Monday, December 30, 2013

Mary Poppins books and movie turn into Saving Mr. Banks movie

Movie Title:  Saving Mr. Banks

Grade: A-

In a Nutshell:  This is an absolutely lovely film that wraps a perfect Disney bow around your heart.  It’s the untold back-story of how the beloved movie Mary Poppins came to be.  Walt Disney is vividly brought to life by two-time Academy Award winner Tom Hanks.  Until now, very few fans knew that Disney spent 20 years trying to convince the curmudgeonly author of the Mary Poppins books to allow him to turn her stories into the iconic film that we all adore.  The fantastic Emma Thompson, also a two-time Oscar winner perfectly portrays P.L. Travers, the author who struggles with her hidden fears and the ghosts of her past and who is the one who ultimately saves Mr. Banks in the end.  This should be Emma Thompson’s third Academy win…

Uplifting theme:  This spoonful of sugar touched a sensitive spot on aging Baby Boomers in the audience who cried like babies in the end. (weak grin)  While P.L. Travers reviews in her mind the tormented life of her charming father’s addictions, she too is caged by her personal demons.  SPOILER ALERT: It wasn’t until Walt Disney and P.L. Travers chose to change their painful childhood memories, focusing on the good and allowing the anger to melt away, that Mr. Banks was saved. We would be wise to do the same.

Things I liked:  While her prickly personality battles against the Disney machine during the day, she cuddles with the soft mouse at night in her hotel room.  I loved the moment when a giant Mickie Mouse offers to escort a hesitant P.L. Travers into the debut screening of the movie.  An underused gem, I loved Bradley Whitford in “The West Wing” and “The Good Guys”, so it was great to see him again.  The handsome Colin Farrell and talented character actor Paul Giamatti added nicely to the star-studded cast.

Things I didn’t like:  The medicine that was spoon-fed included a dose of Disney branding that was a bit self-serving on the eve of the half-century anniversary of Mary Poppins 50th Anniversary Edition , albeit clever marketing.  I was surprised to learn that P.L. Travers didn’t want actor Dick Van Dyke in the Mary Poppins movie…I LOVE him and thought he was truly magical in the film!

Funny line: Walt Disney says to P.L. Travers who sits awkwardly on a carousel “I had a wager I couldn’t get you on a ride.  I just won twenty bucks!”  The author of a children’s book about a flying nanny ironically questions Disney by asking “Where is the gravitas?”

Insightful quotes:
“Live a life that isn’t dictated by the past.”   - Disney
“We restore order with imagination.”  - Disney
“A leisurely stroll is a gift.”  Ralph
“A mouse is family.”  - Disney
“This world is just an illusion.”  - Robert Goff Travers

Things to look for:  Notice who says “Don’t leave me”, “Never.  I promise” and how it is fulfilled. Apparently, Walt Disney smoked like a chimney and was rarely seen without a cigarette.  It was decided in this movie to remove that portrayal, but there is one quick mention of it when Walt, himself, stamps out a cigarette to protect the children’s sensitive eyes. 

Tips for parents: Saving Mr. Banks is a bit slow-moving for children, without big action scenes to make up for it.  While it is about Walt Disney’s magical world, the film is more about character development and the magic of creating one’s future, rather than dwelling on the past.  

Interesting books to read on the subject:
How to Be Like Walt: Capturing the Disney Magic Every Day of Your Life

The Animated Man: A Life of Walt Disney

Mary Poppins - The Complete Collection

Monday, December 16, 2013

Early Bird Registration Promotion

Registration for the 2014 LDStorymakers Conference IS NOW OPEN! 

So of course we have to celebrate with a contest! This is for all those early birds out there. So anyone who registers for LDStorymakers in the next month -- from December 16  to January 17 -- is eligible to enter to win a . . .

** Kindle Fire HD **

And all you have to do is enter via the rafflectoper form below. 

Now onto the contest details:
The prizes are listed below, so check out the spectacular things you could win. Rafflecopter will choose 2 random winners in order. Sorry, but this contest is only open to those living in the U.S. Winners will be notified via email and must respond within 48 hours to claim their prize, or another winner will be chosen.


First Place Prize Package
Kindle Fire HD
seat at the VIP dinner table
query critique
10 page manuscript critique

Second Place Prize Package
seat at the VIP dinner table
10 page manuscript critique 

Third Place Prize Package 
query critique

The contest closes January 17 at midnight (PST).
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

'Tis the Season for a Contest

'Tis the Season for a Contest . . . 

    . . . Fa La La La La . . . La La La La . . .

