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

Friday, December 14, 2012

In Print!

E-books are marvelous, but there's nothing like having a print copy of your own book to hold in your hands.

All my books in print!

Last year at this time, only Stolen Christmas was in print! Wow. What a great year.

And guess what? There will be more coming next year! Woohhoo!

I spent some time remodeling my website yesterday. Stop by and let me know what you think.

So, what were you're biggest achievements this year?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Book Signing Fun!

I had a great time at my book signing last Saturday. I took along my "marketing team" to keep my company and pass out bookmarks and such. Several friends I don't usually get to see stopped by to say hi, and I even sold some books. (Bonus!)

Me at the table. I loved having such a selection of books!

With Donna and Shallee. Thanks for coming, gals!

Paige and her sister Lesa.
The marketing team just chillin'.
 
It was a good experience. My next signing is Saturday, December 15th from 12-4pm at EBorn books in the Provo Towne Center Mall. I'm looking forward to it.





Friday, November 30, 2012

More Great Books for Christmas!

Looking for books for Christmas? See my last post for a few good suggestions. Here are some more.

For the space pirate lover on you list, check out T.M. Hunter's Aston West novels and short stories. These are action-packed and fun!

And speaking of action packed and fun, you might also give D.J. Butler's books a look. If you or someone you want to buy books for loves adventures, steampunk, or demon butt-kicking fantasy, you should give these a try! (Right now, City of the Saints is only available in e-book form, but a paperback version is coming soon.)

*Please note, that both of these authors books would get a PG-13 rating! Not for young kids.





 What are your latest book recommendations? 
('Cause I'm looking for books for Christmas too!)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Book News!

All kinds of great book news from me and my awesome author friends! Books make great Christmas presents, right?

Today (Monday) is a book bomb for my good friend Danyelle Leafty's latest book: Bitten. This book is a delight. So well written. If you love fairy tales, if you're a fan of Fablehaven or Robin McKinley's books, I strongly recommend you give Bitten a try! It's only $2.99 for your Kindle or Nook!

Terry W. Ervin II is offering signed copies of his two novels and a short story collection. These novels are terrific. So exciting and fun. The short story collection is great too. (You might even see a quote from me on the cover!)

I just released a Christmas novelette, Joy Ride, as an e-book and it will be in print soon!

Cargo pilot Greg Scanlon intends to spend Christmas Eve alone as usual, but when his boss's daughters want a quick shopping trip off-planet, how can he refuse? The quick trip turns into a disaster when interstellar traffic is suddenly cut off, stranding Greg and the girls in a traffic jam of galactic proportions. But the shopping trip gone wrong will lead Greg to the one place he never expected to spend his Christmas. Home.

My three novellas Consecrated, Refuge, and Renegade are now available in print! You can order them on Create Space or they will be up on Amazon in a few days! (Think stocking stuffers here.)


What books are you looking forward to this Christmas? Any you'd recommend for gifts?


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving Giveaway Winners!


Thanks so much to everyone who entered the Thanksgiving giveaway. Think of all the good we did in the world! Way to go.

The winner of the drawing is:

Rochelle Rudd!  

Rochelle wins Checkin' It Twice, Stolen Christmas, and Sing We Now of Chirstmas!

Congratulations. =D

And as a special thanks from me, everyone who commented on the giveaway post gets a free e-copy of my Christmas novelette Joy Ride! (Just as soon as it's available, which should be shortly. Before Christmas anyway.)

Once again, thank you! I hope you all had a marvelous Thanksgiving.

Now on to Christmas!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I Hope You Make the Best of It

I stole this from a friend on Facebook. F. Scott Fitzgerald is one of my favorite authors.

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald


Remember, there's still time to enter the Thanksgiving giveaway through Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Short Story Contest Results!

Photo by Julien Tromeur
The results are in!

The Notes From the Writing Chair Short Story Contest received twelve entries from eleven different authors from all over the world. I had a blast reading them, but judging is always so hard!

First off, I want to give a huge thank you to my story wrangler, the incredibly talented and handsome Tracy Lofthouse, who made sure I could do the judging completely blind. He did a great job managing it all.

And now... Announcing the winning entry in the Notes From the Writing Chair Short Story Contest:

The Favourite 
by Almiria Wilhelm!



This is a haunting fantasy about a dance teacher and her star pupil set in a fascinating alternate world. I can't wait to share it with you! The story will be published here on the blog in January. Plus, I'll do an interview with Almiria, so we can all get to know this talented author better.

Thanks so much to all of you wonderful people who entered and helped me promote this contest. I think there will be more short story contests in the future!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A little thanks and giving

You would be hard pressed to find anyone more excited about Christmas than me. I'm kind of like the Whos down in Whoville. Can't wait for trees and lights and carols and shopping and Christmas stories!

