Tuesday, December 27, 2011

My Story Printed in Jan 2012 Friend Magazine

I am so excited! I submitted a story to the Friend magazine about four years ago. They purchased the story and said they would probably publish it in 2007 or 2008. When they didn't, and after talking with Josh Perky, I decided they probably never would. Well, they finally did!

We were surprised when the doorbell rang this morning before 10:00 am. These are the "dead days" between Christmas and New Year's Day and not much happens at our house except a lot of relaxing and playing. We were not expecting visitors. The door was opened to the Fed-X man with a package. In the package were two complimentary copies of the Friend. My story is on page 8-9.

Here's a link to the online version of my story

One funny thing about this is that we got the regular delivery of our church magazines a week or more ago. We gave the Friend to the younger kids. My 9-year-old son read my story, but never noticed who the author was!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Book Review: Faithful, Fit & Fabulous

I recently read Connie Sokol's new book, Faithful, Fit & Fabulous, get Back to Basics and Transform your Life in Just 8 Weeks! Unfortunately, I didn't have 8 weeks between getting the book and posting my review to complete the program, but I still really liked the book.

Sokol has an easy-to-read conversational writing style that I enjoyed. It was like chatting with a friend. As I read, I felt like she had been there, done that, and understood where I was coming from. She has six kids; I have seven. She gets it. Her program is broken into easy, doable steps and you start at the level where you are right now. The book is filled with inspirational quotes by LDS leaders and sometimes humorous, always memorable anecdotes. The program is high on encouragement and low on guilt.

The book has a section at the back of each chapter that has suggested goals and, work-book like, also has places throughout, where the reader can jot down notes. One of the best features of the book is Sokol's philosophy that effort and progress ought to be rewarded. How fun is that? I get to treat myself when I accomplish a goal!

I think busy moms everywhere will benefit by reading this book. Whatever level of fit, faithful and fabulous they are at right now, this book will gently, cheerfully inspire them to take steps towards feeling better, looking better and being better.

About the Author (from page 149 of the book): Connie E. Sokol is a mother of six, a national and local presenter, and a regular speaker at BYU Education Week. She is a former TV and radio host and columnist for Deseret News. Despite having her hands full, and with her left toe, she has recorded several talk CDs and authored Life is Too Short for One Hair Color and Life is Too Short for Sensible Shoes. Mrs. Sokol delights in time spent with her family and eating decadent treats.

Here's a link to purchase the book: Faithful, Fit & Fabulous

Here is Connie Sokol's website.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Book Review: The Key of Kilenya

I just finished reading The Key of Kilenya by Andrea Pearson. Here's the blurb from the back of the book:

When two vicious wolves chase fourteen-year-old Jacob Clark down a path from our world into another, his life is forever changed. He has no idea they have been sent by the Lorkon--evil, immortal beings who are jealous of powers he doesn't know he possesses--powers they desire to control.

The inhabitants of the new world desperately need Jacob's help in recovering a magical key that was stolen by the Lorkon and is somehow linked to him. If he helps them, his life will be at risk. But if he chooses not to help them, both our world and theirs will be in danger. The Lorkon will stop at nothing to unleash the power of the key--and Jacob's special abilities.

I found this an interesting book. Andrea's imagination is evident in her tale, with some fun characters and landscapes for the reader to enjoy. The writing is not the best I've seen, but for the most part, the pacing of the story was enough to keep my interest. There were quite a few unexplained matters, such as how Jacob got his powers and abilities, and why his family didn't think it was strange to be visited by beings from another world. I assume that since this is the first book in a series, some of these matters will be explained in later books, but the recurring lack of explanation did annoy me a little.

The book was clean, which if you follow this blog, you know I like. It is appropriate for middle grade and older readers, and I will be sharing my copy with my school-aged children, who are avid readers and I expect will like the book.

Andrea graduated with a bachelor of science degree in Communications Disorders from Brigham Young University. She currently teaches orchestra to elementary school students.

Andrea is an avid reader and outdoor enthusiast who loves traveling. She is recently married and very much in love.

Here is a link to Andrea's Blog

You can purchase the Key of Kilenya here.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Tristi Pinkston's New Book - Hang Em High

Author Tristi Pinkston is excited to announce the release of the third novel in her Secret Sisters Mysteries series.