This contest is easy - just follow the rafflecopter form below for entries. Rafflecopter will choose 3 random winners in order. Sorry, but this contest is only open to those living in the U.S. Winners will be notified via email and must respond within 48 hours to claim their prize, or another winner will be chosen. Good luck!

First Place Prize Package
$20 gift card to amazon
Book Prize Package: The first 5 books in the Sadie Hoffmiller Culinary Mystery Set
[Lemon Tart, English Trifle, Devil's Food Cake, Key Lime Pie, and Blackberry Crumble]

Second Place Prize Package
$10 amazon gift card
Book package of ARCS (Advanced Reader Copies -- these books aren't out yet!)
Into the Dark Book One: The Shadow Prince by Bree Despain
Ruins by Dan Wells

Third Place Prize Package
Austenland by Shannon Hale
Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson

The contest closes December 21 at midnight (PST).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, October 28, 2013

Ender's Game Contest

It's contest time (again!) here on the blog, and this time we're celebrating the release of the Ender's Game movie.

First, a little about the conference. 

LDStorymakers is an amazing writing conference held every year in Utah, and open to all writers of all genres, in the LDS, national, and self published markets. Classes will be geared to different skill levels, ranging from beginning writers to published authors, focusing on craft and the business of writing. The 2013 conference sold out, attracting almost 500 writers and authors eager to learn more about their craft and the publishing industry. Many got to pitch their projects to some top agents and editors. The next conference will be April 25-26, 2014 at the Davis Conference Center in Layton, Utah. Keep an eye on the website for more information and registration!

And here's your chance to meet
who is the keynote speaker at LDStorymakers in 2014.

This year, we have five amazing agents / editor who will be attending  - we'll be announcing them on the facebook page, along with our author faculty, so keep posted! Registration opens in December. This year, the conference will be at the Davis Conference Center in Layton.

Mark the date now! Spots will go quickly.

Now onto the contest information:
The prizes packages are listed below, so check out the spectacular things you could win. Rafflecopter will choose 2 random winners in order. Sorry, but this contest is only open to those living in the U.S. Winners will be notified via email and must respond within 48 hours to claim their prize, or another winner will be chosen.

First Place Prize Package
2 tickets to see Ender's Game
SIGNED copy of books 1-4 in the Ender's Game series: ENDER'S GAME, SPEAKER FOR THE DEAD, XENOCIDE, and CHILDREN OF THE MIND
Ender's Game swag

Second Place Prize Package
SIGNED copy of Ender's Game
Ender's Game swag

The contest closes November 16 at midnight (PST).

Additional entry points:
Monday through Friday (Oct 28 - Nov 1) we'll be announcing the agents and editor coming to the 2014 conference. Check on the facebook page each day and enter the name posted on the rafflecopter form for up to 5 extra entries.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, August 12, 2013

Winners of the Early Bird Registration

It's Happy Dance Time! Today we're announcing winners for the Storymakers Writers conference early bird registration. Using, we have 8 winners. 

Today's winners are: 

   2 people won 1 book each from Storymakers authors
  • Anita Snyder
  • Sarah Belliston

    2 people won 2 books each from Storymakers authors 
  • Julie Casey
  • Lori Adams

    2 people won 3 books each from Storymakers authors AND a seat at the VIP table for lunch
  • MJ Ferguson
  • Keli Wright

    2 people won 4 books AND a seat at the VIP table for dinner 
  • Elaine Wakley
  • Lauren Skidmore

Congrats to all the winners! You can pick up your prize bundles at the registration desk. We look forward to seeing each of you at the conference September 21st!

It's not too late to register. Go here for details.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

We Have A Winner--Or Rather 8 Winners!

Thanks to everyone who helped 'Show the Love' for our Storymakers Midwest Conference in Kansas City, Sept 21! We're excited for the conference and hope you're getting excited too.

8 people won first chapter critiques!  They are:
  • Lisa S.
  • Heidi B.
  • Nicole Z.
  • Dani D.
  • Hillary S.
  • Lauren S.
  • Taffy E.
  • Kathryn Q.
Congrats to these 8 people. And thanks to the 8 authors for donating first chapter critiques: C. Michelle Jefferies, Matt Peterson, Gregg Luke, Steve Westover, Tamara Hart Heiner, Liz Adair, Rebecca Belliston, and Danyelle Ferguson. 

I've emailed all 8 winners, but if you haven't received an email from me, let me know. (rebeccabelliston ( at ) gmail ( dot ) com.

