About Me

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I'm a writer and library worker who wears many hats. I believe a good book and a good piece of chocolate are the keys to a happy life.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

I have been putting this off, looking for just the right information to pass on and express how grateful I am for all the blessings of the past year. Then, my father sent me this.


video

Merry Christmas, everyone! I've been blessed to know you and feel your spirits this past year. May the new year bring the same wonder and joy for all of us.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Finish Line


There’s something about the finish line. It doesn’t matter what kind of race you have been running, seeing that line is a powerful experience. It gives you an extra boost of energy; it fills you with exhausted pride when you cross over it.

Last evening I finished a major deadline. It wasn’t a particularly stimulating project or one that filled with an immense sense of creative satisfaction. Plus, it was a rather large project. I under estimated the amount of my time and energy it would take to complete. I dragged my feet. I questioned the overall quality of my work. Still, though it was not a race I would have volunteered for it was a race I was willing to run. I’m sure I came in dead last, but I finished.

As I went to bed last night, two scriptures began to run through my head that seemed appropriate to the race I’d just finished.

“Do not run faster or labor more than you have strength and means provided to enable you to [write]; but be diligent unto the end. Pray always, that you may come off conqueror; . . .” D&C 10:4-5
“ My [daughter] peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes. Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands.” D&C 121:7-9

I guess one of the overall lessons I’ve learned since I started writing is that there has to be a great majority of priority and goal setting, followed up by a great deal of perseverance.
The fact of the matter is I love to write. This is my chosen profession. For me, it’s kind of like the other professional hat I wear. I’m a mother. Both occupations keep my mind filled with life, love and worry. Both have days where I wish I’d chosen a different path for myself. Yet, when it’s all said and done, at the end of the day when the children are sleeping peacefully and I’ve tucked another writing project into its envelop for shipping, I love what I do.

In fact, many writers refer to their projects as their babies. What we write spends a great deal of time very close to our hearts. Each project carries its own unique challenges and personality. Its progress consumes us; we spend a great deal of time and energy helping it “grow up” beautifully before sending it out into the world. Then, we spend a great deal of time praying that no one calls our baby ugly.

Writing makes me laugh, it makes me cry, it stretches me to the point of exhaustion, it fills me with pride. Kind of like motherhood. Now, back to work.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Art of Procrastination

Why is it that we procrastinate? I seem to have perfected nothing else in my life but the ability to put off for tomorrow, or the next day, those things which should be accomplished today.

Yes, even as I sit here typing this I am procrastinating a deadline.

Why is that? Writing is the thing that I love most in the world. Generally, it doesn’t even matter what the assignment is, I just love the fact that I can sit down at my computer and create something with my words that someone else needs. I do have a selfish streak, I know. There are days when I just can’t write another technical word. I miss the creative side of me that doesn’t pay when I’m bogged down with “real” writing assignments. Still, even when my time is my own, and I can write those projects that fuel my soul, I have a grand tendency to procrastinate.

I think part of it has to do with the negative influences we let into our lives. I put off the task because I’m afraid my best won’t be good enough in some manner. Whether it be money, creativity, what my editor or employer thinks of me, or how much house work I’ve neglected this week, a million little negative thoughts can all jumble together into one big stumbling block of procrastination.

I’ll do it just as soon as I check my email; that assignment I’ve been waiting on may have come through.
I’ll do it just as soon as I give the dog a bath, I can smell her from here.
I’ll start again just as soon as I finish jotting down the thought I had for another project.
I can’t do it now; the kids will be home in 10 minutes.
I’m getting a headache; I can’t look at this screen for another minute.
I just remembered I haven’t balanced the checkbook, scrubbed the grout in the bathroom, or had that oral surgery, for months now. I’d better take care of it while I’m still thinking of it.
There’s a piece of pie in the refrigerator that is calling my name, I simply can’t concentrate until it’s gone.

The list of excuses could go on and on, but I’d really like to get to the bottom of this procrastination problem. It seems the more I put something off, the less energy I have for it. I put it off again and the nasty cycle begins all over again until I dread the very idea of the thing but I have to do it or else. So, dear reader, what is your favorite procrastination tool and your theory about why we procrastinate?

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Another New Adventure

In the past week or so I wanted to upload a video I put together to go with a marvelous Christmas message. My sadly lacking computer skills failed me and it wouldn't upload. So, you missed my very uplifting Christmas message. Oh well. Best laid plans of mice and men and all that.
I am still finding myself knee deep in various writing projects and they are beginning to wear on me a bit- they're starting to take the fun out of writing for me so I'm working on refocusing on the blessings this week.
One project that I've taken on is definately falling in the blessing category. I've slowly been adding my voice to the wonderful contributing authors on ldsblogs.com. You can find my entries at http://discipleship.ldsblogs.com/. It's been a wonderful chance to refocus on the gospel when my writing is currently surrounded by the cares of the world. I appreciate the opportunity they've given me to share my testimony and thoughts.
If you're reading this, take a moment to share: what is the greatest blessing you get from being a writer? I need my cup filled, but I fear there might be a leak at the bottom.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Ten Reasons I’m Grateful I’m a Writer

Last night as I curled up into bed, I spent just a few moments thinking about what I love most about my life. One of the simple Primary songs came to mind and I found myself humming. “At night, when I’m alone in bed, I close my eyes and see, the many things I’m thankful for that God has given me.”

It was the first night in many that my day has been without great trial or chaos. It was nice to have those feelings of thankfulness back again.

