Monday, December 31, 2012

Soaring with Social Media

This past year has been an eye opener for me--for many reasons.

First, I've learned that marketing not only takes more time than writing a book, but I've learned what works for me in marketing and wasn't doesn't.

And since I'm all about sharing what I've learned about writing and all that surrounds it, I wanted to let you in on a little secret. I'm still learning, and I'm sure I have much more to learn that will come in 2013. For now, be assured of the following fact:

You will sell more books the more you put yourself out there. The best results I've had have come from two primary sources:

1. Getting out there both body and soul. The time I spent at the two Christmas craft shows showed me that I could not only sell a substantial amount of books but that people were usually curious to know what I did. I met some great people this past year who have not only helped to promote my books (on radio shows and blogs) but who have connected me with others interested in writing. This is great news! Fear never helps a writer succeed when they give in to it. And therein lies the clue. You will always be afraid to try new things, but if you don't let the fear win then you've won! In fact, fear is False Evidence Appearing Real, and in my mind as well as in the mind of the writer who wrote that statement, "Fear is not a gift of the spirit."

2. Using the free on Kindle day has made it possible to get my books out there. No, I don't make any money, but I really do make something if you consider those who get my book(s) for free, like them, and then talk to others about them. The numbers have soared on my book sales when I've offered them for free 1-3 days as part of my book's release, or as part of a special event such as Black Friday.

I have also shared my books on Pinterest, facebook, twitter and LinkedIn. What's important here is that I not only share, I want to be a part of the community and so I respond and connect with others. As for my website, the visitors this year have increased, and this is something I can monitor on my site. And I love the fact that I get responses on my blog almost every day; earlier this year that never happened. I have looked for ways to update my site and have replaced the free publishing ideas with  a couple of radio spots.

I have passed out some postcards this year; quite a lot of them, and really have no idea how well they've worked, though I can say for sure that I've received a couple of new clients by using them. Books signings in general haven't been very profitable for me, unless they've been coupled with the Christmas events as mentioned above. Sure I've sold books, but coupling what you do with what others do, draws in larger crowds; especially if the event is highly advertised.

What hasn't worked for me?

Doing too much social media in one day.

Suffice it to say, I feel good about the marketing efforts that I've put forth this year, but I haven't always been happy with how much time I've spent on the pursuit. Here's what you need to know:

Photo by: Kelsea Groves, courstesy of Flickr
Schedule your time. I was often burned out and a bit stressed because my time wasn't scheduled. A good way to balance your time is to devote much of it to writing, remembering that that's why you became a writer in the first place.

Soaring with social media is a bit like cooking up a cake. Most of the cake is the cake itself; only a portion of it is the frosting, but you usually need that sweet frosting to finish off the cake. 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

3 Writing Excuses You Want to Avoid for the New Year

Since we, as writers, seem to have as many excuses for not writing as say someone who doesn't want to clean out their kitchen cabinets, I thought it would be fair to say that writers avoid writing too. And what we avoid and why we avoid it says a lot about us as a person, both on and off the job.

Photo by: Amy Loves Yah, courtesy of Flickr
Let's start with procrastination. It's easy to procrastinate something that may not be bringing in a regular paycheck. Unlike a regular job with a regular paycheck, our writing becomes a hobby where we get to it when we have the time. (See excuse #3).What is foremost in our mind is the job that pays us money.

Photo by Wonderlane, courtesy of Flickr

I'm not good enough anyway. Part of being a writer is getting critiques of what we do. These critiques come from the world, yes, but our hardest and biggest critic is ourselves. We just don't see ourselves as selling a book; getting anyone to buy it. We see our writing as less than. We have a hard time seeing ourselves as a success.

Photo by: NCinDC, courtesy of Flickr

I don't have the time. Really, I don't. But maybe we have time to watch our favorite show on television. Television eats up time. I know. I watch television too. I have my favorite shows and I often lounge in front of the television at night because I need some time just to veg. Take a look at your time. If you want to be a writer you'll make time to write.

I want you to know that I've used all of these three excuses at one time or another, and sometimes I have used them in concert. Why should I make the time to write when I'm not good enough anyway. I'll do it later.

Later rarely comes unless we plan to use our time wisely. And when we get those criticisms from ourselves and from others, we need to realize what's happening and take a giant leap in the direction of our computer.

