Monday, August 15, 2016

Simultaneous Character Arcs?

Aha Moment: It all came together, like an epiphany. That's what studying character arcs through a series of blog posts by K. M. Weiland has done for me. Before devoting several days to glean all the how-tos and soak up the goods from Katie's posts, most of what I've learned about the writing craft has felt compartmentalized rather than interconnected.


It started with wanting an outline for my third novel (as opposed to a general idea and scripture-based events marking the plot). If I can nail the character arc, I also have a well-rounded, interesting character and the structure for a fantastic plot. These blog posts are full of examples and questions to ask along the way to help structure the arc, along with the points within each act of the story (like an outline).

Arc Types: According to Weiland, the Change Arc (positive or negative) is about the lie your character believes and how he sheds it to become a changed person. The Flat Arc is about the truth your character believes and how he uses it to change the world around him.

Implementation: The main character for the third book is Karlinah's son, Samuel, King Lamoni's grandson. He is a sober young man who wants to do right and make a difference. Because of this, I could use the flat character arc, where he already has the truth figured out but it will test him. His personal changes would be minimal. The flat arc changes are more about the world changing than the character. If I think too broadly, this doesn't work because the world of war between Nephites and Lamanites that Samuel lives in won't change all that much. I need to either narrow the scope of "the world" or give Samuel a Positive Change Arc. I'm left with the same problem in the latter case, since Samuel has it pretty much together at the start of his story. But yes, I can find a lie for him to believe, discard, and grow from in a different way.

How about both? Can it be done? I just might give it a try and see. Will it be as dramatic, as emotional? I can see it working. Before you write me off as crazy, I'd love to know if you've had any experience with this in your reading or writing.

There could be some lie that Samuel believes that gets in the way of want he wants, so that he doesn't realize what he needs. And there could be a major truth that he believes that he uses to change something in his world. If it doesn't get confusing and I can show which goal is the current one, it might turn out positively delicious! If I get in over my head, I can always revert to one arc.

Revisions to the rescue? Discovery is part of what makes this writing journey fun!


Monday, July 11, 2016

A Writer's Validation Process - Time to celebrate!

We have to celebrate each step of success rather than each step toward success. Once a goal is met, there is always another mountain to climb. I may not have "made it", but one more box is checked. Secrets of the King's Daughter has officially been nominated for a 2016 Whitney Award, an awards program for novels written by LDS authors! It will be entered in the Historical Romance category. Thank you to those who felt it worthy of nomination. The nominees will be whittled down to five finalists in each category. As a first-time published author and if I become a finalist, I am also eligible for the Best Novel by a New Author.

Judging: Nominees are "voted on by an academy of industry professionals, including authors, publishers, bookstore owners, distributors, critics, and others."
According to the Whitney Awards website, "We do not give a rubric to our judges or to the Academy awards because this is a reader based award rather than a literary one. We choose judges who are sophisticated and critical readers and allow them to make their own judgements on writing quality and content. Doing otherwise (screening nominees based on content and writing quality) would be both time-consuming and based on subjective reasoning, therefore we have only required that the author be a member of the LDS church. All other factors such as content, language, and craft, are to be judged by each individual person voting in the award process."

It's moments like this that keep us less-experienced authors pushing forward toward success and validation for the many hours spent on our craft. We might write for months or years with little feedback until that big moment of public sharing. Any encouragement you can give to your writer friends is greatly appreciated. Thank you to those who organize and recognize a writer's efforts with awards such as this. I must wait until next February before finding out who the finalists are, but this step of my dream is realized. It's time for a little chocolate and then I'm pumped to write some more. 

Monday, May 30, 2016

Honoring War Heros and More

Product DetailsI've been researching Book of Mormon warfare for my third novel, and found David E. Spencer's insights into Captain Moroni interesting and helpful. It covers the perfect time period I need. He adds to my scriptural knowledge with his military expertise through insights and analysis.

Early in the book, Spencer points out that Mormon, the compiler and abridger of the ancient records, was a great admirer of Moroni. Mormon's inserted comments, intended or not, influence the reader toward his inclination of great respect. Mormon states that the devil would not have power over the hearts of men such as Moroni (Alma 48:17). The surprising (to me) insight Spencer gives is that Captain Lehi was also a great commander in that time period, and could just as easily have been the one readers were led to so admire rather than Moroni.

I make two points here: 1) Writers do sway/impact their readers, and 2) Those whom we honor publically often become heroes.

