Friday, May 31, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Mom's Little Black Book

"Mom's Little Black Book," by Marilynn Dawson is a short, inspirational read that blends quips, Bible quotes, meditation opportunities and 'light' reading for the teen who is about to leave home to start life on his/her own.
Marilynn Dawson
Divided into 6 subheadings (spiritual, household, personal care, interpersonal, grocery and financial), "Mom's Little Black Book," offers teens exclusive rights to all that Mom knows and is willing to share about living life with spiritual grounding and a super clear focus.

Get it at Amazon!
Consider these helpful hints:

"Help those who are in need. One day it could be you."
"Clouds are very emotional creatures. They cry at special occasions."
"Racism is pointless. Look at the Panda.! He's black, white and Asian, and everyone loves him!"

"You are the only Bible some people will ever see."
"You know you're tired when you put the dishes in the fridge and the milk in the sink."
"Talk to God. He loves to hear about your day and how you feel."

"Remember prayer is a fancy word for communication between you and God. Give him time to respond."

"Don't hoard God's blessings for yourself. You may just be the delivery conduit."

If one of your children is leaving home for college this summer, or getting married, or perhaps they have just decided it's time to live on their own, "Mom's Little Black Book," is for them.
Instead of talking until you're blue in the face about what they should and shouldn't be doing to remain a strong, active Christian, give them this book.

Contact Marilynn!

In Canada:


Amazon websites: Amazon Store Amazon DE Amazon DE store Amazon UK UK store Amazon ES


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Book Endings

Today I'm thinking about endings and new beginnings, but this is because I'm closing on a new house. Still, it shouldn't be surprising to you how important endings are, not only in your personal life but when it comes to writing a short story or book.

Have you ever watched a movie that didn't end 'right'? Did you wonder if you'd wasted your time?

Did the movie give you pause? Were you trying to fix it in your mind?

Have you ever read a book that didn't end 'right'?

I'm not saying that a book needs to end in complete happiness, or that the ending should be obvious, I'm talking about an ending that feels right in the gut. It might be a complete surprise to you, it might even be a bit of a depressing ending, but the ending is as it should be. And you feel it.

This book had a completely different ending from my first or second choice,
but it was the right ending for the book

Especially if you're writing a sequel, the ending needs to be 'right.' It needs to give enough closure to the book, and enough unfinished story to get you to the next book.

If your book is a stand alone, you need to be awfully sure that the ending is the 'right' one.

How do you do that?

I usually have a list of possible endings before I begin my book's journey, but I try not to get set on the ending until much later. Why? Often, the main character will tell me through the story that the ending isn't what I first imagined. Yes, I will hear it from the main character. It won't necessarily be words spoken, but I will get a gut feeling that the answer is 'this' one, and not the option I first figured on.

Book beginnings, like book endings, will make or break your book. If the beginning isn't right, no one will read past the first page; if the ending isn't right, you may have a bit of a struggle getting readers to pick up a second book you've written.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Using Dreams in Your Writing

I have had many dreams, primarily sheltered within my mind and heart. But I do have a few others sheltered within the pages of my journal. Just open to any page and you'll see what's been happening in my life.

Photo by: h.koppdelaney, courtesy of Flickr
I occasionally open my journal for that very reason: to remember, especially when I'm struggling with a character or setting. I also pay attention to my dreams, also recorded for the most part. Dreams are a great key to writing. Not only are they visual, they explain a period of my life in some way that can capture a character's current moment.

Years ago I had a dream about my children. Each, in turn, was a specific room. Yes, a room. The room was individual to each of my children. The color was unique to them, and what the room housed was also a clue to what they appreciated in life as well as how their lives were played out-both good and bad. I'm not going to go into details here about the individual rooms, because I count this dream as a private experience meant only for me and my daughters. But suffice it to say, even the architecture was a hint as to what I needed to be helping my children with at just that time.

My dreams continue, and as I've already mentioned, I pay special attention to them. Dreams are revealing. They capture intent and direction and feeling of heart. And if you write a dream down just as you've awakened, you'll be able to capture even slight nuances that will be forgotten down the line.

Understand that you don't necessarily have to use the dream itself in your book, but that you need to draw out certain aspects of it.

Photo by: totheforest, courtesy of Flickr
Say you are struggling with a character who appears strong on the surface, but inside, is clueless as to how her life should be going. You have a dream that the painted walls of her room are white, but after scraping off the paint, you discover a hidden blackness. This visual cue can give you clues as to what to write and what emotions you might want to capture on the written page.