Since this is a writing blog I chose to focus a few of my thoughts about why I’m so grateful that the Lord has given me a writing talent and an understanding family that lets me develop it. So, here are ten reasons:

1. I love working from home.
2. I love the feeling of inspiration and creation.
3. It pays better (most of the time) than fast food.
4. I have an excuse for being eccentric and slightly off balance.
5. It can only get better from here- the more I write the more I learn about my craft and the better I get.
6. It caters to my split personality: I can be a different person everyday. Because of the diversity of what I write, I can become a different person through my writing every day.
7. The flexible hours. If I can’t sleep, I can write. If I can’t write, I can sleep.
8. It’s the one profession I know of that it’s ok to have voices in your head. It’s even better to actually listen to them.
9. Writing gives me an excuse to explore and learn about anything that strikes my fancy.
10. Every once in a while I write something that inspires someone.

“These many blessings make me feel so thankful to be me.” (Children’s Songbook p. 11)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

It's a Match: The Publishing Dating Game

Forgive me the twisted cliché, but: Life is a metaphor for Writing.
Ok, not all that original, and slightly over used, but hear me out anyway. In this instance it has to do with dating and getting published.
Being human, most of us will go through different stages of dating in our life time. I’ve identified three basic themes.
1. Commitment Free: These are the people who are just out to have fun. They are very social people, with great aspirations toward pleasure in all that they do. They go out with as many different people as they can, as often as they can, and still think blind dates are interesting.
2. Partial Commitment: These individuals have grown out of the impulse to constantly change companions. They have grown a little weary of the nightlife, but still like to have fun. They’ve learned a few things about themselves and what they like in others. They seek out someone they think is a good match, present their case no holds barred. They feel no real commitment to any specific person but try to be true to themselves. These individuals feel comfortable saying, “this is who I am- take it or leave it”.
3. Full Commitment: Eventually, something awakens inside each of us which whispers: “I want a life partner”. We want to find someone who appreciates us, someone who compliments us, but also someone we can admire and depend on. When we reach this point we begin to realize that it’s not always about take it or leave it. Our own happiness somehow becomes wrapped up in someone else’s happiness as well. Sometimes that means more give than take, but we think it’s worth it.
Now, what does this have to do with getting published?
There are three general types of writers.
1. Commitment Free: These are the writers who like to gamble. They love to write and relish the game. Mostly, it’s about the excitement of the chase, putting ideas on paper, flirting with thoughts, and teasing different markets- tempting published words into their bed. These writers work on the quantity theory. They submit profusely, without discrimination, under the assumption that eventually someone will bite. It’s time consuming and perilous, but some of us like to live on the edge.
2. Partial Commitment: These writers take their work a little more seriously. They have found their niche. They know themselves well enough to know what piques their interest, what most pleases them in their craft. They research markets to find a fit for what they want to write. They may have a few favorites, which they would like to write for, when the right muse hits. They are very focused on staying true to their words, their style and thoughts. They submit moderately and comfortably say, “take it or leave it”.
3. Full Commitment: These writers understand that publishers need to be courted. They are looking for lasting, and mutually beneficial relationships. These writers look at a market and frequently ask: “What can I offer them”, rather than “What will they pay me for my efforts?” It doesn’t necessarily mean being untrue to your inner voice and vision. It does mean looking beyond yourself: taking someone else’s needs into account, helping them be happy and feeling good about yourself as well. It means finding connections that stretch you, that touch parts of you that may have been previously undiscovered. It’s about appreciating what a certain market is trying to accomplish, and wanting to be a part of their vision.
My own writing career has vacillated between partial and full commitment. However, a few months ago, I was hit with a revelation. While going through my contracts and rejections files, I began to notice a trend.
I am more productive and more creative when I put the publisher first.
When I offer a full commitment to the other party, over my own ideas, I am published more often and more satisfied with my work.
Here’s what sometimes happens.
I am struck with a great idea. I spend several hours hunting down an appropriate market for it and determining the angle that will cater to their needs. This results in two hours of research, an hour drafting the query, and a six week to eight week wait for a 50% acceptance rate. When the rejection comes I start the research process all over again and a depressing cycle begins.
Here’s the second case scenario.
I receive my latest market update, or take a trip to the library or bookstore. My eyes fall on a new title that intrigues me. I spend an hour reading the magazine or studying their website, mission and reach. In that same hour I have come up with three or four ideas, which specifically fit that magazine’s needs. It takes another hour to choose one and work up the query. Then it’s usually a four week wait and a 75% acceptance rate.
There are additional bonuses. Once the first article is accepted, the publication knows they can trust me to produce material that they need, and I have a greater desire to make them happy. I also have two or three other ideas already on the back burner that they would appreciate. It builds a lasting partnership.
The analogy is that simple.
To be as productive and satisfied with your writing self as possible, it takes full commitment.
Give it a try! Find a new market which appeals to your inner creativity. Study that market specifically, and then find your idea and submit. It’s taking “know your market” to the next level.
It saves time.
It’s more satisfying.
It puts more money in your pocket.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Author Interview

After spending a significant part of last week ill (I promise it had nothing to do with the shower thing). I'm dashing around trying to put my personal life back together as well as trying to catch up on all those nasty deadlines that snuck up on me while I was lying in bed. I've had some great thoughts I'd love to share (like the dream I had where I was editing my own dream) but sadly they'll have to wait until I can come up for air again.
In the meantime my wonderful friend Marsha Ward just posted an author interview she did with me on her blog. So... while you're waiting for me to start rambling again on my own blog, you can wander on over and see what I rambled about to Marsha.
http://marshaward.blogspot.com/
Thanks, Marsha, for thinking of me- it was fun!
Back to the grindstone.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I Think I Forgot to Shower

Over the past few weeks I’ve taken on a few extra writing projects and let me tell you I’m having fun!

How do I know I’m having fun? Well, on two separate days last week I reached the end of the day, looked in the mirror and said, “Huh, I think I forgot to shower.”

I get up every morning with my high school daughter at 5:30. I walk while she attends an early morning class until 7am. I come home and get everybody else up and ready for their day. Most of the time I use any lag time until they’re gone to do a little house work, usually dishes, and check my email so that once their gone I can get a shower and immediately start on my work.

