Thursday, December 15, 2011

Win Prizes and Support Our Authors

Win a Kindle and a bunch of other prizes by simply "liking", making a comment, or subscribing to some book series this week only at:

Several of our LDStoryMakers authors are featured and have written some terrific books that are avaialable for FREE at that site: Trina Boice, Heather Justesen, Tristi Pinkston, and Jonathan Thompson!

Tell all your friends to come support us and they can win a Kindle too!  The Big World Network is a new, cool web site where readers can get books for FREE, listen to the authors read each chapter, and win prizes!

Trina Boice

Friday, December 9, 2011

What Would A Celebrity Endorsement Do For YOUR Book?

by Trina Boice

Getting a famous celebrity to endorse your book could bring huge recognition and sales to your marketing efforts! But what if you don't know any famous movie stars or industry experts personally? No worries! Ask anyway! I've found that those who succeed in life are those who are persistent and brave....that's definitely true for authors too.

Here are some steps to consider while you're working up your courage:

1. Reach for the stars! Do a quick brainstorm of the celebrities or experts in your field and create a Wish List of everyone you would want to endorse your book or project. Think big. Of course, they should actually have something to do with your target audience, platform or subject matter.

2. Do your homework about each famous person on your list so that when you write to them you can mention something specific they did that inspired you.

3. Make it easy for the celebrity to say yes to your request for an endorsement or testimonial by showing them 2-3 quotes you've written ahead of time that they could choose from. Of course, don't offer the same quotes to everyone on your list; personalize them for each celeb. Offer to do a video or written testimonial for them to use on their web site.

4. Don't think of yourself as a little peon. Just be brave and ask! The worst that can happen is they'll say no. Most famous people love recognition and love to be quoted.

I found a cool web site that offers a paid membership access to celebrity contact information at They have all kinds of examples of regular 'ole people like us and how their books, products, and fundraisers earned a LOT more money when they were endorsed by famous people. Check it out! Your new BFF celebrity may be waiting...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Conference Registration is Open!

It's all so exciting ... the LDStorymakers 2012 Writers Conference is now open for registration. Because of space limitations, we are capping attendance at 450, so please, please register as soon as you are able so you don't miss out. In addition, our agent slots are filling up mega fast, so if you want to do a pitch session, hurry on over!

You can register here, and learn all about Storymakers here.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Learning from NaNoWriMo

Zig Zigler once said "If you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time."

That has applications in many realms of life, but I think it applies especially to writing.  During this National Novel Writing Month, I've realized just how important setting goals is. All of the other 11 months of the year, I just try to write what I can when I can. During November, I have a fixed mark that I'm shooting at and the target is set high. By setting my sights high, I try harder, I find more time, I put more effort into writing and lo and behold, I usually hit and exceed the mark.

The most important I have learned is that having a plan is like laying the track for a train. It takes a while to build, but once it is down, the vehicle can take a lot of cargo a long way quickly. 

I'm serious about writing and so in making my writing plan for 2012, I'm going to be thinking of ways of incorporating setting the mark high for all 12 months of the year. I hope that you'll chime in with your two cents. What did you learn from NaNoWriMo, and how has it affected your writing?

-Michael Young, ( author of "The Canticle Kingdom" and "The Last Archangel"

Saturday, November 19, 2011

I know you'll appreciate this

Trina Boice

This picture made me laugh out loud.  Since you're reading this blog, you're the kind of person who will think this is hilarious too.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Bitter Blessings Leaves a Sweet Taste

(Shirley) Thank you for coming to the cemetery today. Sorry about the rain, but at least we’ve got my big golf umbrella to stand under. I love the sound of rain. One thing I don’t love is reading cliché “conversion stories.” They make me want to gag on my Postum.
“Bitter Blessings” may be classified as a conversion story, but I think it is so much more. For one thing, it’s not sappy. It’s actually more like a delicious mystery, with a compelling twist that I did not see coming. Each character is true to their role, and the protagonist, Megan Randall (did I spell that last name right :o)?) is not a perfectly-picked-on Cinderella.
Thank goodness.
Megan has trials, indeed, with family deaths and trauma handed out to her right and left. She shoulders her load for a long time, but then finally breaks, just as a real human being (like me) might, and has to deal with added regret and sorrow. (Also just like me.)
But hold on! This book is not without its lighter moments. I had to laugh out loud when Megan’s friend, Adam, described some prom dresses he’d seen in a catalogue with a shudder and the words, “There was lace and big bows and poufy skirts.” Having raised six sons, I can just hear the perplexed and dismayed tone in his voice when uttering those words.
Well, well, look who’s coming. If it isn’t Christine Mehring herself. Look out for that headstone, Christine. Here, get under this umbrella with me.
(Christine) Hello, Shirley. I'm so glad you were willing to meet me here today. Most people get a little skeevy when they find out how much I enjoy walking in the cemetery but I think the atmosphere here is just dense with stories, and besides, it's quiet and people tend to leave you alone.
(Shirley) Especially if you're standing in one spot, reading headstones. Hey, I have to wonder, have you ever lost anyone close to you?
(Christine) Only my grandparents, all of whom were dear to me, and very elderly. So far, the rest of my family has been kind enough to stick around.
(Shirley) That is nice of them. Your description was so close to the heart that I’m curious just how this story developed in your wondrous little brain.
(Christine) I just have a slightly overdeveloped imagination. :) Actually, I start stories with what amounts to a couple of snapshots in my head - a beginning scene and an end. Watching my characters get from point A to point Z is what makes everything worthwhile. As the story developed, I realized I wanted to accomplish a couple of things with it. First, I wanted to write LDS YA fiction that would have appealed to me as a teenager. I read a lot as a kid, and I wanted to like LDS fiction, I really did, but I always left it feeling like, well, let's just say that Polly Perfect Protagonist and I didn't have much in common. Second, I wanted to explore how a "typical" LDS family would handle the need to share the gospel in a situation where they couldn't just bear a testimony or offer an invitation to church.
(Shirley) Well, it really worked. From the greenish thumb that sends tendrils through your book, I’m thinking that you probably have a fern at home, or did when you were a child. I loved your description of lying on the floor and looking up through the fern’s branches and feeling transported to another place. Are you quite the gardener?
(Christine) I am an outdoor gardener only. I've actually had my license to own houseplants revoked due to criminal neglect. My mother is the queen of houseplants and the ferns belong to her.
(Shirley) Hey, look, the sun’s coming out. Let me just move this umbrella… oh, sorry, I didn’t mean to dump that water down your neck. It’s almost like going swimming in the waters around French Polynesia, isn’t it? No? How do you know, have you ever been there?
(Christine) I haven't ever been there. My imaginary self is an accomplished sailor who spends at least half of each year blissfully island hopping. Unfortunately, my real self gets seasick in the bathtub. Maybe someday my imaginary self will tie me up, buy a boat, stock the hold with Dramamine and off we'll go. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
(Shirley) How are you at crossing your toes? Oh. Never mind. That makes your eyes cross, too. No matter. It’s so nice to feel the warmth of the sun and the warmth of love that you so skillfully wrote at the end of your novel. I do hope this cemetery doesn’t mean that this is the death of your writing career.
(Christine) I hope not. It certainly isn't the end of writing, or the end of killing characters off. I'm currently working on a murder mystery for the LDS adult market. It deals with a woman who comes back to her small hometown after a long absence just in time for the suspicious death of a person she used to know. I love complicated characters with buckets of motives, secret personal agendas, quirks, conflicts, doubts, and deeply held convictions. Mysteries seem to be my natural home. No matter which genre I choose to work in, there's always going to be a puzzle to solve.
(Shirley) Oh, look, our ride is here. Hm. There’s only one seat left up front. I’ll take it. You go ahead and ride in the back where you can stretch out. Go on, there’s plenty of room, all the coffins have been unloaded. That’s what you get for killing off your protagonist’s families. There you go. Nice and comfy? Good. Let’s go out to eat. What do you say to some good old all American hospital food?
(Christine) Sounds good to me. Can I have your jell-o?

