Monday, December 29, 2014

My Writing Journey 2014 Highlights

This blog has seen four birthdays and I've worked at becoming an author for at least five years now. It's a slow process, yet each year in my writing journey seems better than the last. I've had some significant highlights and I hope you will reminisce with me.
2014 Highlights:

  • An article published in the Liahona put me into instant international publication status. (Yes, I'm calling it that.)
  • Posted an author Facebook page.
  • Attended LDStorymakers Conference 2014 in Utah.
  • Joined an awesome critique group that regularly submits.
  • Finished Bishop Stories. Will submit after Missionary Stories.
  • Signed a contract with Covenant Communications to publish Secrets of the King's Daughter. (Publishing date delayed until January 2016.)
  • Received wonderful back cover reviews from noteworthy authors.
  • Doing final revisions on Missionary Stories
  • Writing a draft of the sequel to Secrets of the King's Daughter.
In other words, I'm further along the path, seeing success, and staying busy. I've met some wonderful people, and I hope I have inspired or helped a few of you. May the year 2015 be your best writing year yet!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Witnesses of the First Christmas, and Book Review

Do you realize how many witnesses announced the birth of Christ? 

In honor of the true spirit of Christmas, I want to share a timely insight gained from my wonderful brother's wonderful book, Our Savior Jesus Messiah, Vol. 1 by Bryan Young Weight. The chapter entitled Events At Birth starts: "The Law of witnesses requires two or more testimonies before truth is established..." He explains how the following are all witnesses that God the Father announced the birth of His Holy Son:
  • Angels. Not only did an angel proclaim to the shepherds, a group of heavenly hosts shouted "Hosanna!"
  • Shepherds. The selected shepherds shared their new knowledge abroad.
  • Temple witnesses. The Holy infant was recognized by Simeon and Anna at the temple.
  • The Star. A new star shown as a sign and a witness.
  • Wise Men. The wise men came to worship the King of the Jews.
  • Scripture. Prophets foretold and four disciples retold the birth of Christ, recorded in scripture. Bryan uses scriptures for each of the above examples.

Here is my review: I loved this bargain-priced book and gained some new insights from reading it. The book is well-written, with logical content supported by multiple scripture sources and the perfect study for daily scripture time, for anyone of any religion who is confused about Jesus or the Messiah, and a useful companion to LDS Gospel Doctrine lessons. I highly recommend it and look forward to the next volumes coming out in 2015. I gave it 5 stars. 
Learn more insights and proofs of how Jesus Christ is our Savior and Messiah in this inspirational work. Find out more on
Merry Christmas, everyone!

Monday, December 15, 2014

This week I joined the frenzy of signing up on the first day for my favorite writer's conference, LDStorymakers. Being on Pacific time, I even set my alarm to make sure I had things ready to go on time. The system had an overload or something, but shortly after that was fixed I had registered and signed up for the pre-registration intensive class I wanted most. Hooray! (The regular sessions do not need pre-registration.) This was my main reason for signing up early--last year the intensives filled before I registered. Others scrambled to get pitch sessions or manuscript consultation.

Great things (including but not limited to) about having a favorite conference to attend each year:

  • Connecting. Seeing old friends and online friends in person.
  • Networking. Getting your face and name out there, finding collaborations, meeting agents and publishers.
  • Familiarity = Comfort. Being comfortable with the way things are run, fewer surprises, appreciating subtle changes.
  • Repeats. Taking the class(es) you missed out on last year.
  • Fun. Rejuvenation. Getting pumped up again.
  • Audience. Attenders at this conference are among who I read and who will read my books.

For more information on this wonderful conference held in Utah May 15-16, 2016, visit

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Bumpy Road to Publication

It's been a week of highs and lows for me. If I could have foreseen the bumpy road to publication, would I make the same choices? Before I answer that, let's take a look at my week. 

The High: I asked, on short notice, three authors to read Secrets of the King's Daughter for the back cover blurb reviews, and all three came through for me with wonderful reviews. Great news, right? Even better, was the fact that I just had to ask one of these authors for the favor because, well, it's H. B. Moore--as in the researcher and writer of LDS historical fiction and Whitney Award winner! How cool is that? I felt so grateful that I had the courage to ask a busy author who probably gets a lot of requests from unknowns like me. To have her endorsement is HUGE. Feeling grateful; feeling good.

The Blow: Friday I learned that my book's release date was moved back from February 2015 clear until January 2016. What? Eleven months later!?! Instant deflation. How can I wait that long?

But I understand the publisher's reasons. Scriptural fiction sells better if it's the Gospel Doctrine topic of study--three to four times better, some say. 2016 is the year for Book of Mormon study. It might make sense to wait. One who wasn't emotionally attached to the situation would have to agree. (Disclaimer: This is not to say they won't change their minds again. I'll keep you posted.) 

