Success only flourishes in perseverance -- ceaseless, restless perseverance.
--Baron Manfred Von Richtofen

Friday, March 27, 2009

Publishers Fair

Yesterday, my friend Suzette and I left our little ones with my husband (thank you, dear) and headed out to the Publishers Fair. It was at BYU, so naturally, there wasn't anywhere to park. We ended up clear out at the stadium, several blocks away from the Wilkinson Center where the fair was being held. It was cold day, but we survived the walk, found the Garden Court, and got down to business.

There were several different magazine and book publishers with representatives there. We went around to each of the tables to talk to them. Sitting down and talking face to face with an editor seemed like a scary proposition at first (a little weird, since I am an editor, and I'm not scary). Once we got started, though, it turned out to be painless -- even fun! It really helped to have a friend there with me, so I didn't just have to start talking all by myself. We both left manuscript queries with different book publishers (keeping fingers crossed), and we had a really fun conversation with an editor from the Ensign, who it turned out writes fantasy novels and is about ready to look for an agent. We had a lot in common. I also got to see my old friend Kathleen Dalton-Woodbury, who was there on behalf of Irreantum. I haven't seen her for years, so that was a treat.

The walk back to the car was even colder than the walk there, but all in all, it was a fun afternoon. Thanks for coming with me, Suzette! And a huge thanks to Tracy for watching over the kids (as Camary put it).

Monday, March 23, 2009

Writing Again!

I am so happy to be doing some actual writing instead of just brainstorming. I am well into the first chapter of The Ransomed Returning. Best of all, I'm finally using my "Always Remember To..." notebook.

I really like the cover. It's a great color, and I find it inspiring. It reminds me to always remember to: learn, love, pray, whisper, work, listen, wonder, believe, hope, dream, care, share, laugh, cherish, wish, try, imagine, trust, sing, smile, play, and dance. It turned out so nice it almost makes me wish I were any good at scrapbooking. Almost. I'd rather spend the time writing, though. :) Writing makes me happy, which is good. With all the frustration and rejection that come along with trying to get published, writing has to be its own reward. With my cool notebook and my cute writing bag (and my trusty Ipod), I can't think of anything I'd rather be doing.

Here's another great quote: "Courage is being scared to death, and saddling up anyway." John Wayne

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Choosing a Market

The other day, I set out to find somewhere to submit a short story. Market research can take a long time. I like to think that I choose the markets I want to submit to as carefully as the editors of those markets choose which stories to publish. I am fairly picky about where I will submit. So, what criteria do I look for? Well, I'd love to be published in a market paying professional rates, so I usually try those first. They are, of course, few in number and slammed with submissions. Payment is not actually the most important consideration,but I do like to submit to markets that pay, even if it is only a token payment. It makes me feel they are actually serious about what they do. One exception to that is submitting to a prestigious literary mag that doesn't pay, but would still be a respected market and impressive publishing credit, such as Irreantum (the magazine of the Association for Mormon Letters).

To start, I get onto a good market site, usually Ralan's Webstravaganza or Duotrope. I look through the paying markets, taking note of which are closed to subs or died since my last visit or which have reopened. I look at their desired genres and word limits. I look to see if they are online or in print or both and what kind of response times they have. I don't submit to places that list response times in excess of three months. That's a long time for a short story response, and I don't want to wait, unless the magazine is really worth it for some reason. It is helpful to check the Black Hole to find out actual response times, as opposed to just what the magazine itself reports. If I find one that I think would be a good market, I'll take a closer look at their guidelines to see if my story will be a good fit. I am often surprised at how narrow some magazines' guidelines can be. I take a look at the website (even for print magazines), just to see what it looks like. I don't want my story published on some site that is really ugly, unprofessional looking, hard to navigate, or contains offensive content. I want a place where it is easy for readers to find my story, should I be accepted there. If the mag's stories are available online (and they almost always are), I'll take a look at some of those to 1.) see if my story would be a good fit, and 2.) see if the magazine is publishing quality work. It's always a plus if I recognize some of the authors and have read their stuff before. After going through all that, I'll write down the names of potential markets, and start submitting. Is that too picky of me? I don't think so. Getting published somewhere with a bad reputation can actually work against you. So, before you let the editors decide if your story is right for their magazines, take the time to find out if their magazines are right for your story.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


After reading this Query Tracker blog post, and the follow-up, I started to think about all of my stories that have started with my dreams. The most vivid was "Blessing Stone." I remember that I was just on the brink of waking up, when I dreamed I saw an old man by a river with his hands in the water. I thought, "What is he doing?" and someone answered, "He's looking for the blessing stones." I woke up, and the story was born. Other stories inspired by dreams:

"Consecrated" and from that my novel, "Zion Rising"
"Getting Colder"
"Casualties of War"
"Star Blessed"

In some of those cases, the dream preceded the actual writing of the story by years. If I write down the ideas sparked by the dreams, they are still there whenever I am ready for them. Already, since reading Suzette's article I have written down two intriguing possibilities. Gee, I can't wait to fall asleep tonight and see what's waiting in my brain.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Good News!

I am so happy to report that my novella The Bearer's Oath was accepted for the print edition of Mindflights magazine. Yipee!

Monday, March 2, 2009


People like to ask me where I get my ideas. I tell them that ideas come from everywhere, which is true. It's more of a state of mind than anything else -- being open to the ideas that are all around. Still, that's not as easy as it sounds. I've been working on creating a new novel (in my "create" notebook that my sister gave me for Christmas. Thank you dear!) and I find writing down all my potential ideas in one of those "brainstorming" diagrams, where you write down your main idea in the center and then all the ideas that come off of that around it, to be really useful. I started with some of the plot lines I wanted to explore, and then moved on to the main characters. I try to write down everything I think of, even if I know that I don't want to take the story a certain direction. This helps me get out all the cliches and find out what ideas really excite me. If I write down every answer I can think of to the questions, "What if?" and "What else?" I usually find some ideas that work for me. I have to admit, though, that I almost always hit a point of despair, where all the ideas seem boring, and I feel like I'll never get the story off the ground. I've worked my way past that feeling this time by doing research, in this case about fighter combat, and allowing myself to have fun daydreaming about the story. I read the best quote today: "Success only flourishes in perseverance -- ceaseless, restless perseverance." That's from Baron Manfred Von Richtofen.