Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Dark Chocolate and Discounts

One of the treasured gifts I received for Christmas was seven large bars of dark chocolate imported from Austria. I kid you not. My grandparents mailed this from Pennsylvania. Ironically, my sister is in Austria right now, so every time I take a bite, I think of her.

She's staying in the same town that The Sound Of Music happened. Wow. What an amazing place to spend Christmas.

Do I need the extra calories. Oh yeah. This stuff is amazing.

Which, by the way, has nothing at all to do with today's post about getting a discount. asked me if I would take a moment and mention a couple of the many things they carried and then- you all get to save 10% on anything you order. Everyone wins.

Hmmm, what to choose....

Honestly, I love their Necklaces and Pendants. They have everything from simple to extravagant. I'm sort of a sucker for simple and I love all the celtic things they have to offer.

And, for some reason I'm drawn to their DVD Player selection. I love portable DVD players. We don't have a television in every room, so it's nice to be able to pull out a tiny DVD player once in a while and let the kids watch movies in their rooms.

Anyway, there are so many things to look at, you could spend hours.

Here's what you need to know for your 10% off. The discount code is:121745, good for 10% off Overstock products (excluding movies, books, and electronics). This discount code never expires, however, it can only be used once per email address.
202234 - free shipping promo code for electronics.

To use this code, go to the checkout and click "Use Promo Code". A box will appear and that's where you put in 121745.

Have fun shopping!

And here's the disclaimer they made me say....

All the ideas and opinions expressed are my own. No monetary compensation was received for doing this post, however, I was provided with a discount code.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Banana Bread Brilliance

Maybe it all started on Christmas day. I was talking to my grandma who lives in Pennsylvania and she told me that my sister (who is in Austria right now) called on Christmas Eve and wanted my mom's banana nut bread recipe. It had to be my mom's recipe, not a knock-off.

Yes, my grandma had a recipe card in my mom's hand writing and they all lived happily ever after.

But I got to thinking, I've never liked banana bread. And I have all these over ripe bananas sitting on my counter. What to do....

Well, I finally decided to invent a banana bread recipe that I did like. And it worked! Me inventing recipes nearly always ends in disaster, so you can imagine my surprise when I tasted my new favorite banana bread ever.

Banana Cranberry Nut Bread
3 ripe bananas
1 cup cranberries
a 3 inch square chunk of orange peel
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbs cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Put all these into the blender and blend.

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup crushed almonds

Mix flour, soda and nuts. Add blended ingredients to this and mix. If making a loaf, 350 degrees for 60-70 minutes. Muffins 25 minutes. Make sure to spray your pans with cooking spray.

And, to making these even more to-die-for, spread cream cheese frosting over top of either muffins or loaf.

The irony of this post is how un-kitchen-friendly I really am. My in-laws had the misfortune of spending Christmas dinner with us. I ruined the rolls and the potatoes. The pre-cooked ham turned out great, but my husband was in charge of that. Oh well. But I scored points with the homemade cranberries. It's another recipe I invented and love. One out of three.

Feel free to share any favorite recipes with me. I need all the help I can get!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A new Christmas

All the frenzy is over. The presents are opened. The moment of truth came and we made it.

And now that the dust has settled, all I can think about is all the people that have touched me. All the people that I love. I want to talk to every single one of them, tell them how much I love them, but it's impossible.

Instead, I'll just send this message out to the universe, and maybe if I'm lucky, you'll read this and know how much you mean to me.

My life wasn't built by one set of hands. It took a world full of people. The words and kindnesses from hands across the earth have shaped me. Strangers I will never meet in person have offered heartfelt words. Friends from all walks of life have reached out to me when I needed another hand to hold. Family, extended, step and all forms have been there for me in so many different ways. I could never truly express my gratitude.

The thought of how each one of you has influenced my life brings tears to my eyes.

Authors from books high and low who have taken time to let me into their world, even for a moment.

My husband was sweet and re-organized my books after my little people re-shelved everything. I watched as he put the books back in order by author, and I told him they were not books, they were people. I can't look at books and not see a person who wrote it. Whether I've had the privilege to meet that person or not, they are very real to me and keep me company with their words.

Merry Christmas everyone. You will never know how significantly you have touched another's life, especially mine.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Santa Claus is Coming

It's almost here. Christmas.

Last night (after spending the evening wrapping presents) we came home to find our kids wandering around the house at 10:15 PM as if that was normal. Ha ha ha...

We ended up on a "What I want for Christmas" conversation (a little late) and found out how we scored as parents.

From oldest to youngest, we got the updated list. Updated as in this is the first time we had heard most of this stuff.