I've given up my control to a publisher who holds the best market niche for my type of book, rather than self-publishing how and when I want. Do I regret that decision? No. I don't need a psychic consultant; I'm trusting in a marketing team with experience and emotional detachment. I have a great editor that I didn't have to seek out. I believe that sharing the same publisher was a contributing factor to Heather Moore taking time to write a back cover review. I just need to be patient. It's kind of like preparing a glorious feast and then finding out the guests have been caught in traffic. Delay mode. Don't worry; I've got some things to work on in the meantime.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Puzzling Over Plots, Part 3 of 3: Middles

I've been using a puzzle analogy to talk about beginnings, ends, and now middles in plot planning. Just like a puzzle, the middle is often the hardest part when writing. The easy stuff is already done and the hardest pieces lay overwhelmingly in view, waiting to be connected. To keep your interest in the puzzle strong, narrow your focus to a specific section. Work on those trees in the shadow or that brown train car. Expand from there. Focus on the next complication that blocks the path to your main character's goal. Interesting stories must show struggles and how they are conquered, or how they alter the MC's route or his goal. What is at stake if they don't succeed? This creates tension and tension is exciting.

Sometimes we tire of looking for a certain puzzle piece and want to switch gears. If you are tired of writing a scene, work on something else. If you aren't feeling it, loving the scene, your reader's won't either. Come back later when you are fresh. In the meantime, what else excites you? Are you tired of putting train car after train car together? Break it up with a different setting or type of scene. Maybe it's time to throw in a little romance or mischief. Move the group to a different venue or introduce a new character. Just make sure that it connects somehow later on.

In writing Secrets of the King's Daughter, there is a middle part where the the people of Ishmael become converted to Nephite ways--except for princess Karlinah. Now no one wants to marry an unbeliever--no one except the worst possible candidate. It would be boring if I showed scene after scene of suitors rejecting the princess or her avoiding a certain someone. Middles especially need some variety along with the tension. Something new has to happen. The fun is putting something in that your readers won't expect.

No matter which part of your plot's puzzle you are working on, write those scenes that currently excite you the most. Other sections will generate new excitement for you as you see where and how they connect. Fill in the whole puzzle this way for as long as you can. Embrace your story. Go work on that exciting end, middle, or beginning. You need to have something to work from before getting specific help later, so go for it. Refinement comes later as you check the whole thing during revisions. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Puzzling Over Plots, Part 2 of 3: Endings

Today I am jumping from plot beginnings all the way to endings. Why? Because it often helps to envision where your story ends before you write too many scenes. In the puzzle analogy that I've been using, we take frequent glances at the picture on the box that represents the final product. Each glance can remind us of the position of that tree or train car. Having the end in mind, keeps us from piecing sections into the wrong spots.

Knowing your ending can be a good starting point in your planning. Maybe you know a few things that happen and how it ends, but you aren't sure of your opening scene. Work backwards. Ask yourself how the character got to the end point. What happened right before? What happened before that to get him there? It's like connecting puzzle pieces in a row from right to left instead of left to right. A piece's indentation needs a certain nob that fits. What are your connecting factors that got you to the end?

In imagining your ending, make sure you are aware of the overall goal that your main character (MC) has been trying to achieve. The adversary or events that keep blocking the MC's progress now throws the worst at him that can happen. The reader thinks that all is lost until the MC figures out a way to get himself out of his predicament. He will triumph after all

In writing "Secrets of the King's Daughter", Karlinah's goals change, but her overall goal to find love and joy is taken from her when the love interest leaves the city and a kidnapper snatches her away. I had to rewrite the resolution to the climax so that Karlinah was more involved in getting out of her predicament and someone else's.

Don't leave any puzzle pieces out or you will have plot holes; the picture will not be complete. Everything must be connected and all the loose ends tied up by the end. You can resolve these in revisions, if needed. For now, get your best ending scenes onto paper. We will examine middles in the next post.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Puzzling Over Plots, Part 1 of 3: Beginnings

The plot thickens...eventually. Novel writers need an idea to start with first. Let's say that you have your idea--one that inspires you (you better love it or you'll tire of it), has unique elements, and marketability. Now what? Let's think Beginning, Middle, and End-- with today's focus on the beginning.

One good way to put a puzzle together is to start by turning all the pieces topside. For our plot analogy, we need to visualize or imagine the pieces that make up the story. Take a few notes because this is no easy puzzle. Where is the story set? What characters do you know you will need, and what are they like? What theme do you wish to convey?Which event propels your main character into her initial action toward achieving her goal? What are the pieces you know you will need, even if you don't yet know where the pieces will go? Write down everything that comes to mind.

We might sort the puzzle pieces next into colors that go together, or begin the structure by finding the edge pieces. Start sorting out the things you know you want to happen in your story by putting them in the order that makes the most sense for now. A few will be shuffled around later on. For example, if your main character's goal is to have his horse win the championship race, you know that training comes in early. Put as many of the things that you wrote down into an order. This is a loose outline--whether or not you consider yourself an outliner. This planning step will save time later.

Now you want to put a few pieces together on paper. Go ahead and write those scenes that you've been dying to start on, the ones you already visualize strongly. It's like putting one section of the puzzle together. It doesn't matter yet how this section will connect to another. It's stimulating to see something emerge, to show progress. Yes, pieces of the section will still be missing, but you're writing! Remember, this is a rough draft.

For those who like more structure to their outline before writing, there are all kinds of helps beyond the scope of this post. Time spent gaining knowledge will save time in the long run. Other writers have written good stories with strong plots without using any certain story structure formula. You may have taken some classes or read enough stories to recognize some basic steps. Plot beginnings will include something that happens to make your character want something she doesn't have. This is her first goal. Keep this in mind and start writing. If you later decide that the scene where the boy buys the horse is not the best beginning, you can fix or cut that later. You will have both learned backstory that may be worth weaving into the novel, and practiced your writing skills. 