Titled Hang ‘em High, this novel takes place on a dude ranch in Montana. When Ida Mae’s son invites her to come for a visit, of course she brings Arlette and Tansy along with her. They are expecting to spend the week looking at horses, avoiding the cows, and making amends in Ida Mae’s relationship with her son. What they don’t expect is to be stuck on the ranch in the middle of a blizzard and to be thrust headlong into the middle of a mystery.
Help Tristi celebrate her new novel in two ways. First, come participate in the two-week-long blog contest, where you can win a book nearly every single day! All the details are up on Tristi’s blog.

Second, come to the book launch!
You are invited to an
August Authorama!
Saturday, August 13th
Pioneer Book, 858 S. State, Orem
12 – 4 pm
Games, prizes, balloons, face painting,
and Dutch oven cobbler
prepared by world champion cook
will all be there to sign books.
This is one book launch event
you will not want to miss!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Tale of the Chocolate Covered Undershirt

It was Easter Sunday and I had my crew of five kids and a husband at Mom and Dad's house, with a few extended family members. We had just finished a nice Easter feast and were visiting when my youngest son, age nine, came into the dining room with his undershirt in his hands. There were chocolate smears (at least I hoped they were chocolate!) all over his undershirt. He asked Grandma if she had a rag so he could clean his shirt up.

"Ben," I said, "How did you get chocolate all over your undershirt?" His white dress shirt, which he had properly buttoned, looked fine.

"Oh," Ben said, "You know those chocolate eggs they gave us in Primary today?"--the Primary leaders had given each of the children a miniature Cadbury egg, the kind with gooey egg-like insides--at the end of Primary.

"Yes," I said.

"Well," Ben said, "I ate part of mine but I didn't want to eat it all, so I decided to put it in my pocket." He indicated the breast pocket of his white Sunday shirt. "But, I missed my pocket and accidentally put the egg down my shirt." He pantomimed sticking the egg down the neck of his shirt.

"How did you discover what you'd done?" I asked him.

"Well, I was rubbing my stomach and there was this lump there. I looked inside and there was my egg!"

And, the rest is history. When we left for home, we couldn't find the undershirt. Mom brought it to me the next day--still covered in chocolate.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Blog Award

I am pleased to announce that I've been given the "Best Books Award" by writer Dierdra Coppel. Here it is:

You can check out Dierdra's blog, A Storybook World, to see her art and books and awards.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Book Review: Depth of Deceit

Depth of Deceit 
by Betty Briggs

Back Cover Blurb: "Blonde and stunningly beautiful, fledgling attorney Stephanie Saunders vows to protect the innocent even though as indigent defense attorney her clients rarely are. Does that include Josh Durrant, who seems to be following her? Stephanie is dismayed when her peers begin calling her 'Prom Queen' like her boyfriend, Todd Saxton, often does. While desperately trying to prove her credibility in her profession, she overlooks a scheme to steal her innocence. Although she plans to forgive Todd for his ultimate betrayal, she is never given the chance. Her boss, attorney Charles Connelly, offers support, but is Stephanie's welfare, or his own, top priority? The only thing that keeps Stephanie sane in her insane world are the horses she loves but does not own. The example of the abused mare, Riskie Business, helps Stephanie make the most difficult decision of her life. Relying on wit and courage, Stephanie must save herself and another during the final showdown where she proves a loyalty and strength of which she never knew herself capable."

About the Author: A retired legal secretary of thirty-three years and lifetime horse lover, Betty notes that some of her experiences sneak into her story lines, but not without embellishments. Already the author of four young adult books, she is excited to introduce Depth of Deceit, her first mainstream novel. She is the mother of two grown children and grandmother to five. She lives in the Rocky Mountains with her husband, Scott. Her three horses round out the family.

My Review: I thought that the premise of the story was good. I enjoyed the larger mystery of what was going on in the plot. I was also interested in reading a story about a woman attorney because I've never read a book about one before. I appreciated that Briggs kept the book tastefully clean, with no swearing or sex scenes, though she could easily have done both if she were that kind of writer.