Perhaps you have a dream of flying. Consider how this dream might help you in a certain setting where the main character is also dreaming of a life free from barriers and fears, or a dream about being chased; where the chasing is endless and you awaken still running.

Using dreams in your writing is a bit like free writing. Free writing is just as it sounds. You sit down with a piece of paper and write whatever comes to you, whether it makes sense or not. Many dreams don't make a heck of a lot of sense on first review, but through pouring over them, even meditating on their possible meaning, you can learn a lot.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: The 40 Day Challenge, A Companion Workbook to Journaling with Jesus

Journaling or writing in a diary is about as well-known as going grocery shopping. Problem is, for most of us, what we write in our journal or diary is about the same.

The idea of writing a letter to God, or expressing our feelings about a particular scripture or personal experience with God may not even have occurred to us. What we write about instead is what we ate for breakfast, how we spent our day, who we're angry with, what we're sad about.
We may even find that our lives are simply "not exciting enough" to record them, and so we give up
before we have actually begun.
Get it at Amazon!
But Carol Round and her new book, "The 40 Day Challenge," changes all that.
It took 40 years for the Israelites to get to the Promised Land.

It rained for 40 days and 40 nights.
And Jesus fasted 40 days in the wilderness.

It will take 40 days to 'write' your way through Round's book, and in that time you'll experience God in a very real way. Some questions and topics you will discover:

Have you read the best seller? (Day 13)
Are you feasting? (Day 21)

Are you thirsty? (Day 26)
In writing a daily letter to God for 40 days straight, expect to grow, expect to have a deeper relationship with God. And expect miracles.

Because you will have them.

I recommend The 40 Day Challenge for anyone who wants to develop a deeper relationship with God and create a more Christ centered life.


Monday, May 27, 2013

Weed Eaters and Writing

You've heard of weed eaters or weed whackers. They get the edges of the yard that the mower just can't reach. And your yard looks that much nicer if you've cut the corners.

Photo by: lookcatalog, courtesy of Flickr
I finished the lawn mowing this morning, but haven't done any trimming or weed whacking yet. Frankly, I feel as if my husband should take on that job inasmuch as I am mowing. But the weed whacking hasn't happened yet. After the nice trim, I can still see long blades of grass reaching forth into the heavens around sprinkler heads and trees.

And it reminded me of something.

Photo by: The Scooter Guy, courtesy of Flickr

We can polish are writing until it shines. We can trim all those superfluous words until our words are crisp. But sometimes, we're not able to get to the grass around the sprinkler heads or trees simply because it's our work.

We may see it, like those long strands of grass, and yet, wonder how to fix it. We may not see it, or prefer not to do the extra work and allow those strands to grow. Whatever our excuse, there comes a time when all of the trimming needs to be done.

Are you celebrating Memorial Day today? Then have some fun. Take a break.

But tomorrow?

Get back to work.

Have a great day!


Friday, May 24, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Peace after Divorce

I haven't been through a divorce myself, but I wanted to read "Peace after Divorce" initially, to help me better understand my mother and daughter who have. And while this inspirational book answered many of my questions about holding on and letting go, I also found that many of the helps in "Peace after Divorce: Choosing Concrete Actions Rooted in Faith," would assist me in my own life.
Available at Amazon

Two of my favorite helps:
"Have a Peace Box--Write notes as prayer needs come to mind and put them in the box. Pull them out and talk to God about them daily."
"As crazy as it sounds to add one more thing to your list of things to do, talking with God can help ease your burden so that you may approach your day with a greater sense of calm."
Renee Smith Ettline has a beautiful way of expressing what we all feel no matter our path in life. She says, "You can't control all circumstances, but you can work within your reality to make your life better. You can exercise the power of choice to move in a positive direction. Furthermore, you can draw on the healing power of God to support and guide you along the way."
I love how Ettline shows through personal experience, the experiences of others, as well as her work in After Divorce Ministries, LLC, how to overcome the difficulties of divorce. I love how I feel empowered by her words.  Any person going through a divorce will be eager to take on the steps that she suggests to improve their life; and for those not experiencing divorce they can better understand those who have.
Ettline takes a struggling individual beyond just "getting through divorce." She doesn't just draw out the steps, she adds the emotion and testimony of God to extend the reader's learning and focus. Read a scripture. Answer some questions. Talk with God. Act. Going through a divorce is anything but easy, but with God's help, getting to the other side is possible.
I recommend this book for anyone going through divorce, and for their loved ones who really want to know what  going through a divorce is all about.
From the author:
Divorce changes your life. Whether you are dealing with a current divorce or the lingering impact of a past divorce, we congratulate you on your efforts to make your life better. We have each been through a divorce. We know the pain. We know that peace after divorce is possible.
Peace After Divorce: Choosing Concrete Actions Rooted in Faith is the result of a need we discovered when developing our divorce ministry. We wanted a book that would offer guidance, not just for getting through the immediacy of divorce, but also for moving beyond divorce. The book had to share real-life strategies as well as the power of God's love. When we did not find the book we wanted, we proceeded to write Peace After Divorce.
Field-tested in our After Divorce Ministries workshops, Peace After Divorce has proven effective in helping readers to move beyond a life defined by divorce. Chapters have short topical readings that make it easy to move through the book and to reflect on what you have read. Each reading in the book concludes with questions designed to help you apply concepts to your life. Scriptures add support. You cannot control all of the circumstances that come from your divorce, but you can work within your reality to make your life better.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Trust Me, You Will Be Published

