Saturday, April 30, 2011

Y and Z

Okay, I missed a day- but those two little letters are such good friends, I didn't think they would mind sharing.

I have some winners to announce....

Diana D
Julie S
Nebraska Filemans

Congratulations to all you book winners.

And, I noticed someone finally got brave enough to leave a review on for Wings of Light. Thanks for that. I would love some more!

Y is for YES.

We don't hear that word very often in writing. On a professional level, we hear the word "unfortunately" a lot more. So what are some of the yeses of writing?

*Yes, you can write. Everyone is allowed to write, no matter your age, occupation or social standing. There are no limits to who can put thoughts together in a written form.

*Yes, it does matter. I have to remind myself of this a lot. It's easy to forget about all the people that have proven that this journey has been worth it. Sometimes the road is so hard that it seems like nothing I have done has amounted to anything, and then something comes in my e-mail box, or like yesterday, in the mail and reminds me that it does matter.

Here's a snippet of something I got in the mail yesterday from a girl in Washington whom I've never met....

I wanted to thank you for writing Alvor and Wings of Light. I really enjoy reading, but I am finding it more and more challenging to find a good book that has a great storyline and is clean. I was really excited to find Alvor... I just finished reading Wings of Light, and once again, you have created a fantastic book that is clean... Thanks for being thoughtful and keeping morals in your books.

Wow. Thanks Emily. It really made my day to hear from you.

A different kind of Yes is YES- the LDStorymakers Conference is coming up next week and I'm so excited to see everyone!

And Z is for the end. The last letter of the alphabet, and probably the last time I'll ever try to blog everyday for a whole month.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

X is for Xavene

Tall, dark and handsome and ready to take over the world. You remember him?

He's the villain in my fantasy series Alvor and Wings of Light. And soon to be the final book....- well, I'm still working on the title. And some major plot lines. And let's face it, I still have to write it.

But what to call it? My husband said something manly and testosterone-filled. Uhhhm. So that's still under construction.

But let's talk about Xavene. In my story we have a clear bad guy with certain evil objectives. He must be stopped.

Is there anything about Xavene that we like? I hope so. I mean, not only is he brilliant, he once had a serious crush. Someone who is capable of love is capable of some hate issues too. In book two, Wings of Light, I bring out a little of Xavene's past. In the coming book, we're going to see even more of this character. And, as strange as it may seem, I want him to be even more relatable in the final book.

He'll still be the bad guy, but a bad guy with depth. That's something to think about as you're writing.

*Why should the reader care about the villain?
*How well does the reader know the villain?
*Are there ever moments where the reader sympathizes with the bad guy?
*What are some human qualities of the villain?
*What is the motivation behind the villain's goal? Is it worth stopping?

Not all stories have or need a villain. But if your book has one, or two, figure out a way to make that role interesting and three dimensional.

And in other news.... go down to the V is for Valuable post and enter to win some book!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

W is for Writing

I read an agent's bio where she said she was not impressed by authors who blog, facebook, twitter, do linkedin or Goodreads. She said that if a writer was doing all that, when were they writing?

While I respectfully disagree with her opinion that writers should not utilize the internet to market, it is important to write.

The fact is, even when I'm not writing, I'm thinking about it. It's a hovering thought that follows me around. If I'm in middle of writing a story, I ponder what events should happen next and how that will affect the characters.

If I'm editing, I think about that.

And, when I have finished a manuscript, I think about what I might want to write next.

The fact is, although a writer must take time to write, one cannot sit and do nothing else all day. I often think it's the time away from a piece of work that makes the piece any good at all. It's when I'm thinking about it that fresh ideas come. Yes, that happens while I'm writing too, but I look at the bigger picture so much better when I don't have a computer screen in front of me.

To write, one must live. I believe that.

Alright, just another reminder to check out the V is for Valuable post and sign up to win a book.

Write On!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

V is for Valuable- now come win some books

All writers need to understand what is valuable to them. In the craft of writing, here are some things on that list.... family, friends, readers, writing friends, book reviewers, publishers, editors and agents.

All these people make it possible for your words to come to life and end up in the hands of even more people.

Okay, now for the book you see at the top of this post. May I present to you Bryan Bostick. I met him at an SCBWI conference in Boise- and he lives in Utah. Talk about dedication to his craft. He has this awesome book coming out in October. Check out his website.

