Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Still Waiting for the Cat

We were determined to get a new tabby last Saturday, but with my daughter's surgery and later complications, the search just didn't happen.

But she did get a cat scan yesterday at the hospital.

We talked to her about buying a cat and bringing it into the hospital to "scan" her since what was not happening at the hospital just made the wait feel that much longer. Why is it that it takes two hours or more to get a cat scan, and then two additional hours for the doctors to read it?

(You should know that there were 7 car accidents that happened while we were in the ER, and that may have had something to do with the wait).

The good news is that the news wasn't infection. It wasn't appendicitis. It was a bit of hemorrhaging that had stopped and was trying to heal.

Photo by: Chriss Pagani, courtesy of Flickr
We were allowed to leave the hospital late last night and my daughter slept comfortably the entire night. She is doing better this morning, and we are praying that things continue to move in a positive direction.

We may get the cat this Saturday, though we are all pretty tired of cat scans, abdominal pain, and other abnormalities. Can we include nurses?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Super Duper Stress Creator

When it comes to writing, what is your ultimate super duper stress creator?

Is it coming up with the idea for your new book?

Is it writing that first draft?




Photo by: ladybugbkt, courtesy of Flickr

Anything that creates stress can block you from moving forward. Take it from me, if you also have life stresses occurring on a fairly frequent basis, you'll also have to figure out how to make your life work.

So how do you do it?

I am an avid believer in prayer; taking those moments to reflect and ponder about my life. I'm also fairly organized, and this helps when I find myself stressing about something I have little or no control over. Taking a break helps, too.

Today I made banana bread with the grand-children.

Tomorrow I might decide to take a walk.

Photo by:
rkleine, courtesy of Flickr
If your day feels too full (and some days what you can handle is less than what you can handle on other days) be aware of yourself enough to let go of what really doesn't matter.

And keep smiling.

Monday, July 29, 2013


How can one brief encounter change the course of your life?
Find out the answer to this question and more in my interview with Shawn Inmon
Tell me about yourself. What got you started in writing?

I was lucky to get an early start on things when my mom took it upon herself to teach me to read when I was only two and a half. I was reading chapter books by the time I started kindergarten. My “first book” came about age five when I sat down at my parent’s old Royal manual typewriter and copied Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham” one word at a time. I hope I don’t get into a plagiarism scandal, now that I’ve admitted that!

When I was a teenager, I wrote stories all the time and was sure that was what I was going to do when I grew up. Then life and the reality of having to earn a living hit and I stopped writing for decades.
It wasn’t until something stupendous happened to me that I realized I had to write it down, and that was when I ran into my first love completely by accident in 2006. We had been forcibly separated in 1979, and hadn’t spoken to each other since. That meeting led me to write my first two books, “Feels Like the First Time” and “Both Sides Now.” 
How and where do you write? Do you prefer a lap top or do you prefer writing freehand?
I do almost all my writing sitting in an easy chair in our family room with my laptop sitting on a pillow on my lap, which is not the most ergonomic way to go about it. I use music and headphones to block out all distractions while I am writing.
I do something I haven’t heard of any other writer doing, which is that with each project, I pick out a single song and listen to it on a continuous loop the entire time I am writing that book. So, in writing “Both Sides Now,” I listened to “Whatever’s Written in Your Heart” by Gerry Rafferty over 700 times. For most people, I know that’s a shortcut to insanity, but it works in a Pavlovian way for me. Once I’ve heard it while writing often enough, as soon as I hear the opening notes, it helps my mind drop right back in the groove it was in when I left off.
I always write on my laptop. My thoughts jumble out way too quickly to try and keep up with longhand. I am a fairly quick typist, so I don’t have to spend a lot of time waiting for my fingers to keep up with my brain.
What’s your favorite part about writing? Your least favorite part about writing?
I love the sense of creation that comes through writing. I’ve heard that most writers dread looking at that first blank page, but because I mull things over for a long time before I write, I never feel that. All I feel is anticipation for the opportunity to tell another story. When I’m in the middle of a writing rush, with my subconscious handing me clues and connections I hadn’t planned in advance, it is one of the best feelings in the world – as though I am doing exactly what I am supposed to do.
I really don’t have a part of the process I dislike. I have a wonderful relationship with my “team” – my editor, cover designer and layout person – so I look forward to the process of working with them. I even enjoy the promoting aspect of being my own publisher. You’ll never see me Tweet or write a message on Facebook that says “Buy my book!” Instead, I look at social media as a chance to connect and interact with my readers, and I have been so fortunate to meet so many loyal readers so quickly in my writing career.