In conjunction with the Memorial Day holiday, let us honor the memory of those soldiers who volunteered to serve and fight for our country and freedoms, and remember other heroes in our lives. Make your great respect known of the good people around you. Tell them. Write to them. Show them the impact they have had on you. There are heroes all around us. You are probably one of them to someone.

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 whitneyawards.com. 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.

Monday, April 11, 2016

What an Author Wants

Putting one's book into public hands has it's risks. I'm feeling both relieved and grateful for the positive feedback I've received on my debut book, Secrets of the King's Daughter. Though true that much of that response is from people I know, and therefore possibly more kind than a less-influenced reader, it gives validation to my purpose and reinforcement for what I want to accomplish in my future writing. Here's an example of that validation:
"I stayed up and finished your wonderful book last night! You are so talented, and I loved the twists and turns at the end. I felt uplifted by the account of truth and testimony shared by the well-developed characters. Thank you for sharing your talents!" --L.S., California, USA

It's one thing for people to find an enjoyable read that didn't waste their time--a minimum authors hope for. It's another level of satisfying fulfillment if a book has reader value beyond entertainment and escapism. Many authors strive to teach, motivate, uplift, or send a message. I am no different.

While making some money would be a positive side benefit, very few authors strike it rich anymore. They write to unlock the stories inside their heads and because they love it. I am no different. What we really want is to be understood and have our writing affect and influence others. We want them to "get it".

My husband mentioned that until he read my book, he let me "do my thing" without interfering, but wasn't an enthusiastic supporter. Now he sees value in its themes as a way to help others. He sees that I'm doing more than simply using my talents. We discussed my desire to explore how characters' choices are impacted by gospel principles, just like real-life situations. Maybe people can learn or gain strength from my stories. I told him the themes in a contemporary LDS novella I just completed. He gets it now, and that makes me happy.

Monday, April 4, 2016

A Reason Not to Read My Book

I had an interesting experience at a book signing last weekend. This was one of those Deseret Book "Ladies Night" events with refreshments and giveaways. The place was packed, and the ladies tended to stay a while, hoping for the next drawing to call their name. Therefore, I was able to have a few conversations with those camping out near my table.

One conversation in particular has stayed with me. There was an older woman sitting on her walker seat, thumbing through a stack of books on her lap to whittle down her choices. It was the perfect opportunity to ask her what she likes to read and see if I could interest her in Secrets of the King's Daughter. As soon as she learned my story was based on the Book of Mormon, she started shaking her head. "I think that we need our own opinions of what those people looked like and did," she said.

This didn't deter me. I've considered this argument before, and wrote a blog post about finding that balance between recorded scripture and fiction. Perhaps she could be convinced. All I wanted was for readers to give it a chance so they could feel the inspirational uplift or emotional response that I expected they would from the engaging storyline and gospel messages found within, or a renewed interest in the scriptures. Something positive.

I told her that the Church filled in the details left to the imagination when they produced such films as The Testaments. I told her about the Scripture Reference List in the back of the book so that readers could look up what I wrote that was established by scripture. In fact, looking up references is encouraged. She still shook her head, so I relented. "It sounds like you know what you want," I said with a smile.

Over the course of another thirty or forty minutes, she stayed where she was and revealed more of her opinions little by little, probably wanting to explain why she turned me down flat. She'd heard me tell others that it's been getting good reviews and saw me sign a few copies. She explained that another author had steered her wrong and she won't ever read that author again. A little later she said that it took a session with her stake president to set her straight. Now it all made sense.

In most cases, I think it's good to expand your reading material into other genres and new authors, but my book was not right for this woman, and she stood firm about that. She showed me that there are valid reasons why not to read certain books. Sometimes we get easily mixed up or swayed or don't like foul language or plots that are upsetting. It might take some experimenting to learn what to avoid, but once you know, you can make the right choice for you.

Monday, March 28, 2016

About Book Reviews/Blog Tours and Their Results

This is NOT a book review. If you've followed all of last week's posts from the blog tour for Secrets of the King's Daughter, you've seen plenty of those for now, but you may find what I observed helpful or interesting.