Now, I have to express my disappointment on a couple of things. The first is personal and is a bit of a plot spoiler, so skip this paragraph if you don't want to know. The single young protagonist, Stephanie, becomes pregnant without her consent and makes the decision to give the baby up for adoption to a two-parent family. She believes that would be best for the baby and she can get on with her life and career. I was quietly cheering her on in this decision because I feel it's the most unselfish thing an unwed mother can do for her child, and the child's best hope for a healthy future. Later on in the book, because of the example of a horse, she changes her mind and decides to keep the baby, even though she is more alone in the world than ever. Of course, I found that disappointing, but what really annoyed me was when her friend referred to her as a "colossal idiot" for deciding to give the baby up for adoption in the first place, Stephanie agrees with her. That did not sit well with me. Young women who give their babies up for adoption are not colossal idiots.

Other things that I found hard to swallow were: much forced-sounding dialog; the fact that except in the very beginning, throughout the whole book Stephanie didn't really seem to do any lawyering, but seemed more like an office stick figure; a boss that was way too paternal to the point of being liable for a harassment suit; and the fact that after the climax of the story the author felt obligated to tie up every single possible little loose end (some that we didn't even know were loose) so that the reader would know for sure that Stephanie really did live happily ever after. It was just too much. We didn't need all that and it kind of made my eyes glaze over.

I'd recommend this book for people who like clean novels with action and a romantic element. It is a great read for those who are not sensitive about adoption issues and who love horses.

You can purchase Depth of Deceit here.
Visit Betty Brigg's website to learn more about her and her books.

Monday, April 18, 2011

On Reviewing Books

I do a lot of book reviews on my blog and you will never see an objective review from me. I am a person with feelings which are subjective, not objective. I try to be fair, and I will always say what I like about the books I read, but if there is something I don't like, I will mention that as well. I don't do this to be mean. I believe the only way to improve is to get feedback. One difficult aspect of being a writer is hearing feedback from others, especially if it's negative feedback. But, that's how we get better, right?

I give the kind of reviews I would want to get for my own work. I would want to know what bothers people about what I wrote and what they liked. I know among some groups of authors there's the feeling of "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine." The reviewer will then err on the side of kind generosity and say only those things that are positive about the book. Kind of like Thumper's mother's mantra: "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." That's all well and good, but it leaves the reader of the review with a distorted view of the book, and when I read a review I really want to know what I'm getting into when I crack the cover; the good, the bad, and the ugly.

So, I apologize to the authors of books I have reviewed and those I will review if I offend you. My intent is not to offend but to give an honest report of my opinion about your work. Please remember I am only one person and everyone who reads your book will have a different opinion. That's why honest reviews are not objective.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Book Review: The Crazy Daze of Motherhood by Jane Isfeld Still

Book Description:
A mother's day is filled with all kinds of emergencies, from bumps and bruises to hospital stays. Find the perfect way to recover from your own family's little emergencies with Jane Isfeld Still's latest book on the hilarious daily challenges of a mother in the fray. You're sure to laugh and cry as you celebrate the joys of motherhood.

About the Author:
Jane is married to Rick Still, who she believes has the distinction of being the only man in history brave enough to give her earwax candles for her birthday. They had six children in eight years, and while her children were growing up, she discovered she had a great sense of humor. At least that was her take. Rick once said to her, "Honey, you know all those real corny things you say all the time? Who ever thought you could make money at it?" Her son Adam once told her, "Mom could you please stop telling jokes to my friends? It's really embarrassing." One of Jane's philosophies is, "You're not doing your job unless your children are worried about being seen in public with you."

My Review:
The first thing I liked about this book was the size. It is only 87 pages long, so it's very un-intimidating to read. It's also pink and about 6 inches square. You could probably trace around it to cut out papers for origami. I also appreciated that the chapters are pretty short, so if I only had a few minutes to read I could still finish a chapter.

When I read the title of this book, I thought it would be about humorous mothering experiences. So, I was confused when the first couple of stories were about being single and dealing with roommates. From there, I began to wonder if it was all going to be bathroom humor and I started to get nervous. Fortunately, my fears were unfounded. Not only did I find humorous mothering experiences, but many of them had nothing to do with bathrooms. The earlier stories were kind of a set-up for the mothering stories.

When I read a book that is supposed to be funny, I get defensive. I cross my arms and dare that book to make me laugh. We'll just see if you're funny, I think. I'm happy to report that this book made me laugh against my will. Some of it was genuinely funny. I wasn't rolling on the floor uncontrollably laughing, but the occasional chuckle did escape my lips. Yes, it did.

