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

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Hang 'Em High!

Author Tristi Pinkston is excited to announce the release of the third novel in her Secret Sisters Mysteries series.

Titled Hang ‘em High, this novel takes place on a dude ranch in Montana. When Ida Mae’s son invites her to come for a visit, of course she brings Arlette and Tansy along with her. They are expecting to spend the week looking at horses, avoiding the cows, and making amends in Ida Mae’s relationship with her son. What they don’t expect is to be stuck on the ranch in the middle of a blizzard and to be thrust headlong into the middle of a mystery.
Help Tristi celebrate her new novel in two ways. First, come participate in the two-week-long blog contest, where you can win a book nearly every single day! All the details are up on Tristi’s blog.

Second, come to the book launch!
You are invited to an
August Authorama!
Saturday, August 13th
Pioneer Book, 858 S. State, Orem
12 – 4 pm
Games, prizes, balloons, face painting,
and Dutch oven cobbler
prepared by world champion cook
will all be there to sign books.
This is one book launch event
you will not want to miss!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Qualities of a Writer Part II: Creativity

cre·a·tiv·i·ty [kree-ey-tiv-i-tee, kree-uh-] –noun. The ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination. The process by which one utilizes creative  ability.

This one's a no-brainer, right? We wouldn't want to be writers if we weren't creative. President Deiter F. Uchtdorf said:  The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before.

That desire to create is at the heart of writing. But creativity can wither and die if we don't give it constant care and nourishment. Some things that I do to nurture my creativity are:

Listen to good music
Read good books
Go for walks around the pond
Spend time in nature
Have fun with my family
Play piano or guitar
Sing along with the piano or guitar
Get enough sleep
Get some exercise
Pray and meditate
Study scriptures
Nurture my relationships with family, friends and God

What about you? How do you keep that creative spark alive amid all the pressures and stresses of life that threaten to suck all our creativity away?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Qualities of a Writer Part I: Curiosity

Cu·ri·os·i·ty [kyoor-ee-os-i-tee] –noun, plural -ties. The desire to learn or know about anything; inquisitiveness

We writers are a curious bunch. (And I do mean curious as in inquisitive. Not curious as in weird. That's a whole 'nother post.) At least I would contend that we need to be. Wondering about stuff is the beginning of finding a story. For my first novel alone I had to find out about fighter jet design, fighter combat, biospheres, bone cancer, Paiute Indians, and coal mining, among other things. I've researched economics, diplomacy, anthropology, black holes, space flight, polygamy, deafness and more. And I love it. I love to learn new things. I love to ask why things are the way they are. I love to wonder why people do the things they do or say the things they say. I want to know everything there is to know. And writing is a really good excuse to find things out.

What are you curious about? Do find curiosity fuels your imagination and desire to write?

I'll be blogging about other qualities I feel are important for writers to possess, so stay tuned!

Saturday, July 23, 2011


I'm back from the family reunion. Four days of hanging out with extended family. I have no idea why the topic of conflict would be on my mind. =)

Really, I did have a good time at the reunion and it was great to see family that I haven't seen in years. But there was an element of conflict. There always is, isn't there?

Conflict is inescapable in real life. It surrounds us, like it or not. Our expectations collide with someone else's. The weather refuses to cooperate. People disagree with our opinions. Tragedy strikes. The list goes on and on.

I think most of us would like to minimize the amount of conflict in our lives. But when it comes to fiction, conflict is absolutely essential. Without conflict, there is no story. It is the tension created by the conflict that keeps the reader going. Time and again I have seen stories that have little conflict or in which the conflict is too easily resolved. Boring!

You can have all types of conflict in your fiction. Relationships, wars, illness, loss, pain, loneliness, oppression... The possibilities are endless. Just make sure you've got something there and that the characters have to struggle and sacrifice in some way to resolve it.

That is the heart of a great story.

So, I recommend you try and reduce the amount of conflict in your life. But when it comes to your story, ramp it up! Make those poor characters suffer. Your reader's will thank you.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Thoreau Quote Friday

Okay, it's late on Friday, but here's today's quote:

If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.

Having spent many years moving only tentatively in the direction of my dreams, I am now a firm believer in going more confidently!

What do you think? Have you met successes unexpected in common hours? What does that mean to you?

P.S. I'm off to a family reunion out of state all next week, so I won't be around the blogosphere. I'll catch you all when I get back!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Guest Post: Why Do We Speak in Fairy Tales?

Today I am turning the blog over to the fabulous Danyelle Leafty, author of The Fairy Godmother Dilemma.

Sixteen-year-old Breena never thought anything could be worse than being forced to leave the faerie realm. Then she got stuck with a fairy godmother. But if she has to choose between the two, she’d leave the Faerie Realm over getting bossed about by a faerie with a pointed stick any day. Unfortunately, her attempt to evade her fairy godmother gives her growing pains in the form of fur, whiskers, and a tail.
Turning into a cat is the least of her worries, though. The potion wasn’t meant to bring out her inner feline, it was meant to put her to sleep. Forever. If Breena wants to make it to her Happily Ever After, she’ll have to accept that sometimes a fairy godmother really does come in handy, after all.

Sounds great, huh? Take it away Danyelle!


Why Do We Speak In Fairy Tales?

