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!
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