Friday, December 28, 2012

When It Just Keeps Snowing

I don't know about you, but the last few days has included multiple driveway shovelings. The driveway is cleared, and I breathe a sigh of relief, only to look out the window a few minutes later and see it snowing again.

Yes, another snow shoveling today means more workout for the bod and plenty of muscles moaning in surprise. I just don't know how I'm going to gear up for another removal, but I will.

Photo by: pmsyyz, courtesy of Flickr
For those of you who haven't been to my house, the driveway is steep enough that without a sufficient clearing, the car merely slides down when you're trying to drive up. I hate to say it but my husband and I have had many episodes where we've have to race the car up the driveway from the main street just to make it up to the top.

What does this have to do with writing?

Well, let me tell you.

Sometimes in the feverishness of trying to get our writing work finished and out to the public, we don't take time to clear the driveway; i.e. to do our homework, so to speak. This homework always includes editing.

I am the first one to admit that I've published my books with errors in them. And this is after I've had my work edited. What I've learned is that it's better to let your work sit for a few days, even a month, and then to go back to the edited version of your manuscript before calling it good. Your manuscript might make it 3/4 the way up the driveway, only to return to the starting point with some readers because of some missed errors.

Photo by Jake Sutton, courtesy of Flickr
And it will happen, even with a good editor or editors.

If you're like me, you'll never give up with your writing even after you've made a few mistakes. And keeping up without giving up is a bit like snow too, I think.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Writing in the New Year

What do you want for your writing in the new year?

I've previously written about organizing your writing life, but when it comes to actual writing, I wanted to share a bit more about goals and their realization.

I remember the day I realized that my goals needed to be written down or displayed for me to keep focused on them so that they might become a reality. I can also pinpoint the day I pulled my dreams off the wall.

What did the Lord want for me in the new year? What would be his focus if only I could ask him?

Photo by: crschmidt, courtesy of Flickr
The incredible thing is, I can ask him. And I want to place a little bug in your ear too. You can ask him.

When it comes to wanting what I want when I want it, I'm not always the best judge of when that should be. Making a list is good, but then relying on what I want without asking God for confirmation is like hiking up a mountain not knowing what trail will get me to the sought after lake.

This year has been a year of tremendous growth for me. I began a new business. Published 4 books, and pretty much spent endless days marketing what I'd written. And I've had some great success. This success has included the people I have met and the connections I have made as well as the money I have made.

I have learned that the inspirational or self-help book comes with the greatest joy, both for myself and for those I share it with. That with writing comes more opportunity to speak. And that writing, for me, will always be fulfilling, no matter what I choose to write about.

Photo by: Darcy McCarty, courtesy of Flickr 
This next year, I hope to make my journey in writing more fulfilling and focused because of who I'm taking with me up the mountain. And I hope you consider your own writing after you've written it down or displayed it for all eyes to see.

I hope you ask.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Jingle Bell Rock

No kidding.

Music is one of those lovely or rambunctious things that will help you in those stubborn writing areas. Like the corners of your bathroom floor that you cannot reach, you may have a chase scene that is just not playing out, a need for some romance, or an inkling for a cowboy on his horse.
Photo by: BG3Photo, courtesy of Flickr

I love music. If nothing else, it can ease your mind and heart as you're writing.

I love to put in my ocean waves CD because it calms me as I'm writing. There are times the grandchildren need me and it's hard for me to maintain my focus. I've learned long ago that taking care of family far surpasses writing that next scene, but the music sure does help me to return to the scene after I've made that peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Photo by: Rebecca Dubell, courtesy of Flickr
You may have used music yourself to help you with a a scene or merely to calm your mind like I have, but you may not have considered how much better your writing can be by using it.

Music, for me, is sort of like a conduit to heaven. And if not heaven, into my soul, because life is full of opposition, and I'd like to think that this opposition continues in writing.

Because you're not always writing about the sweet stuff.

The next time you decide to write (I hope it's today) take out that favorite CD, or the CD that will best help you to get into the mindset of the ranch hand cavalier.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Know What Your Weaknesses Are

I have been thinking lately about weaknesses and how they help us with strength. A weakness can help us see into ourselves faster than any compliment, but the trick is to actually want to take a look.