After seven years of writing consistently, and that means every day even if it was for only 15 minutes, I wondered if I'd ever be published. All of it just seemed so difficult; the learning, the practicing, the editing, the rejections...

In my eighth year of writing I made my first sale. The sale was to The Ensign, an LDS magazine, and my short article was printed in the Random Sampler section; the place where readers share their experiences.

I was thrilled.

After that I continued to sell, but not as frequently as I would have liked. I'd sell an article one month, go two, and sell another. But mostly (dare I say it?) I was learning, and with the learning came many and varied opportunities to improve my work.

I received much criticism in the beginning, and much of it I didn't take in. But as the years went by, I got better at receiving criticism and my writing improved.

I published a book before I entered college in my 40s. I'd published with the local papers, written some articles for local magazines, had won some contests, but hadn't yet published a book.

But then it happened. A local publishing house accepted my book, "A River of Stones."

I was elated!

I was published.

But my story doesn't end there. I think it takes some grit to publish with a local publisher and then learn, through the years following, that what works for you personally is to go another route.

It wasn't easy for me to leave my publisher, because when I did I really wasn't sure what I was going to do. Would I find another publisher or publish on my own?

Honestly, I never wanted to be a self-published author. I thought the self-published crowd just didn't know how to write and so they had to publish their own works.

I was wrong.

As in all learning, I discovered that being published for me meant I no longer had to wait and see if a traditional publisher thought my book would sell because it was the right topic, the right length, the right voice....I could publish it myself.

Yes, you will be published if you continue to pursue your dream. Whether you decide on the traditional or self-published route, if you continue to work at what you love, you will be published. 

Photo by Melody Campbell, courtesy of Flickr
There's just no getting around it.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Say What? When You Get That Good 'Ole Rejection

For years I sent out query letters, manuscripts (both partial and complete) and spent time perfecting what I was sending out only to be told, "No thanks."

Sometimes the "no thanks" came in the form of a "form" letter. I wondered if the editor had even read my piece.

Less frequently came the form letter with a little handwritten note on it. My favorite: "Nice story, but not strong enough for a book." I still remember that phrase although it's been over 20 years since I received it.

And a few times I received a personal letter. In the letter were ideas on how to improve my manuscript; which I did, only to be told that the story "still doesn't work."

When my first book, A River of Stones, was published in 2002, I thought, "Well, I've finally made it!" What I didn't know was that I'd eventually buy the rights back to that book, change the cover, the price and a couple of mistakes later found within the book's pages.

Since beginning of Idea Creations Press, I've had plenty of opportunities to publish my own books and help others to write, edit and publish their own works through my business, but the thing that still gets me is those good 'ole rejection slips.

Today I primarily get them when I've received a less than favorable review. But I also still get them when a reader questions a sentence or paragraph in the editing phase of my creation. And some folks simply do not get what I write and miss the entire point of the story.

This has happened with Conquering Your Goliaths: A Parable of the Five Stones. Let's just say a person is ready for a story like this or they're not.

Because rejections come in many forms it's a good idea for every writer to develop a stiff upper lip, and at the same time not close off their heart to instruction. For some instruction is valuable, and some, I dare say, is not.

Keeping an open heart can hurt, but it also breathes in joy.

You know the times. When someone loves your work and gives you a five star rating on Amazon. When you get that letter back from the editor that says, "We want to publish your book." When the comments in that rejection letter may not all be negative, but they are personal and helpful. When someone who has purchased your book for themselves returns to the bookstore and buys books for a friend or two...

Did you receive a rejection today?

Is it a surprise to you?

Don't despair. Just remember to take it all in, discard the unnecessary, and allow the necessary to lift you to a higher writing plane.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Why eBooks?

