December 31, 2010

2011. Fear Not.

So many bloggers are posting lists to say goodbye to 2010. I knew I wanted to do something to celebrate and mark the new year, and I found a list I really liked. I borrowed it from Michael Hyatt.

2011. Fear not.

  1. If the last year were a movie of your life, what would the genre be? Drama, romance, adventure, comedy, tragedy, or a combination?
    • A comedic drama. Too many weird, unbelievable things happened alongside the really cool things. We were struggling and then laughing. I'm grateful for the laughter. It was like M.A.S.H.
  2. What were the two or three major themes that kept recurring? These can be single words or phrases.
    • Discovering potential. This seemed to touch each one of our family members this year.
    • Time, the spending and passing of it.
    • Overcoming lost innocence. That sounds a little mellow-dramatic, but where I used to think most people tried to see the best of everyone, I now know differently. I'm still going to try seeing the best. I'll just be more wary.
  3. What did you accomplish this past year that you are the most proud of? These can be in any area of your life—spiritual, relational, vocational, physical, etc. Be as specific as possible.
    • My second book was accepted by Covenant Communications. Woohoo!
    • I drove to Provo, UT for a writers conference and navigated around all by myself.
    • I submitted one more book and have another just about ready to go.
    • My kids all seem to be in a pretty good place. Praying we continue in that somewhat steady course.
  4. What disappointments or regrets did you experience this past year?
    • I had to turn down attending the Storymakers writing conference AND presenting at the Whitney Awards Gala. But it was for a really great reason!
    • The release date on my first novel was pushed back, possibly to 2012. That wasn't very fun.
  5. What was missing from last year as you look back? Look at each major area of your life. Don’t focus now on having to do anything about it.
    • More organization in my daily routine. Writing, homemaking, family, personal study.
    • More time spent with my youngest, teaching and developing her sense of self.
    • Date night with my husband. It's just not going to happen regularly while he is both school principal AND our ward bishop.
    • NEW writing! It was all revision and editing.
  6. What were the major life-lessons you learned this past year? Boil this down to a few short, pithy statements.
    • Fear not. Isaiah 41:10, 13
    • "The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, nor the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when he discovers that someone else believes in him and is willing to trust him." -Ralph Waldo Emerson
    • Dare to dream. Then work.
As I sorted through my thoughts in answering these questions, I came to the conclusion that although 2010 was a trying year, it was also one of tremendous blessings and growth. It is done. I did my best. And honestly, I can't wait to see what this next year will bring. Welcome with open arms, 2011.

What did 2010 teach you?

December 30, 2010

Reading Again. You? Thursday Authorial

After so much editing, activities, and the holidays, it has been wonderful to snuggle into the sofa and READ. I've come across a few gems and thought I'd give them a shout out. I'm not done with my "to read" pile at all, and that is just fine with me. I find as I read, the desire to write awakens and develops like yeast in warm sugar water.

Yes, I know it's a bacterial process. I've been baking a lot. The end product is delicious.

Now, for the reviews:

Fantasy, All ages.
The Thorn is a beautiful fantasy story of hope, faith, and miracles set in an earth-like world with two suns and three moons, and an ancient messianic prophesy. The characters drew me in and I wanted to know more. There were a few times when I wished the story to move along and that Jonathan had a bit more to do, but I appreciated Fraley's world-building and practiced my patience. I loved Pekah. These are characters and a land worth cheering for.

Fairytale, YA
This was a delightful read! Everything you could want in an original fairy tale. Adventure, magic, romance, a really quirky bad guy. Well done, Cheri Chesley!

Fantasy Adventure Romance, YA
I really enjoyed the unfolding of this story and the depth of the characters. The science drew me in and I wanted to know more about the mechanics of things and how they affected the main characters. I laughed when I found myself relieved there were no vampires involved. The romance was well written, enough tension and suspense to keep me turning pages and hoping. I can't wait to read The Golden Spiral!

December 20, 2010

100 Years In a Moment

My fifteen year old son made this video for his Lyrical Analysis project in his English class. He was allowed to use 30 seconds of the music video, within copyright laws. You can also watch it here with full-screen capabilities. It may be blocked if you are in about 50 other countries.

I was totally blown away. I hope you are, too. Enjoy.

