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

Friday, December 31, 2010

Welcome, Welcome, Twenty-'leven

So, what do you think we should call the new year? Two-thousand Eleven? Oh-eleven? Just plain Eleven? I'm going with Twenty-'leven.

2011 will hold, among other things, my oldest child graduating from high school and going off to college, and my fortieth birthday. One consolation is that my fortieth birthday will be on 9-10-11. Really, who could ask for a better date for a fortieth birthday than that? Also come fall, I will have children in every level of school from pre-school through college. Nice, huh?

I feel like I should report at this point on my Big Goal. You know, the one over there on the sidebar with the countdown clock? If you don't want to scroll down and see it, I'll just tell you. It says, "Within two years, I will have a novel published or at least have a contract. Also, I will be presenting at a local writing conference." Well, sometimes I think I ought to just remove that from the blog and pretend I never said it. No novel contract as of yet. But not for lack of trying.

I haven't been invited to present at any conferences, however I am going to be on some panels at Life, the Universe and Everything at BYU next month. I am trying to act all nonchalant about this. Just a few panels. No big deal. Inside though, I'm doing a major happy dance. This is really a long-held dream come true for me. (Squeeeee! Okay, back to being cool.) If you're in the area and want to come see me on some panels, LTUE is Feb. 17-19 on the BYU campus. Anyway, I figure it's a step in the right direction. And since my novel is still out on submission, I won't give up on the novel contract part just yet either.

Now, on to the Twenty-'leven writing goals:

Keep Writing
Keep Submitting
Finish "Refuge" in January
Write another novel

Yes, I'll be starting off the year with another novella challenge like I did in October. Shall we see if I can beat the PR I set then? "Refuge" is the third and final part of my three novella series of prequels to my novels. What novel I will write after that remains a mystery to me.

What big plans do you have for the next year?

Let's make it the best year ever!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas, Friends!

I want to wish all of you terrific people a very Merry Christmas and many wonderful happenings in the New Year!

Me and my Sweetie
I'll see you all again next week. Enjoy!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Guess What Day It Is?

It's the day that voting starts for LDS Publisher's Christmas story contest!

Voting runs from now until Friday. Please pop over there, read the stories and vote. I can't tell you which story is mine, but I am going to tell you that you have to click on "older posts" to get to mine. What better way to spend the week before Christmas than reading Christmas stories? Hope you enjoy!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

My first guest post

Hey, everybody, I'm a guest today over at Christine Bryant's Day Dreamer blog. Go check it out here! Leave a comment. It will make me happy. :)

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Christmas Gift For You

See that box over there on the sidebar? Right at the top? That's my gift to you. Click on the picture and read the story. It's only one page long. Enjoy and have a wonderful holiday season!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Favorite Traditions (and a winner)

It's time to announce the winner of the Giveaway of Holiday Cheer! I thought you might all enjoy reading the awesome traditions everyone shared:

tiffany said... my favorite tradition is Christmas eve pajamas & having non traditional stockings  

Lisa said... My favorite tradition is one my family has been doing since I was a child. It's a Danish tradition where an almond is hidden inside a pudding and the lucky person who finds it while they are eating gets a prize. The customary Danish prize is good luck for the year to come but growing up my parents would do a game or a Christmas decoration for their prize. I LOVE this tradition. It wouldn't be Christmas without it.

Taffy said... We open one family present on Christmas Eve like a video or game we can all do together.

KarenG said... My favorite tradition now that our kids are grown and moved away is that every year, one of the couples is in charge of Christmas breakfast. Then we open presents and that makes the rest of the day more relaxed, some are here for a casual meal later, others go to the in-laws houses. 

kbrebes said... We always drive up to Morro Bay for a family Christmas Eve party and then drive home late at night to have Christmas morning in our own home. For many years we had the tradition of stopping in a tree lot and picking up a huge, leftover, beautiful, abandoned tree that never sold. We'd haul it home and decorate it, drinking hot chocolate and singing songs. Once my foot got stuck in a hole in the ground--lots of other silly, funny things happened while we went tree hunting together. (We put a well lighted fake tree up each Thanksgiving.)

Linz said... My favorite tradition is driving around to look at Christmas lights! We always have such a great time!!! 

Tess said... what fun! our favorite tradition is our annual "christmas cozy". We sit around a candlelit table covered in candy and and share fun family memories. It involves laughter and lots of food...:D 

MaDonna Maurer said...My favorite tradition since I married a German is Christmas Eve. We have Brauts and red cabbage with lots of salads for supper. Then, we eat Christmas cookies while the kids open the presents from his side of the family....the next morning kids open presents from my side of the family.  

Queen 'Bina said...My favorite Christmas tradition is the stocking. If I don't a gift under the tree, that's fine, but don't skimp on my stocking! I especially love getting the orange in the toe and the nuts and candy that fill in the gaps between stuffers. It's silly, but growing up, I always got a tooth brush and hair care stuff in my stocking. There were other fun things as well, but that tooth brush seems essential to me now. Very sadly, my kids don't seem at all excited about the cherrished orange. But Santa will still bring me one. I just know he will!  

Angela Felsted said...Oh, yeah . . . and my favorite Christmas tradition? Making cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve, then sipping hot chocolate with whipped cream. Yum. 

Renae W. Mackley said...There's lots of little things that make up our Christmas traditions: like my husband cooking eggs benedict for breakfast, snacks and appetizers for dinner, new PJs on Christmas Eve, and lots of music.

Jan Markley said...massive amounts of chocolate is one of the best ...  

Elizabeth Mueller said... I love the cozy feeling of family together and the joy shining bright in the expressions of my kids' faces. 

Tyrean Martinson said...I love the munlies we make on Christmas Eve and eat on Christmas day. We have so much fun making them as a multi-generational family, and then they are yummy to eat.  

Maeve Frazier said...Last year we started a new tradition of sharing Christmas with our first grandchild. My Husband and I are called Lolli & Pop; because what child wouldn't want to go to LolliPop's House at Christmas! Merry Christmas to you all! - Maeve -  

MT said...My favorite tradition is acting out Luke 2 on Christmas Eve. I love it when people feel festive and start giving away books and candy. :)  

Medeia Sharif said... I love Christmas cookies.

Sound like great traditions don't they? It sure put me in a festive mood! So, without further ado, the winner of Stolen Christmas, The Widow's Mite, The Boys Upstairs, and a bag of Butterfinger Jingles is: 

Maeve Frazier!

