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

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.