Just 10 years ago, there wasn't a thing called eBooks. I know. What I delivered to my readers came in the form of a paperback, plain and simple. There just wasn't the eBook option.

Photo by: alienratt, courtesy of Flickr
Today, my eBooks double and often triple my paperback sales. And I love it! Though, I myself, read very little of the eBook variety, I know many folks who do, and I continue to produce eBooks for them.

If you're not quite sure if an eBook is the way you want to travel, consider these thoughts:

1. eBooks are cheaper to produce. Actually, if you do all of the work yourself, the cost is FREE. If you don't want to deal with trying to produce it yourself, consider hiring the service out. 
2. eBooks sell at a cheaper price; lots of readers like this because they can try out a new author for less cost than a typically priced paperback would incur.
3. eBooks are easier to carry with you, and you can carry an entire stack with you for very little trouble through an eReader such as Kindle.
4. eBooks are fun to give away as contest giveaways. Many writer and book lover blogs offer opportunties to have a contest where an eBook is given away to a lucky winner.
5. eBooks are easy to 'gift' to reviewers who would like to review your book.
6. Again, eBooks sell triple to paperbacks, so it's a good idea to have your eBook links placed wherever you write and advertise.

Even if you don't enjoy reading eBooks on a Kindle or Nook, (you prefer the smell and feel of a new book like I do) it's a good idea to have the option available for those who do.

Happy Writing!


Monday, May 20, 2013

Lost, Found and Lost Again: Making Sense of Your Writing Goals

I have many and varied writing goals, which I work on daily. Some of them are:

1. Write every day
2. Market
3. Read
Photo by: Kimme Ann, courtesy of Flickr
4. Edit

I also have brought on some new goals, since my writing business is continually growing, and I want to make sure I have daily time for

5. Clients, and that includes mentoring and editing their assignments.

You may be aware that I started a Friday Video post on this blog, but that I haven't kept up with it. Be prepared to see an occasional video from me here, but not necessarily on Friday, and probably not every week. For some reason I just had a tough time finding one that I really liked to post here.

Photo by: Angie Torres, courtesy of Flickr
Goals are meant to be used as direction but not always do they figure into your writing life. Such was the case with the weekly video, and I'm sorry if you liked it and will miss seeing it.

But be assured you will still receive writing tips, reviews, interviews and a bit of writing fun.

Some things are still required.

Making sense of your writing goals means being open to change and improvement, so be assured that I am always willing to take your ideas and implement the ones I see working on my site.

Happy Writing!


Friday, May 17, 2013

Taking the Garbage Out: Trash Writing

If your home is like mine, the garbage can is completely filled and spilling over before it is taken out.

I try to catch it before then.

When every eye in the household has obviously seen the problem and walked past it, I do the dreadful duty so that the food and containers don't end up on the floor.

Is your writing ever like that?

Photo by: Martin Stein, courtesy of Flickr
You may have thought from the title that I was going to talk about a certain type of writing, and I hope I haven't disappointed you, but trash writing (in my humble opinion) has more to do with leaky, smelly and dirty stuff that shouldn't be in your work in the first place and that's not necessarily because it's been hunkering down in the back room.

What I'm talking about here is garbage, that if removed from your manuscript, will clean up your work. What I'm talking about here is choosing flow over favorite sentences. Being willing to cut the first three chapters of your book because they're really not needed. (The story really begins in chapter 4). It means taking out a character, or improving upon those already spending time in your book. It means editing those things that may be beautifully written, but that need to be used in some other story, or dumped.

Photo by: drewgstephens, courtesy of Flickr
An over-full garbage can is a royal mess, but if the can is emptied frequently of garbage the room smells nice and the stress level of the major trash dumper is that much better.

Like taking out the garbage, editing for greater clarity will always be needed, but the task is that much easier if the trash dumper is willing to take the garbage out on a regular and frequent basis.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Weaving Your Story

When you write a story, whether that story is a short story or a novel, something important needs to take place to make your story cohesive and interesting to read.

And that thing is weaving.

Photo by: New Internationalist, courtesy of Flickr
Like a beautifully constructed rug of color, a story that is woven has two primary elements that are woven throughout the other colors or story elements.

And these two elements are:


One without the other simply would not work in any short story or novel; especially if you want the reader to continue your story and not stop at page one.

As part of my business is editing, allow me to share a few things I have learned from the authors I have edited.

First, the author is usually strong in either dialogue or setting, and this strength carries throughout the book.

Photo by: Avery Studio, courtesy of Flickr
Two, the weakness of the other will be shallow, yes, just like the shallow end of a great ocean. Where one is beautifully constructed, the other is considerably less so.