So, yes. I liked this book. I think it would make a good Mother's Day gift because, 1. It's small and affordable ($8.99 retail. you can purchase it at this link: http://www.amazon.com/Crazy-Daze-Motherhood-Jane-Still/dp/159955495X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1301328592&sr=1-1), 2. It's about imperfect mothering, which I find refreshing on Mother's Day, and 3. Everyone needs to laugh once in awhile--even against her will. Oh, and 4. How often can you buy a book that you can also use as an origami paper pattern?

You can win a fun prize from Jane to help celebrate the release of her book. Just go to her blog at http://www.janeisfeldstill.blogspot.com and become a follower, and then leave her a comment and tell her that you're a new follower. You could win:

1. Mother's Daze basket, soap, chocolate, lotion, decorative candles, and recipe cards

2. Box of blank cards with a smattering of Canadian chocolate

3. Chocolate

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Notes from Conrad Storad's Workshop at ANWA Conference Feb 25-26

Notes from ANWA Conference, February 25-26, 2011

Notes from Conrad Storad’s Friday morning presentation: “Sonoran Desert Tales,” Making Non-Fiction Fun for Young Readers.

Conrad Storad spent 25 years editing ASU’s Research Magazine. Since retiring from that position he has spent his time writing science and nature books for children. He has published 38 children’s books. He calls his books fun non-fiction, though his editors call some of them informative fiction.

Storad first talked about where to go to get information to write about when writing non-fiction for kids. He said that it isn’t necessary to go to the places you want to write about. There are many resources available, such as libraries and the Internet.  He also recommended talking to experts; scientist, engineers, doctors, and professors. He said these experts don’t talk like normal people. He sees himself as an interpreter for his young audience.  Storad said, “I use words and sentences that are easy to understand so that kids can understand the science.”

In this writing environment, every word, every sentence becomes very important. He said, “Try to explain day and night in 85 words so that a kid can understand it.” It is not easy writing. Kids have very short attention spans and are very visual. Storad shared his opinion that the Internet is turning us all into ADHD sufferers because of all the different information that is instantly available “just a click away.”
Storad had class members do a writing exercise. He emphasized that our number one tool is the brain. Other tools include paper, pen, word processor, a computer. The materials we use in writing are words, sentences, etc. He said if we learn something in story form we are much more likely to remember it. For the exercise, class members were assigned the task of writing for 15 minutes, describing a rainbow to someone who has never seen one—an extraterrestrial alien. Class members shared their work.

The second writing exercise Storad gave the class was to choose to write about one of several different animals and make it exciting for a child audience. Class members were given a sheet containing a small amount of information about each animal. They were told to write to the title: “All About Eating.” 30 minutes were given for writing, after which the class members shared their work with one another.

To conclude his class, Storad read one of his stories to the class, the way he does when presenting to a group of children. He used slides of the pictures in his books and puppets to keep the attention of his audience. Autographed books were raffled for door prizes

Friday, March 11, 2011

Book Review: Journey of Honor, a love story

From the back cover:
Disowned, she came to America anyway. Attacked and left pregnant by a vicious mob, she still pressed on. Finally, in spite of being accused of theft by the vilest of her attackers, Giselle tries to remain as upbeat and uncomplaining as a prairie wildflower as she travels on to Zion.

Thoroughly disillusioned with the ugliness and cruelty of slavery in the South, Trace Grayson leaves his young medical career to go west, hoping to leave bigotry and hatred behind. He begins taking goods by teamster train to sell in the territories. However, this fourth time across, in July of 1848, he's stuck in St. Joseph, Missouri, waiting for enough wagons to join the train so that they can leave.

Knowing that if they don't start west soon, they'll be caught by snow in the mountains, Trace is thrilled when the final wagon signs on. Then, when the beautiful, young Dutch girl traveling with the last wagon is falsely accused of stealing and is detained, the whole trip is jeopardized. Thrown together by circumstance, Trace and Giselle team up to begin to figure out just how to make this epic journey across a continent a success.

With a deep sense of honor and an equally strong sense of humor, together they learn to deal with everything except the one trial that neither of them can overcome.

