December 29, 2009

Would A Novel, By Any Other Name, Smell as Sweet?

After I received the "alternate titles" request I mentioned in my previous post, I went to these ladies for a little help and found this.
As helpful as it is to be encouraged to relax about a title, to not stress so much over what your novel will be called because chances were never there for your title to stick in the first place, I still find myself checking my email every few hours, waiting on word from the title comittee, who ended their last email assuring me they will take everything into consideration, and hopefully would be able to pick a good one.


Do not get me wrong! I am still totally blown away by this chance... that editors are even calling me Krista and "part of the Covenant family" still makes my toes curl and I find myself smiling into space over all this opportunity.

But, I came up with seven, and then two more, titles to give them. I liked ONE of those. One. And I didn't like it better than the original. The others had me wincing, sticking my tongue out, shaking my head as I typed them into the email.
And I have a feeling this is something I am going to have to get over. Because the lovely people at Covenant know what they are doing, right? RIGHT? Of course they do (mantra chant). And I am guessing my suggestions aren't the only ones on the table.

And Annette Lyon is right. The story was great enough to catch the editor's eyes. They love my book. The title will come. And the next one, and the next one.
The Orchard... The Inn... The Lake... like that.


December 22, 2009

Here We go!

A request for 5-10 alternate titles? What? But... but it's called The Orchard. Umm, okay.

I knew this happens. I've read about it. Still, when the request is made of me, I am stunned. Scratching my head, I come up with seven ideas. Still like the original best. At least they ask me.
This is all very interesting. I'll let you know what happens next.

December 18, 2009

Comes The Sunlight

 An excerpt, in memory of my daughter, born and died December 17, 1996:

And so it was, that we learned how to prepare for the worst, while hoping for the best.  We picked out a name: Kate Afton, after my great-grandmother, Katherine, and the serene mountain valley in Wyoming where Brandon’s parents had recently moved, and where we found perspective, peace, and wonder on our summer visit.
As I sat with my Primary class during singing time, the words of a song the children were learning, and I knew well, caught me off-guard.  My voice caught and my vision blurred.  
When He comes Again, by Mirla Greenwood Thayne, had always been a beautiful song to me, but hearing it now, it meant something much more profound.  It was no longer a song of a child wondering what season Jesus Christ would return in, or if he would be ready.  It was a song of hope; hope that we would be with Kate again, that she had a purpose to fulfill here, and our Savior would receive her with open arms. 
Overwhelmed, I couldn’t sing, but listened to the children’s voices pick up the words.  After singing time, the primary president approached me, and asked if I was all right. 
I explained with a tight voice, “We are losing this baby.” 

I spent my nights silently fighting the cry that forced its way from my heart, to my lungs, to my eyes, finally to leave my body in muffled gasps and tears that streamed.  I envisioned the baby, the little girl, the young woman I would not make memories with as I had done with my other children.  Only prayer would help me find sleep. 
Heavenly Father, please help everything be all right.  Please help Kate feel our love for her.  Please help us be strong, and turn to each other, and our Savior. 
The Primary song would return, and I would finally drift off.  Will herald angels sing…

December 11, 2009


James Dashner's Maze Runner has been mentioned so many times in my internet browzing, I had to read it for myself. So, after I bought it for my son for Christmas (I'm pretty sure he doesn't check this blog), and before I hid it to be wrapped, I read it.
I am so excited to give it to him.
If you haven't read the opening scene on Dashner's website, and you want to read an example of how to draw a reader into a story, go now and read it... but then come back here because I have a little more to say.
Underdog heroes,twists and turns, tranport into another reality, second guesses, grappling mental and physical challenges... this is a book that moves.
I loved the hidden potential, the discovery of how strong we might be. And we're not done. Not at all.
I could not embrace one of the main characters introduced later in the book, but I wonder if I am not meant to yet. It is one of the reasons I will be looking for the second book. The other reasons are that I want to see evil overcome, I want to see characters avenged, I want to know how the others were tested.
We shall see!

December 9, 2009

Tagged By M. Gray. Thanks!

On to you, G.G. Vandagriff, Carla Parsons, and Norma Rudolph.

1. What's the last thing you wrote? What's the first thing you wrote that you still have?
I have been editing two books: Remnant, and The Inn. But writing writing? The last pages of Grace and Chocolate were done a few weeks ago.
I have a bunch of poetry and essays I kept from high school and college. Funny (to laugh at), heart-wrenching, dramatic stuff.

2. Write poetry?
Yes. Not as much lately. It really has to hit me and I'll write it down.

3. Angsty poetry?
"Ode To A Punker's Sister, 4/22/86 For Laurel Banner, may she survive being raised by the book." Awesome 80's angst.

