was noisy in here with all the gathering family.

***
“Anyone home?” Doran’s voice boomed through the house. “Merry Christmas!” I turned from placing the pitcher of water on the table to see my brother step in the door. He was pale from living in space and his stride looked fluid from the lesser gravity in the ship. Behind him a pale woman with brown hair and eyes stood. She held a baby in blankets. My mom was the first at the door and while my dad took their coats, she took the little bundle in her arms and started cooing. Behind them, four kids looked around timidly. I have to admit I don’t remember which one is which, they spend most of the year in space and I don’t think Doran even got time off last year to visit the family.

“Merry Christmas, Mom,” he said as he kissed her forehead. “Are we going to eat?” Doran asked. “I’m starving for something that isn’t space rations.”

“Well then son, let’s have you lead us in a word of thanks before we sit,” my dad said and everyone bowed their heads.

***

I lay on the floor of the living room, among my nephews and nieces. The lights twinkled on the tree in between the plethora of ornaments. My stomach was full and I was feeling pretty sleepy in spite of my late afternoon nap. Ellie lay next to me, braiding my hair as the adults settled the youngest ones. I let her do it. It made her happy for some reason. I guess it’s the wishing for a girl twin thing again.

The scent of pine mixed with the smell of sugar cookies and hot chocolate. It had stopped raining and the night was still. Doran had spent dinnertime telling us his adventures of the last few years. Now, with dinner done, the family found places to sit or lay with the tree as our only light. My father returned from his office with a large picture book. He sat on the piano bench next to my mom and opened to the first page.

“T’was the night before Christmas,” he began.

I closed my eyes. Dinner was delicious. I think I ate too much. I was excited that my brothers, Ash and Doran, were here.

“And all through the house.”

I was going gliding in a few days. I finished my homework. Ellie’s cookies were really good this year.

“Not a creature was stirring,”

Maybe my friends were wrong. It was great to have a traditional Christmas.

“Not even a mouse.”

Monday, August 24, 2009

Ohmigosh!

Its been ten days since I posted!
What happened?
Well Wednesday - Friday we dealt with the funeral of my little neice born stillborn. Before that I don't quite know. I know getting ready for school took some time too. Either way there's no excuse.

I'm glad school starts tomorrow, this has been a summer of distractions--much more than last year. I'm sure some of it is from my kids knowing more people and being more involved in things. Last year, I wrote 116,000 words from July to September. This year, I wrote about 11,000 words and edited 4 chapters. Don't get me wrong, I love my kids. But I was everything from entertainer to taxi this summer and I was gone alot.

Tomorrow is a "new leaf" in my year. I will only have one at home and he is a realy good baby. I have some clear goals as to what I want to acomplish in this next nine months. I have new plots for some rough drafts, and I am looking forward to writing some awesome stories. :) I will also finish the edit on emergence and re-submit it too.

Ah, school is starting and we are heading into my favorite time of the year, autumn. A time of sweaters fuzzy slippers homemade bread and soups and writing.

Have a wonderful evening.

Friday, August 14, 2009

You've got to read this!!!!!!!

Okay, my friend Jaime Theler posted a link to this really cool series of posts about story structure. It's really awesome. It's amazing. Serious go read it.

You can find it here!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Randomness . . .

I am sitting here with really nothing to say. I dont have any desire to write but can't stand to let me blog sit there with the same post for weeks. (Sorry Mark) I can say this, I have had near constant headaches since I rolled my truck 2 years ago. I know I did dammage to my neck, heck who wouldn't rolling a truck down a huge hill. I wish my chiropractor was cheaper.

More randomness I watched "Batman Begins" lat night with the family. (We watched "Taken" a few nights before.) I'll admit that I think Liam Neison is a cutie. I really liked the movie but it made me think of a few things.

First I didn't like that he had all the money in the world to do whatever he wanted. it seemed too Deus E Machina to me. He had the armor, the car, the weapons, everything he needed and it was too convienent. Yeah I know the origional story. I know that Bruce Wayne had tons of money and was able to be Batman because of it. Still it just seems too convienent.

I also seem like a huge hypocrite because in my book Antony/Noble is rich, he has Gage his friend and Mat the computer to design technology for him to make things easier. Perhaps it's good that I am thinking this as I am editing that first book. I think part of it is that Bruce walks away with almost no injuries. That first meeting with the scarecrow where he panics and is actually defeated made me smile. I was thinking okay, he is vunerable and can get hurt and has setbacks. THAT is what I think bothered me the most. He was too perfect and impervious. Whereas Antony is not.