When I wrote Secrets of the King's Daughter, I started with a scene that was vivid in my mind--the scene where King Lamoni's daughter learns she was offered as a wife to "an enemy", Ammon the Nephite. For a long time I thought it was my beginning chapter, but no. New ideas developed and I learned what my plot needed after figuring more things out. I didn't have to toss it, just insert earlier scenes.

In summary, start with the pieces that you imagine and begin writing them down, first as notes and then as scenes. My next post will consider the end of the story. Part three will discuss middles. Until then, happy writing! 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Ratings and Crossed-the-Line Books

Have you ever gone to a movie and said, "That was a good movie--except for that one part?" Maybe there was too much violence or a sexual scene that went too far. It doesn't even matter what level your standards are; a line was crossed beyond personal comfort. I keep running into this same problem with books.

I used to listen to the radio more, but I've switched to audio books, especially when I'm working in the kitchen. If I come to a scene that crosses my moral standards, I can fast forward or skip ahead. Lots of skipping ahead means replacing it with another book. The problem with relying on library books is that there comes a point when we exhaust the supply of authors we trust, and need to venture into unknown territory. I hate it when they've hooked me into a story, and then they throw in the undesirable stuff. 

How do I rate these books? Sometimes I omit them from my list of read books, ignoring the fact that I read ninety-something percent of it. But that doesn't help anyone else. I advocate reviewing all new (within first year of publication) books. Those reviews are the most helpful to both author and readers. When I do rate a crossed-the-line book, I make sure to put what bothered me into the comments. 

I'm curious to know if you even look at ratings. Do you go by word-of-mouth, favorite authors, or what? The two just mentioned are my preferences, but when I see a list from a reader I trust, I grab it. Back-cover blurbs can also pique interest. Please put your top ways to choose a book in the blog comments.

Best wishes to those participating in National Novel Writing Month! You can do it! I still haven't participated in NaNoWriMo. My editor gave me three weeks to make any corrections/give feedback to her edits, so that's what I've been working on. I'm ahead of schedule and feeling great! Whatever your project, make it a good week!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Revisions/Edits - Your Fifteen Words of Fame

Have you had your fifteen minutes of fame yet? How about your 15 words of fame? Huh? I'll let you in on a little secret: A few of the words in every book come from other people--"Authors" in the form of critiquers, beta readers, and editors. Let me explain.

Two revision opportunities came my way last week, and it set me to thinking about how many printed words of an author are actually theirs. 

First, my critique group decided to take a break from sending one another our weekly ten pages to sending all the revised chapters of one manuscript that we have seen thus far, about 90-100 pages worth. This way we could better understand the upcoming chapters because we know how the plot was fixed, etc. (Some people's manuscripts change more than others.) 

Reading through, I found a phrase, sentence, or idea here and there used from each of us that had critiqued them earlier. At one point I thought, Hey, I'm in her book. Cool. I realized that those who critiqued my pages left their own mark there as well.

Secondly, I got my manuscript back from my editor (hooray!), and looked to see how much I would have to change. Mostly minor things, but I could see a couple places already where it was more than replacing three words with one, or placing the first sentence later in the paragraph. The editor had put in her own choice of words. Another light-bulb moment. Hey, my editor is in my book. Cool? 

Yeah, it's cool. These "suggestions" often work better than the original. Just because we sent off our precious and perfect manuscript to an editor or publisher doesn't mean further edits should feel any different than what early critiquers or beta readers had to say. Really. It's all for the cause of improvement. 

Don't get me wrong. An author is entitled to take the entire credit for his/her book. If there are fifteen words from someone else, who's going to care or know (besides them)? Edits start with the writer's words and ideas anyway. In most cases, the author will have the final say or can see wisdom in the revision. Quality is the goal.

What aha moments have come to you in your writing journey?

Monday, October 27, 2014

Praise to Authors - Whitney Awards

When you read a great book, you probably tell your friends about it, but did you ever think to 'tell' the author? Tell them with an award nomination. What author wouldn't want to be recognized by their readers in this way? It's one of the highest forms of praise. 

About this time of year, the buzz starts over which LDS (members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) authors' books you have loved throughout the year. Yes, I am talking about the Whitney Awards and it's time to think of which books you might nominate.
I care because this is the community of authors that I associate with and they put out some great books. I care because I will be eligible next year when my first novel is published. If we take the time to read any fiction over 50,000 words by an LDS author, and loved the book, shouldn't we say so with a nomination? It takes X number of days to finish a great book, but takes about one minute to nominate. Easy-peasy. Just go to for all the info you might want, and click the word nominate. The authors will love you for it.

I'm heading over to my Goodreads 'read' list to see which ones I loved that qualify. Then I'll go do the easy-peasy thing. How about you? Can you spend a minute to praise an author or two?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Book Review and Reading Variety

Product Details
The Great American Family Reunion Cookbook is the perfect title for this new book by Lori Nawyn. Not only is it a cookbook with recipes especially geared toward family gatherings, fifty states are highlighted with recipes and state notes or tips. Food is the focus, of course, but you will also find motivation, ideas for themes and activities, and go-with menus. You'll want to peruse the entire book, drooling at some of the recipe titles and getting non-food ideas. When you're ready to try something out, a nice table of contents will help readers remember and find anything in the book. I recommend it as a gift to yourself or for the head honcho of your next family reunion.