Congratulations, Maeve. I love that your grandkids call you Lollie and Pop. So cute! Please send me your address to angloft (at) gmail (dot) com and I will send you the Jingles, I'll have the books shipped to you, and I'll email you The Boys Upstairs in whatever format you like.

Thanks again for entering at have a very Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Giveaway of Holiday Cheer!

*Sings* It's the most wonderful time of the year!

And since I think everyone deserves a great Christmas story collection, I'm going to get you started off right. Here's what you could win:

A copy of Stolen Christmas and Other Stories of the Season.  Remember this? Well, maybe you don't, since I've gained the bulk of my followers since last year. Stolen Christmas is a fun, eclectic mix of Christmas stories from LDS Publisher's Christmas story contests. My story, "Shepherds and Kings" is in it, along with authors like Sarah M. Eden, Tristi Pinkston, Don Carey, Joyce DiPastena and more! You're sure to love many of these fun, entertaining and touching tales.

A copy of The Widow's Mite, which I reviewed last month.

An e-book copy of The Boys Upstairs, which I reviewed last week.

And last, but not least, a bag of my absolute favorite Christmas candy--Butterfinger Jingles.

Now wouldn't that make your Christmas brighter? Just leave a comment on this post sharing one of your favorite Christmas traditions, post a link to the contest on Facebook or Twitter, and you're entered! The contest will be open until Friday, Dec. 10 and I'll announce the winner on Saturday Dec. 11. It's that easy. And all of these books would make great gifts too! So, don't be shy. Leave me an entry and good luck to all!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Check Out My Interview

Happy Saturday, Gang! Only three weeks until Christmas. If you have a minute in all your Christmas preparations, go check out my interview today on the Mormon Mommy Writers Blog. You might learn a few things about me.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

More Christmas Goodies (of the print variety)

Today I am pleased to share another great addition to your Christmas story collection. Jane Lebak's novella, "The Boys Upstairs." Here's the blurb from the publisher's website:

Jay Farrell, a crippled priest, has begun housing homeless boys in his rectory. Once a street kid himself, he was riding the rocket-train to a lifetime in prison until the day he drove over a land mine in Iraq. Today he works at an inner-city parish, running a soup kitchen and struggling to manage an impoverished church.

With temperatures below zero and falling a few nights before Christmas, Jay's estranged brother Kevin dumps three more children on his front porch. Kevin, a cop who can't believe in God after all the evil he's seen, hasn't spoken to Jay in years, but he knows Jay will at least give the kids a place to stay. It isn't over yet, though. As they work together to meet the children's needs, they must confront the long-buried emotions that have divided them so long.
The Boys Upstairs examines the real gift of the holiday season and how hope can transform the ones society condemns as not worth saving.

I have really enjoyed Lebak's work in the past, especially her novel Seven Archangels: Annihilation, which was originally published as a serial on Mindflights. So I was excited to read a Christmas story from her. She did not disappoint. "The Boys Upstairs" is a touching and tender portrayal of two brothers struggling to reconcile their differences against a back drop of an inner-city Christmas. I found myself drawn in by the characters and their struggles. They were all well-drawn, real people that I could relate to and root for. The ending was satisfying without being overly sentimental. "The Boys Upstairs" is a story of hope and healing and the gentle touch of God's grace. It is a great read to help remind you of the real reason for the season. "The Boys Upstairs" is available in several formats from Muse It Up publishing.

You can visit Jane Lebak on her blog, Seven Angels, Four Kids, One Family

Thanks, Jane, for giving me the chance to review this great Christmas read!

Update from the author:

The publisher of MuseItUp has decided to give a 25% discount on all titles until December 10th, so if you use code HC2010D at checkout in the discount code box before going to Paypal, the price drops to $3.38 Canadian.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Tidbits of Awesome

I have some really cool stuff to share today!

First off, my fellow Utah author, Michael Young had  short story published over at Mindflights, and you don't want to miss it. Dynamic Duos is a delight. A retiring superhero is auctioning off his powers. You never know what might happen... Go check it out! I laughed out loud reading this story. It will make you smile. I promise.

Another awesome tidbit: My friend Tristi Pinkston has a new book coming out! Book 2 of her Secret Sisters Mysteries Series, "Dearly Departed," will be out in January. I am way excited. I read the first book, "Secret Sisters" a few weeks ago, as a reward to myself for finishing my novella. It was a wonderful treat. Relief Society President, Ida Mae Babbitt and her counselors want to do what's best for the sisters in their ward, but their methods are a little...unconventional. Soon, they have a full-blown mystery on their hands. As a member of a Relief Society Presidency myself, I could totally relate to Ida Mae, Arlette, and Tansy. The book had just the right amount of humor, suspense, inspiration, and even a little romance. I especially enjoyed the Secret Sisters antics in the DMV and the fancy french restaurant. This is a fun read, and now I am stoked that the second book is coming!

Here's something even better! To celebrate the release of "Dearly Departed," Tristi is hosting an amazing contest for the month of December on her blog, with prizes every day, plus a first place prize basket and a grand prize that are unbelievable! Check out her blog for all the info on the Merry Month of Miracles. You won't want to miss out.

Stay tuned! I have more Christmas treats to share with you this week, and next week, I may just host a Christmas giveaway of my own...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Turkey Day!

I just looked over my post from Thanksgiving last year (to make sure I wasn't going to be endlessly repeating myself) and realized that since this time last year I have gained 200 followers! That's a reason to be thankful. I do appreciate all you followers and those of you who stop by to leave comments.

I'm also thankful for the chance to share my thoughts and feelings with you, and to have some understanding company on this writing journey. It's not unlike the journey the pilgrims made, is it? We set off for an unknown world, encounter storms, disappointments, hard work that doesn't always pay off. And yet, there always seems to be something to be thankful for.

Today, I am thankful for the joy and satisfaction I feel as I continue to use and improve my talents. I am thankful for the chance to share them. I'm thankful for all the stories growing inside me, just waiting to be told. And I'm thankful for all of you.

What are you thankful for?

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Putting Their Heart Into It

One Day More
Last weekend, I went to see my oldest son in the high school's production of Les Miserables. It was incredible! Really, I can't think of enough superlatives for it. I cried through the whole thing. Now, I admit, it's not that hard to make me cry, but there were grown men in the audience in tears too. They got a standing ovation, and they deserved it.

Jean Valjean
I was stunned at how moving a performance a seventeen year old could give as Jean Valjean. Ditto Javert (wish we'd gotten a picture of him). Really, the entire cast did a fantastic job.