When it comes to our writing, we hope that our writing is perfect and that everyone will love it, but the opposite is probably true. Even those best sellers don't have everyone on the planet scrambling to get a copy.

And that brings me to something.

My work. Does everyone love it or even like it?

No, and I continually have to come to terms with that.

Are my books always understood or appreciated?

No. Sometimes there's some loathing involved.

With writing comes growth
Photo by: Richard Step
Does that make me want to quit?

Sometimes. But as I've said in previous posts, that's not something I'm going to do. Perhaps a particular reader has no sense at all when it comes to understanding what I write, but maybe they do, and maybe they can help me with the weakness that they see and I can eventually make the weakness a strength.

I tell writers all of the time. "If you're good at dialogue, you probably struggle with setting," and usually this is true.

As a writer, we can't be good at everything at the same time; what we can do is to see our weaknesses and work on perfecting them for our next endeavor. We need to have the courage to see what doesn't work and improve upon it and the sense to know when something is already working, though some readers might not appreciate it.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

This is It

If you're a writer you know that this is your dream not some side-line adventure, and that may mean you adjust a bit of your life.

While I'm not suggesting quitting your full-time job, I am suggesting a takeover of sorts. Unless your full-time job is a dream venture, I suggest looking for ways to leave it in favor of your dream of writing.

Not an easy task you say?

Photo by: Tony Hall, courtesy of Flickr
Probably not. But I want you to know something.

This is it. After this life, and no matter how you view your life after death, this life is the life you have to share. And if you believe that you truly have something to share with the world when it comes to writing, you will focus on the good you can do with writing and systematically cut from your life those things that don't belong in it.

So many of the world's population works at jobs they hate, with people that don't lift but drag down, and hours that keep even the best in the dark. We may dream of a better life outside of our job, but may not have the courage to do anything about it. So we write when we get a minute or when life drags us down with sickness because our body is tired from trying to keep up.

I know how this feels. I do this even in my writing, but one thing remains constant. I love what I do, and have never regretted my decision to take my writing seriously and to leave those jobs that were merely there to bring in the money.

I know times are tough and that sometimes, or quite often, we must do those tasks that bring little pleasure to us, but that doesn't mean that in our hearts we continue to seek for what we love most.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Keeping Your Focus in Writing

It isn't always easy to keep your focus in writing. If you don't even have a minimal outline, taking you from one scene to another, it is easy to get lost.

Photo by: pfly, courtesy of Flickr
Without a map of some sort, you may find yourself in the creek when you intended to scale the mountain. And while I often write by the seat of my pants I also keep my flight in check by remaining focused on what the main character wants.

I need to know what he/she wants at the beginning of the story, and if what he/she wants is somehow overshadowed by unrelated scenes or not so needed characters, I may find that my story is leading me off the page.

And that's something, as a writer, that you don't want. You want your readers to stay engaged. You want them to continually ask, "What's going to happen next?" not "Why is this in there?" or "I'm lost."

If you fly by the seat of your pants in your writing like I do, take a leap of faith and stop your writing for a moment. Reflect on where your character began and what he/she is up to until this point.

Does what happens on page 2 connect with page 8 and page 10 and page 20, for example?

I love the "so what" factor. Go through each of your scenes and ask the "so what" question.

"Does this scene contribute to the overall plot of my book?"

cm195902, courtesy of Flickr
If not, take it out.

You'll find yourself climbing that mountain again before you know it.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Consider a Christmas Booklet

With all the good happening this Christmas, I can't help but reflect on all those great Christmas stories that get passed around during the season.

My friend, Sara Fitzgerald, put out a Christmas story this year entitled, Saving Savanna, and she is doing great with it.

One of the wonderful things about Christmas is the memories we make. With the memories we can either share the real deal, or incorporate truth and fiction like my friend did in her book. The good news is that if we get our feelings and experiences on paper when things are fresh; during the year we can work on our story and have it easily ready mid-year when we need to think about how we're going to get it out there.

Sara sells her booklet for $2.99. It has 9 pages, and tells the story of a father who has lost his wife, and the daughter who helps to heal the loss.