Does 'reading' a cookbook count as reading? You bet it does. Especially ones like the above that include more than recipes. Even comic books count, but let's not get carried away. Variety adds spice to life.

Do your reading habits include different genres of fiction and non-fiction? I hope so. Especially if you're a writer. Writers learn from different authors by focusing on their strengths and weaknesses. One may be good at dialogue, another description or characterization. Reading a variety helps us know what is out there, to view different writing styles and language, and let's us find new things to love or discover why we don't like something. It's all good. Happy reading!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Dreams: My Writing Journey to Success, Part 2 of 2

How I wrote and submitted my Book of Mormon fiction was discussed in the previous post. Well, the condensed version anyway. Let's start at the point of me moving on to other projects (because, yeah, I'm serious about this and that's what writers do) while playing the waiting game to hear from publishers. I get beta reader feedback from a new source during this time, and it's significantly thorough. Great suggestions that I both begin to implement and regret not having the publishers see. I'm feeling like the copy I sent out is not good enough, so I gear myself up for rejection. I still figure I will improve upon this manuscript and self-publish if need be. After all, I believe I have a worthwhile story to share and I can get it to the level it needs to be.

One publisher sent back a rejection. Two weeks later after a long day, I remembered I hadn't checked my email. I quietly slipped into bed and grabbed my phone. My husband needed to get up early and had already gone to bed. Scrolling through the emails, I see one from the publisher that I most hoped would accept my book. My breath caught with excitement before I remembered to expect rejection. To my surprise, the publisher loved my character and wanted to publish the book! Hooray! 

If I had been on my feet I would have done the happy dance and let out a squeal. But I was flat on my back, trying to be quiet, and stunned. My tired mind wondered whether to wake hubby. My energized body didn't want to relax. A minute or two of indecision went by, and then hubby rolled over. I whispered, "Are you awake?" He was now, and I shared the good news. Not the way I imagined this milestone.

The book was slated for about fourteen months out. More waiting while working on other things. I'm beginning to realize how new authors may have their second books ready to come out shortly after the first. During this time, I see the actual contract and wonder if this is really best for me. I'll start with requesting a few changes. More time passes as the request may or may not have been sent to the correct person. They finally let me know they are working on a new company contract. 

In the end, my choice was to sign the new contract and go with the publisher. The current target date could be as early as February 2015. Covenant is attempting to push it through the channels as fast as they can. We shall see how the round of edits goes, but at least my editor will start with my current changes. Don't worry, I'll keep you updated. It's an interesting process.

Where are you in your writing journey to success?

Monday, October 6, 2014

Dreams: My Writing Journey to Success, Part 1 of 2

Expect your dreams to come true, but the road is not always as expected. It will be longer and harder than first imagined. It will also be worth it. 

Once upon a time I read a certain book and thought, I can write something that good, so I took on the task. I had always enjoyed creative writing back in my school days. My new project fulfilled me creatively and I spent several months until I had a completed manuscript. That in itself gives a great sense of accomplishment. Was it any good? I really didn't know. It was time to risk sharing it with others.

Parts were interesting, but it was in no way refined. A close relative really liked one of the chapters. This, I learned later, was where the greatest conflict lay. I had much to learn. Imagine that. A big goal was completed and the next phase set aside for a busy year of building a home.

Once settled in our new home, a neighbor found out of my interest in writing and asked me to join a critique group. I didn't realize how much this would teach me. It is stimulating to see your writing grow by leaps and bounds--fueling my desire. I started a new project and attended a few writer's conferences. My eyes were opened wider.

I entered the polished first chapter (meaning several tweaks and critical eyes had scanned it) into two contest, winning first place in both for my category. More fuel. I could do this! I worked to get the rest of the story, then titled The Seventh City, into shape. It had a problem in the climax that I didn't know how to fix, but I figured I had done my best. Finding very few beta readers to give feedback, I grew impatient and submitted my story to a few publishers. It came back REJECTED.

This would be an easy place to give up. But I loved writing and felt I had something to offer, so I went on to another project. After a break, I came back to the award-winning story and worked through a fix to the climax. One beta reader was especially helpful and I revised a bit more. I submitted again, including the best fit for my LDS audience, telling the publisher that changes had been made.

I received two rejections and then ... an acceptance! Doing the Happy Dance. The new title is Secrets of the King's Daughter: A Book of Mormon Romance.

How long did it take for my dream to come true? I should have kept better track, but I'm going to guestimate here. Keep in mind that your schedule will be different.
  • Writing the first draft had to take 1 1/4 years with sending my critique group pages nearly every week.
  • Revisions would take another few months, say 1/4 year.
  • Waiting for readers to complete an entire read-through took another 1/4 year.
  • Miscellaneous time ignoring the book and later readying for submissions, 1/4 year. 
The dream of writing a complete novel worthy of publication took me at least 2 years. You could be a faster/slower writer, have less/more writing time available, or need less/more craft development. But hey, time is going to pass by anyway, so go for it!
That was 1.5 years ago. Find out what happened next in the next post.