They performed with such passion and intensity that I forgot I was sitting in a high school auditorium, forgot these were kids that I know, kids that I go to church with. I felt like I was right there. The put their whole hearts into this play and it paid off. I don't think I could have been more impressed if I had seen a full-scale Broadway production.

Greatness isn't measured by the size of the audience, but by the passion of the performance.

This is my boy (a student at the barricade). "Drink with me..."

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Widow's Mite--A Christmas Story Review

Yes, I do love me some Christmas stories, so when Christina Dymock offered me the chance to read and review her Christmas booklet, The Widow's Mite, I jumped all over that.

This delightful and touching Christmas tale brings us the story of Carol, a young widow with two small sons, who has just enough to provide Christmas for her boys, but no more. When she meets up with an old roommate in even more desperate circumstances than herself, she knows she has to help. Although Carol busies herself with organizing the school's sub-for-Santa project in behalf of her friend, she still feels empty and wonders how she can bring the Christmas spirit back into her life. Could there be more that she needs to give when she barely has enough for herself? Carol learns a beautiful lesson about love, service, and the ultimate gift of our Savior Jesus Christ. This little story is sure to bring the warmth of the Christmas season into your heart.

The Widow's Mite is published by Cedar Fort, and would make a wonderful addition to your Christmas story collection. (You do have one of those, right?) It would also make a great gift for neighbors, friends, family, visiting teachers, etc. The book is available in stores or on Amazon. If it's not available at you local bookstore, you can ask them to order it for you.

Visit the author on her blogs: My Amateur Adventures and Kids-able Treats

Thank you, Christina, for giving me the opportunity to review this heart-warming Christmas story!

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the booklet to review. This did not affect my opinion of it.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


You probably know how much I love Christmas stories. When LDS Publisher didn't hold her Christmas story contest this summer, I was disappointed. This week she announced that she's holding the Christmas story contest now. Yeah! I'm excited to enter.

The contest runs from Now until Dec. 18, and reader voting will be from Dec. 20-24. What a fun addition to the Christmas season!

So go ahead and give it a try. Writing Christmas stories is fun. All the details can be found here.

Good luck to all who enter!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Why I Love My Internal Editor

I know everyone has a different writing method that works best for them. I often hear people recommend turning off the internal editor and getting out the words as fast as you can. First drafts are supposed to be terrible. That's what revising is for, right? Well, that sounds good, but it doesn't work for me. At all. That's one reason I won't participate in Nanowrimo. I just don't see the point in spewing out a bunch of bad writing. It feels like a waste of time to me. Isn't it better to get right the first time? Close to right, anyway? I still have to do revising, of course.

I've noticed while typing up my novella that the pages I wrote faster than normal in October are, well, in need of more editing than usual. That annoys me. It's not terrible, but it's not quite as good as usual. So, I'm keeping my internal editor turned on. I edit as I go, and I like that! (I am an editor too after all.) Sure I write slower than some. First drafts don't come pouring out of me in a flood. But I bet if we all added up the time it takes to get to a polished manuscript, it probably comes out the same.

The internal critic, though? That's another matter entirely!

Friday, November 5, 2010

In the Doldrums

Yeah, kind of like that.
Ever since I finished my project last week, I've been a bit of a slump. I have that feeling. You know the one. The "Why am I even wasting my time on this? Nobody wants to read my fiction. I should quit writing. I suck." Yeah, I hate that feeling.

Maybe it's because I had a rejection letter waiting for me first thing the morning after I finished, "Renegade." Nothing like a rejection to take the wind right out of your sails.

Maybe it's because now I have to type the thing and I really hate typing. My fingers fumble all over the keyboard. I make a million mistakes. It takes forever! I can't type "couldn't" right to save my life. (I didn't type it right just now.) I always type "about" instead of "above," though I am making progress. I typed "abouve" yesterday. Closer.

Maybe it's because I want so bad to get into an anthology I submitted "Consecrated" to that it's starting to drive me crazy. (What happened to submit and forget? I don't know. It isn't working in this case. I'm even dreaming about the darn submission!)

I think the most likely reason though is that I'm not actually writing. It makes me feel all edgy and out of sorts when I'm not putting pen to paper every day.

There. That's more like it.
Not to fear. I am going to start a new novella soon. It'll be the third and final in this series of novellas that all go together (Consecrated, Renegade, and the new one--Refuge.) Fortunately, that slumpy feeling always passes. Just writing this post has made me happier.

What do you do when you're in a slump? I know it happens to everyone.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Hangman is comin' down from the gallows...

I did it! So, in honor of finishing "Renegade:"

Actually, the song has nothing to do with the story, but it's the first thing that comes to mind when I think of the title, "Renegade." I do have my MC listening to the song in the opening scene, but not wanting to deal with copyright issues, I didn't actually say that's what he's listening to. So, when you get the chance to read it and see "the rock song blaring out of the radio," you'll know which song it is.

"Renegade" is 116 pages (and change), or I estimate about 24,000 words. I wrote 89 of those pages this month, blowing away any previous record for monthly output. I'm pleased with how it turned out. Now on to typing.

All of you doing NaNoWriMo, best of luck!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Um, Hi. Remember Me?

I feel like I have been away from blogging like forever! Even though it's only been a couple of weeks. Big thanks to K.M. Weiland for the awesome guest post last week. (If you didn't read it, you should.)

Here I am in the home stretch. Last week of the month. I wrote nineteen pages last week--not as good as the previous too, but not too shabby, either. I'll take it. Now it's time to finish this thing. I feel I am within reach of that goal, but I have one little problem.

I don't know how it ends.

I don't recall ever having this problem before. I always know the end. I live to write the ending that I've been daydreaming about all the way through. This time? I got nothin'.Well, not nothing. I do have an idea for an ending (after spending a lot of last week pondering it), but I'm not sure it's a good ending. I don't know if it will be satisfying and resonate with the beginning of the story and tie up all the loose ends and all the things a good ending does. It's kind of weird for me. But, I will not give up! I will proceed with the ending I have come up with and we'll see how it works.

So, wish me luck. Let's see if I can finish this puppy by Saturday! (I really think I can.)

Monday, October 18, 2010

How to Bust Writer's Block: A Guest Post from K.M. Weiland!

Hi, all. I am still writing my little heart out. I managed 24 pages last week! So excited. I miss reading your blogs so much, though. Today I'm pleased to introduce my first ever guest poster--K.M. Weiland.