Other books on my Christmas shelf include:

Light of Bethlehem, by Julie A. Warnick, 29 pages
Christmas for a Dollar, by Gale Sears, 19 pages
A Christmas on The Other Side of Heaven, by John H. Groberg, 10 pages
She Shall Bring Forth a Son, by Susan Easton Black, 11 pages

As you can see the pages vary from 9 to almost 30, giving you plenty of space if you want your book a bit longer. Some of these books even include scripture references and are of the nonfiction variety.

Because Christmas booklets can really only be marketed say, after October to Christmas, it's a good idea to start thinking of places today that you'd like to visit. If you start now you'll have a fine list come June. Sara has done well at gas stations. The books are easily displayed in a turning display unit and folks during the holidays are always ready for a quick read to bring in the Christmas spirit. Other ideas for marketing include:
  • Independent book stores
  • Library signings, those that allow you to sell your booklets after a presentation of some kind
  • Malls, shopping centers
  • Christmas events such as the Simple Treasure Holiday Boutique that runs in November
  • A Christmas party at your home where you provide your booklets
  • Signings at 'gifty' stores like Hallmark
  • Keep in mind the theme of your booklet, and coordinate your book with a store that lends itself to your book's theme
When considering a Christmas booklet, think of the stories in your life that you've most enjoyed and why. The ones I treasure most make me think more about my life and what I am doing during the Christmas season. Am I thinking of Christ, or not?

Thursday, December 13, 2012


I love the word stressed.


Photo by: Dawn Huczek, courtesy of Flickr
Well, yeah. Spell it backwards and it says desserts.

About this time in the season I begin to get a little stressed and I wonder if all the Christmas preparation and shopping is worth it. Not only do I have my regular work to do, I have the frosting on the cake called shopping, wrapping and balancing the budget.

Still, the little stress I have is better than the alternative.

My husband and I learned years ago that it didn't do us much good to use the charge cards to get folks what they wanted for Christmas, because come January 1, we were regretting it because we were trying to pay the credit cards back with interest! So early on we decided if we didn't have the cash we wouldn't buy it. What that means it that our Christmases are tidy ventures, low on stress and high on ingenuity.

We might not get the latest fad, the newest car or the biggest diamond, but we have plenty of love to share without the guilt.

This year we have a $100 budget for each other--total. And it seems like a lot. Most years the sum has been $50 or less. We LOVE our grandchildren and could buy them everything including the kitchen sink without batting an eyelid, but this year the total is $25 each.

Is it hard to shop on so little?

At times, but the rewards far surpass the thinking we have to do to stay within our Christmas budget.

Feeling stressed? Get some well needed dessert by taking a good look at your budget. Take a look at the time you're spending shopping for the perfect gift. See where you can cut to take the load off.

The Christmas season will be that much sweeter, I promise.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Organizing Your Writing for the New Year

I don't know about you, but December is usually the month I start thinking about the new year and what I want to accomplish with my writing. If you think you can keep your dreams in your head and that somehow they'll get accomplished, think again.

You've probably heard the saying, "A dream unwritten is just a wish," and I can't help but agree.

When I wanted to publish my first book, I had the words written down in my journal. When I wanted to open my new business, I had the words written on a poster board that I saw every day.

Organization can be a daunting task; especially when there's still so much Christmas shopping to do, but you may want to consider these ideas as you prepare your writing for the new year. 
    Photo by: casey.marshall, courtesy of Flickr
  • Clean out your desk. Organize your file folders. I know, I know, this takes some time, but make it. As you accomplish new manuscripts in the new year you'll have a place to store your work that will actually be found again. I keep my work on the computer as well as on paper, just in case one of them fails me.
Photo by: One Way Stock, courtesy of Flickr