How do you come up with your characters? Why would readers want to get to know them?
My stories tend to be character-driven. Both “Feels Like the First Time” and “Both Sides Now” are non-fiction and so deal with real people, but I still took it upon myself to make sure that those real people came across as interesting, flaws and all. When I’m writing fiction, I might have a loose idea of what kind of story I want to write (say, a story of revenge) but it doesn’t come to life until I know who the characters are and what their motivations are. For instance, in my short story “Lucky Man,” I set up a scenario where two characters have a brief interlude together. One of them forgets about it immediately, but for the other, it changes her life and she spends 25 years plotting her revenge. In the short story format, I thought it was most interesting to focus on Brett Mann, who had forgotten what started things. Now I’m preparing to turn it into a novella and flesh out the story more and this story will focus on Mirela Marko, who takes her revenge on Brett, and delve into why she let one brief encounter change the entire path of her life.
I think people are interested in reading about people they can relate to, so that’s what I try to create. I do everything I can to avoid using clich├ęs in characterization, but instead make each person someone you want to read about to find out what happens in their life. No person thinks of themselves as a secondary character. We’re all the star of our own movie, right? I always keep that in mind when I am writing a story. They may not be our protagonist, but in their own eyes, the story is theirs.
What types of marketing do you do to promote your writing?
When I was first trying to get established, I enrolled my book in Amazon Select so that I would be able to give away free copies. It seems counter-intuitive to give away something you’ve worked so hard on, but it has been the key to becoming known for me. In the last twelve months, I’ve given away 90,000 copies of “Feels Like the First Time,” and that has led to getting a sizable number of reviews as well as building traffic to my blog and Facebook page.
I think the most important thing I am doing right now is building a mailing list of readers who want to know when my next book is coming out. Because Facebook and Twitter are in control of their own websites, they can decide to make it more difficult for me to reach my readers, but with my own list, I know I can always reach them. I try to do special things for readers on my mailing list, like giving them a 24 hour jump on the rest of the world when a new book comes out, sending out a free short story for the holidays, etc.

How do you schedule your writing time? When do you write?
Because I have a full-time career aside from writing (I am a real estate broker) I have to manage my writing time very carefully. I get up two hours earlier than I have to every morning and squeeze two more hours in each night. I am able to write at a pretty steady 750 words per hour, so those four hours per day net me out about 3,000 words per day, which allows me to complete a book in a month’s worth of writing time. That’s a pretty intense schedule, though, so I let myself take a month or two off in between books to re-charge my creative batteries.
What are you currently working on? Do you have a new book out?

My new book is “Both Sides Now” which I just released on July 9th. Writing it was a bit of a gamble, but it is paying off. It tells essentially the same story I told in “Feels Like the First Time” but from a completely different perspective. I am fascinated by the way you can look at an identical event in a different way and it has a totally different impact. To quote from “Feels Like the First Time,” – “perspective is everything.”


My Work in Progress is called “Rock ‘n Roll Heaven.” It is the story of a fictional small-time guitarist who is in an accident and dies early in the book and ends up in, you guessed it, rock ‘n roll heaven, where he meets Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, etc. Music is so important to me, and I’ve been carrying this story around me for 20 years, so I am finally putting it down on paper. I’m almost half done with it and it should be released in October.
Next up is an untitled romance (Okay, I know the title, but I’m not ready to announce it yet!) that will turn some of the romance book tropes on their ear a little bit. I want the skinny, nerdy boy to win the hand of the beautiful girl, probably because I was once that skinny, nerdy boy myself. I hope to have that one out in December, but January is probably more realistic.
I have at least my next three books after that all planned out and ready to write as soon as I get the time. I always have many more ideas than I have time to write.
Do you have a project on the back burner? Tell me about it.
“Rock ‘n Roll Heaven” has been on the back burner since 1993, so it was time to move that one to the front of the line. It is a labor of love, because I have been obsessed with the music of the 1950s and ‘60s all my life. Buddy Holly was my first musical idol. I was born exactly one year to the day after the crash that claimed his life.
I’m also looking forward to expanding “Lucky Man” into a longer form. The most common response I’ve gotten in reviews of that story is “More!” In its present form, there is a short prelude and then the story skips ahead 25 years. I’m really looking forward to telling the story of those middle years because I think that’s where all the drama really is.
What would you tell a beginning writer who wants to publish but doesn’t believe he/she has enough talent?

