Thursday, November 29, 2012

Last One is a Rotten Egg

You probably remember the saying as a kid.

And you probably never wanted to be last, especially when it meant you could be first, or at least second, and lose the rotten egg title. Last meant you were somehow not on the list or that your parents really did find you on the doorstep in a basket.

Photo by: oxcnpxo, courtesy of Flickr
But let's get serious.

We often take this saying into our adulthood. It's almost as if we have to prove ourselves to ourselves, to our parents, or maybe even our siblings.

I'm not that rotten egg; I'm never going to be last. And so we push ahead, faster than we really have strength, and give little or no time for that reflection we really need.

The other day I was talking to a friend about reflection but was calling it writing in a journal. She said, "But I'm not a writer." I couldn't convince her that a person didn't need to be a writer to write in a journal and that it would be helpful for posterity to read a little about her after she was gone. I explained how it just wasn't enough for me to know someones name, who they married, and when they died, I wanted to know about their life.

But my friend wasn't too interested. My friend didn't want to keep a journal, at least not now. And it would have been fruitless to keep prodding her on to think differently about it. Perhaps she thought it was too much work, maybe there were other things on her mind that she felt took precedence. What I know is that she wasn't a rotten egg in my eyes just because journaling appeared to come last in her life.

A month or so ago I placed my novels on the back burner until after the holidays. It just didn't make sense for me to write when I could be thinking and doing other things. Perhaps you might think I'm a rotten egg. Letting my writing go like that.

But I hope not.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Writing What You Don't Know

You've probably heard that a writer needs to write what he or she knows.

Used to be I was filled to the brim with this message. I heard it directly at a writing conference or read it in chapter 5. Other writers just wanted my writing to be accurate.

Photo by: fotografeleen, courtesy of Flickr
Because I felt as if my life was pretty narrow--I haven't traveled much and some might consider me a homebody--I went to the library and researched. This was before computers were a hit. I'd check out books and read about the things I didn't know. I'd make a few calls. I'd speak to others who were knowledgeable in the area in which I was lacking. The end result?

I was now writing what I knew.

I remember the time I needed to know what a train really sounded like coming into a station. Since I'd never personally had that experience, it was important for me to be accurate. So I did a google search and found a sound clip that really helped. That scene is in my book, Scrambled.

Photo by: informatique, courtesy of Flickr

When I was writing, Conquering Your Goliaths: A Parable of the Five Stones, I wanted to know more about the city of Gath where Goliath was born. I discovered that the word, gath, meant wine press. With a bit more study I was able to write about it as if I'd been there.

A River of Stones, a young adult fiction book, came primarily from my head, but there were times when I didn't know of what I spoke of so I did some research. In the end I had scenes built from places I'd visited on the Internet and calls I had made.

When it comes to writing what you don't know, it's really only tricky if you haven't done any study at all. Even a little study is better than the guessing game. But a deeper study will usually do the trick and will allow the reader to feel as if the characters have really been there.

Some sources to get you started:
Happy researching!


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

When Your Characters Speak to You

I used to think I was a bit crazy.

I'd be working on my short story, my novel, when all of a sudden the character would start telling me stuff.

"I wouldn't say that."
"Don't put me in that situation yet."

Photo by Matthew Kenwrick, courtesy of Flickr
"Here's the real story."

And I would stop and listen to what they had to say and write it down.

Now, you may think listening to your character as if he or she is a real person is a bit off the beaten track, but if you're a writer you may have already discovered that when your characters start speaking to you, that's when you really have something.

Photo by Paul Stevenson, courtesy of Flickr
Being in tune to who your characters are and what they want in life, for good or evil, will keep the honesty your want in your work. When your readers read what you have written your words will not only make sense to them, they will consider your characters 'real.'

Photo by Matthew Kenwrick, courtesy of Flickr
Not some paper copy form, but a 3-dimensional being with his or her own thoughts, feelings, wants, needs and direction. Whether you like your characters choices or not, revealing who they are (rather than protecting them because you don't like what they are choosing) will create an opportunity for you as well as your readers to really learn something.
In real life, as in the real life you want to create for your characters, life is made for learning and growth. Do you have to experience all of it personally yourself--especially the dark side--to understand what works and what doesn't?


All you need to do is listen in and write it down.


Friday, November 23, 2012

Free Books!

Just a little plug today for my books!