Suddenly, I seem to be skipping a step. The draw to the computer has been so strong that I’m starting work before they leave; dragging myself away from the computer to get them to the bus stop and dragging myself away again to pick them back up from the bus stop.

Does that mean the work I’m doing are my dream assignments? Not at all. In fact a lot of it is down right boring. But, it is a challenge, and I love the challenge. For me the joy comes from conquering the written word. The reward is another satisfying day where I had the luxury of working from my home.

Given the results of the last week, the rest of the world is probably glad I work from home as well.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Thinking In Stories- Reflections on Being a Writer

I have a problem. It seems I’m addicted to stories. I read them, I write them, but most of all, I think them. I can’t help myself, all my conscious (and some unconscious) thoughts roll and swirl through my brain till they have evolved into stories. All it takes is a trigger: a sign on the side of the road, a house painted pink and purple, the woman standing in front of me at the post office. Before I even know it’s happening, the trigger has taken on a life of its own. I think in stories.

People think on all different kinds of levels. Some are very literal: pictures, words, or numbers. Others think more freely: passing fancies, colors, feelings, smells, humorous anecdotes. A writer is in a different class all together, we can’t think literally, or even figuratively. A writer can’t let a thought go until it has been completely defined. The writer feels obligated to answer the where’s, why’s and how’s that never occur to anyone else when they look at the world around them.

The first step to resolving an addiction is to admit you have a problem. For me, realization came after a trip to the circus with my family. I turned to my husband and made a harmless comment, “So, what did you think of lady with the monkey act?”

His only comment was “She was too fat for that dress”.

I tried again, “Well, how do you suppose she came to have a monkey act in the circus in the first place?”

“I don’t know.”

I had walked away from the show with a million tales spun in my imagination. One for each trigger: the blond lady with the dog and pony show, the ring master, the youngest trapeze artist, the clown with the green hair and naturally big nose. I had created a story from everything I saw. On the other hand, my husband had come away with “huh, neat trick” and “her dress is too tight”.

I have come to the conclusion that there is no cure. Once a storyteller, always a storyteller. I tried to stop myself once. The result? I caught myself creating a tale to explain away my resolve within the first five minutes.

So, what does a writer do with such an addiction? The answer: write! Give in, and succumb to those impulses. Feel free to look at the woman in front of you in line and think “I’ll bet she’s a school teacher……” then go home and write it. Or better yet, pull out that idea notebook and write while you’re still staring at the back of her head, imagining what grade she teaches.

I keep notebooks all over the house, the car, my purse. Whenever I can manage it I sneak my mini-computer in my purse hoping for a few minutes to pull it out. If nothing else, there is always pen and paper in reach, because I never know when a new story will start. Those little notebooks open doorways to wonderful worlds. Plus, they’re great ego trips. To let your mind go, let it pour out your soul, your thoughts, and your feelings, into a concrete form is the greatest high a writer can achieve.

Write it all. Admit your addiction and come out of the closet. We provide a service to the rest of the world. While some think in pictures, we fill in the fine details for them. While some think in numbers, we give them references for where the equations can take them. While some think in color, in smell, in feelings, we give them those colors, the smells and feelings in a broadening perspective. As writers we allow others to see into our worlds, the worlds of thoughts, feelings and experiences that fill our souls every day, with every new story. Our addiction makes life rich for everyone else.

If you wake up in the morning with a story in your head, and you can’t rest till you’ve given it a life of its own, you’re a writer. You will always be a writer, no matter what the occasional rejection letter says. It just becomes a trigger for another story. The one where the editor is a bitter old man who wouldn’t accept a great piece of work if it smacked him in the …… you know the rest.

You are a writer. You think in stories, the world can’t resist great stories and neither can you. Give those stories wings and they will find homes.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Supporting Angels

I just witnessed something amazing. For those of you who are LDS you know that it is conference weekend. Two weekends out of the year the members of the Church watch and listen as we are instructed by the general leaders of the Church: the prophet, his counselors and many other men and women of spiritual greatness. It can either be long and boring or a feast beyond compare- depending on what you bring to it.

On Saturdays, the pull to “do” competes with the pull to “listen”. I generally choose chores to do while I watch conference on my computer with gratitude in my heart for byu.tv that allows me to do this.

I admit I was distractedly listening until I heard something strange coming from the speakers. An extra muffling was annoying me, I couldn’t clearly hear Brother Wirthlin’s message and it was one I had been recently pondering. I went back to my computer to see that the problem was not technical, but rather human. I watched with a prayer in my heart as Brother Wirthlin’s strength began seeping out of his legs and body as he struggled to complete his message. Then, a beautiful thing happened. As my prayers and I’m sure the prayers of many others were extended in his behalf he received strength. No, he did not suddenly overcome his human frailties; his strength came from the very thing he was addressing: service. As he spoke, Brother Nelson quietly came up behind Brother Wirthlin, compassionately gripping his arm with one hand and his waist with the other, patiently waiting for Brother Wirthlin to finish his own service. What a beautiful spoken and unspoken message.

Now this witness of the beauty of life and the gospel came shortly after another small miracle. I’d taken the last few minutes before conference began to cruise through some of my favorite blogs. Enter my sweet friend Tristi. Her message: Turning our lives, our trials over to God. I needed it badly as I am struggling with a serious problem right now and pondering how I can best do that very thing.

The two experiences worked together to create another beautiful miracle. It was an image of myself going forward, trying my best, sometimes very poorly by the world’s standards, to serve in the best ways I know how. I wasn’t alone. As I learn each day in my own weak way to plead for help and support with things that are beyond my control there are others silently supporting me. Sometimes I can see them, most of the time their presence and comfort come from beyond my natural sight. How many angels stand behind me as I struggle to stay on my feet? How many times have I looked at my own frail arms and given up in despair, ignoring the strength that was being lent to me by my Heavenly Father?