But I also love Thanksgiving. I love the food and being with family. But most of all I love the thankfulness. The opportunity to humbly thank our Creator for the bounty all around us. A season of gratitude is just the thing we need to curb the greed that can creep into the Christmas season.

So I thought, why not put some thanks and giving into our Thanksgiving?


Now being grateful and giving to help those in need is it's own reward, but I thought I'd offer a little incentive. Everyone who participates in this little Thankfulness blogfest will be entered to win (what else?) Christmas story collections!
A signed copy of Checkin' It Twice, which contains my story "Broken Things."
A signed copy of Stolen Christmas, which contains my story "Shepherds and Kings."
An e-copy of Sing We Know of Christmas. (I'm not in this one, but all proceeds go to benefit kids with Down's Syndrome.)




Here's what you need to do.

Comment on this post with five unique things you are grateful for. Try to think outside the box. (1 entry)
Donate something to a charity (money, food, clothing--anything). It doesn't have to be a big donation. (1 entry)
Do something kind for someone else. Again, it doesn't have to be big. Just do something to make someone else's day a little brighter. (1 entry)

Fill out this form letting me know you did these, and you'll be entered. In fact, as many times as you do these things, you'll get another entry!

So let's get out there and put some thanks and giving into Thanksgiving! I promise you'll be glad you did.

Giveaway runs through Thanksgiving Day (November 22). Winners will be announced Saturday, November 24!

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Career-Changing Performance

Writing is not a performance art. We don't stand up on a stage and create a novel in front of a live audience. Thank goodness, huh? (Actually, I quite like performing, but not in that way!)

Our performance comes when a book or story is published and out there for everyone to see.

I read an article about a rising opera star that really inspired me. It talked about all her grueling hours of rehearsals as she prepared to perform at Covent Garden, and how terrified she was the evening of her dress rehearsal. It got me thinking about how it might apply to writing. Do we not have to put in many grueling hours before our creations are ready for their performance?

This line struck me: Relaxed, focused, and prepared, she entered the stage for the dress rehearsal—and had a wonderful experience.

 Relaxed. Focused. Prepared.
I realized this is exactly how I need to approach my writing sessions.

 The article went on to say:

 “At her core she is incredibly focused, and by the time she had an audience, she was prepared to give a career-changing performance." 

There it is again. Focused. Prepared. And think about it. A career-changing performance. Isn't that what we all want our books to be? 

So, that's what I'm thinking about now. How to put in the time and the effort, the focus and the preparation to see that my novels deliver a career-changing performance.

Friday, October 26, 2012

This could change everything!

As I have mentioned before, I desperately want to shorten the time it takes me to write a novel. I am hoping to start in November and write a novel in 100 days. Isn't it interesting how the universe seems to put things in your path just when you need them most? Yesterday, I read a blog post (actually two) from Melanie Bennett about how she significantly increased her word count without spending more time writing. She referred me to a post by Rachel Aaron about how she went from 2K to 10K per day. (Per day! And here I'm aiming for 1K per day. Baby steps, right?) Her triangle is so simple and yet amazing. Knowledge, time, and enthusiasm.

I found both posts hugely inspirational. I think this could really change my life. I am so excited to try. Go read them and tell me what you think!

Now for a couple of announcements.

Photo by Julien Tromuer
Five more days to enter the short story contest! The entries are starting to flow in and I am so excited to read them. If you're thinking about submitting, please do. Any genre, under 7500 words. Go for it! Deadline is October 31.








 My short Christmas story, "Broken Things" comes out in the anthology Checkin' It Twice on November 15! Yay! I've been interviewed over on the Checkin' It Twice blog. Come read about my love affair with all things Christmas.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Why Write?

It's a question I've been asked many times.

Photo found here
Why do you write?

I think there are many answers to that. I write because I enjoy it. I love to create characters and plots. I love to connect with readers. I like to daydream. I want to develop my talents. I feel like it is an important part of my life.

I don't really have to answer that question for myself anymore. I've got lots of reasons. I think a better question is

Why do we need writers?

Does the world need writers? I sure hope so! There are enough of us out there.  But why does the world need writers, really? Particularly writers of fiction?

Storytelling is as old as humanity. I've heard it said that fiction is the truest form of writing, because in story, we are really telling the truth about ourselves and our lives.

I think we need writers to help us see ourselves as we really are. But I want to hear your thoughts.

Why do you think the world needs writers?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Next Big Thing Blog Chain

I was tagged for this fun blog chain by David West at Nephite Blood, Spartan Heart. I get to talk about my WIP, or one of them anyway. So here goes!

What is the working title of your book? Shattered Skies. I got that from the hymn "Let Zion in Her Beauty Rise" from the line that says, "Ere long her king will rend the skies..."