4. Favorite genre of writing?
I have to say romance (real, deep, true stuff, not that other kind), though I love fantasy, suspense and some historical fiction.

5. Most annoying character you've ever created?
Cush, a two-faced Nephite traitor who wouldn't shut up and chewed with his mouth open. Ugh.

6. Best Plot you've ever created?
Hmm. So little of my stuff has been read... I love The Lake. I can't wait to get The Orchard and The Inn out so I can get to The Lake. Too soon to tell, I guess. I need more feedback.

7. Coolest Plot twist you've ever created?
Grace and Chocolate. I didn't even see it coming.

8. How often do you get writer's block?
Apparently every Thanksgiving through Christmas. Or is that just busy?

9. Write fan fiction?
I guess I have to say yes. The Orchard is a modern take on Jane Austen's Persuasion. The first half of Orchard gets us to the point where Austen's Persuasion begins, and that storyline is woven into the second half of the book. Although I really appreciated having a story like that as a guide to my first novel, I don't think I will need to do it again.

10. Do you type or write by hand?
I used to write furiously by hand, but most everything is on the computer now.

11. Do you save everything you write?
Yes. Thank heavens for jump drives.

12. Do you ever go back to an idea after you've abandoned it?
I'll save edits I think are great, in case I need them for something else, tweaked to fit.

13. What's your favorite thing you've ever written?
That's hard. I love writing emotion. There was a scene in The Lake... it was 2 am and I was sobbing, just bawling, getting this written (and I'm really pretty reserved emotionally). But there are some suspenseful scenes in Remnant so different from what I'd written before, loved that, too.

14. What's everyone else's favorite story that you've written?
You mean my mom's? Ha ha. I haven't had enough read to know. We'll say The Orchard, because it will be my first publication.

15. Ever written romance or angsty teen drama?
Romance. Even Remnant, a post Book of Mormon speculative... couldn't stay away from it. It happens. The Lake spans 7 years of the mc's life, starting at age 15, so there was some fun teen stuff in there.

16. What's your favorite setting for your characters?
Loved the setting for Orchard and Lake.  "Currant Lake" is a fictional lake in Flathead Valley, MT based on a real one where we vacation.

17. How many writing projects are you working on right now?
Ready to get Remnant out to readers, Grace and Chocolate is being read, editing The Inn for submission.

18. Have you ever won an award for your writing?

19. What are your five favorite words?
A few are wretched, caught, hush, ferocious, and squeegee.

20. What character have you created that is most like yourself?
Kirianah, in Remnant. I didn't mean to, but my husband caught it (hey, that's a favorite word) two chapters in.

21. Where do you get ideas for your characters?
Most of them come on their own, some I need help with, mostly minor characters based loosely on family members.

22. Do you ever write based on your dreams?
No, but I have woken up inspired, and The Inn explores dreams and their purposes.

23. Do you favor happy endings?
Yes. I threw The Mill On The Floss, by George Eliot, across the room when I finished it. Unless it's a series. There has to be hope.

24. Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?
Yes. I edit as I go and it drives me crazy. I've tried not to. It's better that I just let my mental editor free, and no one gets hurt.

25. Does music help you write?
It's too distracting to the movie in my head. I listen to music at almost any other time, though, and put together soundtracks to my novels when I am near completion.

26. Quote something you've written. Whatever pops into your head.
Are we supposed to remember what we've written? Um, since I mentioned Cush earlier... The soaking, slop-eating blood-traitor who soiled himself at the sight of a bloated floater stood before him with his hands on his hips. See, the Lamanites don't like him, either.

December 8, 2009

Search Your Feelings

A writer and nothing else:  a man alone in a room with the English language, trying to get human feelings right.
~John K. Hutchens, New York Herald Tribune, 10 September 1961
 I am getting The Inn ready for submission, diving into another edit. It is the sequel to The Orchard and centers around Elizabeth Embry, Alisen's older, snobby, successful sister. It had to be different because Elizabeth is such a different character from Alisen. Alisen was so open and searching. Elizabeth is closed and cautious, skeptical. Alisen had never been away from home. Elizabeth is hardly ever home. Alisen had innocence. Elizabeth has been there, done that. It was very interesting, finding her story. But they both had their childhood, shared the pain of the loss of their mother, and, though Elizabeth's awareness of it is latent, are looking for home... a place to belong.
The Inn has been my most difficult novel to write so far. It was my first novel without a definite inspiration (The Orchard was based on Jane Austen's Persuasion) and so I still worry about where it goes, plot and conflict. But I do love the emotion, because Elizabeth is so guarded. I loved having her true feelings forced to the page. So, while I struggle with the twist and timing, here is a snippet of emotion I do like. The X's are to eliminate a spoiler.