How difficult is it to stop struggling and start seeking out peace and trust? Very. I’m hoping the blessings of this day stay with me for many. I need that confirming peace as I go forward with many aspects of my life.

Someday I hope to give someone else that kind of hope in the gospel through the things that I write. I believe this is one of the major reasons the gift of words is mine. I am human and weak. Yet, I want my words to leave the page and reach out gentle hands on someone’s arm or waist supporting them when they need it the most and opening their eyes to strength they can not see. That is why I write: to inspire and bless. May the Lord continue to quietly support me in my feeble efforts.

Friday, October 5, 2007

My Cheering Squad

I’m drawing close to the end of the BIAM challenge and just wanted to thank my cheering squad.

Candace has been awesome to drop by constantly and cheer me on. Thank you so much for you loving support!

Tristi is as awesome as always. I am in awe of all she manages to do with her life and the amount she still has left over to fill everyone else’s cup with. She loves you into wanting to do your best. What a great gift.

Then there is my husband who asks me before he leaves for work what scene I will be working on, calls at lunch to check my progress, and encourages me to write at every turn. I took my mini computer to bed with me the other night to catch a few more thoughts before I went to sleep. Besides, I usually can’t get to sleep until they're on the page. Instead of grumbling, he listened. He listened to the tiny clicking my keys make as I type. Whenever they would pause he’d check in with me, asking if everything was ok, how it was going, or if I needed help. Not an impatient: “Aren’t you done yet so I can get some sleep?” What an amazing man.

OK, it may seem a little strange but I have to include my dog among my cheerleaders as well. Remember that small clicking sound I mentioned? For some reason it’s like a siren song to her. Whenever I take my computer to the recliner in “her” room, she comes over and perches herself on my shoulder and lies down with her nose almost touching the keys. This makes it very hard to type I assure you, but some how I manage and she silently watches, her ears twitching to the rhythm of my fingers. If I stop she looks back at me with that “Well, get on with it you silly human look.” I’m so glad I can write a book for her sole amusement.

My kids are mostly oblivious to the project. They’re kind of used to their mother acting psychotic all the time. They’re good with that as long as I keep that house stocked with cold cereal (hey, its vitamin fortified), milk, hot dogs, bread, and PB&J. My teenage daughter does notice and is rooting for me not to finish. Even this is very encouraging. See, we have an additional challenge going between us that I will finish my book before she gets all of her school work caught up. It’s a tight race. The looser has to treat the winner to dinner at Taco Bell. Yeah, I’m cheap.

I know I’ve mentioned it before but I am very blessed to be able to live the writer’s dream. One of the most frequent questions writers get asked is, “How do you find time to write?” In this I’m also very fortunate. My husband’s job earns a decent income so I don’t have to work. My children are all in school. Yes, my oldest is home schooled but her course work is entirely automated on the computer. I’m just there to monitor her and help her along. Still, my life is very stressful and hectic. If you’ve read my previous blogs you know that one of my biggest struggles is justifying the amount of time I devote to writing without it bringing in the kind of income I could be making if I just went back to work as a nurse. It’s a very twisted way to look at one of my greatest gifts and pleasures.

When I think about it, really think about it, and get past the world’s notions of success I find something amazing. I am a better person because I write. The world is a better place because I write. I have amazing friends and family who stand behind me as I write.

With all that I’ve been blessed with the question should really be, “How can I not find time to write?”

Thanks for cheering me on and keeping my perspective focused on the happiness writing brings me.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

BIAM Update- Building Bridges

For those of you who have been watching my word count with baited breath (yeah, right) I was not a total slacker last week, my internet was down for two days and that was all it took to get me out of the habit of posting my numbers. I’ll try to do better this week. On the other hand, it’s amazing what you can get done without the internet distraction.

This past week I have been building bridges.

When I begin writing I generally have a pretty good idea of where I’m going with the first several chapters. I also know a lot about some of the major scenes that will carry the plot forward. I write these first, then go back and begin filling in gaps. Last week I decided it was time to fill in a lot of the left over gaps.

My manuscript was well over a hundred pages long but it lacked some of the satisfaction that can give because as I’d scroll through the text I’d run into “Not Done Yet” places more and more the further I got into things. So, I set a goal to close all those gaps. I built bridges between all of my previously written scenes, some just small transitory notes, some more major event sequences. It’s not as exciting as writing the major scenes but it is still very fulfilling. Now when I scroll down to the place in my manuscript where I left off, I don’t have any wide white spaces with small notes about things that need to be added. I have a complete manuscript finished to the point where I am currently working.

OK, so there are a few left over scenes that are tacked on the end. For instance I’ve already written one scene just because my emotions at the time were similar to what I wanted my character to feel in that moment. I wrote it. I also know exactly how this story ends. I wrote that when I wrote the beginning.
It always amazes me how many different ways there are to create a story. It is truly an art.

I don’t have all the answers yet on how to solve my “Not Done Yet” syndrome but there is one area of my life that I am determined to over come it in. Yes, I have fears and slow days, and I’m easily distracted, just like anyone else. I’ll never get it all right and I’m far from perfect; but, if I could choose one thing to focus on about myself that makes me the best “me” possible it would be my writing. Housework and projects will always fall to the wayside in my ADD mind and life but I am determined to keep building bridges, to keep finding my path, to keep writing- a little further and a little better every day.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Not Done Yet Syndrome

The Navajo Indians have a tradition. It's basically planned imperfection. In their handiwork, it their life's work, they purposely place pieces of imperfection. They believe that God is the only one who is perfect.

I think I must have something similar to that going on in my own life. I suffer from what I call "Not Done Yet" syndrome. Basically, my life is full of half-done projects.