100 Years, by Five For Fighting. You may purchase music here.

December 7, 2010

Just Offstage

After revisions, Grace & Chocolate is out to readers. Again. I've completed the author forms required for submission to my publisher. So, after feedback and the necessary improvements (one hopes they are improvements), I will submit G&C to my editor and then . . . wait. Again.
It is strange to have two books waiting in the wings, approved, anticipating makeup and costume. They know their lines and have the potential to deliver their parts with emotion, timing, and humor.
But it's not their turn yet, and here I send another player in for auditions before the others have been proven. They keep glancing back at me as they watch the performance of other stories, and I have to put my hands up and settle them. Just wait, I whisper. Just wait.

December 2, 2010

Popping In

 Happy Holidays! I can't believe they're here already.

Update: The reading went pretty well and though my voice lowered a bit, I breathed and brought it back up again. It felt so good to sit back down! So many ladies were enthusiastic afterward and it was reassuring. I won't be so scared next time. What a pansy.

I know the posts have been a bit sparse lately, and I think it may continue to be that way until after the 15th, when my to-do list will be drastically reduced. But I did notice that I am nearing 100 FOLLOWERS! So I am thinking some sort of celebration is in order. But I'll have to get back to you. I have tunics to sew and a baby shower to go to.

Oh! Congratulations to all of you who met your NANOWRIMO goals, and to those of you who even made them in the first place! I'm making it a goal to join in next year. You guys sounded like you were having too much fun.

November 29, 2010

Putting Myself Out There

Tomorrow night our Relief Society (our church's women's organization) is having a dinner and talent show. Our writing group signed up for a table and that will be kind of fun to display a few rough drafts, rejection letters, and, of course, the acceptance letters, along with our "how to write books" and incentives. But I took it a scary step further and signed up to do a reading. GAH.

I have no idea what I'm reading.

Okay, I have a few ideas, but I need to pick one part and then PRACTICE it without cringing, because as my writing group knows, when I am reading something of my own out loud (which every author MUST do in the editing process, PLEASE. See here.), two odd things happen:

1) I cringe. I just cringe and grimace and shake my head and giggle. UGH.

2) My voice gets deeper. I don't know why. I go from sounding all womanly and pleasant to sounding like Sylvester Stallone. "Yo, Adrian."

But I'm still going to do it. I just need to pick the perfect part and remember to breathe. Right?

Anyone have any advice?

Wish me luck.

November 10, 2010

Rings and Seasons

It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men's hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanates from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.  ~Robert Louis Stevenson

I recently read something about trees. How, in studying their rings, scientists can guess what climates and growing conditions surrounded the tree at given seasons, even hundreds of years ago. When conditions are ideal, trees grow at a normal rate. But when climate becomes harsh, extreme, exceptional, trees slow down their growth and put everything they have into surviving.
How is this like writing?
Right now, I have a lot going on. This "season" of growth I am experiencing a climate of kitchen remodel, a new calling in church planning and executing the holiday parties, hosting Thanksgiving, 4 children involved in school, community, and sports/music, a volleyball tournament, a husband heavily involved in the community and church. I wouldn't call it a harsh climate, because these are things we choose and enjoy and look forward to. Still, our current schedule is full, and added to these things are the stress and turbulence of having a large family, health issues, my husband's absences as he travels a lot (yeah, I miss him). I might worry that this season's ring? Looking a little meager.
When I get to write, everything slows. I regroup. I clear my head. I focus. Writing is part of my survival. Writing group is manna. When I get quiet mornings for writing it's nourishment to my soul.
And then I can pace myself with the other stuff. Sort of. More like scramble to keep up, but I'm not falling behind. I do my best with the important things. Writing isn't extra. Along with my faith, writing maintains balance, keeps me warmed up. So, my meager rings? I'm still going to be thankful for what I was able to get done. Sometimes we just have to hunker down, keep warm, take care of the important things. Survive. Climates change, so do the seasons.

I know a lot of writers would agree with me.

What do your rings look like?

November 8, 2010


In conjunction with National Novel Writing Month, and because I was inspired by my sister's latest blog post, I declare November "National Pie Poetry Month", or NONAPIPOMO.

Ode to Pie (or Pie a la Ode)

Oooooohhhhh, Pie!
Pie that hath melted on my tongue with cream both whipped and iced . . .
Pie that bursts with berry, or lemon,
Dances with banana or tempts with chocolate . . .
Forget all thought and crumb of cake,
For who eats cake with such pastries displayed? Nay, but bow-
Pumpkin, thou queen of Holiday; Custard, repast of peasants--Ooooohhh!
Apple Pear Ginger in the perfect crust, let me not miss thy fleeting season!

Oh, that I were a spoon, that I might touch that french silk.


Let's hear your NONAPIPO.