Monday, September 29, 2014

A Book Shout and Stimulate Your Writing: My Newest Writing Project

I'm excited to share the news of my brother's new book, Our Savior Jesus Messiah. This is a major non-fiction work (the first of three volumes) that has taken him three decades to research and put together--and he's practically giving it away! You can have your own copy about the most important person who ever lived for the cheapest price Amazon will go. Great gift idea too. Click here to read a sample or get yours. Check it out!

Some days I switch writing projects that I'm working on, especially if I get stuck on one of them. A change of pace can be revitalizing to one's writing. Writing something as short as a letter or a blog post can get those creative juices flowing, get you in the writing mode, and before you know it, a task is accomplished. Check mark. 

Recently I was asked to write my own 2,000+ word life sketch for a family project. Ugh, one more thing. Sounded daunting at the start, but what fun to have old memories surface! If you need a break or some stimulation, try a small-scale personal history. There are online worksheets using fill-in-the-blank questions for the basics, and ideas for fleshing out more details. Or just write as the memories flow. Your family will love having these recorded. In fact, you may wish to do your own history or that of an elderly loved one to give as a holiday gift.

Suggestions to Stimulate Writing: 
   Do ten minutes of writing by hand. It stimulates the creative side of your brain. 
   Start with a writing exercise, letter, or blog post--anything to get writing. 
   Clean up your work space and get a comfortable chair/pillow. Put distractions out of sight.
   Set a timer for 15 uninterrupted minutes. Ignore the phone and, if possible, settle the kids into a do-it-yourself activity. 
   Get inspired by reading someone else's writing, a writer's conference, or your critique group. 
   Set a small goal or two that you can realistically achieve today. Be sure to write goals down so you can check them off later. (That part feels good.)
   Reread the last few paragraphs of what you wrote last so you can get into the story again. (I use this one all the time.)
   Adjust your attitude. Be excited that you get to write today! Even 100 words is more than you had yesterday.
What works for you?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Enjoy Reading Missionary Experiences?

Hey, do you have a good Mormon missionary story? I'll tell you what I mean and I'm asking for your HELP!

I love good, inspirational stories and have collected ones from around the world on the topics of bishops and missionaries, including full-time and member- missionary stories. This post is specific to my LDS readers who have a personal missionary experience of their own or from a family member, that they would like to submit (and thereby grant permission for me to use) to my collection of stories for publication. This is a project I can't do without the help of others!

The stories can be any length and any writing style and will be minimally edited as needed. You don't have to be a writer. No names will be used and the submitters will not be identified. No compensation will be given. Your contribution will add to the reading enjoyment and uplift of others, and you can remember it permanently in print. Stories can be funny, educational, cultural, inspirational, or reveal any aspect of missionary life where there is a lesson to learn or a positive ending. I want readers to laugh and cry, feel informed and inspired.

You've thought of one, haven't you? PLEASE take a few minutes to type a few sentences or a page down, or scan directly from a journal and send it to me at my.missionary.story@ Questions are welcome. And it's still not too late to send a story about or from a bishop. (I especially need incidents of bishop's interaction with youth.) I'm winding up these two projects and request your submissions by October 20, 2014. Thanks so much!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Reasons to Mark a Manuscript

Yep, I'm guilty. I just made critique comments for my fabulous new critique group and found myself inserting a few suggestions of another way I would have worded a phrase or sentence. This got me thinking about how often we change another person's words. Sometimes critiquers slip their preferences into the story. Ideas just pop into our heads. If a phrase here or there doesn't feel right, we often want to put our own word choice in. Is it an improvement? Hard to say. I ask myself why I like it better?
TIP: If you can't name a reason, leave it alone. A few specific suggestions can show/teach, but 90% of your markings/comments should suggest reasons rather than making the actual fix.
The pen is a mighty instrument. Be wise.
Add clarity, emotion, tension, description, or information. Replace weak verbs, unnatural dialogue, setting or character inconsistencies. Delete filler words and redundancy. Reword awkward phrases and sentence structure that doesn't vary, pacing that is too fast or slow. You can probably think of more.

Depending on the writer's skill level, you might need to teach with an EXAMPLE. Someone new to critiquing might not 'get it' when a marking says, "Tighten here." You might leave an example and add the reason.
Original: One of us is going to have to go home. Change: One of us needs to go home.
Reasons: Eliminates filler words and the weak To Be verb, same message.

DO mark those extra nice passages with smiley faces, stars, or words. We like to see positive markings too. Interestingly, the reasons you like them are the correct implementation of the reasons above. You might mark, "Good clarification" or "Nice description". Some writers need more positive feedback than others. Be kind. Hopefully we get to the point of understanding that a marked up manuscript means someone took the time to be helpful--if they know their reasons, that is.

Have you had a good or bad critique experience? Did their comments include reasons?
Keep writing and have a great week!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Book Release, Book Trailer, and Giveaway

Today I'm featuring a new book for your reading pleasure, the trailer, and a giveaway. Enjoy!