I loved the training that Bruce recieves at the monastery. I'd actually like to watch that part a few times to get a feel for it. I did recognize moves that I am leanring in Karate and it makes me feel really good. I am also begining to see why we do certain moves in our training. I now see that as I do a high block here or round kick there I am actually defeding myself. Maybe its because I am a writer I can see the bad guy in my head and it helps me train better.

Either way I am a sucker for martial arts and I enjoyed the begining of the movie the best. I liked that the "society" that Liam was in was there to protect the world even if I didn't like the idea of the mass dectruction of Gotham in the end. I especially liked the discussions about fear and hatred. one of my characters needs that talk. :)

I love it when a movie makes me think and my muse goes into overtime. Even if I have no desire to write. I guess I did have something to write afterall.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

“Am I Not A Man: The Dred Scott Story” By Mark Shurleff. And a really cool contest


Utah State Attorney General Mark Shurtleff’s ground-breaking new novel, “Am I Not A Man: The Dred Scott Story” is now available for preorder at a reduced price.

An illiterate slave, Dred Scott trusted in an all-white, slave-owning jury to declare him free. But after briefly experiencing the glory of freedom and manhood, a new state Supreme Court ordered the cold steel of the shackles to be closed again around his wrists and ankles. Falling to his knees, Dred cried, "Ain't I a man?" Dred answered his own question by rising and taking his fight to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Dred ultimately lost his epic battle when the Chief Justice declared that a black man was so inferior that he had "no rights a white man was bound to respect."

Dred died not knowing that his undying courage led directly to the election of President Abraham Lincoln and the emancipation proclamation.

Dred Scott's inspiring and compelling true story of adventure, courage, love, hatred, and friendship parallels the history of this nation from the long night of slavery to the narrow crack in the door that would ultimately lead to freedom and equality for all men.

You can order your sale-priced, signed and numbered limited edition copy of “Am I Not a Man” by visiting http://www.valorpublishinggroup.com before Labor Day. There are only 5,000 copies of this special edition being printed and once they’re gone, they’re gone … and the sale price ends on Labor Day. You can request that Mark personalize your inscription, and your book will be mailed to you before the stores even get their copies. For more information, visit http://www.valorpublishinggroup.com


Win dinner with Mark L. Shurtleff at the Market Street Grill and a free copy of "Am I Not a Man? The Dred Scott Story"
Valor Publishing and Mark L. Shurtleff, Utah's Attorney General and the author of "Am I Not a Man? The Dred Scott Story" are excited to launch the following contest:

The first paragraphs in the "Am I Not a Man" The Dred Scott Story" echoes the cry of the oppressed and enslaved:

"To him, the river sang. It intoned but one word, repeated with every ripple, and lap, and tide. One word that began with a gurgle far to the North, crescendoed through the heart of a nation, and climaxed in the Deep South with such force that no power on earth could hold it back. One word that bled from every pore. One word: FREEDOM!

"The "Father of Waters" sang, not with the splash of waves lapping against the levee, for the Mighty Mississippi was wide, and thick, and slow. It slid like a solid mass of glacial mud that had been moving toward the sea since before the Fall of Adam. It was ancient by the time Moses led the Children of Israel out of slavery in Egypt. No, its melody was something more profound and ancient, and it harmonized with something deep inside Dred, and filled his very being so that he was powerless to ignore it. He turned toward the river, closed his eyes, and whispered the song of the slave."

To enter, please submit a 600-word essay on the concept of Freedom. Pay attention to your spelling and punctuation, and email your entry to the contests link at http://www.valorpublishinggroup.com. Our Selection Board will review the entries and select the winner, which will be announced here on our website on October 1, 2009 by 5:00 p.m. MST.

Prize: The winner will receive an autographed and personalized SPECIAL LIMITED FIRST EDITION of Am I Not A Man? The Dred Scott Story along with dinner for two with Mark L. Shurtleff, Utah State Attorney General, at the Market Street Grill in Salt Lake City, UT. (If the winner is located out of Utah, or otherwise not able to attend the dinner in Salt Lake City, a gift card will be awarded for a local restaurant.)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Just a note . . .