Where did the idea come from for the book? It's the third in the series that begins with Defenders of the Covenant. (The second is called The Ransomed Returning.) I just put all my characters into another crazy, difficult situation to solve. I came up with a villain I really love--a woman who is passing herself off as a goddess and trying to take over the world. I also wanted the main characters to continue to grow and change.

What genre does your book fall under? LDS science fiction adventure.

What actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? I really have no idea. I'm not all that familiar with actors names. Angelina Jolie might be good for the false goddess. That's kind of how I picture her. Only bald...

What is the one sentence synopsis for the book? Ha ha. I really haven't come up with one yet, so here goes. When a terrible illness and a beautiful goddess threaten the peace across the world, Derek Halstead and the rest of Zion must once again rise to the challenge. (Wow. That's bad. I'll have to work on that one.)

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?  Neither. I assume it will be published by my current publisher, Walnut Springs. I don't have an agent.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? Fifteen months. I'm hoping to shorten that for my next project.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? Is it bad that I can't think of any? My genre is not that big. But really it has the same elements as any sci-fi adventure novel, just with religion added in too.

What else about the book might pique the reader's interest? It's the last of the series and wraps up all the characters' stories. I am so going to miss them when it's all said and done!

Now to tag some others!

TM Hunter at The West(ern) Chronicles
Terry W. Ervin II at Up Around the Corner
Jackee Alston at Winded Words
Tyrean Martinson at Tyrean's Writing Spot

And anyone else reading this who wants to participate.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

More Than Words

I'm a word lover. So are you, I think. I love the nuances of meaning and the subtle connotations. I love word origins and derivations. I love the way they sound rolling off my tongue and the way they look written on the page. I love to string them together to make something magical. I'm guessing you love that too.

So, why then, am I so caught up in numbers so often?

Numbers like blog comments, Facebook likes, page views and followers. Numbers like sales ranks and reviews and ratings, and now the worse yet, Amazon's author ranking.

I feel like I'm living in a Max Lucado storybook where we all get numbers stamped onto our foreheads so we can be sure and now exactly where we stand in comparison to everyone else. I don't even know why these numbers mean so much to me, but it sure is easy to get caught up in them.

I don't like it. I don't like the way it makes me feel.

My self-worth is not defined by an Amazon ranking or the number of comments on a blog post.

My success as a writer is not defined by how many books I've sold. (Maybe in some ways it is, but not in the ways that I am going to use to determine my success.)

I'm finished with those numbers. I am who I am. I've done what I've done. And I think I have a lot to feel good about. So do you.

I'm not paying attention to those nasty numbers anymore. Let's surround ourselves with beautiful words instead.

Monday, October 8, 2012

My Cartoon Makeover!

I won a cartoon makeover from the talented Sarah Anderson!

Cartoon Me


Cool, huh? Sarah is fairly new to the blogging world, so why don't you hop over there and make her feel welcome by following her blog!

Thanks a million, Sarah!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Strength

Being a writer is not easy. It's hard to find the words to recreate the story living in your heart. It's hard to cut out a little piece of your soul and lay it bare on the page. It's hard to put it out there for the world to mock. It's hard to get rejected over and over again and still keep trying.

Believe me. I know. It can be lonely, frustrating, discouraging and downright heartbreaking.

You have to be strong.

But if there is one thing I've learned in my life, it's that we are stronger together than we are alone. We need each other. We need someone who understands what we are going through. Someone who has been where we are, or is going where we want to go.

So, thank you my writing, blogging, facebooking, tweeting friends. Thank you for being my strength when I struggle. Thank you for sharing your own journey. Thank you for standing with me. I couldn't do it without you!

Friday, September 28, 2012

A giveaway from the delightful Danyelle Leafty!

If you've never read Danyelle Leafty's delightfully whimsical, fun and well-written fairy tales, now is a great time to start! She's hosting this huge giveaway to celebrate the release of Slippers of Pearl and Bitten. Check it out!



Magic isn't a handful of sparkling dust, a star-topped wand, or a tame word captured on parchment.

It's alive. It has a mind of its own. And it's hungry.

To celebrate the release of Slippers of Pearl and Bitten: A Novel of Faerie, I'd like to offer a bite of magic to all those who love kidlit--and fairy tales in particular.

There will be eleven winners and six different prizes available:

A Bite of Cobbler


Shoes, unlike magic, are predictable. They don’t change shape, bite, or alter a person’s destiny.
And that’s just how Faryn likes it.

But his Uncle Harvey has a bad habit of dying. While inconvenient, this hasn’t ever been a problem until now. Thanks to an evil witch and a poisoned apple turnover, Harvey is dead again—permanently this time.

As his uncle’s heir, Faryn has to give up shoemaking in order to accept and refine his magic.
Magic he never wanted.

