Wendy's favorite quotes


"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind."— Dr. Seuss

Sunday, June 5, 2016

A Visit With The Awesome Jessica Day George!

 My friend, Jessica Day George, was presenting at a local elementary (Gate City) and we treated her to dinner while she treated us to some writing tips.

She is super talented and writes middle grade & YA. She spilled the beans about her meanest teacher ever and how she decided to become a writer!

 -       Jessica Day George  –
-       School presentation given to kids at Gate City Elementary
           
Jessica read 165 books in 2015. Her goal is to read 170 books by new years eve this year.
            Books were a big deal in her family. Her dad holds a book while watching TV so he can read during the commercials.
            She was so excited to learn to read and see what all the fuss was about. So she learned…and it was awful. Run Pug, run! Seriously? Who cares if pug runs? She hated to read.
            When she was little, there was no such thing as Harry Potter or Maze Runner. No Percy Jackson. No fun books. We had Hardy Boys and the Babysitters club. Always boys were getting to find treasure—but they gave it back! They don’t even keep 1 doubloon. Also, we had horse and dog books—but the only point to reading these books was to teach people to be responsible animal owners, so all the animals died.
            Her meanest teacher ever made her do a book report. She decided to reuse her old book report and wrote a fake report. Her made-up author was named after the kid in front of her (very sneaky). When she was caught, her teacher made her do it again and gave her one night to read a book and write a report. (Or else she’d call Jessica’s mom) She chose Robin McKinley’s The Hero of the Crown—which changed everything. Dragons! A girl with long red hair! Adventure! (And no stupid babysitting.)
            Her next project was to do a report on a real person. She chose the author Robin McKinley. That was when she learned that writing about dragons was a job you could have. She decided then in 5th grade that she wanted to be a writer.
            She went to college and had amazing teachers…except for one professor. (Fred Finnegar, a red head with mustache who was the #1 expert in the world on Moby Dick) Seriously, the meanest teacher in the world. He asked them to go home and write a story and bring it back the next day.
            After class, he asked her to stay. She was excited at first, thinking he liked her story, but after a long, awkward pause, he said,
“You have a little bit of writing talent. I don’t want you to throw it away writing trash for children.” She spent the rest of the semester writing serious, hard core stories, and got straight A’s. She graduated and continued writing all those serious books. She hated it.
            She sent her serious grown up masterpiece to a literary agency and 220 rejection letters later, some were nice and said her writing is good but the story is awful. Some were mean.
            5 books later, a friend told her, “Anyone can write a romance novel. So write one and get it published.” She wrote romance novels, but was rejected because she didn’t have enough kissing in the books.
            Her oldest child (now 11) didn’t sleep through the night till he was 4 years old. She got the 220th rejection letter at this time. It said something like, “I really hate your writing please never bother me again.” She began to doubt whether or not she could be an author. She told her husband that she wanted to quit. He said, “Oh, thank heavens!” He said, “You’re funny, but your books are not. You cry over the books and over the mail with the rejections.” Reluctantly, she agreed. Time to quit.
When she went to close her laptop, she started to cry because the line popped into her head, “It was my aunt who gave me to the dragon.” And this whole storyline popped into her head. What if you went into the dragon’s cave and it was all full of shoes, and another dragon collected only stained glass, and another collected dogs?
            Her husband was confused, “What? Why are you crying?”
            “I just came up with a story, and I want to write the book!”
            “No! We’re quitters, we’re quitting, remember?”
            “But if I don’t write it down, I’m so tired, I’ll forget!
            “Fine. You can write one more book.”
She decided to write this book for HER SON. It had everything fun in it: her candy-eating dog, fancy ball gowns, etc. She put everything she’s ever loved in it, and told no one. She was afraid to tell people and have them hate the book that even had her own dog in it. She was so excited! She loved it! She laughed and loved writing it.
            Finally, she sent her first chapter and a description of the story to a friend. Unbeknownst to Jessica, that friend sent her chapter to a New York editor (who also did Shannon Hale’s books).
            That editor wanted to meet Jessica so, Jessica’s friend tricked her into coming to meet her. Suddenly, the editor pulls out Jessica’s story and said she loved the books and wanted to talk contract. Afterwards, Jessica grabbed her friend and said something like “I love you so much and hate you at the same time!” while shaking her affectionately.  
            Suddenly someone was giving her money for her books!
            Then editing time! She got the manuscript back, and it was all red. Circled, loads of lines, and whole chapters X’ed out. She was shocked. She didn’t know what editors did and wondered if the pages bleeding all over the place meant that the editor hated her work, but nope. This is part of the process. They worked on it back and forth for a year. She had to read Dragon Slippers 16 times while editing it.
            Finally, she was finished.
            Her editor wanted to see the other 8 books and Jessica wouldn’t even tell her about them. “Don’t even worry about them. They don’t exist!” She felt confident saying this because she had found the key; write about things you love!
            By the time Dragon Slippers came out, she had written three more books, and she wanted to write about her favorite fairytale. It had The North Pole, Norway, and Polar bears. She speaks German, Norwegian, and Old Norse. When you study those things, fairy tales are a big part of learning.
            So she began writing improved versions of fairytales—without the brutal things, like decapitating 25 princes who couldn’t figure out where the princesses were dancing at night.
            She found out that you can write about whatever you like to think about. What is it like to have a secret pet? What’s better than a hidden little thing? How about a griffin hidden in the castle?
            If you don’t like to read, or if you do like to read, the book is out there that is right for you! When you find it, “I promise it will be awesome!

