December 17, 2012

Thoughts of Children

I love children. Easy. Making a child smile is one of my favorite things, and that has always come pretty easy, too.

I've learned through some recent counseling that because of the long and frequent absences of my husband and my shy nature in social circles, I poured my love and friendship into my kids, and they reciprocated. When they were smaller and more dependent upon me, the more-present adult in their lives, I was their confidant and they were mine. We shared our joys and tears and secrets and dreams and I taught and they listened and taught me back. They still do. I depended on them to fill a void, as I filled their minds and hearts and hopefully, fed their spirits.

I know I'm not the only parent who experiences this.

So I know that some of those parents in Newtown, Connecticut, didn't lose children. They lost best friends, they lost companions, they lost future hopes, secret-keepers, inside jokes, special handshakes, friends they knew inside and out. Their favorite people in the whole wide world.

I do believe they will see their children again, that their sons and daughters are in good, loving hands. But there is still loss of something so beautiful, so exquisite.

And that's why I mourn with those parents.

Today is my daughter's birthday. She would have been 16, had all gone as I'd hoped. It doesn't hurt so much. But I don't love her any less.

December 11, 2012

Thanks, Everyone!

I ended the contest early because I always make contests too long. So, the winner of the "Help Me Choose My Author Pic" contest (which I guess it was never really officially titled) is Letha Richardson! Lisa is from my hometown of Cody and I'm excited to get her a copy of OF GRACE AND CHOCOLATE. Hooray!

So, which pic did I choose? After the black and whites were posted it narrowed things down, and although I'm still a bit torn, I'm going with:

But I'm also sending in:

My publisher can choose. :)

Thanks everyone for the help and all the compliments. See you on the back of my next book (which is THE ORCHARD coming April 2013)!

December 7, 2012

Author Pics II

I mentioned a few posts ago that my oldest son, Braeden, recently got his senior portraits taken, and since I was in need of an updated author photo, we made a day of it. It turned out to be great for both of us, because having a big camera aimed at you for large chunks of time as you hear *click* *click* *click* repeatedly is a little unnerving, and we fed off each other's antics, got some genuine smiles in, and a few laughs, too. Which happens a lot with my son, who has my sense of humor but is much quicker on the draw.
See that smile? I'm up on the hill jumping around, waving my arms.
That smile is for me. It says, "Man, my mom is weird AND awesome."
He makes this face a lot.
Braeden is a pretty quiet kid, but if he decides to talk, he will talk and talk and talk.
I love being the recipient of this.
This is my favorite. It reminds me of when he was little and would ask for a cookie
or something and just wait quietly with this look on his face
and of course I would say YES BECAUSE LOOK AT THIS FACE.

It was a really good day with my son, who will soon be moving on to big, grown-up world things. 
I try not to think about it because when I do a chunk of broken cement gets lodged in my throat and everything goes watery.

So now I have some new author photos. I need to decide which photo to send to my publisher for the back of my books and since you all were such great helpers a few years back, I'm asking again. 
What do you think?


And to move things along, I'll put everyone who votes into a drawing for my book OF GRACE AND CHOCOLATE, which you may want for yourself, OR to give as one of the best Christmas presents ever. Just sayin'. I'll draw names on Wednesday, December 12th at 10pm.

Thanks for the help!

Okay, it was requested that I post the B&Ws since that is what my publisher uses. I'm kinda getting tired of seeing my face, but I'm thankful for all the help!

And since some of you wanted to see this cropped...