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Whitney Awards - Nominate!

Have you heard about the Whitney Awards? Pull up a chair and let's chat.

In the national market, you have a ton of prestigious book awards that are presented every year. You've got the Caldecott and the Newbury for children's books, the Edgar for mystery books, the Nebula and the Hugo for sci-fi, etc. The Whitney Awards honor excellence in LDS fiction. Established in 2007 by author Robison Wells, the Whitneys were created to help raise the bar in LDS fiction and showcase all the things that are so amazing about this market. It's been exciting to see how awareness of high-quality LDS books has risen since the awards program was launched.

How does it work? Let's say you've read a book by an LDS author recently that you really enjoyed. You head on over to the Whitney site, click "nominate," and fill out the form. If the book was published in 2011, it is eligible for this year's award. If it was published before ... sorry, too late, so be mindful of publication dates when nominating. The book can be national or LDS, in any genre - just so long as the author is LDS. The nomination goes in to the committee, and if that book gets five nominations, it's considered an official nominee.

All official nominees are read by the Whitney judges, who select the five most outstanding books in each genre. Then the vote goes out to the Whitney Academy, made up of authors, bookstore owners, and other industry professionals. It really is an amazing process, and if you click here, you can learn more about it, and, in fact, explained a whole lot better than I can here.

I really appreciate the Whitney Award program because it gives LDS authors something amazing to shoot for and validation in a field where validation is sometimes hard to get.

I spoke with three of last year's Whitney winners about what it means to them to have received this award for their work.

Julie Wright, winner of Best Romance for her novel Cross My Heart, said, "Receiving the Whitney Award was a huge validation. There have been lots of times I wondered what I was doing trying to be a writer, and lots of times where quitting felt like a good idea. For that one night—that one shining moment, I knew I was where I was supposed to be, and doing what I was supposed to be doing. As I held that award in my hands, I was immensely glad I hadn’t given up."

Stephanie Black, who won Best Mystery/Suspense for her novel Cold as Ice, said, "Being an author involves ups and downs. Book accepted--yay! Bad review--sigh. Great review--yay! Disappointing sales--sigh. And so on. There will always be potholes in the road. But because of the Whitney Awards, I can treasure the knowledge that a group of industry professionals found my work to be good--even award-worthy. That knowledge is incredibly validating."

Annette Lyon, who won Best General Fiction for her novel Band of Sisters, said: "At (and after) the first Whitney Awards gala, I found myself crying like a little girl. I didn't win that night, although I'd been a finalist, but the tears weren't because I didn't get an award. They were because I caught the vision of what the Whitney program could be, and I felt overwhelmed and honored to have had a small part in the inception of something that would, I was sure, become wonderful and historic.

"Ever since Robison Wells first told me about his idea for an awards program--and each year since--I wanted to receive a Whitney of my own, to have my work be considered good enough to be recognized by my peers as the best in its genre. Those at the gala for the 2010 awards (held May 2011) know that I was a pretty much a blubbering mess when my name was read and I received my very own Whitney Award. It now sits atop my writing desk, and I look at it often--whether I'm questioning my ability and needing a shot in the arm or sometimes even when I'm in a great mood. I glance up and smile. That night will always be a significant memory for me. I'm grateful to all those who have and who continue to work for the program---and maybe I'll manage to snag another gorgeous award some day in the future.

"I love that the Whitneys are doing the two things Robison hoped they would: first, to spread the word and bring to light the best fiction by LDS writers, and second, to raise the bar, encouraging LDS writers to get better and better at their craft. I believe that in the five years the Whitneys have existed, the quality of literature in the LDS market in particular has continued to go up, and that is immensely gratifying."