As you see on the right. I have a new logo. My good friend Weston Elliott offered to make me one when I complimented hers. Since my theme is metamorphosis and the symbol is a butterfly. She came up with the butterfly symbol in my sidebar. The kanji symbols stand for storyteller. I love it! Thanks Weston!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

If you are a writer . . .


You need to at least try this workbook! When I recieved my preview package of The Complete Novel Plotting Workbook by Weston Elliott I was extreemely pleased. The workbook is extremly comprehensive. The information that accompamnied it (bookmark, brocure and letter) were beautifly designed. I love her logo!

Okay back to why you need to at least try this book. This workbook is something a writer of any level and of any plotting style can use. This is why. The book has diferent sections. Each of the sections are dedicated to specific areas of plotting and writing.

The first section is world building, Although fantasy writers rely the most heavily on world building, every writer can use it. Even if your writing a mystery or western you still need to know where your characters are. This section also includes grid paper for mapping.

The next section is all about characters. There are pages dedicated to the main character,secondary characters and incendental characters. If your writing a book with more than one character you NEED a place to keep track of them even if they live in you head. :)

The third section is Plot and Conflict, this is where the "meat" of the workbook is. There are conflict and resouloution pages, a section on cronology, and a section where every chapter can be laid out. With notes on POV, timeline, setting details, character notes, and plot ploints. This is where you can get as involved or not as you chose. Some writers plot everything out and would use every page to its fullest. Some people would use this section after the first draft is written and use the pages to revise and edit.

I tend to fall in between these two. I go into my story's with a basic knowledge of what I want and where it's going. When the serious first draft is done I fill out the plot pages and then mess with them untill the story is good and then I revise and edit untill I am pleased with it. Here is the area where you can do as litttle or as much you want its perfect for any type of writer. The last few pages are a progress tracking section and a submission record.

This book is put together with locking rings so you can take it apart and put the pages in the order you like. It's half page sized so it can easily fit in a handbag backpack or a alphasmart or laptop bag. It comes in beautiful attractive colors too.

You can get one here.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

My take on Feng Shui


I just finished reading a book on Feng Shui. As my life is greatly influenced by eastern things I thought I would at least see what it was about. The book itself is interesting; based on star charts, and when your home was manufactured or remodeled. Using the charts to identify areas where you would have good Chi or bad Chi, and what to do to minimize the bad and accentuate the good. Alot of the information in the book makes sense some of it I was raising an eyebrow at.

An example of the things I percieved as odd is: you should never sit stand facing or sleep in certain directions based on the presence of certain elements. Also, these elements change through out the years. Which means that you should move all of your furniture around to avoid this direction. My house faces west and which means this year no one in my house should face east. Sorry with six kids there's going to be at least two or three people facing east every night at dinner time.

However, something I liked about the book is that the dining room, wherever it is in the house is a central point and is a place for celebrating and happiness. The book says that you should eat at home as a family often and protect the area with good ventalation and lots of light. We all know that studies show that eating together reduces the chance of drug use and trouble in children.

At first I was drinking all of the information in and analyzing every corner of my home. Now, after reading the whole book and having time to ponder it, I have come to some interesting conclusions for myself. And for those of us that are Christian building an area in our home where we have brass statues, crystals, and other objects might look or feel idolatrous. Although the author says that symbols of our own culture are equally effective. Ex. a fishhook is a symbol of good luck in New Zealand.

Those that believe in Feng Shui believe that Chi energy is what gives you and your household good or bad luck. That areas in the house control that, and things can be done to change or enhance that Chi.

In some ways I believe that they aren't that far off the mark. The earth and our bodies emit Chi (energy). Our bodies are electric, the nervous system is ran with electrical impulses, the heart can be helped or hindered by electricity. The earth is constantly moving, and changing. Plants grow and die, creating oxygen as they absorb carbon dioxide, plants also feed us and animals as well as harm us and kill. Animals also live thier life cycle and contribute to the food chain. Water is allways moving, the oceans surge, rivers run, rain falls and water evaporates. Wind blows and spreads pollen, cools us, and destoys. Weather can be helpful and harmful. We and the world around us is Chi.

I learned some things, or firmed my own beliefs by reading about it. Some of the things I took from my study are as follows.