As a writer, I can honestly say that it's the people I've met that make this whole journey worth it. People like Bryan, who take the time to talk to someone new. Readers who are kind enough to send an e-mail or leave a book review telling me how much they enjoyed my words. Authors who step out and let their hand of friendship rest on my shoulder. And, of course, where would I be without my publisher?

There is much to be thankful for. And if you keep in mind that all these people are valuable, your world will become a richer place.

And, since I have some brand new books sitting around waiting for a new home, I'm going to give some away. You've all endured the alphabet blogging experience so well, it's time we partied.

I'm going to choose five winners. FIVE WINNERS. I have two middle grade books and three YA. To enter to win....

*Go to B.K. Bostick's blog and be a follower.

*I know you are probably already a Very Cool Person, but if not, sign up to follow this blog.

*Leave a comment and your e-mail address, or, if you prefer, e-mail me at okay people, we need an interesting subject. Tell me the name of the last book you read.

*Winners chosen April 29- this Friday. to the rescue.

Monday, April 25, 2011

U is for Understanding

I don't know if I've been like this my whole life, or if it's something that started somewhere in my adulthood. I'm a people watcher. Some might think I'm quiet and shy, but really, I'm watching.

I watch because I find it fascinating. I want to understand what makes people tick.

If you're a writer, this is a great way to do character research.

Here's an example of what I'm talking about....

I'm sitting in a restaurant and can't help noticing a couple sitting a two tables away. He can't stop smiling, and she doesn't smile much at all. Hmmm. He's doing a lot of the talking. She engages in the conversation, but isn't over the top with the hand motions and giddy smile.

Then I go through a list of possibilities. He's trying to impress her, that's clear. Now is it on a romantic level, or is it some crazy big business opportunity that he is sure he's about to nail?

Giddy smile. I'm thinking romantic.

Hmmm, her nails are seriously manicured, neither on wears a wedding ring, she looks like she tried to dress up and he's in jeans. If this were a business meeting, he would have dressed up for it.

Romantic for sure.

He uses big hand motions as he talks. The smile never leaves his face. She seems interested, but not half as committed. Does she like him? Maybe. She could be a watcher like me who takes time to figure someone out before diving in headfirst.

Or she could be hoping the date will be over soon.

But the dinner takes too long for me to know whether it involved dessert.

And how do I know any of this stuff? I don't. But when I'm writing, I have to give the readers enough impressions that the character's actions tell a story of their own. What is human nature? What makes us believe certain motivations might be involved? If a writer doesn't know the answers, it will never come out in the story.

Sure, we can cheat by planting the reader directly inside the main character's head, but what about all the supporting characters? That's where this whole level of people understanding becomes critical. Recognizing signals and body language that sends messages is part of what makes a story real.

If you're not a people-watcher, try it sometime. Everyone has a story; maybe you can figure some of them out.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

T is for Time

It's the one thing that is as elusive as it is oppressive.

"The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once." Albert Einstein

"Don't count every hour in the day, make every hour in the day count." author unknown

A universal question for writers no matter what their occupation is "When do you write?" Or rather, "When do you find time to write?"

I'm here to tell you that that answer will change as your life shifts with the ever moving sand in the hourglass.

Finding time is a choice. What you do with the time you have is also a choice. You know your schedule and yourself better than anyone. Figure out what will work for you. Make it a part of your life.

One page a day goes a long way. In a year you have a novel. Of course revisions and editing are part of the process too. Make a schedule and then make it work.

You do have time to write, you just have to find it.

Friday, April 22, 2011

S is for Synopsis

Someone asked me how to write a synopsis the other day. Other than the fact that it is more difficult than writing a full-length novel, there are some guidelines that make the task less ominous.

Here are some things to keep in mind...

Your synopsis should have the following qualities:

Goal/ motivation/ strength/ weakness/ age/ setting/ plot trigger/ initial problem/ complicating events/ darkness/ present tense/ third person/ tone like book/ strong words- verbs/ no cliff hangers/ character driven solution/ satisfying ending

3 Part Synopsis

1- Hook
2-Problem (middle of the book- Complicate big problem, add excitement)
3- Climax (serious confrontation that combines strengths and flaws to get to solution)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

R is for Reviews

Book Reviews are an interesting thing.