  • Throw away items you no longer need. I have a habit of hanging onto old notes for books that I have already published. This takes up a lot of space. Throw out the old stuff so you have room for the new.
  • Get a calendar for your writing. You can use your phone or buy a paper calendar. What days will you write in the new year? What times will you write? Some writers write particular things are particular days. For example, on Monday they may work on their blogs for the week, on Tuesday, their newest novel, on Wednesday, they might set aside time for research and so on. Keep in mind that the more you have written down the less likely you are to put your work aside in favor of cleaning the garage.
  • Make some time for fun. In one of Jack Canfield's books I learned that everyone needs a day off each week to have some fun. And while you might consider writing as "fun" there's something to be said for putting that writing aside and going out for the day.
  • Make your goals realistic. If you have a goal to publish a book this next year, make sure that your smaller goals lead you to it. You don't want to spend the majority of your time writing journalism articles, for example, if you're trying to get your book finished--especially if you're looking for a national publisher to publish it. Consider how much time this will take you in favor of self-publishing and work out your days accordingly.
  • Treat your writing like a career. One of the most full proof ways to keep you writing is knowing how you think about your writing. If it's just for fun, that's fine, but if you are looking to really get your name out there you need to treat your writing differently than an old sock puppet. You may not answer the phone when you're writing. You may decide not to answer the door. You may decide that your writing takes precedence over cleaning the bathroom. Whatever you decide, stick with it.
Organizing your writing for the new year is a little like getting ready for visitors for the holidays. There's a lot of prep work, decisions that must be made and places you must visit to gather in all that you need.

Your writing should also take a front seat.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Waiting For the Good Stuff

Often, we are so hopeful for the good stuff to come, we neglect to enjoy the good stuff that's happening to us today.

Why is it that some days we see it, while other days the good stuff just seems to be unavailable? When I find myself waiting for the good stuff, it's because I think my day is lacking in some way and I have to force myself to stop, drop and listen.

Photo by Matthewvenn, courtesy of Flickr

Yes, that's what you do when there's a fire, (almost) but it also applies to writing. Good stuff, enlightening stuff can be a part of our day if we let it. We can't be too busy doing other things that might not really matter, we can't be thinking about our 'crummy' life, or the way someone treated us that made us feel small.
Photo by: spoon, courtesy of Flickr

We have to stop and be still. Drop, if you will, get on the floor and take a break. We need to listen. To our inner voice. To God. To our children. Maybe even to our husband without putting the wall up.

I have a great inner wall that keeps me protected when I don't want to hear stuff. The bad news is that when this wall goes up I usually don't hear the good stuff either; the good old wall is blocking it.

In my mind waiting for the good stuff to happen is like living in the future but never the moment. It's all about tomorrow or next week or Christmas. Boy, will I be happy then. But when I stop, drop and listen it's amazing the good stuff I find.

The stuff I hear is better than any wrapped present underneath the Christmas tree.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Editing Your Own Book

A lot has been said about editing, about the importance of finding a professional editor, especially if you're self-publishing your book. And while I'm in favor of making your book the best it can be, it's not always practical, for financial reasons, to get your book edited by a professional.

Though I am in business to help other writers edit their work, not everyone has the cash to spend on editing, and this is something that I understand--being a poor writer myself. Writers don't typically have extra money for such a venture, but they want to make their work the best it can be. If this is the case with you, this is what I recommend.
  • Set your book aside after you finish the first draft for at least two weeks or longer. When you go back to it you'll see changes that must be made that you won't see the day after the first draft is finished.
  • Read your book aloud. When you stumble over a sentence, or are confused by something you read, stop and fix it. Our ears hear things that our minds miss.
  • Photo by Nic's events, courtesy of Flickr
  • Read your book silently. Make corrections directly on a paper copy instead of directly on your computer. You'll see more errors.
  • Get some friends and writers to read your work. You'll need at least five. Get people that you know that will give you an honest opinion of your work. Give your readers at least two weeks to read your work and meet with them personally to find out what they discovered.
  • Be careful about what you change
    Photo by: Nick Harris1, courtesy of Flickr
  • Make additional corrections and allow your manuscript to sit for a couple more weeks. Make sure you listen to your heart. Not everything a reader will say will need to be changed but pay special attention to those things that are mentioned more than once.
Editing your book is kind of like preparing to go on vacation (writing your book) and then realizing that in some respects, the planning was more fun than experiencing it (editing your book). Prepare for your next edit by remembering that even the best writers need to edit and rarely come up with something worth sharing on their first draft.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Women's View December 9

You never know what's going to happen at a book signing event.

On December 1 I was at the Winter Market at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center when lo and behold I saw someone I recognized. Unfortunately, I couldn't figure out where I'd met Kathy Nelson before and the same was true for her. We went through the entire list of places we might have met, only to discover that neither one of us could remember where.