The book talks about clutter and dirty areas as bad chi or places where chi becomes stagnant. Aren't we all happier when our homes are clean and free of clutter. Isn't it easier to think and relax in a home that is clean and organized? Stairwells should be well lit, clean, and decorated with artwork. All rooms should be balanced, No room should have an overabundance of any element. A room that has a wood floor and furniture may seem stark or overwhelming. Adding elements such as metal, glass, fabric and plants will break the domination. Likewise a room with minimal furnishings or stark white walls is equally overwhelming. Candles and warm colors like red add warmth. The sound of water promotes tranquility, as does windchimes. Moving the furniture and cleaning under and behind is supposed to stir good chi. It also makes us happy.

Living in our enclosed temperature controlled homes, we remove ourselves from the majesty of the world around us. I believe we should have the elements of the world in our homes to connect us to nature. Plants and flowers, stones and crystals, water fountains, natrual wood objects and candles or other red objects to represent fire bring the majesty of the world around us into our homes and add to the ambiance.

Just for fun, I read that salt lamps are extreemly harmful that they absorb good chi and emit bad. Interesting huh? Also, if you are having a hard time concieving you should sleep with your heads in the direction of the guys nin yen direction. For example, if he is born in 1979 you add 7+9=16, then add 1+6 =7 take seven from 10 10-7=3, your number is three and therefore the head of your bed should be facing southeast. You should also have two elephant statues with thier trunks down and pictures of babies in your room. Pomegranites are also a fertility symbol.

In no way is this post intended to disregard or discount those who believe in Feng Shui. I still find it facinating, and respect the beliefs of those who practice it. This is my interpretation of what I learned.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells


When I saw this book at the LDStorymakers conference this April I had to get it. I mean I write assassins they're like serial killers right? In fact the discussion about this book while we were in line to purchase the book was the one that got me a MS request. (thanks Dan) I met Dan Wells as we were stading in that line and I got the book signed too. (#17!)

But I am getting off track. That's not what I am writing this blog about. I opened this book and by the third page was deeply drawn in the world of John Cleaver. Once in the book I could only put it down when my eyes refused to stay open any longer.

The book is about a fifteen year old sociopath named John Wayne Cleaver. His mother and aunt run the local mortuary which is a bad thing for a boy who is obsessed with serial killers. the story takes a severe plot hike when a serial killer begins to stalk John's home town.

The book isn't available in the United States yet, but it is in England. You can get it here and here.

The book is amazing for a first novel, completely amazing. Go on, you know you want to get it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Weapons, of course.

Although it is not a requirement for Tang Soo Do lower belts (red and lower). Weapons training is required for red, blue, and black belts. That said, it doesnt mean that I am not interested in learning them.









this is the up close detail of the staff it's GEORGEOUS!!!!










I have gathered quite a few neat weapons that I love to practice with and have to show them off. This is my newest weapon my Jo staff. It is a beautiful weapon made of Apalacian Hicory. It is georgeous. Her name is Ritsu meaning rythmn.

















Next is my Zatoichi cane sword. I like the straight make of this sword and the lack of the tsuba(hand guard). His name is Butoku meaning chivalry.












This is my bokken it is a wodden practice sword that you learn the movements with then substitute a live blade when you are much better then I am. No name havn't found one I like yet.
















Here are two "just fun" weapons my Hisugaya sword and my dagger. And my "sticks" for a Tang red belt level. I did the decorating on the sticks I thought it would be fun.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Random thoughts

An article on the LDS Publisher blog this week not only made me think, but I got a good laugh out of it.

The blog post was about book club questions. Which I think are a good idea. I like to read them because it makes me think about what I just read. I have often thought about what I would write as book club questions myself. Then she added this paragraph: (copied straght from LDS Publisher)

As far as a book club kit, the more you provide, the better. You could do themed party ideas and provide suggestions for anything from decorations and invitations, to games and other activities, to refreshments and door prize ideas—your imagination is the limit.

This is an awesome idea too, I love books and to have a bash for one sounds like a grand plan. There is one thing that came to me that I just had to chuckle about. What ideas would you suggest I provide in regards to my book? Would we have a "Come as your favorite assassin?" party? Play musical weapons? Make the invitations in disapearing ink?

The thought made me laugh and I thought I'd share it with you. Post your ideas ( about either my book or yours) and the best idea will get a prize.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

When Hearts Conjoin by Erin Marie Herrin with Lu Ann Brobst Staheli


I will begin by saying that I am not a normal non-fiction reader. I use my reading time as escapism. But when the opportunity came along to read this book I was facinated and asked to do a book review. I was not expecting such a heart pulling experience.

