Monday, January 25, 2010

Something that makes you Happy- contest

I was on the phone last week with a lady I've known for years. I learned a couple things I couldn't believe. First, the third week of January is nationally recognized as the most depressing week of the year, and second, she knew of five people here in Boise who had committed suicide.

So, after pondering the state of the world for a while, I decided to do something. I'm giving you the chance to find some happiness.

And, to get more people to join in, we're going to throw a prize in there. A $20 gift certificate to Barnes & Noble.

All you have to do is tell me what makes you happy. Leave a comment. It could be anything.

And, I need your e-mail address just in case you win.

The contest ends February 5, 2010 at 12:00 PM MST. Like always, I will use to draw the winner.

So, what's on my list? Here are some things in no particular order...

*cuddling with my two year old girl and reading stories
*my husband's warm hugs and kisses
*watching my kids play together
*seeing my kids develop their talents
*friends who aren't afraid to take a minute to talk
*strangers who smile
*dark chocolate
*anytime I get to sit with a kid on my lap, even if they're someone else's kid
*Sundays at church when my kids are being angels
*taking walks
*dancing, especially when it's with my two little girls and no one else is watching
*someone else making dinner and doing the dishes, aahhh
*reading a really good book

I can't wait to hear some of yours. May the rest of your January be filled with gratitude for the precious life you get to live. Thanks for helping me spread some joy.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Making and Keeping Writing Goals

"Without goals or resolutions, there is no reason to act and no motivation to take any daily actions or go the extra mile."

-Bob Urichuck

I haven't had a post that was geared specifically to writers lately- and I'm in a writing mood. Writing is the first thing I think of when I wake up and the last thing I think about before I go to sleep. Hmmm. Maybe it's because that's the only time the house is quiet except for those times when I'm actually writing.
Or, it's because I'm obsessed.

Or it could be because of my writing goals.

I'm the kind of person who doesn't know the meaning of diets or real New Years resolutions. Nope. I make specific goals and try to figure out how to get to them. That's it. If someone told me I had to stop eating cake and cookies for the rest of my life to be healthy, I would never make it.

If someone told me I had to write 30,000 words a week, I'd never make it.
But, if I decide that I really don't want to grow up to be ginormous, I would try not to eat very many cookies, and cake not all that often. And if I decided I wanted to write an entire novel in four months, I think it's possible, but only if I have specific goals.

So, other than to admit that I don't live up to some of the greats (the fact that I don't think I can write 30,000 worthwhile words in a week) I will tell you what my goals are.
Remember that I am a stay-at-home mom with five kids and I also run a dance studio in my backyard.

Drumroll please..... my writing goal is 100 pages a month. You can all stop laughing now.

When I say 100 pages, I mean 100 intense, captiviating, riviting, inspiring, mysterious, romantic and sometimes funny pages. 100 pages of a story that I would pick up and not want to put down.

Well, I can hope that my writing can do all that. The fact is, I love writing. I love a story that sucks me in and keeps me guessing. When that story is my own, it gets complicated. Is the author really supposed to keep guessing what's going to happen next? I know the basic outline of the plot, but my characters are constantly throwing surprises at me while I write.

It's like having imaginary friends, or maybe it's exactly that. I don't set a place for them at my dinner table, but I do think about them all day long. I'm mentally creating the next chapter when I'm not writing it until I can't stand the wait anymore and I have to write it all down.

Then there are the days when I sit down at the computer and I have no idea how I'm goint to get the characters out of the mess I've created for them.

Anyway, my point is this:

Decide on what your writing goal is, be specific (how many pages do you want to write a week, or month?) and then decide when you're going to write.

I haven't figured out a reward system. Instead, I usually have a super great reason for getting something done by a certain date.

And most of all:
Don't be afraid to go on the ride that writing inherently is.
Writing a novel doesn't happen overnight. No matter how exciting a story may be, it's going to take some serious time to get it all down on paper, or more accurately, a thumb drive. But it doesn't have to take years. That's the beauty of writing goals, you get to see your dreams come to life that much sooner.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Walmart, and other mysteries of the universe

Maybe it's the LTUE coming up, but I've been looking at recent events and wondering why certain things happen when they do.

For example, on the bad side of life, my oven broke while I was making dinner on Sunday, the week before last. Of course, I was cooking three things that required an oven and everyone was especially starving.