Three, many authors write in blocks. They may write a terrific dialogue scene (because this is their strength) then add a snippet of setting, and then there they are again, back to dialogue. Each area is separate and single, though both are in the same story.

Weaving the two simply means that with dialogue, you have setting, and with setting you have some dialogue and that you balance the two throughout your story or book. It can mean that you have quite a bit of setting, but that you break it up with dialogue or thought processes.

Here's an example:

George Mahooney hated flies.  They buzzed around his ears, and pecked leisurely at his withered flesh.  To swat them, was useless, and spent energy George didn’t have.  His movements were slower now that he was ninety.  His breath was heavy and tortured.

He arose from his bed, allowing the even breathing of his wife to whisper of past dreams in the already warming room.  They’d spent the majority of their lives here, making love, talking, and arguing about things George no longer remembered.

He kissed her once, taking in the cinnamon scent in her hair and skin.  She always smiled, even in her sleep, and George had always wondered why.

In moments she would awaken and the quiet of the morning would be replaced by her endless singing.  Her quiet hands would busy themselves in the kitchen.  She would make his breakfast: Oatmeal with milk, dry toast and butter, a glass of orange juice and a side order of cinnamon roll.

George walked barefoot into the living room and through the door to the front porch of their country home.  It was the absence of flies he noticed first in the warm August air.  He hadn’t looked at the clock, so he’d probably beaten them awake.

George smiled at his cleverness, and sat down on the old rocker.  He pushed himself forward, then backward, then forward again and watched the birds—they were brown and speckled with dusty tan—unlike the birds of yesterday that came every day in the summer to peck at his overgrown fruit trees (From The Awakening of George Mahooney, a short story).

Is there actual dialogue in this sample? No, but there is plenty of thought process, and that's what's important here.

Here's another example with obvious dialogue:

I nodded my head. Very slowly, Joshua released his hand from over my mouth. Spit had accumulated on his hand, and he wiped it against his Levi’s. I smiled inwardly.

“We’re going to play cowboys and Indians,” Luke reported. “You’re the squaw.”

“OK,” I said. “What do I do?”

Luke grinned, his large teeth glistening in the afternoon air. “Come with me,” he said. “I’m the chief.” He turned and strode away, Joshua sandwiching me between them.

I almost laughed. “You gonna take your shirt off?” I asked. Luke had already turned the corner and was probably getting set up for battle. “I don’t know of any Indians who wear shirts.”

“Good idea, squaw,” he said, reaching down with his pudgy fingers. He had the blue cloth over his face when I made my escape. I heard a second of grunting and got a brief glance at Joshua’s fat stomach bouncing before I burst free.

I dashed to the end of the lawn, turned the corner, and ran swiftly to the end of the street. There was no sound from my house. Evidently Joshua was still struggling to get his shirt off  (From, A River of Stones, a YA novel).

What's important here is that I've incorporated both dialogue (or thought processes) in both examples, though the examples are very different.

In my own writing I focus on weaving both setting and dialogue and sometimes have to return and add a bit more setting: dialogue is my strong point.

What's yours?


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Write When You Don't Feel Like It

I spent some time with a few authors last night sharing some of my marketing tips. What I noticed first upon entering the classroom was that everyone was engaged in what they were doing: critiquing. The focus on critiquing continued as I spoke with the students instructor, (not even a head bobbed in my direction) and this focus continued until it was time for my husband and I to speak.

Photo by: tnarik, courtesy of Flickr
I have been thinking about this focus on writing ever since.

It's easy as a writer to put aside writing endeavors, especially when you don't feel like writing, or editing, or critiquing. Even cleaning up the kitchen cupboards seems more rewarding. But when I write when I don't feel like it, the focus comes fairly quickly and soon enough I am in another world enjoying what I thought "in the previous moment" I didn't really care to do.  

Do you have the same issue? Do you find yourself putting off for tomorrow the joy you could find today in writing?

If so, let me know about it. What do you do to break free of the "not feeling like writing" feeling?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Crazy for Reviews

I have lately been eager to read new books and review them, primarily from authors who are searching like I am to get the word out. And the books I have been reading, for the most part, have been stunning!

Photo by: zimpenfish, courtesy of Flickr
I want to thank you for that. I also want to thank you for the assistance I have received in my own personal life to improve where I am weak and add to the strengths I have already gleaned.

If this sounds simplistic, it shouldn't. We all learn from each other and have our own take on spirituality, growth, trial, and that funny thing called love.

And I want to continue to learn from you.