November 1, 2010

Revising With Passion

While what seems like the rest of the writing world participates in National Novel Writing Month, and the pup attempts to disembowel an un-stuffed plush squirrel (the head was the first to go), I will be revising another novel, called Grace & Chocolate. I have received delicious, stomach butterfly-inducing feedback from my loverly friend from the Great White North, Kimberly Vanderhorst, and after getting some "have-to's" out of the way, I can now open up her edits and re-work the raw into the submission-worthy. I hope.
Because this novel means a lot to me. They all do in their own way, but this one is a little more personal for me.
The story was inspired by my mom. It isn't biographical. It's not based on a true story. But my mom is a survivor. Her sisters and brothers are survivors. My mom was the oldest of five children in a house where alcohol turned a gentle, charismatic athlete, a friend and a father, into the embodiment of hatred, fear, and anger. Rage. He couldn't fight the demons of World War II alone. He would try. I love my grandpa. He slowed the drinking as I grew up, and finally stopped. He was goofy, could make us laugh so easily. And then they found the cancer. He always told us how much he loved us. I'm so glad he did, because when he died two months before my daughter, his first grandchild, was born, it was easy to imagine how much he would have loved her. Considering my mom's upbringing, that is an amazing gift.
But my mom was a fighter.
And so is Jill Parish.

Grace & Chocolate
Jillian Parish works at a busy publishing house in Portland, Oregon, is writing the novel of a lifetime, and goes home alone every day to a little dog, a spotless apartment, and a piece of 70% cacao and sugar. Her life is described in four words. Escape and stay busy. She has the second part down. The first one is getting more and more difficult as people from her past keep reminding her of what she has fled, and how dangerous it has become.
When Scott Gentry moves to town and spots Jillian at church, he learns her reputation as a lost cause. But something compels him to get Sister Parish's attention, no matter how difficult that may prove. As Scott stumbles, crashes, and falls, he finds himself with more attention than he bargained for, and more willing to do anything he can for the woman who is not made of stone, but of strength.
And she'll need it, because Jillian Parish's protective boundaries are about to be shaken. They're about to explode.

I hope I can make this one work. Man, I love being an author. All of it.
Good luck to all you Nanowrimers!

October 25, 2010

Building Literacy Five Words at a Time

I think this is my favorite award I've received so far. Thank you, Talei Loto at Musings of an Aspiring Scribe! Here are five of my favorite words. Enjoy!
Solitude: This is something I need, something I enjoy, something I appreciate. Especially if a lake and a hammock are involved (a girl can dream).
Exultant: This adjective has to be fought for and earned. I like that.
Elocution: I love how this sounds and rolls off the tongue. A word fitting its definition.
Rigor: A great visual with this one.
Tenacity: This word is taut, unbending, buzzing with current. Me likey.

I'll pass this award onto Alex J. Cavanaugh, who's book CASSASTAR was just released, and J. Scott Savage at Find Your Magic, who's blog is filled with awesome words. Thanks for sharing, boys!

What are some of your favorite words?

October 16, 2010

How Close Are You?

I've been Tweeting lately about the Author Forms my publisher sent me to fill out for each of my accepted books. They are new (well, refurbished) for Covenant, but their purpose is to organize, connect with the author, and create the best product possible for both the publisher, the artist, and of course, the reader. And, man, are they exhaustive. I know my novel better than I thought possible. Here are just a few of the requirements, followed by the form they are filed under:
  • 2 page summary of entire novel. Editorial. (Thank heavens it can be single-spaced)
  • 2-3 sentence summaries of each chapter. Editorial.
  • physical description of main character(s). Graphics.
  • description/background of EVERY SPEAKING CHARACTER. Audio. (for The Orchard I have 23)
  • special items/symbols. Graphics.
  • pronunciation guide to any suspect words. Audio.
  • sample sales pitches. Marketing.
  • marketing availability and plan. Marketing.
And lots of background info (setting, time, key turning points, etc.), dedication, acknowledgments, author photo, author BIOs (which are harder than they sound), and the kitchen sink.

Mark Twain writing in bed.
See what I mean? And I thought I was just writing stories.

How well do you know your novel?

October 15, 2010

Author Bio Photos

*UPDATE: Thanks, everyone! I've sent #1, 2, & 5 to my editor. Your feedback was so great!

I need a little help choosing which photo to send my publisher for the author bio page. The only guidelines given are that it must be professionally shot, flattering, and no distractions in the background. Keep in mind that I write Romance. Thanks to Traci Kannard at Fleeting Moments Photography! Here we go!


