January 30, 2010


This morning I had the urge to read my first post on this blog. That was Forty-three posts ago, and I know that number isn't as eye-popping as, say, One Hundred, or as earth shattering as Five Hundred, but reading that first post, called Visualize It... it makes me feel like I am fourteen and getting ready for my first dance.
Keep in mind I am a girl, who loves to dance, and I would force my shy, terrified persona out of its shell to get out there and shake my groove thing. Before the dance, my stomach would be all fluttery, as cliche as butterflies, my face would flush, and my hands would get just a little damp. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but I hoped it would be amazing. Sometimes it was, sometimes it wasn't, but the hope was always there.

Terrifying and Hopeful.

Like this writing thing.

How do you feel?

January 27, 2010

The Resolution

I felt guilty. I had cleaned the bathrooms, and the laundry was fairly caught up. My visiting teaching was all but done and the youngest had been deposited at ballet lessons with several minutes to spare.
But my husband came home earlier than expected, changed into his stripeys and called out, "I have to ref a game nobody knew was happening! I'll be home after 6!" Kiss on the cheek and gone.
I knew he was exhausted, and hungry, a million things on his mind, and he would never see the cash he made reffing this game because we overspent at Christmas. I'd had a couple phone calls for "Bishop", but the messages would wait. He always got to them when he could.
I scrambled to make dinner so he would have a hearty meal to come home to. The kitchen was a little messy, the kids' school dump was still all over the entry, our bedroom was still bare-boned, waiting to be painted, and the piles of things that needed a home after re-organizing my study/laundryroom were still waiting in the dining room.
I had been on the computer most of the day, searching for a vacation rental on the Oregon coast big enough for us and extended family, editing a WIP, and reading.
Later, after dinner, as kids were getting ready for bed, Brandon pulled me in for a hug. "I put in my application today." Our high school principal is retiring. We'd worked together a little on updating his resume.
I told him I was proud of him, and so grateful he works so hard for us, always trying to better himself and our lives. I looked around at the piles of clutter.
"What did you do today?" He had that little smile that told me he already knew the answer.
Heh. I listed as many things as I could, then gave up. "I was on the computer most of the day."
"I'm sorry."
He just looked at me with that smile.
"I can't seem to find balance. I feel like... I have to search and read and find everything I can-"
"About writing?"
"Mm-hm. It's like I'm getting an education."
He nodded.
"But I have to treat this like a job. With set hours, and I think as soon as I do that, I can get a handle on, you know, the stuff I used to be on top of."
"Sounds good to me. Anything I can do?"

Guilt guilt guilt. Since when did my tell-it-like-it-is, 'I'm-not-a-pessimist-I'm-a-realist', life-is-like-football, "What do flowers have to do with romance?", type 'A' personality husband become Mr. Sensitivity? Because, to be perfectly honest, when I was writing my first novel (2008) into the wee hours of the morning, afternoon, and every hour in-between, throwing cold cereal at the kids and telling him there were left-overs somewhere I was sure of it... the resentment of my laptop and the words filling it up was apparent.
And then he read it. After much begging and pleading and batting of eyelashes, on my part that is, he read my novel. And read and read.
And when he finished he took a deep breath and shook his head, and said, "Come here," and held me really tight.
He said, "You can do this."

So, I am going to give myself a schedule... not too tight, because I am SO not a type 'A' personality, I am going to re-visit the chore chart, and I am going to find some of that balance my family and I deserve. I need to feel good about this endeavor, and I need my family to feel good about it, too. With all that is going on in the world, we are so blessed, and our time is so short.

I can do this.

January 23, 2010

A New Challenge: The Short Story

Be obscure clearly.  ~E.B. White
 In studying the short story, I found this to be very true. This is the challenge. I am a novice, but I took notes.
  • Have a clear theme
  • Begin as close to the conclusion as possible
  • Grab the reader from the first line
  • conserve characters and scene... one problem, one drive
I found this site, of all the places I researched, to be the most helpful, and this idea stayed in my mind:
Your job, as a writer of short fiction--whatever your beliefs--is to put complex personalities on stage and let them strut and fret their brief hour. Perhaps the sound and fury they make will signify something that has more than passing value--that will, in Chekhov's words, "make [man] see what he is like." -Rick Demarnus
You may have less than 5000 words to make your character beloved, or hated, the conflict mean something to the reader, and a resolution that resonates. Yikes.
As one who tends to drag out my endings because I just... can't... let... my story... go...  (and so my editors ask me to chop them off) I found this advice very encouraging:
In short fiction, it is difficult to provide a complete resolution and you often need to just show that characters are beginning to change in some way or starting to see things differently.
I understood that. I could envision it with my idea.

Accepting a short story challenge was exciting to me. I still prefer the novel, the juicy details and telling dialogue. But I really liked the 'get to it' feeling of writing the short story. As with anything new you put out in front of others, I am nervous about feedback. But I enjoyed what I learned. I'll try to remember that after the critique.

January 20, 2010

Maren's Review

I just watched the latest BBC version of Sense and Sensibility with my 7 year old daughter while we (meaning I; she did gymnastics on the couch) folded laundry. She asked a few questions along the way and made sure she was caught up with things between the three episodes. When it ended and the final credits rolled, she asked, "Is it over?"
"Yes, it is."
"Oh wow. I feel so... happy." She bounced from the couch and into my lap and gave me a big squeeze.

And that is how I want to make my readers feel when they finish my books.