November 4, 2012

The Next Big Thing

I am not participating in NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month) this month, but to all of those who are, get to it! GO, GO, GO! I have never done NANO for various reasons, the main one being that I've hosted Thanksgiving/company the last few years, and a lot of my energies go there. Also, I've only KNOWN about NANOWRIMO the last few years, so . . . Anyway, this year I have a different reason. I just finished a big novel and so I am between submitting that work and waiting on edits for my next book, THE ORCHARD. I didn't get to read all summer, so I am enjoying this limbo time reading other people's writing. Yay!
The other day I was tagged for The Next Big Thing blog meme by my friend, Jordan McCollum. So in today's post I will be answering some questions about the novel I just finished. I haven't been asked many questions about this book so I'm curious what the answers will be . . .
Thanks, Jordan!
Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:
What is your working title of your book? SILK. Or SILK: INHERITOR.
Where did the idea come from for the book? I wanted to write a YA, and wrote this opening scene of a girl chasing after her little brother and then they run into a stranger. It was contemporary, but I wasn't liking how it was going. After thinking about it, and apparently dreaming about it, I woke up and changed the whole idea to fantasy, and dove into world-building.
What genre does your book fall under? YA Fantasy. It's my first time writing fantasy, but I grew up on the stuff because of my dad's love for it. I've learned so much about writing in this genre. I'm sure I have much more to learn!
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? Rafe: Steve West. The wicked Elunid: Christina Hendricks. Myrick: Clive Owens. Alyra: Young Jane Seymour. But my main heroine, Jessamyn? So far she hasn't found a match for who she is in my head. Yes, I have pictures of all these characters and more.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? A privileged silk merchant's daughter accidentally summons an ancient enemy and to save those she loves, and the world, she must accept that old stories hold truth and that magic runs through blood . . . and silk.
(I have no idea why that type is so small but it sounds good, huh?)
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? I'm shopping agents RIGHT NOW.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? Two years. Two years ago I was having lunch with Rob Wells and his wife, Erin, and he asked why I wasn't writing a national. I couldn't answer him. And every time I began to give him an excuse he'd interrupt me and say, "Do it." I'd say, "But I--" "DO IT." He's so pushy that way.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? My other books are written in another genre (contemporary LDS romance), so that's an interesting question. There is definitely romance in SILK. And I always use at least two POV characters. SILK has FIVE. I think. Maybe six. Eep. I seem to gravitate to stories of hope against all odds.
Who or what inspired you to write this book? As I said, Robison Wells was a huge influence in getting me out of my comfort zone. I'm really glad he did. I heard somewhere that if a story idea scares you, that's the one you should write. This story scared the wahoozies out of me. I'm terrified of writing the sequel. And totally excited.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? Magic, humor, danger, new mythology, battles with nature, men, and immortals, and umm . . . genealogy? Ha.
Did I mention Rafe?

November 3, 2012

On Submission

Hey, new post! And new look for the blog. I had some new author pics taken. My oldest son went with me for his senior pictures and pulled some genuine smiles from me. He's really great at that. When I get the rest of the proofs I'll post a few and you can help me decide which one will go at the back of my books.

The BIG news is, I finished the revisions on SILK, my YA fantasy, and it is currently on submission! To national agent/editor type people! And even better, I'm really good at waiting now! Kinda.

Also, ALWAYS recheck EVERY page of your manuscript before you send it off. I got so excited I left some notes dangling like dingle-berries after the last "page" of the story. Blah. But, as a couple friends said, the lovely person reading it will already know whether they like it or not before they reach those. Right?


October 4, 2012

Writing the Author Bio. DUN Dun dun.

I've been asked to rewrite my author bio. Make it fresh. Basically, not boring. 

© H. Armstrong Roberts/CORBIS

I researched a bit online and there was so much conflicting information! What to do, what not to do, adding in what my publisher is looking for. One of the best tips I did find, though, was to remember that we are writers! We write prose and description and emotion for people we make up, but when it comes to bios, we sound like boring history professors. So write like you write!

*No offense to the exciting history professors. Great job.* 
Google creative commons images

So, I'm posting the before and after and I'd REALLY like to know what you think. 

Before (*note: I've never liked this one. Urg.):

Krista Lynne Jensen grew up in Washington State, attended Brigham Young University, lived in Oregon for many years, and now lives in Cody, Wyoming with her husband Brandon and four children: Chelsea, Braeden, Jacob, and Maren. She loves to cook, garden, read, and explore the inspiring beauties of the country. Her laptop always comes along.
Growing up, Krista loved the English language, read constantly, and wrote poetry and journal entries. But she didn’t begin writing seriously until her youngest child started school full-time and she joined a writing group, where she quickly rediscovered her passion for words. She places her characters in the settings she loves and challenges them to dig deeper and fight for what they want. Her family life is busy, but she keeps up with the stories playing out in her head while trying to ignore the dishes and laundry.