The good news is that Kathy and I talked for a moment about my book, "Conquering Your Goliaths: A Parable of the Five Stones," and Kathy promised she would read it. She reminded me that she was on Amanda Dickson's, A Woman's View, and that she recommended books on the show. She told me that she would read my book.
Listen in on Sunday, December 9

I was thrilled of course.

When the call came yesterday that my book would be mentioned on Amanda's show I was doubly thrilled. 

Now, for those of you who haven't guessed where I'm going with this yet (other than the fact that I'll be giving you the details of when and where to listen in) I want you to remember this.

You never know whom you'll meet in your travels as a book writer, so get out there!

Many writers are solitary creatures; they love the writing but hate the marketing. If this is you, you might want to rethink your plans. Get out there and
  • Talk about your book no matter where you are. I have talked about my books at restaurants, at my bank, at the grocery store.
  • Get some book signings set up at some unique places. During Christmas there are multiple and various ways to set up shop. And make sure you visit with people as they travel by your table. Don't wait for your guests to speak up first.
  • Create some postcards with your book cover on one side and the synopsis and contact information on the back. I use Vistaprint.
I still don't remember where Kathy and I met previous to the book signing, and maybe it will come to me later. But even if it doesn't, I'm glad the connection was made this time around. And you can bet I won't forget moving forward.

Here are all the details:

Women's View with Amanda Dickson
December 9
102.7 KSL radio
11 a.m.
Learn more here:

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Listen Up

Listening is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself as a writer. When you listen, you open yourself up to ideas and direction that you wouldn't get otherwise, especially if you have your hard plans set and will still change them.

And I'm speaking of an outline here.

I think it's important to listen up.

Photo by tami.vroma, courtesty of Flickr
You may call it your gut feeling or you may call it inspiration, but whatever you call it, be prepared for some direction as you write, and don't be afraid to take a different path if you feel so led.

When I was writing Conquering Your Goliaths: A Parable of the Five Stones, I decided to name the main character Virginia, and I wasn't sure why that was important, just that it felt right. I later discovered, after some research, that Virginia meant 'pure one', and it suddenly made sense to me since part of Virginia is 'virgin.'

There were other a-ha moments when writing that book, but books don't have to be of a spiritual nature to get insights about what should happen next, and that's why I like to also share the story of Susan in Scrambled.

Photo by: vavva_92, couresty of Flickr
Susan leaves her husband during the first part of the story hoping for a better life, and all during the writing of the book I knew that she'd return to him. I felt as if he'd change for the better, and that she'd change for the better and that together they'd make a happy couple. Some good things happen in the story, and I'm not going to tell you what Susan decides, just keep in mind that her heart felt feelings aren't en-graven in stone and I give her two choices up until the very end.

In writing A River of Stones some 10 years ago now, I discovered early on that Samantha, the main character was a bit like me, and a bit not like me. I discovered that she spoke up far more often than I dared to as a kid but that she was like me when it came to her vivid imagination--something I haven't lost since. It was important for Samantha to carry the speaking up and vivid imagination portions of her personality throughout the story, but I also had to listen up for areas in which she wanted to change and grow. I couldn't keep her surrounded by the same pain, at least not completely, and I needed to allow her the freedom of choice--I couldn't force my beliefs on her, for example, but had to allow her to discover these on her own.

Listening up is as important as writing to me because when I have listened I have created an authentic world. I have created a character or a set of characters that live in a real world with real world problems that can be overcome.

Cutting corners in my books, as in life, rarely works.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Warning: You Could Find Out Who You Really Are

I recently made myself a part of another book signing. It was a day event, and an enjoyable one, despite the fact that I had a cold.

I like book signings, though I have a difficult time in those quiet moments when no one is in front of the table. And even if someone is in front of me, they may not want to hear my message. Some folks sample life but aren't always interested in what I have to offer.

These I know right away. Either they tell me they're not interested right off the bat (but not usually) or they pull away from my words either by walking away as I am speaking, or giving me that overcast look that reminds me of an inversion.

There are times I get clouded over, too, when I check out, so to speak. And then there are times I'm engaged, when the conversation turns from good to great and may even becomes a spiritual experience.

Photo by whologwhy, courtesy of Flickr
I had one of these at the last signing. It was simple really. All I had to do was to talk about one of my books, and the person was ready to hear what I had to say. There was instant connection, a lovely conversation, and a later purchase.

