Monday, February 23, 2015

Writers Sing the Back Burner Blues

Ever since cooking stoves had burners, they typically came with a small one at the back. The chef could place a pot on the smallest burner and keep food warm using the least amount of fuel or energy until needed. Putting something on the back burner has become code for procrastination.
Before I confess my procrastinations (or possibly yours), let's insert a disclaimer here. There are different degrees of procrastination from setting things aside due to an emergency that has cropped up, to inventing things to fill time before the dreaded task can be touched. We could also talk about priorities, but you get the idea. Life happens, and we need to decide how much to push ourselves forward.

Writers are magnets for back-burner projects. Maybe there are too many creative ideas demanding theirr attention (too many fingers in the pie), their interest level wanes, or there's a new baby in the house. Hopefully, there is always a good project on the front burner that we make time for.

I've put aside a finished manuscript in favor of finishing another to submit first, because the topic has been hot. Have you noticed the increase of missionary-related books in the LDS market since the historic announcement of a lowered missionary age in October 2012? I'm trying to get in on that before the phase shifts again. I had started my inspirational narrative non-fiction, Missionary Stories, but planned to publish Bishop Stories first, as it was ready. This series of inspirational stories doesn't need to be in a particular order, so this was a marketing decision.

The trouble I'm having now is fitting in time to finish up the missionary book when I'm also working on the sequel to Secrets of the King's Daughter, which will be released January 2016. The publisher wants sequels to release within a year of the previous one. I've been spending one day a week on the non-fiction book and I'm pleased to say that I'm to the point of final proof reading for Missionary Stories. I dare say that it will be done within a month. It surely will be nice to quit switching burners once that is done, though it's a better problem to have than writer's block.

What reasons do you have for putting a writing project on the back burner?


Monday, February 16, 2015

Book Spotlight and Giveaway

I haven't read Run yet, but it sounds like a good mix of sweet romance and intrigue. Jolyn is giving away 5 copies through March 9 on Goodreads. Head to her blog to enter. 
When Supermom joins Dad on his latest project, sixteen-year-old Morgan is left with her aunt. Instead of dating the cute boy from her high school track team, Morgan will spend the summer in a small town near Kanab, Utah, five hours from home and all of her friends. Her plan is to keep a sane distance between herself and her aunt’s six boys. What Morgan doesn't expect is being attracted to the neighbor kid who hangs out with her cousins. How can she like two guys at the same time?

Just when her life couldn't get more messed up, Morgan stumbles across an abandoned house and learns she lived there when she was small. The house and its secrets haunt her—it turns out she’s been dreaming about the place for years. All she wants is to hold onto what she loves. But as the summer passes, she wonders if she’s going to lose everything. 

JoLyn Brown was raised alongside a peach orchard where she worked with her family. Some of her favorite memories are of listening to stories told by her relatives. These stories and her own experiences provide inspiration for her writing. Her published works include several short stories and A Circle of Sisters, an anthology of true stories about the Relief Society. JoLyn is currently working on a romantic fantasy novel and several companion novels to Run. She lives in Utah with her husband and two children. When she’s not writing, she sews, scrapbooks, reads, and spends time with her family. Learn more about JoLyn and her books by visiting

Monday, February 9, 2015

A Writer's Life With/Without Computers

I recently had some computer problems. Thank goodness the annoying pop-ups are gone, but a fix can lead to other adjustments when programs get reinstalled or changed. You probably know what I mean. It's a love-hate relationship sometimes.

This got me thinking about how dependent I am on my laptop for writing. Personal computers made great strides in the 1970s, but few of us had them. I did my creative writing at school with a pen or pencil back then, but it wasn't easy. I admire those who love the longhand method. The margins of my papers were often filled with notes. I used to draw a line through whatever I wanted to delete, and used arrows and shorthand markings to hopefully remember what I meant when I would later type or rewrite neatly. This would be for a report or essay assignment. Imagine if I had wanted to write a novel! 

How did novelists do it back in the old days? Maybe they had told their stories so many times that they practically knew them by heart. Maybe their dictation flowed flawlessly from mind to fingertips at a typewriter. Maybe they didn't get as much critique feedback or editor's notes as writers seek today. 

I don't know what their compensations would have entailed, but I'm grateful for that dang modern convenience that makes my writing life easier--even if I have to put up with it's problems. Happy writing!

Monday, February 2, 2015

A Writer's Life of Pruning

Where I live, Mother Nature was tricked by a dry, mild winter into sending forth early buds and leaves. It's pruning time. As I snipped away at rose canes, first of all, I hoped I was doing it right, and secondly, I couldn't help but wonder at how good it was for a plant to get pruned. A writer's life is like this. 

First, take off the dead wood. This is the dry, unproductive stuff that simply takes up space and time. What clutter can you delete from your life so you can use that time for writing? What words, sentences, or scenes are cluttering your manuscript and slowing the pace? These are the parts that you can see you don't need. You might like them, but you don't need them. Get rid of the "dead wood". 

Second, let your bush/life/manuscript breathe. Take off crossing branches and thin excess interior canes. Simplify when life or plots get too complicated. Sometimes you need a short break from a manuscript; sometimes you just need to trim the immensity down by focusing on one scene at a time.

Third, stimulate new growth. Cutting into green growth is not like trimming off dead wood. Emotion plays a part. This is where we need opinions from others, like a critique group, until we are confident and experienced in pruning. We can't always see what cuts need to be made to better our manuscript, so we rely on the experience of others. 

Whether you want to branch out by taking more risks, or cut a thousand words from your work in progress, the pruning process can work to better a writer as well as a rose bush. It won't be long until you see the beautiful result.