Nearly every one of Krista Lynne Jensen’s elementary school teachers made a note on her report card pointing out that she was a “day-dreamer”. It was not a compliment. So, when Krista grew up, she put those day dreams down on paper for others to enjoy. When writing, she fuels her creativity with chocolate-covered cinnamon bears and popcorn. When she's not writing, she enjoys reading, hiking, her family, and sunshine. But not laundry. She never day-dreams about laundry.

What do you think? Any more tips? Writing a bio is hard, and most authors don't care to talk about themselves anyway, but it's a great way to connect to readers in a simple paragraph at the end of your book. What do you like to know about an author?

September 20, 2012

Heyyy a Blog Post...

Have you ever wondered how things would be if you'd chosen differently? Of course you have. Happy or sad, we wonder, "How would it have been?" One choice. One reaction. A turn left when a turn right was also before us.
I've been wondering about this a bit. How have my choices affected who I am today, and how would they have been different if I'd chosen differently? I like who I am today. I like me. But I'm very different from the woman I was twenty years ago, seven years ago, even four years ago. But I liked her, too.
Four years ago I began writing seriously. Twenty years after college and I found myself.

Late. Bloomer.

What if I'd found myself earlier? What if I'd had the support at home to go after a far-fetched dream? What about all those struggles, defeats, climbs, triumphs, disappointments between then and now? How would I have been molded to be who I need to be?

And I need to be.

So I guess it doesn't matter. What matters is moving forward. Learning, growing, knowing that giving up is not an option because a writer is what I need to be.

I always wondered, seeing people, friends around me knowing what they were to do, and I wondered, next to being a mother, when would I know what I was to do? Why didn't I know?

I'm so grateful. It's been four years. I can't imagine not doing this.

News: My next book, THE ORCHARD, is slated to come out March/April 2013. This is the FIRST one accepted by Covenant Comm, but will be my SECOND release. I'm so excited to see it again. I've missed it!

I just finished the first draft of the YA fantasy I've been working on titled SILK. It's out to alpha readers right now, so my stomach is a bit knotty. I look forward to the feedback, though, to make it better. I had so much fun and hair-pulling and hand-wringing and shouts of exclamation getting it down. I can't believe it's all down. I hope it's good. Even a little.

I also started a new on-line critique group with some other writers and I'm very excited about it! WordPlay is Becca Wilhite, Abel Keogh, Melanie Bennet Jacobson, Julie Wright, Kate Palmer, me, and sometimes, Marion Jensen. I feel very fortunate to have found these people needing exactly the same thing I did!

OF GRACE AND CHOCOLATE is still selling well for being out for almost a year. I love this little book! I still love seeing the cover. I still love hearing that readers love it and shared it and are still wanting me to sign it. I love the emails that come in thanking me for writing it. I have received several emails from readers who could relate to having a loved one with an addiction problem. It means a lot to me when they say, yes, that's how it feels. So go, little book. Go, Jill and Scott and Shiloh.

My daughter's wedding was beautiful and she and her new husband are settled and starting school. The other kids are back in school, as is my husband. The ruptured disc in my back is healing and though I still can't lift much of anything, I can do most things with much less pain and I'm thankful every day.

The writing comes in longer stretches now.

So I love that.

July 14, 2012


Brad Arnold, lead vocalist & lyricist for 3 Doors Down

Some people have asked if I write to music. I don't, unless it's instrumental and very soft in the background. I'm a lyrics girl and I find myself distracted by the words of songs if I'm trying to write. Really easily. It's like being distracted by bacon. That easy.

But, being a lyrics girl, as I'm writing a story and I'm doing dishes, working out, driving my car, I catch songs that resonate with what I'm working on. So when I come across a song or two that work really well with a character, scene, a choice, a mood, I add it to that book's Playlist.

I was sewing today, working on the last bridesmaid dress for the wedding, and pulled up my Playlist for OF GRACE AND CHOCOLATE. I tweaked it a little, moved a couple songs around, and I think it does a pretty good job of capturing the novel. Wanna listen? Here you go. Afterward, I'll tell you why I chose each song, if you're interested. *may be spoilers, though I'll try to be careful*


Times Like These, Foo Fighters. This song is a great summation for the whole novel.