K.M. Weiland writes historical and speculative fiction from her home in the sandhills of western Nebraska. She enjoys mentoring other authors through her writing tips, editing services, workshops, and her recently released instructional CD Conquering Writer’s Block and Summoning Inspiration.

Welcome to the Writing Chair, Katie!

How to Bust Writer’s Block With Variation

There you are, sitting at your computer, trying to write the next scene in your novel. So far today, you only have about a paragraph down on the screen in front of you, and you keep deleting and retyping most of that. You’re quite obviously stumped. Between the flicker of the cursor blinking against the blank page and the clock ticking away your writing time, you’re teetering on the brink of exhaustion and exasperation. You have writer’s block.

What to do?

In my recently released CD Conquering Writer’s Block and Summoning Inspiration , I spend an hour discussing ways to create inspiration and kill writer’s block. One of my most successful methods is recognizing the truth in success coach Anthony Robbins’s words: “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”

So far, staring at the blank page and trying to rewrite that paragraph hasn’t worked very well, right? Working off that knowledge, it’s a pretty safe bet that continuing that approach isn’t likely to give you different results. So let’s try changing things up. Try a completely new angle of attack by utilizing any of the dozens of available story elements. Choose one of the following for your next paragraph and see what happens:

•    Set the tone for the scene by describing the setting.
•    Throw in some dialogue. Get two or more characters talking—or, preferably, arguing.
•    Try a different point of view.
•    Introduce a new character.
•    Let us see what your character is thinking through some internal monologue.
•    Add some action: what is your character doing?
•    Focus on the senses by asking yourself what your character can see/touch/taste/smell/feel?
•    Insert a completely unexpected element. Monsters in the closet? Long-lost Uncle Fitzwilliam? A secret passageway in the cellar?
•    Give your character a new goal. If he’s been reacting throughout this scene, ask him to act out. If he thinks he’s in control, give him something to react to.

Ignore your inner editor and just start writing. Open yourself to the possibilities that these new elements offer. You’ll be surprised at the vibrancy your story suddenly gains. You may not be able to use everything you write as a result of this infusion of variety, but I’ll wager that, at the very least, you’ll be able to wave goodbye to writer’s block and move past that frustrating paragraph.

Thanks for being my guest at the Writing Chair today, Katie, and thanks for the great advice. Be sure to check out Katie's website and her new CD if you need help conquering writing block!

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Challenge is On!

I wrote twenty-three pages last week! That's some kind of record for me. I'm hoping to keep up the momentum this week, therefore I am not going to be blogging or reading your blogs (unless I'm really cruisin' and feel like I have time.) I'm already sad just thinking about missing your posts! I'll try to pop in here and there. Anyway, wish me luck!

(I'll be posting my progress on Twitter and Facebook, if you'd care to join me there!)

Friday, October 8, 2010

What I Need To Succeed

I mentioned earlier in the week that I've been doing Tristi's Writing Challenges this year. She holds them quarterly. You choose your own goal and then report on your progress throughout the month. I decided to really stretch myself this month, and set for my challenge:

Finish writing "Renegade."

It's a novella. I started it in August, but hadn't gotten very far. (I took some time off to revise my novel.) So, this is going to be quite a stretch for me. I figure, if it turns out about the same length as my other novellas, I will need to write 100 pages or more by the end of the month, or approximately four pages per day . Now for me, that is a lot of writing. More than I think I've ever written in a month. But I wanted to try and stretch myself.

A week into the challenge, I am happy to report that it is going well. I have hit four pages on all but two days. Yeah! I'm very pleased. I hope I can keep up the momentum. I have noticed some things I need to help me meet this challenge of mine.

Time: Duh. I guess that goes without saying. But I am finding that I don't actually need to make more time to write. I just need to take better advantage of the time that I already have to write. I find I can get the most done from 10-11:30 in the morning and from 10-11:30 in the evening. Also sometimes in the afternoon too. To make the best use of time, I need:

Sleep: I am finding that a good night's sleep gives me better results than staying up late to write a little more.

Planning: I have to know where the story is going. I used to think I was a pantser. That I didn't want or need an outline. I have realized lately, though, that I'm just a lazy plotter. I have to know what scenes to write and more or less how they turn out before I sit down to write. Yes, I still surprise myself sometimes with what the characters do or say, but in order to write so fast (for me), I really need a clear picture in my head. And it is in my head. I don't actually write an outline. I daydream a lot. This week has been a great exercise in deciding more quickly how the scenes should play out.

Support: My husband agreed to help me meet the challenge by encouraging me and not complaining if I put writing ahead of other things. I also appreciate the support I get from being accountable on Tristi's blog. I've been tweeting and facebooking about it too. Cheerleaders are great!

Serenity: I can't write well if I'm not on an even keel, so I've been taking the time to nurture my emotional health every day, too.

Sunflower Seeds: Lots and lots of sunflower seeds. My writing snack of choice.

I know a lot of you do NaNoWriMo. What kind of things do you find you need to help you meet a real writing challenge?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What I Learned

This year at the Book Academy, one message came at me over and over again.

Write what you love! If you don't love it, who will?

After all, you are your story's mommy. You gave birth to it, you nurture it, feed it, stay up late at night worrying about it. If you think it's boring, well, what will all those non-mommy readers think?

I heard it in, I think, three different workshops and speeches. Of course, I already believe this with all my heart, but sometimes it's nice to have it reaffirmed. 

Follow your heart!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Making Friends Monday--Some Blogs You Shouldn't Miss

Today I'm making friends and hoping you'll want to make some too.

First off is author Tristi Pinkston.Tristi has been blogging since 2006.  On her main blog,   she covers everything from writing tips and the life of a published author to kid funnies, spiritual thoughts, and embarrassing moments.  She also has a weight loss blog, one for writing challenges, another for her fictional characters … and she lost count of how many others she has.  You can find the links for them on her sidebar.

Tristi is the author of five published novels and a whole kit ‘n caboodle of unpublished novels.  Right now she’s focusing on cozy mysteries, although she has written historical fiction in the past and plans to write more in that genre.  She works as a freelance editor, a writing instructor, and a virtual book tour coordinator.  She loves taking long naps, being charmingly annoying, and watching good movies.  She’s a Mormon, a homeschooler, a Cubmaster, and most of the time, a headless chicken.
 I recently got to meet Tristi in person for the first time at a signing she did in Provo, and lucky me, I won the grand prize basket full of books while I was there! If you're not reading Tristi's blog(s), you really should be! I have also been participating in her quarterly writing challenges, and I'll be blogging about my personal challenge for this month soon.
Next up is the new blog on the block, When Pigs Fly.  Brad Slagowski and I were neighbors for close to eight years, but in all that time I never knew he was a writer (or wanted to be, anyway.) Now he's writing urban fantasy and looking to make his dreams come true. So, go over there and give him a nice welcome into the blogging world. You'll love his creative and funny posts. (His "High Triglyceride" story had me in stitches.)