Get them today at Amazon and Barnes & Noble and have some fun reading or putting them away for Christmas gifts! Or read them first and then wrap them up for Christmas gifts! :) Re-gifting is great!

Order a book from my website and get an autographed copy and free shipping!

Today only get my books FREE for the Kindle. That's November 24, 2012.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Saving Money at Christmas

It might be a good idea to dig out some of your old Christmas stories. This particular one I wrote years ago. The ending is new.

This year, as in previous years, we have had to watch our money. There just isn't enough of it to buy everything we want; but I'll have you know something, we've always managed to smile on Christmas morning.

Here's a story about one such Christmas when my children were small:


            Our girls were two, six and seven the Christmas of 1988.  My husband had been busily looking for employment (again) and I was beginning to wonder how many more days I could stretch out the meals with a pantry full of ‘just a little noodles’ and that great staple item, canned corn.

Photo by trekkyandy, courtesy of Flickr

            One day I was shopping at a thrift store with my mother, feeling discouraged that all I could afford would have to come from…you know…there, when I noticed something interesting.
            The place was surprisingly busy.  Old and young, well dressed and moderately attired, were all making their way up and down the many aisles looking for just the right bargain.  So, I wasn’t alone in my shopping venture.  Still, I couldn’t help feeling wistful.  To afford a real Christmas for my three girls…one the girls would cherish and talk about for years to come…now, that would be better.
            As I was busy in thought, hardly paying attention to the marvelous deals my mother was pointing out, I rounded a toy aisle and there it stood in full glory.
            Okay, not quite full-glory, but it was if the dollhouse spoke to me.  Actually I discovered seconds later that it was my mother.  As I stood with my mouth agape she said, “I bet you can fix this up.”
            I wasn’t so sure.  What I’d spotted was a wooden dollhouse, quite large, proudly displaying lime-green carpet and orange wallpaper.  The piece of masking tape revealed the amazing price--$5 dollars.
            But I wasn’t sold yet.  I knew it would take hours to fix the thing up.  Hours and materials and creativity…
            “Your husband is an artist.  He’ll help you,” my mother said next as if reading my thoughts.
            I few minutes later my mother and I had placed the dollhouse in the trunk of my car.  Although it stuck out a bit (somewhat like a dejected tree from an empty tree lot) we were able to get it safely to my garage at home where the real work began.
            Through the next few evenings my husband and I were busily scrounging up healthy green carpet remnants, leftover neutral pain, even vinyl floor covering for the kitchen area from generous relatives.  And then we were gluing, painting and covering the floors with our artistry.  Towards the finish date, Christmas Eve, my husband decided to paint trees on the outside of the house to give it that ‘homey’ look.
            On Christmas Eve with paint up to our armpits, heavy eyes just gasping for a little shut-eye, and high hopes, my husband and I placed the dollhouse under the Christmas tree.
            The next morning, the glow on our girls’ faces and giggling thank-you from first to last far surpassed the pain of our sore fingers, aching hands, time and travail.  I will never forget the joy I felt that day.
            Today, many years later, my three daughters are grown. Two of the three have children of their own. Just last year, my middle daughter who is divorced with very little money of her own, gathered the now old old dollhouse my mother had made for me when I was a little girl, and got it ready for her daughter. As I had done, she spent hours working on the house alone, painting and designing shutters, until it was time for the trees. These, my husband painted, just like he'd done years ago for her.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Expectations in Writing

Sometimes when we feel as if we've written some good, something memorable, we also find out that there are others who don't feel the same way.

We have expectations for our writing, sort of like the expectations we have for certain key individuals in our life. When our writing lets us down, it's sort of like someone we love has let us down.

The cool thing about both of these instances is that it took a human being to create the expectation. And I think that's an important thing to remember.

Not everyone is going to say what we want them to say all of the time, whether what they say is about our writing or about us. (And if it's about our writing it feels as if it's about us).
Phtoto by: spaceamoeba, courtesy of Flickr
When we write, we're putting our heart and soul into our work; when someone has let us down our heart and soul suffers.

In both cases we're feeling a bit sorry for ourselves. We may even wonder how we'll go on.

But we do.

If we're a writer, we continue. No matter the obstacles or words of discouragement. We move forward. We may have to take a good look, but then we move forward.

We have to.


Friday, November 16, 2012

Early Thanksgiving

My husband and I are putting together an early Thanksgiving again this year. That means my children and their children will be coming. We will be without my oldest, of course, but I wanted to let you in on a little secret that began two years ago when my oldest daughter was in town.