1. I went into it recognizing that most reviewers are honest and will tell what they did and didn't like without intentional meanness. I hoped for mostly good but expected that some would find both negative and positive elements. Opinions vary, after all.
2. Book review bloggers typically have enough experience to be diplomatic. They've learned to sandwich in a negative issue between other positives. Trust that overall, they will give a fair review.
3. That said, as a first-timer I anxiously awaited each review, keeping busy to avoid excessive focus. Still, I wondered if they would love it or find it amateurish. My confidence grew when the consensus proved positive. 
4. Use the feedback rather than fear it. If one or two reviewers point out a weakness, it's not the end of the world. You either chalk it up to a singular opinion and ignore it, or you analyze similarities in what reviewers are saying so that you can find where to fix/improve. 
I'm not sure what I would have done if the reviews were less than favorable. I love writing enough to believe that I would continue on. Some writers may need a break, but should recognize that we only get better with time and practice. Find a few cheerleaders or a support group to get you going again. Read some how-to books or go to a conference if the writing craft was the issue.
5. Picking reviewers that like the genre you write in will garner more positive reviews, so do your research. My marketer handled this.
6. Sometimes a blogger will fall through. Line up two or three reviews for each day so that your book gets more reviews, a better representation, and you don't have a day that bombs.
7. Thank the reviewer no matter how the review goes. It's not only common curtesy, we need to keep those who blog about books wanting to continue with their service.
8. Consider doing more reviewing of the books you read. Writers and readers depend on your word of mouth/pen.

What do you think about book reviews?

Friday, March 25, 2016

Book Review #7 of Blog Tour and Giveaway

Book Review by LDS Women's Book Review at http://www.ldswomensbookreview.com/wordpress/ and Sheila Staley at http://whynotbecauseisaidso.blogspot.com/

My Review:
 I love to read books where stories from scriptures are brought to life. Secrets of a King’s Daughter does a marvelous job of bringing to life the stories of Lamanite King Lamoni, and Ammon, a Nephite, who is on a mission to convert these people to God.
The Princess Karlinah’s story is where the novel starts. Her new husband, a prince in a neighboring kingdom has been murdered in his sleep. All we know is that somehow Karlinah is involved, but her secret is not divulged for a very long time. Karlinah returns to her family where she soon finds herself betrothed again now to the wicked priest Japethihah. He’s so well written as a scummy and power hungry man that he made my skin crawl. Karlinah is not happy with her father’s choice, but she hopes that he will not be abusive as her first husband was to her.
I always find it amazing how a writer can weave a scriptural story in with made- up characters and make it so believable. Renae does this so well. I was immediately caught up in this story and the mystery and intrigue that was there. This book is a wonderful combination of action, suspense and romance. The conversion of King Lamoni and his wife was beautifully done as if I was reading the scriptures. Of course there was some liberty taken in dialogue and other happenings to enhance the overall story and plot. Those not familiar with The Book of Mormon will still be able to read this story and be pulled into the stories told from several different POV’s. I liked how each of the stories were seamlessly interwoven, so nothing seemed choppy, but knitted together to make the overall story flow. I’m so impressed that this is the author’s first published book. The writing is so well done and there is a very polished feel while reading this novel.
There are many messages that readers will take away from reading this book such as having hope, showing faith in unknown things,seeking forgiveness and accepting that one can repent and truly be forgiven. My teen daughter who usually shy’s away from anything not fantasy, declared she wanted to read this next.
I recommend this book to those who love historical fiction, romance, action and political intrigue. This book is also for those wanting a novel which brings stories from The Book of Mormon into a fictional setting and teaches about gospel principles in an interesting and non-preachy way. I can’t wait to read book two in this series.
****Warnings:This book has some violence with sword fighting, some mild gore and dead bodies in the aftermath of battle. There is no profanity or sex. ****

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Book Review #6 of Blog Tour and Giveaway

Review by Singing Librarian Books at http://www.singinglibrarianbooks.com/adults

Author Renae Weight Mackley has done a fantastic job bringing one of my favorite Book of Mormon stories to life in her novel, Secrets of the King’s Daughter.  From page one I was hooked by this beautiful, rich, beloved, and enchanting story of Princess Karlinah.  This novel portrays Karlinah’s struggles, discovering her faith, repentance, baptism and falling in love.  This action packed story is filled with twists and turns, as well as inspiration.  I would recommend this novel to readers that enjoy novels based on characters from the scriptures.

Genre: historical, scripture stories
Publisher: Covenant Communications
Publication date: March 1, 2016
Number of pages: 248

Content Rating: PG, some violence (nothing graphic)
Book Rating: 5 stars
Picture
A review copy of this book was provided by Covenant Communications.
 