First of all, what qualifications does a person have to have to do a book review?

None. Other that hopefully reading your book.

Do book reviews have an impact?

Absolutely. With the internet now at the fingertips of the world, we are able to communicate with masses with very little effort.

Example: Go to, post a review, choose a star rating and bam, the entire universe can now read what you have to say. Seriously.

Are book reviews important? Do authors need them?

Big yes. Without reviews, it seems as though no one has taken the time to read your book, even though reviews cannot possibly reflect the entire population of people who have.

Positive reviews ensure future readers that their choice is worthwhile. Negative reviews leave potential readers skeptical.

Do people pay attention to book reviews?

Definitely. I am still getting comments about the book reviews left for Alvor. It's as though those reviews shade how the reader goes into my book.

As a consumer, I constantly read reviews. I want to know what the positives are, along with the negatives. I want to buy products with my eyes open. I admit, when it comes to book reviews I have a different slant. Not all books are for everyone. If someone reads a book that they're not thrilled with, it does not necessarily mean that I won't like it... or my kids. In fact, I have found many reviews for books that I don't agree with.

Do authors want people to review their books?

YES!!!!! As has been said again and again, even bad press is press. The more people read and review books, the more others' interest will peak. Reviews help books find their way into more hands.

So please take time to review books. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, goodreads, blogs, etc.- there are many options.

And be thoughtful as you write your reviews. Authors are people too.

Remember that once a book is published, it can't be changed. Offering critiques to the author once a book is out is like telling a peach tree to grow apples. The only thing a writer has control over are books that aren't published yet. If you're good at reviews, contact publishing houses and ask for ARCs. These advance reader copies are a way to reach into the publishing world before everything is set in stone.

Okay, did I motivate you yet? Now read Wings of Light and write a review for me. Please!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Q is for Questions

I thought about writing a post about query letters. But I did that almost a year ago and I don't have anything new to say.

Instead, I've been thinking a lot about questions. I think one of the best ways to learn anything is through questions.

Last week I took my kids to Barnes & Noble to meet Brandon Mull. I found out about his visit five minutes before we climbed into the car. Half way there I thought of books of his that I have that still aren't signed, but onward we went. A couple years ago when he was here the line was forever long.

This time, it wasn't so bad. Well, it would have gone a little faster, but he was taking his time with people.

I have to admit, I wondered how twenty people could take an hour, but as our turn came next in line, I found out.

His exact words to the people in front of me were, "Do you have any questions for me?"

And it hit me. That single sentence opens a floodgate. No wonder it took an hour.

And then, since I was so busy thinking about how amazing it was that he was talking so personally with all these people, my turn came up and I didn't have a question for him.

I'm a writer, so I always have something to say, right? I wish.

He said hi to my kids. I told him I was an author. He told me it's impossible to make it as a new author in today's economy.

It wasn't great. I left there feeling yet again, like a failure.

Why couldn't I have thought of a question?

One of the things I love the most about teaching is when people ask questions. I usually end up learning something or thinking about things from a new angle when people ask questions. It's my favorite part of any class, even if I'm the student.

Questions are sincere. Someone really wants to know. Don't be afraid to ask questions. And, unlike I did, take a minute and think of things to ask.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

P is for Publishing

The ultimate goal for all writers is to have their work read. Notice, it doesn't say that the ultimate goal for all writers is to make millions of dollars (but sure, we'd take it in a heartbeat.)

The fact is, I have to remind myself all the time that one of the greatest things I can hope for is for my words to find their way into another person's head. Whether they read it off the internet, check it out of the library, borrow their friend's copy, or actually make a purchase.

And really, there is only one way your words will make it into the hands of complete strangers. You have to get published.

Okay, you have some options. Each option is optimal for different things, so don't completely discount any of the choices. In spite of the stigma some people choose to attach, there is a need and a place for everything.

Self Publishing or Vanity Press. This is optimal for books that have a specific target audience. That's it. Whether your target audience is your friends and family because it tells something of an autobiography or it's instructional geared towards a very specific occupation, self publishing can be a great tool. People sometimes choose this route when things fall through with their other publishing opportunities as well.

