March 30, 2010

Tuesday Edit Crunch: What Would Stephen Do?

Welcome to Tuesday Edit Crunch, an informative, fresh, and important part of this nutritious... blog...
I can't believe it's Tuesday already! Not only that, it's the last Tuesday of the month! Where did time go? And my mind is blank as to what to offer you for this week's Crunch... except for this little reference I made on my editing notes: "Have I applied Stephen King?" Hmm, did I need more horror in my romance? Edgy paranormals are quite popular right now... My mind turned back to the source of that note, and I remembered this:

Everything You Need to Know About Writing Successfully: in Ten Minutes
Written by Stephen King

Oh, riiiight. And there you are! In only ten minutes! Re-reading this article reminded me that Mr. King's On Writing is on my to-read list, AND I happen to be going to the library today. Yay! Me+Library=Stimulating Contentment. Or, since it is always better to use one word instead of two: Me+Library=JOY!
So, read the article, and if Stephen calls, tell him he can find me at the library with a stack of books in my arms.

And watch out for the the K's, they're known to be highly addictive and duplicitous in nature (cue suspense music).

March 28, 2010

There Must Needs Be...

“Never give in, never give in, never; never; never; never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.” -Winston Churchill

My mind has been on a lot of things lately, kaleidoscopic. My usual focus has been difficult to find. I know the reasons why and my scattered thoughts are completely founded.
Husband's new job.
New book.
The next book.
Upcoming travel.
New pup.
Older kids.
Younger kids.
Husband's church calling.
My church calling.

It is this last one that has had the most impact on me lately. As a matter of fact, never have I felt opposition so acutely aside the blessings.
But never have my husband or I been on the cusp of having some kind of influence on so many people. I don't say this to boast or put ourselves forward. It is simply truth. Somewhat scary truth. My husband has served as Bishop of our ward for 2.5 years, and has now been hired to serve as Principal of our city's high school. Be assured, whether appreciated or not, his influence will be felt. (I, for one, appreciate his influence... and his uncanny knack for musical trivia.) He was hired by a unanimous, across the board, resounding vote. The support of the community has been heartening as we wonder how this new venture will affect our family. We are excited. We are anxious. We are careful.
And I would be surprised if any new author did not wonder what kind of effect their book will have on its audience. There in the romance, the arc, the setting and twists; woven in like a thin ribbon through a thick braid of hair, is my testimony. I did not set out to do it, but there it is. It cannot be helped. I am, therefore I write. Or something like that. It will be out there for numbers to see.
Opposition presents itself in many forms, many degrees of subtlety, or not. Things come that might discourage, make us forget we are grateful, prevent us from enjoying the fruits of our labors. Things happen that would distract us from moving forward, fulfilling our purpose, or discovering our gifts. Some things leave us standing with our jaws hanging open. Sometimes outrageous, unbelievable, this would be funny if it wasn't really happening kind of things.
I was given a t-shirt. It says, "Careful, or you'll end up in my novel." Man, I am SO tempted.

As my kaleidoscope turns, I remember a few things.
  1. The light behind the confusion of shapes and color is one that will always be there; it is one I will always follow.
  2. We are not given anything we cannot overcome, but we do not (and should not) have to overcome it alone.
  3. We cannot let an aggressive mosquito or two, or a sudden downpour, ruin the entire picnic. It is too beautiful a day, and there are too many other wonders of this life that matter more.
What do you look to, to overcome discouragement in your writing, or otherwise?

March 24, 2010

Thursday Authorial: Annette Lyon

This week's guest is Annette Lyon, a veteran author and Twitter friend of mine. In fact, I'm currently reading her book, There, Their, They're, a grammar tutorial I will keep on my desk at all times.

K: Thank you so much for being here, Annette! I have to say I'm a little intimidated. Not only are you a seasoned author, but you are the Word Nerd. I hope my grammar falls in all the right places today! Aside from the spot of intimidation, I am very excited about this interview. I just finished reading your new book, Band of Sisters, and I can't wait to talk with you about it. Or would that be talk about it with you? Hmmm... But first, tell us a few things about yourself.

A: I tend to get long-winded, so I'll keep it short: wife, mom to four, sister to three, daughter, owner of an ornery but beautiful cat, literature lover, word nerd, chocoholic, knitter.

K: Mmmm, chocolate... essential to a mom of four. You've been writing since you were little. Did you always know what you wanted to do?

A: I've wanted to be a "real" writer since about second grade, but I grew up assuming I'd go to college to become a high school English teacher. The writing bug bit when I watched my older sister scribble stories. She was in sixth grade (four years older--I had a serious case of idol worship). Anything she did was cool. After reading Beverly Cleary's The Mouse and the Motorcycle, I tried my hand at writing stories--following Cleary's lead, I wrote about mice and hamsters. Eventually I moved past rodents.

K: Wise choice. What is your favorite part of the writing process? Are you still surprised?

A: I love drafting, because that's when the characters and story come alive. I almost feel more alive myself during that time, as odd as it might sound. But I also find a great deal of satisfaction in revision--at least the first few times, before it gets old--because I can take the rough pieces and make them better, reshaping the manuscript into the right form, like molding clay.
What always surprises me is that every time I hit a wall and think I just can't do it, that maybe this time I won't be able to finish an entire novel, or that (worse) this one will stink, somehow the pieces manage to click together after all.