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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Book Review #5 of Blog Tour and Giveaway

REVIEW from Empowermoms.net

This book is a clean, historical fiction book based on scripture stories found from “The Book of Mormon” which is additional scripture along with the bible that “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” use in their church.
The story starts off with Karlinah’s husband being murdered in his own bedchamber. After given a choice by the king (her father in law), Karlinah returns home to her family and her father King Lamoni in Ishmael. Unfortunately she escaped one bad arranged marriage for potentially another, when her father immediately arranges another husband for her.
A Nephite man named Ammon comes to work for her father and after a brave display of protecting the Kings sheep-Ammon starts to preach about God and heaven and life purpose. Karlinah doesn’t believe and questions Ammon’s motives and whether she can truly be forgiven for her sins.
I loved going back and forth between chapters with reading Karilinah’s experiences and thoughts, and then Ammon’s experiences. The story was very well written and kept me totally engaged from beginning to end! It made me very thankful for my modern time period and not having to be in an arranged marriage and being able to make my own choices.
I can’t wait to read book 2 and 3 of this series (its in the works according to the author’s blog)! This was a truly inspiring, engaging scripture story about love, life and forgiveness.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Covenant Communications in exchange for an honest review on my blog and social media-all opinions are my own.
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Book Review #4 of Blog Tour and Giveaway

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

SECRETS OF ATHE KING'S DAUGHTER by Renae Weight Mackley—book review/giveaway

SECRETS OF THE KING'S DAUGHTER by Renae Weight Mackley. I always hesitate with stories that weave themselves through scriptural stories. More often than not, they fall short of a good read. This book did a good job of balancing that fine line in my opinion. Since I know the words of Ammon well I could tell what was being taken from the scriptures and what wasn't. Even if someone didn't know the words of Ammon, the story moves through those sections very smoothly.

I was drawn into the story from the beginning with Karlinah and her secret. I loved how her secret was gradually told and what she did to overcome that secret. With the introduction of Ammon, I began to hesitate in reading, but once I saw how it was going to be done, I relaxed and finished the story.
 
It is a good story with a couple of turns and choices and consequences for those choices. Anyone who loves a good story with a scriptural setting will love this book.
GIVEAWAY:
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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Book Review #3 of Blog Tour and Giveaway

REVIEW from LDS and Lovin' It
Karlinah' first marriage left her with heavy secret to carry as she returns home after her husband's death.  A secret she dares not share with anyone. But things at home don't offer as much relief as she had hoped when her father betroths her to a man she distrusts so that her younger sister can wed.  The arrival of a young Nephite complicate everything.  But Ammon turns out to be different than she expected and the upheaval he brings offers hope that she may be able to choose her own path.  But she's reluctant to accept the gospel since it means confessing her secret, a secret she fears could cost her own life.  Mackley has written a compelling story that revolves around events recounted in The Book of Mormon.  I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Karlinah and imagining what it might have been like to be there when the incredible events surrounding Ammon's mission to the Laminates took place.  The incredible workings of the Lord have been beautifully depicted in this story which does have romantic elements in it but which come second to the changes that Karlinah and her family undergo when they listen to Ammon's message.  A truly engaging work of fiction that takes the scriptural story and adds details about what it may have been like to be there.  I really enjoyed this book and recommend it highly.

Enter GIVEAWAWY for $25 Amazon Gift Card and Free Book here or on one of these blogs.
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TOUR SCHEDULE
*March 21st: 
http://mybookaday.blogspot.com/
http://www.rockinbookreviews.com/ 
*March 25th: 

Monday, March 21, 2016

Book Review #2 of Blog Tour

This review comes from http://www.rockinbookreviews.com/ 
This is an interesting view on what could have taken place during the months before and during Ammon's interaction with King Lamoni.
Why did King Lamoni offer his eldest daughter as a wife to a Nephite? Was this daughter accepting of Ammon?
The author's development of the circumstances and of the characters offers a new insight to this Book of Mormon story. Whether or not one is familiar with the stories of the "Lamanites and Nephites" of the Book of Mormon, one will find this tale of the American Indian and the White man very entertaining. The character are created in a realistic way and the scenes are easily visualized. There is plenty of drama, action, and romance for any lover of fiction.
The only slight negative is I felt too much time was spent on the attitude of Karlinah in the earlier portion of the novel. Even then it steadily moved forward.
4.5 stars

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Book Review #1 of Blog Tour

Here is the http://mybookaday.blogspot.com/ Review:

And click on the giveaway link!