First, never let those niggling doubts hold you back. The best advice I have for any new writer is to do two things: read (a lot) and write (a lot.) I know how scary it can be to sit down to a blank page and think “I’m going to write a book,” so my advice is, don’t do that. Instead, think of a moment you’d like to write about, like your first kiss, or what it felt like the day you got your driver’s license or any of a million small moments in your life. Then pick another and write about that. Eventually, you might discern a pattern and see a book developing.
Feels Like the First Time” didn’t start as a book at all, but instead as a series of emails between my sister and I. It wasn’t until two years after those emails that she told me that they should be a book. In the end, she was right.

Thank you Shawn! You can learn more about Shawn at:

Friday, July 26, 2013

Healing in Writing

I recently returned from the hospital where my daughter had surgery. After getting her cozy and sleeping at home, I did the same. Life almost gets sucked out of you as you witness the pain of surgery in a loved one.

And I couldn't help it. The feelings that resurfaced as I tried my best to soothe my daughter's pain and fears, made room for those times when I've used healing in my own writing.

Photo by Travelling Steve, courtesy of Flickr
Yes, I have spoken about this subject before. But on a simple level, I find that writing daily, whether it be in my journal, in a blog post such as this one, or working on a writing project, gives me ample opportunity to reveal and heal what hurts.

Not that I want to tell folks everything. Some things are meant primarily for my journal, my best friend, or my mother. But then there are those times, like today, when I feel the need to share what hurts.

Pain can't always be loved away.
Sleep will escape even the most dedicated testers.
Not all nurses care.
Not all hospitals cater to your wishes.
Sometimes you yell.
Sometimes you cry.
And sometimes, it takes everything you've got to get through it.

So, best wishes and love to my daughter in pain. I wish I could take it.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Knowing Your Genre

Do you feel as if you know your genre? Do you feel as if you're grasping at straws when you write, hoping that what you put out in the fantasy, Christian fiction, or YA genre is correct? Do you hope you are doing it right?

Photo by: Ben Oh, courtesy of Flickr

Straw grasping may work for getting a soda at the local McDonald's, but it doesn't work when you're trying to create a real world on another planet without having read any other fantasy authors who have dealt with the subject.

What about writing YA, when you have a difficult time relating to teenagers? What if you're unaware of the current lingo or concerns today's teenagers are facing?

What if you're writing a historical fiction book without doing any research?

Writing a mystery novel is different from writing even a fantasy novel.

And writing for children is different from writing for adults.

If you're feeling a little shaky....

1. Learn from novelists that write in your genre. That means reading their books and taking their classes.

2. Take time out to smell the roses. If you don't have children of your own and want to write for this age group, for example, offer to do some babysitting, make some time to go to a park and observe, take a visit to the zoo. Ask questions of your nieces of nephews. Take them overnight.

3. Study. Study the craft of writing as well as the genre in which you want to write.

4. Practice. You may find through your writing that what you thought was your strong point (general fiction) is in fact (fantasy). You learn what you're good at by writing and that includes writing exercises and writing prompts.

5. Don't guess. If you're not sure what the capitol of Oregon is, don't guess. Look it up.

6. Have readers who read your genre on a regular basis read your book before it goes to print. Listen to their concerns. Makes some editing decisions to improve your work.
Photo by: panduh, courtesy of Flickr

Above all, don't give up. Knowing your genre is a bit like knowing how to mow the lawn or weed the garden. It takes some training, dedication and experience to turn the average, stumbling effort into something truly beautiful.

Monday, July 22, 2013

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Deanie Humphrys-Dunne

Love horses?
Then you'll want to read on.

Peach & Deanie
Tell me about yourself. What got you started in writing?
I had been looking for an office job, without success. One morning, I had a strong intuition to write my autobiography, with the goal of inspiring children. I wrote my first book, Tails of Sweetbrier because I wanted to show children that anything is possible if you persevere. Tails of Sweetbrier is now on Kindle in it’s second edition.

How and where do you write? Do you prefer a lap top or do you prefer writing freehand?

I have a desktop, and I prefer using it, rather than free hand. I find that with so many revisions, it works out well. Usually, I write something, but the next morning, I think improvements are in order!

 What's your favorite part about writing? Your least favorite part about writing?

Editing is fun, because then many of the basic ideas are on paper. It’s always a challenge to decide the best course of action to take so that the characters are entertaining, but believable. I think the most difficult part of writing is coming up with original ideas for children’s stories. It’s important to me that all the stories contain important life lessons for children.

How do you come up with your characters? Why would readers want to get to know them?