The Watchers Book 1: Knight of Light
 In England, 1270 A.D., Auriella (pronounced yurr-ee-ella) flees her village after being accused of witchcraft. Pursued by nightmarish creatures, she struggles to accept the truth about her humanity. Filled with fairies, dwarves, pixies, dragons, demons, and monsters, Knight of Light is an enthralling tale that will capture the imaginations of readers young and old.
The Watchers Series has been described as Braveheart meets Supernatural. The mythology for the series is based on many theological texts from dozens of sects with correlating themes. Ancient writings include The Dead Sea Scrolls, The Traditional Apocrypha, The Pearl of Great Price, and The Kabbalah. “The Watchers” are supernatural beings in human form whose duty it is to protect and guard mankind from the armies of darkness. Unfortunately, as the Book of Enoch mentions, some of these Watchers go bad. Although the mythology is based on these texts, Deirdra Eden’s The Watcher’s Series is written in a traditional fairytale style with a young girl’s discovery of incredible, but dangerous powers within herself, a cast of humorous side-kicks, a quest for greater self-discovery and purpose, and villains of epic proportions Amazon  Facebook  Twitter  Goodreads  Wattpad  Pinterest
About the Author
"My goal in writing is to saturate my books with intrigue, mystery, romance, and plot twists that will keep my readers in suspense. I want to see fingerprints on the front and back covers where readers have gripped the novel with white knuckles! Aside from writing, I enjoy jousting in arenas, planning invasions, horseback riding through open meadows, swimming in the ocean, hiking up mountains, camping in cool shady woods, climbing trees barefoot, and going on adventures." -Deirdra Eden Find Deirdra Eden and The Watchers Series online on AmazonDeirdra's websiteFacebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Wattpad, and Pinterest. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 1, 2014

A Triple Book Launch, Building Tension Through Questions, and Giveaway

Party Time! Three books launched at once? I think it's a great marketing ploy. Hm. I might consider something like this for myself. Anyway, it couldn't have happened to a nicer author, er pair of authors. 

Jo Noelle grew up in Colorado and Utah but also spent time in Idaho and California. She has two adult children and three small kids. She teaches teachers and students about reading and writing, grows freakishly large tomatoes, enjoys cooking especially for desserts, builds furniture, sews beautiful dresses, and likes to go hiking in the nearby mountains. Oh, and by the way, she’s two people—Canda Mortensen and Deanna Henderson, a mother/daughter writing team.

And the 3 books are:
Damnation: Cassie is going to heaven—if she can get amnesty from hell in the next twenty days. 
Newbie: The housing market is crashing, and Sophie’s life is crashing with it. 
Lexi’s Pathetic Fictional Love Life: Falling in love is easy in fiction--in high school, not so much.

I picked to focus on Damnation because I was lucky enough to critique several chapters and found it intriguing. I didn't get to read it yet but when I do, you'll find my Goodreads rating on the sidebar below.
The Spotlight for Damnation:
   Cassie is going to heaven—if she can get amnesty from hell in the next twenty days.  Her assignment is to change the eternal destination of a girl in Albuquerque to earn admittance into heaven.            No sweat.
   But when Cassie returns to earth during her three-week, mostly-mortal assignment, her old habits get in the way, (apparently habits don’t die when you do), the partners assigned to help her are anything but helpful, and it turns out the girl she is supposed to help is the only enemy she made on her first day of school.            Oh, I’m so going to hell.

   Things aren’t all bad—it helps to have a hot angel on your side. Mmm-Marc. Even though he’s all about heavenly business, Cassie would like to make it personal.            Assignment with benefits.

Jo Noelle has provided us with the following guest post and giveaway:
Building Tension Through Questions
We’re looking at some ways to build tension in our stories and decided to ask a lot of questions to get us started.
Decide what the overall book question is going to be for your story. This is the overall premise you are writing to achieve. For Damnation it is:

v Will 17 yo Cassie Witlon earn amnesty from Hell in the next 20 days?

Then as you plan or revise each scene decide what questions you can plant for the readers to be motivated to learn the answer to. Here are some more we used:

v Will Cassie beat the deadline?
v Will Cassie escape?
v Will Cassie get distracted from her purpose?
These are a little cryptic but they become more detailed as we wrote the scenes. We need one question for each scene. Some authors describe this step as making sure your scenes have a "purpose" or a "goal." It's just a little easier for us to think in terms of answering a question.
Possible Sources of Conflict
v Incompatible values
v Grown up issues v. kid issues
v Competition
v Role definitions
v Different relationship needs
v Personality conflict (motives and styles for dealing with people)

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Summarize to Soothe that Dreaded F-Word: FEEDBACK

Will the day ever come that I don't need more than one set of eyes on my work? I don't think so. I dare say that best-selling authors have had at least one editor's pair of eyes to scour over their work. Novice's like me need much more than that. Writers need feedback before publishing. Both the dreaded and loved kind. Dreaded because they take your precious baby and tell you things that are wrong with it. Loved because they praise the choices that work and are beautiful. Feedback should include both.

This past week my new critique group gave my first submission--the sequel to my Book of Mormon fiction--the once over via ooVoo. Three faces on my screen told me lots of specifics that needed fixing. While I trusted that they new better, especially where all three agreed, I couldn't help feeling a small stab wound on my baby. It was a lot to take in. It's been a while since I've taken live feedback, but I'm certain my skin will quickly toughen up like it has in the past. Then I did something that made sense and made a difference to how I felt. I summarized.