I first began to recognize this problem when I re-married. My husband was the neat freak of the two of us and I was happy to let him clean. Then came the fateful day when the honeymoon was over and he asked me why it was so difficult to "just put things away when you're done with them". My retort? I wasn't done yet.

Many years later I still have the same problem. My husband came behind me several weeks ago and put away the fabric I had sitting in our bay window for over a month. It was meant to be the new covers on the back of my dining room chairs. I had redone the seats, but the backs required me to cut new wooden forms. The material sat there.

As he is carrying it back down to my sewing room I’m haughtily protesting: "I'm not done with that yet!" He looked at me and said "Do you realistically think you're going to be done anytime in the next month?" Ok, he was right.

So what is it? Do I over commit myself so that I can justify switching gears with minimal guilt, leaving tons of half finished projects in my wake? Do I just subconsciously fear that what I'm doing will never turn out right any way and I won't have to admit it if I never finish?
I'm asking these questions because I face the same problems with my writing. I have so many things I'd like to write, yet I find myself procrastinating and putting things on the "not done" shelf. Why is that really? Even with this BIAM I'm facing the same type of dilemmas. Last night I was so close to meeting my word count I got a little arrogant and put it aside to meet other obligations before meeting my goal. I was very sure I'd be able to squeeze in a few more words before bed. I refused to post my numbers because I wasn't "done yet". Did I ever get back to it? Nope.

I'm doing it again right now. I just had to get the words to this blog out of my head before I could start working on my WIP. Want to lay any bets on what my word count will be tonight? Um, then again maybe we'd better not discuss it. I swear, I'm not done yet!

I love being a writer. I love to see what comes through the conduit from my brain to my fingers. Still, I sit down to write and there is always something holding me back. I think if I can find the root of my "Not Done Yet" problem, I'll also find the key to free myself to write better and faster. I'll be freeing myself to dream bigger and maybe, just maybe, I'll see the end of some of those dreams.

Monday, September 17, 2007

BIAM week one summary

Well, I'm off to a very slow start. My total for week one was only 2354 words. That's very sad. On the up side I did finish another deadline this week and the ideas that have been dormant for this project are once again swirling actively. I anticipate great things from myself this week.
I think I spent too much time thinking this past week. I went through my "to read" list and knocked off a bunch of the writing titles I had there. Usually doing this gives me a fresh perspective and motivates me to get going on my goal. This time I found myself skimming quite a bit and realizing there was very little new information in the books I'd checked out. Somewhere along the line I'd moved from motivating to procrastinating. Learning about my craft had become a procrastination tool rather than an improvement tool.
There comes a time when you simply need to put the books aside and get your fingers going on your own creation. Especially when it comes to a Book in a Month project. The more you study and think the less time you are actually setting your mind and fingers free to just create. This week I just want to dream and create. Wish me luck and high word counts.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Book In A Month Challenge

This past week I have been gearing up to put some projects back on the front burner. After the whirlwind completing my newest title (see the side bar), I had to take some time to catch up with my scheduled projects and put my house and kids back in order. Now I'm in "get serious" mode again. I have a lot of projects that are burning holes in my heart waiting to get out on the page and needed to glue my bottom to the chair to get them done.
Enter Tristi http://www.tristipinkston.blogspot.com/ with her awesome foresight and answer to my prayers. As you will notice I'm taking Tristi's challenge to complete my current WIP within a month. I know the Lord wants me to do it. I know my friends and family are supporting me and rooting for me. I know family will survive (well, that's what I'm telling them anyway). That's all I need to know.
Have I mentioned lately how much I love being a writer? I am truly blessed.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

An Interview with Alison Palmer

Candace ( http://candacesalima.blogspot.com/ ) ran across this interview on "Running with Quills" the blogspot for several famous romance writers. She adapted it and tagged all the Storymakers to share their responses, so here are mine.

Which book would you like to see made into a movie and who would your dream cast be?
I'm not much of a movie person when it comes to books. I like what my imagination can do with the book far more than I like the outcome of the movie endeavor. Also, I know very few actors names, etc. Yeah, I know I'm pathetically out of the loop.

Do you think that most romance novelists marry their ideals?
Heavens, no. I think most people read romance to get a little, not because they live that kind of life every day. Every man has their good points and bad, hardly any man comes across as so rosy and desirable as the hero in that book. Partly that 's because it's written by and for women. We have a totally different view of things than our husbands. Ideals may be a strong word for any husband. Comfortable and compassionate are probably more the norm. Every marriage requires work and a romance novelist is not the exception to the rule. Of course, my realistic point of view may just be further evidence why am not and never will be a romance writer.

If there was one thing you could go back and change in your writing career, what would it be and why?
"I would have started much sooner." I echo Candace's comment. My only regret is that I didn't stick with it in the first place. I was a dreamer in high school and wanted nothing more than to be a mother and a famous writer. I got the mother part but became a nurse instead, because it was more likely to pay the bills. While I am grateful that it did pay the bills I wish I had not put my pen aside to be "practical". I didn't have the guts to call myself a writer again until 13 years later and writing fulfills me in a way nursing never could.

Has there ever been a book you've written, that you wish now you hadn't?
No. Each book I've written has filled a different niche in creating who I am as a writer. There are things that I look back and wish I had written better and I shuddered when my husband began archiving my junior high and high school material, but I don't regret a single one.

For all the Storymakers...if you weren't writers, what would be your dream job?
I thought about bookstore owner. It would be either LDS or specifically children's. But I'm also a no pressure kind of gal so owning something and depending on it for income might stress me more than my enjoyment of it.
I think I'd like to be a librarian. Still surrounded by books, but a steady paycheck. Bonus points for the quiet environment and the decreased likelihood that someone will yell at you, puke on you, or die on you (see previous job comments).