So go on and make some new friends today!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Back to the Book Academy

This week is the Book Academy writing conference. I'll be going again. Last year, I felt like it was such a big, honkin', hairy deal that it loomed on the horizon of my consciousness for weeks. I looked forward to it, I worried about it, I alternated between being wildly excited and feeling like I didn't want to go at all. I studied the schedule, planned out all my classes, and lost sleep anticipating/fretting about the whole thing.

This year? Well, last week my husband and I were discussing his remaining vacation days. He said, "Since I'm taking off the 30th, I won't take off the day before Thanksgiving."

Me: "The 30th of what? Why are you taking off the 30th?"

Hubby: "Uh, you're writing thing?"

Me: "Oh, right."

It was only later in the week that I realized it was next week! I didn't even look at the workshop list until today. I don't know which classes I'll be attending. I'll just play it by ear. I'm not losing any sleep over it. Not because I'm not excited, but just because I realize now that while writing conferences are fun and all-around awesome, they aren't the beginning and end of my writing life.

Anyway, this year's keynote speaker is Brandon Mull of Fablehaven fame, so I'm looking forward to that. There are some great presenters too. I think some of my friends will be there. It'll be fun, I'm sure. I'm just glad to be feeling more relaxed about the whole thing. This is the conference last year that sparked my "Big Goal" (see the sidebar), so I'll update you on my progress on that in an upcoming post.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Do You Ever Feel Like This?

Wherefore, when we write we behold our weakness, and stumble because of the placing of our words.
 Ether 12:25

That was written by the Book of Mormon prophet, Moroni. How many of you can relate? I sure can.

And consider this--Moroni wrote by engraving on gold plates. Revision was not an option. No wonder he felt inadequate.

Luckily, two verses later, the Lord assures him: I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them. (Ether 12:27)

I never thought about this scripture having an application to writing before. But it was Moroni's fear over his weakness in writing that prompted that revelation. I think that's cool. And, anyway, Moroni's writing is fantastic. Check out this verse:

And they did make all manner of tools to till the earth, both to plow and to sow, to reap and to hoe, and also to thrash. (Ether 10:25)

It's like a little poem! (Although, perhaps the poetic quality is strictly from Joseph Smith's translation. I don't know. I like it, though.)

Well, these are just some thoughts I had about writing while reading the book of Ether this week. Do you have any thoughts? How do you overcome your weaknesses in writing?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Some Early Endorsements for my Novel

First I have to say WOW! I got a personal record number of comments on my rebellious post. Thanks everyone for weighing in with your thoughts. I really appreciate that. All I know for sure is, it's gonna be a fun ride whatever happens.

I've received some feedback from a few readers of my latest novel. I'd thought I'd share their endorsements with you:

"Nice job. I really liked it. And I'm not just saying that because I'm your husband." --My Husband

"This book is awesome! And I'm not just saying that because you're my mom." --My Son

"It's really good. I loved the characters. It flows very well. I couldn't put it down. And I'm not just saying that because I'm your daddy. (And p.s. I liked the 'holy crap!' line.)" --My Dad
(Yeah, I like the "holy crap!" line too.)

Seriously, I do believe and cherish the praise and positive feedback from the people I love. Thanks, fam! You're the best!

Now, all you other beta readers--do your worst!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Writing as an Act of Rebellion

This is part of an infrequent series of "Writing as an act of..." posts that includes faith, courage, and service. But rebellion? Yes. I'm sure you can think up a dozen examples of rebellious writing.

I'm not in general a rebellious person. Faithful, loyal, devoted. These are better words to describe me than rebellious. I probably won't be penning any inflammatory treatises about...well, whatever I might be rebelling against.

Lately, I've been feeling a little rebellious, though. Here's why. About 13 years ago, I had a thought, which turned into a short story, which gave me an idea for a novel, which I wrote, which led (many years later) to turning the original short story into a novella and a writing a sequel to the novel. (A lot of stuff happened in the intervening years, which I won't go into in this post.) The thing is, these books are about Mormons. Mormon people doing Mormon things in a science fictional situation. I didn't know it at the time I wrote that first novel, but apparently Mormons and sci-fi don't mix. (Huh?) I don't get it either. What "they" say is that people who read LDS (Mormon) fiction, don't read sci-fi, and non-Mormon sci-fi readers don't want to read about Mormons. Okay. Maybe that's true.

But I'm not buying it. I'm rebelling against that notion. I'm rebelling against the notion that books about Mormons are only for a Mormon audience. I'm rebelling against the belief that I can write either for the LDS market or for the national market, but not both, and certainly not both at the same time.

I'm taking a stand. I will get a book out to a national market that is about Mormons being un-apologetically, unabashedly Mormon. I will not be subtle about it. I will not be preachy about it, either. This may not be one of the books I've already written. It may not happen for a long time. I freely admit this little rebellion of mine might be squashed faster than a bug on the sidewalk.

But I will do it or I will die trying.

Are you feeling rebellious about anything today?

So, my non-Mormon friends, would you read my book about Mormons?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Something to Think About

My sister sent me some new notebooks for my birthday. (Thanks, Lindsay!) She put inspiring quotes inside the front cover. Here's one:

Creation is your opportunity in this life and your destiny in the life to come. Start small. Don't let fear of failure discourage you. Don't let the voice of critics paralyze you--whether that voice comes from the outside or the inside. The more you trust and rely upon the Spirit, the greater your capacity to create." -Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Nice, huh? If one were turning, say, 39, today and one wondered if it maybe it was just too late to make one's dreams come true, one might be really encouraged by that quote, especially, "don't let fear of failure discourage you," and, "don't let the voice of critics paralyze you."

And don't forget this one (it's over there on the sidebar):

God is eagerly waiting for the chance to answer your prayers and fulfill your dreams, just as He always has. But, He can't if you don't pray, and He can't if you don't dream. In short, He can't if you don't believe.
- Jeffrey R. Holland

 So, go ahead. Create. Believe. Here's a toast to dreams coming true, no matter how long it takes!