Unwilling to let go of his dream, but unable to escape his destiny, Faryn combines the two and discovers a knack for making magical shoes. He also learns that turning a person into a goose is a lot easier than turning her back, and that he severely underestimated how much trouble magic can be.
The witch who killed his uncle is trying to control all the magic of the land, and it’s up to Faryn to stop her. If only he can get his magic to cooperate in time. 

an autographed copy of Slippers of Pearl
a magical pouch to keep it in
and a Slippers of Pearl bookmark

A Bite of Faerie
(Available October 2nd-ish)


Fourteen-year-old Cherrie Wilding stopped believing in fairies after her Grams had a stroke that left her a silent, empty stranger. But whether she believes in them or not, one of them bit her, and now the venom is spreading through her system and causing  . . . complications. Like an allergy to iron and a craving for milk.


It turns out that fairy venom has the power to turn mortals into small, winged versions of themselves. And it gets better. Grams's stroke was the result of her light—her fairy soul—being stolen. The fairy who bit Cherrie demands her to help steal Grams’s light back. 
As much as Cherrie wants to save Grams, her need to protect her older brother from the fairies and the rest of the real world wins out. Who knows what lurks in a world populated by winged menaces? But when the fairy talks Cherrie’s brother into going to the fairy realm, Cherrie mounts a rescue attempt to save him. To her surprise, it’s not her brother who needs rescuing—it’s the fairies. Someone is stealing their lights and imprisoning them, and it’s up to Cherrie and her brother to free them. But saving the fairies, keeping her brother safe, and returning home requires the help of the Phoenix. And the price for his aid doesn’t come cheap. If Cherrie wants to succeed, she must be willing to part with her greatest possession: her heart.


an autographed copy of Bitten: A Novel of Faerie
a faerie habitat
a Bitten bookmark

A Bite of Books

1 $25 Amazon Gift Card

Two Bites of Music

2 $15 iTunes Gift Cards

Six Bites of Braun Books Certificates

6 $10 gift certificates to Braun Books; redeemable in store or through Amazon
(A special thanks to Megan at Braun Books!)


To enter, leave a comment. Extra entries available through the Rafflecopter below.


Thank you to all, and best of luck!



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

One Thing at a Time (Or Not!)

Another piece of advice from Kevin J. Anderson at the Storymakers conference last spring was to work on multiple projects at the same time. I can certainly see the wisdom in that. There's a lot of stuff to get done when it comes to writing, and as I mentioned in my last post, I want to speed up the process. That is going to mean working on more than one project at once, which is something else I haven't done in the past. I am a one thing at a time kind of gal.

But no more! I think the trick is to have the projects in different stages, so I'm not working on the same thing on multiple projects.

Anyway, here's what I want to work on right now.

1. Drafting a Christmas story (almost done with that)
2. First revision on Shattered Skies
3. Planning and outlining the new novel

Of course, once the Christmas story is done, I'll need to revise that too--in time for Christmas. Hopefully that will only take a matter of days, though.

What projects are you working on? Do you work on more than one at a time?

Friday, September 21, 2012

A New Challenge

My new notebook is ready! 

As you probably know, I finished my third novel, Shattered Skies at the end of August. It took me fifteen months to write it. That's the same amount of time it took to write The Ransomed Returning. I'm thinking, that's just too long! I really need to speed up the process. So, in addition to creating my ideal writing environment, I am giving myself a challenge to write a novel in a hundred days.

That's not quite NaNoWriMo speed, but for me it will be huge. I plan to start in November when everyone starts NaNo. It'll be my own personal NaNo.

At the moment I am working myself into this writing pace with a short Christmas story. Once that is done, I will begin planning the novel. I know that's the only way I'll be able to write that fast. Problem is, I'm not normally a planner. So, this is going to be a big change for me, but I'm excited to try.

Now I just have to figure out which novel I want to write next. Either an LDS urban fantasy demon fighters type thing, (working title: Lions of the Lord) or a straight up sci-fi, alien planet space opera, still religious in nature, but only subtly LDS (working title: Cold Sun). What do you think? Both ideas have been vying for attention for over a year. It's hard to choose, though I'm leaning toward the sci-fi (my first love).

So, what challenges have you taken lately? Are you doing NaNo this year? Do you have any tips for planning a novel?

Don't forget to enter the short story contest! Ends October 31.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Short Story Contest!!

Photo by Julien Tromeur
Announcing
The Notes From the Writing Chair Short Story Contest!  



Here are the official rules:

1. Entries must be original, unpublished works of fiction 7500 words or less.

2. Entries will be accepted September 18, 2012-October 31, 2012. (Cut-off for entries will be at 8am MDT November 1.)

3. Entries must be submitted via email to this address as an attached file in .rtf format. Manuscript should be in Times New Roman 12pt, or similar font, with no identifying information on the manuscript itself. Your email should include your name, address, email address, story title and word count. Please put the words: Contest Entry: Story Title as the subject of your email (with the title of your story).