Do you re-read your own work? And, if you are doing a series with follow-up from previous books, do you reread differently?
Nonfiction, hardly ever. It's actually difficult for me to pull up a certain book's material in my brain when I'm doing promotional things after it's been published. Normally the writing process is very intense for me and when its done, I'm done.
Fiction, yes. This comes from a whole different side of me and sometimes I pick it up just to experience the emotions behind it again and say "wow" that was really worth something.

Has turning your art into your "job" in anyway detracted from the joy you take in writing? Have you ever felt like you had to do less than your best to meet a deadline?
I'm still not completely there yet. I have gotten to the point that when people ask me what I "do" I say freelance writer, but within my own mind I still struggle with calling it a "job". That connotation keeps me thinking of monetary gain from my work, which is sadly lacking. I'm also a guilt ridden woman. Since there is not a significant monetary reward for my work I do it for myself and for those who are touched by the words I write. Those who are touched are generally intangibles. I always end up feeling like I have to be last, so even though I try to think about writing as a job I generally end up putting it last over my family and church calling and everything else in my life that is much more demanding.
When I have a high pressure deadline, I love being able to fully immerse myself in my writing with that as an excuse. Generally I'm very pleased with what I accomplish when it's said and done, but then reality returns with the guilt of what I neglected to accomplish what I wanted (even if it has been dictated by an outside source).

Is there one book you've written, that you wish now you could have changed something major?
Only one lesson in my very first book. I have a lesson based around Christ's time washing the disciple’s feet. While I know this is a very sacred ordinance, I wanted to use the experience on a child's level to understand the Savior's love and kindness toward each of us individually. Just as many things in the gospel it is a line upon line principle that you gain different things from at different stages of your life. Since I wrote it I have worried that some would see it as disrespectful, etc. I think I could have done a better job explaining my purposes or just not included it at all.

What are your top ten romance novels you would take to the beach?
Hmmm... “Twilight” by Stephanie Meyer
“Charly” by Jack Weyland
“Finding Paradise” by Michelle Ashman Bell
“Boy Meets Girl” by Meg Cabot
“Ella Enchanted” by Gail Larson
“Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen
“A Walk to Remember” by Nicholas Sparks
“The Notebook” by Nicholas Sparks
“Tuck Everlasting” by Natalie Babbitt
"Beauty" by Robin McKinley
Ok, I'm really stretching it here, I'm not a strictly romance type person. I do take clean recommendations though.

What comes first, characters or plot? What happens when it's characters first? Does the plot just flow naturally from a discovery of those characters, or do you find it difficult to weave a story together to fit the characters you want to write?
Wow, that's a tough one. I'll answer cryptically and say plot driven characters. I generally know something about the "human" qualities of my characters first and see a specific situation that I want to see how they will resolve. For instance my current WIP "The Prodigal Son" is based on three main characters and the "What would happen if" from a biblical situation that throws them all together and makes them prove themselves. I won't know everything that it takes to get them from point A to point B from the beginning, I only know how they need to grow.
Titles usually blossom from these first musings as well. I use them as a defining element for plotting out where things will go. To me it's the ultimate exercise in "summarize your story in one sentence" that tells you you're on track and know where you're headed.

After reading all the Storymaker blogs for a while now and learning what hectic schedules you all keep between your writing and other activities, how do you find time to read other authors books? Is there one particular author that you ALWAYS read no matter what? What is your favorite book of all time?
My husband laughs at my running list of books to read. At last check there were 437 entries. I generally "read" 3-5 books a week. I qualify that because a lot of things will strike my interest but with my busy schedule not everything will hold it. Some of these titles will end up being scanned instead of read and some will be put aside altogether for offensive content. I also listen to audio books while I drive. I keep books everywhere for stolen moments. I'm also not a very social person so I'll sometimes take books with me to events that I have to go to, but want to appear "busy" or unapproachable. Yes I know, it's a wonder I have any friends.
My husband has favorite authors, if he finds one he likes he reads everything he can find by them. I'm not as particular. Since my tastes are so eclectic I don't have time to play favorites, each book is judged on it's own merits. The only exception would be choosing between a friend's book (a fellow Storymaker) and one by someone else. My friends will win every time.
My all time favorite book is actually a series. I think I'll always value the Chronicles Narnia over most others. As a child I wore out 3 different sets.

When you don't want to sit in the chair and write…what do you do to make yourself sit there? Duct tape? Crazy glue?
I tried internal deadlines for a while, but that doesn't work so well for me (guilt issues). I write when it feels good. If it's torture to sit there, I get up and walk away. Sometimes just takes that simple act of giving myself permission to enjoy it again and the wheels will start turning. Pretty soon the words in my head become the glue.
If I absolutely have to get something done that really doesn't excite me I have to remove myself from my home. I take my laptop to the library and hide in a very visible cubicle. Something about people watching me and knowing I'm typing away at something keeps me going like it or not. Hmm, maybe I have self-esteem issues as well.

If a person had never read any of your books, which one would you want them to read first and why?
Since so much of my work is time based I'd have them start with the current year stuff and then look around at the other stuff. Honestly, I think the ones I'll be most proud of are still coming out of my fingertips or still waiting in the wings. Note to self- learn how to write faster.

Do any of you work on more than one project at a time? I find myself doing this more and more lately and it's about ready to drive me insane. All these people just keep bumping around inside my head.
Yes, but I have to be careful not to play favorites too much.

Is there a novel (famous or otherwise) which you wish you had written?
"Rules" By Cynthia Lord. The first time I read it I was amazed at how well she addressed a difficult subject in an honest and fun way. I could see my children in it in so many ways.

How do you organize research? Do you try to do it all ahead of time?
I'm very relaxed when it comes to research. I tend to know all the basics and use research to break up the writing as I go. I find immersing myself in specific details for one scene at a time makes the writing flow easier for me than if I tried to get it all right before I ever started. My husband tries to be helpful by quizzing me about details and recording them all on computer for me. He keeps me on top of things.