E-book publishing. This is getting bigger everyday. Some people choose to have their books published strictly digitally. There are arguments that this is the wave of the future.

Small traditional press. You don't need an agent for this and the wait time for a book can be significantly faster than the big publishing houses. A small traditional press is exactly that. It has a smaller budget for marketing, a smaller sphere of influence in the book industry and as a result, they print fewer books. You will be in the bookstores, but for a shorter time-line than the bigger presses.

Big Traditional Publishing House. This is the full-meal-deal. You are going to need an agent. Even if you somehow manage to secure interest in your manuscript without an agent, you will be advised to get an agent to work out the contract negotiations. A big publisher means a better marketing platform, highly trained editors and media specialists and a better representation of your book when it is released. The trick here is that not only is it difficult to sign with an agent, it is equally as difficult for the agent to sell your book to the publishers. There are a lot of writers competing for the limited spots in the publishing houses.

Monday, April 18, 2011

O is for Opportunity

"You'll always miss 100% of the shots you don't take." Wayne Gretzky

Opportunity and Carpe Diem have so much in common.

I'm writing this post from the angle of an author's life. If you are knee-deep into writing and you're willing to go until you're up to your eyeballs, this post is for you.

First, if you don't already know it, being a writer does not follow logic. You're likely to spend years at it an not once make enough money to make your house payment and feed your kids for more than a few months out of the year. Writing is not a financially lucrative career.


Yes, there are the superstar exceptions. Could that be you someday? Anything's possible.

But fame and fortune isn't what drives you to write. That's the secret normal-minded people don't often understand. You write because you love it. In the face of failure, you write. When your life is wonderful, you write. You write because it's part of who you are.

But we would all love to see our words in the hands of others, and that's where today's topic applies.

You can't sit and type on your computer at home and never reach out to the book industry and still expect your publishing dreams to come true.

This is where you have to look at the Carpe Diem chart. We'll pretend you have your basic survival needs met. Do you have the motivation?

If you want to get published, you have motivation.

We jump right into the fear pool so fast we don't notice how cold the water is until it's clear over our heads. You submit your manuscript, or you query agents. You were motivated enough to write the query letter and synopsis, now you have to test it out there in the big brutal world.

Then you face the battery of rejections.

But, in writing, we go through the steps so fast that you may not even realize that you made it to the Carpe Diem level until you're there. You sent your query- you ceased the day.

Don't worry, you'll get a chance to go through this cycle all over again very soon.

Will you learn anything? Absolutely.

Will you be better because of it? I hate to admit it, but yes, rejection makes you stronger.

But most importantly, will you make more opportunities? Opportunity isn't a field full of wild flowers waiting to be picked, it's an empty field where you plant the seeds.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

N is for Networking

I know I'm just barely making today's post. This alphabet thing is tough. I've never tried to post everyday for a month.

Anyway, today I practiced what I preach.


I went to the Boise SCBWI conference and talked to people. It wasn't monumental or life-changing for me, but it was information and nice. A good chance to think about things again from another point of view.

Take time to talk to people. All kinds of people. You never know who your next friend will be or where that will take you.

Take a chance. Talk. Relax. That's what networking is all about.

The writing sandbox really is small. We have to get along. You will see the same people over and over again. If you have a friendly face to look forward to, the whole experience is sweeter.

Don't intentionally offend someone. Trust me, it isn't worth it. No one wins. And worse, you will have to see those people again and again if you plan to stay in the writing world.

Play nice. Have fun. It really is worth it in the end.

Friday, April 15, 2011

M is for Marketing

If you want to be in the book industry, you have to be able to wrap your brain around the concept of marketing.

In today's world, the author is responsible for creating a buzz about their book and to do that, there are some resources you will want to acquaint yourself with....

*Business cards. Simple, I know. But don't underestimate these little guys. They work great as a bookmark and never once have I wondered if they were worth it. I've given these away in the oddest places... the post office, the store.. and of course in all the professional places too... book signings, conferences. Get some. Use them. Make sure your website presence is represented.

*Speaking of the internet- get there. The internet is the single most useful tool when it comes to promoting your book. Blogs are free. Websites can be too. Facebook. Twitter. Linkedin. Amazon. Goodreads. You can be all over the place for free. Do it.