October 10, 2010

Ellipses Oopsie Daisies

word space dot space dot space dot space word

Did you know . . . that the ellipses (. . .) is to be thought of as a word in the sentence? Therefore . . . it is given its own distance from the other words in the sentence. Equality, you know.

And did you know . . . that Word's little habit of auto-pushing three dots typed in a row together . . . is wrong? They need s p a c e.

Ellipsi. I had no idea I was doing you wrong. I'll do my best to make it right.

Learning as I go. Back to editing . . .

October 8, 2010

Being Versatile

I've been offered awards by two more wonderful bloggers! Thank you, A.L. Sonnichsen at The Green Bathtub, and Christauna Asay over at Art n' Writin'! These ladies have great writing blogs and are a delight to read. Thanks for the kudos!
I've already listed some things about me (as required when accepting these awards), but I thought I might try to list a few things I've discovered about the writing process since I began writing seriously a few years ago. I'll try to be original.

1. Before you submit ANYTHING, go to the intended publisher's website and LOOK UP their very own guidelines for submissions. Each publisher is different! Hard copy or e-copy, full ms or partial, or queries only, looking for specific genres, NOT taking specific genres, font size and style, min/max word count, header info, where they want the page number, EVERYTHING YOU NEED to avoid being automatically tossed in the slush pile or having your work shoved right into the self-addressed stamped envelope you managed to include. This is from experience, people.

2. Learn how to self-edit. Search editing, Tuesday Edit Crunch, or any number of topics on this blog right here (mine) to find my discoveries on self-editing and links to help. That's a few years worth of discovery on ONE BLOG. There are MANY OTHERS.

3. Let others read your work and give you feedback. Critical, cut-and-dry, red ink feedback. IT WORKS. Swallow your writer's pride and CONSIDER.

4. Have patience. BOOKLOADS of it. That's a lot.

5. Let your PASSION drive you. Remember WHY YOU WRITE. I just read somewhere that passion feeds energy. LET IT. Just... remember the needful things in life, too, and budget your time accordingly.

So, those are the biggies. The last time I was given an award I was to list 15 new bloggers I'd discovered, and I only listed 8 because I was budgeting time for needful things. Today I'll list 3 more.
  • Norma's Novels. Norma Rudolph is a member of my writing group, Writing Friendzy, and my very good friend! She has written an amazing sci-fi novel about the people of the biblical city of Enoch, called THE WATCHERS OF SIONON. It will be coming out early 2011 through Leatherwood Press, and we are still happy dancing for her!
  • Come On...I Dair You! Besides having great insights to writing (check out her post, Writing and Cookies), Carrie Dair regularly posts favorite book trailers, which I find fascinating and will probably attempt to make someday. Not by myself.
  • Robison Wells. Okay, Rob isn't new, BUT he does have a shiny new contract with Harper Teen for his modern-day dystopian 3-book YA series. I had the fortune to read a draft of VARIANT and it WILL ASTOUND. And, his blog is entertaining. Particularly What's For Lunch Wednesday.
You know, I really like sharing awesome bloggers. Maybe I'll make this a regular thing. Hmmm. What do you think?

October 7, 2010

Commandments for Writers Series: #10, One-Zero, TEN-- LAAAAA

I almost forgot in the craziness that is my life that I had not presented Commandment Number Ten from Sol Stein's Ten Commandments for Writers, from his book, Stein on Writing. Whew! That would have been embarrassing.

10 Above all, thou shalt not vent thy emotions onto the reader, for thy duty is to evoke the reader's emotions, and in that lies the art of the writer.

 This is my favorite commandment of them all. I relate to this, I agree with it, I GET IT.
I don't think Sol is saying that you can't use your emotions to express feelings on a page. Many of us channel frustration, sorrow, joy into scenes we've thought about, that we know are coming, or scenes that have been inspired by the emotions when they hit. That can be amazing after editing and revisions hone down the emotional avalanche to bones that will move the story forward, deepen the character, create tension.
BUT, have you ever read something and found yourself not submersed in the story, but considering what happened to the author to make them write what is on the page, and why are they pushing this on you? It can be such a fine line, between venting emotions onto a reader, and evoking the reader's emotions.
Let's look at the definition of the word, evoke.

e·voke  (-vk)
tr.v. e·voked, e·vok·ing, e·vokes
1. To summon or call forth: actions that evoked our mistrust.
2. To call to mind or recollection by naming, citing, or suggesting: songs that evoke old memories.
3. To create anew, especially by means of the imagination: a novel that evokes the Depression in accurate detail.