My review:
I liked the premise of this book. I thought Hawkes had a great story idea and her characters were lovable. I was pulling for the protagonists the whole trek west. It was a sweet, clean love story. I also enjoyed the historical aspect of the novel, as I have pioneer ancestors and like imagining their struggles on their journey to the mountain West.

However, it is the historical aspect of this novel that caused me some trouble, because there are some pretty major historical inaccuracies in it. The first I noticed were the words "racist" and "racism." I happen to be old enough to remember when those words first started to appear in the American vocabulary. It was the late 1970's or early 80's at the very earliest. Before that we used the word "prejudiced." I'm pretty sure nobody used the words "racist" or "racism" in the 17th century, though I admit I wasn't around then.

The other historically inaccurate matter is that of the LDS Church's treatment of blacks. The novel is set in 1848 and a major plot point is that blacks can't hold the priesthood or go through the temple. This is not accurate. In fact, blacks were afforded the same privileges as whites until 1878, when Brigham Young made changes to that policy. Hawkes really should have done better research on this matter before writing this novel.

That being said, it is still a fun story to read and I think readers will enjoy it as long as they're not too hung up on historical accuracy.

Monday, February 28, 2011

My Weekend in Arizona

I got back late last night from the ANWA conference in Phoenix, "Writing at the Speed of Life." I thoroughly enjoyed the conference and learned a lot--so much that by Saturday afternoon my brain felt overloaded and rather numb.

The thing I enjoyed most was the association I had with other writers. I loved getting to know my roommates and carpool buddies from Tooele, Karen Hoover and Shari Bird. We had a lot in common and had a lot of fun together.

It was also my first time visiting Arizona and I think I timed my visit perfectly. I left behind cold, snowy weather and basked in the spring-like atmosphere of Arizona in late February. I drank fresh-squeezed orange juice from tree-ripened oranges, listened to the birds sing and even heard someone mowing their lawn. It was the perfect oasis in my desert of Utah winter. I might have to do this again sometime.

So, now I am back at home catching up with everything that was neglected in my absence. I think soon I will go outside and check to see if the bulbs I planted last fall are starting to grow. Spring will come.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Rewriting To Greatness

My favorite class at LTUE was Dave Wolverton's class on rewriting to greatness. Here are my notes on the class:

1. Triage Edit. The first pass through Dave says to look for the big things. Look for big problems with your manuscript and decide how to fix them.
A. What do I want to say that I'm not saying well enough? What do I need to add to this story? Do I have the scenes in place that are necessary to set up the message? I may need to add scenes. Are there other things that I need to add? Are my characters well drawn?
B. what needs to be deleted? If you have two characters who are basically identical twins in nature, you might decide you don't need one of them. So, delet all the words that mention the twin you're taking out. You may need to change the  beginning and take out set-up stuff. Eliminate long, descriptive passages that bog down the pace of your story.
C. What has to change? Some scenes will need to be changed because you got a good idea later on in your story writing. So, rewrite those scenes.
2. Consistency Edit. Read through the story and make sure things are consistent. Did I change the hair or eye color? I also look for dropped words, better ways to express myself. I tighten up my descriptions.add similes, metaphors, etc.There will always be "cold" areas where you just don't know what to write and how to fix it; bugaboo areas in your work. As you go along, make a note of things you want to change in a rewrite.

3. Voice Edit. Go through the story and make sure each of your three characters sound differently from one another and are consistent with themselves. Often you'll have to throw away the first part of your story, up to the point where you can hear the characters speaking in your head. Give your characters buzz words--things they always say. If a character limps, make sure you mention it a few times throughout your book. What color does a character frequently wear? This can be a very involved process that may involve research.

4. Descriptive Edit. Do my descriptions involve all the senses? Also, if too much description is there, pare it down. In descriptive passages, look for ways to add metaphors and similes, etc. Make it beautiful and evocative. When you're writing for a contest, if you know the judges, you can win by looking at their writing and write to their tastes. When you write to a wide audience, you don't know their tastes, so you have to write above par on all those levels. Look for ways to improve your story. Look at world creation. Is it different? Does it carry a sense of wonder? Do the characters seem real? How about lovable? Does the reader care about him?

5. Shotgun, General Edit. This is where you look for everything at once. I might go through my manuscript 3 to 4 times before I am satisfied. Every word must be right. At that point, I do a syllabic edit.

