Monday, March 26, 2012

My Hometown -- A 200 Word Essay

Today I'm sharing a sample of my writing for a hometown grocer essay contest. Enjoy! 
The smell of popcorn and cotton candy, barbeque ribs and peach cobbler fills my nose. Squeals of delight escape metal contraptions that twirl to music and blinking lights. Barkers beckon with midway game prizes. I bite into a fresh cob of corn after waving to a neighbor across the way. It’s Peach Days in all its glory.
Once a year my town puts on a celebration to be remembered. Neighbors leave errands behind to gather on Main Street for the parade. They trade hellos across a back fence and lines at the grocery store for cheers to 10-K runners and lines at vendor booths. The Chamber of Commerce works all year to make Peach Days great.
Not many towns can boast quadruple population swells where former residents make up their share of the visitors. This is a town that folks are proud to call home, whether a local or making the annual pilgrimage. It’s where they went to school, hiked to the “B”, bought peach ice cream and stole their first kiss. It’s where mothers plan neighborhood park days and young men shovel walks for the elderly.
Around here, you’ll frequently find a smile on my face.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Nearing the Finish Line

A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people. – Thomas Mann
That’s what my revision process feels like. One tweak affects another and so on. It's not a race, but I have to keep working to get where I want it to be. (Imagine that!)
I’ve been trying to make my full manuscript, The Seventh City, the same quality as my award-winning first chapter and it’s taking FOREVER. But it’s all good. Wouldn’t want it to be anything but my best. “My best” has changed since a year ago as I have learned more and am trying to execute and implement those skills.
I actually like revising, but it does take me a long time. The only difficult part is knowing every place that need edits. Some of these are obvious. Some are discovered with a good comb-through. There are lists and helps to revising. Beside what I find on my own, I rely on my critique group. They’ve been invaluable.
This is their second time reading through my story and they’ve had some great comments and suggestions for a few changes that make the story stronger. But since they only see ten pages nearly every week, the process is slow. I’m a few chapters ahead of them and my goal is to finish by the end of the month. Then I’ll turn it over to some beta readers while I work on my nonfiction Bishop’s Stories. Getting so close I can taste it!
That’s what’s going on in my little corner of the universe. What’s up in your writing world?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Passion and Motivation - Not Just Luck

  There's no luck of the Irish when it comes to writing. It takes hard work. But (luckily and happily) there are some helps. Find one below to work on or share another favorite in a comment.
  A couple of writer friends spoke with me about their struggle to write. One doesn’t crank out pages like she used to, with busier-than-ever circumstances that pushed writing into the background. The other has been distracted, maybe even disconnected to her story. Each time they sit down to write, they have to reread to figure out where they left off, remember what was to come next, and get into the mood of the scene to seamlessly flow back into the story. A difficult task that wastes precious time, makes the writer feel almost like a beginner again, and who knows if the muse will show up? Where’s the fun in that?
1. Passion. Work out your plot or character ideas to the point that you love what’s going on in your story. Fix or delete whatever you don’t like. Believe in it; find passion for it and the work turns into fun.
2. Time. Think about what time can do for you instead of against you. Prioritize and cut out the unnecessary. Short but regular frequency increases your ‘jump right back in’ abilities more than farther-spaced chunks of time. Be flexible. Remember that other things sometimes must come before writing and deal with it. Set aside a time slot and stick to it unless an interruption must take priority. Don’t get frustrated. You can always reschedule your writing time and try again. Recognize that success will probably take much more time than you wanted, but your best work is worth it.
3. Non-time. Use dead non-writing time. Thinking/imagining/planning time when you can’t write can sometimes be dovetailed with other less brain-intensive activities (like when captured in a car, waiting in lines, gardening). Keep a notebook to jot down you’re a-ha moments until you can get to the computer. Watch the people around you to dream up new characters or mannerisms and to get inspired.
4. Support Group. Let others know how important your writing time is. The son who must practice the piano or work his pitching arm so he doesn’t look like a fool can understand that you need some practice time too. Have someone to report to, who asks you how your goals are going or gives constructive, knowledgeable critiques.
  What helps you to keep writing?

Monday, March 5, 2012

"A Woman's Power" Book Review

  Fay Klingler’s goal in The Power of a Woman, Threads that Bind us to God, as I see it, is to give hope and threads of strength that will “sustain us until help arrives and/or our situation changes”. She tells about eight threads that form “a simple, proven pattern for success”. When these threads bind together into a rope, it is obviously stronger. Applying this to a woman’s life is what this inspirational non-fiction is all about. If you are a woman looking for such helpful, uplifting messages, this book is for you. It would make a great gift.
  The Power of a Woman is like a manual of advice to savor. Don’t read it fast like I did (in three sittings). I believe the reader will glean more from its pages if she will stop at one chapter per day (or week). Take time to ponder, maybe even implement a goal before reading the next thread. Otherwise, the narrative sometimes leaves an overkill-of-the-message feeling. I loved all the story examples, however.
  I was pleasantly surprised by some specific helps, such as the safety list in the Awareness chapter and the breakdown of goal writing steps. I also noticed places where she used different levels of spirituality to reach a multiplicity of women.
  The target market is LDS women, but any woman who doesn’t mind reading a few Book of Mormon references would enjoy some or all of this book. I especially enjoyed the stories and it gave me some good insights for my inspiriational WIP, Bishop Stories.
  You can visit the author's website at or view her book trailer here.
  See what reviewers are saying about this book on The Power of a Woman blogtour: 
February 28th—“Great Minds Think Aloud”
February 28th—“Connections with Christy”
February 29th—“I Am a Reader, Not a Writer”  Author interview and book giveaway
March 1st“Bonnie Gets a Say”  Author interview, book review, and book giveaway
March 2nd—“Why not? Because I said so!”
 March 2nd“LDS Women’s Book Review”
 March 3rd“Babs Book Bistro”
March 5th—“Renae’s Writespot”
March 5th—“Thrilled by the Thought”
March 6th—“Writer in the Pines”
March 7th—“Weaving a Tale or Two”
March 8th—“J. Lloyd Morgan”
March 9th—“Queen of the Clan” Book review, book PDF giveaway
March 9th—“The Character Connection” Personal guest post
March 10th—“Cheryl’s Book Nook”
March 12—“A Writer’s Ramblings”
March 12—“Star Crossed”
March 13—“Bookworm Lisa”
March 13—“Mormon Moms”
March 14—“Good Family Reads”  Personal guest post and book review
March 14—“Inklings”
March 15th—“”
March 16th“BooksRUs”
March 16th—“A Writer’s Reality”