And the good side? We happen to have a backup prehistoric oven that heats unevenly, but still cooks. Even though the cornbread was black on the bottom, the rest of it was cooked.

So we do our research. It turns out that the EOC (eloctronic oven controler NOT the End Of Course tests) was broken. And, it costs almost as much to buy the part as it does to buy a whole new oven.

The good side? Maybe someday I'll get my dream oven. In the meantime, I have a really good excuse not to bake. My son's birthday is coming up next week though, and I'm already imagining the black-on-the-bottom cake we'll be eating.

And, just when I've completely given up on anyone ever finding Alvor, someone comes to visit from Utah a couple days ago. He was at Walmart with his kids and they pulled him over to the books to show him my book on their shelf. He took a picture of it with his phone just to prove it. I'm at Walmart? Who knew. At least a Walmart in Utah somewhere.

Other cosmic wonders of the universe this last year has included two broken dryers and one broken washing machine. If you went into our shop right now, you would find the two dryers. My husband is sure he can figure out how to fix one of them using the parts, but he's probably really building a spaceship with them or something. He wants to keep the broken oven when we can finally afford to replace ours. I think he's going to make a man cave with all our broken appliances. If the fridge goes out, I'll know for sure something is up. Ha ha ha....

There are more mysteries in my life right now, the kind I won't tell the whole world, but do make me wonder what I'm supposed to do. Sometimes I just have to go with the flow, and other times I wonder if someone's trying to send me some messages and I'm really slow to figure it out. Oh well. When the car breaks down, I'll have even more time to contemplate the mysteries of the universe. Let's hope it doesn't come to that.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Life, the Universe & Everything

Also known as LTUE.

It's kind of an ominous name. February 11-13, it's the The Marion K. “Doc” Smith Symposium on Science Fiction & Fantasy.

Who's it for?
Anyone. But if I had to be more specific, I would say artists, teachers-especially English, Writing and Reading and all elementary school teachers- librarians, writers, fans of Science Fiction and/or Fantasy, people who want to meet a ton of authors in person and people who want a place to go and hang out for free.

BECAUSE it's free. No charge.

They are specifically calling Saturday from 9-3 the Educators' Conference, so all you teachers out there, plan to go if you can!

Have you ever heard of a conference with tons of well known authors presenting and there is no charge? Until I got invited to this, I hadn't either.

Where? BYU- Provo, Utah. If you live anywhere in Utah, you should seriously consider going. If you're reading this blog it means you are the right kind of person to have a blast there. Since there's no fee, there's no pressure to go the entire time. Go for whatever you can.

The schedule hasn't been posted officially, but what I've got looks like they start on Thursday morning at 9:00 and go til 8:00. That means you can catch just the morning, or afternoon, or evening- or all day. Everyday goes 9-8 except Saturday they're going to be done by 7:00.

What are some of the topics? There are tons. Seriously, it would take pages to write them all, so here are just a few.....(the ones in blue are the topics I'll be presenting with other authors)

*Killer openings- how to write a gripping first paragraph
*Fantasy without magic
*How to become an Idea Factory: Where do you find ideas? How do you go from an idea to a story?
*Why Mormons and Fantasy?
*Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction for a discerning audience: How to write believable child characters.
*A Thousand words for Sand
*How to build aliens and fantastic (but believable) monsters
*How to draw wings
*A Guy's take on Romance
*What Exactly Does an Editor Do, Anyway?
*Horror and Dark Fantasy
*Writing Excuses Broadcast
*Edgy YA vs. not-so-edgy
*Making a living as an artist
*Writing comics and webcomics
*Current trends in children's genres: what subjects are hot?

And, to the sheer relief of those who want it all, there are repeating quite a few of these discussions so you can catch all the ones you really want to hear about. Did I mention that I didn't mention over half the topics? Lots of stuff for artists. Tons of stuff for writers. Amazing stuff for teachers.

And I haven't mentioned the coolest part yet. The Guests of Honor are Brandon Sanderson (author of the Mistborn Trilogy, the Alcatraz booksand the new Wheel of Time books), Marty Brenneis (Special Effects Wizard)Formerly with ILM, now with Kerner Studios.
Artist GoH -but you're going to see some other amazing people too....