Since I grew up with horses, I like to write about them. Once I determine the message, or messages I want to convey, I can plan the best way to make the story fun and educational for children. For example, in Charlene the Star, Charlene is a beautiful red horse, who comes from a family of famous racehorses. But Charlene goes to great lengths to show her trainers racing is just not her forte. She has tantrums on the racetrack.  She yawns while she’s racing. The story is told from Charlene’s point of view so readers learn about her amusing thoughts and actions. Readers will learn that it’s okay if you have different God-given gifts than your friends. In the sequel, Charlene the Star and Hattie’s Heroes, Charlene and her friends show the value of friendship and team-work when they start their own business to coach other horses.

What types of marketing do you do to promote your writing?

I have a blog called “Thoughts and Ideas of Deanie Humphrys-Dunne.” I offer writing hints, interesting facts about horses, and news about my books. I use twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. My books are also promoted by Geri Ahearn.

How do you schedule your writing time? When do you write?

I spend as much time as I can writing, whether it involves working on my blog or  a new story. I write at various times during the day, depending on what other things are happening on a particular day. In my view, writing is like anything else; the more effort you put into it, the more proficient you become.

What are you currently working on? Do you have a new book out?

My sister, Holly Humphrys-Bajaj, creates amazing illustrations for all of our books. We are working on illustrations for a new book called Charlene the Star and Bentley Bulldog. Holly has also created all of the book covers for our books.

Do you have a project on the back burner? Tell me about it.

I’ve just begun a story about a little sports car named Margaret. In reality, my husband’s MG sports car is named Margaret. In the story, Margaret is very shy. She has various mechanical issues that need to be solved. I’m planning some exciting adventures for her.

What would you tell a beginning writer who wants to publish but doesn't believe he/she has enough talent?

I can certainly relate to those feelings! When I was writing my first book, Tails of Sweetbrier, I was petrified that it wouldn’t be accepted. But then I remembered advice that my dad always gave. He said to consider the worst that could happen and then plan your actions. With that in mind, I decided that if the story wasn’t accepted, the world would likely still be turning on it’s axis. I would only need to do some improvements and start again. I would tell any prospective author that you never know what you can do unless you try. You’ll probably astonish yourself with what you can accomplish. You should follow your passions, and listen to your intuitions. If your dream is to become an author, then pursue it! I would say you should also surround yourself with people who support your goals. 

Thank you Deanie!
In addition to the books mentioned above, Deanie has also published:
Charlie the Horse, is a fictional story, told from Charlie's point of view. He dreams of becoming a famous racehorse like his dad, Charles the Great. But he has trouble concentrating on his work. He wonders if he has the talent to succeed. He's also Charlene's big brother so he plays a role in Charlene the Star.
Get in touch with Deanie!

My Facebook page: Children’s Author, Deanie Humphrys-Dunne

Pinterest: Deanie H. Dunne

Twitter: @ Hollyssis






Friday, July 19, 2013

What Reunions Can Do for Your Writing Career

Beginning tonight with a dinner, the Tolman family will have officially started their reunion.

We were going to travel to Idaho, visit some of my father's old haunts, but decided to keep the reunion in town. That way we could get more family involvement as well as keep the reunion close to home. We have some of our family arriving from out of state, but more of us are here, and we have more fun going than a family could ever desire to do when it comes to entertainment.

Photo by: Purduepete, courtesy of Flickr
A well needed break.

As much as I love writing, we all need one. Not only because, as writers, we must get out of the house occasionally and drum up new writing material, but because we all need a respite from our writing career, even though we love it.

Something happens to a person who allows for moments of fun and reflection. Who takes the break when offered. Who knows that he/she will be a better writer because he/she has taken a break.

Sure, I'm patting myself on the back, because it's not easy for me to take a break. I get so involved in writing and marketing, that days can go by without me taking a breath of fresh air.

Photo by: ukgardenphotos, courtesy of Flickr
And then one day it hits me.

I either get physically sick, like I was this week, or I stop to smell the roses. You remember what they are. Those prickly stemmed tender blooms that open in almost every color imaginable.

Imagine that.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Getting the Road Paved: What May Stop Your Writing

On Monday we're getting our road slurry sealed. If any of you have ever had that done, you'll know it is a total inconvenience. From 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. we are asked, no commanded, to move our cars off the street. If we don't, they will come knocking on our door. If we're not home the police will feel the need to move our vehicles themselves. And you know what that means.