The act of evoking is an outside act. The focus is on those outside ourselves, in this case, our reader. When we write emotion, we want to tap into our reader's mind, his memories, his experiences with similar emotions, and draw on those to evoke compassion, support, even comradery, with the characters we are writing. Can we use our own experiences? Of course. But we can't just tell our reader what to feel, can't just push it on him and say, "I feel this, so now you feel it." Nope.
We have to suggest. For example, frustration. Remember how it feels? How, when you're trying to fix something you're not sure how to fix, and you're already running late...

His fingers were too thick, too clumsy to grasp the wrench in that tiny space under the cupboard between the wall and the old copper pipes. Twenty minutes he'd been wedged under there, cursing himself for the half-dozen donuts he'd eaten in that week. Maple bars, chocolate cream-filled... glazed raised ... displayed in the office, every day. Donuts had always been his downfall, but he wasn't playing football anymore. Neither was he a plumber.
"Aaugh." He clenched his teeth against the curse word in his head as the wrench slipped against the bolt and clanked noisily to the bottom of the cupboard.
"You all right?" his wife asked as she hurried to lift steaming jars of processed peaches to a towel on the counter. "I'm so sorry. If it hadn't happened in the middle of canning--"
"Just get me that other wrench, the funky one with the bendable head." He stuck his bleeding knuckle in his mouth. "I'm just too big to reach these bolts." His fingers shook, always did after too much exertion. It's a good thing he hadn't pursued the surgeon thing. Of course, then he could afford to pay someone to be wedged under the sink, fixing the broken faucet.
"When are you supposed to leave?" 
"About twenty minutes ago."
His wife drew in her breath. "Do I need to call somebody?" She handed him the funky wrench and squeezed his arm, an attempt to soothe. "Do you need a band-aid?"
He huffed out a laugh but scowled. "No, I'm fine. I'm not leaving you for three days with a broken sink. They'll just wait on me. They can't go anywhere, I'm driving."
"All the way to Cheyenne?"
Distracted by the realization that the funky wrench was too bulky to fit in the cramped space, he didn't answer, but tossed the heavy thing out the cupboard opening. "Why don't we have any tools in this house?"
He ran a hand through his thinning hair as his wife paused in her work on the peaches.
"We do," she answered, "but they're all my tools, and I'm not a plumber. I'm sorry."
The truth stung and he grabbed her old wrench, jammed it up around the stuck bolt, and applied pressure enough that his fingers shook again. Holding his breath, he twisted, squeezing, cursing his teaching degree and swearing in his next life he would be "handy". The bolt gave with a jerk and his breath whooshed out of him.
"I got it."
"You got it?"

This is based on true events experienced recently by my husband and I. The frustration was there, but I didn't just tell you my husband was frustrated and I was frustrated and you should be frustrated, too. I got inside my husband's head, drew on those things that a reader might understand or connect with on some level, and then invited the reader to say, "Oh, man, I have been there!" Even if "there" was the inability to pitch a single strike at the game, or being stranded on the side of the road with the car hood up, or struggling to administer an IV after a long day. The self-doubt, the shoulda-woulda-coulda, the fatigue, all a part of feeling frustrated.
Does that make sense? Invite, draw, relate. Don't push or force. 
Unless you are trying to loosen a stuck bolt so your wife can finish her peaches.

October 4, 2010

Book Academy: Serious Wumpa Fruitage

What an awesome week! True, the Book Academy at UVU was only one day, but how stuffed full of writerly inspiration and good vibeage was it? Did I just make up a new word? The presentations I attended were geared toward writers who have been accepted, and now what? Perfect.