Entries will go to the story wrangler who will forward the unmarked attachments to the judge (me). Authors of the stories will not be revealed until after the judging is complete.

4. The judge will select one winner at her sole discretion. Winner will receive publication of the story on the Notes From the Writing Chair blog, and an author spotlight/interview on the blog. All entries will receive feedback from the judge. The winner will be announced on Friday, November 16, 2012.

Submit your stories HERE. 

Good luck! I look forward to reading your entries. Please let all your writer friends know about the contest!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Writing Short Fiction Part VI: Why, Where, and When

Okay, so I think it's time for another little blog series, this time on writing short fiction. A subject dear to my heart. I have written dozens of short stories and spent seven years as an editor of short fiction. If short stories are something you're interested in writing, hopefully I'll have some useful information. Feel free to leave questions in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them.

We've discussed the what and the how of short fiction. Now it's time for the why, when and where.
Photo by Julien Tromeur

So, why write short fiction?

I'm sorry to say that there isn't much money in short fiction. If you want to make a living as an author, short fiction probably won't pay the bills. There are still lots of good reasons to write short fiction, though.

It's an excellent way to hone your storytelling skills. This is how I learned to write. Short stories give you the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of character, setting, plot, and other story elements in a less overwhelming environment than novel writing.

You can get to THE END more quickly. Many new writers have an easy time starting projects but a much harder time finishing them. Short fiction can give you the opportunity to take a story from beginning to end in much less time than a novel. I personally love the satisfaction of finishing a story, and that comes a lot quicker with a short story. It can help build up your confidence in your ability to finish a longer work.

Short stories can help you get your name out there, get some publishing credits, and start building an audience of readers.

Many authors, including me, are using short fiction as a marketing tool to promote novels. Short stories set in the same world as your novel can add to readers' enjoyment of your world and get the word out about your novels.

Plus, short stories are fun! At least I think they are.

Where can you publish your short fiction?

There are lots of options. Ralan's Webstravaganza and Duotrope are both excellent resources for finding short fiction markets.

Short stories can also be published on a blog or through Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc. (Personally, I think the best thing about e-books is the resurgence of short fiction.)

You can also enter many short fiction contests, which can be an excellent way to establish yourself as an author.

Last, but not least, when should you write short fiction?

Hey, there's no time like the present! Give yourself a challenge and start a short story today! Who knows where it could lead. My novel, Defenders of the Covenant, started with a short story I wrote ages ago.

Short fiction is fun, versatile and educational. Give it a try!

And just because I love it so much: Announcing the Notes From the Writing Chair Short Story Contest! Watch for the details here tomorrow!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Writing Short Fiction Part V: The Don'ts!

Okay, so I think it's time for another little blog series, this time on writing short fiction. A subject dear to my heart. I have written dozens of short stories and spent seven years as an editor of short fiction. If short stories are something you're interested in writing, hopefully I'll have some useful information. Feel free to leave questions in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them!


Photo by Julien Tromeur
The Don'ts!

There are a few things that you ought to avoid when it comes to writing short fiction.

First and foremost, never, never ever begin with backstory or info-dumping. Nothing kills a short piece dead faster than a bunch of telling at the beginning.You have to impart the pertinent information in the midst of the action. Trust me. Your readers are smart. They will figure things out. But if you info-dump on them, they will put the story down and never look at it again.

Related to this is don't start the story before the story begins. Maybe you're not just info-dumping. Maybe you've written a lovely scene, but that scene doesn't really have anything to do with the plot. Maybe it's just a set-up scene. You don't need it. Trust me. Begin at the beginning--at the inciting incident--then run with it.

Don't use someone else's characters or world. At least if you want to publish the story. There are a lot of fan fiction sights where you can post your stories set in somebody else's world or using their characters, but don't offer them to the world at large. You'll run into copyright trouble and you don't want to go there! Besides, you have great stories all your own just waiting to come out!

And finally, don't worry about length while you are writing. I know I've talked a lot about keeping your short story, well, short. But when you are in the process of creating a story, don't worry about how long or short it is. Find the length that fits the story. Once you have a first draft out, you can look at it and see if something needs to be cut or added in. Writing a short story (or anything) ought to be a fun process. Don't hamper yourself by worrying about the length.

Any other don'ts you can think of?

If you're interested, check out Part I, Part II, Part III and Part IV!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Writing Short Fiction Part IV: How (Plot)

Okay, so I think it's time for another little blog series, this time on writing short fiction. A subject dear to my heart. I have written dozens of short stories and spent seven years as an editor of short fiction. If short stories are something you're interested in writing, hopefully I'll have some useful information. Feel free to leave questions in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them!