Okay, we got a couple things right, like 25%.

It makes me want to take back all the stuff we bought and buy them what they really want. But I won't. Because it's too much work.

And really, are they going to be that disappointed when they open their presents this year? I doubt they will spend any time grieving for the things they wanted when something brand new is sitting right in front of them.

I could be wrong.

But what else can I do?

My six-year-old son was explaining how things worked to my three-year-old daughter the other day. See, sometimes Santa can't come to your house. Then mom and dad just take care of everything. That's what happened last year.

It did???


I must have done something wrong.

I wonder if Santa is coming this year. The only way we'll know for sure is if there's a little coal waiting for us. At least according to my six-year-old son, we have a few on the Naughty List.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Editing and a Conference plug

It's a week before Christmas. Perfect time to go through the final edits for my next book...right? Okay, I admit. I freaked. The whole book the week before Christmas? Really???

After I got over it I went to work. And then I figured out how to make things flow better in the places that were still bumpy. Pretty soon I fell in love with the story all over again.

For a while I was in the I-am-so-sick-of-this-story mode that I never wanted to read it again. I imagined sitting at a book signing and telling people that they might be wasting their money on this one.

But since I was forced to thoroughly go through the whole thing again after not looking at it for four months, I can honestly say that I like this story. You'll like this story. It's a ride with funny quirks and lots of twists.

April. You'll get to read it in April. Mark it on your calendars...

Speaking of calendars- it's time to register for the LDStorymakers Writers Conference

There will be an epic critique forum called Bootcamp where you will have the chance to bring the first 15 pages of your manuscript to have an extreme makeover. This Bootcamp is sometimes considered the best part of the entire conference. You can't go and not come away with fresh perspective in writing. It's amazing. Bootcamp is May 5.

The conference runs May 6-7. You can register for one day (either Friday or Saturday) or both. And, thanks to the hard work of my co-chair for agents and editors, we have a stellar list of guests.

Becca Stumpf- an agent from Prospect Agency
Marcia Markland- Senior Editor with Thomas Dunn Books (St. Martin's Press)
Sara Crowe- an agent with Harvey Klinger, inc
Sara Megibow- an agent at Nelson Literary Agency

And tons of talented presenters....

Traci Abramson
Liz Adair
Stacy Anderson
Bron Bahlman
Shirley Bahlman
Michelle Ashman Bell
Laura Bingham
Deanne Blackhurst
Rachelle Christensen
Frank Cole
Bob Conder
Kristyn Crow
James Dashner
Josi Kilpack
Julie Wright
Sarah Eden
Angela Eschler
Terri Ferran
Karen Hoover
Melanie Jacobson
Marion Jensen
Clint Johnson
Elana Johnson
Eric Johnson
Peri Kinder
Laurie Lewis
Gregg Luke
Annette Lyon
Lisa Mangum
Heather Moore
Rachel Nunes
Josh Perky
Tristi Pinkston
Sheralyn Pratt
Janette Rallison
Brandon Sanderson
Jeff Savage
Kirk Shaw
Lu Ann Staheli
Jane Still
Howard Tayler
G.G. Vandagriff
Dan Wells
Robison Wells
Tyler Whitesides
Becca Wilhite
Dave Wolverton
Need I say more?

Go. Register. You won't regret it.

Last year I missed out on the pitch sessions, but sent my query letter to one of the agents after the conference. Not only did she ask for my entire manuscript, but I ended up having to choose between her and another agent. It was hard. Really hard. I wish I could have said yes to both.

My point is, even if you don't get to do a pitch session at the conference, it doesn't mean you won't have a personal career changing experience as a result of attending.

I know I did.

I still keep in touch with the new friends I met there. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to connect with so many other writers. This conference had over 400 attendees last year. This year even more are expected. They are thinking big- are you?

If there is even a remote possibility that you could attend, you should seriously consider it. I know I had my doubts before I went the first time, but now that I've been, I can tell you that it is a superior conference.

Alright... back to edits for me...

Monday, December 13, 2010


A playwright, also known as a dramatist, is a person who writes dramatic literature or drama. These works are usually written to be performed in front of a live audience by actors. They may also be closet dramas or literary works written using dramatic forms but not meant for performance.

The term is not a variant spelling of "playwrite", but something quite distinct: the word wright is an archaic English term for a craftsman or builder (as in a wheelwright or cartwright). Hence the prefix and the suffix combine to indicate someone who has wrought words, themes, and other elements into a dramatic form, someone who crafts plays. The homophone with write is in this case entirely coincidental.