What happens when you run into something that you need to look up before you can finish the scene? Do you just type {research blah} and keep going, or stop then and look it up, or some other option I haven't thought of?
It depends. If I still have portions of the scene circling around in my head, I have to finish getting it out before I can stop and research. Once I've done all I can I'll fill in blanks. Ideally, I do the research before beginning the scene I know I'm going to need it for.

Do any of you find that having a clear notion (such as a map) of the area you're setting the story in is worth the time it would take to set it up?
I don't like to get too bogged down in the setting unless it is crucial to understanding of the story. Setting is one thing that the reader should be able to let their imagination build on from their own experiences. Or maybe I'm just lazy. Honestly, I'd rather they understand the characters than exactly how far it is from their home to the grocery store.

My question to all of you is, do you find the ancillary activities inseparable from being a professional writer a welcome balance and counterpart to the intense concentration of actually writing, or just a distracting pain in the neck?
"I look forward to the day when I am so famous that I am making enough to replace a full-time job and can just write, write, write." Amen Candice. The rest is just necessary evils as far as I'm concerned.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Lucky Fours

Thanks to Annette (http://blog.annettelyon.com/ )for the tag!

Four Jobs I've had:
Piano teacher
Sales clerk at Jo-Ann Fabrics
Med-Surg Nurse
OB Nurse

Four Places I've Lived:
Arizona
New Mexico
West Virginia
Michigan

Four Favorite TV Shows:
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (classic! I own all the seasons on dvd)
Bones
The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy (yeah, I know)
Myth Busters

Four Favorite Foods:
Turtle Cheesecake
Steak (medium rare)
My lasagna
Boston Cream pie


Four Websites I Frequent:
My Library's website
Amazon
LDS.org
Historic homes and properties


Four Places I'd Rather Be Right Now:
Arizona
In a bookstore with unlimited funds
On a writer's retreat somewhere beautiful (I fully agree with Annette, sequestering myself with just my writing and writer friends is just plain awesome)
Homesteading in the middle of nowhere (where no one can find me)

Four Movies I Love:
Sneakers
The Prince of Egypt
The Core
Shall We Dance

Four Bloggers I Tag Next:
Um, I have no idea. If you'd like to play tag yourself and have fun!

Moaning Meme

OK Candace, (http://candacesalima.blogspot.com/) I didn't spread any information quickly but here are my responses.

5 people who will be annoyed I tagged them:
The best way I know of to annoy people is to tag them with something they' ve already answered so...

Candace Salima
Tristi Pinkston
Josi Kilpack
Kerry Lynn Blair
Annette Lyon

4 things that should go into room 101 and be removed from the face of the earth:
mosquitos
liver and onions
pornography
lawyers

3 things people do that make you want to shake them violently:
Whin
Ramble endlessly
Criticize others

2 things you find yourself moaning about:
Money
My own imperfections

1 thing the above answers tell you about yourself:
Um, I'm sensitive and anti-social?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Freeze Tag

Once upon a time in a reality far, far, away I was tagged by a few friends to complete special blogs. With my quest assigned, the evil Procrastinator launched his counter-attack. In the past month and a half I have been assaulted by a family crisis, an anniversary vacation and his most effective servant: the destructive deadline of doom. I completed the most recent Sharing Through Primary Songs for 2008 in record time. From start to finish I spent a total of three weeks breathing, eating and sleeping primary curriculum. My children think I've turned into the wicked witch of the west and swear I can call forth an evil band of flying monkeys at the mere mention of "What's for dinner?" I have also been known to burn holes straight through them with my laser beam eyes at comments such as "You're still not done? How hard can it possibly be?"

Needless to say my triumph came at a cost. The color of my kitchen floor changed from white to dingy grey (what was I thinking having a white floor anyway?). My hair saw this as a new fad and added a whole new batch of grey strands. My waistline expanded by 7 pounds all attributed to the 7 pounds of peanut butter M&M's I ate my way through while staring at my computer screen.

I have now returned to my regularly scheduled reality. Yes, that includes this blog. In the next few weeks I will be catching up on answering all the interesting tag blogs my friends have requested of me. I won't pass the tag along however, since I've had them in a holding pattern for a month most everyone I know has already had their turn. By all means if something catches your eye and you haven't played yet- have at it!

Monday, June 18, 2007

My Words Fly Up

"My words fly up, my thoughts remain below: Words without thoughts never to heaven go." --From Hamlet (III, iii, 100-103)

I am often asked, and I often ask myself, “What do you write?” My answers tend to vary depending on the audience; I try to mention something that they will be familiar with. When I ask this question of myself, I may be trying to focus my efforts toward a deadline or goal. What I write can take a variety of forms every day and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The next most frequent question is, “Why do you write?” When this comes from an outside source it is usually a follow up question after finding out how much time I spend on a given project versus how much money I will make on that project. Sadly, when I ask this of myself it is generally a follow up to the same kinds of revelations. It is generally a sign of self-doubt or discouragement. It usually means that the “What” I am writing is not in line with the “Why” I write. It usually means my focus has changed from the spirit of the thing to more worldly concerns.

Let me explain. I write because it is a part of me, a yearning deep inside to comfort and inspire through the written word. It is a gift I have been given that I can not deny and refuse to neglect. I write because I love my Heavenly Father. I write the things of my spirit. I write because I hope to touch your spirit with things that are beyond the words on the page.
When it comes right down to it, when I’m focused on what matters most, I’m not writing for money or worldly acclaim I’m writing because that is how I feel closest to the Savior and closest to the person He wants me to be.