How to write a great short story! 
Photo by Julien Tromeur
I once took a class from Orson Scott Card in which he compared writing short stories vs. novels to taking a boat across a lake. When writing a novel, you can take a rowboat across the lake. You can stop and fish and enjoy the scenery and paddle around all day. When writing a short story, you get into a speedboat, start the engine and race to the other side of the lake as fast as you can.

Short stories need all the same elements as a novel in order to make it truly a story and not something else. (See Part I). But you're going to handle those elements quite differently in a short story than you would with a novel.

Today, we'll talk about the plot! In order to be an actual story, you must have a plot with a conflict and a resolution. Without those things, you don't have a story at all. Your main character needs a problem, something standing in the way of what he wants. The story is about him (or her) trying to solve the problem and either succeeding or failing in the end. Same goes for novels. But in a short story, you must focus on only one problem or one main storyline without subplots like you'd have in a novel. (See the boat metaphor above.)

You want to start your story right at the inciting incident, the thing that drives the character into action, or maybe even a little bit after the inciting incident. I think it's fun to read a short story that begins with the zombies breaking down the door!

Then the action must proceed fairly quickly to the climax. That means in short fiction, the conflict will be less complex, but no less compelling, than in a novel. Both characterization and setting details must also drive the plot forward. No problem, right?

Finally, you must have a resolution. The story needs to feel finished, not like it was just a first chapter or an excerpt from a longer work. There's nothing wrong with excerpts, of course, but you shouldn't try to pass it off as a short story. Even if you intend to write a series of short stories about the same character, each story should have it's own complete story arc, so the reader feels satisfied in the end.

That, in my opinion, is what makes a great short story great. You get the complete story experience in a short space of time. They are exhilarating to write and to read!

In case you're interested, check out Part I, Part II, and Part III

Monday, September 10, 2012

Writing Short Fiction Part III: How (Setting)

Okay, so I think it's time for another little blog series, this time on writing short fiction. A subject dear to my heart. I have written dozens of short stories and spent seven years as an editor of short fiction. If short stories are something you're interested in writing, hopefully I'll have some useful information. Feel free to leave questions in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them!


How to write a great short story!
Photo by Julien Tromeur
I once took a class from Orson Scott Card in which he compared writing short stories vs. novels to taking a boat across a lake. When writing a novel, you can take a rowboat across the lake. You can stop and fish and enjoy the scenery and paddle around all day. When writing a short story, you get into a speedboat, start the engine and race to the other side of the lake as fast as you can.

Short stories need all the same elements as a novel in order to make it truly a story and not something else. (See Part I). But you're going to handle those elements quite differently in a short story than you would with a novel.

Today, let's talk about the setting. Just as it is important for the reader to get to know and love the main character right away, they also need to know where and when the story is taking place. I know I find it frustrating to read halfway through a short story with no clue even what the time period of the story is! You need to ground the reader in the world of the story from the very first paragraph, if not the first sentence.

However, in the small space of a short story, you do not have room for long descriptions of the setting. Nor is it wise to info-dump on your readers. The trick is to choose the little, telling details that open up the world for the reader without bogging down your prose. Is the character using a cell-phone? Riding in a buggy? Traveling in space? What is the character wearing? How do they feel about their surroundings? It's the small details that will pack the most powerful punch in establishing the setting in a short story.

Because everyone likes to dwell in a different world from their own, even for just a little while!

(If you're interested, check out Part I and Part II of the series.)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Writing Short Fiction Part II: How (Characters)

Okay, so I think it's time for another little blog series, this time on writing short fiction. A subject dear to my heart. I have written dozens of short stories and spent seven years as an editor of short fiction. If short stories are something you're interested in writing, hopefully I'll have some useful information. Feel free to leave questions in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them!

How to write a great short story!

Photo by Julien Tromeur
I once took a class from Orson Scott Card in which he compared writing short stories vs. novels to taking a boat across a lake. When writing a novel, you can take a rowboat across the lake. You can stop and fish and enjoy the scenery and paddle around all day. When writing a short story, you get into a speedboat, start the engine and race to the other side of the lake as fast as you can.

Short stories need all the same elements as a novel in order to make it truly a story and not something else. (See my last post). But you're going to handle those elements quite differently in a short story than you would with a novel.

First of all, your story needs characters. In a short story you are (probably) going to have only one main character. Maybe two. But that's it. You're going to stick with just one viewpoint throughout the story (unless you are writing in the omniscient viewpoint). Your main character should be the person the story is about. The person most deeply effected by the main conflict of the story. You don't have room in a short story to introduce a lot of secondary characters. Of course, their will be secondary characters, but you won't spend much time developing them.

In a short story, your main character needs to be someone readers can relate to at once. They need to feel an almost immediate connection with the character in order to care about what's happening. That means you need to choose your characters actions, dialog, and descriptions very carefully in order to pack the most punch into the shortest space.

To achieve this (in my opinion), you need to get to know you're character inside and out. You need to know him or her so well that you can convey the character's personality to the reader in just a few sentences.