When my time was about up, I said, "So this is what I'm hearing: My beginning is confusing, I need to start with the second scene, and my character needs more personality. Right?" Okay. I could handle that. I summarized the multiple markings down to three main issues. I'm not sure if I've ever handled it this way before, but I like it.

In reading my partners' second submissions, I read through, marking little things I noticed--good and bad. Then I wrote a short summary of the main issue(s). I plan to use this summary in opposite order with my partners when we meet. They can take the specific markings at their own pace later. If the discussion leads away from the summary, no problem. It's a great place to start when giving or receiving feedback. 

In other words:
To critique: mark passages first, summarize second. To give feedback: summarize first, review marked passages second. 
If you try "The Summary Method", please let me know how it worked for you. Happy critiquing!

Monday, August 18, 2014

A Writer's Summertime Musings & Book Releases

For a few more days, I'm leaving up a quick survey from the previous post (scroll below) in case you didn't get a chance to VOTE for my book title. My thanks to those of you who did (or will). did your summer go? Hopefully you enjoyed a few seasonal activities or a vacation. I enjoyed relaxing reunions o both sides of the family, seeing all my siblings at once. Fun stuff.
I'm wondering how many writers or readers out there keep up on their goals during the summer or if the kids being out of school make you put off those plans. Also, do you venture more into the pool-side light reads during summer and something more academic or substantial during autumn? How did summertime affect your habits and goals?

I took some vacation time, but apparently my muse did not. Writing went well for me this summer, jump-started with the fabulous LDStorymaker conference. I've been working on the sequel to my Book of Mormon fiction--the one where you can vote for the title--and gathering/completing stories for my narrative non-fiction, Missionary Stories. Having my adult son home for the summer made for a few adjustments--especially because I like silence when I write. Sometimes I reordered my priorities, sometimes I shut the office door. It all worked out.

Okay Jane Austen and romance fans, look for Rebecca Jamison's latest book out now! Click for her blog tour schedule.
From the back blurb: As if it wasn't bad enough to be getting food from Church welfare, I had to meet one of the Ferreros--a good-looking Ferrero, at that.
   Elly Goodwin, a brilliant programmer, is so desperate for a job that she takes one from her ex-boyfriend--the same man who put her family out of business. Then she meets Ethan Ferrero, who seems too good to be true--especially for her ex's brother-in-law. At the same time, she must help her sister Maren recover from a severe case of depression. Elly is far too busy for love, especially not with Ethan Ferrero.
   Meanwhile, Elly’s dramatic sister, Maren, has recovered enough to fall in love, and when she falls, she falls hard. Elly must intercede before Maren's passion clouds her common sense. Together, Elly and Maren must learn that a mixture of sense and sensibility is the perfect recipe for love.
Fans of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility will love this modern retelling of the classic romance novel.

Another great romance is coming our way. Lisa Swinton's Ring On Her Finger will release September 3rd. Here is the cover reveal and tagline: What happened in Vegas should stay there,not follow Amanda home wedded to the man who broke her heart.
The Blurb: After celebrating college graduation with her friends in Las Vegas, Amanda St. Claire wakes up with a terrible hangover and a ring on her finger. Her day gets worse when she finds out she's married to rich playboy Blake Worthington--the guy she loathed the past four years. Amanda convinces Blake to legally termintate the marriage and they both return home like nothing ever happened. That is, until Blake shows up on her doorstep and Amanda has to come clean with her family.
Together for better or worse while the legalities are cleared, Amanda reluctantly plays along, but then the unthinkable happens--she finds herself falling in love with Blake.
Can they overcome the past? Or will it end their future before it even starts?

The new-to-me website of the week is You can easily lose yourself in looking through their tools and resources for writers. Wonderful stuff from the authors of several good thesaurus books. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Book Title Info and Vote

Let's say I'm deciding on a title for my book and YOU get to help me choose. I'm excited for your help because a book title is that all important first impression! Right now you are simply thumbing through titles. Which one grabs you? This is a snap decision - just go with your gut.
Please use the following choices in your selection:
Title A - Secrets of the King's Daughter: A Book of Mormon Romance
Title B - The Seventh City: A Book of Mormon Romance
Title C - The Seventh City of Believers
Title D - The Seventh City of Believers: A Book of Mormon Romance
Note: Click on a choice to drag and drop it into order.

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Now become an informed consumer, not voting totally blind.
Genre: YA Historical Romance for the LDS audience
The Pitch: After a Lamanite prince’s murder, his young widow returns home to find anything but the pampered-princess life she desires. A Nephite missionary shakes her world, and only the worst candidate for marriage wants this unbeliever who fears that conversion will expose her crime.
Please Consider:
  • Likability - What emotional response does the title send to you? Does it strike a positive chord? 
  • Memorable - Is it easily remembered? Will it linger in your mind?
  • Identifiable - Do you know from the title what kind of book it is? Does it promise you something?
  • Metatags - Does it contain searchable keywords built into the title to give greater exposure?
  • Flow - Does it roll nicely off your tongue? Too long or short?
  • Marketability - Consumer appeal to the widest audience
Now on with the INFORMED VOTE! Your opinion may or may not change. (This will be quick, too.)
Please use the same following choices in your selection:
Title A - Secrets of the King's Daughter: A Book of Mormon Romance
Title B - The Seventh City: A Book of Mormon Romance
Title C - The Seventh City of Believers
Title D - The Seventh City of Believers: A Book of Mormon Romance

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.
Thank you for your vote!