It was completely awesome to be one of the presenters to give Annette her Whitney. L-R: Danyelle Ferguson, my co-presenter; Annette, holding the beautiful award, and me, with my eyes closed, apparently.

Although still somewhat small, the Whitney Awards have grown every year. Now headed by chairperson Josi S. Kilpack, they are heading into their fifth year, with nominations being accepted now for books published in 2011.

Please take a moment to think about the superlative novels you've read this year that were penned by LDS authors, then head over to the Whitney site to nominate them. You can nominate as many books as you like, all on the same form, even. Each and every nomination is tallied by the Whitney committee. You can do your part to bring LDS authors more into the spotlight and celebrate the good literature being created in this market. You have until midnight on December 31st, 2011, to nominate books written in 2011, so be thinking! Time is running out.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A New Way of Reading

By Trina Boice

Are you a die-hard page turner?  Do you love dog-eared pages and insist on touching actual paper when reading your favorite book or are you a converted fan of the new electronic readers?  Perhaps you use both. Now there's another way to read books...

I'm really excited about a new web site called which launches today!  They're featuring one of my new books, "How to Stay UP in a DOWN Economy: Saving and Earning Money From Home", but that's not the only reason why I'm excited.

Their goal is to change the way we read books and interact with authors online. On their web site they say "Think of us as a television network, but for literary series written in episodic format."   Sixteen books will be featured during this first season.  You can choose between either reading each week's episodes or listening to the audio versions.

Each day, two books are spotlighted, offering new episodes to enjoy.  Several of my author friends have been selected to participate in this first season's launch, so I know you're going to love their work and become addicted! I highly recommend Steven Booth, Tristi Pinkston, Heather Justesen, and Amanda Meuwissen.  I'm excited to get to know the other authors.  My episodes will be featured every Wednesday for 12 weeks. It's the only non-fiction book to be chosen for the series!

The audio chapters are also going to be made available on iTunes each day, and they're currently working on developing formats for the iPad and iPhone, so stay tuned!  You'll be able to interact with the author, write comments, and offer suggestions.  Many of the authors on the site have also been invited to record the audio of each chapter, so you get to meet new writers and hear their actual voices bring their words to life.

As an author, it doesn't matter to me how you read books, only that you do! There is a wonderful world of imagination and knowledge out there to discover!  The Big World Network hopes to create a new way of reading books and creating communities for authors and fans.  Did I mention that all of this is FREE? Check it out!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Remaining objective in a subjective world

When I set out to write my book The Hidden Sun, I did so with a message to convey. Though I have my minor in English, there could be books written on all I don't know about writing a book. However, through a lot of help and effort, I was able to get a good, technically clean version of The Hidden Sun released.

Though I can't speak for others, I dare say my desire to write a book was to share something with others. To that end, writing a book becomes a very personal experience, which in turn, you give to the masses to be judged.

As the reviews for my book came in, it became clear readers are extremely subjective. I recall in the movie The Dead Poet's Society a scene that made quite the impact on me. It is as follows:

Basically, someone with a PhD. invented a way to rate if a poem was good or not. The teacher disagrees and has the students rip out that part of the book.
In some of the reviews I've read not only for my book, but others, I believe there are those who rate books in a similar manner. And to that, I say, I feel sorry for them. In my opinion, the written word isn't to be measured with a ruler. To the opposite point of view, I do believe certain rules should be followed as to not alienate or insult your reader.

So, as authors, how do we remain objective about our work when it is "graded" (for lack of a better term) subjectively?

For me, one of the best exercises I did was to look at the reviews and pull out common threads. I share them with you now:

**On the unique names I used in The Hidden Sun:

"[One] thing that I found distracting was the use of strange names. Although very creative and sometimes beautiful, I found that trying to pronounce most of them drew me out of the story and was, at times, frustrating."

"Some of the names took some getting used to. I worked at different pronunciations until I felt comfortable with them."

"Though there are many uncommon names, a few which are hard to pronounce, I was able to stay on task with the storyline without missing a beat."

"I am a big fan of unique names, so seeing so many of them in this book excited me."

**On how long it took people to "get into" the book.

"It took getting through about the first 50 pages for me to be interested, a bit slow of an opening for my tastes."

"I wasn’t really sure what to expect from The Hidden Sun, but it sucked me in from the very beginning."

"The opening scene really humanized [Eliana] and I immediately began to care, even more so as she develops feelings for Rinan, her personal royal guardian."

"The very first thing I noticed while reading The Hidden Sun was that J. Lloyd Morgan knows how to draw in his readers. It didn't take long for me to become emotionally attached to the characters."

"I fell in love with Eliana and Rinan right away."

**On how people defined the book:

"The Hidden Sun is a delicately crafted fairy tale that both adults and young adults will find charming and intriguing."

"This novel's mix of fantasy and romance drew me in and kept me."

"It sounded kind of like a fantasy since it was set in a medieval-style kingdom, but when the book arrived in the mail I found out it wasn't. Even worse, as I started to read it, it began to look like a romance. Ugh."

"This might seem like a fantasy but it isn't, there isn't any magic nor even any fantastical creatures. It might seem like a romance, but it isn't that either, it really isn't too lovey-dovey despite relationships, marriage and family being the prime arena of conflict."

"This was a political intrigue book with interesting and enjoyable characters."

"Even though it didn’t have any magic or dragons or wizards or whatever, it still had that magical spark to it. It was magical without the magic."

**On people's response to the cover:

"The only thing that bugs me about this book is the cover. They should have a created a cover that would entice YA to read it."

"The cover fits in perfectly to the setting of the novel and what I imagine places in it to look like."

"The cover is pretty typical fare for a fantasy novel involving knights and kingdoms."