*Jake Black, comic writer
*Larry Corriea, author
*James Dashner, author
*Nathan Hale, artist
*Lisa Mangum, editor
*L.E. Modesitt, Jr. author
*Brandon Mull, author
*Howard Tayler, author/artist
*Linda Brummett, BYU Bookstore General book department manager

And tons more authors and artists not on the list- like me. I'm still not sure how I lucked out to be invited to be a part of this event, but I'm super excited. They are going to be selling books there and doing book signings, so if you're still hoping for a signed copy of something, COME!!! Lots of cool people to meet- even more ideas to stuff into your head.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Go, Fight, WIN

Tell me he doesn't look like Superman in orange. Last night, Boise State Broncos won for the second time in the Fiesta Bowl. Boise State made the history and won the title of BCS National Championship (2010 Fiesta Bowl). Undefeated this season, they are one of only two teams to hold the title of 14 and 0 this year.

Personally, this picture showed one of my favorite moments in the game when #22 literally flew over the opposition and in to the end zone. Although, I admit I was screaming, clapping and stomping my feet when the interception that won the game came through.

The thing is, I'm not a huge football fan- but I love those Broncos.

And the point of this post is about beating the odds. Boise State was assured they would not make it into the Fiesta Bowl this year. TCU, the opposing team was working hard to edge them out and last year, was the only team to defeat BSU.

So against all odds, Boise State not only went to the Fiesta Bowl, but they won it, and against the only team that could beat them last year.

Who holds us back? Is it the world convincing you that you can't make it? Are you feeling edged out by the competition?

All I can say is GO FIGHT WIN!

Really. Don't give up.

If you happen to be a writer it is so easy to look at all the amazing books out there, the hugely successful authors and feel certain there is no way you could ever be one of them. I know, I feel like that everyday. And yet, there is nothing that can keep me from trying. Writing stories is one of the rare things you can do for free. Novels are created from thin air. Who's stopping you?

If I've learned anything from studying how other authors got published, it's that you can't give up. If one story doesn't take you where you want to go, write another one. If you want an agent, keep submitting. Keep writing new things to submit. I'm convinced that if you write long enough you WILL get there.

Utterly convinced. That's how stuborn I am. Or determined. I refuse to believe that I'm stuck with where I started. I don't know how long it's going to take me to get to where I want to be, but I do know that if I work long enough at it, I will get there.

My track record doesn't look like I'll ever be a successful author, or maybe it looks like I won't quit until I am. I gave up counting how many rejections I've had. Counting them does not help me win. Instead, I'm growing an impressive list of agents to send to while writing another book I'm hoping will hit the mark.

And if it doesn't, I'll write another one.

All it takes is time, and I'm planning on using a lot of it to get to where I want to be.

So here's to everyone out there with a dream. Don't let anyone convince you that you'll never make it. Go, Fight, WIN!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

About the Second Book....

The year has officially started and I'm on it. I had a question come up again, and I thought I would take a minute and give the best answer I can.

"Hi Laura! All the readers I gifted Alvor to are asking when the sequel comes out. They've read and reread -- loved it -- Alvor, and are looking forward to the next edition."

First of all, for those of you who have read Alvor- thanks and good on ya.

The publishing journey Alvor has taken has had a lot of twists in the road. To more fully explain the answer to the question, I will let you in on where I've been.

After signing the contract for Alvor, I sent the first three chapters to my publisher for the second book in the series. The idea was to get a teaser put in the end of the first book for the second book. A few weeks later my publisher informed me that they don't sign second book contracts with new authors. They would wait to see how my book sold.

Like many things with my publishing company, they don't always tell it like it is. Not only do they sign second books with new authors, they did exactly that at the same time for another new writer. Hmmm.

So, I finished writing the second book, all the while feeling like I would find another home for it. I did ask my publisher if they would be willing to give me an advance for my second book, and they told me to go ahead and shop around. I don't think that they wouldn't take the second book in the end, I just think I would end up with more of the same.

In November my book fell out of the Barnes & Noble stores and Costco. I don't have all the details as to why it happened, but while the brick and mortor circulation is limited to Deseret Book, Seagull Book and a few independant shops, it has no hope of ever taking off. Sure, you can still find it online. It's cheaper there too.

The answer, finally, is that I am shopping publishers. I'm currently waiting to hear from one publisher and when I get the yes or no, I have one more in mind that I'll try.

I can only expect to have the same distribution power if I stay with the same publisher. In the end, I will let the world know when I've settled this. I think the second book is a very fun ride. I like it even better than the first book.

In the meantime, I've jumped off the fantasy wagon and I'm writing something else for now. Details on that later.