6. Syllabic Edit. Hemmingway is known for his short sentences, but he also wrote masterful long sentences. He wrote in monosyllables, which speeds up the writing, makes it easy to understand and allows you to read through it blazingly fast. When you want to speed up your writing, such as for a fight scene, do a syllabic edit. Replace longer words with shorter substitutes. Cut out the word, "finally." You probably just wrote a piece of boring writing before that word. Another word you can cut out is "then." There are a lot of words like that; words you don't even think about but have the habit of using. Sometimes you can cut entire sentences or even paragraphs. It might be brilliant, but if it disrupts the flow of the story, you should cut it out. Make the changes necessary to make the scene work. Don't be afraid to kill your darlings.

7. Line Edit. I sit down, take my manuscript and put it in a new typeface (Palatino size 14, for example), then read it out loud. You'll find dropped words and double words. Things will show up in a new typeface and size. Clean it up.

There are other types of edits you can do. Dave says he generally goes through his manuscript 6 to 7 times; some passages more than that. You can over-edit your writing. Don't take the passion out of your writing. A great story offends half of your audience. You're not going to please everybody. Sometimes we forget this.

When drafting, says Dave, I find myself going into edit mode. To avoid this, I just throw something in and know that I will fix it later. Sometimes you write an entire book and you never feel you got the character's name right. You can use place holders, even ZZZ or XXX until you decide and go back and change it.

Is there a limit to brevity? Yes there is. Sometimes you don't need to cut. In particular, if you want your style to stand out, some characters may speak with a wordy style. English and Australian writers don't try to shorten up their writing like we do here.

How do I keep myself from getting to close to my work? Dave says he sets it aside for a couple of months. He also give sit to others to look at to see if they see the same things he's seen. By the time you've gone through your manuscript 6 times, you hate everything. That's normal.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


I just completed three days of Life the Universe and Everything, a science fiction and fantasy symposium at BYU. This is a great conference. The conference included a gaggle of successful authors all eager to share their keys to the road to success with those of us still in the early footpaths of the journey.

My favorite class was...well, that's a little hard to pin down because they were all so good. Hm. I listened particularly attentively to anything Dave Wolverton, James Dashner and Dan Wells had to say, and they were featured in many classes and panels. They also had genre-specific classes for YA writers, among others, which I found very helpful. There was even a class about plants going to the dark side. As a Master Gardener, that one really got my creative juices flowing.

Okay, I have it: my favorite class was Dave Wolverton's workshop on self-editing. He talked about the 6-7 different edits he goes through before he sends his manuscripts off. This workshop was helpful to me because I was trying to put too much into my first draft. I came to realize that I can add lots and lots of details in the rewriting process.

The only downsides of the conference, as far as I am concerned were a frequently crying baby and the fact that there wasn't a lunch hour. The conference was still more than worth the $25 it cost to attend and I feel I am a better writer for having gone--or will be when I sit down and write.

Next on the horizon: ANWA conference in Phoenix.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Join Me at the ANWA Conference in Phoenix


That's what this year's writers conference is all about.

Yep! All. About. The. Awesome.

The conference is sponsored by the American Night Writers Association, but totally OPEN TO ANY AND ALL WRITERS!

This means you. It's time to come out of your writing closet.

Admit it. You want to be a writer.

Check out the class list below and see if one or ten of these classes are just what you need to jump start your writing...

CLASSES (FEBRUARY 25 & 26--Click on the link at the top of the sidebar for registration and more information)

Friday workshops are interactive and hands-on. Titles of classes that will be presented twice are followed by an asterisk (*).

Writing A Killer Query Letter (Friday Workshop)
Elana Johnson, author of Possessions, and query letter guru
Every submission, whether for a publisher or a literary agent, starts with a query letter. You can craft a query letter that will hook an editor or agent to request more material in just a few steps. Bring your one-page query letter to share, receive feedback, and leave this two-hour workshop with a killer query letter that will generate requests.

Sonoran Desert Tales—Making Nonfiction Fun for Young Readers (Friday Workshop)
Conrad J. Storad, author of Don't Call Me a Pig (A Javelina Story), and Rattlesnake Rules
To become a better writer one must write. Then write more. (Class includes writing exercises, discussion, sharing of exercises, handouts, prizes, and a demonstration of how to present non-fiction to your readers in an entertaining manner. NOT a session on how to get a children's book published. BRING paper and pen or other writing tool from which you can read your class work.)