The story that is told by Erin is a rich, well writen, sometimes heart wrenching, sometimes heart warming story of the Herrin Twins. Who were born conjoined at the chest. One of the things I liked was the story wasn't just about the twins, it was about Erin and her husbands life. We wern't thrown into a marriage with the diagnosis of the twins problems. By the time we heard about the twins diagnosis that fateful day in the ultrasound room we were allready invested in thier lives. I liked that Erin was honest about it, that the problems in her life were not sugar coated for the sake of the story.

I read the book in one evening I was not able to put it down I was so completely wrapped up in it. The story is well told and well writen. Lu Ann or Erin correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that the proceeds of the sale of this book will go to the twins medical expenses. I am very impressed and will be sharing, and recomending this book to lots of other people. Well done.

You can find it here.

Or, to find more information about Lu Ann go here.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The process of editing.


As you readers know, I am in the process of editing my MS making it publishing worthy. Well since last week I have done two edit sweeps on chapter one, that was pretty easy it is a short chapter and there wasn't much correction. I accepted the changes and added a few things. Then when my editor got it back to me I corrected another few things and then it was finished. Yay I thought this is going to be easy.

Boy was I wrong. My second chapter came in the email and one of the suggestions was that I make my ASSASSIN LIKEABLE. Huh? he's an assassin, he kills people. I know him I know he has a good heart but the reader? Not falling for it. So I did the easy stuff first. I accepted all of the changes and changed everyting else first. Then I needed to make my assassin likeable. Its not easy. I went over to one of My writing boards and my facebook asking how to make him likeable. We discussed it and I talked about it with my friend. While this was mulling it in my head I realized that i had a chance to change the readers opinion about my assassin as well as create a moment of huge betrayal in the book.

So the betrayal is set and I have made my assassin likeable and to be honest it came easy once I had more of an idea of what was going on. In fact MC #2 did it for me she said the words right in my head. Thank you! I actually did three sweeps on chapter two and it was declared good.


Now round three, chapter three. Same intensity of problem just a diferent scene, a dificult conversation between Antony my athiest MC and a religious leader. THAT was hard. A panic attack reaction which I have not experienced enough to write it throoughly. Add to that adding detail througout the scene requiring me to relive the scene in my head. Again not the easiest thing.

Yeah editing is hard. Dang hard. BUT I wouldn't have it anyother way. I LOVE my editor. I love that the scenes are coming out much better then they were before. This is going to be a dang good book when its done. I feel it in my bones. :)


To my editor and Paulette, thanks so much. To those of you at AI and Facebook thank you too. You guys are great!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Altared Plans by Rebecca Talley


I read Rebecca's first book Heaven Scent and really liked it. I had a hard time keeping my daughter from stealing it before I finished it. This time was no diferent, as soon as I shut the book, my 15 yo daughter swiped it from me. :)

Altared Plans is about Caitlyn a young woman who has everything planned. The perfect wedding to the perfect man and the perfect life planned after the honeymoon. When on the morning of her wedding the groom runs off, she is left devestated. Her perfect plans gone in the flight of a plane.

To Caitlyn love equals betrayal. She returns to BYU vowing to live the rest of her life as a old maid. What will happen to her when she is called to be the "mother" of her family home evening group opposite a hunky cowboy named Travis?

I LOVED this book! It is smart, funny, and a great read. I give it four stars.

About the Author
Rebecca was born and raised in Santa Barbara, California. She spent countless hours swimming in the ocean, collecting shells, and building sandcastles. She graduated from BYU with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications. While attending BYU, she met and married her sweetheart, Del. Rebecca now lives in Colorado on a small ranch with a spoiled horse, a dog, goats, and a llama named Tina. She and Del have been blessed with 10 creative and multi-talented children. She has had numerous stories published in children s magazines, including the Friend and is the author of Heaven Scent, an LDS novel published by Cedar Fort. Besides writing, Rebecca also enjoys dating her husband, playing with her kids, knitting, and dancing to disco music while she cleans the house. She has consumed at least 4892 pounds of chocolate and even more ice cream (which is why she needs to dance while she cleans house).

Friday, July 3, 2009

Epithany (AKA apostrophe)

I use that word alot, but the word in itself is powerful.

As a writer I walk around open to almost everything. I see fantastic stories in the everyday world. I hear dialogue in my head and I have characters walk in a room, sit down, and start telling me thier story.