*Do you want to see a seriously beautiful website page? This is new today- a gift from my publisher. You must check it out.

*Blog tours. Don't have a blog? Get one. Then go find a bunch of other people who have one and do a blog tour. This is a great way to find new traffic and let people know about your latest release.

*Book Signings. Do some.

*Writers conferences. Go.

*Find book reviewers and get a book to them. It's amazing how many people are willing to spend their time with your book and then tell everyone what they thought about it. Book reviewers are awesome.

*School presentations. We might get into this subject more on another day, but it's a great way to meet a bunch of new people. And it's fun. A no-lose situation all around.

Oh, and M stands for Mush. My brain is kind of that today... I think I sat in a jury box for more hours than my tiny brain could handle without melting a little. So, uhm, if I e-mailed you in the last two days and I forgot something important, you know, like your NAME, I'm really sorry.

And that's not even the worst thing I've forgotten in the last two days. My goal today is to get my brain back. Now if I could just figure out where I left it....

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

L is for Love

"To my mother, Candy, who taught me that love is the best part of any story." Stephenie Meyer, dedication page of "The Host"

Not very often does the dedication page stay with me for years, but this one did. I've thought about this statement constantly as I've written.

Is is true?

Well, it's not the only element critical to making a story riveting, but in the end, if the story has no level of love in it, I can't relate to it.

It doesn't have to be the romantic love to be love.

And if there is no love for self or others anywhere in the story, I don't know how to understand what the characters are feeling.

Love is central. In our most basic sense, love is what sets humans apart from the rest of the planet. We need love. Love in self, family, friends and eventually true love. Love for our fellow beings. Even love for the things we are doing.

K is for Kindle

It's for people who want a whole library in the palm of their hand.

And really, who can blame them?

Wings of Light is now available on Kindle and let's face it, it's cheaper than the book version. But I won't be able to sign it for you.

There's one of the down-sides.

What kind of reader are you? Are you a kindle-reader or a paper-reader? I know, there's also all the other brands out there too. I don't mean to leave anyone out.

Me? I'm totally a book reader. It's hard to imagine snuggling up with a kindle and a cup of hot chocolate. It just doesn't give me the same feel.

Sometimes I wish I had one, mostly when I'm away from home. But I know me well enough to know that if I liked the book enough, I would end up buying the paper version anyway. I'm a read-it-again-and-again kind of girl.

I have to be. I can't afford to buy hundreds of new books and until my kids are a little older, I'm not seeing the library as my first option.

And, well, confession... I love books. Love them. They're like having friends in my house. I see the books and not only do they represent the stories inside, but the people who wrote them. My bookshelf is rich with thoughts of others. I love having them there. I love sharing them. It's so much fun to see my kids take to the books on my shelves.

I'm raising kids who think that being in a bookstore might be even better than being in a candy shop. They love books too. My kids told me today that our house is practically overflowing with books. It looks like there's nothing wrong with their imaginations! We don't have that many books, do we?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

J is for Janette Rallison, James Dashner & Jeff Savage

Over the last few years I've had the exquisite opportunity to get to know other authors better. I can truly say that my perspective has improved thanks to these three people, and many others too.

Janette, James and Jeff are all lucky enough to have J names.

It all started with James Dashner. Before I knew anything about him or the thought of writing ever crossed my mind, I had read all of James Dashner's "Door in the Woods" series. And it turned out that my now 14-year-old son (then 9) thought that those books were super cool.

He used one of the books for his school project. Naturally, the name James Dashner stuck in my head.

Eventually I made the decision to write (which wasn't due to hitting my head, although now I'm wondering what in the world could have gotten into me) and like all writers, I got to the end of my book.

Now what?

I had no idea.

Oh yeah. Edit. So I did. Join a writers group. I did that too.

Uhm, now what?

Sell the thing. Okay, knowing that I knew nothing and had zero experience in the book industry, I decided to go the safe route and submit to a small traditional press.

Then the fateful day came when I got a contract.

I had no idea what I was getting into. I was scared. Sounds kind of stupid, I know. So what did I do? I e-mailed my complete stranger pal, James Dashner. He's an author. And it turned out that the whole "Door in the Woods" series was with the same publisher which more or less made him the expert in my opinion.