January 15, 2010

Find It

I love writing.  I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.  ~James Michener
I am reading a book I won in a blog contest called "The Fairy Thorn", by Dorothy Keddington. I am only on chapter 3, but as I read today while waiting for my son's piano lesson to finish, I was reminded of the above quote. Dorothy's language is lovely, rhythmic.
Her opening sentences:
I stood at the edge of the drive with poems by Wordsworth and E.E. Cummings running through my mind and a bittersweet yearning inside. It was "just spring" and there were "daffodills fluttering and dancing in the breeze," and the world really was "puddle luscious" because it had rained softly during the night... And here I was, feeling the soft air and the fragrance and all the stirrings of spring, standing on the edge of things the way I always did.
And later:
Straight ahead, the massive steel girders spanned the deep gorge in a solid hand-clasp of metal arches and cantilevers, while far below, the restless waters made their own way.
It's just a portion, but being a Washington girl for the most part, her entire description of the bridge spanning Deception Pass takes my breath away, as does the memory of standing above those girders and looking at the swirling currents of ocean a very long way down.

I have heard so many writers share what music does for their voice, their expression of emotion, the tempo or pace of their scenes. "...the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotion."
Find the music in what you read, what you write. Writer's are given the opportunity to not only paint pictures, but compose as well.

Set Aright

I wanted to go to a conference. A really big, good conference, seemingly made just for me. My first writing conference since the book was accepted. And I could enter a First Chapter contest with Remnant and Grace and Chocolate. It was going to be so great!
My book being accepted is amazing... a huge thing that happened in a week of huge things.
The same week, my husband was notified that he had been selected as Wyoming State's Assistant Principal of the Year. It was an amazing week for both of us.
Guess which weekend the nation is honoring my husband in Washington DC with the other assistant principals of the year?
The same weekend as the conference I wanted to attend.

As I was bemoaning this fact at writer's club, and that not only would I miss all the great classes and meeting people, but I couldn't enter the contest, and next year I wouldn't qualify because I would have a contract, my wonderful friends nodded and offered sympathy, but their eyes said something else.
"Oh, Krista... it must be so hard to be you."


Somebody take notes for me. I'm going to DC with my Assisitant Principal of the Year and I am going to LOVE it.

January 11, 2010

Basket of Coolness

Growing up, I was a nerd. In my family, I was the not funny but tried to be, never had a good comeback, always trapped in an embarrassing situation, terrifyingly shy outside my home and very close friends (well, we all were), bossy big sister my little brother called "Kristi-pissti". Most of my friends would say, "No, no...", but my siblings are already nodding, saying, "Yes, yes..." Not so deep down, I was a pretty, little, geek.
And I'm fine with that, now.

Just before the New Year, my siblings gave me something. It was... SO PERFECT.

A big basket with:
-Your official writing shirt! *see picture
-Your favorite brainfood #1 (chocolate covered cinnamon bears)
-References! (just in case): Write Right, by Jan Vanolia, and The Pocket Muse, by Monica Wood
-A jar of Magnetic Poetry (tiny words for writer's block)
-Your favorite brainfood #2 (another bag of chocolate covered cinnamon bears)
-For Inspiration and Enjoyment: Whitman Poetry and Prose
-For more Inspiring and Energizing tunes! ($15 iTunes card)
-Fuel for Thought! (Costco jar of mixed nuts)
-Ahhh. Relax... (a delicious variety of herbal teas and a funky travel mug)
-Godiva chocolate.
-A monogrammed notebook and matching magnetic bookmarks. K. I looked at them for an hour.

Who is the nerd, now?

Thanks, Shell, Trev, Mike, Jenn, Craig, and Carrie. You made my New Year.

Music For "Remnant"

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Since I now have Remnant out to a few readers, I'll go ahead and post the "soundtrack" I've been sitting on for a few months. What? A soundtrack for a Book of Mormon-ish novel?
I told you, it happens. Enjoy!

Added 1-15-10: Thanks, David J. West for sharing your BoM playlist. Filter, The Killers, and Lacuna Coil rounded things out; just what I was looking for.

January 9, 2010

Letting It Go

The story I am writing exists, written in absolutely perfect fashion, some place, in the air.  All I must do is find it, and copy it. 
~Jules Renard, "Diary," February 1895

I just sent off The Inn, the sequel to The Orchard, to the publisher for submission. Just now. I just pressed the 'send' button, and off it went, my heart racing.
It's incredible, how it feels to send a work out. Even by email.


Just to name a few emotions.
I'm going to bed. And saying my prayers.

What else is waiting there in the air?

January 2, 2010

Worth It

Writers are not just people who sit down and write.  They hazard themselves.  Every time you compose a book your composition of yourself is at stake. ~E.L. Doctorow
As I contemplate getting back into our regular schedules after the holidays, after welcome distractions of family and entertainment and shopping and food, of traditions and meaning and blessings, I feel that little tremor of anticipation regaining its ground again. I am so excited, the tremor repeats. I will be published.
A small part of that tremor is, however, a bit of a weight. People will be reading my work, and then they will have an opinion about it. Stay down, little tremor. Isn't that why we write? To get out a story we are mixing around in our heads, something we have to say, some experience or emotion or tribulation we need to express, work through, meet in challenge, because aren't we all going through things, experiencing life in all walks? And how easy is it to think we are alone in it, and how amazing is it to find that we are not? In a book? Written by somebody?

When I read Coming Home, by Rosamunde Pilcher, I slip so easily into her hero's character it scares me. And I love it. I've read it five times.
What stories have you found an affinity to? What stories have you read and as you did, the thought came, "Yes. That's it. That's how it feels. I relate."? Do you hesitate to put your book out there?
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