Monday, March 21, 2016


Blog Tour - Secrets of the King's Daughter Review and Giveaway


About the book: It was a relationship designed to unite not two young people in love, but two powerful kingdoms. And for Princess Karlinah, eldest daughter of King Lamoni, her marriage to the haughty heir to the throne of Jersusalem has led to a life of fear and abuse. There seems to be no escape—until her husband is murdered and Karlinah is unexpectedly free to return to her father’s kingdom. She can begin again—but no one can ever know of the part she played in the prince’s demise . . . Karlinah’s relief is short-lived, for upon her return to the land of Ishmael, she is once again swept into her father’s plans for a politically powerful marriage. Then the arrival of a young missionary in her father’s court changes everything: her family is converted to a new religion, and Karlinah is free to choose her path. Yet she is not so easily convinced by the words of Ammon—especially when repentance means confessing her crime. But as her faith grows and a young stone artisan captures her heart, Karlinah realizes that she must face the consequences of her past in order to move forward with her future.

My review: I had just a bit of a hard time getting into the story line of this book. It starts out with the death of Karlinah's husband. You know that she has a secret about what has happened to him, but it takes quite a while in the book to actually learn what happened to him. 

Karlinah doesn't want to stay with the family of her dead husband, but asks instead to be sent home to her family in the land of Ishmael. This is when the book starts to show it's Book of Mormon influence. It's in the home of her father in the land of Ishmael where Ammon, one of the sons of King Mosiah, comes to be a servant and eventually an amazing missionary to the Lamanites.

I really liked the way that the author showed things through Karlinah's eyes, as well as the eyes of her father, mother and Ammon as well. Karlinah is the main character, but this book shifts through several characters to really give a complete picture of all that is happening throughout the book.

I liked the way there is conflict shown between Karlinah's views and the views of Ammon and all of the people who converted because of him. Her family believes him easily, but Karlinah needs her own desire to gain a witness and she needs her own witness to believe and follow him.

I thought that this book was a bit slow in the beginning, but by the end, I was enjoying the story and didn't want to put it down until I was able to finish. I thought that the characters were well-written and interesting. The plot is well-written and the ending is exciting. Make sure to get your own copy!

I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Check out the other stops on the blog tour!







Blog Tour Giveaway and Book Reviews

It's my Blog Tour and Giveaway this week, set up by Covenant Communications. It's nice to see what people think of a book before you buy it, right? That's what this is all about. Look for daily reviews reposted here or use the schedule below. Consider giving your own review of books you read (on social media, Goodreads and Amazon, etc.) and get talking about them.
*March 21st: 
*March 22nd:
http://ldsandlovinit.blogspot.com/
http://empowermoms.net/
*March 23rd:
http://www.littlelightdesigncollective.com/
http://www.bonnieharris.blogspot.com/
*March 24th:
http://www.singinglibrarianbooks.com/index.html
*March 25th:
http://www.iamareader.com/
http://whynotbecauseisaidso.blogspot.com/
http://www.ldswomensbookreview.com/wordpress/ 

Thanks for all the wonderful support so far! It's been a fun ride with my debut book.
Here's the giveaway information:
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Monday, March 14, 2016

Good Feedback: Don't Get Down, Get Better!

Don't let healthy feedback 
bog you down with extra baggage.
I've noticed a pattern with my current project. I'll write some new scenes, check them over, and send them off to my critique group. What happens? Those pages I liked so well will come back with many comments and tracked changes marked. Sigh. That's the norm in this business. Before I tell myself (again) that I'm no good at this new genre, it deserves closer inspection. Here's what I've discovered:
1. It comes in threes. I send the first draft, revise and send the second draft, and by the third go around, we're all pretty happy with my scene. Good feedback plays an important role in progression.
2. I'm seeing the same scenes with rewrites two and three times from my partners. This tells me that we are all in the same boat, we all struggle, and we all make improvements each time we incorporate good feedback. Revisions are a necessary part of the game.
3. This doesn't mean our writing sucks or is still on the same level as when we first formed our group. More likely, our critiques are getting more sophisticated and our editing skills are improving along with the writing. All aspects of the craft will improve with regular exercise.
4. The trick to staying positive and not taking well-intended suggestions personally is knowing we can make improvements when we recognize the reason for the comment. Who doesn't want their craft to get better? So, when a comment last week said, Boring. You can do better, and was softened by a smiley face, I checked the highlighted portion and recognized it as Telling. Okay, I can fix that. No wounded ego necessary.

All of the above is based on feedback from those who share mutual trust,  respect, and similar skill levels, of course. I don't recommend you stay in a group where neither the feedback makes sense nor they have anything positive to say. The same person who told me a few words were boring wrote this at the end of my submission: Nicely written scene! Much more realistic and fun to read!