K: Any tricks you use when discouraged or stuck?

A:When I hit a really bad writing block, I have a specific CD that I pop in and write to. I never listen to it any other time. It's music I associate with happy times and relaxation, so when I hear it, my brain calms down, and I can write again.
But there are times where I can feel that something just isn't working. Instead of writer's block, I have "writer's speed bumps." I've learned to feel in my gut when it's time to step away from the computer and let my mind work at the problem while I do something else. The answer always shows up eventually.

K: Your book, Band of Sisters, was just released through Covenant Communications, Inc. (so we are practically Covenant sisters, yay!). (Did I punctuate that correctly? The "Inc." threw me off. What do you do with an abbrev. at the end of a sentence? Oh, I'll just check your book!)

A: (Punctuation correct!)

K: (Whew... that was a tricky one.) Please, tell us about Band of Sisters and what you love most about it.

A: The book began as a simple freelance project--an article for a magazine that had an issue focusing on our soldiers. I decided to talk with a friend going through her husband's deployment, and via e-mail, I interviewed her and four of her Army wife friends in the same position. After the article ran--which was so tiny there was no way to do the women justice--the topic wouldn't let go of me. After months of thinking about it, I gave in and wrote an entire novel about deployment.
What I love most about the book is how each of the women in it is so different, whether in age or life situation, yet each one has something to offer the others. I learned by "watching" them how destructive comparing ourselves to others is and how close friendships may be found where you least expect them.

K: I agree. The whole deployment experience was eye-opening. I suspected it was difficult, but after reading your book I have much more insight into what a couple of friends are going through right now. The thing I loved most about the characters is their "realness". Maybe I didn't connect with one or two of them, but I don't connect with every woman I meet, either. But as opportunities come to serve and know one another better, connections can be found. Perhaps I didn't understand a character's reasoning or ideals, but as relationships unfolded, I found connections, often surprisingly close connections, and then I was crying all over the place.

A: Thanks! I hope that every female reader can get something out of the book, whether that means relating to one character or simply seeing those connections and they relate to their own experience in some way. Several members of my critique group disliked me calling Band of Sisters my "deployment" novel, because to them it wasn't just about deployment; it was about women--their friendships, their trials, their strengths. My group was right; the book really is about so much more than deployment--although deployment plays a big role.

K: How is Band of Sisters different from other things you've written?

A: It was a huge change for me. For most of my career, I wrote historical fiction based on old Utah temples, always with a romantic thread. Then, suddenly I'm writing about deep issues and things happening right now.
In some ways, the change was refreshing. (No research about horses, geography, clothes, hairstyles, colloquial terms, food... the list goes on. And my characters got to travel in cars and use cell phones and got to go to restaurants I know!)
But on the other hand, this book became a serious stretch of my writing muscles. Not only is the book not historical, but there's no romantic thread at all. In addition, it has FIVE main characters, each with her personal story arc and conflict. Then it has a format that jumps days and sometimes weeks at a time. Basically, the entire book is completely different from anything I've ever written.

K: You are promoting the "Flat Daddy" program, which I think, in all it's simplicity, is genius for the families of deployed soldiers. Tell us what you know.

A: The concept started out in I'm Already Home, a book by Elaine Dumler with tons of ideas for military families coping with deployment. Creating a Flat Daddy (or Mommy) was one of those ideas--making a life-size photo of the deployed parent from the waist up. A Flat Daddy helps ease the pain of the parent's absence in so many ways. it keeps Dad or Mom "with" the family, even if it's just a picture. families take their Flat Daddies to church, to the store, to soccer games, and more. They help very young children recognize their parent when they come off the plane.
The concept took off, and now there's an entire charity devoted to providing Flat Daddies for military families. They function entirely on donations, and I've been working with them to spread the word. One thing that's brand new is that people can donate in small increments--five dollars if that's all they can do--rather than donating an entire Flat Daddy, which can be too much for one person's budget. Follow the Flat Daddy links on my website to donate.

K: Are you currently working on something new? Please say it's a sequel!

A: I hope to do a sequel! There's still so much of the wives' stories to tell--especially for Jessie, whose story didn't wrap up as cleanly as some of the others. Sales for Band of Sisters will determine whether I get to do a sequel. That book would be about the period after the deployment; the re-entry process is an entirely new can of worms!
In the meantime, I plan to turn in a murder mystery in the very near future (speaking of writing something different), and there's a collaborative project in the works that I can't talk about yet but that I'm very excited for!

K: I have to mention the chocolate book. The title alone sends me to a happy place. When will we see it in stores?

A: The cookbook is a lot of fun! (Okay, it's chocolate. I guess "fun" is a given!) The angle I took with the book is to remove the "scary" from making chocolate recipes from scratch. The book is filled with easy recipes that are made with ingredients readily available at the grocery store--and  they're delicious. Chocolate Never Faileth! will hit stores in October.

K: Speaking of deliciousness, give us a taste of LDStorymakers '10 Writers Conference. And try not to make it sound as amazing as I know it's going to be because I can't go this year. Say 2011 is going to be even more amazing. Yeah, say that.