All it takes is four little words—once upon a time—and readers are immediately transported to a place where magic really does exist. Where there are dragons to be defeated, maidens to rescue, princes to enchant, and where good always triumphs because they all live happily ever after.

Fairy tales have been told for hundreds—and I’m guessing thousands—of years. Even in our modern times full of high tech gadgets and fast paced lifestyles, fairy tales are just as popular as ever.


There are a lot of theories, and this is mine. We tell fairy tales as a way of sharing the very things that make us human so we don’t drown under the weight of humanity. We also share them to remind us to hope, because sometimes the world can be a very bleak, dark place. Fairy tales remind us of the sun and give us the promise of hope. Fairy tales also remind us of the wonder we had as children when the world was a brand new place, bursting with possibilities.

G.K. Chesterton said it best, “Fairy tales do not give a child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon.” And “Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten."

Children, probably more than most, know that dragons exist on a very personal level. Some dragons are small, annoying things that gnaw on your ankles. While others are giant, fire breathing behemoths that devour their souls. In our world, sometimes the only power a child can have comes through stories.

And adults are not immune from dragons. Some dragons rage without, while others gobble us up from the insides. Stories, fairy tales, empower us—if only into realizing that we have a choice to act or not act. To offer mercy or to withhold forgiveness. To help another or lead them to an iron cage. Fairy tales remind us that not only can we choose our response, but there are consequences for our actions. Things are a little less black and white in real life, but the same concepts apply. How we choose to act creates ripples that affect those around us. Nothing we do is without consequence.

An excellent article that discusses the relevance of fairy tales today was published in the NY Times. Practicing Medicine Can Be Grimm Work is an excellent read. Fairy tales explore the darkest and brightest aspects of human nature—something we all share.

Fairy tales also remind us what it was like when we saw the world for the first time.

One of my favorite quotes comes from Chesterton again, "Fairy tales say that apples were golden only to refresh the forgotten moment when we found that they were green. They make rivers run with wine only to make us remember, for one wild moment, that they run with water."

Do you remember how fascinating everything was when you were little? How a sunrise could hold you breathless, and discovering new animals and plants delighted you?

Sometimes, in the path that leads to growing up, we forget that we are surrounded by daily miracles. Granted, they’re small as a child’s laugh or the first bloom of spring, but things don’t have to be flashing and big to be miraculous. In a world with a short attention span, where the weight of the world hangs heavy on your shoulders, and there’s never enough time to do it all, it’s good to be reminded that we are drowning in wonders. If only we have the eyes to see.

And fairy tales, as well as other stories, serve as excellent bifocals.

What about you? Do you speak in fairy tales?

(Leave a comment on this post for your chance to win a free e-book subscription to The Fairy Godmother Dilemma!)

Danyelle Leafty writes MG and YA fantasy. In her spare time, she collects dragons, talking frogs, and fairy godmothers. She can be found discussing the art of turning one's characters into various animals, painting with words, and the best ways to avoid getting eaten by dragons on her blog. Her serial novel THE FAIRY GODMOTHER DILEMMA can be found here. You can contact her here.

Don't miss the rest of the stops on the tour:

Friday, July 8, 2011

Thoreau Quote Friday

When I went hunting for the quote about living deliberately, I found about 100 other quotes from Thoreau that were just as amazing. Here's another for today. First off a little about Thoreau from Wikipedia:

Henry David Thoreau; July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862 was an American author, poet, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor, historian, philosopher, and leading transcendentalist. He is best known for his book Walden, a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings, and his essay Civil Disobedience, an argument for individual resistance to civil government in moral opposition to an unjust state.

Now for today's quote:

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.”

 It reminded me also of this quote by President David O. McKay stating that the purpose of our church was: 

“ make life sweet today, to give contentment to the heart today, to bring salvation today. …Some of us look forward to a time in the future—salvation and exaltation in the world to come—but today is part of eternity.”

So, what will you do with your piece of eternity today?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

I Used to Fear My Computer Monitor

Way back when I first started writing (in 1994), I was fairly new to computers. I was an English major in college, but I stubbornly refused to learn the computer. I wrote about a million papers using a typewriter and gallons of white-out (shudder) until my computer-science major fiance forced me into using the computer. I couldn't believe I had waited so long. That sure made my last semester of college easier.

But a couple of years later when I started writing in earnest, I would sit at our computer and the monitor would loom over me, just daring me to put words on the screen. Mocking me. Scaring me. I think it was like a 16" monitor or something, but to me it was giant. I remember my husband wanting to get a bigger monitor and I about fainted at the thought. (Yeah, no wonder I switched to writing by hand.)

Of course, the monitor was only the embodiment of what I really feared. What I really feared was the writing itself. Would I be good enough? Would anyone want to read my words? Were my ideas all stupid?

I didn't have much idea what I was doing when I started. I jumped right from critical essays into fiction. No wonder it was frightening.

Elana Johnson talks to today about the bravery it takes to write. That's so true. It's often a scary proposition. So many unknowns, so many doubts, so many fears. The only thing for it is to jump in and do it.

That's what I did. And now that I've been doing it for so long, I find those fears don't plague me so much anymore. I have a lot more confidence. Yes, I still doubt. Yes, I still have fears. But having been brave so many times in the past, my courage much easier to find now.

My advice for anyone out there who fears their monitor (or whatever it is that represents that fear for you), is to take a deep breath and just do it!

Have you ever had to overcome your fears?