With healthy feedback, don't let it get you down, turn it into better writing. Fear rejection? Click here for a wonderful, inspirational post by my niece, Hannah Holt, called The Art of Tumbling: How to Fail without Falling to Pieces. It goes well with today's topic.

Monday, March 7, 2016

How Well Should Writers Know Their Characters?

If there was a book of writing commandments, surely this would be in the top ten: Know your characters. Two recent comments brought me face to face with this.

First, one of my critique partners stated that she liked the scenes in my current work in progress from Raychel's point of view much better than Tyler's POV. "You've got Raychel down," she said, implying, "Tyler, not so much." Yeah. It shows. Besides the fact that males are often harder for me to write than females, I didn't have deep grasp on him. I need to resolve that or those scenes will not grab the reader.

Secondly, daughter #2 confessed that she was a little nervous to read my new book, Secrets of the King's Daughter, because she didn't want to hear me tell the story, meaning she wanted to get lost in the voice of the characters and forget that her mom wrote it. I'm happy to say that she was pleasantly surprised.

So how do writer's get to know their characters well enough for readers to care about them and get lost in the story? There are many ways to choose from but all take some necessary effort. I had gotten lazy with my Tyler character. Pick what appeals to you. 
  • Writing. Jot down lots of notes or use a spread sheet. Make a Character Bible. List descriptions, traits, flaws, motivations, etc.
  • Acting. Take a day or a week to live inside your character's head. Whatever you are involved in doing, let your character also have a say. Think or pretend what he would do, how she would react. Imagine yourself/an alter ego as that person until you could be them in your sleep.
  • Visual Aids. Find pictures/photos of how your characters look, where they live and work, their favorite foods, things they like to do, etc. Post them on a board or in a notebook for easy reference.
  • People. Base a character on a real and familiar person or a cross between two people and give them a twist so it's not obvious to them. Draw on personal experiences from different sources. People-watch for ideas. Listen to how teens speak, if that is who you are writing. If it gets too complicated, you will have to implement a secondary way of remembering things about your character. Any of these methods can be combined.
Characters are fun to create. Just make sure to get well acquainted.

Monday, February 29, 2016

How Writing Leads to a Book's Birthday

Last week I accompanied my husband on a trip out of state. Two of the days I was able to spend in the hotel with my laptop, writing like I hadn't a care in the world. It was the closest I've been to a writer's retreat. No meals to prepare, fewer distractions. But in a lot of ways, I'm blessed with that opportunity on a regular basis from my home office desk. I don't always take full advantage of that fact, but I usually try.

In analyzing what things keep me spending my time writing when I have no time card to punch, I've come up with a few. Maybe you have some useful tips to share as well. Here's a few:
1. Enthusiasm. Start with a scene you are excited to write, even if it's out of order from where you left off. And you just might end up replacing those trouble spots with something better.
2. Manageable Goals. Break your goals down into smaller chunks with short time frames that don't overwhelm. Go for fifteen minutes straight, for instance, and see where it leads.
3. Motivation. Having a critique group that expects my submission every week is strong motivation. Others have some sort of accounting partner or personal reward system. Find what motivates you.
4. Timing. Would changing your routine or fitting in writing into unusual time slots help? Sometimes we don't know if it's a better way until we try something new. Do you know what your body clock likes? Try experimenting in one new way.
5. Attitude. Wake up and remind yourself that you get to write today, that this story that nobody else can tell just like you is ready and waiting. You get to be creative, develop your talent, and have fun. Today you will surprise yourself and write something more amazing than you imagined. Now go for it.

All these practices add up to a finished project, like my first published book whose birthday is this week. Happy birthday to Secrets of the King's Daughter!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Week of Book Love Contest WINNERS!

Was that fun or what! I just finished running my first contest for six straight days. Whew! I had a good time posting pictures, quotes, and fun facts about my book, and I hope you were enticed to want to read it. Thanks to all who participated.


And the winners of a signed copy of Secrets of the King's Daughter are:

Sharlene Bitter
and surprise, surprise--two bonus winners!
 Sarah Marchant Montanares and
Jamie Braegger!
Congrats! Please message me with your address.