Photo by: warrenski, courtesy of Flickr

No sprinklers on the day of slurry either. If your lawn needs to be watered, too bad, you'll have to wait a day. And if it rains? Well, they'll just pick a different day for you to be inconvenienced.

It just so happens that a friend of mine, who has never been to my new home, and who will be meeting me at my place for lunch, will have a tough time getting to it. Not only does she have to park her car on a different street, she has to walk down the street to get to my house.

Since getting the notice taped to my door, (yesterday) I have thought some about other inconveniences I have dealt with this week. Getting sick with the flu, and having to run to the store for a last-minute purchase, to name a couple.

No one likes to be inconvenienced.

Especially writers.

Take, for example, a writer who has almost finished with the first draft of her book, and then suddenly, can't find it located on the computer. A writer that feels that it's not fair to have to wait 8 years to have her first bit of writing published. A writer who must wait 3-6 months for an acceptance or rejection letter. Children that make noise that the writer must work around. The list could go on and on...

And it does. I am the writer mentioned above. All of these things and more have occurred in my life, and, like getting slurry on a road, may cause me to just give up. But I haven't.

Barriers for you may include:

I have a full-time job and don't have time to write.
I keep getting rejection letters. I need to make a sale!

Get my drift?

Photo by: Dino ahmad ali, courtesy of Flickr

There are many things that may stop us from writing. And like an old road that is due for some slurry, we may feel as if all we can do is stand by and let life happen.

Let life happen?

I'll have you know, that my friend and I are still going out to eat.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Cat and My Normal Writing Routine

We are in the process of purchasing a new cat.

We haven't had a cat for awhile, because we were renting, and you know how landlords (many of them) don't allow pets.

Photo by: Mya Jamila, courtesy of Flickr
Now we're in our own home.

We promised our granddaughter that once the floors were done we'd get a cat, the main idea being getting any new pet takes some work and we didn't want to be knee deep in flooring when the cat arrived.

This morning she asked me, "So grandma, are the floors done yet?" She walked around pointing to the spots that weren't. She already knew the answer.

She told me she wanted a striped cat. My grandson added, "One like Garfield."

It seemed a good choice.

I started to think about all of the things we needed: a water dish, a food dish, a leash, cat toys, a kitty litter box, litter...

My husband said, "Remember, the cat will be a downstairs cat."

I envisioned a stop sign at the top of the stairs.

Photo by: Arlette, courtesy of Flickr

"I don't think he'll stay there," I said. "He'll have to be trained."

He smiled and we decided on a week from this Saturday. It seemed a good time, one in which we'd all be home to take care of the new kitty.

I thought about all of the time I spent writing, and hoped an addition to the family wouldn't cause too much initial grief. I wondered what the new striped cat would think about our home, about our work, about our cooking habits.

Would he be satisfied with his food? His sleeping quarters (downstairs)? The noise of the children?

I imagined a well-adjusted cat, one that slept a lot and didn't go for marking his territory or using the new blinds as a scratching post. A short-haired cat would be best, one that didn't leave cat hair everywhere I didn't want it.

I realized, that even if the cat was better adjusted than I was, I'd need to make an adjustment on my writing; if only to remind him that the potty was in the basement.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Keeping Your Eyes Wide Open: Using Past, Present Tense, or Both

As many of you know I have a publishing business. Editing is one of the services provided, and this includes line by line as well as plot, characterization and so forth. It may even include whether you should be using past or present tense as an author.

Because I am open to doing what works, I often use present tense. Present tense is more immediate, while past tense is sort of reflection oriented, like getting a hold of an old journal and finally reading its contents. Some writers mix the tenses, and this works for them, especially if they're writing in present tense and want to share something that happened in the past.

But what about writing in past tense, and talking about something that is happening now?

Photo by: skampy, courtesy of Flickr
A tough cookie.

I like what Tabitha Olson has to say on her blog, "Writer Musings."

"When a story is told in past tense, the main character has had some time to reflect and perhaps understand what happened on a deeper level. Sometimes it changes the way she currently thinks, and sometimes it doesn’t. And it’s perfectly fine to include her current feelings on things that happened in her story.

Basically, you can follow this rule of thumb: if it’s still true in your character’s present, then you can write it in present tense even if your story is in past tense."

I think, as writers, we need to be open to what works for our style of writing as well as the tone we want to convey.

If we begin our fantasy story in present tense, for example, believing that the story will be more immediate to our readers and closer to their hearts, we may feel a need to change it later on simply because we find the present tense stunting the flow of our words. We may find, that in this particular case, past tense gives readers more of the old-time feel that we were really searching for.