Photo by: mtsofan, courtesy of Flickr
So if you have a book that fits in one or more of the categories below, please don't hesitate to drop me an email at:, and let me know about your book. If I am interested I will let you know.

Here's the list:

Children's picture books
Children's middle readers
YA novels
Adult novels with a spiritual or Christian theme

If your book receives either a 4 or 5 star from me, I will post it on my site for everyone to see!

And thank you for the sublime opportunity to review your book!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Notes from a Writer's Conference...

Saturday I returned from the Storymakers Conference in Provo. Had an opportunity to share and to learn. Here are a few things I took away that I've never heard before:

1. There is a 4th person in writing. We may be familiar with first and third, even with second, but fourth? Here's a snippet. "One can do what one does."

Photo by: Kendrick Martin, courtesy of Flickr
2. To sell more books: Write about something that people already know about, such as a time in history.

3. Want to develop your book into a film script? You need a logline: 2-3 sentences telling what your book is about, a title with irony, (and make the title short), characters that are strong and creative, dialogue that's real, a concept or world that you may not live in but can relate to, a three-act structure (including an intro, the journey with a dark point, and the climax or when the main character overcomes). Along with movie making, every story needs to end where it began and you need to "write it like you see it."

4. Consider boxed sets when you have created a series of three or more books. Brand them. Give them the same look.

5. Price your eBooks on Amazon at .99 cents during the week and higher on the weekend. Make some sales during the week when fewer writers are looking for books.

6. Trade book editing with someone who knows cover design. Save some money!

If you missed this years writer's conference in Provo, consider signing up for next year. This year the conference capped at 450 writers, next year they've decided on a new venue so that they can bring in 600 writers!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Writers Conference!

The time is nearing for the Storymakers Conference! If you haven't signed up yet to attend, now is the time to do so!

Check out the class options here:

I will be teaching on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. in the Aspen Room of the Provo Marriott Hotel.

I will, of course, have all of my books at the conference for sale, but I want you to pay special attention to this one. Every writer needs a quick, self-help book on getting their book or their future book out there!

I would love to sign a copy for you!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Get Real. What Being a Writer Really Means

It's time for a bit of reflection.

Yesterday, the house we wanted came through, and with all of the joy that comes when getting a new house, my next thoughts were, there's so much to do! Fortunately, I have almost a month.

A month!

In the process of moving, I will also be writing, reviewing and doing a bit more than usual cleaning. And then there's the packing and stacking and waiting, because you're living somewhere, but suddenly your heart is no longer where you're currently at.

Being a writer is a bit like that I think. A bit like moving, because there is always work to do and sometimes you're really not sure what to go about doing first.

Still, at the very least I can show you my house.

See that smaller door to the left? That's where you will enter if you're coming for some writing assistance or a book you'd like edited or published. Cool, huh?

Being a writer has its ups and downs as well as its moves. In the beginning I thought I was going to be a journalist. Then I thought I was going to write fiction. And then I discovered I really liked nonfiction. So you never know the moves your writing might take you.

Just like moving into a new house.

Monday, May 6, 2013

What are You Writing Now? Blog Hop

I was tagged by Norma Gail Thurston Holman. Norma is a Bible teacher, and has just published her first Christian romance novel. You can find Norma here:
My Photo
Norma Gail

If you're a current reader of my blog, you might already know some of the answers to the questions I have been given. Even so, you may just find one or two gems that you didn't know about. So, go forth, and enjoy!
(I have tagged two authors at the end of this post. Make sure you check out their blogs!)
What Are You Writing Right Now? Blog Hop

1) What is the working title of your next book?
The Feast: A Parable of the Ring
2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
The Feast is book two of Conquering Your Goliaths: a Parable of the Five Stones, and takes off where the first book left off. What does Virginia do, now that she has the five stones and has overcome her trial? Is there more to consider besides Listening, Trust, Optimism, Tenacity and Constancy?
3) What genre does your book fall under?
The Feast is Christian fiction like the first.
4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
This is a tough one. And while Virginia and Richard might be easier to pin down, it would be hard to find a character to play God. I'm really not sure, but the characters would have to live godly lives themselves for movie consideration.
5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A married couple struggles to find a solution when they're not able to get pregnant.
6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
My book will be published through Idea Creations Press. 
7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Just a few months, but the story itself was writing itself for awhile.
8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Those who love books with symbolic meaning will love The Feast. If they enjoy reading Max Lucado or C.S. Lewis, they will see some intertwining of symbolism and life.
9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Virginia's story wasn't over. I felt as if I could take her further, and I felt as if something new could be achieved as she and Richard became a married couple. It's one thing to move forward in your life using the five stones as guideposts, but it's quite another to bring another person into the picture and expect to do the same thing.
10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
You're looking at a fun story, but it is often serious too, and reflective. I like the idea of reading a book for enjoyment, and, at the same time, taking a look at where I am in life and where I hope to be.
11) When you find yourself feeling lazy or ‘blocked’, how do you force yourself to get past it?
I have many methods that I have previously spoken about in my posts. My favorite is a book of magazine pictures that I use when I don't seem to have anything to write about. My second favorite method is going to another project where the ideas are flowing, and then going back to the 'blocked' story later. Usually things open up.
12) Where do you find your inspiration? How do you overcome writer’s block?
Inspiration is everywhere. On the computer. At the doctor's office. At the grocery store. I try to be open to whatever I experience in my life. Studying the scriptures helps me, as does prayer. And I find that if I'm open to others and what they have to share, I learn a lot too.
I don't often have writer's block because I've found ways to get through it quickly.