Later at dinner, Jessica said that she doesn’t actually outline her books. She usually has the beginning and end in mind and might jot down a few things in between, but big outlines are not her thing.

In short, I’m happy to report that Jessica is every bit as funny, kind, talented, and awesome as the heroines in her novels. Maybe cooler.

Thank you, Jessica!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Writer Friends Are Awesome! (A quick peek back at 2015)

As you should know by now, the name of my blog isn't just a catchy line; I'm really a farmer. Here's some corn the kidlets and I picked. (This is one of many loads every day.)
And here's my maze. It's 1.5 miles if you take zero wrong turns. Most people take almost an hour to get through it.
(Remember, I make it all with a weed wacker.)
 I love to give things away to people who need a lift, so we created the Pumpkin Fairy--a mischievous sprite who drops loads of pumpkins off to people who are struggling. 
You get the idea. The farm can be fun, but it's also a LOT of work. Writing and visiting with my writer buddies is the highlight of my year. First, I attended the iWrite Network writer's retreat in March. Donna Weaver, Candace Mortenson, Cindy Hogan, & a bunch more did an excellent job.
And then of course there was the LDStorymakers Conference--hands down my favorite event of the year. Here's two of my favorite guys, James Dashner & J Scott Savage. Seriously, these guys are awesome. James talked about wanting to give up, and how his friends were the motivation that kept him going. Totally made me teary-eyed. 

My writing group at home meets twice a month, so we keep each other motivated and accountable. (but alas, I have no pictures of our little group)
In December, Jeff Savage and his wife, Jennifer, came up to Idaho Falls for a dinner with a bunch of us. He explained his outlining strategy for us. 


I am the Activities Director of Author's Incognito, the sister group to LDStorymakers. This year, our group underwent a huge change including a name change. AI is now Storymakers Tribe! My good friend, Marcy Curr, took my initial sketch and computerized it into this new logo for the group. I think it turned out pretty cool.





In November, I hosted the Storymakers Tribe writer's retreat with a special guest, Kevin J Anderson! We were very excited to listen to his advice and tips on writing. Everyone had an extremely productive and rejuvenating weekend.


Tada! So now you're caught up with my 2015. What was your favorite part of last year?

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Writer Retreats. Are they worth it?

In a word? 
YES!

Retreats vary according to who organizes them, but usually, the best parts are universal:

* Time to write. -- Away from your family, friends, job, house, chores, farm, pet dinosaur, and anything else that interferes with your writing time.

* Little or no responsibility for meal preparations -- As a mother of five children, let me just say how awesome it is to have people make food and feed me. Not mac and cheese either. We're talking crepes, Hawaiian haystacks, salads, fruit, roasted chicken. Heavenly.

* New friends! -- even the most introverted of writers comes away from retreats with a few new friends. Writers usually get along famously when tossed in a room together. Don't be surprised if you hear snippets of conversation like, "Would a body be harder to find in a lake or in the ocean?" Plotting murders make for great bonding time.

*  Free help. -- With a house full of writers, it's no biggie if you get to the end of your novel and can't figure out how Joe rescues Fifi from the White Lord, because you've got a captive audience that loves to brainstorm! With all these brilliant minds bouncing ideas off each other, there's bound to be something that sparks the idea to get you over the block. (this feature is also extremely helpful for spelling and punctuation advice. Don't fear the Grammar Nazi's, they are harmless as long as the chocolate doesn't run out.)

* Nice rooms -- Most retreats offer nice accommodations, though you might be expected to share a bed. If that is a deal breaker for you, consider bringing your own cot and/or mattress.

* Bonus Prizes! -- At many retreats, there are door prizes or swag and awards for the highest word count, early birds, night owls, best quotes, or most pages edited.

* Classes and/or Workshops. -- Sometimes they offer classes on marketing, brainstorming, or any number of other subjects. They can even watch and analyze movies and discuss plot points as they come up.

As I write, it's the last night of the iWrite retreat in Heber, Utah, and we're all up late to savor the last of our freedom here. I won the award for being most cheerful (I think it's probably my funny writer shirts). It might be silly, but I almost teared up that people enjoyed being with me as much as I loved being with all of them. Alas, it's time to go, but I'm already looking forward to the next one in the fall.

If you can swing it, GO. Retreats are wonderful!
I'm in the hat next to Canda Mortenson, as we roast marshmallows over the fire. Cindy Hogan is the one photo-bombing in the back. This was taken during a break the last night. So. Much. Fun!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Funny Writer Shirts--it's an Addiction.


So, why the shirts? Well, I blame it on Lisa Mangum and Dan Wells who made me laugh with their funny writer shirts. I spend half the year running around in cowboy boots, man clothes, and a wide brimmed hat--not the best outfit for feeling like a girl. Shirts that make me smile are my own little rebellion--sort of like the name of this blog. I may have to farm, but dangit, I can do it with my own flair.

Last year I organised a writers retreat in Heber, Utah for Authors Incognito. Just for fun, I gathered a bunch of my favorite shirt sayings and had them all made into shirts for the attendees. It was awesome how well the shirts fit the personalities of writers who got them. Here's a few of those sayings:


    • I’M PLOTTING AGAINST YOU. (I’m a writer. It’s what I do.)
      WRITER’S BLOCK: when your imaginary friends won’t talk to you.
      If you were in my novel, I’d have killed you off by now.
      Writers get the last word.
      Some of my best friends are fictional.
      I never got my acceptance letter from Hogwarts so I’m leaving the Shire to become a Jedi.
      WARNING! I’m a writer. Anything you say or do may be used in a story.
      Protagonist
      Be nice to me. (Or I’ll put you in my novel.)
      This is my Writer’s costume.
      There. Their. They’re. Get it right. 
      I’m not daydreaming. I’m Plotting!
      I’m not quiet. I’m plotting.
      There are only two rules: #1 Butt goes in chair. #2 Words go on page. (Chair is optional)
      Save a writer. Buy a book.
      Shut up and Write.
      I read past my bedtime. 
      I write. Therefore I rewrite. 
      Reading Ninja! No book is safe. 
      If a book is well written, I always find it too short. –Jane Austin
      Never wrong a writer. They get their revenge in print. 
      Not all those who wander are lost. –Tolkien
      Irony. The opposite of wrinkly. 
      LET’S EAT GRANDMA. LET’S EAT, GRANDMA. COMMAS SAVE LIVES!
      I like big books and I cannot lie.
      Only YOU can prevent comma splices.
      Book Junkie
      WRITER
      Go Away. I’m writing.