A: Of course 2011 will be better! Every single year has been better than the last, and I've been on the committee since its inception, so I can say that in total honesty. The conference brings in national agents and editors as well as editors from LDS publishing houses, and attendees can sign up to meet with them one-on-one. There's a broad range of workshops for writers, whether they're just starting out or whether they're seasoned veterans. One of the best parts is the optional Boot Camp, a two-day intense, hands-on critique workshop held before regular conference hours. Many attendees say it's the most helpful part of the conference.

K: *sigh* Sounds wonderful. Any advice for aspiring authors?

A: Read. And I mean everything: your market and genre, the classics, books on writing, good books, books that stink--read it all! And learn to read like a writer, analyzing what worked, what didn't, and WHY. Write--a lot and regularly. Get solid feedback--not your spouse or mom saying how brilliant you are, but someone who knows what they're doing and will be frank with you: "I love this character, but his motivation in this scene doesn't feel real," or, "The pace really sags in this chapter," and so on.
Then learn about the business side of things (you can find tons of industry blogs and websites out there with oodles of information). Count on rejection; it's part of the business, so plan on what you'll do when (not if) that happens. (Answer: keep working.)

K: Final question: If you could be a character in any book, who would you be?

A: Maybe Valancy from L.M. Montgomery's The Blue Castle. She has some serious spunk, manages to say what she really thinks, and she has a remarkable strength and humor that enables her to live life to the fullest even when the future doesn't look good. Plus, she has a happy ending!

K: I need to look that one up. It's been a long time since I've read L.M. Montgomery. Annette, it's been a thrill having you. I know you're busy. Thank you!

A: Thanks for having me!

Annette Lyon's books:
Lost Without You (Coming soon to Amazon Kindle)
At the Water's Edge (Coming soon to Amazon Kindle)
House on the Hill
At the Journey's End
Spires of Stone
Tower of Strength
There, Their, They're: A No-Tears Guide to Grammar from the Word Nerd
Band of Sisters

March 23, 2010

Tuesday Edit Crunch: 5 Lessons From the Pup

Welcome to Tuesday Edit Crunch, an informative, fresh, concise, and important part of this nutritious... blog...

Today's Crunch is inspired by a little friend of mine.

I sit here with a black curly-haired pup on my lap. A place he designated as his favorite when he weighed 5 lbs. Now, he is nearly 11 lbs. What do I do when he's all grown up? Technically, he shouldn't get much bigger. But there's a chance. Oh well. He's warm.
Lesson #1: Know how your story ends. At least a general idea. I'm an outliner. I need to know how it's going to play out before I get too far. It's better if I know before I even start.

He's a cocker spaniel/poodle mix. A cockapoo. When we told my oldest daughter we were getting a cockapoo, she made a face and said, "What?! A caca POO? That sounds disgusting!"
Lesson #2: Choose the right word. Most of the time, it's the first word to come to mind. But when you need to, choose carefully. Mark Twain said, "The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug."

We almost named the pup Booker, which I thought was perfect... until we practiced the name out loud a few times. "Here, Booker!" quickly sounded a lot like, "Here, Booger!"
So, no. I wouldn't do that to anyone.
Lesson #3: Read out loud. I can't stress enough how valuable this is. See more here.

We had a family vote and named him Brodie. We're training him, and it's going pretty well. But my youngest daughter has some things to learn. She has lapsed into calling the pup "Vro-d?" As in, "C'mere Vro-d?" The 'B' is soft and the 'd' is just a touch of her tongue on the roof of her mouth, and it pops up at the end like a question. Granted, she sounds pretty laid back and cool as some 7 year olds do, but the dog doesn't know she's even talking to him. He doesn't know what to do, what she wants, and she gets pretty frustrated. So I say, "Brodie, come." And the dog comes, and she looks at me and throws her hands out, exasperated. I explain, and she tries again. "BRO-DEE, come." The dog comes. "Brodie, sit." And the dog sits.
Lesson #4: Know who your characters are, know what makes them tick, know what makes them move, or you'll lose them to some laid back, slurred-talking womanchild who will only confuse them and your plot.

As I said, we're training. House-training. It isn't the nightmare I thought it would be. The pup is eager to please and very smart. As a matter of fact, if I recognized his signals more often, we would have even fewer accidents. My desk is in his room, and when I'm writing, and he needs to go outside, he nips at my elbow, tugs at my sleeve, uses his teeth a bit. He uses the same signal when he wants to get on my lap, only without the teeth. Often, I don't want him on my lap, so I brush him away, throw him a toy, and keep writing.
Then, I smell something. Oops. He was telling me what he needed. He needed me to follow his signal.
Lesson #5: When you know your character well enough, something amazing can happen. It may well be one of my favorite parts of writing. I literally gasped the first time it happened. Even if you have an outline and plot turns and pinch points, your character may have his own idea of how you are going to connect the dots. So listen. Follow him to the next point. See what happens. When you realize your character knows what he wants, what he needs... begins tugging YOU along... IT. IS.  AWESOME. Don't frustrate your character so he piddles in front of the washing machine. Put him on a longer leash and see what he can do.

And that wraps up our Tuesday Edit Crunch! I hope you enjoyed it, and remember,
"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." -Groucho Marx
Are you finding lessons in unusual places?
Watch out for the the K's, they're especially crunchy. 