CONTEST TIPS: Things I learned from/liked about this experience:
1. Yes, you can do it yourself! It takes planning ahead and managing the scope of things. I decided to do one question a day in an 'open house' type of environment so friends and fans could participate on their own time, and I wouldn't feel overwhelmed by keeping up on a frenzy of getting my info out in a short time block. It's not over as quickly, but it's easier in some ways. Posts can be scheduled ahead on both Blogs and Facebook Pages.
2. Be aware of Facebook rules. Business-related contests need to be run from a business page, not a personal profile. I did not post directly to my personal profile page, but my blog is linked to it as a shared post, so it still made a legal appearance in my status, which helped get the word out.
3. I'm trying to widen my following on my author page and one requirement of the contest was to "Like" my page. There was some success there, but this contest was geared more to people who already were my Facebook friends and family. I didn't want to require participants to "Share" the contest, though at least one person did, which garnered a few new "Likes". Shared posts get wider participation, but sometimes you want to reward those who are already fans.
4. As a debut author, I figured participation would be small. (My publisher already did a bigger scale contest.) That suited me fine, especially for experimenting. I learned that not all participants will follow the rules, but they think they did. For example, maybe they liked a photo or post instead of the author page. You have to decide the purpose of your contest and how strict you will be on the rules before the names go into the drawing. I also had to search for comments from three different places, but that wasn't too hard. It was fun and a good learning experience.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Week of Book Love CONTEST - Day 6 (Final)

Karlinah's Beaded Hair Ties
Welcome to the final day of the CONTEST celebrating my upcoming debut book, Secrets of the King's Daughter, scheduled to release March 1, 2016. I hope you've had fun learning about Princess Karlinah and her worries, her growing faith, romance, danger, and how I use scripture as a basis for fiction. I'm excited for you to learn from and enjoy my book! The winner of the signed copy will be posted on Monday, February 22. And yes, you can go back to days you have missed until the contest closes tonight.

Karlinah makes unique clay beads to decorate the way she keeps her hair braids in place. These beaded hair ties become a clue to her location when someone searches for her. In the sequel--yes, I am writing a follow-up to this stand alone story--these beads provide more clues to finding someone. The sequel will use many of the same characters in a new adventure that can be read independently of the other, but is usually read in a preferred order. Today's question is: Do you typically enjoy series books (three or more), do you prefer single books, or both? 

CONTEST RULES: Each day February 15-20 you will have the opportunity to learn something new about my book and enter to win a signed copy. Simply visit and "Like" my Author Facebook Page and leave a comment there or on my blog that answers the question of the day. Sharing this post is optional but appreciated. One comment per question will go into the drawing for the prize. That's a total of six opportunities to enter to win!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Week of Book Love CONTEST - Day 5

Slingshot like unto Ammon's
It's day 5 of the CONTEST celebrating my upcoming debut book, Secrets of the King's Daughter. "Secrets" is scripture-based historical romance fiction. The main character, Princess Karlinah, is briefly mentioned in the Book of Mormon as a marriageable-aged daughter of King Lamoni (Alma 17: 24). There was a lot of creative license taken to build a character from so little information. However, I used the timeline and information given in several scripture chapters to base some story events. For example, how could I include Ammon as a character and not show the popular scene of him protecting the king's sheep with his slingshot and sword? In fact, you will find a Scriptures Referenced index in the back of my book.

I believe that readers will find the book engaging at any level of scriptural interest. One can simply read it through or find that spark to search the references as desired--something for everyone. I wrote a blog post about finding that middle ground between scripture purists and pure fiction lovers. For today's comment, leave your personal opinion about whether or not you think you would use the reference list: none, a little, or a lot.

CONTEST RULES: Each day February 15-20 you will have the opportunity to learn something new about my book and enter to win a signed copy. Simply visit and "Like" my Author Facebook Page and leave a comment there or on my blog that answers the question of the day. Sharing this post is optional but appreciated. One comment per question will go into the drawing for the prize. That's a total of six opportunities to enter to win!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Week of Book Love CONTEST - Day 4

Boa

 
Ceiba Tree Thorn
 
It's day 4 of the CONTEST celebrating my debut book, Secrets of the King's Daughter. Yesterday I talked about this being a Romance story, but today we find that there are dangerous thrills involved. Someone is attacked by a boa constrictor in the jungle. Someone is kidnapped. Someone gets tied to a thorny Ceiba tree and tortured.
 
Here's what H.B. Moore, Best of State and Whitney Award Winning author said in her endorsement of my book: Secrets of the King's Daughter is an inspiring story filled with danger, intrigue, romance, forgiveness, and faith--a must read for lovers of historical fiction!

For today's comment, tell me briefly of a dangerous situation you or someone you know were involved in.
CONTEST RULES: Each day February 15-20 you will have the opportunity to learn something new about my book and enter to win a signed copy. Simply visit and "Like" my Author Facebook Page and leave a comment there or on my blog that answers the question of the day. Sharing this post is optional but appreciated. One comment per question will go into the drawing for the prize. That's a total of six opportunities to enter to win!  