The cool breakfast table: TJ Bronley, Sarah M. Eden, Me, Marion Jensen. Not pictured: Julie Bellon, and Don Carey. Look at us all trying to be cool. What's with the pockets?
 I learned more about what social media can do for me from Marion Jensen, who is so great I may just claim him as the relative everyone assumes he is.
Sarah M. Eden and Marion Jensen. He signed my copy of CHICKENS IN THE HEADLIGHTS. Too. Funny. Sarah has already signed my copy of COURTING MISS LANCASTER, which everyone should read.
 I learned how (and how not) to give a launch party and how it differs from a book signing from Josi S. Kilpack, for whom I have a ton of respect. What can I say, the woman loves to cook.
Josi S. Kilpack, Me, and Annette Lyon. See? I want to be on THIS side of the table. Josi signed DEVIL'S FOOD CAKE and Annette wished me "Happy Chocolate" in her cook book, CHOCOLATE NEVER FAILETH.
After the surprisingly delicious (and huge) lunch, my friends signed all the books I bought and we talked and laughed and I kept picturing myself behind the table signing my books. I didn't get a picture of Heather B. Moore, but meeting her was really great, too!
Me, Sheila Stahley and Shanda Cottam from LDS Women's Book Review, and Don Carey, my buddy for the day. His book, BUMPY LANDINGS, is coming out this December!
Sheila, Josi, Melissa E. Cunningham, Renae Mackley, and Annette
Me and Melissa E. Cunningham. I wish she lived down the street. We would have FUN. Her book, THE EYE OF TANUB, is coming out in 2011!
 During lunch, I met Kathryn Jenkins, the managing editor for Covenant. She handled my submissions until I was assigned my own editor. I gave her a big hug and thanked her for liking my books. She gave me the good news that Covenant liked my revisions of THE INN and has officially accepted it as my second book. It was really good news to hear!
After the lunch break, I learned about book promotion, brand, hooks, and media etiquette from my publicist at Covenant, Kelly Smurthwaite, and the author's pov from Annette Lyon. Sweet.
And then, because the 4th session didn't include any "what now?" options for classes, I chose (as did a good number of attendees) Robison Wells' class on overcoming obstacles to writing. Awesome motivation. I raised my hand a lot and Rob only shut me down once. It was a time thing. That's what he said.
You know, I really like Rob, but he can be such a pill. (I can hear Rob say, "A pill of AWESOME.") Yes, that's true.
After the conference, a bunch of us met at Chili's for dinner. I arrived after being forced onto the freeway going the opposite direction really fast. But I took an exit, started over, and still arrived before anyone else. I don't know how that happened. Utah traffic astounds me.
Authors Traci Hunter Abramson, Julie Wright, and Melissa E. Cunningham. The coolest people to sit across from EVER.
Me and Don.
The waiter kept treating us like a couple because we ordered the same thing. It was funny.
Tristi Pinkston joined us and held someone's cute baby.

Jeff Scott Savage, author of the FAR WORLD series and much more, and his wife, Debbie Lambson (Cranberryfries), and Rob. I was thrilled to overhear Rob telling Jeff about my book, REMNANT!

Sheila and Shanda. What wonderful dinner company!

A sweet couple, Mary and TJ Bronley.

After sleeping VERY HARD, I had the opportunity to meet MY EDITOR, Samantha Van Walraven, for lunch the next day. I picked her brain and hardly let her eat as she answered my questions. My cousin, Jill Hammond, came along and asked questions of her own, which was great because my head was spinning. I learned a lot, and getting to know my editor better was really great.

Later I headed over to BYU, which was a trip because I haven't been there since I was a student. I visited Annette Lyon at her book signing at the BYU Bookstore. I love her hugs! I bought three more cookbooks for Christmas presents and ate some fudge. Uh, hello, CHOCOLATE.
Annette Lyon with her very helpful daughter and her gorgeous cookbooks.
It was an inspiring, invigorating trip and I have so much to work on while I wait on a release date for THE ORCHARD. One of the things I loved the most was finally meeting all my Twitter friends. They've been such a tremendous support to me. I can't wait for my next writing conference. I LOVE BEING AN AUTHOR!

September 28, 2010

Power Up

A lot of draining stuff has been happening, both in my writing life and my home life (which actually take place in the same space... my laundry room), and it's time to power up.
Long ago in a family room far, far away, we had a Play Station 1. Do you remember those? PS1. We had Crash Team Racing. I ADORED that game. I MISS that game, those controllers. I tried the Xbox version.


You raced and raced and jumped on the turns and if you hit the one button at the right time you got a burst of speed. I was a menace. And to power up, you slammed, rocketed, or vaulted into boxes or dangling bunches of wumpa fruit. Man, I loved the wumpa fruit. I knew where it was and when I would need it. Wumpa fruit prolonged the race, boosted your momentum, strengthened your weapons.

This week I am attending The Book Academy at Utah Valley University.

Wumpa Fruit, baby.

Hope to see some of you there!

(How do you power up?)

September 25, 2010

Gazing at the Window Display

Well, it's happening again. It seems like whenever I post about being brave and pushing past the pain and seeing beyond the little stumbling blocks in the road, the universe in all it's wisdom says, "Oh, yeah, Krista? You think you've got a handle on it? Well, let's just see about that..."