March 22, 2010

Honest Scrap

Michelle Teacress made my Monday morning by sharing this award with me:
"What is the HONEST SCRAP AWARD? I'm thinking it goes to those who work hard to make their blog a worthwhile and honest experience for those who read. I'm passing this on to Krista Lynne Jensen."

Means a lot to me, Michelle!
I'm passing this one on to L.T. Elliot at Dreams of Quill and Ink. Her posts are refreshingly honest and I'm always drawn to her commentary. She also posts on Paper and Parchment, and here is an example of why she gets this award: My Happy.

Thank you, Michelle, and L.T., and all those working hard to make their blogs worth a visit!

March 21, 2010

Patience... Or Not

As for my next book, I am going to hold myself from writing it till I have it impending in me:  grown heavy in my mind like a ripe pear; pendant, gravid, asking to be cut or it will fall.  ~Virginia Woolf
I haven't written anything new since the LDSP Book of Mormon short story contest, and I finished my latest novel back in November. I have been editing editing editing...
But I feel it. Something is simmering. I'm holding off because I should be hearing back about the sequel to The Orchard soon, most likely with requests for revisions and I would hate to stop a current project (especially a very young WIP) to tackle a revision.
But I miss writing! It's like the promise of Spring, with the gardening catalogs coming and a bird finally heard in the morning, the mention of Easter, iris leaves bold in their show of emerald through the dying yellow, finally color brought by favorite Spring, and you know it's coming... but you live in a spot on the earth where Spring makes a brief appearance in late May, then is hurried off by impatient Summer.
So, I put aside the catalogs and roll my eyes at the spring-festooned magazine covers, zip my coat up all the way and head out, chin down, to take care of what still needs to be taken care of. And that means editing. Do I put up Easter decorations, when the winter wreath still looks the part on my door?

Maybe... if I just play around with some ideas... Character names and bios... ending scene and hooky opener... imagine a little dialogue... it wouldn't hurt to at least plan the garden... would it?