"It was a clean, wholesome book with a beautiful cover."

From all this, what do I take away from it? While I continue to learn to improve at my craft, I need to stay true to who I am and why I'm writing. If I'm writing just for the praise of others, I'll never be successful.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Start Your Engines!

Or get out your calendars ... or warm up your typing fingers ... whatever you need to do to get ready for registration for the Storymakers 2012 conference! That's right - registration starts in exactly one month from today, on December 1st, and you will want to be first in line!

The conference will take place May 3rd, 4th, and 5th of 2012 at the Provo Marriott Hotel. The Whitney Awards will take place the evening of the 5th at the same location - you can sign up to attend that as well. Just follow the step-by-step registration form and click the boxes to add the things you'd like to include.

We are so excited about our lineup of special guests for 2012. Our keynote speaker is Kevin J. Anderson, author of over 100 novels with over 200 million books in print in forty languages.

Also joining us are literary agents Holly Root, Molly O'Neill, Kathleen Ortiz, Michelle Wolfson, and Weronika Janczuk - all excited to attend and to meet with you one-on-one for pitch sessions. These slots are going to fill up fast, so I encourage you to register as close to the first day as possible so you don't miss out.

As always, we are planning fun, informative workshops to help you perfect your craft, learn how to market, get the ropes of the business, and most of all, light a fire within you to keep writing no matter what and see your dreams come true.

We're excited for this next year and hope you will be too! In fact, we'll be kicking off our annual "Show Your Love" contest in February for you to help us spread the word about the conference and for you to earn an incredible prize ... which will be announced shortly.

If you'd like to receive information about the conference as it is released, come "like" the conference page on Facebook.

And if you'd like to know more about our special keynote speaker and our amazing literary agents, click here to visit the conference page on the Storymaker website.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Amazon Frightens Publishers

 by Trina Boice

Amazon will soon be competing with the publishing houses that supply it: the company is set to publish 122 books this fall in both physical and e-book form. Amazon has signed deals already with self-help author Tim Ferriss and film director Penny Marshall, and is said to be aggressively targeting top authors.

“Publishers are terrified and don’t know what to do,” says Dennis Loy Johnson of Melville House. Amazon has hired publishing veteran Laurence Kirshbaum to run the operation, which will publish both fiction and nonfiction.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Withholding Information

This is my latest post from "Suspense Secrets." So, what do you think about this bit of advice from Mosaic Writing?

"Withholding pertinent character information can also build suspense."

The blogger goes on to give examples from the book Skellig by David Almonds, stating the author only reveals a particular character's description (early on in the book) and not his nature or even his name. I haven't read Skellig, so I'll take the blogger's word for it, but this bit of advice sounds intriguing to me. I suppose that's because I've been thinking a lot about beginnings lately, and I've read conflicting advice about initial character development. Some say to describe the MC so the reader is able to connect with him/her before the inciting incident actually happens, and others say to jump right in with the inciting incident and worry about descriptions, etc., later.

In reality, the blogger probably wasn't referring to beginnings at all, and was likely offering another example of stringing the reader along with crumbs of details or even misleading them with red herrings and misinterpreted information. And yet, I'm thinking about it in relation to beginnings. Your thoughts?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Online Support for Writers

                                                                  by Trina Boice

Writing can be a lonely task. It can be tricky to motivate yourself, and without proper feedback, it’s hard to know how to improve. Several websites already exist to encourage writers, through classes, workshops, online forums and more. Tomorrow, a new site called LitReactor adds its name to the list.

Created by the team who built Chuck Palahniuk‘s website, which itself has hosted writing classes and more, LitReactor uses a combination of engaging content and smart gaming mechanics to encourage writers to gain both new skills and new trusted friends.  Check it out!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Amazon Unites Readers and Authors In a New Way

by Trina Boice

Imagine being able to talk to the author of a book at the very moment you are reading it. Unless the author is your uncle sitting next to you at Thanksgiving dinner, the scenario seems unlikely. With today's cool technology, however, now it's a reality!

Amazon's new feature @author, allows readers to ask questions directly from their Kindles which are sent to the author's Twitter account, as well as to the writer's home page at Amazon! Amazon's cool new technology is aimed at creating a reader community online, focusing on Kindle titles.

While publishers worry that they will be cut out of the connection, authors are cheering for a chance to improve their brand and build a stronger fan following. If you've ever tried to write to an author through the publisher's contact information, you know that messages and questions to authors rarely get passed on. Now the relationship can be more intimate and even instant. Some publishers are still furious that anyone can sell their independent books online and make a fortune without their help. Amazon is truly changing the publishing industry.

John Locke (not the bald guy from "Lost", but a businessman who started writing Kindle novels and is the first author to sell more than a million ebooks online), recently signed an unusual contract with Simon & Schuster, which allows him to continue selling his ebooks while the publisher handles marketing and sales of the print versions. This unique deal is a perfect example of how the balance of power in the traditional publishing world has shifted, creating a need for both authors and publishers to adapt to new changes.

The @author feature is an expansion of Amazon's social-networking-style program for Kindle which invites readers to "follow" other readers and see which books they like and have commented on. Amazon is hoping that readers will answer questions for the authors as well and create a virtual hang-out on their site. Technology continues to bring together readers and authors in new ways. Any time more people are reading and talking about books is always a good thing!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Protecting Authors' Rights

Trina Boice

After a hard-fought battle to ensure the protection of American authors and publishers from extortionate foreign libel judgments, one New York-based scholar and researcher has secured the passage of the first law to achieve unanimous Congressional support this term.

Initated and promoted by Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld, the Securing the Protection of our Enduring and Established Constitutional Heritage Act (SPEECH Act) protects Americans from the enforcement of foreign libel judgments that do not meet American standards of constitutional protection for freedom of speech.