It's times like these you learn to live again
It's times like these you give and give againIt's times like these you learn to love againIt's times like these time and time again
And the song isn't about good times. It's about turning points, trials, decisions.
Breathe In, Breath Out, Matt Kearney. Taking things one breath at a time. Jill's very set world is crumbling and she has to do this, learn this.
Hold on, hold tightMake it through another nightAnd everyday, there comes a song with the dawn.
Away From the Sun, 3 Doors Down. This song actually makes an appearance in the book, and the band does as well. It's Scott's ringtone. Jill isn't the only one who's had it rough. I hesitated to put an actual song and band in the book for fear of dating it, but this song is pretty timeless, in my opinion. And later when a concert was needed, I didn't want a made-up band.
I'm over this
I'm tired of living in the darkCan anyone see me down here
It Doesn't Matter, Alison Krauss and Union Station. Jill's mother was an alcoholic. This song is for the tricycle scene. It just is. 
If you've made up your mind to go
I won't beg you to stayYou've been in a cageThrow you to the wind, you fly away
It doesn't matter if I cryDon't matter if I bleed
Best of What's Around, Vitamin String Quartet. This reflects Scott's upbeat attempt in asking Jill out. It's a nice break from the more serious tones. I wish I'd found more songs like this for the lighter parts. I'll keep my ears open.
So Long, So Long, Dashboard Confessional. Perfect. Costa Rica. Flashback. Song.
How the girls can turn to ghosts before your eyes
And the very dreams that led to themAre keeping them from dying
And how the grace with which she walked into your lifeAnd stayed with you in your stepsAnd paced with you a whileFor so long, so long, so long, so long
That I Would Be Good, Alanis Morissette. Introduction to Evie. This song tears at my heart every time, and I think it's what a lot of young girls yearn for.
That I would be loved even when I numb myself.
Your Arms Feel Like Home, 3 Doors Down. Scott and Jill find each other.
I felt so many things this weary soul can’t takeMaybe you just caught me by surprise.
The Only Exception, Paramore. Jill is breaking her own rules.
The Road I'm On, 3 Doors Down. This song reminded me of Trey and Evie.
What you thought was real in life
Has somehow steered you wrongAnd now you just keep drivin'Tryin' to find where you belong.
Blinding, Florence and the Machine. Evie makes her choice. No more dreaming of the dead as if death itself was undoneNo more crawling like a crow for a boy, for a body in the gardenNo more dreaming like a girl so in love, so in loveNo more dreaming like a girl so in love with the wrong world
It Stops Today, Colbie Caillat. Jill makes her choice. This is such a stark contrast to the above song, but both girls are attempting the same thing: to face their fear.
You can hide from all the pain but it will find you anyway
Yes I know, now I know
That I can't keep on running.
Plastic Bag, American Beauty Soundtrack. The alley scene. All the movement, the lights, the sound, the terror, all muted and slowed . . . bittersweet.
Better Off Alive, Train. End credits. These guys are lyrics people, too.
Hey, thanks for being interested enough to stick around! I really do love the emotion songs can lend to writing. What do you think?

May 30, 2012

You Can Tell Doubt to Go Soak Herself

I have some fun news. Of Grace and Chocolate has received official nomination for the 2012 Whitney Awards! There is still a voting process for narrowing down the initial nominees, but this is a bucket list item for me and I didn't think it would happen so soon. I'm just very happy about it.

*happy dance*

Also, I've received news that my next book, THE ORCHARD, will be released sometime around April, 2013! It's so nice to have a general timeline! Even if it seems so FAR WAY!

Also, I am nearly done with SILK, the YA fantasy I've been working on for over a year. I'm really trying to hit it hard and make this story amazing. Then I'll be prepping it to send out. I have knots in my stomach just thinking about it! Good knots. Kinda.

While writing SILK, I've been thinking a lot about character arc. I attended Dan Well's workshop on writing a series at Storymakers and what I loved about it was his breakdown could be applied not only to series, but each book, and each chapter within that book, each scene, and also, the characters.