Monday, August 4, 2014

What Genre Is My Novel?

I've been vacillating since I began writing this book. I knew I wanted a love interest, but did it turn into more? Is my Historical Fiction a Romance or not?
Why it matters: Books need to be categorized in order to be found--whether it's put on a shelf by a librarian or bookstore staff, or searched online. A second but more personal reason concerns my title.
Backstory: I first called my novel The Seventh City. While I love that for a title, it doesn't clue us in to what it's about. Two of my suggestions to a marketing team were The Seventh City of Believers and The Seventh City: A Book of Mormon Novel. When the team came back with Secrets of the King's Daughter: A Book of Mormon Romance, I liked the descriptive first part quite well. Then I thought, "Oh, I guess it is a romance."
What is Romance? This description from summed it up well: "The genre of Romantic Fiction has two strict criteria: The first is that the story must focus on the relationship and romantic love between two people. Secondly, the end of the story must be positive, leaving the reader believing that the protagonists' love relationship will endure for the rest of their lives."
Criteria 1 -- This only fits for the second half of the book. My MC, Karlinah, is required to marry. In the first part of the story, she has little or no say in whom she marries. That changes, but new complications prevent a suitable match. It isn't until later in the story that she finds one worthy enough to build a relationship. The first half of the story focuses more on Karlinah's self-discovery journey and why she puts off religious conversion.
Criteria 2 -- Definitely a happy ending!
Okay, so maybe that's close enough. 
Why I Care: I don't want to narrow the audience. I want male readers as well as female. My young adult son loved the manuscript but said he never would have picked it out on his own. The book contains kidnapping scenes, Ammon chopping off arms of the enemy, and a wonderful villain. On the other hand, the Romance genre is huge and females are the largest group of readers.
End Result: What it boils down to is that my book needs to be a great book, regardless of the title or genre. That is what I aim to do. Word-of-mouth stories are what people want to read. 
Did you have a favorite title? Please let me know. OR wait until next Monday and you can vote!

The new-to-me blog of the week is an author/editor with a new pen name and a revitalized blog to match. Visit Jenn Adams at and give her some bloggy love.  

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Flat Character Arc

Here's my dilemma: How do I take a strong main character who already fulfilled a transforming growth arc in the first book and repeat it in the sequel? Karlinah can only learn so many lessons now that she is part of "a highly favored people of the Lord" who "never did fall away". I found my answer in Jordan McCollum's Character Arcs. Not all characters have growth arcs. Some have a negative arc (where the good turn bad) and some are flat. The book explores these along with the traditional growth arc. 

Character Arcs: founding, forming & finishing your character's internal journey (Writing Craft, #1) On page 61 Jordan says,"Sometimes the story is not a journey to improvement, but a proving ground of something the character has already learned." Think of the many fairy-tale characters like Snow White and Cinderella, where the good keep choosing to be good despite the hardships thrown at them. This is the Flat Character Arc. It can end happily ever after or in tragedy (though the character does not waver).

In the sequel I am writing, Karlinah's starting point defines her as already good. Her struggle will be that she is continually tempted to stay good. Think of the character pressing on against a headwind rather than climbing a mountain. It's simply a different kind of movement or growth. The temptations should grow worse and the consequences of those choices become greater. The character may not see rewards for making the right choice, making it more difficult to choose the right. There may be one final temptation to face in the climax, where giving in appears to have little consequence (but the opposite is true).

I am happy to learn that character arcs are not required to make a good story great. In this sequel, a flat character arc is what is right for my plot and character. There must still be conflict, but now my character has the freedom she needed to go in the proper direction. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Book Review - Marketing

While preparing for last week's marketing post from a panel of authors, I read Tim Grahl's Your First 1000 Copies: The step-by-step guide to marketing your book. This was a good combination for getting me in the marketing mode. Yes, marketing starts before the first book comes out.

About the book: Grahl has a marketing system he calls The Connection System. Having a system gives you confidence, saves time, and lets you be creative. His focuses include: Connections, Permission, Outreach, Sell, and Track. These are described on his website

This book gave me some great ideas that we first-time authors can implement. The only thing I wished for was more ideas on fiction authors giving readers content they want in a newsletter. He seemed to have more examples from non-fiction and how-to book authors. Though geared more to the self-publisher, I think any reader interested in marketing can gain something from its pages. I especially liked the chapter summary bullets and website links. I gave it 5 stars.

Between this book and my recent marketing panel post, I've been thinking about what I (you) can do now to implement the beginning (and all-encompassing) step in Grahl's marketing system--Connections. Marketing is about helping people. To build connections and help others, I (you) can:
1. Figure out my platform. What do I want to talk about that helps  others (besides writing tips)?
2. Write useful posts on my blog and author page.
3. Embrace the fact that I have something to offer of value/be a fan of my own book. Be excited!
4. Share interesting facts, tips, photos, etc. on my book's topic without going overboard. What ways best reach my intended audience?
5. Keep in touch with writer friends through social media, email, etc.