Faced with an internationally-publicized suit against her by a notorious libel tourist in 2004, Dr. Ehrenfeld was the first author to stand up against the phenomenon of libel tourism, a practice by which foreign libel plaintiffs sue American authors and publishers abroad solely in the attempt to suppress free speech in the United States.

Dr. Ehrenfeld’s initial efforts resulted in the passage of protective legislation in New York and in six other states, and have now reached her ultimate goal of extending those protections nationally.  Thanks Dr. Ehrenfeld!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Interesting Contrast in Literary News

                                                         by Trina Boice

Charles Dickens

I thought the following news reports this weekend about what's happening in the literary world were interesting. Are they a sign of what our culture has become or simply an odd juxtaposition of contrasting news stories?

For example, one news report stated that while Charles Dickens might have written that he wanted no “monument, memorial, or testimonial whatsoever” to be erected in his name, the UK‘s first ever statue of the great author is nonetheless set to be created next year to mark the bicentenary of his birth. Do you think he'll be rolling over in his grave or slightly pleased?

Designed by sculptor Martin Jennings, known for his bronzes of John Betjeman in St Pancras and of Philip Larkin in Hull, the statue will be placed in Guildhall Square in Portsmouth, the town of Dickens’s birth.

Another report that I found amusing said that a group of Franciscan friars furious at the theft of bibles from their church in Florence several days ago have taken the unusual step of praying for the thief to be struck down by diarrhea. Friars at the 15th century church of San Salvatore al Monte, which was a favorite of Michelangelo, were irritated when a rare and expensive bible disappeared from the lectern, and they flew off the handle when a replacement bible donated by a worshipper also went missing and within a few hours.

And finally, the concise Oxford English Dictionary (OED) just released its newest updates, The Daily Mirror reported. They include the word made famous by Sasha Baron Cohen‘s “Borat“: Mankini, as well as jeggings (leggings that look like jeans) and sexting (sending sexual text messages). Now would Charles Dickens being rolling over in his grave?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Engaging Readers in Your Writing

by Trina Boice

One of the things I love about writing books is that I get to meet other authors. I especially love getting to know creative fiction authors who think outside of the box. Many of my non-fiction books have become best-sellers, but writing engaging fiction seems way too hard to me.

A good author friend of mine, Steve Booth, has just started a new project that is really imaginative and engages readers in a new way. He's inviting readers to participate in a story as it unfolds online at:

Here is what he had to say on his latest blog post as he explains the project:
"Over the last several months, we have been working on a new way to present fantasy material on the web. Of course, there have been many excellent examples of storytelling – eBooks, multi-path stories, even full-blown, immersive role-paying games.

These all fall short, however, when it comes to one thing — engaging readers in the creative (and sometimes challenging) process of writing a story from scratch. What we thought would be very cool, interesting for all, and also instructive, is to actually create, under the watchful eye of an author, a short story, interactively, over a period of several weeks, and to let everyone have a chance to contribute and make suggestions about how it should go. In short — you get to do the fun stuff, and I have to do the work. We call it an ‘eStory’.

Each new iteration of the eStory will consist of two or more parallel story tracks, based on the suggestions and selections made by all those that wish to contribute. Thus, although I have a pretty good idea of where our tale will lead, it is in a very real sense ‘organic’ – how we get to our destination has not yet been determined.

SO… if you’re curious, if you’ve ever wondered how folks come up with these fantastical characters and worlds, please join us on our adventure. We’re calling it ‘The Legend of Talimar’. In addition, it will be possible for anyone to comment, critique, ask questions, and suggest alternative paths that might be interesting to follow.

After everyone has a chance to respond, we will create at least two, or perhaps more alternative paths for the story to take, like the waters in a stream parting around a rock. Later on, the two paths will rejoin the main plot of the story, but in the interim, new and interesting things will be revealed; things no one had suspected; things I never considered, perhaps!

After a number of installments (we're thinking like 10-12), we'll conclude the tale with a really cool climax and finale, and we'll provide some special secrets for those who also want to continue with the follow-on volume, Dark Talisman."

Go support my buddy and check out his fun project at:

Sunday, August 7, 2011

How To Write A Bestselling Book

                                                                  by Trina Boice

I recently attended an awesome webinar, hosted by bestselling author, Arielle Ford, and marketing guru, Mike Koenigs. Together, they talked about why some authors make it big, while so many other authors fail.

You can hear part of their discussion at: 

Because Arielle has worked all aspects of the industry (author, literary agent, publisher), she's definitely worth listening to. She talked about what publishers and agents really look for and what successful authors always do first. Do you want to know what that is?

The biggest take-away for me was to create a book with the end in mind or, in other words, start with the marketing first before you even begin to write. Publishers are looking for an author with a platform. A platform includes your "hook" and why your material is better than anyone else's, but also includes your fan base and how you can prove to a publisher that you already have "x" number of adoring fans who will buy your book the minute it hits store shelves. While we authors love to think our writing is all about the craft, publishing houses are more interested in the saleability of our work. Being an author also means having a head for business.

So here's a tip....begin branding yourself even if you haven't started writing that Great American Novel yet. Create a platform and name for yourself that will get people talking even before your book comes out. Publishers are looking to authors more and more to participate in the marketing process. Long gone are the days when an author handed over a manuscript and the publisher did all the rest of the work to bring the book to market. There is much an author can do to increase the success rate of her book.

Check out the following video to hear more about what Arielle has learned from her many successful years in the industry:

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Who Will Be the Next J.K. Rowling?

                                                                    by Trina Boice

I was out of town last weekend when Harry Potter opened in theaters, but I'm VERY excited to finally see the final installment of the wizardry masterpiece tonight! It's been a thrill to watch the characters and even the actors grow up right before our eyes. I'm a little hesitant, however. Will it live up to my expectations? Will I feel a satisfying closure or be left wanting? Have you seen it yet? What did you think? Who will be the next J.K Rowling of our day?