March 18, 2010

Thursday Authorial: Daron Fraley

Thanks to blogging and Twitter, I have made some great author friends. Several of these brave people have new books coming out this year and I want to get the word out! Exciting? Yes! To do my part, I am hosting weekly interviews so we can get to know them, and their books, better! This week's interview features Daron Fraley, author of THE THORN.
K: Daron, thank you for being here! You know you are the second interview on this blog, but I have to add the distinction that you are the first interview of an author from my town, Cody, WY. I imagine it’s almost like coming home for you, am I right?
D: Almost! Except for the noticeable lack of a sixty-mile-per-hour breeze which musses up your hair as you lean forward into the gale while shielding your stinging eyes from the razor sharp airborne particulates. But since the wind doesn’t blow in Cody every hour of every day, I apologize for the exaggeration. 
K: Apology accepted. We hear about the wind a lot from Cody natives, and yet after growing up in Eastern Washington, my husband and I still are puzzled. Cody wind has nothing on Eastern WA wind. Thank goodness. Here, let me turn this big fan on if it will help you feel more at home. (raises voice above sound of fan) Tell us a few things about yourself.
D: Gourmand. MacGyver. Computer geek. Recovering Early Morning Seminary teacher. Grandpa. Would rather be fishing. That pretty much sums it up.
K: Ah, MacGyver. What that man could do with a paper clip and a lighter. Those are all great things. Can I ask you what you miss most about the Cody area?
D: The wind? Uh… well, I miss the small town life. Cody is almost a metropolis by Wyoming standards, but I still miss it. Years ago I lived in Cowley, Wyoming (population 477), just about 45 minutes from Cody. When we left Cowley and moved to Brownsburg, Indiana, I commented to my wife one day on the way to church that I missed being able to wave to people I recognized in oncoming traffic. I was so homesick for the small town that I started waving to every approaching car anyway. I am sure there were some very confused people that day.
K: One of the first things I noticed when we moved here was the waving. Lots of waving going on.
I feel so fortunate to “stumble” across new writers through the internet. I think David J. West introduced us because of the Cody connection, and then you introduced me to Tristi Pinkston, which was very cool of you. You’re kind of a computer networking guy. How do you think things like Twitter and blogs influence a writer?
D: For me, the jury is still out on Twitter. I enjoy the interactions with people, but it seems to be a difficult place to say anything of substance. Blogs are more comfortable. In fact, I can honestly say that without the blogs I started reading over two years ago, I would not be published today. Thank heavens for authors and agents and publishers who share the nuts and bolts of the craft! If a person wants to be published, my advice to them: Don’t submit your novel right away. Spend a month and read every publishing related blog you can find. Fix all the issues with your manuscript. Then submit. It worked for me.
K: There is an excitement from new authors that inspires. What inspired you to become a writer?
My Creative Writing teacher in High School got me started. She liked my writing and gave me great feedback on my poems and stories. That encouragement ignited a little flame that never stopped burning.
K: That burning can be persistent. Not like heartburn, though. It’s a pleasant, urgent little burn. What is your favorite part of the writing process? What was a surprise?
D: My favorite part is the creative process. No, wait. That is my second favorite part. My favorite part is actually having a reader say, “…it gave me chills.” Thanks, Krista!
K: Hey, you’re welcome. It’s true. Your story, “Angel’s Song” reminded me that we were a part of something wondrous. We forget that, I think.
D: My biggest surprise was to find out that although writers are weird (admit it, Krista! You are as weird as I am!), they are often very personable people who want to help other aspiring writers to succeed. Authors are real people. I am not sure why I was surprised by that. I suppose it is the whole Hollywood, red carpet thing. In my mind, authors are better than rock stars. It feels a little bit strange to be called “author” now.
K: Strange AND weird.  My oldest daughter calls me weird all the time. Water off a duck’s back (see, if I said that she would call me weird). Your new book, “The Thorn” is finally out. I ordered it this week, but tell us about it so I’m really ready to dig in when it gets here.
D: I categorize “The Thorn” as Speculative Fiction because it sits close to the Fantasy/Sci-Fi realm, but without the technology of Sci-Fi, and without the myth and magic typically found in Fantasy. The themes found in the book feel a lot like the Old Testament, but in the setting of being on a different planet. There are warring tribes. And the heir to the Danielite throne, Jonathan, finds himself struggling to cope with the horrors of war. He is joined by a friend, and another unlikely supporter, and the three of them attempt to do their part in stopping the unwarranted aggressions.
For male readers, there are battle scenes. For female readers, there is romance. For young readers, it is a clean read. I hope you like it!   
K: A great combination! Where did you get the idea?
D: Have you ever stared up into the vast expanse above you and seen a shooting star, or the rings of Saturn through a telescope, or the blur of a nebula, and wondered why all that stuff is out there?
This quote, given in January of 2000, is what sparked the idea for this particular story:
"How many planets are there in the universe with people on them? We don’t know, but we are not alone in the universe! God is not the God of only one planet!
“I testify that Jesus is truly the Lord of the universe, “that by [Christ], and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God" D&C 76:24"  — Neal A. Maxwell
K: Was it difficult writing a “parallel” existence for that particular time in religious history?
Well, no, not really. It is fiction after all. I tried to keep things simple enough that the story would be believable, and yet I did rely on my knowledge of scripture to make sure I didn’t intentionally contradict things in the written word. I think teaching Seminary and multiple years (every standard work more than once) of Gospel Doctrine class in Sunday School, certainly helped.
K: You know, we touched on the existence of other worlds and their connection to Jesus Christ in Relief Society last Sunday, and I mentioned your book as an example that people do wonder and explore that idea. Everyone was thrilled. Sister Clark says hello. She’ll be at the book signing once we figure out a venue in this amazingly cultured little gem of a western frontier. *shameless plug for Cody tourism* You might come in July?
D: Yes! I plan on being there in July. It is my 25th Reunion as a Cody High School graduate (note to self: next time refrain from saying “grandpa” or “25th reunion” in an interview). Arrangements are still underway. I will be sure to let you know as soon as Valor Publishing helps me with the details. Say hello to Sister Clark! I’ll be sure I hit the DQ when I am in town. I always do.
K: What would we do without DQ in the summertime? (Is that a song?) I’m turning off this fan. It is definitely NOT summertime here yet. (Shivers and quiets voice) Are you currently working on something new?
D: My current project is “Heaven’s Garden”, book two of “The Chronicles of Gan”. A sneak preview of chapter one is included in “The Thorn”.
K: Woohoo, a series. Where can we find your book?
D: Right now the book can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or my own website (link in the upper right corner). I hope to have my book available at area Costco stores, Walmart, Deseret Book, Seagull Book and Tape, and many others too. Next stop: Oprah. I better hurry before she quits.
K: So what you’re saying is that if I live in Utah, I shouldn’t be able to leave my house without tripping over your book. Any advice for aspiring authors?
D: Go to writers conferences. Read like crazy. Read many different genres to get ideas for improving different aspects of your writing. Attend a writers conference. Read blogs on publishing. NETWORK with authors, agents, publishers. Oh, did I mention, “go to writers conferences?” Then, never give up!
K: Final question: If you could be a character in any book, who would you be?
D: I suppose it’s a huge cliché to talk about The Lord of the Rings series. But I can’t help it. If I were to be any character, I would be Aragorn. Loyal. Strong. Wise. A king…  Who wouldn’t want to be king (or a queen)?
K: Aragorn is one of my faves. Excellent choice. Well, thank you, Daron, for allowing us a peek at who you are and what you do.
D: Thank you for the thought provoking questions, Krista! Best wishes for you in your writing, your own book release next spring, and your family!
K: Thank you so much!
Places you can find Daron Fraley, Author of "The Chronicles of Gan: The Thorn":
Website and Blog:
Follow on Twitter:
Follow on Goodreads:
Follow on Facebook:

March 16, 2010

Tuesday Edit Crunch: A Sound On the Breeze

Quick Announcement!
Tonight, Tuesday, March 16, 2010 – 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Valor Author Lollapalooza Book Launch
A world of difference…
Barnes & Noble Booksellers
The Gateway
6 Rio Grande Drive
Salt Lake City, UT

Meet authors Michele Ashman Bell (Young Adult-Coming of Age/Romance), Tristi Pinkston (Mystery/Comedy), Karen E. Hoover (YA Fantasy), Daron D. Fraley (Speculative Fiction) and Kimberly Job (Romance) and check out their books!

Welcome to Tuesday Edit Crunch, an informative, fresh, concise, and important part of this nutritious... blog...