The strangest thing happened. He e-mailed me back. Without knowing me at all, he not only answered my questions, but was gracious enough to do a blurb for the back of my book.

James Dashner is a great guy, and to me that's even more important than all the success he's run into since I first met him.

And since then, I've had the pleasure of meeting Janette Rallison and Jeff Savage, who also gave of their time to someone who was a complete stranger to them.

Don't underestimate the power of being friendly. Take the opportunity to get to know others. If you're a writer like me, get out of your comfort zone and take a chance on other authors. It turns out that most of them are really nice. And then you have someone you can turn to to ask questions that almost no one else you know could have the answers to.

Thanks to all my J friends. And all my other friends too. You are what makes life a happy place.

Monday, April 11, 2011

I is for Ideas

Fresh ideas It's where ever story begins.

I'm going to focus on fiction writing, since that's what I do. Before 70,000 words can bleed into a riveting story, there has to be an idea strong enough to compel the story to be written at all.

Here are some idea tips...

*High fantasy is for people who can think in an entirely different universe and stay focused and excited about it for many months at a time.

*Low fantasy/science fiction. This one is where I enjoy hovering. I find it easier to stay in the real world, but tempting to add a dose of different. Sometimes I'll pour a lot of fantasy on, as in Alvor and Wings of Light, where other times I like to keep it light. Science fiction I use literally as a tool in my story. It's never the focus, just a means.

*Contemporary novels are for writers who have a strong story and character with a driving force. Strict contemporary novels must have enough juice to keep the story interesting the whole way through. Make sure you have enough of an idea in the first place before committing your life to this genre.

For me, stories start with an idea and then grow from there. I always explore the possible characters and story development to see if there is enough there to write a whole story.

Often a writer will be working on a manuscript only to find out that the same story line just signed a contract with a major publishing house.

Is that bad? Yes and no.

It's good to have a story that the population can relate to. Your story needs to be unique enough that it carries it's own interest level without conflicting with an already established novel.

But it can be hard to get interest from publishers if your story feels too much the same as another novel that they have recently signed.

How do you know if your novel is the same enough to be comfortable but different enough to grab the attention of major publishers?

You don't.

The only answer I know is to keep writing. If one story didn't hit the mark, write another one. I know, it's discouraging. Stories take a really long time to write, but if you want to make this into a career, it's what you do.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

H is for Hope

When all is said and done, this is what writers live on. Hope. Of course there is work. Plenty of work. Without work, nothing is possible.

But when a writer has done everything in their power to move forward in the industry, hope defines the rest. It's the reason you don't give up.

Hope is hard to kill.

My husband told me last night that his biggest fear is that things will get so hard that I'll finally quit. And I'm not a quitter.

I was touched by his statement, but I've been thinking about why it's not my nature to quit- and I think it all comes down to hope. I have hope. In spite of everything, this keeps me going.

Friday, April 8, 2011

G is for Genre

Oh the wonderful thing about genre
Is genre's a wonderful thing.....

If you write young adult or middle grade, you're one lucky writer. Unlike the boxes that the rest of the world has to sit in, YA and MG writers can go all over the board and still be in the same category.

Oh, the freedom!

I'm one of those people who when asked what my favorite book is, I stumble and stutter to figure it out. Because I love so many. I can't pick one. It depends on my mood.

It's like food. I'm not always in the mood for the same thing.

So writing YA and MG is really perfect for me. I get to try my hand at all kinds of things and it's still all the same category.

And which is my favorite?

I still don't have one. So far I've written urban fantasy, dystopian and contemporary with a touch of science fiction and romance. Well, for that matter, my dystopian has a tiny bit of science fiction in it too. And all of my books have some level of a love connection in them.

I think I would write anything if I felt a strong passion for it. That's what makes any story worth writing.

What's your favorite genre?

Switching gears for a second. Head on over to LDS Fiction and rate Wings of Light. You just click on the stars below the picture.

Today is the official release day for Wings of Light. Yay!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

F is for Failure

So, you want to be a writer? Welcome to the world of epic failures. In fact, I don't know a success story where failure held no part in it. Name your favorite author. Now go see if you can find out how many rejections that person faced in the process.
If you want to make it in the writing industry, you're going to need some armor. You will get rejections and face disappointments. It's simply a fact.