And that's great, because until our book is published, we're still working on fine tuning it to GREAT, right?


Monday, July 15, 2013


Well, my post to get some interviews has gone well. Here's the first of a series you should expect to see each Monday until at least August 12. (If you're still interested in having me interview you, please let me know by emailing me at:

Now, to the interview. I started with Lin because she's a good friend of mine and because she believes, like I do, in helping writers out.

My Photo
Lin Floyd 
Enjoy the interview!

Tell me about yourself. What got you started in writing?
I’m a retired school librarian who loves reading, books and writing especially non-fiction books as a
source of learning about any topic of interest. Throughout my life I’ve written many family histories

in my pursuit of genealogy research.  After my retirement, I‘ve had more time for writing and
developing my talents in this area. I joined several local writing groups: Heritage Writer’s Guild-part
of the League of Utah Writers and Dixie Poets-a chapter of the  Utah State Poetry Society. I teach
community education classes on writing your life story, poetry, and finding your voice through
writing. I’ve blogged daily for the last 6 years and write a weekly column for the Senior Sampler
newspaper in St. George. See my blog at 

How and where do you write? Do you prefer a lap top or do you prefer writing freehand?
I mostly write on my desktop or laptop computer. Although if an idea comes while I’m away from my computer, I carry a little notebook in my purse to jot down the idea before it’s gone. I find sometimes that I wake in the night with some of my best ideas and if I don’t quickly write them down, they are gone by!

What's your favorite part about writing? Your least favorite part about writing?
I love the creating part of writing, brainstorming a new idea for a different approach or hook to interest my reader. I enjoy writing a weekly column for a local newspaper with the pressure or deadline to come up with a different topic each week. My column is called LOOKING BACK... I’ve been writing it for four plus years now and have made several collections of my columns into books I’ve self published. More on that later. My least favorite part of writing is finalizing the editing and then the MARKETING!!!

How do you come up with your characters? Why would readers want to get to know them?
I write mainly non-fiction about real people who I find more fascinating than fictional characters.
Looking back at the good old days and comparing times and exploring differences in how we live our
lives now and then, capturing the contributions  and memories of my ancestors and family is
important to me as well as helping others find their voice through writing.
What types of marketing do you do to promote your writing?

I do a lot of marketing via my weekly columns and in local newspapers with press releases. I also teach community education classes and utilize my books to further the curriculum I teach. I have a blog where I sell my books through PayPal and also, book fairs, and regional writers conferences . Haven’t done any book signings yet. Just getting started.

How do you schedule your writing time?
I write everyday. As I’m retired, I would say writing is my number one hobby.
When do you write?
I write every morning, some afternoons and most evenings. Whenever an idea comes I’ll capture it on paper or on the computer. I also blog daily and find this a great place to store and explore ideas that I can later use in my writings, my columns, and books. No time for writer’s block.

What are you currently working on? Do you have a new book out?

I’m self publishing my fifth book: DISCOVER YOUR VOICE AFTER DIVORCE: Writing Workbook for Healing and Recovery. This book helps the reader explore the therapeutic benefits  of journaling through guided questions to discover his or her voice or authentic self after divorce. I take you through the steps of healing and recovery while sharing my journey through original free verse poetry. Don’t miss this opportunity to begin a more joyful, creative life filled with hope. Chapter headings include: What is Voice, Inner Voices, Act don’t React, Making New Dreams, Fill Your Well, Finding Hope, and Starting Again.

My other books are:

(1)            LOOKING BACK AT THE GOOD OLD DAYS-remembrances of my grandparents who lived in rural Utah-hunting pinenuts, outhouses, Saturday night baths, etc.

(2)            FIND YOUR VOICE: Write Your Life Story-contains help on how  to get started writing, plus editing and publishing tips as well as an example of chapters from my own life story.

(3)            NATURE NOTES FOR KIDS-an award winning collection of my children’s poems about animals. Won $750 prize from the Utah State Division of Arts and Museums, 2nd place for Juvenile books in 2011.

(4)            FAMILY HOME EVENINGS FOR EMPTY NESTERS AND SINGLES-a resource book of 52 lesson handouts, music and links to materials available online on the topics of gospel doctrine, family history, relationships, provident living and self improvement. Also available as an e-book from

Do you have a project on the back burner? Tell me about it.
My next project will be a collection of my nature photos taken throughout the years combined with my original free verse poetry. I’m planning a small coffee table type book in color. Another future book I also have in mind is a collection of my spiritual experiences I’ve had ‘throughout the years. Kind of a mini-biography, but focused on the spiritual aspects of my life-an inspirational book for all ages.