Today's crunch is all about voice. Not Point of View or getting inside the character. It's about YOUR voice reading YOUR ms OUT LOUD. To SOMEBODY.
My captive audience is my husband. We live in Wyoming, where the nearest ANYTHING is at least an hour away. He knows when I grab my laptop on my way out to the car, there is a very good chance he will be listening to my latest WiP. He knows I NEED him to do this, and he knows what is expected of him. And sometimes, I know he would rather listen to music, so I just write or edit. But here is the point:

Hmm, I have something with CAPS today. ANYHOOO...

When I am reading a work to someone, a few things happen:
  1. I am very aware that the person listening will have opinions about what I am sharing with them.
  2. I CARE about those opinions more so than when I was writing the story.
  3. I really want this person to hear what I am sharing in the best possible light, and UNDERSTAND.
Suddenly, I am editing my work with a 6th sense. My listener's sense. I listen for his laugh at the right moments, I listen to his questions if he didn't understand something, his ooh's and ahh's... his response is a tool for tightening my ms.
And yes, if I forget my gratitude for this process I can so easily get defensive. But we've been doing this enough now that it seldom comes to blows. Or uncomfortable silence, anyway. We've just learned what to expect. If my sister lived closer, I would probably more often use her. But like I said... Wyoming. So my husband gets the job!

Try it! Even if you can't find a listener, read it out loud. You will still catch so many things the eyes miss on their own.

And that is our Tuesday Edit Crunch for this week! I want to open my window to the fresh spring air and hear a low murmur, voices of writers reading their WiPs aloud... Oh BRRR it's COLD out there. I'm closing the window, but you get it, right?

Have you put this to the test? Leave a comment!

Watch out for the the K's, they're especially crunchy. 