Remember, if you haven't registered yet for the Midwest Conference, it's not too late. The two keynote speakers are Janette Rallison and Regina Sirios. It's going to be amazing. Details here.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Show the Love - Midwest Style!

We are super excited for the Storymakers Second Annual Midwest Writers Conference in Kansas City on September 21st. But we need your help to spread the word to let our writing buddies, fellow read-a-holics and cyber-buddies know about this great opportunity to learn from our incredible line up of authors.

And of course, we at Storymakers never ask for help without some awesome prizes up for grabs. This year's Show the Love contest is all about 1st Chapter Edits. In fact, we are giving away eight first chapter prizes, one from each of the following authors:

C. Michelle Jefferies
Matt Peterson
Gregg Luke
Steve Westover
Tamara Hart Heiner
Liz Adair
Rebecca Belliston
Danyelle Ferguson

Now that you're drooling, check out the Rafflecopter form & enter for a chance to win. Everyone is welcome to participate!

P.S. - Heidi pointed out that our Facebook entry did not come through on the Rafflecopter. If you Facebook about the conference or contest, please leave a message below with a link to your Facebook account and we'll add 5 points per day for each entry. Thank you!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Midwest Writers Conference - Breakout Sessions Revealed!

2013 Workshop Descriptions
*Please note: These are the breakout sessions that will be offered.
The official schedule will be emailed 2 weeks before the conference.

Tracks: craft, genre, professional

Saturday, September 21st

            Breakout  #1

                                    How I See It: Writing in 1st Person (Craft)
                                    Regina Sirois
Perspective can change everything, especially in a book. It is a unique experience to immerse yourself in a character so thoroughly that you peer out at the world through his/her eyes. Regina Sirois, who has won national competitions and book deals writing in first person, will review methods and tips that will make your first person story come alive. Open discussion will include what we love/hate about first person and how to avoid common mistakes.

Middle Grade Mojo: How to get inside the head of your middle grade readers (Genre)                                   
Matt Peterson
Writing for the junior high crowd seems intimidating. It's been awhile since most of us were in those hallways, after all. In this class we will go through some exercises and techniques that will put you inside their little heads. Scary, I know. But you'll leave with a better understanding of what works and what doesn't for this fun (yet sometimes frustrating) age group. We'll talk about ""writing up"" as far as vocabulary, achieving the right mixture of mayhem and lesson learning, and maybe even a little about what a budding junior high romance looks like from a pre-teen's point of view. Come relive the past and rewrite your future in the middle grade market.

                                    The-Seat-of-Your-Pants Synopsis Workshop (Professional)                   
Tamara Hart Heiner
There are many smart, proper ways to write a synopsis. They usually involve careful outlining, thinking about your main characters, your main plot points, and putting it down in a nice, concise manner. Then there's the "I need a synopsis and I need it now" way. Bring your manuscript to class and leave with a completed (well, mostly) synopsis.

            Breakout  #2

                                    Writing Different Cultures (Craft)                                                
Don Carey    
There’s a literary term for stories where the characters are all the same: Boring. Learn important tips for increasing the cultural diversity in your writing while avoiding the potential pitfalls, and see how this can increase both your readership and the quality of your work.

Because Romance is Everywhere: How to weave romantic elements through any genre. (Genre)
Traci Hunter Abramson
We all love to love, even if we don't want to admit it. Discover how romantic elements can deepen and enhance your characters, add to their motivations, and tug on the heartstrings of your readers. Whether you want to blend the word "romantic" with your genre, or subtly use romance as an undercurrent in your writing, join us to discover the possibilities that can come through the heart.

                                    Editing Tips from the Editing Chick (Professional)
                                    Danyelle Ferguson
Editing is an essential part of creating your best work. We will discuss various types of editors (friends, freelance, and publisher staff), content vs. line edits, and tips to be sure your manuscript is polished for submission.

            Breakout  #3

                                    Is That My Voice? Finding your character’s personality through strong dialogue (Craft)
                                    Rebecca Belliston
Creating unique voices for your characters can be a challenge. Every character has personality, experiences, and little quirks that affect their speech – or at least they should. If your teens sound like your grannies, something’s wrong. We’ll explore how to add depth to your characters through strong, personality-driven dialogue, allowing you to show -- rather than tell -- us who they are.

                                    Creating White-Knuckle Thrills and Bone Chilling Suspense (Genre)  
Gregg Luke
This class will reveal the key elements to writing scenes that enthrall and terrify your readers, including: why characterization is vital, how to tighten pacing, and the crucial principles of anticipation, detailing, and prose. Q&A to follow.