The short stories I love the best are the ones with the most memorable characters!

Next time we'll discuss the importance of the setting in a short story.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Writing Short Fiction Part I: What is a short story?

Okay, so I think it's time for another little blog series, this time on writing short fiction. A subject dear to my heart. I have written dozens of short stories and spent seven years as an editor of short fiction. If short stories are something you're interested in writing, hopefully I'll have some useful information. Feel free to leave questions in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them!
Photo by Julien Tromeur

What is a short story?

Let's start with some official definitions.

According to SFWA:

Less than 7500 words = short story (I would add that less than 1000 is considered flash fiction.)
7500-17.5K = novelette
17.5K-40K = novella
40K and up = novel

Why is it important to know this? Well, when if you want to sell your short fiction to a magazine or anthology, it's important to know what length they are looking for. In general, it's easier to sell a short story than a novelette or novella, especially for a first-time author. Back in the day, when I started writing, I was told that novellas were almost impossible to sell. That is true, or was anyway, but the rise in e-books has had the happy side effect of bringing about the return of the novella. I like that because I think novellas are fun to write. It's a length that really works well for me.

Aside from knowing what length your short fiction should be, you should also understand that some kinds of shorter works may fall into the length category without really being short stories. Some examples: articles, personal essays, slice of life stories (just a nice little description of life without any real conflict), allegory,  and joke stories (basically just a set-up and a punchline. Most flash fiction falls into this category.)

There are markets for all of the above types of short writing, so if that's what you want to write, that's great. But for purposes of this blog series, I will be discussing short works that have the elements of a story: plot (with conflict and resolution), character, and setting--which are usually shown and not told.

There are some types of shorter works that don't qualify as stories and don't really have any market. That includes novel synopses and chapters or excerpts of longer works.

But we'll discuss that more in Part II: How to write a great short story!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

An Awesome Achievement

At a signing last weekend, I talked to a fellow writer about the novel he had written and what he was trying to do to get it published. I told him, "That's awesome."

He said, "When I'm sitting where you are, then it will be awesome."

I told him he was wrong. Yes, it is awesome to have your book published. It is great to be able to go out and do signings and stuff. But finishing a novel at all is one awesome achievement! Heck, starting a novel at all is one awesome achievement!

So, published or not, be sure to give yourself credit for what you have accomplished.

Yesterday, I finished my third novel, Shattered Skies. I know there is more work ahead with revisions and such, but the story is out of my head and onto paper, and that feels absolutely wonderful! I think I get more satisfaction from finishing a project than from anything else I do. I'm going to reward myself with a Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory caramel apple. Mmmmm. Heavenly!

I think no matter what happens with the book after this, the fact that I wrote it, I finished it, is something I can always be proud of.

Where do you find your greatest satisfaction from writing? (Not counting getting published.)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Your Ideal Writing Environment

One of my ideal environments!
Back at the Storymakers conference in May, keynote speaker Kevin J. Anderson offered his eleven tips to become a more productive writer. Now if I could be even a quarter as productive as he is, that would be fantastic! The one suggestion he made that resonated most with me was to create your ideal writing environment. That was something I knew I needed to work on.

That was the first week of May. This summer packed a pretty nasty emotional punch and it isn't until now that I've actually been able to think about my ideal writing environment.

As you might gather from the title of this blog, I have a nice little writing space, a comfy chair, a fantastic view. But the funny thing is that I don't actually do a lot of writing up there. I share the office with my husband and when our son came home from college (the same day as the writing conference), it became his storage room too. It's cluttered and I don't always feel comfortable there. I do intend to get my office cleaned up and organized, but really, I write anywhere and everywhere. On the couch, at the table, in bed, at the park, in the car... I decided it was more important to create my ideal emotional writing environment rather than focus on the physical space.

You see, I have a difficult time getting anything done when I am depressed, anxious, angry, tired, etc. In order to create a more ideal emotional environment, I am concentrating on the following:

Going to bed on time

Getting up on time

Exercising

Avoiding overeating (That nasty emotional sucker punch really threw me for a loop in this department.) 
 
Staying in tune with God

You see, if I can take care of myself physically, emotionally, and spiritually, I am much more likely to write well and achieve my goals. I figure if writing is a part of God's plan for me, then He will help me get my act together!

I started last week, and I wrote 14 pages! That's amazing for me. I feel a lot happier too.

So, what does your ideal writing environment look like?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Author Extravaganza!

Five authors, three bookstores, two days!

Don't miss the fun this weekend if you live along the Wasatch Front. Authors Fay Klingler, Karen E. Hoover, Tristi Pinkston, Heather B. Moore, and I are hosting an author extravaganza at three different bookstores this Friday and Saturday.

There will be great books, candy and prizes, so come on down if you get the chance!


