Monday, May 23, 2016

Book Clubs and Book Buzz

Here's what's been happening in my writing world:

I'm going to be posting more sporadically on my blog to concentrate on other writing-related things. The time is right and it feels freeing. 

I had a blast hosting my first Book Club discussion group, about 10 of us. I first gave some insights into both my writing process and my publishing journey. Having the author there (me) to say more than what we liked/didn't like about the book of the month was a first for these book club members--a special treat. There are always some who want to talk more than others, keeping the discussion going. It amazes me when people get excited that they know an author. I don't feel any different, but it's a thrill to hear when people tell me they loved my book. It would be a pleasure to participate in other book club groups, either locally or as a live online presence. Please contact me for more information.

On a separate occasion, I was asked about the setting of my book by a member of another faith. He was confused to learn that my story takes place around 90 BC, because he expected a Book of Mormon story to take place during the time of Joseph Smith, the 1800s. I explained that the Book of Mormon is a compilation of records written by early prophets on the American continent. His wife loved the book, and they asked about the progress of its sequel. Though my target audience is LDS, I'd love to hear more buzz about my book from members of other faiths. Secrets of the King's Daughter is a story about finding faith as well as love. Anybody out there have any feedback on my book from non-Mormons?

Have a great week!

Monday, May 9, 2016

The Whitney Awards

Finalist Titles for 2015
Named for Orson Whitney, who stated that "We will yet have Miltons and Shakespeares of our own...",  the Whitney Awards celebrate the achievement of LDS Authors and literary excellence. This was my first year to attend the awards banquet. The five finalists in eight genres, three best-of-the-year categories, and two Achievement Awards were honored. What a wonderful accomplishment to all candidates who got that far.

It all starts with LDS authors who write exceptional books. Any reader can nominate a book that impressed them or they loved by going to A book needs five separate nominations to be considered. Then a committee of readers narrow down the field, who become the top five finalists. Lastly, a group of publishers, agents, and authors who read all finalists in that category can vote for a winner.

Have you read a book by an LDS author that you deem worthy to be considered as a candidate for the Whitney Awards? Do your part and nominate! This is a reader-based award.

Finalists gather for a group photo
Congratulations to the 2015 finalists and winners! You are all awesome!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Putting My Brave Face On for Writer's Conference Time

I'm getting excited to attend my favorite conference, LDStorymakers. It's always fun to see blog/Facebook friends in person, learn from great teachers, and get new inspiration. Additionally, this year I have the opportunity to attend a pre-conference dinner given for authors and artists by my publisher--a real chance to rub elbows and clink water glasses with many whose books I know and love. It still amazes me that I am part of the Covenant Communications family.

What, if any, opportunities might come from conversations at either the dinner or the conference? I might overhear a couple speaking of a collaborative project, be privy to someone's next great idea, or make a new friend. Personally, I'm looking for a few at the conference who might be available to become beta readers for me and test-read my next book.

None of these scenarios will pan out if I don't get brave enough to instigate or participate in conversations with strangers and pedestal-topping well-knowns. Yes, we writers and wannabes have to occasionally leave the comfort and security of our desks to get bold and mingle!

Remember: Folks are typically downright friendly and interesting. Let's get the full experience and benefit from writer conferences and events by putting on a brave face. It gets easier each time we do. One day, we might score a big networking connection or a fast friendship, but if not, we probably had more fun by stretching and growing than listening in from the corner.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Writer Conference Networking Connects with Marketing

You know when you learn of a great marketing idea and wish you'd thought of or could get in on it? While I'm finally doing a collaborative novella, twelve authors took it a step further by joining together to do a similar-themed book-a-month series. It's a great idea, and I'm happy for them. But yeah, I'm more of a band-wagon participant than an instigator. For now.
What I need to remember is that a year ago I was a solo book writer--period. Now my critique group is working on a collaborative novella project--all because one of them suggested it. Again, not my idea, but I was happy to be included in an opportunity that offered new potential to expand my reader base. It doesn't matter who the innovator is, and maybe it won't ever be me. The important thing is that I'm gaining experience and finding more people to network with, and that can lead to new marketing opportunities.

To my writer friends who haven't been to a conference event and want to find a way to connect with other writers, there's nothing like the pump-up you get and the variety of people to meet from a writer's conference. I whole-heartedly recommend that LDS authors of fiction and non-fiction plan to attend the LDStorymaker conference held in the Spring in Utah or the Midwest Storymaker conference in Kansas. And a big thank you to those who volunteer their time to put it on. You are amazing! Can't wait to go!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Time for Beta Test Readers

I'm ready for a break from revisions on my work in progress. Luckily, it's ready for a break from me.

Going through a final draft for the sequel of my recent book, Secrets of the King's Daughter, has stirred up feelings of inadequacy as a writer. We generally would expect to get better with experience and time in any endeavor, but I'm wondering if my second book will measure up to the overall good response of the first. Apparently this is normal.

I've been following a group discussion where even experienced authors expressed the constant battle against these feelings. For one thing, we're human and sense our own frailties. On top of that is the volume of quality books that readers can pick from instead of our own. We have to measure up and we don't want to disappoint anyone. Writer or not, we've all experienced a form of self-doubt. How do you get over yours?

In this instance, I'm losing enthusiasm/interest because of the number of times I've gone over this project. I'd rather move on to new writing than look for another word to cut from a sentence. My critique group has already read through my manuscript (Alpha Readers), I've made tweaks and read through the whole thing once more. I'm ready to give it over to Beta Readers (test readers). They provide a fresh set of eyes on my manuscript. I don't have to rely on my opinion of scenes that I know inside and out. The true test is a sampling of readers who have never seen my story. If they know something of story structure or can at least tell me which spots feel slow, their feedback is invaluable. Unseasoned writers like myself should never skip this step. In fact, I'm celebrating getting to this point.

A writer friend sent out the following quote. Perhaps I'll have to keep this in mind when the next stage of feedback comes in:
"Because we are being constantly exposed to the world’s definition of success and greatness, it is understandable that we might ...frequently find ourselves making comparisons between what we are and what others are, or seem to be, and also between what we have and what others have. … We often allow unfair and improper comparisons to destroy our happiness when they cause us to feel unfulfilled or inadequate or unsuccessful. Sometimes, because of these feelings, we are led into error, and we dwell on our failures while ignoring aspects of our lives that may contain elements of true greatness." President Howard W. Hunter, May 1982.