                                    Creating Engaging Characters (Craft)                              
                                    Heather Justesen
Learn many ways to add interesting details to your characters lives so they'll becomes people your readers will love.


            Breakout  #4

                                    Writing a Series: What to do when the end is really just the beginning (Craft)
                                    Traci Hunter Abramson
Is your story idea ready to expand beyond a single novel? Are your characters reluctant to live happily ever after even though the last page has been turned? Or do you already have a series plotted out in your mind? This class will delve into the different types of series, explore the challenges of marketing a multi-volume work, and discuss how to make sure your readers are anxiously awaiting the next volume.

                                    Hidden Jewels (Genre)                                            
                                    Lynn Parsons
You are an expert in many areas. Shine up your knowledge into nonfiction books. Learn to discover your gems of wisdom, cut them into shape, and polish them into perfection. 

                                    Just Give Me the Numbers! (Professional)                                    
Regina Sirois
In a quickly morphing publishing world, writers struggle with the question of how to get their stories to readers. Is traditional publishing still the only legitimate way to go? Has self publishing gained enough market share to overcome former prejudices against vanity presses? Regina Sirois is in a unique position to discuss the pros and cons of each. Her novel, On Little Wings, was self-published first before being picked up by a major publisher. She will talk you through what she did, what worked for her book and what did not.
            Breakout  #5

                                    “Who Said That?” Finding your manuscript’s point of view (Craft)
Tamara Hart Heiner
Learn about different points-of-view, how to use them, how to alternate between them, and try on a couple to see what works best for your work-in-progress.

                                    The 50K Rush: Prepping for NaNoWriMo (Craft)                                 
                                    John Waverly & Danyelle Ferguson
November is National Novel Writing Month. The goal: To write 50K in 30 days. If you just broke out in sweat and your blood pressure spiked, then this class is for you! Join the husband-wife duo as they discuss strategies to prep for the challenge, pump up your word count, and mostly importantly, turn your family into fans cheering you on from the sidelines.

Be In the Know: A novel approach to researching your novel (Craft)   
                                    Gregg Luke
Proper research is fundamental to every novel. Every writer should do research on every novel. But research can be cumbersome and time-consuming. The key is narrowing what you need to material vital to your story. This course will help you streamline researching to focus on three vital elements: Content, Period, and Genre.

            Breakout  #6

                                    Finding Your Story: How to find a captivating fiction story in everyday life (Craft)                           
Matt Peterson           
They say you should "write what you know." That's great if you're writing a non-fiction how-to book, but what about a nice fiction piece? And what if you only know about paper airplanes or how to starch a white shirt? No worries (but chances are you know about more than that). In this class we will discuss how you can take the things you are good at and infuse them into a real-life fiction story. We'll cover everything from what to do when you wake up to how technology can help you find your story...and everything in between. You'll be surprised what kind of story is waiting inside you--let's coax it out in this fun workshop-style class. You'll leave with a whole slew of ideas to keep you up late writing well into the spring.

                                    Plotting Without Plodding (Craft)                                      
Janette Rallison
Your plot is the backbone of your novel. If it doesn't work all the great description, dialogue, and characterization won't be able to save your manuscript. Come to Janette's class and learn the six elements of plot you should know before you sit down to write your story. Janette will discuss do's and don'ts that will save you time in revisions.

                                    Social Media for the Antisocial Author (Professional)                            
                                    Rebecca Belliston
For the anti-social writer, using social media can be overwhelming. Is it really necessary? This class will delve into the different areas of social media including Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and Pinterest. We’ll discuss how to use social media to get the word out about your books without annoying people, which social platform reaches which groups of people, and how to maximize your presence while minimizing your time/pain. Who knows? You just might become a social (media) butterfly.

Have you registered yet???

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Midwest Conference Early Bird Registration Promotion

Have you signed up for the Storymakers Midwest Conference yet? Huh? If not, here are a few more reasons to sign up before midnight (CT) on August 1st.
  •  2 people will win 1 book each from Storymakers authors
  •  2 people will win 2 books each from Storymakers authors 
  • 2 people will win 3 books each from Storymakers authors AND a seat at the VIP table for lunch
  • 2 people will win 4 books AND a seat at the VIP table for dinner 

Click here, register for the Midwest Conference by August 1st, and you'll be automatically entered into the drawing for these awesome prizes. 

Winners and prizes will be announced by August 15th. All books will be bundled for pick up on September 21th at the conference registration desk.

For more information about the conference, click here.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Twitter party for book release

Yesterday my publisher, Big World Network, hosted a fun Twitter party to launch my new book "Climbing Family Trees."  