Wednesday night, my Kyo Sa Nim (instructor) started to tell us about the history of Tang Soo Do. The curious person that I am, I came home and started looking at the websites dealing with Tang and Korean Martial Arts history. Of course, it inspired me. I took many notes that I believe will help me with my book. Personally I love research and enjoy the process of making my book better.

The epithany I had this morning was amazing, to me at least. There are fables, and myths in history that explain the workings of the world. So. . . I know the people in my book and thier home planet have thier own history and myths I just haven't figured out what they are. Well, now I know I need to write my peoples history and thier own myths. I am sure it will help me, I know it will make my story better.

So, the next few days/weeks I will be a historian to the characters in my book. At least I have something for my daily goal for Tristi's July writing challenge.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Bone Warriors by Bron Bahlmann


We spent a few days at Mesa Verde and then a day at my In Laws and then a day at Primary Childrens Hospital with my 5 yo son. NOW I am home and needed to post a way overdue book review.

Bone Warriors by Bron Bahlmann

The first thing you neeed to know is that Bron was FIFTEEN when he published this book. FIFTEEN!!!!! Think about this, if he's fifteen now what is he going to be able to do when he's twenty?????

The plot of this book is epic fantasy, two young boys righting a wrong, setting off on a grand adventure, rescuing people near and dear to them.

What impressed me was the boys ability to write. He has a descriptive ability that is beyond his age. His ability to write unique, belivable, and likeable characters is inspiring. I especially liked Tweaks, the main characters best friend. He has a quirky personality that immediately made me smile.

My recomendation to you is read this book and be impressed at this BOY'S ability. The story is a great adventure with likeable characters in a unique world.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Valor Publishing Group LLC Opens its Doors.


I am excited to announce that Valor Publishing has opened its doors. After months of work and planning Candace Salima has announced that Valor is open and accepting submissions. I am so excited! Candace has very innovative ideas and I believe that she will take this company far. She has allready signed Mark Shurtlef, and Karen E. Hoover. Check it out here.

Monday, June 22, 2009

When God closes a door. . . revisited.

I am at the end of my writing journey for Emergence. I sent my baby out to readers and worked diligently on every editing aspect I could do on my own. I pulled my hair at the whole grammar thing even though I am ten times better than I was five years ago. I was thrilled with some amazing comments and suffered through a really emotionally squashing crit. But I worked and fixed and found and replaced and cut thousands of words only to replace them with new words.

Then I sent my baby off to the big wide world out there.

I was rejected, and for a few days that REJECTION was all I saw in that email. I cried and said I was going to quit, and dealt with the emotions of that rejection. Then when things calmed down and I decided that maybe I wasnt really going to quit and re-read the rejection letter. The letter offered a second chance based on changes that they wanted me to make.

Of course I am going to make those changes,I want to be a writer, I want to touch someone with what I write. I have a mesage and its a good one.

In the quiet of a early Sunday morning I realized that this was exactly where I wanted to be. I have wanted to work with this editor like an addict wants a fix. I admire this person so much and have never been able to aford an edit on my own now they are offering it to me out of the graciousness of thier heart. This is what I wanted, and actually asked for the last time I went to contemplate and serve at the temple. That I be sent in the direction I needed to go with my writing. My prayer although I initially recieved it the wrong way was answered in the way I needed it not the way I wanted.

So . . . When God closes a door. . . he opens a window.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Comparison and disapointed

I know from drought to flood, I can't get my voice to cooperate.

After I finish writing. I usually take a few days weeks to read some books this time is no diferent. I didn't, however, expect the disapointment I recieved at about one last night.

I picked up two "romances" for reading enjoyment at the library.

One was a campy paranormal romance which I loved and literally laughed through the whole book. I can't wait to find the sequel and read it too. The characters were great, the setting unique, and the plot really good. I would read lines from the book to my teenage daughter and we would laugh together. I finished that book with a sense of satisfaction and went happily on my way.

The second one I picked up and read just yesterday, I loved the begining of the book although there were parts that were so predictable. I was actually asking myself why I hadn't read something of this authors before, they were that good. I loved how the author played on the stereotypes and made it work I also liked that the narrator talked to me as a reader intermittently. I was sucked into the book and stayed up after DH went to bed (A BIG NO NO IN MY HOUSE) to finish it. Then I get to the end and the two characters in the book who have had all this romantic tension and SHOULD get together in the end don't. I sat there in my kitchen at the table with a blank stare and felt SO BETRAYED! It felt bitter on my tongue and I have vowed never to read this author again because the betrayal was so huge in my eyes. I laid in bed for nearly an hour after that and wondered about the end of this book. I am sorely disapointed.

