Thursday, January 21, 2010

Finding the Time

Many people ask authors how they find the time to write. The truth is, most authors don't have time to write. They have to make time. There is always something that is sacrificed. For me this has been sleep. I used to get up at 4am and write for an hour or two before the kids got up. After a couple of weeks though, I cracked and started yelling at everybody in sight and so my husband said I couldn't do that any more. Then I discovered a secret. If you put first things first, such as family and the gospel, the Lord actually gives you extra time to write.

This has happened to me so many times. I will do everything I am supposed to for my family and my calling, and though it should be impossible, the Lord gives me some extra time in my day to write. And not only that...I write better than I do when I'm trying to force writing time into my day at the expense of what's important. I love this! It just goes to show how miracles and faith really work. And my quality of life is so much better when I enjoy what's most important in life. To me it is a personal miracle that shows how much the Lord loves us all.

Kersten Campbell
"Confessions of a Completely Insane Mother"

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Setting My Writing Goals for 2010

I was lucky enough to spend five years as Director of Education at a Sylvan Learning Center. During that time, I not only took care of all the administrative work, but I also often got the chance to teach at the table. Because I never had more than three students, those hours were most enjoyable.

One of the courses we offered was a Study Skills Program, and one of the components of that course was goal setting. I learned a lot from teaching about goals, and it was interesting to see the successes of the students who were willing to implement this component into their scholastic lives.

That was a lot of years ago, but four things about setting goals have stuck with me:

1. Goals need to be achievable.

2. Goals need to be measureable.

3. Long range goals need to be able to be broken down into short-term and intermediate-term goals, which in turn must be achievable and measureable.

4. Goals need to be written down and posted where they will be visible to the goal-setter constantly.

In our family we often tell the goal-setting story about my mother. On January 1, 1977, while on a self-improvement kick, Mom declared that she would read six uplifting religious books during the year. An avid reader, she read at least a book a week, but it was mostly fiction.

When the year was over, Mom had read nary a religious book. On January 1, 1978, she announced that this year, she was going to adjust her goal: she would read twelve uplifting, self-improvement books.

So much for being achievable.

With the four goal setting rules in mind, I’m writing down and posting my writing goals for 2010.

1. Blog at least once a week on Liz Sez and at least once a month on Make Me a Story, LDStorymaker’s writing-oriented blog.

2. Complete a new novel this year. This goal is broken down into these shorter-term goals.

A. Have the book completely blocked by January 31.

B. Have a detailed outline by February 28.

C. Have chapter thumbnails finished by March 31.

D. Write one complete chapter per week during April, May, June, July and August

E. After the manuscript sits for two months, re-write and edit during November.

Okay, folks. I think these goals are realistic and achievable, though it will take organization on my part.

The goals are printed in 48-point font and taped to the closet door in my office. If it works, by year's end I'll have a publisher-ready romance/intrigue.

I'm looking forward to it!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

"All the Stars in Heaven" by Michele Paige Holmes, Reviewed by Tristi Pinkston

Michele Paige Holmes burst on to the LDS fiction scene like a meteor shower with the release of her first novel, “Counting Stars,” which won a Whitney Award at the 2008 gala. Now she dazzles us with another book that is equally as good. “All the Stars in Heaven” takes Jay, a character from the first novel, and shows us what happens to him afterward.

Jay’s had a rough life. The woman he loved chose to marry someone else, he’s grown up thinking that his mother’s death was his fault, and he spent quite a long time addicted to drugs. Now he’s clean and attending law school, determined to put his life together and become the man he wants to be.

Sarah was raised by a domineering father who controlled her every move. Now that she’s in college, he sends a bodyguard with her to classes and doesn’t allow her any freedom at all. Her only escape is through music. While playing the piano on campus one day, she meets Jay, who is drawn to her composition. She finds Jay intriguing and wants to learn more about him, but her bodyguard puts the kibosh on the relationship before it even has a chance to start.

Just what will Sarah’s father do to keep her safe, and why does he feel this paranoid need to protect her? Why is Jay so determined to rescue her from her past? These questions, and the answers to them, create a story that is riveting, unique, and powerful. I sense another Whitney …

(This book was published in 2009 by Covenant Communications.)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Promoting "Clean" Books & a Contest

Note: For the sake of this post, "clean" = Cow, and "unclean" = Pig.