It doesn't matter the day that you hold Thanksgiving, what matters is getting as many people together as possible.

This year we've gathered the standard fare: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and rolls, as well as a couple of other dishes my family loves; dad's cranberry salad and yams.

We are also filling out a "I'm thankful for" paper that we'll discuss at the dinner table. After dinner we'll be taping our voices in a book called, "Twas the Night Before Christmas." You may have heard of it. :) I thought it would be nice to get all of our voices on tape reading the story. We'll send the story off to my oldest daughter and her family before December hits.

My oldest daughter, Aimee, with Bekah and Elmo.
We celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas in the same month: November

I'm always hoping that all of my children and their families will be able to join us for our early Thanksgiving--there's another one on Thanksgiving Day with the whole crew--but until then, I love to spend the time with those who can make it.

What are some of your holiday traditions and fare? I'd love to hear about them.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Writing During the Holidays

One of the best pieces of advice I've been given regarding writing and the holidays may prove useful to you.

As things get busy, less time is available to write. At the same time, however, you want to keep writing and sharing during the holidays because there is so much to share. So here's the advice:

Photo by Edsel L, courtesy of Flickr

Write whatever you can early. If you have your own blog, schedule posts in advance. If you're writing a novel, balance the time between writing and shopping. You may even want to carry a recorder with you to record all of those happy moments this season without having to sit and write them all down--now. Take lots of pictures too. Post them on your social media sites and then get back to your child's visit with Santa Claus.

Photo by Herkie, courtesy of Flickr

Sure, you may want to capture all of the happy moments, but you don't want to be busy writing when you could be personally enjoying the holidays.

Happy Holidays to You! 


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Winter Market Sale and Santa!

If you missed seeing me at the Simple Treasures Boutique 
you'll want to gear up for the festivities coming up TODAY,
December 1, 2012 at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center!
I will be with Sara Fitzgerald again
and we will be signing our books!

We would LOVE to see you!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Are You Traveling to New Book Destinations?

I love the thought of being able to travel the world through the simple act of writing about it.

No, it's not always a simple process, but this sort of travel sure saves on gas or airline tickets!

I keep a handy notebook with me as the ideas come because you never know when that new idea for your next book will step on board. I have received great ideas for books at the bank, in the shower and driving my car. I've also had dreams and pay close attention to the comments of others.

In these various ways I always have ideas to work off of and never find myself struggling to find something to write.

Some writers keep a notebook by their bed or a small recorder in their purse to record ideas.

Photo by: wanderingyew2, courtesy of Flickr
I'd like to think that the keeping of ideas is as varied as the writers who use them. I'd like to think as I travel to a new book destination, that so are you. It's fun to meet writers on the trail and discuss writing. I always pick up ideas to take with me on my journey.

Have an idea you'd like to share? I would love to hear it.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Writing from the Heart

The last few days I have been occupied at the Simple Treasures Boutique in Farmington. Many people walked past my booth and I was able to share with them my books, but something else happened during this event.

Photo by: Katerha, courtesy of Flickr

I realized that in connecting with others my heart was renewed. I was able to share with others a little bit about my growing up years through my experience of writing the book, A River of Stones. I spoke about God as I shared my book, Conquering Your Goliaths: A Parable of the Five Stones, and I was able to let people know that through it all, I still made time to write what was fun to me via Scrambled.

And you know what? I discovered, yet again, that writing from the heart doesn't have to look a certain way. Writing from the heart takes guts, whether you're writing mystery or inspiration. Writing from the heart means that you, as a writer, tap into all of those elements that makes you human, that makes you real, and that you are willing to share more than the good stuff.

Photo by Skinned Mink, courtesy of Flickr

Because in real life:

People have goliaths that they must overcome.
Sometimes they must leave their old life for a better one. 
Often people are the way they are because of how they experienced childhood.

And it's okay. All of it. The good and the bad.

As long as you remember to write from your heart.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Keeping Your Writing Fresh

Ever find yourself in the dull writing trap?
I was there this morning. I had no idea what to write so I didn't write a single thing.

Photo by: plastAnka, courtesy of Flickr

I got out of the house instead, did some errands and had fun at a fine event put on by Books are Fun. Evidently, this group spans the world, sharing their books with folks who, against their better wishes, are holed up at the hospital. Books are Fun probably travels to other unlikely places but I didn't ask about that.