What would you tell a beginning writer who wants to publish but doesn't believe he/she has enough talent?
It’s important to find your passion or talent in life. If it’s writing, remember that it’s a skill that can always be developed and refined. Join a local writers group for critique help and ideas for improvement. Write everyday, any talent can be developed if you are willing to spend the time. Don’t take rejection of your manuscript or words personally, but learn from it to improve your writing. You can always write better. Pursue your passion.

Thanks, Lin!


Learn more about Lin at:



Friday, July 12, 2013

Picture Binders: When Writer's Block Strikes

They were old, but being old didn't matter.

One wore a suit and roughened brown boots; the other, his green and brown checkered jacket and gray pants. Leg warmers caressed his legs and fit into his boots. The second wore gloves and a hat. The first looked as though he'd just left the office. No gloves, no hat.

The snow was crisp against their feet and hard packed, and the skies were filled with white puffs, matching the mountain peaks. It was cold but they hardly new it.

It was the memories that kept them going; that made them strong enough to handle the old skis carried across their shoulders, that kept them dreaming...

Photo by: Jennanana, courtesy of Flickr
Okay, I had one of those mornings when I had no idea what to write, and so, rather than being mind blocked, I took out my binder of pictures and chose one.

I'm not saying that the above rendition of the two men is great, but it did open the pathways for me this morning. What was in one moment snow packed earth, is now melting and making room for writing.

Is it like that for you today?

If so, perhaps it's time to make your own picture binder. Just go through some old magazines, and choose some photos that strike you. I've got mine in plastic sleeves. Put them in a binder in no particular order.

One morning when the muse is gone, you can work through the writer's block quickly.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Keeping the Plot Straight

I don't know about you, but I'm sort of a "by the seat of my pants" writer. I have a new idea, think about it for a little while, and get started on my new book.

Problem is, I might be halfway through my book only to discover that the plot isn't working.

This has happened, but not recently.

Photo by: @Doug88888, courtesy of Flickr
A few years ago I attended a great class by a friend of mine. She laid out plot in an easy to understand fashion. But not only that, the plot ideas she shared were not heavy and didn't make me feel as if I'd be spending days on the plot without ever getting to write.

I may have shared this before, but in case you missed it, here it is again:

1. Who is your main character? Describe everything you can think of, from hair color to personality traits. Lay out your secondary characters.

2. Describe your main setting. Where does the main character live?

3. What is the problem of your main character? The problem needs to be large enough to take the character through the entire book.

4. What does your main character do early on in the story to try and fix his/her problem? Why doesn't it work?

5. What else does your main character try that doesn't work?

6. What else does your main character try that doesn't work?

7. What else does your main character try that doesn't work?

8. What else does your main character try that doesn't work? (These are not typos. You need to take your character through at least 5 issues that aren't resolved before he/she gets it).

9. Finally, what does your character finally do that works?

10. How does your book end? Is it a satisfying read without being obvious? (Sometimes I know this early on, at other times I am midway through the book before I know).

That's it! The main think is to have a strong character, one who struggles throughout your story before a final solution is made.

Here's an example from my book, A River of Stones.

Samantha's mother has just divorced. Her mother remarries a couple of years later and brings along a new husband and a new step-brother. Early on, Samantha tries to pretend everything is fine. She keeps herself busy with the neighborhood kids and tells her friends there is a vampire living up the street, among other things. The life of fantasy has become appealing.

But this doesn't work. Her father hasn't returned to visit, and she is angry at her mother. And so on...I could give away the entire plot but I want you to read the book. Suffice is to say that Samantha, (and no one else) discovers how to make her life good after the divorce and subsequent re-marriage of her mother. I don't believe the end is obvious, and the reader is left feeling as if the ending is as it should be.

Does this help?

Keeping the plot straight doesn't have to be difficult if you keep the main issues in line. And it helps to write a bit of information down to keep you straight before you begin.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Looking for Interviews

I have started some new things this year on this blog. I tried a Friday video, which, I found after a couple of posts, really wasn't working.

I started some reviews; which I have to say I enjoy, though I have recently discovered that saying yes to too many people at once just adds to the stress. I have backed up a bit. You should see my review of Memory Lake, soon.

Another thing I've tried is an author interview segment. Trust me, with all that I have going, it hasn't always been easy to keep this one going.