And there you have it. Is there a difference between a playwright and a novelist?

A novel is a long narrative in literary prose. The genre has historical roots both in the fields of the medieval and early modern romance and in the tradition of the novella. The latter supplied the present generic term in the late 18th century.

Further definition of the genre is historically difficult. The construction of the narrative, the plot, the way reality is created in the works of fiction, the fascination of the character study, and the use of language are usually discussed to show a novel's artistic merits.

I think yes. There is a dramatic difference between writing a play and writing a novel. The question is, can a novel writer write a play?

In one month?

I've been having my doubts. Here's the way I see it. If someone asks me to write a play for a good cause even though I am entirely unqualified for the job, I should try to do it anyway. They assured me there was no one else. It was me or no one.

Was Noah asked to build an ark because he was the greatest ship-builder to ever walk the planet? I really doubt it. But he got his hammer out anyway and he did it.

Sure, he had lots of help, but if he hadn't decided to try no one could have helped him. I can't imagine how daunting the idea of building a floating zoo must have been. Such a thing had never been done in the history of time.

But he didn't build it in one day. He took it one piece of wood at a time.

I guess if Noah could build an ark, maybe I can build a play. Or at least try.

The real test will be seeing how this plays out on a stage at the end. At least it won't rain for forty days.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

To Be a Writer

Thanks to everyone who stopped in yesterday. Tristi is a genius when it comes to book launches. I don't know if I could pull something off that big, but I should definitely give it a try.

Lucky for you, the next book in the Alvor series will be released in April, so I'll have lots of time to go crazy in March getting everyone excited about it.

But let's talk writing for a second.

Someone asked me the other day to "write a letter to me for my writers class about things needed to be a writer."

It's such a big question. Is it "things you need to be a professionally published writer" or "things you need to write something, anything"?

Because the two are so different.

To be a writer, all you need is a little imagination, literacy and something to write on and with. That's it.

But to be a professionally published writer, you need that and a whole lot more. There are entire writers conferences that focus on what people need to be professional writers. It can not be covered in a single letter.

Alas, she probably still would like me to write some kind of profound advice. So here's a skeleton list. It does not and can not cover all that is needed to be a professional author, but it's a start.

*Write. The more you write, the better you get at it.
*Use a computer and save everything on a flashdrive, thumbdrive, or whatever computer saving thing you like the most. Don't rely solely on your computer's memory banks. Computers crash.
*Read what you write. Look for spelling, grammar, overused words, adverbs, passive tense, cliche's, inconsistencies in character dialogue, credibility in characters' emotional, physical and verbal reactions and then fix all that stuff.
*Have someone else read your work after you have. Believe them. Honest critique is hard to come by. If someone offers advice, thank them for it and seriously consider using it.
*Read your work again. After everyone else has had their say. After you've fixed it and fixed it and are sick to death of it, give it a little time and REDO you revisions. Trust me, you missed some things.
*If possible, find a fresh person to read through it again. Someone who hasn't already read it. They're likely to find more things for you to look at.

Editing and writing- you can't have one without the other.

Now, the publishing part. Do you want a small press, large press or self-publishing press? If you don't know what that means, you need to find out.

Small press- doesn't cost authors to publish. Small presses don't require agents and submissions are made directly from the author to the publishing house. Small presses have minimal distributing abilities, but are a great way to get a career started in that they are easier to work with, faster and don't require a long drawn-out submission process.

Large press- you're going to need a literary agent. Agents submit your manuscript to editors in big publishing houses. They do all the leg work and they negotiate your contract. Sounds great, doesn't it? It is. But, having an agent doesn't guarantee a quick sell of your manuscript- or a sale at all. And, getting an agent is a demanding project in itself. A few strike gold on their first try, but most people have to learn the ropes of querying to get there.
Large presses have greater distributing power and therefore can afford to offer authors advances (money before your book actually hits the shelves). Big houses take more time, about two years, to get books out on the shelves. Their editing and marketing departments are superior and they will help you get your book to be as good as it can get.

Self-publishing- Costs writer money to publish. There is limited distributing power and no editing offered for free. Marketing is up to the writer. No need for acceptance from an editor or an agent. Anyone can self-publish. This is for writers who want to see their work become books no matter what or for those who have a niche that is very specific.

Besides traveling the long road of publishing, a writer needs to be able to market. This is the last thing, the most overlooked aspect of being a writer. But it is vital to selling books.

I'm going to leave it at that today. Besides the basic traits of patience, persistence and hard work, there is no magic when it comes to publishing. The magic is in the story itself. All stories seem to come to life as they are written and it's an incredible process to be a part of.