Pitching to Agents, Editors, and Publishers (Friday Workshop)
Elana Johnson
So you think you want to pitch to an agent or editor? You don't need a 90 mph fastball, just a clear picture of how to talk to another human being about your book. Come learn how to say all the right things in all the right places that will impress an agent or editor enough to generate a request.

Read Me A Story—Reading Aloud to Cultivate the Art of Listening (Friday Workshop)
Conrad J. Storad
The art of listening is an acquired one. It must be taught and cultivated gradually—it doesn't happen overnight.

A Match Made in Heaven: Finding the Right Publisher and Convincing Them It's So (How to Submit)
Kirk Shaw, senior editor at Covenant Communications, Inc.; and freelance editor for David R. Godine, Publisher; Northwestern University Press; and other publishers
Finding the right publisher is like courting a potential mate: both need to feel it's the right move. How does an author narrow down all the possibilities to find the best option for her/his manuscript, and then go about proving she/he is a fine fit for the publisher?

Unlocking the Mystery of Writing YOUR History: Discover Your Roots and Strengthen the Branches of Your Family Tree
Carolyn Murphy, Phoenix Genealogy Examiner for Examiner.com, and founder of www.FamilyTreeQuest.com
Explore a wide-variety of easy tips and tools that make it plausible to integrate Personal History and Family History writing into your already busy schedule. Writing Personal or Family Histories can seem mysterious. Where do I begin? What do I do? How do I maintain my motivation? The task may seem mountainous—too big to undertake, too daunting to attempt to explore. The good news is that, in today's world, there are time-saving ideas and tools that simplify the challenge. Unlocking the mystery is simply a matter of gaining knowledge, "zeroing in" on choosing a specific task (whether large or small), working it into your routine, then maintaining your commitment and momentum.

The Three P's of Publishing, Promotion, and Publicity; or How to make Your Writing Pay, Pay, Pay! *
Cecily Markland, owner of Inglestone Pubishing, editor of The Beehive Newspaper, and a published author
So many choices, so little time? Learn the practices, principles and important pointers for publishing smart in today's market. Discover how to map out a publishing plan, decipher the pros and cons of the various publishing options, and create a publicity program that pays off.

Avoiding Childish Mistakes When Writing for Children
Kelly Sonnack, agent from Andrea Brown Literary Agency
What are some of the mistakes writers make when writing for children, and how can you avoid them? What are the things that make editors and agents cringe and stop reading? Kelly will discuss the pitfalls to avoid when writing your children̢۪s book.

Ten Tips for Terrific Talking: Dialogue and Humor *
Janette Rallison, national YA author
Good dialogue advances your plot, reveals characterization, adds tension, and can enchant—or if you do it wrong—bore your reader. Learn ten helpful techniques for doing it right. But wait, there's more! Come to Janette's class and you'll receive information about humor at no extra charge! Some rules and restrictions apply. Void where prohibited by law . . .

How to Start a Book and Get it Finished
Laurie Schnebly Campbell, author of Believable Characters: Creating with Enneagrams and noted teacher of online courses
For writers anywhere in the process from imagining a book to completing the final chapter, this class looks at how, when and why to start writing, roadblocks and solutions along the way, and what to do after reaching The End.

Barnes & Noble: Who Are We? *
J. Paul Deason, Community Relations Manager, Barnes & Noble
Barnes and Noble's roles in the book world, and the changes in book publishing. Avenues to take to get your book published and out there.

Write What You Know: Gleaning from Reality to Make Characters Breathe *
Angela Morrison, author of YA novels Sing Me to Sleep and Taken by Storm
Gather, delve into, and create, using Angela's favorite techniques to turn what we know, love, learn, and yearn for into living characters to populate our scenes.

Beginning Songwriting For The Versatile Writer In You
Chava Cannon, award-winning singer-songwriter and member of BMI
Calling all story-tellers! Did you know that songwriting is story-telling set to music? After this 1 hour class, you too will have the skills to write a song. You will learn basic song formatting, do's and don'ts, and how to get started. Pre-requisite: NONE. No musical skill required, just the willingness to step outside the "Novel" box. Come join in the FA LA LA and add songwriting to your resume.