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Week of Book Love CONTEST - Day 3

Maya stone carving at Tulum, Belize
It's Day 3 of the CONTEST celebrating my upcoming debut book, Secrets of the King's Daughter, and we absolutely need a romance day. The book, after all, is billed as a Book of Mormon romance.

In writing "Secrets", I didn't focus on genre as much as including all the elements I wanted in the book. I wanted Karlinah's personal journey, her struggle with faith, some danger and adventure, and a love interest. So, when my publishing team called it a romance, I was a little surprised. Even with all these other elements going on, it does fit the romance formula where something keeps the couple apart but they have a happy-ever-after ending.

One of Princess Karlinah's potential love interests is a stone artisan who gives her a simple lesson in chiseling stone. From the book: 
Karlinah watched them for a moment. "How do I hold it?" she asked Cumroth.
"It will be easier if you let me guide you." He bent over her shoulder from behind and touched his hands to hers. Their cheeks were less than a hand span apart. It sent a shiver through her. She tried to stay steady while Cumroth seemed intent on the task.

For today's question, leave a comment on my author Facebook page or blog about your first crush--how old were you, did they like you back, did your crushes change every other week, etc. It's okay to go back and answer a previous day's question that you missed until the end of the contest.
CONTEST RULES: Each day February 15-20 you will have the opportunity to learn something new about my book and enter to win a signed copy. Simply visit and "Like" my Author Facebook Page and leave a comment there or on my blog that answers the question of the day. Sharing this post is optional but appreciated. One comment per question will go into the drawing for the prize. That's a total of six opportunities to enter to win!
 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Week of Book Love CONTEST - Day 2


Monkey in Tree, taken in Belize
It's Day 2 of the CONTEST celebrating my upcoming debut book, Secrets of the King's Daughter.
Here's a snippet from the book about how Princess Karlinah is not so easily convinced by the words of missionary Ammon:
"Abish beamed at Hepka for a moment before turning toward the eyes she felt penetrating her. There stood Karlinah with arms crossed. Her head tilted to one side, and the familiar skeptical twisting of her rosebud mouth appeared. Abish’s heart sank. Her favorite member of the king’s household had not been converted."
The story takes us through Karlinah's journey of faith, romance, and adventure. When her youngest brother follows the monkeys and becomes lost in the jungle, Karlinah relies on prayer for the first time. Today's question: Have you ever been lost, and under what circumstances?
CONTEST RULES: Each day February 15-20 you will have the opportunity to learn something new about my book and enter to win a signed copy. Simply visit and "Like" my Author Facebook Page and leave a comment there or on my blog that answers the question of the day. Sharing this post is optional but appreciated. One comment per question will go into the drawing for the prize. That's a total of six opportunities to enter to win!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Week of Book Love CONTEST- Day One

Legendary Indian Worry Dolls
Don't worry, be happy!
Riding on the tails of Valentine's Day with its theme of love, this CONTEST celebrates a love for books and a glimpse at a very special book to me--my upcoming debut book, Secrets of the King's Daughter, arriving in a couple weeks. Each day February 15-20 you will have the opportunity to learn something new about my book and enter to win a signed copy.
HOW: It's easy to enter. Simply visit and "Like" my Author Facebook Page and leave a comment there or on my blog that answers the question of the day. Sharing this post is optional but appreciated. One comment per question will go into the drawing for the prize. That's a total of six opportunities to enter to win! Ready?

Today we'll learn something about the book's title, Secrets of the King's Daughter. Fictional Princess Karlinah is the eldest daughter of King Lamoni, a Lamanite king from the Book of Mormon in about 90 A.D. She hides a secret that causes her great worry. From the back liner: "She is not so easily convinced by the words of Ammon--especially when repentance means confessing her crime." What part does Karlinah play in her young husband's demise? That is an intriguing secret indeed.

The first question involves worry. Karlinah worries that repenting may be cause her own death. She worries about whom she will have to marry. And more worries. Karlinah needs a Worry Doll (pictured above). There is a legend amongst the Highland Indian Villages of Guatemala that if you have a problem, you share it with the worry doll. Before going to bed, tell one worry to each doll, then place them beneath your pillow. While you sleep, the dolls will take your worries away. So, what worries you? Silly or serious, share a worry by making a comment. Perhaps you will feel lighter too!