August 24:
Pioneer Books
858 S. State St.
Orem, UT

10-11:30am
(Me, Fay, Karen, and Tristi)

Weller Book Works
607 Trolley Square

Salt Lake City, UT

1:30-3:30pm

(Me, Fay, Karen, and Heather)
 

August 25:
The Book Table

29 S. Main St.

Logan, UT

10am-12pm
  (Me, Fay and Karen)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Refuge is just 0.99 this week!

One more week until school starts for us! So, this week I'm offering Refuge for just $0.99! Hope you enjoy!


When Earth falls to alien invaders, young newlywed Vivi Thayer is called to serve as a group leader in a hidden, underground refuge. There she is charged with raising a generation chosen to carry on the work of God. Facing the criticism of the other, more experienced, women in the refuge, Vivi struggles with feelings of guilt and inadequacy. When a heartbreaking loss brings Vivi to her breaking point, she must learn to accept the role God has chosen for her or leave the refuge behind forever.

Amazon.com
Barnes and Noble.com
Smashwords



Friday, August 10, 2012

Interview with Sci-Fi Author Jaleta Clegg!

We have a special treat today! An interview with sci-fi author Jaleta Clegg, whose new book, Priestess of the Eggstone, is out today! Having read and LOVED her first book, Nexus Point, I was excited to interview Jaleta and get to know her better.


Tell us a little about yourself.

I wish I looked like Lucy Lawless as Xena, but I don't, so I pretend. I've always been jealous of Han Solo. I want his ship so bad. I've always been fascinated by space and science fiction, so it really isn't much of a surprise that I write it. The silly horror stories did catch me off guard. I didn't realize I had such a warped sense of humor until I found myself writing it.

The mundane stuff? I've been married to my husband for over 26 years, still going strong. We've got a horde of children, who keep getting older on me, and a houseful of pets of assorted species and sizes. I enjoy cooking, as long as I get to play with weird ingredients and names. I piece quilts sometimes when I have the urge to do something tactile. I refuse to wash windows or do much weeding. I adore pear tomatoes from my garden. And I'm a sucker for fresh raspberries.

You are amazing!

How long have you been writing?

Writing for publication? Just since 2009. Writing stories? My whole life. I can't stop myself from making up stories.

What first sparked your interest in science fiction/fantasy?

I've always loved space and the stars. I discovered Andre Norton's books when I was about ten and Carl Sagan's Cosmos about the same time. I've been a lost cause for science fiction and fantasy ever since.

Awesome. For me I had that moment with Orson Scott Card's books.

Who are your favorite sci-fi/fantasy authors?

Andre Norton, obviously. Elizabeth Moon and Julie Czerneda are close seconds, followed by many of the old classic authors: Isaac Asimov, David Eddings, Jack L. Chalker, R A Salvatore, Diana Wynn Jones, and many others. I love to read and I'll read just about anything.

Super list! I am a huge Julie Czerneda fan as well!

Do you have a favorite writing snack?

I need a beer hat with chocolate instead. That way my hands are still free to type while I suck chocolate through the straw. I love chocolate. It's my kryptonite. Speaking of which, excuse me a minute. *rummaging through cupboards, sounds of wrappers crinkling, wiping chocolate off face* Much better.

Mmmmm. Chocoloate...

Tell us about your new book!

Priestess of the Eggstone is the second book in my series, The Fall of the Altairan Empire. But don't let that scare you off. I promise each book tells a complete story. I just leave a few things dangling for the next book to play with.

Captain Dace is in trouble again, though she doesn't go looking for it. She's flying a courier ship for Belliff, which she finds out is a front for the Targon Crime Syndicate when she walks into the middle of a Patrol raid on their offices. Now the Patrol are after her for smuggling, Targon wants her for selling them out, but that isn't the worst of it. Her co-pilot, Jerimon, has the entire Sessimoniss race after him for stealing their god, the Eggstone.

The part that scares Dace the most, though, is Jerimon's aunt planning their wedding.

I am so excited to read this! I love Dace. =)

Best piece of writing advice?

Write, write, write, write, read, read, read, read. Pick things apart to find out how they work or what doesn't work. Never stop being curious and exploring new ideas and new things. Write what you love.

Oh, and don't listen to all those rules people keep spouting. Whatever you do, if you love it enough, it will show and people will respond. If you hate what you're writing, so will your audience.

Thanks so much for inviting me over to your blog!

That is great advice and you are very welcome. It's been a pleasure having you!

Priestess of the Eggstone blurb: Pursued by the Targon Crime Syndicate bent on revenge, the Patrol intent on recruitment, and the Sessimoniss who want their god back, the last thing Captain Dace needs is a handsome copilot with romance on his mind.

Purchase Priestess of the Eggstone here

Read an excerpt

Jaleta's Blog
Website
Altarian Empire Series website