Pretend that's sparkling cider in there!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Plowing Through

I'm more than half-way through revising my novel. I hope to be done by the end of the week. It's been fun. Really. I kind of like revising. I've noticed a few things:

I don't attribute dialog often enough. I know it's bad to have too many dialog tags, but I've found passages of lengthy dialog with no attributions even though there are more than two people in the conversation. I've had to throw in a few well-placed "he said"s.

My characters chuckle a lot. *sigh*

My characters also sigh a lot.

I love my characters even with all the chuckling and sighing.

I have more trouble with scenes from my female POV characters than the male ones. Is that weird?

It's easier to point out problems in someone else's book than to spot them in mine. (This must be like the beam in the eye problem.)

Overall, I'm feeling pleased both with what I've written and what I'm changing. I will be excited to have others take a look at it. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Rise and Shine!

"Retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated." Doctrine and Covenants 88:125

I've usually interpreted this scripture to mean, "Get to bed before 1am and get up before 10am." Yeah, I'm not much of a morning person. I can remember a time, when I was pregnant with my second child, I think, that I got up at 6am to write. But then sometimes I think aliens must have abducted me and implanted a false memory. I mean really. 6 am! That's insane.

However, with the beginning of the school year, I felt that I should make a bigger effort to get up and see the kids off, at least the elementary school kids. So, I made a goal to go to bed by 11:30 and get up by 7:30. Hard! I promised myself I would try it for two weeks no matter what, and then if it doesn't work, I'll go back to the night owl routine. I decided that I would spend an hour writing in the morning, since I'd be going to bed about an hour earlier than usual. I started on Monday, and so far, so good. My body hasn't quite adjusted yet. I tend to lay awake after I get in bed, but getting up is getting easier every day, and the morning writing is going quite well. In fact, I spend more like two hours, so it's nice. I'm only three days into the two weeks, but I feel pretty optimistic about it. I think it will be good for me.

On a side note, I stopped working on the new novella and I'm concentrating on revising the novel so I can get it out to beta readers. I'll let you know how that goes.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Forgetting About It

I have this uncanny ability to forget about my submissions.  Well, I don't forget about them exactly. I just send them out, make a note of the market's stated response times, and then I just let it fall out of my head. When the proper amount of time has passed, a little alarm goes off in my head. "Have you heard from X market yet? Maybe you should have heard from them by now." I don't always act immediately on the little mental reminder. Usually another week or two will pass and I'll think. "Oh, yeah. Maybe I should check on market X. I haven't heard from them yet." Then I'll go and check their return times again. Check the Black Hole. Worry that maybe I missed an email somewhere. Maybe contact the market if enough time has passed. Maybe just let it drop out of mind again.

This ability makes waiting that much easier. I'm not all tense and worried about my submissions all the time. (Only sometimes.) It can also shoot me in the foot, though. Like a story I just this week started thinking I should have heard about by now. I double-checked when I'd submitted it, and it was a sufficiently long time ago to get me to check the market again. I found it the magazine had shut down. Grrr. Guess I should have checked earlier. Anyway, the story is off to another market and put safely out of mind again.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Rainy Day Blogfest (Oops)

Hey, look at that! I hit 250 followers. Sweet! I love you guys! Welcome to the Writing Chair. It's comfy here.

Today, Christine H over at The Writer's Hole is hosting the Rainy Day Blogfest. I signed up to participate, but I forgot until the last minute, and then I couldn't find any rainy scenes that I felt like sharing. *blush*

I do love the rain. I love the comfortable twilight of a gray sky and the sound of the rain on the roof. I love the powerful beauty of lightning and the sound of thunder rumbling through me. It reminds that there are bigger things than me in the world. I love the sweet, sharp scent of a rain shower. I love sitting in a tent in the mountains playing cards while the rain pounds outside. I love the clean air and the rainbows when the sun comes out. I live in a desert and every drop of rain is precious.

So, go check out the other entries in the Blogfest, who are hopefully less flaky than me. (So sorry!)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Hidden Sun Blog Tour: My Review

I'm reviewing another book today. The Hidden Sun by J. Lloyd Morgan.

From the back cover:

The kingdom of Bariwon is at a crossroads. Ever since Eliana was born, she has been primed to become the kingdom's leader. But she is not to rule Bariwon alone. A contest of sorts, called the Shoginoc, is to be held when Eliana turns twenty one. The victor gains the right to marry Eliana and become king of Bariwon. Rumor has it that the favorite to win the Shoginoc is Daimh, son of malevolent Governor Abrecan. However, Eliana has fallen in love with her personal guardian, Rinan. She is torn between renouncing her title to be with the man she loves or marrying to keep the kingdom out of the hands of those who would rule it unjustly. A plan is hatched to keep her in power while allowing her to marry Rinan, but little does she know the impact this deception will have on everyone in Bariwon for years to come. 

Political intrigue and conspiracy abound in the medieval kingdom of Bariwon. At first, because of the medieval setting I guess, I was expecting a fantasy. The Hidden Sun is not a fantasy, but there is plenty of action, intrigue and romance here. Morgan does a great job of creating believable, quirky characters that you can easily fall in love with (or hate entirely, in the case of the villains). I found myself a little disappointed to find that the book was not entirely about Eliana and Rinan, but instead deals with the long-term effects of their choices. My disappointment faded with the great characters and exciting plot, however. The story held my interest all the way through. Unfortunately, there are a number of typos in the text, but I was able to overlook that and enjoy the story. I loved Morgan's use of symbolism dealing with rain, clouds, sunshine, light and darkness. The ending was sweet and satisfying.

The Hidden Sun is a good read for all ages, and contains no objectionable material.

You should also check out J. Lloyd Morgan's website. It's really fun. The book trailer is a hoot and you can find a pronunciation guide and fun "secrets" of The Hidden Sun, as well as the author's blog.

I received a free copy of the book from the author in exchange for my participation in the blog tour. This did not affect my review. I was asked for an honest opinion and I that's what I've given.

Monday, August 16, 2010

From My Heart to Yours

Do you think that it's possible that strangers like us could be friends in just a moment or two? For just a brief time could we open the doors of our hearts like old friends do?...Well, I'd like to find a way to open the doors from my heart to yours. Yes, I hope that we can find a way to open the doors from my heart to yours. --Michael McLean

I guess I'm feeling a little sentimental today. My follower numbers keep on creeping up, and that makes me happy. :) I do feel like all of you who stop by the blog and maybe leave a comment are my friends. That's why I love blogging so much. I sure like reading your blogs too. It's nice to have those connections to each other. It's nice to not be alone. When I started this blog almost two years ago, I didn't really know who would read it. I just wanted somewhere to talk about writing because I had a lot to say and didn't want to bore my family with it on the family blog. Of course, my family reads this blog too, for which I am grateful. I sure didn't expect to have so much support and so many new friends.