Does it hurt? Sure. I would be lying if I told you that rejections made me feel wonderful. They stink. But, I will tell you another truth- I have learned from them.

What have I learned?

*Failure is proof that you're working. If you never face rejection, you never had the courage to submit in the first place.

*If you endure, there's a good chance you will be rewarded in the end.

*You can't give up. Unless you can seriously live without this in your life, you can't afford to.

Think of failure as a phoenix. After going through an entire process of what seems like a whole lifetime, everything goes down in flames. Then from the ashes, a new life is born. Failure is a chance to start over. You can get back up.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

E is for Editor

Editors. They could be the author of the book "Has it Ever Occurred to You That You Might Be Wrong?"

Not only do editors have the job of selecting manuscripts from an undaunting pile of submissions, they have to turn their choice into gold.

Meaning, their job is to show the writer all their mistakes. A good editor will do more than point out errors though. The best kind of editor shines a light on the work and makes it easier for the author to see what parts of the work need to be cleaned up. Or cleared up.

As a writer, you love editors. And sometimes, for about five or ten minutes, you hate them, only to love them again once it's finally gotten through your thick skull that they're right. They're almost always right. I'd say they're always right, but I'm sure there are exceptions.

So here are my tips for writers out there. Whether your editor works for a publishing house, freelance, or is your critiqueing buddy....


*Seriously think about the advice.

*Most of the time it takes about 30 seconds to take advice from an editor. 30 seconds per tiny change. A sentence here. A word there. A comma. These are the easy-to-take pieces of advice.

*If you have extensive revision suggestions, take more time to think about it.

*Don't tell the editor they're wrong. 99% of the time you'll regret it.

*Assume they're right and give yourself time to adjust to it.

*If for some rare reason, they are way off, you will know it only after letting the thoughts simmer in your brain for a couple days. It takes time to see things through someone else's perspective. If you think the suggestions are not right for your work, take enough time to know for sure.

*The level your editor is working on often corresponds to how imperitive their suggestions are. Your good buddy's advice will not be the same as the publisher's. Don't take your buddy's advice over the publisher's.

*Take advice on faith, and see how that works for you. I've done this before a few times. At first I didn't know if I would be okay with it, but in the end, I nearly always agreed.

*Don't give up your rights as an author. If something refuses to seem right in spite of how much you've tried to like it or make it work, then stand by your feelings. Editors are human too.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

D is for Day Off

Enough said, right? I've got a lot on my list of things to do, and now I'm evaluating what new things I need to put on it.

For example, do I write the final book of the Alvor series next, or something totally different? Again. I keep doing that. Maybe I'll be sad to see the series end, but I still need to get to it.

Oh, and next week I have Jury Duty. Not looking forward to it.

What is keeping all of you busy? Come on, please share!

Monday, April 4, 2011

C is for Characters

I just finished reading Cross My Heart by Julie Wright. Since her book starts with C, it's safe for today's discussion.
Which leads me to caramel steamers, which also start with C and are therefore pertinent to this post.So what does Cross My Heart and Caramel steamers have to do with characters? Everything.

When I read a book that makes me want to eat what the character is eating, see the sights, hear the sounds, feel the flutter or horrors that the character is experiencing for myself, then the character is real.

In Cross My Heart, Jillian, the main character, does not care for chocolate. I know, it sounds like a conspiracy. But instead of turning into one, she honestly lead me to believe that caramel steamers were one of life's pleasures that should not be missed.

Simple, but effective. No, this story isn't about food. But when you make your character real enough that the reader cares about what the character's preferences are- you've successfully drawn your audience in.

So here are some Character tips for the day:

*Know what your character looks like. Be specific to yourself. Hair, eyes, face, height, weight, complexion, etc.

*Know your character. Even better than your best friend, you have to know how your character would react in every situation.

*Give your characters flaws and quirks and then figure out how to make those things flow with your story. Characters without flaws are boring cartoons. People want something to fall in love with. No one is perfect, if your character is perfect, no one will relate to him/her.

*Let you amazing hero make mistakes. Stupid mistakes. Use their flaws against them.

*Know how your character is going to change by the end of your book. You can't start out with a finished product and then expect to make a convincing story. If your character isn't going to grow in some way or change as a result of the story you're writing, something is wrong with your plan. Go back and figure out how your character is going to change.