A dear friend of mine, whose first book will hit stores soon, shared his thoughts with me. His name is Steve Booth. He has the talent to be an inspiring author and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that everyone loves him as much as I do. He told me "It’s hard to over-estimate the impact of Harry Potter, both the book and the incredibly successful films. I personally believe that J.K. Rowling single-handedly redefined the meaning of the Young Adult Fiction universe. She was one of my initial inspirations in becoming an author, and several of her characters were the genesis for players in my book, Dark Talisman."

He felt the same anxious excitement about watching the final movie and said "It was, therefore, with a good deal of trepidation that I attended the final episode of the film series in my local IMAX theater last night. I was not disappointed. Although I felt the ending lacked a certain definity, I left the theater with a feeling of both closure and completeness. Frankly, I wish that the quality of production and depth of acting in this, the final installment in the series, had been more evident in previous offerings, but I found it a highly enjoyable excursion, nonetheless."

So, we are left with the obvious question – now what? What new adventures are on the horizon? Where is the next, Great New Author. I hope that someone will step into the fray, for I think, given the state of the world, that we all desperately need another Harry to walk with us through the difficult times ahead; to make us believe, if for only a short time, that magic could possibly exist in the world; that there is something wonderful around the next corner, or between the train platforms.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What Celebrities Are Writing About Now

                                                                      by Trina Boice

Arnold Schwarzenegger was bragging that he was about to sign the biggest book deal of all time a month before the news broke in May that he fathered a love child with his housekeeper. But after the scandal, it’s Maria Shriver’s book that publishers are chasing, sources say.

#1 NYT bestselling author James Patterson’s next 26 books, including 4 new series for young readers, with 13 titles each for Michael Pietsch at Little, Brown, and Megan Tingley at Little, Brown Children’s, for publication through the end of 2014, by Robert Barnett at Williams & Connolly.

NYT bestselling historical thriller writer Matthew Pearl’s The Bookaneer, about a literary spy and bounty hunter in the 1890s who sets off on a quest to the Samoan Islands to wrest a manuscript from a dying Robert Louis Stevenson, moving to Ann Godoff at the Penguin Press, in a two-book deal, by Suzanne Gluck at William Morris Endeavor, and to Stuart Williams at Random House UK, by Cathryn Summerhayes at William Morris Endeavor.

Rock music legend from The Band, Robbie Robertson’s untitled picture book biography, written by his son Sebastian Robertson, focused on his early years growing up in Canada spending time at Six Nation Indian Reservation, and, later, living and working in America, joining Ronnie Hawkins ’s band as a guitarist at 16, sold to Christy Ottaviano of Christy Ottaviano Books, for publication for Spring 2013, by Ryan Harbage at the Fischer-Harbage Agency.

Jim Collins‘ Great By Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos and Luck – Why Some Thrive Despite them All, co-authored with management professor Morten Hansen, asking why some companies thrive in uncertainty and even chaos, based on nine years of research, enumerating the principles for building a great enterprise in unpredictable, tumultuous, and fast-moving times, also to be released in ebook form for the first time (with Collins’ four previous bestselling books now being released as e-books from July through September), sold to Hollis Heimbouch at Harper Business, for publication on October 11, 2011.

When does YOUR next book come out?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Quick Book News

                                                         By Trina Boice

Less than two months after Glenn Beck and Fox News agreed to part ways, the conservative talk-show host has reached a new deal with publisher Simon and Schuster that includes the launch of a new imprint. Mercury Ink will release fiction and non-fiction titles.

Borders bookstores may have a savior. The private-equity firm Gores Group is in discussions to buy more than half of the bankrupt bookseller in a deal that would keep the business running. Borders has been soliciting offers since it filed for bankruptcy in February. Gores, which buys stakes in distressed companies and tries to rehabilitate them, isn’t the only bidder on the horizon, though the other potential buyers haven’t been named. Interest in Borders has picked up since Liberty Media’s recent bid for Barnes and Noble.

Science fiction writer Orson Scott Card is fighting with his talent managers over alleged commissions due from the film and web adaptations of Ender’s Game. A movie version of Ender’s Game has been long anticipated by sci-fi fans. The 1985 novel garnered many prizes, including the Hugo and Nebula awards, and is now regarded as a classic of the science fiction canon.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

How to Write a Great Book Quickly

 By Trina Boice

Are you working on a book? If so, check out this short video with tips for writing a good book quickly:

In his webinar, Steve Harrison, expert book promoter and author coach, shares seven tips that'll help you easily break through the roadblocks that stop you from getting your book out now including:

* The single most important concept which separates a great book (and great selling book!) from a poor book.

* How you can emulate other successful writers to create your own bestseller.

* The biggest mistakes authors make in the writing process that really slow them down.

* The one, simple, easy and FAST technique which you can use TODAY to write your book.

* The one personality trait, shared by many authors, which really sabotages them.

In addition to his Quantum Leap program, Steve Harrison also publishes the Radio-TV Interview Report, which has become a bible for talk-show hosts and producers looking for interesting people to interview. Growing out of the industry contacts he’s built up through the Report is Steve’s annual National Publicity Summit, where writers can brush shoulders with many of the gatekeepers in the talk-show industry.

I discovered Steve Harrison several months ago and really love his teleseminars. Great material for authors!
Check him out!

By the way, HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY to all of you wonderful moms out there who inspire our writing dreams! We love you!


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

How to save BIG on your taxes as an AUTHOR!

By Trina Boice

Death and taxes…kind of the same thing, right? Does the mere thought of tax time send you into a panic attack? It’s that time of year again! Ugh.