Below is the dialogue that trended all morning long:
Trina Boice has been with since the beginning of the site in late fall of 2011, and has since published several series and books with us. How to Stay UP in a DOWN Economy, a nonfiction book about earning and saving money from home, is available now in paperback, eBook, and audiobook.

Trina’s newest novel, originally published in 2005, and then as a series on BWN, is a joint effort with her twin sister, Tracey Long – Climbing Family Trees: Whispers in the Leaves.

Climbing Family Trees is a nonfiction/inspirational book about genealogy, with advice as well as personal stories from the twins and others. The book released this past weekend, starting with a Twitter Release Party in which BWN asked the sisters to join us and answer some questions about the book.

BWN: Welcome to BWN’s second ever Twitter Release Party! Featuring new book release Climbing Family Trees: Whispers in the Leaves. This is the 2nd edition of Climbing Family Trees. What originally inspired you and Tracey to take on this book?

Trina: Our own family inspired us to write Climbing Family Trees several years ago. We had been bit by the genealogy bug and loved inspiring stories. It was such a fun book to write! Any time you want to have a spiritual experience, just do genealogy!

Tracey: It was such a fun project to do together. Because we're twins, we think alike so we're already "on the same page."

BWN: How did you go about gathering so many inspiring personal stories about genealogy?

Tracey: We sent query letters to genealogical societies and got great stories.

Trina: Genealogists are VERY giving. Sharing is what they do all day long, so they were eager to contribute. We put a call out for inspirational stories of people who felt help from heaven with their family tree. We received so many heartwarming stories. Heaven truly helps those who want to unite families! So sweet!

BWN: Further proof that writing can be communal! What was the most difficult hurdle while working on Climbing Family Trees?

Trina: We wrote the book before cloud computing and had to email the manuscript back and forth. Our computers crashed TWICE while writing it. Luckily, we each had manuscript versions to email to each other. The two of us are in the process of writing another fun book together. We love the collaboration.

BWN: What new title are you working on? Can you give us a sneak peek on the topic?

Tracey: Because our focus is "families" & "fun" we're writing a book of party games. People often rely too much on watching videos for group entertaining because they don't know what else to do!

Trina: We're usually working on several things at a time! We’re working on a kind of Whose Line Is It Anyway party game book. Our nephew was in a comedy improv group in college and shared some of his group's warm-up games to add! We've tried many of them at parties. Soooo much fun! We'll post videos when the book comes out.

BWN: That sounds fantastic! I know my family get togethers could use some fun ideas for activities.

Trina: Every family has natural hams, so interactive party games at family reunions are always a hit. We have a whole chapter in Climbing Family Trees with fun family reunion party games too!

BWN: Was Climbing Family Trees your first time writing something together?

Trina: Yep, the first official published work. We had collaborated on other projects together and still do.

Tracey: We competed in a National Speech/Debate event together as twins.

Trina: Can you believe Tracey was my live prop once in college for an expository speech about twins? We won 1st! Another project could be to gather fun stories about twins. People love stories about twins tricking people.

BWN: Have you and Tracey ever tricked anyone as twins?

Trina: Of course! We switched classes, and tricked dates. Tracey's husband almost kissed me on her wedding day!

Tracey: The question is how many times have we tricked people! That's a great book idea!

BWN: Agreed! Thank you both for joining us today! Genealogy is something anyone can get involved in, and often engrossed in before they even realize it.

Trina: Absolutely! It's not just for "old" folks. We all have a hunger to know where we came from. Genealogy isn't just finding your ancestors, but connecting with your living relatives and celebrating family.

Tracey: Alex Haley, the author of Roots stated everyone has a deep thirst to know more about their family. Our book helps you start learning how. Many people believe in a guardian angel, and who best but an ancestor of yours to help guide you in climbing your own family tree.

Trina: Climbing Family Trees includes TONS of ideas to honor your heritage and celebrate family every day. It also includes touching stories of adopted children finding their blood relatives. Very tender.

Tracey: We even have a chapter on animals involved in genealogy. And we'd love to know how the book helps readers and listeners find and connect with their own family trees!

To let Trina and Tracey know your thoughts on the book, feel free to respond to this blog post, on their series page, on any episode pages for Climbing Family Trees, or leave a review on Amazon.

Purchase your copy of Climbing Family Trees: Whispers in the Leaves now at: … and receive a FREE audiobook with purchase of the paperback

Check out the video promo here: …

You can also download and print a FREE bookmark at the Climbing Family Trees series page: …