13) What’s the one piece of advice you would give a new writer?
I have said this one before, but I truly believe it. "Never give up, never surrender." It's important that once you decide that you're a writer, that you continue to do whatever it takes to continue, and that means everything; others not understanding that this is your career, and not just a hobby. Getting those rejection letters again and again and still having the wherewithal to move forward. Learning what needs to be learned even after someone says they don't like your writing or that your writing stinks, or that you really have no talent. (You can tell this by looks even more than by what people say).

14) Which author inspired you to become a writer: 2. How do you choose the subjects of your books? 

I wanted something to call my own. I wanted to be good at something. I don't know that I was inspired to write, at least not at first, but I felt the need to write. It was sort of like free therapy and creativity all rolled into one. If you want to know the whole story, maybe I'll share it sometime.
I write what I like to read; real people overcoming obstacles. Sometimes the subject chooses me.

15) Here's one: What is your daily writing schedule?

I usually write in the morning. I have a to-do list of my projects and cross them off as I either finish them, or tackle a portion that I've pre-determined to do. I forget things if they're not written down, and I like the idea of crossing things off.
16) How did you find the courage to let people see your personal inner thoughts?
The easiest way for me to share my thoughts is through fiction writing, so that's probably why I started with that. I could share my 'personal inner thoughts' without anyone really knowing they were my thoughts. My main character could share some of my beliefs without betraying me (though there were times people saw right through the character, and asked me if I really felt this way or that way). This was especially true of my first book, "A River of Stones."
17) How frequently do you write (hours per day or whatever)? How many drafts do you work through before you are satisfied? What is most difficult to write about, and why? Do women writers face any different challenges than men?
I write for a good portion of the day, in-between household and other duties. I have found that I can leave something and then return to it without too much grief. I write almost a daily blog, and usually have one or two book projects going on at the same time. I also do a good share of marketing.
When it comes to drafts, I do at least 3 before those critiquing my work see it. After that I do at least 2 more. I am rarely completely satisfied because I am continually finding something to improve, but there comes a time when I need to let the manuscript go and work towards other things.
For me, it would have to be setting. I get into the heads of my characters pretty well, but have a harder time describing the setting in which they are placed. I usually have to go back through a story and add setting to make the story stronger.
I don't think women writers face any different challenges than their male counterparts. But I think that used to be the case. I think we all struggle to be known, and to get readers to like us well enough that they want to continue with us as we put out additional books.

That's it! Thanks for reading! And now, for the tagging!
I am tagging two writers. The first is C. LaRene Hall. I have known Connie for quite a few years. I first met her at a League of Utah Writers meeting and we've been friends ever since. 

Connie's latest book is called, "Mary's Spyglass," and is written for the YA reader.
You can find her work at her blog:

See her post tomorrow, May 7th!


Jeanette S. Andersen writes YA fiction. She is a mom of 4 boys and works part time as a Mobile Merchandiser for beeLine jewelry and accessories.  She works and shows her supplies at Old Navy.  She is also an actress, photographer, fundraiser cordinator and a Jill of all trades. She likes doing many things and loves working with people.

You can find her blog at:

See her post tommorow, May 7th!

Friday, May 3, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Journaling with Jesus: How to Draw Closer to God

For readers who know me and my personal journey with what I've always called "scripture" journaling, you'll want to read Journaling with Jesus, an insightful, honest and refreshingly motivating nonfiction book by Carol Round.

If you've ever wanted to get closer to God through prayer, scripture study and journaling, then this book is for you. Journaling with Jesus is beautifully penned from the first word to the last, and gives adult readers an opportunity to see the power of prayer while they are developing a more intimate communication with God.