March 11, 2010

Thursday Authorial: Kimberly Job

Thanks to blogging and Twitter, I have made some great author friends. Several of these brave people have new books coming out this year and I want to get the word out! Exciting? Yes! To do my part, I am hosting weekly interviews so we can get to know them, and their books, better!
Tuesday, March 16, 2010 – 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Valor Author Lollapalooza Book Launch
A world of difference…
Barnes & Noble Booksellers
The Gateway
6 Rio Grande Drive
Salt Lake City, UT
This Valor group knows how to have fun! Meet authors Michele Ashman Bell (Young Adult-Coming of Age/Romance), Tristi Pinkston (Mystery/Comedy), Karen E. Hoover (YA Fantasy), Daron D. Fraley (Speculative Fiction) and Kimberly Job (Romance) and check out their books!
Today’s guest is Kimberly Job. She is a new author with Valor Publishing and her book will be out very soon.
KLJ: Kimberly, thank you so much for being the first author ever interviewed on this blog. I feel a little silly at how thrilled I am, but I hope it makes you feel all the more welcome! Tell us a few things about yourself.
KJ: I was born in Utah and have lived here all my life, except for a short time in Florida, where there were way too many BIG bugs. I recently got remarried to the love of my life, Scott. We have a combined family of ten children, so things at our house are always interesting. We struggle to balance being newlyweds and the difficulties present when combining two very different families. In addition to writing, I like to read, scrapbook, cook, and love learning new things. My latest project is trying to figure out blogger and do cool stuff on my blog.
KLJ: Ah, love the blog. I have to say I already have LOADS of respect for you after that one answer. I’m guessing when you say things are “interesting”, you mean, “chaotic” in a “we’re-so-thankful-and-happy” kind of way?
KJ:  Yes, chaos is definitely the rule.  We have 5 boys between the ages of 8 and 12 who think every sport that can be played outside is fair game inside as well.  We have some stressful times when children fight, but occasionally they surprise us and get along as though we were always a family.
KLJ: Sometimes my kids act as though we were always a family. Good times... Did you see we have the same initials? (Good thing for the L or readers might get pretty confused.) I know, like me, you are fairly new to writing seriously. What inspired you to become a writer?
KJ: The biggest thing is that I’ve always loved to read. For me, reading was a way to escape difficulties in my own life. There have been times when I’ve read several books per day. I met a friend who is an aspiring writer. I was amazed as he told me about all the books he’s written. He encouraged me to try—so I did. The first book I wrote is I’ll Know You by Heart which is coming out on March 16th
KLJ: Very exciting! I’m going to go out on a limb and say you can never read too many books, especially if they inspire you to do something amazing. And friends are great, too. I don’t think we realize how much we can influence a person to just try. I bet he’s glad you did.
KJ:  Yes, he’s a great friend. Now it’s my turn to support him as he continues on his journey to being published.
KLJ: What is your favorite part of the writing process? What was a surprise?
KJ: Believe it or not, my favorite part of the writing process is editing. I think it’s fun to polish things, move them around, and make them even better. My least favorite is plotting—probably because I’m not good at it. When I first started writing, I wondered what to write about, but it’s been a surprise to me that when you open your eyes, and listen keenly, story ideas are everywhere.
KLJ: Any tricks you use when discouraged or stuck?
KJ: The best thing I’ve found when I’m stuck, is to write something else. I have particular scenes clear in my mind, so I’ll just write one of those. Usually, if I don’t force my writing, I’ll think of something that solves the problem I was having. It’s an amazing feeling when something just clicks in my mind, and then I can’t wait to write it.
KLJ: You have a book coming out called, “I’ll Know You by Heart”. I’ve read that every author should have a 2 sentence summary of their book ready so they can answer the following question (I, however, will give you more because I’m nice that way): What is your book about?
KJ: Here’s my short summary:
What happens when the love you thought you found is the one that puts you in mortal danger? A story of pain, survival, and love, I’ll Know You by Heart is a deeply emotional journey of one woman’s determination to save herself and her family from a life of abuse and fear.
Here’s the blurb from the back cover:
The day Stephanie Roberts met Jared Wakefield, she didn't realize they'd met before. Running from an abusive marriage and trying to safeguard her children, she turns to Jared for support, but he needs more from her than she might be capable of giving. With her abusive husband looming in her past, the difficulties they must overcome to be together seem insurmountable. 
Is it possible for love to conquer all? I'll Know You By Heart is a timeless romance that explores the possibility that relationships span the entire realm of eternity. A story about abuse, hardship, and betrayal, it is ultimately a story about the healing power of everlasting true love.
KLJ: What do you love about “I’ll Know You by Heart”?
KJ: I love that the main character, Stephanie, has the courage to face her fears, and that she recognizes the source of her blessings.
KLJ: This is something close to your heart. Where did you get the idea?
KJ: A lot of the thoughts and feelings of the main character are based on my own experiences. I know what it is like to feel trapped in a situation that is out of your control, and I understand the worries and insecurities of being a single parent. But the main idea came from me wanting to portray a character who seems weak and insecure but realizes her inner strength and relies on her Heavenly Father to overcome a very difficult situation.
KLJ: There are more abused women out there than people realize. It's such an important topic because there can be a way out. Tell us about the release.
KJ: The book will be released on March 16th. Valor Publishing is holding a huge book launch party that evening at the Gateway Barnes and Noble in Salt Lake. Four other authors will also be launching their book that night, and lots of other authors will be in attendance. It’s from 6:00-8:30. I’d love to see you there!
KLJ: It sounds great! I will check my schedule. Making a trip from NW Wyoming requires several factors meeting in perfect alignment. If I can’t make it, I will be wishing you the best time (and tapping my ruby slippers together, repeating, “There’s no place like Barnes and Noble… There’s no place like Barnes and Noble…”). Next question: Are you currently working on something new?
KJ: Yes, I’m working on another romance, tentatively titled, “A Change of Heart.” Here’s a blurb about it:
Jessica, a high-powered New York executive, hated by practically everyone she meets, leaves for a business trip, not knowing how much it will change her life—and not necessarily for the better. She finds herself destitute and alone in a situation her privileged life has made her incapable of handling.
Adam, a recluse trying to escape his former life and all reminders of it, finds Jessica and has no choice but to help. His aloof but tender nature bring out characteristics in Jessica that have always been there, but which she has buried to avoid the pain of past mistakes she would just as soon forget.
Can these two strangers overcome the anguish of their tainted pasts and allow themselves a chance at happiness? A Change of Heart is a story about conquering unrealistic expectations we place upon ourselves and realizing happiness is often well-deserved.
KLJ: Excellent. I’m glad you’ve used all your “waiting to be published” time wisely. Tell us where we can find your book.
KJ: Right now, my book is available for preorder from my publisher. It’s also available on Amazon. Once it’s released it will be available at Barnes and Noble as well as other local bookstores. 
KLJ: Does saying that give you goosebumps? I have goosebumps.
KJ: Totally. When I got an email from Valor saying that it was now available on Amazon, I could hardly believe it. I had to go check right away, and I keep checking—as though for some reason it’s going to disappear.
KLJ: I don't blame you at all. It's still there, though, I just checked. This next question is one I’ll be asking in every interview: Has blogging and social networking (Twitter, Facebook) influenced you as a writer?
KJ: Blogging and social networking have influenced my experience as a writer by making it easier for me to associate with and learn from other authors. I’ve made many great friends that I never would have met otherwise.
KLJ: Like Me! Any advice for aspiring authors?
KJ: Never give up. If you have enough desire to actually write a whole book, then stick with it until you achieve your goal. Try not to listen to the perfectionist in your head who says everything has to be exactly right, and wonders if you’ll ever be good enough. Also, I credit my success to my determination to learn about the craft of writing. I knew nothing when I started, but I read everything I could get my hands on, and attended some amazing writing conferences. I also joined a critique group and have learned so much from having my own work critiqued as well as listening to the critiques of others. 
KLJ: Final question: If you could be a character in any book, who would you be?
KJ: My favorite character is Alexa in Anita Stansfield’s Gables series.  She’s strong and spunky and goes after what she wants, but doesn’t let anyone take advantage of her—I want to be more like that.
KLJ: I can see how you would relate to a character like Alexa! Thank you so much for this interview. I hope you had fun, and I wish you every success with your book!
KJ:  I had tons of fun. You were an amazing host, and I can’t wait to meet you in person.

Places you can find Kimberly online:

March 9, 2010

Tuesday Edit Crunch: How It Ends

Welcome to Tuesday Edit Crunch, an informative, fresh, concise, and important part of this nutritious... blog...