This is what an author wants. The connection that leads to a sale; but sometimes it doesn't happen. Sometimes, it's not time for the sale; what you have written isn't for the person standing in front of the table, and you have to be okay with that.

Not everyone is going to be interested in your writing (I've had enough book reviews to tell me that) and not everyone is going to want to spend their money on what you have to offer.

Book signings may not be your favorite thing. When they're not great for me it's usually because I am considering the end result instead of working on connecting with the person who may or may not be interested in my work.

In a second, and if I'm daring enough to look, I can see who I am at that moment and make adjustments. If writing for me has suddenly become about making money, I can quickly see that I'm losing ground and shift my focus to the connection that brings me the greatest joy.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Interview with Author Dawn Tevy

Interviewing is a great way to get into the head and heart of a writer.

In this, my first interview, I talk with Dawn Tevy, author of Angels and Warriors. 

If you're an author working on your first book, you'll be particularly interested in Tevy's journey.

1. Tell me a about yourself. What got you started in writing?
Actually, I decided to try my hand at writing after finishing all 4 Twilight books in just 5 days. I knew Stephenie’s back-story and wondered what I could write if I gave it a try. My only intention was to write a little story for ME. I just sat down one day and started writing. One month later I had over 250 pages written and the rest is history.

2. How and where do you write? Do you prefer a lap top or do you prefer writing freehand?
Radio playing and locked in my office. Laptop.
3. What's your favorite part about writing? Your least favorite part about writing?
Favorite: The actual writing portion. I don’t know what my story is about until I sit down to write. I have a general idea, but never the whole picture. I may know that an explanation is going to be revealed or a new character is going to be introduced. Until I start writing the scene I have no idea of the entire explanation or the character’s personality….it is a LOT of fun as it all comes together. Least favorite:  hmmm, punctuation/editing.
4. Do you have a project on the back burner? Tell me about it.
Book two of the Angels and Warriors series is well underway. It starts where book one; The Awakening left off. I am also working on a collaborative non-fiction project about my life.
5. How do you come up with your characters? Why would readers want to get to know them?
I may know that a new character is going to be introduced, but until I start writing the scene I have no idea of the character’s personality or exactly where the story will take them. It is a LOT of fun as it all comes together. The characters in Angels and Warriors are as different from each other as real people differ from each other…my book has something for everyone as far as personality types! For example, the lead character is a strong female. She is not a girly-girl, but she’s not a tomboy. She can put a man in his place in a lady-like way.
6. What types of marketing do you do to promote your writing?
My website really contains it all. Everything I’m involved in (and there’s a lot) is there. Actually there are two of them: and .org. I also do interviews and blogging. Plus I have my own radio show. Another thing I ‘m going to be doing is participating at various conventions. Contests for free “giveaways” are also a great way to let people know you’re there.
7. How do you schedule your writing time? When do you write?
I either feel it or I don’t. Some people sit down to write every day, but for me I have to ‘feel it’. If not I just get frustrated. If I’m on the fence I will sit down and read the last scene I wrote, if it flows from there I will start writing, if I have to force it I will just let it go until I’m ready.
8. What would you tell a beginning writer who wants to publish but doesn't believe he/she has enough talent?
You’ll never know if you don’t try. Live your passion and change the world. 
To learn more about Dawn you can find her at:
Follow her on Twitter:!/dawntevy
Become a friend on Facebook:

The Awakening

Authored by Dawn Tevy
In the novel, 'Angels and Warriors, The Awakening,' author Dawn Tevy introduces you to characters that are funny, loving, and artfully scheming...

Our heroin, Lady Tynae, finds herself in a precarious situation when she is hunted down by those she most trusts. In a single heartbeat her fairly simple life becomes incredibly complicated.

Finding herself in a new world full of magic, dragons, and an old friend, Tynae soon discovers nothing in her life was ever as it appeared.

The vivid scenes and descriptive dialogue will transport you to another place. This spectacular fantasy world is set in a time and land that has slowly faded into the haziness of legend and lore.

Between discovering her new world and falling in love, Tynae must uncover what lies at her very core. She is accomplished with swords, an expert marksman, and she even knows how to bring a full grown man to his knees...but is she the 'Chosen One'?

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.