In the past few weeks, I've seen several promotions/discussions on the web related to Cow reads. I am so grateful for that--pardon the word--"exposure," because as someone who loves to read a book that doesn't make me blush or at worst, shut it because it's way too Pig, even though I like the story, I sometimes feel alone in the world. Where, oh where are all the readers and writers of Cow books? Can't we join forces? Make a mark in the world that says Cows are best?

I know we can. In fact, writing Cow books is one of the things groups like LDS Storymakers do very well. I am truly grateful to be part of them. But guess what? We're not alone. I've recently joined a "Clean Romance" group on Goodreads, and we're holding a celebration contest right now to commemorate reaching our 200 member goal. Hear that? 200 members! Cow readers ARE NOT alone. And for that matter, I think there just might be more Cows and less Pigs in the world than we think. All we have to do is find them, support them, and help them know they're not the only Cows, either. Here are the contest details as I posted them on The Write Blocks:

We have just reached 200 members on our Clean Romance Group on! To celebrate, we are having a drawing. More than 18 books have been put up as prizes--MISSING included--and all you have to do to enter is to become a member of the group. (A Goodreads membership is required, however, but it's free!) To be part of the giveaway, enter/join the Clean Romance Group (under the group--Books/Literature, then Romance) by January 10, 2010. The festivities will begin on January 11. See ya there!

Yes, one of the reasons I put up this post was I wanted to let you know about the Clean Reads contest, but what I mostly want to do is reiterate this truth: Cows, and those who seek Cows, are out there. As a writer trying to market my work, I've often felt crippled by the fact that I write Cow books. All the world loves Pigs, I thought, and Pigs won't accept Cows. I'm doomed to failure. But I was wrong. I know that now. And I celebrate.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Book Review - The Adventures of Hashbrown Winters by Frank L. Cole

"The Adventures of Hashbrown Winters" is the first offering from middle-grade novelist Frank L. Cole.

Hashbrown Winters is a boy with a problem. He didn't mean for it to happen, but he accidentally sort of squished the pet roach belonging to the school bully with his prize marble, and now that bully wants revenge. The only way for Hashbrown to gain safety is to seek out the school's mafia boss and beg for protection. He ultimately succeeds, but the way is left clear for a sequel, which will be released next week.

The story is geared to the younger reader, but is filled with hyperbole I think is best understood and appreciated by adults, so parents and children might enjoy reading the book together. The plots and schemes are rather clever and the book is definitely unique in its presentation.

I did have one slight issue - but I offer it with the understanding that I am not this book's target audience. Rather than being a middle-school-aged boy, I am a thirty-three-year-old woman, and so my perspective will be a bit different. But I wasn't really in to all the potty humor contained in the book. It was just over the top for me. But that being said, I know that some readers will find it hilarious. Personally, I best enjoyed the segments of wry humor that were not potty-related.

(This book was released in 2009 by Bonneville Books.)

Note: I received this book as a gift from the author in exchange for a review.

Friday, January 1, 2010

"Altared Plans" by Rebecca Cornish Talley, Reviewed by Tristi Pinkston

"Altared Plans"is the second book by LDS author Rebecca Cornish Talley and is the story of Caitlyn Moore, a young woman who is getting married in the temple. She's been in love with Justin since high school and knows she'll be the happiest woman alive, married to him. But when she gets to the temple and realizes she forgot her veil, it seems like a bad omen of things to come. Sure enough, Justin's parents arrive and break the news - he's not coming. He decided to return to the place where he served his mission and seek out a girl he met while he was there.

Caitlyn is devastated and decides she'll never fall in love again. It just hurts too much. But when she arrives back at BYU and is asked to serve as the "mom" for her single young adult family home evening group, it seems that fate has other ideas when she meets Travis, the group's "dad." Before long, she finds herself softening toward him ... and then he breaks her heart, too.

This book takes an interesting journey as we see Caitlyn at the start, a little self-absorbed and naive, learn and grow as she experiences trials and makes new friends. We see her learn to expand her horizons and the way she views the world until at the end, when we know she is ready to give her heart away. Talley's magic is in her dialogue - some of the narrative was a little stiff, but the dialogue was clever and I enjoyed the banter between the characters. This young adult novel will help strengthen your testimony of the importance of waiting for the right guy, and then making sure to marry him in the right place once you've found him.

(This book was published in 2009 by Bonneville Books.)