So, what I'm trying to say is thanks to you all for opening up the doors to your hearts just a little and letting me have a peek inside.

Friday, August 13, 2010

All I Wanna Do is Write Some Books Before I Die

A few months ago, one of my son's friends posed the question, "If you only had a week to live, what would you do?" The first thing that popped into my head was, "Finish my novel." Now, seriously, if I really only had a week left, I wouldn't worry about the novel, right? I'd spend my time with the people I love. But when the people I love went to bed, then I'd finish my novel. I mean, if I've only got a week, I'm not going to waste any time on sleeping!

That little thought came back to me when I was deciding what to work on now that I've finished the Christmas story. See, I have these two novellas I want to write. They will be companions to my novella, "Consecrated." That novella is a prequel (I really hate that word, but that's what it is) to my novel, Defenders of the Covenant. The novel I finished earlier this summer is a sequel to it. And the thing is, I haven't sold Defenders of the Covenant yet. I realize I could be completely wasting my time by creating an entire flipping series based around this novel that I haven't sold. But you know what? I don't care.

The thought came to me that if I were to die tomorrow, what would I regret not having written? I'm not trying to be morbid. But when it comes to living each day to the fullest, well, there are things I think I want to say. Stories I want to create.

So, I'm starting on the first novella tonight. It's titled "Renegade." I'm excited.

What about you? Do you have something you would regret not writing while you still have time?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Don't Touch That!

No one, and I mean no one, is allowed to touch my notebook. The mere thought of someone looking at my notebook makes me break into a cold sweat. When someone glances at my notebook or worse tries to touch it, I will throw myself across the top of it screaming, "No! Don't touch it. Don't read it!" I feel like I'll die of embarrassment if anyone gets a hold of it. Like it was my private journal or something. Really, I fear anyone reading it will think it's stupid. They'll think I'm stupid. Of course, it's only my family who would ever be in a position to touch the notebook anyway, and I know they don't think I'm stupid. I still can't stand the thought of any of them reading my notebook.

Once, the story is done, though, and all typed into the computer, I do a complete flip-flop. Then I can't wait to have someone read it. I almost feel like it isn't complete, it isn't real, unless someone's eyes besides mine have seen and acknowledged it. It's quite a weird shift and it drives my poor husband crazy when first I'm all, "Don't look!" and then, "Read this right now!" Sorry, my love. It's one of the hazards of being married to a writer, I guess.

What about you guys? Do you mind if people read what you're still working on? Are you crazy like me?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Me on I Need Friends Friday

Today, I'm Sarah M. Eden's guest for the return of I Need Friends Friday. Go check it out, and make me really happy by leaving a comment!

Monday, August 2, 2010

What a Rush!

I set a goal at the beginning of July to write a Christmas story by the end of the month. July turned out to be pretty busy is a fun, summery kind of way. I plugged away on the story, though and late Saturday night, the last day of the month, I finished it!

I absolutely loved the thrill of starting and finishing something all in one month. I could get addicted to this. The story is called "Living Water," and I feel pretty good about how it turned out. I once heard Orson Scott Card describe writing a story as crossing a lake. With a novel, you can take a row boat. You can stop and fish. You can enjoy the scenery and take your time. With a short story, you have to get in a motor boat and cross the lake just as fast you can. That's sure what it felt like to me this time, and it was fun.

So, although I plan to write novels for sure, I will never give up the short story. It's such a rush!

P.S. Tyrean Martinson was kind enough to give me her Blessed Blog Award. Thanks so much! I have been truly blessed by her blog as well. Go check it out and read her daily 365 Days of Blessings posts if you want a great reminder of all we have to be thankful for. Thanks, Tyrean!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Back Story That's Not Boring

I have blogged before about how tricky it can be to get in the back story without boring your readers. So, I was watching Cars with my two-year-old (an almost daily occurrence), and I noticed how skillfully they slip in the necessary back story with the sports commentators. We get all the information we need about the cars, the race, Dinoco, etc, complete with flashy pictures and sound effects, in a way that feels completely natural because we see that sort of thing at the beginning of nearly every sporting event on TV. It's brilliant really.

You have to hand it to those folks at Pixar. They are amazing storytellers. Their other movies have great back story too. Like in UP, in a sort of silent movie, they sum up Karl and Ellie's entire life together without a single word. There's a TV commercial in Monsters, Inc., and Finding Nemo has a terrific little prologue that immediately sets up a such a sweet relationship between Marlin and his wife that when it's taken away, we are just as heartbroken as he is, and understand at once why he's such an overprotective father.

Of course, movies have an inherent advantage in being able to show the back story without telling. It can be much trickier with books. In the Mistborn trilogy, Brandon Sanderson uses chapter headings in a way that is absolutely genius. With little snippets of journal entries, he reveals the necessary back story and also creates tension in the actual story. It's perfect.

Terry Ervin uses chapter headings in a similar way in his novel, Flank Hawk. At the start of each chapter, he puts a scene from the distant past, revealing what happened to make the world the way it is in the present day of the story. As the action builds in the novel, the action builds in the chapter headings too, until they come together for the climax of the novel. He could have put all those chapter headings together into a prologue, but that wouldn't have worked nearly as well as the way he's done it. It's very impressive.

Do you have any examples of back story well-done? What's your favorite way to handle it in your own stories?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Goodbye, July

The summer is slipping away. Soon it will be time for registration and open houses and meeting new teachers, getting new school clothes and new school supplies (hooray for new supplies!). I'm feeling a bit melancholy watching the summer glide past. I've been having a lot of fun, though, and I know that the fall will hold new wonderful memories and great experiences.

I haven't been writing as much this month, but that's okay. I think I can still finish the Christmas story I've been working on by the end of the month. (A short story in a month? I didn't used to think that was possible.) I guess what I'm trying to say is that if I'm not around the blogosphere as much as I'd like, it's because I want to soak every bit of summer and not let a moment go to waste.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Happy Birthday, Ali Cross (My First Interview!)

I have an exciting post for you today. I'm interviewing one of my favorite people, the amazing and talented Ali Cross! (It's her birthday today.) Her blog is delightful, and so is she. Ali writes YA and MG Fantasy that transcends the ordinary.