Photo by: koalazymonkey, courtesy of Flickr
And so I'm asking for help.

If you're a published author and want to be interviewed on my site, please drop me a note at: Keep in mind that I interview family oriented writers. I don't want to post anything on my site that doesn't reflect family values.

That said, please feel free to contact me.

Interviews are one of the ways an author gets the word out about what they write, and I love getting to know new people!



Tuesday, July 9, 2013

I'm All for More Reviews!!

Getting sick of it yet?

All those reviews that keep coming your way?

You may be sick of me telling you about them, but I'm happy to report I'm at 25 for Marketing Your Book on a Budget! If you haven't read a single solitary one of my reviews yet, here's yet another plug to do so.

And if you haven't purchased my book yet, well...

That being said, I have learned some important stuff when it comes to improving my book for the 2014 version. Some have been baffled because my chapters are so short. Others have wondered where my marketing plan is in all of this fun information.

Can I be honest?

I really didn't have a marketing plan.

Now, before you click me off right here and now, allow me to explain. Marketing Your Book on a Budget came about as I tried new ideas and re-experienced old ones. I didn't have a marketing plan because I had no idea how to set one up. I read some stuff on how to do it, of course, but everything was so heavy I didn't want to begin.

So, during the course of getting my newest reviews the last week or so, I came to realize something. I now had a marketing plan! It was created through my experiences of the last 2 years and will be a part of Marketing Your Book on a Budget 2014.

Now, don't get scared. This marketing plan will be the simplest, least draining plan you will have ever seen. You will still have time to write and go out to eat and spend time with your family.

You want a hint?

Well, okay. Put book reviews at the top of your list. Follow book reviews with social networking.
I have seen the greatest personal success within these two areas alone. 

Want more?

You'll just have to read the book.

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Oreo Effect: Is There a Way to Speed up the Publishing Process?

When I tell fellow writers that it took me 8 long years of daily writing before I published for the first time, many can't believe it. Others, on their own long journey to that first publishing gig, just smile.

They understand.

A writer must be aware of and know how to pen various writing nuances. For example, a writer must know how to write believable characters. Out of their mouths must come natural sounding dialogue in a setting that appears real, even if it's on some faraway planet. A writer must know about plot, what makes fine plot, and what doesn't, where to get ideas and how to keep writing even when they don't feel like it.

Is there a way to speed things up?

One of the best ways to know how you're doing today is to have a fellow writer, an avid reader (not in your family) or a writing mentor that can show you what you're doing right and what you need to work on. The more feedback you receive, especially early on, the more likely you'll be to speed up the process to publication because you will quickly weed out what simply doesn't work.

Another good way to speed up the publishing process is to write every day. Interspersed with writing comes reading writing books and attending conferences to learn new skills, but even then, writing every day for at least an hour a day will do wonders that listening to a great speaker will never do.

Photo by: mihoda, courtesy of Flickr
Taking criticism is only good if it's valid criticism; criticism that helps you instead of hurting you. If you find that criticism only tends to keep you from writing, take on another reader; someone who can show you what they like about your work. Someone who can also talk to you about the problem areas without making you want to storm out of the room.

I call this the Oreo Effect.

An Oreo has two black chocolate cookie sides that keep safe the inside white stuff. Without the cookie sides, the white fluff is open to the world. The white stuff is the struggles you have with writing. The black chocolate is the positive stuff that keeps you grounded. If someone who reads your work can start out with a positive, something that you do naturally such as great dialogue or perfect setting, then it's far easier to take in the white problem such as poor sentence construction or a flawed plot. Ending the conversation with something else positive, helps the writer to go on.

Now, I realize you're probably the writer and not the reader reading this post, so you might want to pass the Oreo Effect on to someone you trust.

This trusted someone can share with you what's working, what isn't, and end the conversation with a positive so that you can move forward.

The first story I wrote was terrible, but I didn't know that. I gave copies of the story to my relatives who gratefully placed it on their bookshelves. I only learned later that they thought my work was pretty bad. But no one told me. As I continued, I got some feedback from others. I joined a writer's group and this really helped me to hone my craft. I listened, sometimes, to the feedback, sometimes not. But the greatest thing I ever did for myself was to continue writing, even when the criticism was great and I thought I'd never be a good writer.

I didn't often get the Oreo Effect, but when I did, it make all the difference.

Sure, it took me 8 years. But the publishing process could have taken me much longer if I hadn't learned that writing every day, learning all I could about writing, and taking heed to much of the criticism I received, would get me a sale less than 10 years after I'd first begun.