She flipped on the entry light and looked around.  The cathedral ceilings made the room feel extra large, or maybe she just felt small tonight.  The furniture was simply arranged in front of the fireplace on the right wall, and the back windows overlooking the golf course were black, only reflecting the room and her own image.  She took a deep breath and headed for her bedroom.
She hung up the dress in her closet, set down her bag, and sat on the bed.  Her heart began to thud a little too uncomfortably and she took another breath.  Gripping her phone, she pressed the button.
“Hello, Paul.”
“Liz.  How are you?” 
She pictured his smile. 
She breathed as she spoke, trying to hide the rapid movement she felt from her heart to her throat.  “I’m good.  I’m sorry I couldn’t return your call earlier.  I’ve been on the road.”
“Where to this time?”
“Actually, not too far.  XXXXXXXXX.”
There was a pause.  “Well, that’s great.”
“Yes, it is.”  She tried not to overdo the enthusiasm as she smiled.  “It was lovely.”
“Good, Liz.  Man, its great to hear your voice.”
Something occurred to her.  She looked at the clock.  “Are you still in Hong Kong?”
He laughed quietly.  “No.  I’m in Maine.  I opened a restaurant here a while back.”
“Oh.”  She hadn’t expected that.  “It’s still late, though.  I’m sorry.”  He didn’t say anything.  “Should I call back in the morning?”
“No, no, of course not.”
“So, Maine?”
“Yes.  An old friend of mine offered me a chance at his place and I couldn’t turn it down.  I missed the homeland.  And the restaurant is doing really well…”
He sounded as if there was more.  She waited, gently biting her manicured thumbnail.  “And…?”
He took a deep breath and she pictured him scratching his hair back and forth as he raised his eyebrows.  “…and, I’m getting married, Liz.”
She blinked and felt heat rising up her neck, then her face.  She didn’t breathe as her mind flipped like a deck of cards, too fast to land on something to say.
“I wanted to tell you… before you heard it from somebody else.”
She nodded, somehow finding her voice.  “Anyone I know?”
“No, no.  She’s a schoolteacher here in Maine.  She’s… she’s really great, Liz.”  His voice was gentle, not boasting. 
Elizabeth swallowed, hoping that would affect the water accumulating in her lower lids.  It didn’t.  “I hope she is.” 
They were silent for a few stretched moments.  Finally, he spoke.
“Liz… I,” he cleared his throat, “take care of yourself, okay?”
She nodded.  She was good at that.  “Paul?”  A rough rock lodged in her throat. 
 She felt the hot, unwelcome sting of a tear escape down her cheek.  “I hope everything works out… with the restaurant, and… everything.”
“Thanks, Liz.”  He paused.  “Liz?”
Couldn’t she just go, now?  “Uh-huh?”
He hesitated, then whispered low, “You’re more than you think you are.”
Her hand came to her stomach as if she’d been hit, and she tried to swallow.  He had said those words to her before, in a much different situation.  She had to let them sink in once more. 
Finally, she whispered back, “Goodbye, Paul.”
She hit cancel and dropped the phone.  She sat there holding her stomach, holding back the tears, steadying her breathing.
 Twenty minutes later, she slowly got up and changed into her nightgown, skimming past the shimmering red kimono robe, noting to herself that she could never wear it again, and hating herself for being that sentimental.
She climbed into bed, set her alarm, pulled the light covers up, and closed her eyes.  An hour later, the silent sobs came when she was too tired to fight them any longer.
And she knew her cries weren’t just for him.

Emotion is such a personal thing to write. How do you take words and form them into feelings, while staying true to the character? Share your thoughts.

December 2, 2009

Shouting It!

It happened! It happened IT HAPPENED!!!  

"Congratulations! Today we officially accepted The Orchard for publication. It's a unique story that captured our imagination, and we love the way you crafted and developed both the plot and the characters. Your revisions were excellent, and we are pleased to be able to bring your book to the LDS market." 

It looks like The Orchard will be out for your reading enjoyment Spring/Summer 2011!!!!!!!!!!!! It's still sinking in. I jumped around too much after dinner. Side-ache. It's a good side-ache, though. I love the look on my husband's face. He totally loves this for me.

Thank you, Covenant Communications and the readers! Thank you, Kathryn Jenkins! I can't wait to meet my editor! My head is spinning... ahhhhhh!
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