My daughter had to get her blood drawn today and I was grateful to have something to do.

Photo by Daniel Morris, courtesy of Flickr

Life can be as dull or as bright as we make it. And we make it easy for it to be dull if we don't change things up a bit; even open ourselves up for a surprise or two. I purchased 3.

Some sticky notes to keep me organized, an Hello Kitty book/puzzle for my granddaughter just because she was so good as we waited for her mother, and a gift for my grandson's birthday. Let's just call it Lego/Star Wars related.

After the drive home I sat down to write again and came up with this. Maybe it's not the freshest thing  I've ever come up with, or even the most interesting, but it sure beats what I had before I left the house.

Happy Writing!


Monday, November 5, 2012

When in Doubt--Write!

When you're in doubt about your writing, consider this:

You probably know at least one person who has told you that they're going to write a book but they haven't done it yet. And if you're writing at all, you're doing more than they are.

Photo by Kudumomo, courtesy of Flickr
So many people want to be writers, but they don't get beyond the dreaming stage. Either they're too busy, not interested enough to get started, or like the thought of being an author without having to do anything.

Perhaps they're thinking of the perks. Seeing their name in print. Making some money. Walking into a bookstore and seeing their book.

But being a writer is so much more than that.

It's coming up with unique and interesting characters and a plot that can take these characters through a story. It is knowing enough about dialogue and setting to balance it on paper. It's knowing a bit about grammar and rewrites, chapter headings and book titles to get a reader interested and to keep them reading.

If you're in doubt about whether or not you're a 'real' writer, if you're writing a short story, an article for a magazine or a poem, consider yourself a writer.

No, you don't need to be published by Random House. You just need to write.

What do you write? Share it below along with a link to your site! Yes, I am asking you to add a link so that we can see what you do and make a comment.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Why Do You Write?

I am thinking this morning about why I write. And why, when I think I'll simply give up on my writing, I continue to move forward.

It's probably because:
    Photo by: burstingwithcolors, courtesy of Flickr
  • I love writing. Writing takes me out of my stuff or helps me to deal better with my stuff. Writing brings me joy.
  • I can write when I might be doing the dishes.
  • I get to see my name in print and make money doing what I love.
  • Someone writes me from England. They've read my stuff and like what I do. (I'm in Utah).
  • I get notes. "Your book has changed my life," the note reads.
  • I get to publish (finally) my books in my own time, by my own creative power. I no longer have to wait years for a publisher or agent to gain interest.
  • I get to meet other writers. We help each other to be successful.
  • I get to meet readers face-to-face and share in their love of reading.
This is my list. Do you write? What would you add?


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Lunch & a Pep Talk

It's amazing what a good lunch and a pep talk can do for an otherwise discouraged  person.

No, I'm not discouraged all of the time, but there are days that I just can't take in another negative vibe. I have this bucket called my life that I'm trying to fill with good things like writing, and listening and sharing, but sometimes the good things are so overcome with the bad I feel as if I have a bucket with holes in it.

Photo by: haven't the slightest, courtesy of Flickr
As much as I'm trying to put good things in, the good things are not staying inside the bucket for very long but are rushing out.

That's when a good pep talk comes in handy.

During the pep talk that lasted roughly 3 hours (the waitresses were getting a bit nervous that though we had come for breakfast we were sitting with the lunch crowd) I discovered again some things that I had forgotten.
  • Life is about choice. Choices we make and choices others make. And it's up to us to separate and know what is ours and what isn't.
  • There are opinions galore about who and what you should be (from mothers, co-workers, friends and even acquaintances) opinions that you 're not and will never be. That's why it's good to take an inventory and see if you're living your dream or someone elses. 
  • All it takes sometimes is to hear one negative comment about yourself to think less of who you are. But you don't have to make the negative comment who you are. You can look at it, see if it provides any wisdom, and if not, discard the untruth.
  • Sisters are miracle workers. They care about who you are and what you want to accomplish in life. They lift, rather than pull down. They care that you hurt and have been misunderstood or trampled upon. They know when you feel alone.
I know, I know, "no one can make you feel small without your permission", but there are days that we give it, our permission, sometimes without realizing we've even handed it over. If we are feeling a bit less than, a bit discouraged, a bit out of hope, we've been listening to the wrong voices, whether they're inside our head or not.

Love to you,