In SILK, there are 2 main characters, a villain, and 3 more key characters. And they all have POV scenes. At first this worried me, but the more I remember, study, and read fantasy, the less I worry about this. Now my concern is making sure that there is a clear point to giving each of these characters a POV. That they each have definitive character arcs. When I get excited about each one's story, I think I'm on the right track. I find when I'm floundering, it's because I'm not attacking their arc, their growth. When I think about weaving their stories together . . . I get goose bumps.

And then doubt lifts her head and says, "Uh, this is not exceptional."

Yes, Doubt says that. Doubt is a dummy-head.

So I'm still working on it. Don't tell me I can't pull this off. I have to make the attempt.

May 19, 2012

Storymakers Writers Conference 2012

I cannot believe 2 weeks have passed since one of my most favorite events of the year. This writers conference is so much creativity, inspiration, know-how, and motivation packed into 2 1/2 days, if you ever have a notion to go, just GO. It's open to anybody. And it's a good deal. LDStorymakers works hard to keep it that way. This year I got to be an instructor at Boot Camp, an intensive critique camp. I got my own table with my name on it and everything. And it filled up with people! So that was GREAT. My classes each day were so good and I learned a ton, again.
Did you want to see some pictures?
Fun dinner after boot camp with my adopted writing group plus Eric Swedin and Kirk Shaw, Senior Editor at Covenant. Glad I got to sit with him, as just after the conference he announced he's trading editing for law school. Good luck, Kirk! Kendra, Margot, Eric, Marion, Chris, Christy, and oh my gosh I forgot his name, me, and Kirk. Oops.
Our talented, and angelic emcee, Sarah Eden. You see the halo, right?

The lovely Becca Wilhite, who sat next to me at the authors' book signing. Tons of fun!

The amazing Ali Cross, who sat on the other side of me at the book signing. We laughed way too much.

Abel Keough , who came over and told me it was so nice to see me behind a table this year. :) I agreed.

Angie Lofthouse and Stephanie Black, yay!

Dan's bestest smile. Thanks to TJ Bronley who went around with my camera and snapped pictures.

Ronda Hinrichsen, Michelle Holmes, and James Dashner.

I enjoyed dinner my 1st night in Provo at Bombay House with Howard and Sandra Tayler. They rock.  So does Bombay House. And Dan Wells' hat.

Nicole Giles and somebody, and Shanda Cottam, who I didn't see near enough of!

I love this picture of Josi Kilpack and Lisa Mangum!

My long-time friend who tags along with her husband, Dylan, at this conference. Angela Kennedy. So great seeing her again!

Stephanie telling Daron Fraley, Heather Moore, and Gregg Luke to scoot in. Gregg was my bad back buddy, and we both toted around our stuff on wheels.
Three awesomes. James Dashner, Jeff Savage, and Robison Wells. I went to the midnight premiere of Avengers with Jeff and his family on Thursday. This was such a fun panel. I tweeted it live.

Most of our Cody group, plus Sally who meets us every year. Sue, Carla, Leah, and Sally. Leah moved to the Seattle area last year so it was great to have her with us again, too!
The Whitney Gala, and the woman running the show, Josi Kilpack. She's a wonderful example to me.

We get to dress up. Me and Margot. Isn't she pretty?!

Annette Lyon. Love. Her.

Hi, Marion. *waves*

The losers' dessert shot. Awww, but they're so cute.

Jordan McCollum and Heather Justesen. Love seeing these ladies. Heather was co-chair for the whole conference along with Jaime Theler. Huge job and they did it well.

Chris Miller and I matched. :)

A couple of my inspirations: Brandon Sanderson and Jessica Day George. I was kinda fan-girling it in this picture.

I think this was Stephanie's 5th Whitney win and Dan's 3rd. Awesome juju right there.

Lisa Mangum, who totally helped me with my pitch to HarperCollins that morning. She's SO GREAT.

This is James Dashner's stuff. He asked me to watch it for him while he visited the restroom before he left. No really he did.

See? Then he told me not to Tweet it. So I didn't. What did you think of the conference, James?

Me, too. I didn't want to leave such an amazing atmosphere. See you next year, Storymakers! *blows kiss*

Coming soon, an Austen Tea Party...
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