I talked to my editor last week. There have been some scheduling changes.
Now, whenever someone asks me when my book will be hitting the shelves, instead of answering excitedly, "Spring of 2011!", my answer will now be a slightly tempered but still hopeful, "I'm not sure, possibly 2012..."

I am reminded of a scene from one of my favorite movies, You've Got Mail. Kathleen has just accepted that her book shop must close.

Kathleen Kelly: Oh, Birdie, what am I going to do? What would Mom have done?
Birdie Conrad: Well, let's ask her.
[Birdie opens her locket, revealing a picture of Cecilia Kelly]
Birdie Conrad: Cecilia, what should we do?
[holds the locket to her ear]
Kathleen Kelly: Birdie...
Birdie Conrad: Shhh! She has no idea. But she thinks the window display looks lovely.

In the meantime, I am working on two other manuscripts and will submit them. I may be down, but I am certainly not out. Covenant has accepted two of my books and I'm giving them more to chew on. I won't be closing the book shop.

I'll just be wincing a little every time someone asks me, "When can I buy your book?"

September 23, 2010

September 20, 2010

Commandments for Writers Series: #9

We have nearly completed our study of Sol Stein's Ten Commandments for Writers from his book, Stein on Writing. For those of you who have followed along, I hope it's been a help in becoming a more perceptive writer, or reader. I have learned a lot from his book... maybe nothing astounding or revolutionary, but certainly, Stein's views on what good writing is and what it accomplishes will push me to be better, to reach farther. His explanations are clear. His examples back up his theories. And he loves character. Which is why I really loved this book. Now, on to the next commandment.

9 Thou shalt not forget that dialogue is as a foreign tongue, a semblance of speech and not a record of it, a language in which directness diminishes and obliqueness sings.

I love dialogue. I love the possibilities it brings to the reader to be in the "now" of the story, learning by what characters are saying instead of what the narrator is describing. It brings the story to "real time" and gives the characters life. We learn so much from what a person says, the way they choose their words, the forms of speech they have grown up with. We learn what age they are, their level of education, the level of respect they have for others, for the things in their lives. We even learn what they are hiding if their words conflict with the inner thoughts we are privy to as readers.
Dialogue moves the story quickly, the reader able to move down the page at a clip. But what do we include in written dialogue? What do we leave out?
When I'm writing a first draft, I've noticed the sections of dialogue I hammer out are fairly all-inclusive. Particularly if it's a phone conversation. The greeting, the small talk, the ummm's, then the meat of the conversation, the purpose of the call, then the ummm's again, then the farewell. But it's a first draft and I'm in the zone and it's what I am seeing and hearing in my head, so it all gets thrown down.
When I edit, I choose only the essentials needed to take the conversation where it needed to go. The reader will assume the conversation started with niceties, and ended the same way. Stein says dialogue in a story is not as the precise recordings of a court reporter. Select what moves the story along. Make it resonate. Make it count.

*NOTE: Because THE ORCHARD is now under contract, I can no longer post excerpts from it as examples without written consent. But you can read the whole thing as soon as it comes out! Thank you for understanding!

September 15, 2010


Every year my mother-in-law and I collect orders for peaches and pears, drive with our husbands to Idaho, rent a U-haul, and load it up with boxes of fresh, tasty fruit (as opposed to not-fresh, un-tasty fruit we can buy here in Wyoming for an arm and a leg). We drive home through Yellowstone and load up our garage. Then we wait for the happy faces to come get their orders. It's the best my garage smells all year.
Sometimes the numbers are a little off, and I get nervous about being able to fill everyone's order. After all, loading a truck full of crates, and then unloading half of them (185 peaches and 87 pears this year) at my house, there is bound to be a discrepancy here and there. But for the most part, with a little shuffling of boxes between my mother-in-law's house and mine, we work it out and everyone is happy.

Except, if I am short a box or two, I usually give my own order away. Last year I ordered 4 boxes of each. I think I was able to keep 1 1/2 boxes of peaches and 2 boxes of pears. My kids were sad.
This year, about 2/3 of the way through distributing the orders, I took a count, and guessed I would be able to keep all my pears, but only 1 box of peaches. I expressed my concern to my mother-in-law over the phone.
"You go and separate your order out right now. You set your boxes aside. Those are sacred. You did all the work, you get your fruit."
My mother-in-law holds nothing back. And it's great. I fret about making others unhappy, and she often puts things in perspective. I picked my boxes and set them aside. I even went ahead and canned 3 batches of ripening peaches, and still the worry of using my order before the rest had been picked up nagged at me. But I kept telling myself, "I did all the work, I get my fruit."
It turned out that my mother-in-law had a few cancellations, so the discrepancy was covered, and I can relax about everyone's orders, uncluding my own.
What does this have to do with writing?