Hi Ali, welcome to the Writing Chair!
Thanks so much for having me! I'm sooo honored.  :)

I'm honored to have you. Let's get started.
Tell us a little bit about you and how you got started writing.
Well, I'm a girl who's been busy pursuing a dream her whole life.. First, I wanted to be a singer--and I did perform for Opera Idaho for a few years, so I guess you could say I fulfilled that dream. Then I decided it would be cool to be a photographer, so I did that for a few years. I had to give it up because it was too much work and I wanted to be a mother first, photographer second--but I just couldn't say no to people so I ended up being way too busy. But, there was another dream fulfilled! Now I'm dreaming about being an author--the jury's still out on whether I'll fulfill that dream or not, but I think I will. It just takes time, right?

From what I know of you, you will definitely fulfill this dream too.
What is your biggest fear when it comes to writing?
 That I'll never get published and I'll have to admit that this thing I dedicated myself to for so long will just end up being a big, fat failure.

I share that fear, too, Ali. We must banish it!

What is your greatest joy in writing?
My greatest joy is meeting the characters as they reveal themselves to me, coming to know them and seeing the good ones have some happiness. It makes me happy when I can make them happy.  :)

I know you've faced setbacks and discouragement. How do you overcome that and find the will to keep going?
Sure I've had setbacks. I had a contract to be published (in fact, my book would have come out this past weekend) but it didn't work out. That was hard. I've had lots of interest in a particular manuscript, but it's never been enough to get me over that hump. I overcome such setbacks with the helpof my blog-friends in particular, but also by looking to the future instead of dwelling on the past. We can all learn from any situation, so after the hurt fades a bit I try to see the good in the situation and focus on that. Focus on how I can improve my work so that it's less likely to attract rejections.

Your best piece of writerly advice?
Hmm, My best writerly advice, eh? I think it would be that if you have a desire to write, just do it. Don't second guess whether you're talented enough or any of those things--most everything can be learned over time with hard work. But the trick to getting to that awesome point is to not give up and to keep learning and growing until you've completed a beautiful manuscript and feel that sense of accomplishment. I guarantee once you get to that point, you'll be hooked!

 Where is your favorite place to write?
I really love to just write in my office. I love to write in the afternoon when the sun is shining into the room and it just feels warm and cozy, like a cocoon. I can immerse myself there and really be in the moment with my

That sounds wonderful. 

What are some sources of inspiration for you?
 Oh wow, good question! Movies inspire me. I love seeing visions come to life on the big screen and they never cease to unlock my own dream reservoir. Also, day-dreaming. I don't check my wandering mind. I let it  explore ideas until I happen upon something that I can just sort of noodle over for a while until it becomes an IDEA. And I love to play "what if" with myself and with my husband. I've come up with the best ideas that way.

Favorite writing treat?
Haha. Well, it used to be chocolate covered cinnabears, but I'm trying to train myself that I don't, in fact, need to eat chocolate while I write. So far, so good, but now I have this big box of grape Mike 'n Ike's and I'm
thinking they might be a really great addition to my writing time!

Thanks so much for this fun interview Angie! You were my first and I feel all twitterpated over the attention. Thank you, thank you!

Happy Birthday, Ali. Thanks for joining me today. Thanks for all the advice and insights. You are a wise woman! Be sure to check out Ali's blog and wish her a happy birthday. You won't be sorry!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Speaking of Rejecion

The other day I came upstairs to check my email and found a rejection letter in my inbox. A form rejection. I was bummed. I had getting personal rejections from them. It was quite discouraging. But in the same batch of email, I also had this:

"Perseverance means to continue in a given course until we have reached a goal or objective, regardless of obstacles, opposition, and other counter influences...Perseverance is a positive, active characteristic...It gives us hope by helping us realize that the righteous suffer no failure except in giving up and no longer trying."  Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin

I admit, at first I was feeling so depressed by the rejection that I only gave the quote a cursory glance. But later that night while cleaning out my inbox, I opened it again and read it more carefully. I knew then that God was looking out for me. That He was aware of my discouragement. That He wanted me to keep trying.

And who am I to argue with God?

You've seen the quote at the top of the blog right? It bears repeating:
"Success flourishes only in perseverance--ceaseless, restless perseverance."
That's from Baron Manfred Von Richtofen, aka: The Red Baron.

So, to leave you with some encouragement today:

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Notes From the Editor's Chair: How to Avoid a Rejection

Mindflights is open to subs again! I'm so pleased with the number of submissions we have received. It's got me thinking about the difference in mindset that I have toward rejection when I'm reading subs as opposed to when I'm submitting my own work somewhere. Obviously, I'm a lot more detached when doling out rejection than I am when receiving it. I thought I'd give some advice on what I look for in the stories that I want to accept.

1. Solid Prose. You know what I'm talking about. Watch the adverbs, show don't tell, etc., etc. I like to read a story written well enough that I don't even think about the prose. I just get lost in the story.

2. Believable characters. It's usually the characters that sell me. I want people I can connect with and care about. People who feel real.

3. Conflict. Yeah, it's got to be there. I don't like stories that don't have any real tension or where everything is solved too easily.

4. Emotional Resonance. I really want to feel something about the story. I want it to move me in some way, even if it's just for a few minutes of fun.

Now, a story might have all those things and still get rejected. Maybe it's not a good fit for the magazine. Maybe they just can't afford it right now. Maybe the editor is having a bad day. Or maybe your story doesn't resonate with me, but it might with someone else. Maybe I can relate to your characters where someone else wouldn't.

The sad truth is that once you've submitted something, the rest is out of your control.  And really, there is no way to avoid rejection. We're all going to face it, probably many times. The trick is to remember that it's OKAY to get rejected. It really is. It doesn't mean your a bad writer or that you'll never make it. It just means that this particular story/novel/query/article isn't right for that particular editor/magazine/agent/publisher. Yes, rejection stings. I hurt every time I get one. But it's not a reason to give up.

Never, ever give up!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Guess What I Did This Week...

I broke out this notebook (Ooo, pretty snowflakes):

And I started writing a new story--a Christmas story! I thought I was going to let the tradition die after fifteen years, but here I find myself in July and in need of a new project, so a Christmas story it is.

It's so fun to start something new. New characters to love. New scenes to daydream about. The only problem is The Doubter. You know him, right? That nasty little voice that keeps saying, "That's stupid. Who's going to want to read that? You're not starting the story that way are you? Are you kidding me? I've never heard anything more cliche in my life!"

Argh. Shut up. Shut up! SHUT UP!

Sigh. I'm trying not to listen, but sometimes it's hard. How do you banish The Doubter?