Round shares personal experiences that she has had with God through her journaling of the past 10 years. She also shares the experiences others have had with prayer journaling. She opens the way for readers of all faiths to experience prayer journaling for themselves.

Consider these insights:

"(Prayer journaling) is a relationship with God. I talk, He listens. He talks, I listen."

"...we write to grow, not to stay the same."

"I wasn't aware of God's plan to use my gifts and talents for His glory. Through my daily habit of journaling, He has made me appreciate the importance of letting Him shape and mold me into the woman He created me to be."

Journaling with Jesus is for anyone desiring to improve his/her relationship with God. Although this reader could see the direction of the book for women, primarily, the truths spoken of in Round's book will assist anyone with the desire for a deeper connection with God.

Discover the interest God has in you as His child. Feel the presence of God.

Carol Round's book can be purchased at Amazon.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Publishing Your Book of Poetry

Is poetry a dead language?

You might at first think so based on the lack of interest from the general public. Still, if you're a poet and you know it, it makes sense to write what you love and to find the readers that will appreciate what you have to offer.

So how do you do that?

I haven't written a book of poetry myself but I have spoken with plenty of authors who have. Those who have been the most successful have certain qualities in common. Allow me to list them in no particular order.

Photo by: Julie Jordan Scott, courtesy of Flickr
1. They know who they are and write what comes from their heart. They are less concerned about what is 'marketable' and more concerned about sharing who they are.

2. They publish their own books. Very, very few traditional publishers publish poetry. Why? Because they don't believe that poetry sells. I beg to differ. Publish your own work, and read down this list.

3. Their poetry books look professional. What that means to me is that if you decide to use a venue like CreateSpace, that you make sure that the interior of your book (the layout) is done right. Take a look at professional poetry books out there. How is the spacing in between stanzas? How is the pagination done? How is the book separated? (Are there various headings, and is there an index?)

4. Their cover is eyecatching. They'd done their research. CreateSpace has some professionally done book covers that you can choose from. Just add the text. (They don't worry about a hardbound book of poetry in the beginning, either).

5. They don't expect to sell many copies of their poetry books in bookstores, but check out gift shops, hair salons, craft stores--locally owned businesses. Set up some book signings, but don't expect them to garner in the most sales. Holiday boutiques will bring in much more! Don't be afraid to speak at conferences. Talk your book up, and do some poetry readings!!

6. If this is their first or second book of poetry, they keep it short. Most folks like a short book of poetry, especially if they're just getting to know a new poet. Besides, a shorter book means a less expensive price. Get in on the FREE Amazon release program and look for ways to promote your book of poetry that will cost you little or nothing. They are out there.

Publishing your book of poetry doesn't have to be a struggle, neither does it have to be a worry. Just get out there and have some fun!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Publishing a Picture Book?

After many years of writing, I have at least 15 picture book manuscripts that I've never published, though I've published some of them in smaller form like a short story.

Photo by: Enokson, courtesy of Flickr
What is it about publishing a picture book that's so difficult, you ask?

Well, let me tell you:

1. If you're publishing the book yourself, you need a fantastic illustrator. Did you now that the illustrator you choose is even more important than the words you have written? Let me tell you why. With a great text and poor illustrations, no one is going to read your book. With superb illustrations and a somewhat mediocre text, people will. It's the illustrations that make a picture book.

2. Getting a good illustrator will cost you. You'll be raking out at least $500 to get the work started, and finalizing the project at about $2,000 or so, depending again on the illustrator you choose. You may have already tried to hire your mother, your brother or your next door neighbor with disastrous results. You may have told them that you are interested in doing a 50/50 split, and they appear interested at first, but they are never really motivated enough to continue the project.

3. You quickly discover that publishing options such as CreateSpace, don't offer you the opportunity to create a picture book, and that other publishers out there who do, charge a mere fortune. Consider the great site, SnapFish. I have done a picture book with them, only to give to family members, mind you. The per book cost was between 15 and 20 dollars, though they did do a terrific job.

If you are feeling down in the mouth about the above realities, don't be. I figure my own books will get published when I get to that point in my writing career when I really want to invest in them. And that means I may be writing a few more YA and adult books before that point.

I have to be okay with that or go crazy. I have to be open to the right time for anything I do. Consider how many years it took before CreateSpace was even an option for self-publishing. Used to be a writer would have to buy a thousand copies or more of their book just to get them, and then the poor dears sat in the basement for years gathering dust.

No more. Who knows? Maybe we have just a few short years before CreateSpace or another venue takes on the picture book at a cost a writer doesn't have to save for years to be able to afford.

I'm open.