Now granted there are those of you who will probably pick this book up and love it. Either the story WITH the ending will grab you, or you will love it solely because of who wrote it.

I am begining to think about it this morning and I am realizing a few things.

First, is that this book was marketed wrong, if this is literary fiction/chic lit it was not billed that way. The jacket blurb does not tell you this is not a romance, it lied to me and I feel that sting.

Second, this author in my opinion made certain plot promises at the begining of the book. The author didn't fulfill them and the reader, ME, is feeling riped off. So much so that I will not read anything they write without a million glowing reports of the book.

I've learned this the hard way this year. You make your reader plot promises in that first chapter and you stick to them. Even if you as a writer half to decide what those plot promises are, write them down, and hang them above your desk so you see them everyday. The reader does not like to feel ripped off, or go to bed and hate what they just read.

You have a message to tell your readers? Great, decide what it is and stick with it. Your tale has a moral? Make sure you stay consistent with it. Granted characters have a mind of their own. I know, mine do too. Infact, that is why I am writing a nine book series instead of two books like I origonally planned. But there is this thing called revising and editing to reign in what your characters have done. If your characters change the book completely? Fine go back and change that plot promise in the begining so your not turning you reader on thier ear at the end.

As a writer you owe it to your reader to not leave a bitter taste in thier mouths as they close that back cover.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Writing Progress

I promised you I would blog three times a week, and I dropped the ball, but it's for a good reason I assure you. Last week was preparation for the paegent the time was full of meetings and practices. I also taught two writing classes at the local library. One for 3-10 year-olds and one for 10 +. This week I finished my three chapters for Kirk Shaw for the Grand Prize three chapter review and sent it and a summary of the book to him. I also submitted my MS Emergence to Valor Publishing Group with all of the things I needed to send with it.

So no, I didn't fall off the edge of the earth and I am still here treading water like usual. But it's all good.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

I am so proud. . .

This is my daughter Laurel. She competed in the Miss Castle Dale Pageant and was crowned Jr. Miss Castle Dale this evening. She is an amazing young woman. She is talented and loving. I am amazed at her life, loves, friends, talents and charity.











Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The very serious (and funny) case for readers.

As I am finishing up my MS for submission I have sent it out to many readers. I have had many serious line and content editors. With each edit I have made the changes that people suggest and then wait for another one to come back.

Well,I am working on that last edit and had to laugh. This Is what I wrote:

Antony’s black hair slapped against the back of his neck as he ran. It still smelled of chlorine, he never showered in between his legs of exercise. He had only paused a moment as he pulled his pants and shoes on then took off from the community Olympic sized pool into the cool air. Before his laps at the pool, he rode his bike for 10 miles.

Okay, after many edits I missed something serious. Look again. :)

Antony’s black hair slapped against the back of his neck as he ran. It still smelled of chlorine, he never showered in between his legs of exercise. He had only paused a moment as he pulled his pants and shoes on then took off from the community Olympic sized pool into the cool air. Before his laps at the pool, he rode his bike for 10 miles.

It's a good thing that someone saw it. I'm glad that THAT didnt go to the editors. Who knew?

Readers are your best friend in thie business, and I am thankful for all of them.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

How I Became a Writer Part: 4

Okay, I was diverted a little but such is life.

So when I left off I was talking about my work becoming better. So fast forward a few years to last year. After a few drafts of that MS and a few submissions I recieved a really great personalized rejection from Jodi Meadows from what is now the Rappaport Agency. She asked some questions that really made me think.

After talking about the rejection and my MS with my friend She suggested that I take the story back about five years and answer the questions that my readers wer seeming to ask all the time.

This was not an easy decision. Even if I knew that it was the right decision to make I was literally sick to my stomach. I had written hundreds of thousands of words and edited and revised this piece of work untill my eyes crossed. To take it back and change it to deepen the character and answer questions it meant that Antony/Nobles world was turned completely upside down. Noble was no longer an agent, and that changed evrything!

After a few weeks of worry and plotting on my and my friends part I sat down and wrote out the first chapter and Emergence was born. It was so diferent I was amazed. It was so good my readers were begging for more. With the fire lit under my butt I cranked out the rough draft in about 4-5 months. Then began to send it out to readers and revise.

An interesting thing happened in the process of writing this draft. I gave Antony a first wife and his second wife walked out of my head in protest. She didn't come back for weeks.