Tax time can mean a nightmare of headaches, wasted time and huge accountant bills. It is estimated that the average American works 4 months just to pay off federal and state taxes owed each year. How can we possibly get ahead? The rich seem to get richer and the poor seem to get poorer. Why is that? Well, one thing the rich do that the poor don't is know how to take advantage of every legal, ethical and moral tax deduction available to them.

Real estate is one way to accumulate tax deductions. Another terrific tool that allows you take deductions is having a home business of some kind. Whether it's selling Avon or designing craft items for local fairs or WRITING BOOKS, having a home office can save you BIG on tax day. Most small business owners are often concerned about tax deductions because they are not really sure of what items or expenses can legally be deducted and what constitutes a real business. The IRS expectations are that anyone claiming expenses from a business is truly operating, on a profit level, a business.

There are certain standards that the IRS uses to determine what is a legitimate business or not, and any self-employed person intending on taking itemized deductions will want to be within those standards. Once legitimacy is determined, then entrepreneurs will be pleased to know that most work from home individuals never take the full reductions possible. Adequate record keeping and good professional help should aid in working with taxes.

Many of the things you are currently paying for in your home business could be legitimate tax deductions:
• Your computer
• Your internet connection
• Your long distance and cell phone service
• A percentage of your rent or mortgage if you have a home office for your Multi-Pure work
* The initial investment costs to start your business
• Office equipment and furniture
• Conferences, classes, continuing education
* Vacations
• Car, mileage, maintenance
* Restaurants and dining
* Entertainment expenses
* Airfare, travel expenses

Items that can NOT be deducted are:
* Clothing
* Gym memberships
* Gifts over $25

I suggest you talk with a tax professional before taking any tax deductions, of course. Having a home business could save you thousands of dollars this year alone! I found some software designed specifically for network marketers called “MLM Tax Helper.” It just might be what you need so you can spend less time worrying about your taxes and more time sharing your business message with others! Check it out at:

I also spoke with H&R Block, who graciously offered a $25 discount for our blog subscribers! You can print out your coupon here:

Just remember to keep good records and consult with a tax professional. Another great resource is     Good luck this week!


Sister Thrifty a/k/a Trina Boice

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I've Already Blogged About Hotdogs and Shower what?

                                                                 By Trina Boice

So, you've joined the ranks of bloggers on the Internet!  Great!   You quickly wrote about everything you were passionate about and now you're starting to draw a blank, eh? 

Some days the ideas and words flow quite easily, but then there are the days when you just can't think of anything original or worthwhile to say.  Don't force it.  The most important thing about blogging is to be authentic.

Sometimes you just need a little inspiration to get you started.  I recently discovered a cool tool that does just that.

Brian Proctor, the son of Bob Proctor (The Secret) was interested in receiving inspirational quotes and stories that would set the tone for each day. He created a free auto-sending email service (before it was common to do so) with an inspirational quote Monday through Thursday and a story on Fridays.

When you sign up for his free emails you'll receive plenty of inspiring ideas that can quickly get your own creative juices flowing. Enjoy!

To start receiving great blog ideas, click on this little box:

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Book Autopsies

                                                             By Trina Boice


I just discovered the coolest book art and wanted to share it with you. Using knives, tweezers and surgical tools, Brian Dettmer carves one page at a time. He's known as "The Book Surgeon", layering pieces of old, thick books into magical masterpieces. Nothing is relocated or implanted, only removed to showcase a new "look" at the original book.

Dettmer manipulates the pages and spines to form the shape of his sculptures. He also folds, bends, rolls, and stacks multiple books to create completely original sculptural forms.

"My work is a collaboration with the existing material and its past creators and the completed pieces expose new relationships of the book’s internal elements exactly where they have been since their original conception," he says.

"The richness and depth of the book is universally respected yet often undiscovered as the monopoly of the form and relevance of the information fades over time. The book’s intended function has decreased and the form remains linear in a non-linear world. By altering physical forms of information and shifting preconceived functions, new and unexpected roles emerge."

Dettmer is originally from Chicago, where he studied at Columbia College. He currently lives and works in Atlanta, GA.   To see more of his creative love for books, check out his solo art gallery show at      I don't know about you, but it makes me want to write thicker books.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Congratulations to our Show Your Love Contest winners: Maria Hoagland, Rachelle Christensen, Dierdra Eden-Coppel, and Berin Stephens.

Maria Hoagland is our grand prize winner. She will receive a 30 page manuscript review by Sara Megibow, along with a reserved seat at the 8th Annual LDStorymakers writers conference for Friday night dinner. The other winners each receive a seat at the table as well.

Again, congratulations!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Book Review: The Upside of Down by Rebecca Talley

"Hmmm," the doctor muttered.
Natalie wrinkled her forehead, almost afraid to ask, and said, "What does that mean?"
"You do know you're pregnant, right?"
Her breath caught in her throat. "Excuse me?"
"You're pregnant."
Her heartbeat thundered in her ears. "I'm what?"

Natalie Drake certainly has her hands full raising a large family, dealing with her difficult mother, and maintaining a relationship with her rebellious teenager. Just when things seem to be going smoothly, she finds out another unexpected surprise--she's going to have a baby. Faced with so many challenges, Natalie must learn to trust in a plan that isn't what she imagined and discover that every situation has an upside.

Rebecca Talley once again carefully crafts together a touching and heartfelt story that is sure to inspire you. With true-to-life characters and situations, The Upside of Down will reignite your faith and remind you of the importance of family.

I enjoyed this book on a number of levels. First, in seeing the daily interactions - and struggles - Natalie has with her children. Oh, I can so relate. I've had similar experiences in my own home where it just seems like every child is into their own brand of trouble and I've wanted to run screaming out the front door. Natalie handles it all better than I would, but she's not perfect, which makes her all the more likeable.