That is why I am proud to be a member of LDStorymakers, www.ldstorymakers.com. In this group of authors I have found a home. It is a home full of people who love the Lord and are serious about making the most of the gifts of writing that they have been given. I love their focus on literacy and excellence, I love who they are as people and as writers. These are some of the best men and women I’ve ever known, they’re also some of the most humble I’ve ever known. Though we each have our own reasons and focus in our writing the spirit is the same: we want to touch lives.

There are thousands of wonderful books out there in the world. There are hundreds within the LDS market. There are books that lift our day, when we pass them on the shelf we chuckle and say “Wow, what a great book!” There are other books we stayed up all night to read, that made us laugh and cry, and ultimately fall to our knees and say: “Father, I have been inspired. I want to be a better person. Help thou my unbelief.” These are the books I cherish the most. These are the books where the words have left the ground and found their way to the throne of heaven. These are the books that take you with them to heaven.

That is why I am awed by the vision of those around me, once again, and applaud a new program sponsored by LDStorymakers.

Today is the official opening of the Whitney Awards, www.whitneyawards.com . The ball is now in your court. The Whitney Awards is a call toward excellence in spirit and written word.

Orson F. Whitney once said, “We will yet have Miltons and Shakespeares of our own. . .” The Whitney Awards are looking for the Miltons and Shakespeares hiding among the LDS authors of our time. They deserve to be recognized. Please, when you read a work of fiction by an LDS author that speaks to your spirit and speaks to excellence in the craft, go to the web site and nominate that book for an award. All of the rules can be found on the website. It can also be accessed through links on the Storymaker’s site, my blog, and my website, and most likely through your favorite author’s web site as well.

We as writers struggle with the “Whats” and the “Whys” so that life’s answers might be a little clear for the readers. We grapple with our souls so that our thoughts might lift our words to heaven. We want to fulfill Brother Whitney’s vision of beauty. Help us know when we’re reaching our goals by helping us recognize those who achieve them.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Remembering the Simple Words

Recently a friend of mine wrote about how authors spent their first royalty checks. How Are You Going to Spend It?
It wasn’t my first royalties, but I had a check show up this weekend that I decided to spend part of on a whim. I bought a much begged for puppy for my children. Yes, I know I’m a push-over.
Since the little fur ball’s arrival Saturday I’ve not touched my WIP, nor have I had a fairly intelligent conversation. It seems that most of my speech has been converted down to its simplest forms.
The most frequent phrases:
“Go potty, Penny.”
“No, Penny.” and
“Good girl.”
I did manage to squeeze in one “Stop antagonizing the dog!” but that’s been it.
Now, as mentioned before, I love to spin a few good words around until they form something magical. There is nothing magical about talking to a new puppy. Or is there?
Sometimes I think we’re prone to use far too many words to explain the simplest things. Sometimes the little words can carry the greatest weight.

I’m sorry.
Thank you.
I love you.
Be nice.
Can I help?
Good girl.

What would our world be like if we focused more on these simple messages and left some of the others alone?
I think in my busy world I’ve forgotten how to use some of these precious phrases.
I think I need to remember their power more often.
I think I’ll go practice on that darn puppy some more.
Good girl.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

These are a Few of My Favorite Words

I’ve been doing some editing to my WIP. I actually went into it looking for stray “be”, “this” and “that” words that can clutter up the written word. In the process of trying to catch the little buggers, I discovered I have a favorite word. “Yet”. It just keeps popping up in my story. I seem to be very fond of it. Now, as a writer, I’m bound to have a few favorite words, but if I had to consider what they might be “yet” would not be on the list.
I decided that since some of the very best words in the English language aren’t likely to show up in my WIP at all, I’d make a list of them here.

Ambiguous- Open to interpretation.
Borborygmus- Stomach noises. Doesn’t the name just suit it?
Pathological- Behavior that is habitual, maladaptive, and compulsive.
Ebullient- Zestfully enthusiastic.
Lexicon- A dictionary.
Prolific- The dream of every writer: to be able to get all those marvelous ideas out onto paper and be remembered as great and prolific.
Sphygmomanometer- Ah the blood pressure cuff. It took me a week to get the word to spit out of my mouth like I knew what I was talking about. Now I say it just for fun. I love the way it sounds.
Squelch- To produce a splashing, squishing, or sucking sound, as when walking through ooze.
Triskaidekaphobia- The fear of the number 13.
Ubiquitous- Omnipresent. (Ah, another excellent word!)

Now back to my regularly scheduled editing. Feel free to share a few of your favorite words!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Top Ten Reasons I Created a Blog

1. All my friends had one. Yeah, I know I’m not supposed to give in to peer pressure and all that, but they were having so much fun!
2. I like to see my name in print. Ok, so in this case it’s a computer screen, but its still an ego trip.
3. I love to write. I’m not very good at a lot of things, and I don’t like to do most of them, but I love to write and this is just one more chance.
4. Someone told me once it would help me sell more books. So go to my web site and buy one for heaven sakes!
5. My husband doesn’t *really* listen when I talk. At least not about writing, he’s supportive, but he doesn’t get it. I’m hoping you will.
6. I’m trying something new. I’m normally found playing on the non-fiction playground, but those no-good fiction writing friends of mine have been tempting my muse. It’s a scary thing to jump out of your comfort-zone.
7. I like to say the word “blog”. Ok admit it, it just a fun word to say, kudos to however thought that one up. Now I have another excuse.
8. I’m lousy at keeping my web site updated. This nags at the back of my mind a bit more than my site.
9. Random thoughts. Every writer has them, sometimes we have no idea what to do with them. Here’s my solution.
10. To inspire. Some of you, who attended the recent LDStorymakers conference, might recall my chosen super power. I chose invisibility. I’ve always thought that the Holy Ghost had the coolest job in the world. This is my way of whispering my own testimony to whoever will listen. Maybe it will inspire a super power of your own.