Fast forward to a few months ago, the adversary has been working on me and trying to discourage me from ever completing the MS and from being a writer at all. At the same time I have heard from all sorts of people that the ability to write is a God given talent. Knowing this I have told the Lord that If I am to further and hone this craft I needed his help.

That's when things started to happen, like getting asked for the full MS and winning the three chapter review. Having the awesome reaction from the class about my book blurb. I will go to the library and pick up a book and while reading it I will have inspiration as to how to better my book. I know this is an answer to my request.

So now I sit, waiting for that LAST EDIT before I send the complete MS to the #1 publisher on my list. As soon as the edit is finished I will send it to the publisher.

I guess that's it for now.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Something realy funny.

Querytracker.net had a contest to celebrate thier second year on the web. The last contest called for people to create the worst query they could. I couldnt resist and sat down this afternoon to write it. If only real querys were this easy to write. LOL

Dear agent who I forget your name,
I am sending this letter to reveal my previously unrecognized writing genious to you. You are touching the same paper that your next blockbuster author has previously handled. Consider yourself privlidged. As you will see, my mother and all of the neighbors that I have wrangled into reading my manuscript (by force or bribery) thinks it is the greatest thing since. . . the invention of the printing press.
Alana Dove is a newely divorced young woman witha dream. A child of hippies, she picks herself up after her white collar doctor husband leaves her for someone with a brain. Determined to make it on her own after swearing off men she opens a "water yoga" studio only to find no one else can hold thier breath as long as she can.
Forlorn and homeless she meets up with "Mikey", a biker dude that gives her a ratty couch to sleep on untill she either gets her feet under her or some common sense. Will it be love at first ride? Or will she find the intelligence to make a comeback on her own? Only the reader will know.
"Dove's Dude" is a fiction novel of 53,546 words. And if you dont pick it up you will be kicking yourself like the agents who didnt sign JK Rowling or Stephehie Meyer.
I have been writing for the last 6 months and am pleased to find that my inborn tallent surpasses those of Nora Roberts and Stephen King.
I am the "mother" of 4 birds, one quaker parakeet named Archie who plucks her feathers, I think it is from lack of attantion, proper light and nutrition. My two finches named after the main characters in my favorite anime are so sweet all they do is mate and sing. My Cocatiel is the nicest hissing bird I know, i'll bring her to our meetings in the future. She only bites if you hold her and she is getting better at not pooping all over. Oh, and I have a turtle, and I had a salamander but he disapeared and I havnt found him yet. Probably under the couch again.
I still live in my parents basement but plan on moving out when i get that really huge advance you are goiing to give me for my amazinf novel.
I'll be waiting for your hurried response by sitting on the front lawn by the mailbox. I'll be the one in the cutoffs and tube top in the pink and duck tape lawn chair with a margarita and my lap top.
Have an awesome "Dove's Dude" day.
(Please hurry with my acceptance letter. My mom is on my case again about getting a real job.)
Seriously,
Sally Scribner

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A new theme song?

I know that "Unwritten" by Natasha Beddingfield is very much a writers theme song. In fact I have often wondered if who ever wrote the song had any idea the impact it has on those of us who are writers.

However my daughter pointed out this song and I believe, at least for me, the lyrics have more impact on me than "Unwritten".


The Climb by Miley Cyrus

I can almost see it.
That dream I'm dreaming, but
There's a voice inside my head saying
You'll never reach it
Every step I'm takin'
Every move I make
Feels lost with no direction,
My faith is shakin'
But I gotta keep tryin'
Gotta keep my head held high

There's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose
Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waitin' on the other side
It's the climb

The struggles I'm facing
The chances I'm taking
Sometimes might knock me down, but
No I'm not breaking
I may not know it, but
These are the moments that
I'm gonna remember most
I've just gotta keep goin', and
I gotta be strong
Just keep pushing on, but

There's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose
Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waitin' on the other side
It's the climb

There's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose
Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waitin' on the other side
It's the climb

Keep on movin'
Keep climbin'
Keep faith baby
It's all about, it's all about
The climb
Keep the faith, keep your faith, woah

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

It's been a day. I have a headache as the adversary again tries to tell me I'm no good at writing. I promise I will finish the story of how I became a writer perhaps tomorrow. But today I am soothing my own soul with music that calms me and makes me feel good. So here it is: Breath by Breaking Benjamin.