*Change isn't just good, it's critical.

*Let your reader into the character's heart and head. The reader wants to fall for your protagonist. They're anxiously waiting for any excuse to relate and love this person. But we have to get to know a person (even an imaginary one) before we can love them. Be open about how the character feels and thinks.

Okay, just for the record, I made a homemade caramel steamer- and it was awesome. I made homemade caramel sauce and added warm milk. Mmmmm. I'm thinking of adding cool whip next.

But for the record, no it hasn't replaced my beloved hot chocolate. But still, it's worth the treat. I'd definitely make some again in the near future. Right now sounds good...

Saturday, April 2, 2011

ipod winner

Thanks to all of you for supporting the Wings of Light Book Launch.

Our lucky winner of the ipod shuffle is

Wicked Walker.

My fourteen-year-old son is already in mourning about this. He's gone as far as to tell me I've lost my mind to give away a brand new ipod shuffle. Don't feel too sorry for him- he has an ipod nano- whatever that means.

Now all of you get out there and buy Wings of Light. You know you want it.

Oh, and if you review books on your blog- let me know- I'll see if I can get my publisher to send you a copy.


B is for Book Signings

They're all different, but unless you are incredibly famous, you might want to read these tips on book signings.

* Plan ahead. If you're going to be there for two to four hours, bring something to do. Read a book, write on a tiny laptop, study for a test or whatever will make you feel productive. This is usually the last thing people think of when they go to their first book signing. But trust me, that many hours can be tedious without a plan.

*Bring signage. A banner on an easel is a great eye-catcher. Make sure people know that you are the author and of which book.

*Bring business cards. These can be called bookmarks. Make sure your website/blog is listed.

*Have a cool table topper. I usually bring my gold stuffed dragon. It's cute and odd enough that people can't help but look at my table. And it's super portable, not breakable, and very kid friendly. When kids stop, the parents have to. It's a tricky tool.

*Make sure there are plenty of books on your table. You don't want to look sold out unless you really are. And, if you really are, congratulations. Very cool.

*Make eye contact with people and SMILE. That's it. You don't have to accost them. If they want to talk to you, they'll stop.

*Encourage people to read the back of the book instead of spilling into a synopsis. This gets the book in their hands and, believe it or not, that always attracts other people to your table. Now you're free to talk to them because the other people are busy reading the back of your book.

*The more people surrounding your table, the more others assume you must be famous. I know, this sounds weird, but it's true. So don't discourage friends from talking to you at book signings even if they're not there to buy a book. It usually works in your favor to have people around.

*Have something reliable to sign with. Make sure you've tested it.

*Have a few catchy things you can pull out of your hat so that when you're signing more than one book for a family, you have more than one phrase to sign with.

*Ask people how to spell their name.

*Listen to them. If they want to go on a rambling spree for too long, you can always politely cut the conversation, but most of the time, people are reasonable. Have fun talking to them. It's really the best part of the whole experience.

*Be positive. And confident. If you're having a lousy book signing, don't tell anyone until you get home.

*Keep a tally of how many books you've signed. This is a way to feel like you really are selling books. It's strange how time seems to pass during a book signing. Knowing how many books you've sold gives you a sense of accomplishment.

*Look professional. Okay, it's Saturday at Costco and everyone is dressed like it- not you. You're the author. You should look like you meant to be there.

Friday, April 1, 2011

A is for Agent

and April Fool's Day, and Author...

I decided to do the A to Z challenge on writing. So, if I'm creative enough, you'll get 26 posts on writing and the book industry.

Do you need an agent?

That depends. Are you hoping to sell your work to the national market? If so, the answer is a solid "yes". You need an agent if you plan to work with the big publishing houses.

Are you satisfied with staying with a small traditional press for your writing career? If so, then no, you don't need an agent.

Does getting an agent guarantee you will sell your manuscript and end up with a big juicy contract?

No. You might not even sell the manuscript that landed you the agent in the first place. But, if you keep writing and working with your agent, you are likely to hit a vein sooner or later and get into a decent-sized publishing house.

Is it easy to get an agent?

No. It's rare for a writer to land an agent without spending considerable time on queries and studying the agents out there. Brush up your synopsis. Make sure your manuscript is glowing.