I appreciated watching Natalie's growth as she came to understand that even when we feel strong and capable, we still need to rely on the Lord for everything, and that it's through Him that we gain our real strength.

And I was very touched as Natalie learns of the final challenge she is to encounter in the book, that of learning that her new little child has Down syndrome. This is not the main focus of the book, but it certainly does pack an emotional punch as we read of the medical challenges they go through just in getting the baby diagnosed. The author's own little son has Down syndrome, and she speaks of the topic in a sensitive, knowledgeable way.

In the end, we come away from the story knowing more than we knew before, feeling our hearts touched, and feeling more strongly the power that God has to take our lives and make them something beautiful.

You can purchase The Upside of Down as a paperback or on Kindle. You can also swing by Rebecca Talley's blog and get to know her a little better.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Show Your Love

Ah February—the month of love. Why is it the month of love? Because if it wasn't the month of love, it would be the month of hate. We hate the snow, we hate the lingering holiday bills, and we hate the groundhog for seeing his shadow. So it's a good thing we have Valentine's day, reminding us that all you need is love.

Speaking of Love, the LDStorymakers is once again holding the Show Your Love contest throughout the month of February. The rules are simple, and the prizes are . . . well, let's just say you'll love them.
They are as follows:

On Friday, three lucky winners will receive a reserved seat at the 8th Annual LDStorymakers Writers Conference for Friday night dinner. Also seated at the table will be:

Literary Agent Sarah Crowe

Author Larry Brooks

Senior Editor Marcia Markland

Author James Dashner
 Becca Stumpf

And one lucky grand prize winner will receive a 
30 page manuscript review by Sara Megibow.

So how do you win these fabulous prizes? Like so:
  • Blog about the LDStorymakers Writers Conference and link to the conference site. This is worth 5 entries.
  • Blog about the Show Your Love contest and link back to this post. This is also worth 5 entries.
  • Become a fan of the LDStorymakers Conference Facebook page and invite 5 friends to become fans. This is worth 1 Entry (limit 5 entries).
  • Mention the conference and/or the contest on Twitter. Either post the link in your tweet, or use the hashtag #storymakers. This is worth 1 entry per day, up to 5 per week.
  • Post a conference attendee badge on your blog or website. This is worth 3 entries. The badge code is as follows:

    <a href=""><img src="" alt="LDStorymakers" /></a>
Help spread the word. Tell us in the comments what you've done, and tally your points. We're using the honor system, which means you tell us, and then we double check to make sure you're being honorable.

You can earn points all through the month of February. The contest closes on February 28th, 2011. We'll announce the winner at the beginning of March. You must be a registered attendee of the 2011 LDStorymakers Writers Conference to win. Both Attendees are presenters are eligible. If you're not registered, what are you waiting for? You can do so here.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Win a free CD!

                                                             by Trina Boice
I'm the Entertainment News Editor at and I'm offering a fun contest there that I wanted you to know about!

While living in Atlanta for 15 years, I became a big fan of Ray Charles’ famous song “Georgia on my Mind.”  Concord Records recently released his newest collection entitled Rare Genius: The Undiscovered Masters , an incredible collection of newly discovered Ray Charles recordings.   The hit album was produced by John Burk, who gave us Genius Loves Company, Charles’ 2004 Grammy award winning last album. 

After sifting through four decades worth of Ray Charles’ unreleased material, John Burk explains “We have so much respect for Ray, and now being the guardians of his legacy, we didn’t want to release anything substandard. In the end, I think what we have here is on par with some of his greatest works.”  And it is.

Although Ray Charles Robinson died in 2004, the world gets to continue to enjoy his great music, thanks to technology.   The “sonically enhanced” material creates cool tracks, smooth background vocals from Eric Benet and Keb’ Mo’ guitar licks. If you love Ray’s cool blues, soulful gospel and warm country sounds, you’re going to get a kick out this new album. 

In addition to the tracks culled from R.P.M. International, the set also includes a surprise from the Sony vaults – a stirring rendition of Kris Kristofferson’s “Why Me, Lord?” a gospel flavored duet with Johnny Cash produced by Billy Sherrill in Nashville, recorded in 1981. This one-of-a-kind pearl has gone unheard by the public until now. Contrary to correspondence between Charles and Cash anticipating the release of the song on CBS, the track never saw the light of day for three decades for reasons that remain unknown. Cash takes the lead vocal, while Charles hangs back slightly and delivers hefty backup vocals and equally compelling piano lines. “Ray’s presence in the song helps to establish a sort of marriage between gospel, Christian and country music – the kind of thing Ray was so uniquely good at,” says Burk.

A great American Jazz legend, Ray’s newest CD includes high energy music that gets you moving, as well as romantic ballads that will make you sway and laugh, such as in the song when he questions why he’s still talking to a particular woman when he could be doing something else with her, if ya know what I mean. 

His spirit is alive and well in this album, a reminder that Ray was truly an American treasure.   “The rhythmic and improvisational things Ray did with his vocals were incredibly influential to generations of singers in all genres of music,” says Burk.  “And he would always get inside the meaning of a lyric and make the listener believe every word, as if he were describing his own experiences.  His vocals carried incredible emotion and intensity, even on demo tapes.  That’s how Ray approached his music; I don’t think he knew any other way to do it.” 

Ray would have turned 80 this year, so I thought it would be fitting to hold a contest in his honor, awarding the winner a copy of this outstanding CD. 
To enter the contest, simply answer the 5 questions in the Bella Online forum at:

Be the first to respond correctly and you win!  The free CD is being provided by Concord Records.

Free song:
All people who download are entered to win an 11 CD catalog and a travel itinerary owned by Ray Charles and used on his 1998 tour.
VIDEO:  Rare Genius: The Undiscovered Masters - Episode 1

Ray Charles Store Buy  Link:  includes special packages
Amazon Buy Link: