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

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Meet Aprilynne Pike, Best-Selling YA Author

A visit with Aprilynne Pike, part 3 of a discussion panel from Storymakers writer’s conference. (Our first two were with Dan Wells and Stephanie Black)

Aprilynne Pike, author of New York Times best sellers Wings and Spells, added a fresh voice to the discussion. I was impressed with her no-nonsense point of view both times I came to hear her speak.

Aprilynne doesn’t edit as she writes except for typos. Instead, she rereads what she just wrote the next day for 20 minutes and makes minor changes then.

She says “I swear by outlines,” referring to a 60 point outline that incorporates pacing. She jokes about having to put two child gates across the door to get her writing time in because there is always more laundry, dishes, and kids to fill your time. “You have to make (writing) a priority. Most authors give up T.V. to make time.”

“Writing is work, even when it’s fun. A manuscript becomes a novel with work!” She explained that in order for books to be best sellers, agents must be able to classify them. In other words, it’s a bad idea to put “my work transcends classification” on your query. Know your genre and be sure your book can be classified. She notes,“a marketable book gets you an agent faster than a beautiful one.”

When asked about agents, Aprilynne replied, “I wanted to be a best selling author. For that I needed to be in the top 6 publishing houses.” An agent was vital to that plan. She wrote 3 ½ books, and spent 2 ½ years querying agents—not publishers. In the end her persistence paid off and with the help of her agent, she has achieved her goal of being a best seller. She said, “your agent should be buying into you, not just your book. You need to find someone like that.” She recommended following Agent Kristen Nelson’s Pub Rants blog to get a good feel for the agent side of the industry.

She cautions against being scammed by a bad agent. “A bad agent is way worse than no agent. You should look up the predators and editors website.

I visited with Aprilynne in the bookstore as she put out some more copies. She signed my copies of Wings and Spells—great reads, both of them. I’m happy to report that in person, she is very nice with a quick sense of humor.

Keep an eye out for her third book, Illusions which is due out May 3rd, 2011.

If you follow her blog then you might have heard her good news. She had her baby at home (she was a doula in her pre-bestseller life) on November 27th. Cute little thing too. You should drop in and wish her well!

Have any of you read her books? What did you think?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Reflecting on NaNoWriMo

November is over, a time for reflection on gratitude—and this crazy idea to write 50,000 words in one month.

As of November 30th, my word count on my YA dystopian novel, Colorless, stood at 54,588 words. I should have a good version ready for readers by spring. I could have done more that week, but opted to do the whole Thanksgiving/snowday/family thing instead.

Now is the time for thankful hearts, exercise machines, and reflections on the lessons learned during NaNoWriMo.

Even something as solitary as writing is more fun with friends—be it in person or online.

Some jewels of wisdom I gleaned by following @FakeNNWMTips on twitter:

“Characters with verbal tics add to word count and have more personality! ‘Two…two birds with, you know, a stone.’ See? #nanowrimo”

“Keep at it! You’re only making a penny per word less than Charles Dickens! #nanowrimo”

I learned that while I can write fast—up to 6,000 words in one day—I do better work and avoid burnout if I plug along and write about 1,000 words a day.

I can’t promise that I’ll do NaNo again next year, but I do know that I have more to work with now than I ever have this early in the winter/writing season.

And to all those valiant Nanoers still emerging bleary-eyed from the trenches. Take a shower, my friends, it’s over. Find those critters--AKA, your kids--give ‘em a squeeze, and skip off for a winter buried in edits. Such are the joys of writers.

Did any of you learn something new about yourself this last month?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Colorless- A Peek at the Story

Dear Awesome Readers,

This is an update from the trenches of NaNoWriMo. So far things are going really well and I'm wondering why I never had the courage to try to write 50,000 words in one month before.

I've learned a few things about myself.
#1 When I shut off my inner editor and just let my fingers fly, I can write over 1300 words in 30 minutes. (Who knew? Quality of those words: spelling = horrible, grammar = frightening, ideas = pretty darn good. )

#2 I can average over 2,000 words a day, every day. The biggest day so far was at an awesome writer's retreat I went to in Park City Utah with the coolness that is Authors Incognito. I wrote 12,000 words in two days. Was I the fastest? Not by a long shot. One amazing gal, Heather Justesen , threw down 27,000 words in the same time period. (Holy crap, she's fast!) I'll blog about the retreat later.

#3 I am in my happy place when I'm sitting at my computer, totally engrossed in the story unfolding beneath my fingers. I used to think of myself as a really slow writer, but now I think any limitations on speed were only put there by me. I have written over 30,000 words in only 12 days. I never dreamed that was possible for me.

#4 My dog makes a really nice foot warmer. When my 3yrold becomes too bothersome, which is every day, my dog signals the end of playtime by sneaking under my tiny desk and laying on my feet so I'll keep the little pest away from her. It's winter. I don't mind typing with a heater on my feet--unless she has gas and then I do mind, very much.

Would you like a sneak peek at my first chapter of COLORLESS?  I've pasted it into one of those cloud things on the left side of my blog.I think it's kind of pretty. If you don't see it, try this link.
Happy writing everyone! Have you ever taken on a challenge and surprised yourself with your success?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Riyria Revalations, a Fantasy Series Worth Reading

This evening I had the pleasure of finishing Michael J. Sullivan’s latest installment of the fantasy series Riyria Revelations, Wintertide.

In short, I am amazed.

One of the things that make the Riyria Revelations different is that they were conceived as a single tale, told in six installments. Each book could stand alone, but they are oh-so-much better when the reader builds on the story that came before. Another outstanding quality is that these books are completely appropriate for any audience because there is no swearing or sex! How tedious it is to pick up a promising book only to find it’s just a chain of smut and profanity glued together with a pitiful plot. If you want an excellent read, this is it. If you’re looking for a romp in the sheets, look elsewhere.

I’d heard about his first book, The Crown Conspiracy, on Goodreads and it sat on my To-Read list for months, but once I cracked it open, I couldn’t put it down.

His masterfully woven tale of two thieves blends humor and intrigue with a dab of brilliance. Completely sucked into the fantasy, I turned the pages, brain working overtime in a futile effort to guess the ending. You can read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of the Crown Conspiracy here.

Sullivan’s next two books, Avempartha and Nyphron Rising, likewise were wonderful books. Full of adventure, betrayals, magic and mystery—the epitome of what fantasy novels should be.
I was pleased to find each additional installment better than the last, but it wasn’t until the 4th book, The Emerald Storm that the series elevated to a whole new level for me. Packed with the usual rich characters, settings and banter, the storyline builds with twists and turns until the final cunning surprise knocks us clear out of the ring. I closed the book almost in reverence, marveling at how each piece fell nicely in place without me ever being the wiser.

With excitement and a little trepidation (because I couldn’t fathom how Sullivan could possibly top his last achievement), I pre-ordered book #5, Wintertide.

I am thrilled to report that he did it again. Wintertide opens with our two favorite thieves, Hadrian and Royce, riding into Aquesta, the new capital of the Empire—a government that has been thrust into power through the devious machinations of a corrupt few which work their trickery behind façade of divine rule. Circumstance and duty separate the thieves as they each strive to save the people they love. Do they succeed? I’m not telling.

The battle for the throne is played in back rooms through subtle power-plays which culminate in the biggest power struggle of all. Personally, I’m dying to know who threw that fateful dagger, but I hardly dare guess because if there’s one thing I’ve learned from reading Sullivan’s books, it’s that I can’t guess what will happen next.

There are many authors that I admire, many more whose books are among my favorites, but Michael J. Sullivan’s books are in a class above.

I strongly suggest you read the Crown Conspiracy. In fact, you may as well buy the whole series because once you start, you’ll need them all before the week’s out.

Need more proof of how amazing this series is? Check out these stats:

2010 Foreword Magazine Book of the Year Finalist (Avempartha)
2010 Foreword Magazine Book of the Year Finalist (Nyphron Rising)
2009 Dark Wolf Award Top 10 Fantasy Books
2009 National Indie Book Award Finalist
2008 ReaderViews Annual Literary Award Finalist
2007 Foreword Magazine Book of the Year Finalist (The Crown Conspiracy)

Have any of you ever read his work before?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Taking the Plunge: NaNoWriMo

Hello cyber buddies!

I’ve decided to finally take the plunge and do NaNoWriMo. What is it, you ask? It’s an insane challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in one month. November. That’s right. ONE MONTH! I’ve heard about it for years in forums, but I’ve never had the desire to try…until now.

I have a myriad of good, perfectly valid reasons why I don’t have time to do it. Just add 5 kids to the farm and you’ve got an idea of how much I have on my plate. However, I also am a writer.

It finally dawned on me that even if I tried and only got 40k words in one month, then that’s still an awesome achievement. If we make it, we win. If we don’t reach our goal, we still win because we made the effort and wrote every day for the whole month. Is there a downside to this?

If any of you would like to join me in my quest for 50K, my username is mrs.farmgirl. I think I’ll spend every spare moment from now till November outlining.

Happy writing everyone, and I hope to see you there!

Are any of you doing NaNoWriMo with me?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Winners of the INTRINSICAL Givaway!

Ding, Ding! Time's up! Special thanks to everyone who posted a comment for Lani Woodland's awesome novel, Intrinsical.  We put each of your names on a paper a mixed them all up in a bowl. My 6 year-old drew the winning names.

The winners of the signed Intrinsical bookmarks with the cover picture on them:

Jen Wilks
Ariell Larson

The winner of the signed copy of the book Intrinsical, by Lani Woodland is...

...drum roll please....


I will mail your bookmarks off tomorrow and Lani will mail Gail the Book directly.
Happy writing everyone. I hope you are all having a wonderful October!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Intrinsical, a New Twist on the Paranormal

*UPDATE!* Lani read the comments below and noticed that people were hoping for a copy of the book...Wish granted! She has offered a free copy to add to the giveaway for this post! Swe-e-et. Spread the word my friends, this is a real treat! *

Need a new YA paranormal book that breaks the mold? Intrinsical may be just what you're looking for. I had the pleasure of visiting with Lani Woodland at Storymaker's 2010 and am happy to report that she is witty and fun, but also very nice and personable. This gal is talented! The beautiful cover is a photo she took underwater. I'm trying to think of an appropriate description and I think "Wow" covers it pretty well.
My review:
Yara’s Waker grandmother was crazy—at least that’s what people said about her so-called ability to speak to ghosts. Embarrassed by the name-calling, Yara tried to ignore the whole ghost issue—until the day she saw one try to kill another student at Penderell School.
She tried to ignore the evidence that her own powers as a Waker were growing. But each new twist and turn pushes her farther into the realm of the ghosts. Especially chilling are the wet footprints, faintly smelling of chlorine, which appear in her dorm room. You can almost hear the wet slurp of each step on the carpet as the unseen menace approaches.

Also caught in the middle of the ghostly mystery is Brent, the preppy handsome boy who takes an interest in Yara, and Cherie, Yara’s best friend who hopes for proof of ghosts, but lacks any paranormal talent. As Yara gets to know more of the students, it becomes apparent that something sinister is behind the deaths at the school—and that the Penderell curse is more than just a scary story.

I really enjoyed Lani Woodland’s debut novel! The writing is fast paced and well done. Free of swearing or sex, this is a clean read, appropriate for all YA readers. Everyone tired of the same-old Vampire/werewolf thing will love this new twist on the paranormal.

Pull up a chair and turn on the lights; you’ll need them both to sit a spell with the ghosts at Penderell.

Want to win a signed Intrinsical bookmark *OR a copy of the book*?
Leave a comment with your email (youremail AT wherever DOT com -to avoid spammers) and we'll draw 2 names for the winners. Contest closes midnight, October 17th.

*Bonus entries for you if you tweet, Facebook, or blog about the book and then tell me you did it.

Find out more about Intrinsical at the Website .Spread the word my friends, your tweeps and facebook buddies need to hear about this book.

Friday, September 17, 2010

My IRL Update

Hello all you awesome writer cyber-buddies!

I’m overdue for an update on how things are going here on the farm in real life. Did you forget I farm? The title of my blog was a hint, but you can check out the farm here if you like. Goddess of the Corn sounds so much better than Unpaid Grunt Worker--don't you think? 

Well, since the untimely demise of my laptop, my computer time has been extremely limited due to harvest season. Most of my day is spent outside walking though miles (not an exaggeration) of sweet corn rows and picking hundreds of dozens of corn. When I’m not doing that, I’m selling the corn and other fresh veggies out of the garage. I’m also hustling to get ready for the corn maze since every 4th grader in all of Pocatello will be coming to my farm the last 3 days of September. That’s around 1,200 kids, my friends.

The highlight of the day today was word from my husband (computer wiz extraordinaire) that my new laptop will be delivered Monday! This means that in-between helping customers, I’ll be able to access the computer, write, and catch-up on all the wonderful blog posts from you all that I’ve been missing for the last month and a half.

I’ve discovered that my muse hates writing with pen & ink. My first novel was written on the computer and writing without one feels off to me. The result is that I've been taking notes in the notebooks and reading several books a week. (My husband thinks I'm addicted to books--he may be right)

What about you? Have you found that one way of writing meshes best with your creativity? Do you prefer paper, computer or cave drawings perhaps?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Winners of the UNLOCKED Giveaway!

First of all, don’t forget to get your own free ebook download of Unlocked, Ten Key Tales. Wouldn’t you want to read my story, Crop Circles? One super easy click and this YA anthology is yours. http://www.unlockedproject.com 

Now, onto the contest results…

I wrote the names of everyone who entered a “keyn” response to the Unlocked giveaway on cards, put them in a bowl, mixed them up, and then had my 3 year old hand me three of cards.

And the winners of the Unlocked paperback copies are…. Drum roll please.

Grandpa Goose

*Cheers! Yay! Woot Woot!*

Congratulations to the winners and a heartfelt thanks to everyone who entered.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Good News & Bad News

The Good News: I'll soon have a computer again! As my tweeps and facebook buddies know, My poor laptop died.

We held a candlight vigil for the hard drive amidst much tears, wailing, and gnashing of teeth. Okay so maybe it was just me that mourned the loss of all those outlines and notes that it took to the grave, but still. The bright side of this tragedy is that I've emailed all finished chapters to my writing buddies already so my current WIP (Colorless) and my finished one (Coyote Dreams) are not gone forever--just the notes I've made this summer. (You know, all the research, planning, soul searching, character studies... I need to stop now or I'll forget this is the bright side.)

A fixed laptop means that I'll be able to write during the day again--as opposed to in the middle of the night when I should be resting up for the next big day of unpaid grunt labor--er, I mean farm work. Harvest season here on the farm can be brutal, but I strive to write anyway. You can see what I'm up to on the farm right now here.

The Bad News:
You only have a few days left to win a free copy of my book, UNLOCKED, Ten Key Tales. Leave a comment on this thread and you will be entered for one of 3 free copies. No catches. It's easy! C'mon, don't you know a  reader who needs a new good, clean book? Give it a go.

More Good News:
You can download the book for free right now. Go to http://www.unlockedproject.com/ to get your free copy.

Friday, August 13, 2010

UNLOCKED has been...well, unlocked. *Happy Release Day Everyone!*

Hello All,

UNLOCKED is now available to you free! Check out http://www.unlockedproject.com/ and download this YA collection for you, or your kids for a fun, end-of-summer read. Be sure to put your name in the hat for a one of the 3 free copies I'm giving away. You can enter in the comments here  in my contest.

Would you be willing to give us feedback on the project? Like it? Don't like it? Tell us the how and why. You can join the discussion on Goodreads in the new Unlocked group and even chat with each author about their story there. If you'd rather blog, you can check out http://unlockedproject.blogspot.com/ and connect with authors that way.

Remember, if you tweet, blog, or facebook about UNLOCKED, then you get an extra entry in the hat for  a free copy, just tell me in the comments what you did.


I had the opportunity to be a guest blogger on Christine Bryant's blog series, Friendly Fridays. Would you like to know a little more about me? Check it out on Christine's Blog!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Book Trailer for Unlocked & Book Giveaway!

Hi everyone! This is the book trailer I've been working on for UNLOCKED, the YA anthology that will be available for free downloads on August 13th. I've just received permission for the music so I'm very excited! I hope you like my first attempt at making a video!

Now, how would you like to win a free physical copy of Unlocked?

Each story in the book contains the word key, though each used the word's meaning differently. So here's your challenge: Think of an unusual way to use the word key and post it in the comments below. At the end of August, I'll draw 3 names and send each a copy of UNLOCKED.
Post your email like myemailATthisserverDOTcom to avoid spam.

Extra entries for every tweet, facebook mention and blog. Be sure to report what you did.

August 13th is nearly here! I can't wait to share this with you all.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mark your Calendar--UNLOCKED is coming August 13th!

UnlockedUnlocked by Wendy Swore, Rita J Webb and 7 other goodreads authors.

The brain-child of my co-editor (Rita Webb) and myself, this YA anthology is coming out August 13th! My short story, Crop Circles, is part of this FREE download. This collection of short stories is appropriate for YA readers but entertaining enough for adults too.

Humor, Regency, Fantasy, Horror,Coming of Age... Each of the 10 stories offers it's own spin on the key theme that binds them all. Check it out!

For me, the best part of this experience has been stepping into other roles. I selected the stories, co-edited, worked with each author, and even took the pictures that appear on the cover. My hat is off to all the editors out there--you have a difficult, but rewarding job. I hope you all like it!
View all my reviews >>

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Panel Discussion with Stephanie Black

This is part 2 of 5 covering the awesome panel discussion. Part 1 is here.

I had the opportunity to visit with Stephanie Black over dinner with her friend, Gregg Luke, at Storymakers 2010. They both were very personable and open. A Whitney Award Winner, Stephanie is the author of several books, including Methods of Madness.
At the panel discussion, Stephanie said to “give yourself permission to write a lousy first draft. It means freedom.” When she writes, she presses forward, writing to the end of a manuscript. Then she goes through it three times before using her test readers. “It’s all about the rewriting.” In her recent blog post Finish Line Jitters on June 23rd, she opens up about some of the angst she feels in letting go of her manuscript.

She needs “something of an outline to get going.” When her children were young, she wrote during naps. They were “golden. Nothing else got done—unless it was an emergency…like my mother in law coming over.”

Writers must “give up TV or whatever and squeeze that (writing) time in.” She subscribes to the idea that you don’t have time for everything, so make time for the things that matter by eliminating the things that don’t.

In regards to a writing career and getting published, Stephanie advises “make sure you do your research so you can go about it the right way. Don’t just stumble around.”

I was impressed by how she maintained an air of professionalism about her while still coming across as a real, down-to-earth, nice person.

Have you come across any cool action filled novels that are clean like her books? Which are your favorites?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Panel Discussion With Author Dan Wells

At Storymakers 2010, we had the opportunity to hear a panel discussion from these amazing authors. This is part 1 of 5. I’ll be posting the comments of the other authors on the panel over the next few weeks.

Dan Wells writes chapter by chapter paragraphs summing up his novel’s storyline. Once he has a good outline, he begins to write. After the first draft is done, he waits 2-3 months before he goes into revisions on a rough draft. Dan comments that once the revisions have been done, it’s important to “know when to leave a book—don’t marry yourself to it.”

He warns that publishing is a slow moving machine. He sold his horror novel, I Am Not A Serial Killer, three years ago, and it just hit shelves a couple months ago. Back then, he’d work all day and then come home and write between the hours of 10pm and 2am. He felt burned out after work, but he used that for motivation to keep writing. He says, “the last thing I wanted to do with my life is go back to work about a shampoo” so he had to make the change happen through writing.

When asked about his late hours, Dan mentioned that he did find some meds that cured his insomniac tendencies, but after sleeping through the night for a week, he decided to drop the meds. He joked, “this is crap! How do people without insomnia get anything done?”

Directing his gaze to the audience, Dan pointed a finger. “If you want to do this (writing) for your living, you cannot do it in your spare time. Treat it like a job and find the time. If you don’t have time to write, it’s not a scheduling problem, it’s a value issue.”

While suffering through mind-numbing college classes, his delightfully twisted brain made a goal that “someday, I’ll do a book and some shmuck will have to do an essay on it.” (enter muah-haha here)

On agents, Dan says, “eventually you’ll need an agent. Yes. As soon as I got an offer, I went and got an agent, but even then I was rejected four times.” Be careful though, “if an agent asks for money, drop them and report them. To become an agent requires no schooling. You could stand up and say you’re an agent and it would be true. Look them up!” A great website to check them out is Preditors and Editors.

I found Dan to be both knowledgeable and charming with his quick wit and well timed jokes. He kept us laughing while we soaked up his helpful hints and insights.

A special thanks to Dan Wells for being such a good sport throughout—even when a mock version of his novel titled “I Am Not A Cereal Killer” (about someone who ate all the cereal) became the running joke of the conference.

I was most impressed by his matter of fact determination. Write no matter what, no matter when. Make it happen seemed to be his motto.

*Update* you can watch Dan give a presentation on story structure on youtube for free! I've been struggling with creating an outline for one of my current novels and I have to say that watching this video really helped me organize my thoughts. Easy to follow, entertaining, and educational. Yup, he's the man.

Do any of you keep odd/late writing hours like Dan does?

New Set Of Posts About Writing On The Way!

First of all, supremely awesome readers, I beg your pardon for not posting more frequently this month. Farming season has me in its clutches. You can see what I’ve been doing on the farm here. I’ll be more regular now that I’ve settled into the routine again. Eat, sleep, work like a dog…and write late into the night so my brain gets its fix. Then get up and do it all again.

I’m working on another round of blog posts that are from my notes from the writer’s conference, Storymakers 2010. So, stay tuned for a panel discussion with Dan Wells, Aprilynne Pike, David Wolverton, Anita Stansfield, and Stephanie Black. I visited with some of these authors outside of the workshop time and let me say, they are really cool people.

I always send blog posts to the authors first so they have the opportunity to check any quotes I took of them for accuracy, but I’ll have the first couple up in a few days.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Winner of the Drabble Contest...

First of all, a big thanks to all you awesome writers who played along with my Drabble Contest. Your entries were great fun to read!

And the winner is.....*drum roll*......*using Random.org*......

Little Berry Girl!

Congratulations! You requested Seasons of America Past, by Eric Sloane. Consider it done.

Everyone, when my blog hits 100 followers, we'll play another giveaway game. Thanks for sharing your time and talents with me.


...and happy writing!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Visit With Heather Justesen, Author of Rebound

I recently had the privilege of reading Heather Justesen’s new release, REBOUND, and I couldn’t put it down.

You can read my review HERE but I bet you can already guess that I really enjoyed this book.

Heather is a fellow member of Author’s Incognito and she was kind enough to answer a few questions about her writing experience.

1. How long from when you started looking did it take you find your publisher/agent?

The LDS market is very small, so there are far fewer places to submit, and we don't use agents. I started submitting my first book in early March and had a contract in late September—but Cedar Fort had only had my manuscript for a couple of months before they offered to publish it.

2. Were you surprised with how many edits your editor asked of you or was it what you expected?

Honestly, I'm not sure what I expected. I did very few edits—and I've since learned it was far fewer than most publishers go through. That means I have to be extra diligent about self-editing and getting good feedback from reliable sources--but then, that's true no matter what publisher you work with.

3. Did you ever feel like giving up on your quest to be published?

I took several breaks during my journey to being published (and it was nearly 10 years before I got a contract) but not because I decided I didn't care, so much as because I had other priorities that had to come first.

I love writing and can't imagine giving it up, but I've had my moments of doubt about whether I would ever see a book in print, or if I was wasting my time--I don't know anyone who doesn't feel that way from time to time.

4. What is the hardest part about writing for you?

Building enough plot to keep the momentum going. I started out as a seat-of-your-pants writer and had trouble pushing the book through to the end because I either didn't build enough conflict into the manuscript, or I wasn't using the conflict I had well enough, so I would start to flounder around 60%-70% of the way through. I still struggle with that, but I do some basic plotting ahead of time now, so I have a better idea of where I'm going.

5. What's the easiest?

The first kiss--that scene pretty much writes itself!

6. Has your family always been supportive of you being a writer or did anyone need convincing?

I still remember telling my mother-in-law that I was going to be a writer and her saying "That's a nice hobby, but what are you going to do for a living?" Then she read one of my early manuscripts and became one of my staunchest supporters. =)

As for my family, my siblings claim they always knew I would be a writer one day--apparently I was the only one taken by surprise. I guess I'm very lucky in that my Uncle Allan Burgess was published many times over during his life, so it wasn't this odd fantasy that my family scoffed at--it was a totally doable goal.

7. How many drafts of your queries did you go through before you found one that worked?

You don't really do a normal query in this market, because all of the publishers take unsolicited submissions, but I'm terrible and admit that I only tweaked my cover letters a couple of times each before sending them. I've since learned a great deal more about queries and am taking this a lot more seriously in future submissions, including getting feedback from people who know more about a good query letter than I do.

8. I heard you mention in Danielle Ferguson’s interview that your next few books don't have basketball in them. Is there a reason you held to the basketball theme for the 1st two and then changed out for the next?

I don't think that was a conscious decision, actually. The fact is, I established in the first book that Curtis played basketball, and I wanted to make him a main character in the second book, so it ended up being basketball related. The next book in the series uses characters that aren't basketball players--and those characters actually existed before either of the books I have published. Sometimes I make decisions about what kinds of things I want the characters to be doing, and sometimes they tell me how it's going to be. =)

9. what did you want to be when you grew up?

I ran the gamut, but in college I seriously considered marine biology, and even took a bunch of heavy chemistry and biology classes, but changed to English Lit partway through my first year. I really didn't know what I wanted to be when I finished, but I remember thinking I wanted to do something with books and publishing, because I love books so much--but I wasn't going to be a writer, so I didn't plan for that at all! Writing is something that happened to me, and I found that I loved it and couldn't let it go, so I went after it. It wasn't something I planned from childhood like so many people I know--if it were, I probably would have been published years ago.

10. Is there any fun thing about yourself that we don't know?

I'm mildly allergic to melons, so I can hardly ever eat them, and I have a real thing for Rice Crispy Treats using the cocoa flavored cereal. So yummy!

11. anything else you'd like to mention?

Check out my BLOG between June 21 and 25th for some really fun giveaways!

Thank you ,Heather, for both the enjoyable read and the interview. It’s been fun getting to know you better!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Contest: 100 Words = ANY Book You Want!

Are you a writer? Yes? Perfect. Then 100 words is a piece of cake for you. Right?

You can write 100 words before finishing breakfast with one-half your brain tied behind your back. But slow down! This isn’t as easy as it seems.

A Drabble must be 100 words exactly. No more. No less. It must be an original, fictional story with a beginning, middle, and end.

So, I’ve decided to sweeten the pot. How would you like to win that book you’ve been drooling over on Amazon? Which book you say? ANY BOOK YOU WANT! I have a wish list a mile long and I bet many of you have a book or two that you haven’t bought yet.

To Enter the Contest You Must:

1. Follow my blog.

2. Write your own drabble following these guidelines and post it in the comments of this blog thread before midnight, Sunday June 13th.

3. End your post with the book YOU want from Amazon and your email (written like: thisismyemail(at)thisprovider(dot)com to prevent spammers).

See? Easy. Want extra entries? You got it. You can get Bonus entries if you:

1. Follow me on Twitter & Tweet about this contest = 2 extra 

2. Post something to Facebook about this contest = 1 extra

3. Blog about this contest -or- Do your own blog with a Drabble contest = 3 extra

....And send me the link. See? Easy.

Here, let me show you one I whipped out this morning so you can get an idea.


Everything will be perfect. Skillfully, I apply the eyeliner and spray the masterpiece that is my hair. Heels, little black dress: preparation for my lover. I live for him, ache for him, depend on him.

His car arrives. A flutter of anticipation fills my belly. My eyes linger on his chest, his face.

The door opens.

I flash a come-hither smile.

He strides across the room, his body inches from mine.

He stoops, groping the recliner for the remote.

Our toddler walks in and vomits on my shoe.

I wince. “Happy Anniversary, Dear.”

The TV flicks on. “What’s for dinner?”


*Snicker* I had you going there for a minute, didn’t I? That’s as risqué as I get, people.

Details: All entries must be acceptable for YA viewers (Nothing nasty, people, or I’ll delete it) If your book cost more than $25 then I will send you an Amazon gift certificate for $25 to go towards the purchase of your choice. The winners will be chosen using Random.org and announced on June 14th.

A special thank you to my good friend, Renee Miller, who challenged the writers from On Fiction Writing to write a Drabble and win a copy of our book Menage-a-20 from Lulu.com. You can follow that link for a chance to win Menage-a-20 with your drabble submission if you like!

******UPDATE! CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED!******* Our winner was Little Berry Girl! Thanks to all who participated.

Friday, May 21, 2010

A visit with James Dashner and Jeff Savage -part 2 of 2-

For the first half of the conversation, check out Part 1.   These two guys were open and willing to answer all the questions we threw at them. Read on for more pearls of wisdom...

When asked about YA word counts, James said, "The average word count for YA is 60,000 words. “But yet Lisa McMann’s books are around 38,000 words, and mine are more like 100,000. Don’t worry about the word count; just write your story.”

On publishers, James notes that “a small publisher can treat you really well and a big one can, but if a big one treats you really well, then they can do way more for you. You may be doing all your own marketing anyway, so it’s both ways. Random house, has so much more power and placement and distribution, that if you are lucky to be published with them… I loved Shadow Mountain—really I do—but Maze runner has sold more in one month than 13th reality has this whole time. For Fablehaven, Brandon Mull has had to work his tail off.”

Jeff says, “a national contract will want a right of first refusal on that genre or on whatever you publish next. The LDS market is a different beast entirely. Deseret book is the largest publisher, and Shadow Mountain is big too. Some of the smaller publishers have contracts that are really tight so you need to be careful. Like you will sign and then everything you have ever written or every will write in this market again belongs to us. BE careful about this type of publisher.”

“A right of first refusal doesn’t mean that your book must go to them,” James clarifies. “They can look at it and they can offer, but you can still look around.” It’s not legal for them to force you to take a tiny amount for a book when another publisher is willing to pay much more for the same book. If your contract says FIRST AND LAST refusal, then it’s not a good thing. Read carefully before you sign.

Jeff notes that “Authors need to be savvy. If you don’t like it, ask if it can be changed before you sign.” Some will change and some won’t, but you should ask before you get stuck in your contract.

Where do you get your ideas for your books? Dashner smiles and says, “Ideas come to me all day long in my sleep, in the shower, on the potty, whatever. I can forget them so I try to write them down. When I was working on the 13th reality, I had to take time away from that. I can’t really do both at the same time, so I do a month at a time on one book and then the other.”

In answer to a question on whether or not to get an agent, Jeff raises his finger and instructs, “first of all, never ever take money out of your pocket to pay ANYONE.” Reputable agents and publishers require no money from you. “I don’t care if you’re the next Stephanie Meyer or not, You still have to market. You have to go on tour. You have to do your blog. There are publishers that can do more for you, but an agent gets your MS in the right hands (like the editor they had lunch with the week before). They do foreign rights, keep track of different trends. I cannot tell you how valuable it is to have a good agent, and it is worth EVERY PENNY.”

“This is a no brainer,” says James. “It is absolutely better to have an agent than not to have one. My agent makes me SO much more than I would make without one.” He noted that in general, the LDS market doesn’t have agents.

Should we submit to agents or publishers first? “Submit to publishers & agents both. If you get an agent, great. If you get a publisher, you can almost start calling agents and saying do you want to represent me?”

“If I could have told myself something 7 years ago…” James rubbed his chin in thought. “It’d be to have patience, both in my writing and in my submitting to publishers and agents. Patience in all those aspects. Something that has changed from my first book to the last, is that I take more time to add depth, and sensory scenes to the story. You can’t sell tons of books immediately. Word of mouth, school by school, book signing by book signing. Patience.”

Jeff’s parting thought was this, “Successful authors believe that they are good enough to be published and it’s just a matter of time. Go find your favorite book on Amazon, and look at a one star review, print it off. Use it as motivation to keep writing. Because every author I know has moment where they think they are terrible. There is a word for determined writers, Published.”

After the meeting, I stayed to visit with them and ask for permission to blog about what I’d learned. Both men were very gracious and offered me their email addresses. I learned a great deal from their “impromptu” breakout and I hope you learned a thing or two as well.

Be sure to check out FARWORLD and THE MAZE RUNNER along with their other books the next time you need an excellent read.

Thank you both for an amazing afternoon!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A visit with James Dashner and Jeff Savage -part 1 of 2-

At Storymaker’s Writers Conference in Provo Utah, I had the privilege of listening to James Dashner (author of the 13th REALITY series and the NY Times Best Seller, THE MAZE RUNNER) and Jeff Savage (author of the YA Fantasy series, FARWORLD) in a very candid breakout.

The charming and witty duo, who have been friends for years, invited questions from the crowd and were refreshingly open about their experiences in the publishing industry.

James’s first 4 books, The Jimmy Fincher Saga, were published by a small LDS publisher. They sold several hundreds of copies, but no glimpse that writing could be full time. Then in August of 2003, He “set a goal to quit my job and be a full time author in 5 years.” He had already written The Maze Runner, but it was rejected for being “too dark.” However, Shadow Mountain did like the writing so he sent the synopsis & query for the 13th Reality. They liked it and it did really well, “but not enough that I could quit my job.”

At this point, James figured he has improved as a writer so he turned his attention back to The Maze Runner and rewrote the whole thing. It went from 68,000 words to 88,000 words—that’s a 20 thousand word difference. He had an agent, but he jokes that they “broke up” and he got a new agent. Random House bought the Maze Runner and the advance was large enough that he could quit his job.

“It turns out that it was 5 years, to the month, from when I had set my goal. Now a movie is being made out of Maze runner.”

Jeff said, “I watched James and thought if he can do it, then I can. One of the things you do in your mind is stop having agents or authors being up here and you down there. The guy selling a million copies is no different than you. You have to get that mindset.” When James told him about Shadow Mountain, Jeff got excited enough to write Far World and sell it to them.

More recently, his publisher requested an LDS Fantasy that is LDS “from the cover to the story to the title.” So, Jeff’s new book, FOURTH NEPHITE is coming out this August.

Jeff’s personal experience shows that even published authors have moments of nail-biting uncertainty with their careers. 5 months ago, because of the economy, Shadow Mountain said they didn’t know they if they were going to publish any more of the FARWORLD series. “400 schools, synopsis, blood sweat and tears and….” He was stuck. Even with published books, he couldn’t write anymore. But then, after going through 4 agents, with the aid of Deseret book and other things—suddenly people wanted it again and Shadow Mountain said, “Hey, go back to that 3rd book.”

Jeff commented, “when you’re giving your all, the time when you are feeling the most hopeless is often the moment when you’re closest to being published.”

When asked about how to find a publisher, James said, “every single successful author I know can trace their success back to someone they met. So, writer’s conferences and things like this are what you want to do.” He met both his editor, Krista Marino (Senior Editor of Delacorte Press), and his publisher that way. “There is no magic formula except keep writing, improve your manuscript, and network.”

Should a non published author hire an editor? Jeff said, “a legitimate editing company will do a page sample and see if you are at the level they think you should be.” He warns to be careful of people who run scams by passing you to so-and-so for money. Also, make sure that what you are getting is worth it because “lots of people have published without an editor.”

Jeff recommended that unpublished authors finish their MS prior to seeking representation. He sent out to 12 agents and got the first response in 3 weeks—though it can be 3, 4, or even 5 months before word comes. “One thing I learned, after you get a message of representation, contact the others and say “I have an offer for representation by THIS agent. Please respond to me within 7 days so I can make a decision.” This is a courtesy for the agents and it helps you get the most offers possible.

As for checking up on the status of your queries, James says, “you can’t freak out, but you CAN email that says ‘Just wondering what the status is’ and they won’t be that irritated. If you can’t sleep at night (and it’s been over 8 weeks) Go ahead.”

How do you feel about Kindle? Jeff said, “Stephen King did a book about a haunted Kindle for Kindle. Brilliant…. I think the biggest thing for me is to still be writing books so you’ll have more opportunities to be read if they liked your name.”

James responded, “I can’t imagine anyone will have a problem with this. Every single page of Diary of a wimpy kid is free online—and yet they sell millions and millions of copies.”

Should I finish the sequel of my book before I submit? James said, “no.”

The audience giggled at his short answer, but then he expanded on the subject. Editors want to be able to publish that book as a stand alone, and then if it’s good it can have sequels. Don’t say, hey I have a 27 book series, publish them please. Besides, if the 1st never sells, what can you do with the sequels?

(Incidentally, this was a great question for me to hear because I was debating whether to write the sequel to COYOTE DREAMS which is seeking representation right now, or work on a dystopian novel I had in the beginning stages. After this advice, dystopia it is.)

Thanks guys for your wonderful information. Part 2 of this visit is HERE Be sure to check it out for the rest of their awesome advice.

What was your favorite part they said?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Make the Time

I've heard it said that if we are "too busy", then the real issue is a matter priority, not time.

As an aspiring writer, I strive to write, read, edit, work on submissions, and learn more about the publishing industry every day.

As a farmer, I've weeds to pull, plants to water, roadsides to burn, thistles to spray, and customers to help every day.

As a mother of 5 (ages 11-2), I've diapers to change, homework to correct, scrapes to clean...all the many duties that children bring into our lives...every day.

The house... The husband...  The school...

I'm a writer, a maid, a farmer, a wife, a mother, a PTO volunteer, a cook, a taxi...

Are you tired yet? I am.

This past week I noticed my kids were getting a little out of sorts with each other, and yesterday I realized that I was the reason behind it. I’ve had such a heavy workload the last few weeks that I had put my many duties higher on the priority list than my kids. I was still with them of course, but I was focused on all the work we were doing, not on the kids themselves.

So, today I did my darndest to finish all jobs I had to do while they were at school so that when they came home, I could give them my full attention. Farming, housework, and even writing took a backseat to the most important people in my world, and my world is brighter because of it.

We made brownies, we sang, we laughed, we chased each other around just for fun. And the result? My kids are refreshed. I feel more connected and grounded. And the crazy part is, I feel more energized to do all the dull jobs that I put on the bottom of the priority list.

I think the lesson is that I was trying to pull water from an empty well. It's not enough to exist, work, and care for the physical needs of my children; I need to nurture the joy in their lives. Why? Because when I bring joy and laughter into their lives, it feeds my soul.

This is a lesson I have to learn—and relearn—whenever the balance in my life gets out of whack.

What about you? What feeds your soul? Is there something important that you have to remind yourself to make time for?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Agent Laura Rennert's Tips on Queries

At Storymakers 2010, Agent Laura Rennert, a senior agent at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, shared an agent’s eye view of the process. I’m happy to report that she is both friendly and engaging as a speaker.

The question she asks of every query and pitch session is: “who, what, where, and why should I care.”

The WHO is your protagonist, and yes you should include the name. WHAT is your main conflict. WHERE is the setting, which can be geographical, temporal or both. And WHY SHOULD I CARE is that little detail that makes your story different from any other like it.

“Keep the query short,” she cautions. And be careful not to overhype, by making all sorts of glowing statements about your work. A simple exercise you can use to revamp your query:

1. Write down the title, category, setting, protagonist, and central problem.

2. Write down one vivid detail that makes any of the above elements different.

3. In your story, identify credibility, inherent conflict, originality, real emotional power, and voice. (By the way, original voice is the biggest factor for what new clients she takes on)

4. Come up with 3 “big words” relating to your story. (love, journey, destiny)

5. Set a timer for 5 minutes and crank out a query using the information you wrote down. Be sure to use one of the “big words” in the last sentence.

For your pitch, use credentials or anything that makes YOU the perfect author for this book. (Give a glimpse of the story behind the story) For instance, as a farmer who lives on the reservation, I’ve got a good handle on what that is like for my characters.

Another thing she looks for is your platform. Do you have an online presence? One of her clients, Maggie Stiefvater of the NYT bestseller SHIVER, had a great website which suddenly got loads of hits from a publisher as they were deciding whether or not to buy the book. Getting yourself “out there” is a good thing, my friends.

Be very cautious of exclusives. She suggests that you should only consider doing exclusives that are 2-3 weeks tops. An easy and polite way to avoid the exclusive dilemma is to send out your work to more than one agent/publisher at a time. Then you can politely say, “I’m sorry, but I’ve already sent it out to another person for consideration.” She says this response is not offensive.


1. Have multiple email addresses in the “To” line on the email. They know you send it to several places, but having it shoved in their face without even a customized email is irritating.

2. Send the wrong agent the wrong category. If you write Horror, and send it to an agent that only works with YA, you’ve just wasted a stamp and both of your time.

3. Hyperbolic praise. (My story is so cool that Stephen King will weep when he reads it)

4. Not being able to situate a book in the market. Be squarely in a category for your first novel so that agents don’t run at your declaration that it is a mainstream, horror, fantasy, YA book with a chick-lit twist. Um, what?

5. Careless errors, such as typos and grammatical errors.

6. Not following instructions. Every agency/publisher has submission requirements. Find them. Read them. Follow them.

You can learn more about Laura and her agency at http://www.andreabrownlit.com/agents.php , and you can see some of her work at http://www.laurajoyrennert.com/ .

I think the biggest thing I learned from her was that agents “are just people who really love books.” If you have a good tale to tell, then she wants to read it. It was a pleasure to meet her, and I hope her advice helps you as much as it did me.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Author David Wolverton/Farland

I was privileged to have dinner with David Wolverton/Farland http://www.davidfarland.net/  attend one of his workshops, and exchange email. He carried a special seat-back with him because his hip and back troubles him if he stands too long or sits in an uncomfortable chair. Far from dwelling on his discomfort, he joked about his family line at dinner and radiated a positive attitude. He holds the World Record for the longest book signing.

What struck me most about him was his extensive knowledge on all things bookish. He not only studied the how-to of writing, but also why people bother to read in the first place. Our everyday stress can be hard to deal with, but when we immerse ourselves in a good book, we’re suddenly running for our lives while battling a dragon to save all of mankind. If you doubt the impact of these stories on us, then stop and take your pulse the next time you’re reading the climax of a real nail-biter. To combat this stress, David says, “there are several chemicals that your body pumps out as rewards when you're reading—serotonin, dopamine, adrenaline, and cortisol.”

What’s more, once we close the book and get back to our daily lives, the stresses we have don’t seem like such a big deal. After all, I may have to battle weeds/traffic/carpools that day, but the human race won’t be snuffed out if I arrive a few minutes behind schedule. In short, books make us feel better and lessen the effect that our daily stress has on our bodies.

David considers it one of the “great tragedies of American writing history when they dismissed the form.” When people pick up a novel, they expect a certain experience. They hope to follow the hero as he/she battles against whatever obstacle stands in the way and—just when all hope seems lost—pulls off some amazing way to save the day/redeem the book. He jokes that writing a romance novel where the hero doesn’t get the girl at the end is a sure way to have a short writing career.

He dismisses the belief that “literary fiction” is superior to form writing, which many critics dismiss as “form fiction trash.” His goal is to “write form fiction, but to write it more beautiful than anyone else.” Bestselling novels and movies take us to another time and place. They provide escape. They also have a huge potential audience. “If we write only for ourselves, then we are the only audience for this novel.” It was no accident that James Cameron had storylines in Titanic that covered the seven major markets; he wanted to reach out to as many people as he could.

One of the most touching moments at the Whitney Awards Gala, was when Dan Wells (http://www.fearfulsymmetry.net/ a former student of David’s) asked for anyone whose life had been influenced by David’s teaching to stand. Almost every person in the room stood up. He was humble and gracious as he accepted the Lifetime Acheivement Award, and he teased that he hoped getting the lifetime award didn’t mean that he’d have to stop writing.

David said, “I'd like to emphasize that when a reader finishes a great novel, he will immediately begin looking for another. If someone loves your book, it increases the chance that he or she will look at mine. So there is no competition between writers. Another writer's success helps build a larger readership for all of us."

I think that statement sums up his generous character.

I need to say a special Thank You to David Wolverton/Farland for helping to shape this blog post via conversation and email. Here are links to some of his amazing books:

http://www.inthecompanyofangels.net/  - Won the 2009 Whitney Award for Best Novel of the Year

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2956822.Wyrmling_Horde_The_The_Seventh_Book_of_the_Runelords  - One of the latest in an awesome fantasy series.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Writer's Conference was Superb!

The LDS Storymaker’s Conference in Provo, UT, was a fabulous experience that I highly recommend. As a writer, my skills improved from all the information, and as a person, my confidence in my newfound profession increased ten-fold.

I will share some of the awesome writing tips I learned there, so this will be the first of a series of blogs where I share notes, ideas, and even visits with such authors as James Dashner, author of The 13th reality series and the NY Best Seller, The Maze Runner. I am tickled to say that he is a charming, cool guy who puts on no airs of grandeur, but rather makes everyone around him feel at ease and confident.

So, a huge, HUGE thank you to the LDS StoryMakers for a job well done! You can be sure that I’ll be back again next year.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Avoid the Ticking Clock Mentality

One of the biggest things I have learned through writing and editing my novel, Coyote Dreams, over the last two years is that a good story is worth the time it takes to polish it. Writing the first draft was an exhilarating adventure. I thrilled at each new twist that unfolded on my screen. Typing 'The End' was a big moment, worthy of the happy dance. However, I've since discovered that writing those two powerful words is somewhat of an oxymoron, since finishing a first draft is actually just the beginning of all the real work.

First, I read it over and made what edits/corrections I could see. Then I sent it out to several readers who sent it back full of enough red marks that I feared its wounds might be fatal. I made the needed edits again and sent it out for a second read. Thankfully I've been blessed with some readers who have a very good eye and were willing to teach me how to be a better writer. These are the edits I'm just now finishing. Huge thanks to Renee Miller and Rita & TJ Webb for this one. Don't know them? Well, you should:

Soon, I'll send it out for one last read with a new set of readers to get their input. Perfecting my synopsis and query letter will be the focus while I wait. When I get those last reads back, I'll fix whatever I missed (and ignore whatever suggestions I don't agree with).

My goal is to be done by the end of April and research which agent to send my work to. It would be a wasted stamp to send my YA novel to someone who specializes in, say, romance. There is a love triangle in my book, but it’s a first kiss, not the whole she-bang.

I hope to get my first letter back from agents by the end of June. I know most will probably be rejection letters because everyone gets them. I think the key to keeping up moral is to have a plan on what to do with them. I'm going to follow Steven King's lead and spear the things on a nail.

While I wait for someone to accept my manuscript, I'll resume work my next story, Firebug, work on the farm over the summer, and begin the whole process again.

If I had been impatient and thrown my story out there before taking the time to polish it, then rejections would have been guaranteed, and the time invested, wasted.

The time was well spent. When Coyote Dreams goes out, I'll know that it is a story worth reading.

Friday, March 5, 2010

My Lucky Day!

I've got some more awesome news to share. Remember how I told you that I was attending the LDS Writers Conference? Well I entered a drawing for a seat at the table with the guest authors and won! Oh. My. Gosh. I know!  Crazy awesome. THis is who I will be dining with the weekend of April 23rd...and can I just say, Jessica Day George is one of my favorite authors of all time. I can't hardly believe it!

 "Two--yes, two--lucky winners of the Show Your Love for the Storymakers Contest will receive a reserved seat at the 7th Annual LDStorymakers Writers Conference for Friday night dinner and entertainment at a special table with:

Shaun Barrowes
Musician for Friday night entertainment, and top 48 contestant on American Idol season 7.

James Dashner
Author of The Maze Runner and The 13th Reality Series.

Jessica Day George  [[[one of my favorite authors!!!]]]
Author of Dragon Slippers; Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow; Dragon Flight; Princess of the Midnight Ball; and Dragon Spear.

Krista Marino
Editor for Young Adult and Middle Grade books for Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children's Books. Recent books she's edited include The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel Series by Michael Scott, Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan, and The Maze Runner by James Dashner.

David Wolverton/Farland
Author of several books, including the Runelords series, and writing instructor of authors like Stephenie Meyer, Brandon Sanderson, and Brandon Mull.
http://www.davidfarland.net/   "

Anyone want to do the happy dance with me? I'm doin it, yeah!

I've also completed editing of three more chapters in my Coyote Dreams YA novel which brings the grand total up to...drum roll please... 25 of the 52 chapters are done. I am on target to get this done and ready for final readers by the end of March.

Monday, March 1, 2010

My Horror short, Voodoo Hog, won!

I've got some fun news today, I wrote a horror short for a writing group competition and it won! That means that it will be included in an anthology at the end of the year. I'm really excited because for one, it's a nice suprise, and for two, I've never written anything horror before so it was really a challenge for me to write. This next part is cut and pasted out of the thread so you can see the announcement. Anyone want to do the happy dance with me? *doin it, oh yeah, doin the happy dance*

"The Winner of February's Aspiring Writers Short Story Competition

Before I begin, can I give a big thank you to both all the participants of the February competition and all the judges who gave their time in marking what was a really interesting and close fought fight for the genre of 'Horror', which for many of you took you way out of your comfort zone.

I trust that everyone had as much fun reading the stories, as I'm sure the writers had in writing them. The judges certainly weren't unanimous in their decision, which shows both the diversity and quality of the writing.

When collating all the scores, the lead kept changing all the time, which demonstrating how close it was at the top.

In 3rd place was 'Oh Dear' written by Candice Adams

In 2nd place was 'There's only room here for myself by Julia Tagliere

And the winner of February's Aspiring Writers Short Story Competition is..................

...Wendy Swore for 'Voodoo Hog'

So a BIG congratulations to Wendy for an excellent contribution and a worthy winner of our first monthly competition. Wendy's story will now go forward to our Grand Final at the end of the year"

Saturday, February 20, 2010

My Spring Writing Goals

As many of you know, I have been working on a YA novel with the working title Coyote Dreams since last year. The exciting news is that I am in the final stages of editing and should have the finished manuscript ready for one last read through at the end of March. I have been editing a chapter a day and need to keep up that pace to meet my goal. By the end of April, I'll have the synopsis and query letter done and sent out to prospective agents and publishers. The reason for the end of March goal is because I need to finish it before farming starts and I will be attending my first writing conference in Provo on April 23rd (2010 LDS Writer's Conference Anyone want to go with me? Check out their badge in the bottom left of the screen- scroll down). I want to be able to say; yes, I have a finished manuscript, and here's the synopsis--not, yeah, I've been working on this story for a really long time and it's still not done.  See? That just doesn't sound near as good.

What's it about, you ask? It is a story about a farm family, living on the ShoBan reservation that must overcome tragedy and danger that comes to them in the form of a malicious white dog, the Ghost. 16 year old Jenna  struggles to run the farm without her parents and has to face her fears in order to keep her little brother safe.

I have learned so much about writing and how to make the story really come alive since I started. What's more, I have awesome writing friends who have been willing to help me along the way so I can grow as a writer.

On any given day this spring if you wonder what I'm up to, you can make a safe guess that it's writing and editing that takes all my time not spent with my kids or housecleaning.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Quotes That Shaped My Character.

What win I if I gain the thing I seek?
A dream, a breath, a froth of fleeting joy?
Who buys a minutes mirth to wail a week,
Or sells eternity to get a toy?
For one sweet grape who will the vine destroy?
Or what fond beggar, but to touch the crown,
would with the sceptre straight be strucken down?

From The Rape of Lucrece, by Shakespeare

This quote ran through my mind whenever I wanted to do something that might have far reaching consequences. It gave the moment of pause to look before I leap.


There is no chance, no fate, no destiny, that can circumvent or hinder or control the firm resolve of a determined soul.

By Ella Wheeler Wilcox

I knew that failure only came if I was not determined enough to see a project through. That the ultimate success or failure in my life could only be attributed to me.

Have you any quotes that shaped you?

Monday, January 11, 2010

New Writing Goals for the New Year

Last year I finished the first draft of my YA novel, Ghost Hunted, started on my next, Firebug, and got 2 of my short stories (Letting Go and The Foundation) published in the ebook Menage-a-20. Not a bad start to my writing career, but this year I plan to finish both manuscripts, start my third and send out query letters.

"Consistency is the key to productivity." I can't recall who said that, but I know it to be true. So if you would like to know what I'll doing on any given day this year, you can rest assured that in addition to my required tasks of mothering my children, and working on the farm (either accounting or slaving away outside), I will make the time to write.

May you find the heart to follow your dreams in this new year as well.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The First Quote of the Week

Have you ever found that special quote in your life that you can rely on to help lighten the load and inspire confidence?

This was one such a quote for me:

"Be who you are...
say what you feel...
Those who mind don't matter...
and those who matter don't mind."

Dr. Seuss

Wisdom comes in many shapes and sizes.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Oh look, I made a blog.

Yay for me.
Hang in there while I find my way around a blog. I'll get it figured out- eventually.