I feel like addressing endings is a bit... hypocritical of me. But once again I remind myself (and you) that these weekly Crunches are about what I am learning, not what I have mastered. This will also be a fairly short Crunch, as I have what feels like a knife stuck in my lower back, and laundry up the ying yang (my boys' room looks like their laundry basket exploded). However, I have been looking forward to this post because I did learn some great things about putting the kibosh on the story and characters we never want to leave.

I'll start by re-visiting something I mentioned in last week's post. It changed everything for me. It is, simply, to understand that READERS ARE INTELLIGENT.
In my experience, I felt like I had to hold the reader's hand, as I would a young child's, and explain everything, the purpose of this, and did they notice that, and did they see the symbolism there... And as much as I wanted to share everything about the ending that wrapped up loose ends and hinted at more to come (I'm writing a series), my publisher said this:
"Evaluators felt that the ending was too stretched out. Things came to a perfect ending, and then there were 30 additional manuscript pages... this might be a good place to consider trimming."
Clunk. That was the sound of my jaw hitting the floor.
But I knew. As much as I loved those last 30 pages, as many bits of resolution and humor and foreshadowing into the next book those pages held, I knew where the ending was WHEN I WROTE IT. And that ending was 30 pages less than the ending I submitted. As I turned to the page they referenced, and read the scene again, I remembered. I remembered finishing the scene and thinking to myself, "Oh, that is a perfect end scene... if this was a movie. Oh well, I have to wrap everything up, moving on." Then I continued guiding my 7 year old reader along by the hand.

Another thing I learned about endings: Be bold, be brief, be gone. Aye aye aye. Painful for the romance writer. Know when to quit. After the climax, stop writing. Cut the apron strings. Ohhhh, it hurts.
Which is why I included a couple more pages after the climax, a small, quiet scene providing a little closure, a hint of something to come, a sigh for the reader (and myself).
We'll see what stays and what goes when it gets time to edit for printing. Small thrill shooting through me at the thought.
And don't get me wrong, I still miss a few things from that axed ending. I'll still ask about those points and wonder. But the ending is where it should be now. I have no doubts about that. I already knew, and when I wrote the sequel, the same thing happened. But I took the cue, and wrapped up quickly. I still might get the request to shorten it further. We'll see!

The last thing I'll share about endings is advice on what to do with a troubled ending. I don't mean that you've left your protagonist in a gutter and the bad guy gets elected to run the city. I mean, you have an ending you're just not sure about. It doesn't thrill you and you're second guessing yourself. Listen to the voices, and your critique group. And try this:
List the points that bother you about the ending.
Now list what worked great about the ending of your favorite novel.
Remember that you are an intelligent reader.
Apply what works and what is necessary to your ending. Let the rest go. Re-evaluate, and do it again.

Well, that wraps up this week's Tuesday Edit Crunch. Hope you enjoyed it! I'm going to lie down and read a good book, hopefully one with an incredible ending.
Watch out for the the K's, they're especially crunchy.

March 8, 2010

Blogging A Book Launch

I want to announce an exciting Book Launch Party for three LDS authors with serious skills. Annette Lyon, Julie Coulter Bellon, and Sarah M. Eden get to have what I know will be a kick of a party! Crash it, book it, and enjoy!

6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Deseret Book at University Village
(East of University Mall in Orem)

March 5, 2010

Artistic Transportation

"Writers are just people who have a whole lot on the inside that they need to get to the outside, with pen and paper as their preferred method of transport.  Same with dancers, artists, and singers - all the same urges with differing transportation."  ~Graycie Harmon

In my search for an image to post with the teaser for Remnant, here, I came across this painting. I was struck. Not only was this Limhi, a main character in my story, but the title of the painting is, "The One Who Remembers", as is Limhi. I wouldn't have to change a thing in the book to match who I see here. Is it crazy that reassurance came with this? That I feel joy that my character is real enough that he exists for someone else as well? I stared at it for quite a while in wonder. I had only searched "American Indian Paintings" but, after glancing at the titles of some of the other works, I was thrilled. "Teancum" "Lamanite Woman". This artist was LDS! I sent an email asking permission to post it on my blog.
Then, I explored the rest of the artist's site, here. Maria Hathaway Spencer works primarily in Prismacolor (colored pencil) and Watercolor. As an Art Major, these were my two favorite forms of "transportation", so I can appreciate what she has done with these tools of creation. Simply gazing at her other pieces, I found myself wondering about the stories, imagining character and conflict and triumph. It was a wonderful exercise.
I began to think about other times imagery has inspired my writing. Certainly, the Orchard, The Inn, and The Lake are all situated in some of the most picturesque places I know and love. Bringing my characters (and readers) to those places was an act of love, of sharing. 
In my second novel, The Inn, I kept writing a character, Ryan, as Derick, a character from the first book. It drove me nuts, because these men were very different. I just kept lapsing. Finally, I searched online and found Ryan. I posted his image on my bulletin board and glanced at it often as I wrote him. It worked!
So, here is my question:
Have you been inspired by an image, a painting, a place, a photograph? Was it before, during, or after your work?

Enjoy exploring Ria's beautiful site. Her fairies are ethereal. She has a fantastic playlist, too! You can also find her work on display at DeZion Art Gallery and these other places.
Thank you for the imagery, Maria. Your method of transportation is inspiring.
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