When I was given revisions on THE ORCHARD, I was asked to hack off the last 30 pages. Literally, the story did end at that cut-off. I knew it. But there were a few tasty bits in those last 30 pages, and the setting for the new ending was not in the right place. I did as I was asked, and then wrote a short "tie-up" chapter for The End. I sent it back and the publishers were pleased. Good.


Those few tasty bits tugged at me. The setting for that tie-up chapter was still not right. It should be THIS way, with THIS happening. The reader will want THIS.
I was given a chance, when I was assigned my own editor, to run through the story again. I made edits like changing awkward sentences, making clarifications, better wording, etc. I am still learning so much, every time I re-read I am able to see more ways to make the novel better. I love it. Then, I got to the final tie-up chapter.


I returned to my original 30 pages, picked out my few tasty bits, re-distributed them where they fit smoothly into the story, and re-wrote the final scene, putting the characters where they needed to be, the right setting, giving them the right things to do.

I was so excited about that short little re-write, only a couple pages. But those few elements of the story, they were sacred to me. I did all the work. I get the fruit.

After all, the book is called THE ORCHARD.

In what ways are you "giving away your fruit"? Have you learned to compromise? Save the tasty bits?

September 13, 2010

Rain, Drive-Ins, and Rootbeer

I've receive two major awards! Well, maybe not major, but they are lovely, are they not? They come from my blogger friend, Ali Cross. Her site is always thought-provoking, honest, and fun. Thank you, Ali!

The Rules for The Versatile Blogger Award:
  1. Thank and link back to the person that gave you the award.
  2. Share seven things about yourself.
  3. Pass the award to fifteen bloggers that you think deserve it.
  4. Lastly, contact all the bloggers that you’ve picked for the award.

One Lovely Blog Award Rules:
  1. Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.
  2. Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered.
  3. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.
Seven things about myself, in no particular order:
1) I love the sound of rain, crickets, and frogs. Not all at the same time.
2) I love drive-in theaters. I lament their passing and avidly support the one in the next town, American Dreams Drive-In. Sometimes I wish my husband and I could move to the back seat. Like we used to. There are kids in the way.
3) I love rootbeer floats. Particularly A&W rootbeer floats, which we used to get at the A&W on the way to the drive-in when I was little and living in Seattle. Where it rains. And there are frogs. At the lakes.
4) I love lakes. I love the calm, the lack of current, the warmth.
5) I would rather live in the mountains than anywhere else; preferably in a lake house. I don't have one yet. But I am in the mountains. Baby steps. The mountains here in Wyoming are different than the mountains of western Washington. In a good, non-rainy kind of way.
6) I LOVE snow, but seasonally. At Easter time, I want tulips and sunshine. Not snowmen and wind-chill. Like here in the mountains.
7) I'm adaptable.

With that out of the way, it's time to move on to 8 out of the 15 bloggers I have chosen to receive these awards. The other 7 will be mentioned in my next post. Give it up for:

  • Margot Hovley at Inklings. Margot is a new Covenant author, like me! Her book, GET REAL, is coming out next summer. Congratulations, Margot! 
  • Melissa J. Cunningham at A Writer's Reality. Melissa cracks me up and she's a great motivator. Apparently she sings, and I'd like to hear her sometime. Okay, Melissa?
  • Donald J. Carey is a sweetheart of a guy and also has a book coming out called BUMPY LANDINGS. Check him out; bring a lei.
  • A.L. Sonnichsen over at The Green Bathtub (so named because her writing cuts into her cleaning time) and I are finding we have a bathtub full of things in common, beginning with the areas we call/called home, and our husband's football careers, both on the field and sidelines. She posts her short stories weekly, and is sending me chocolate. What more can you ask from a blogger friend?
  • I really like how Clarissa Draper critiques chapters at Listen to the Voices. And her posts cover everything from Blogger tips to Forensics.
  • Kimberly Vanderhorst at Temporary? Insanity is the embodiment of serenity and anxiety at the same time. Her posts are sweetness to the soul. She would balk at that. But I insist.
  • Sara B. Larson is new to blogging and I found her posts really fresh, so she's on the list!

And one more note. My book contract is signed, delivered, and my copy is now in my possession. I feel like the Velveteen Rabbit. Real.
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