Perils of Publishing: Extreme Makeover—Editing Edition
Kelly Gottuso Mortimer, agent and owner of Mortimer Literary Agency

Block-busting: Putting the Joy Back in Writing
Laurie Schnebly Campbell
At some point, almost all writers suffer from the inability to tell the story they want. Part of writer's block is a lack of joy in the process, so counselor Laurie Schnebly Campbell looks at the causes—including exhaustion, boredom and fear of success—and the benefits of this block. Take home new awareness of what works for you, and renewed inspiration for returning to the craft you love.

Write What You Live
Chris Stewart, best-selling author of The Great and Terrible series, and other books
There are a couple of things you really can't fake your way through, like rock climbing, flying airplanes, surgery, and yes . . . writing. That's why it's so important to write about the things you really know. The things you really feel. The things that matter to you most.

Kirk Shaw, Kelly Sonnack, Kelly Gottuso Mortimer, Cecily Markland, and J. Paul Deason

Hope you're as excited about the conference as I am!

Please copy and paste the above conference promotion. If you do, you can enter a contest on Valerie Ipson's blog at www.valerieipson.blogspot.com

Friday, February 11, 2011

Book Review: The Upside of Down by Rebecca Talley

I thought I'd post my book reviews in the main part of my blog and then transfer them to the side bar when I make my next post. So, here goes.

From the back of the book:
"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 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."
 As the  mother of seven children myself, this book really resonated with me. I could tell that Talley had really been there and done that in mothering a large family. Her descriptions of the mischievousness of her two youngest children had me laughing and nodding in recognition of days gone by when I had the very same experiences with my own small children. I imagine some readers would think the scenes are exaggerated. I'm here to say they are not.

I found the writing smooth and very readable. I also found the characters to be, for the most part, believable. I will say that the husband was a little too good to be true, and always seemed to be the strong one who said the exact right thing at the exact right time. I would have liked to see just a teensy bit of weakness in him too. It would have made his character a little more real.

I also had a little trouble believing that Natalie would really be so naive at her age and mothering experience to believe that anything she prayed really hard for would happen. It seems to me that by the time you have seven children, you've pretty much figured out how prayer really works. But, I'm speaking from my experience. Perhaps other women would be like Natalie. It certainly did not ruin the book for me.

I kind of liked that (slight plot spoiler here) the teen-aged daughter's issues were not resolved at the end of the book. If they had been, I think it would have been just a little too icky-sweet, too unrealistic. The daughter exercised her agency, as they will do, and everyone is just making the best of it. That felt very real to me.

So, good job Rebecca Talley. Thanks for a good read.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Finding Time to Write

I made this cute little cake for my 6th child's (daughter) 12th birthday party Saturday.

At our ANWA (American Night Writers Association) meeting last Thursday, author Connie Sokol gave an excellent lesson about making time to write. I've blogged about it in the Author's Incognito blog, where I blog every Sunday. Go take a look! http://www.ldswritersblogck.blogspot.com
 I will be blogging about the second half of my notes next Sunday.

Meanwhile, I've gotten back to writing. With the new year, I made myself a new morning schedule that involved getting up a little earlier to give myself a regular chunk of time to write before things get busy. It is working. I've made some changes with my novel. I've changed the main character's name. It started out as Sable, then changed to Jennifer. Now it's Jerica. I think that name will stick. I also made Jerica's father disappear in the first chapter, which necessitated some revising of several chapters. And, I've had some technology ideas to help build my futuristic world. So, I'm pugging away at it. This draft is not lovely, but I know I can go back and make the writing better, improve the scenes and deepen the characterization. For now, I'm just trying to get the story out.

I started and finished Karen Hoover's book, Sapphire Flute recently. I'll write up a review of it on the right hand column.

I also went to my first book launching party. It was for Tristi Pinkston's new book, Dearly Departed. I bought her new book, as well as the first book in the Secret Sisters series. I brought some new socks to donate to charity and my name was entered in a drawing. And I won! I never win anything! My prize, which will be mailed this week is a copy of Susan Law Corpany's novel, Lucky Change, and Rebecca Talley's novel, The Upside of Down. I am so excited to win these books! 

My to-read stack is threatening to topple over on me. I dream for relaxing time to just enjoy reading. It rarely happens, so I catch snatches of reading time early, late and while waiting for things.