  •  
Here's a few of my shirts. A Charlotte that says "Meh" cracks me up. My Irony shirt got a gigglesnort out of Brandon Sanderson when I met in last summer at a signing. Shirt.woot.com and teefury.com feed my addiction with daily deals, but I hold out for shirts that really make me smile--usually about once a month.

Do you have any little writer quirks? Favorite pens? A closet stash of action figures? What's your secret addiction?

Friday, December 6, 2013

How to Lose Fans


Do you have an infestation of Fans? Have no fear. Follow this simple guide and you’ll be rid of those pesky Fans in no time! 

Fans find you in many ways...
TIP #1 
Be sure that your website is very hard to find. Don't use tags or labels that people might think of to search for your stuff.



Blast! They found you? Don't worry.
That first moment of contact is easily broken.
Tip #2 Be Paranoid and Accusatory.


Still a fan? No worries. Tip #3
Become a cyber-stalker. 


TIP #4:
Publicly argue with them over their opinions.

TIP #5
Be Really, Really, Really Negative.


Tip #6:
Ignore ALL Deadlines.
Keep them waiting as long as possible!


TIP #7:
Don't Deliver What You Promised.
Plot lines? Pfft. Just make it up.

Tip #8
Follow Trends.
Be sure to crank out the same stuff everyone else is doing.


TIP #9
Make Sure Your Fans Feel Unappreciated!
Fans are a dime a dozen. Make sure they know it. 


Tip #10
(This is crucial!)
If you've been rude to a fan, or hurt their feelings, NEVER say you're sorry! Let them wallow in their own little world of miserable disillusionment.



Wait for it... 
Success! You've officially lost a FAN. 
Whew! That was close. Fans can breed like cockroaches, spreading their fan-ness from one to another by word of mouth until a whole mess of them clamor for your attention and--I shudder to think--purchase your stuff. 

Just follow these ten simple steps and you will never have to worry about Fans again! 

Good luck!

*Have you ever seen/experienced a meltdown from an artist/writer? What's the fastest way people can lose you as a fan?*



Saturday, November 23, 2013

When the Setting is Your Hometown.


My latest completed novel is a dark YA suspense called FIREBUG which takes place in my hometown. I chose to use my town as the setting for a couple reasons. First of all, there had been several cases of arsonists here over the last several years. One summer about three years ago, we got a call in the night because the haystacks on both sides of the farm were burning. It turns out that an arsonist was walking across country and setting fire to any stacks he ran into. Fortunately for us, he missed our stack, though many of our neighbors lost their supply of feed for their cattle.

A bonus to setting the story in your hometown is that people who live there often know things that an outsider might not. It’s easy to set the scene at a high school where I walked the halls as a student.
It surprises me that I've had several beta readers say that they would never write a story about their hometown—that the bad things that happen to the characters feels too close and too real when the setting is just down the road.

They also worry about offending people. If the story calls for a dirty cop or an unethical mayor, then they worry that the real mayor or police of the town will be bothered by a story written about them.

Here’s the part that intrigues me: Why does it make a difference if the crooked cop is in your town or another town? Whatever town the story is set in will have things made up about the people living there, be it bad or good. Does distance from the made-up corruption make it easier to handle?


Sometimes our stories require the setting to be somewhere far from where we live, but if your story COULD happen in a place like your town, would you set the story there? Why or why not? Does writing about your hometown bring things too close to home?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Plot Twist

Truth.
 
In my world, harvest is in full swing, but I'm working with one eye to the future. More specifically, November 1st, my most favorite day of the year. Winter is my writing season. Bring it on.