Thursday, December 13, 2012

Living in the Light, by Lacey West

Living in the Light is a beautiful look at what is and what might be.  

Lacey takes a straight forward look at depression and then fearlessly goes through what it is and how to get past it.  

In this troubled world, there are doubtless many souls who could relate to the feelings of doom, hopelessness and emptiness that so commonly are related to depression.  This nonthreatening look at depression allows anyone experiencing symptoms, or anyone who knows someone who is, navigate their way to a brighter future.

For me, I found it something of a textbook for understanding.  I shy away from psychology for the most part, maybe from my utter lack of knowledge on the subject, but I found this book approachable.  Lacey does a great job of explaining without inundating the reader with long terms and doctor vocabulary.  In fact, it made it so much easier for me to understand what it's like for those who suffer in this way.

It gave me a sense of compassion.  A better understanding.  
And for that, I am grateful to Lacey for writing such a thought-provoking book.

If you would like to meet Lacey West's blog or find her book at Amazon or Barnes and Noble, you won't be disappointed.  This is a gorgeous gift for Christmas, or something you might want to pick up for yourself.  

We could all use a little reminder to Live in the Light.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Two seconds

It's all I'm gonna take.  As I've steeped in my job as a teacher, the part-time full-time job that has successfully taken me away from writing until January, I've contemplated if it means I've stopped being an author. 

Does it?

The last book I wrote I finished in July.  Since then, I've only written a couple chapters of a new book.  I've been too busy to get into it all the way.

But I will.  I'm convinced.

In the meantime, did I stop being an author?

Shrug.  Not sure.

Thanks to all you writers  out there who have nudged me into at least doing book reviews.  It's the least author-ly thing, but it's something.

I still want it.  Writing is like a dream always waiting to come true.  I can't stop wishing for it.  It's with me even when I don't have time to spend with it.  The ghost that haunts me, and I don't mind at all. 

Anyone out there going through something like this?  Can't wait to "get back in the saddle."

Signing out, from the once-author hoping to be an author again soon.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Epic Tales of a Misfit Hero by Matt Peterson

It's here!  The dream book for every 9-12 year old kid.  Seriously.  Matt Peterson speaks boy-tweenism.  He understands the deranged quirky and sometimes articulate sense of humor that so many tween boys have such a firm grasp of.

What can I say?  It was so funny I was pulled in.  

Now I wonder what that says about me.


I give up.  This book takes you there, to those years when life was on big brand new and sometimes smelly soggy and annoying adventure.  And I'm totally recommending this one to my own 11 year old who will undoubtedly get the story even better than I did.

I can hear the instant-replays already.

Classic moments from the cusp of young-menhood.  Aaah.. And to think we're solidly headed that way at my house with my soon-to-be 12 year-old.

Get this for your kids.  Then sneak it away and read it because it WILL make you laugh.

Laughing is good.  Just hope none of it strikes you too solidly as exactly your own experiences growing up or I already feel sorry for you.

Do you have a sense of humor?

Long Time, No See

Whew, it's been ... like forever since I came here.  I have some exciting book reviews coming up in the very near future.  I can't believe I haven't been completely forgotten in the writing community.  I feel like I have taken a break from that part of my life so I could keep up with the demands of teaching high school.

Oh, and I LOVE my job.  Love it. 

Yes, it's tons of work.  Tons of hours.  We are on an accelerated program at my school so we cover a whole year's worth in half the time.  Last week was finals.  This week I had all new classes for second semester.  Crazy. 

We had such an awesome Halloween at school.  We played with dry ice, made some bubbling chemical reactions brew and someone even "exploded" their concoction.  Heaven.  You know you're a science geek when you feel a sense of satisfaction watching teenagers fascinated by the phenomenon of sublimation.

And my little trick-or-treaters were gorgeous.  My kids made me walk around the block for an hour and a half.  So fun.  Funny how even big kids don't want to grow up on Halloween.

Okay, so I'll be checking in tomorrow with my next book review.  Stop in.  It's a good one!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Back to School

It seems as if I've dropped off the internet planet.  Almost.

Actually, I got a job teaching Physical and Environmental science.  I love it, love it, love it!

Yes, it's kicking my uhm free time.  Totally.  My school is accelerated, meaning we learn a year's worth of material in one semester.  By the time this first semester is over, I'll have all of my lesson plans blueprinted for second semester. 

That's the up side.

The crazy busy side is coming up with a year's worth of material and lesson plans for two classes in one semester.  Oh yeah.  No free time.

I decided I won't have time to write books again until sometime in January.  I think.  It's only been one week of school so far.  We'll see how it goes.

But I'm still a writer at heart.  I dream about writing.  I must be going through withdraws already!

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Lost Stones by Paul Rmmasch

Paul Rimmasch's novel will grab you and take you for a wild ride.  This page-turner will take you through little-known American archeology and weave through history opening doors to new questions and endless possibilities.

Whether it's a romance that hooks you, or a fast-paced adventure, The Lost Stones delivers both.

I found myself reading through this one so fast, I was surprised when I suddenly came to the end.  I was captured all the way through.

In a recent press release about the book author, Paul Rimmasch, says this about the story;

“The Lost Stones is a story about Ammon Rogers, an Iraqi war veteran who is trying to rediscover his faith after returning from his military service. Ammon is struggling in this process, however, due to the gulf that he perceives to exists between science and religion.”

When Ammon is introduced to a self-styled “forbidden archaeologist” and his daughter, he is plunged into an adventure where he learns that the rift between what he learned in school and what he learned in church is not as wide as he once thought.

“The spiritual and emotional journey Ammon undergoes as the story unfolds mirrors my own,” Rimmasch continues. “As a young person, I had faith and science neatly compartmentalized in separate regions of my intellect. It wasn’t until later that I discovered that there was a whole world of archaeological, anthropological and other evidence that lends credence to matters spiritual. It is a whole world of evidence that mainstream academics in the best case casually dismiss, and in the worst case downright suppress.”

“The Lost Stones is the product of extensive research and contains copious footnotes and an extensive bibliography,” Rimmasch said of his work. “While I definitely want those who read my book to enjoy the adventure and romance of the story, I also want to enlighten and educate the reader.”

The themes of The Lost Stones are extremely relevant today, in a day and age where the drum beat of science seeks to drown out all things divine. “Every person who is conscientiously trying to come to grips with the faith vs. science debate must go through virtually the same process Ammon does in the pages of this book,” argues Rimmasch.

Although written from an LDS (Mormon) perspective, the messages of faith, friendship, and personal discovery will resonate with readers of all faiths.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Altercation by Tamara Hart Heiner

It's a book tour!
Okay, I'm just gonna tell it like it is. 
When Tamara asked me to review her book,I was excited,
but I had no idea how much I would end up loving it. 
Thanks to my kindle, I had this book with me all the time.
I was reading it in May and everyday I picked my
oldest son up from the high school. 
I knew this book was a rare winner when he was twenty
minutes late and I hadn't noticed because I was so
involved with the story.  It's that good. So, here's 
the blog tour.  Go get yourself a copy of these.
Prizes: EVERY DAY I will randomly select one person who
made a comment on that day's blog. The winner will then
get to decide if they would like an ebook copy of 
There's just one catch: there must be AT LEAST
ten comments on that day for me to do the giveaway.
But if that's not enough, leaving a comment also gets you 
entered into the PRIZE DRAWINGS. This won't be random; 
it's cumulative. Every comment you leave counts as 
1 point. If you are a follower on my blog, you get 1
point. Every time you tweet or share on Facebook about the 
tour, it's one point. I'll even add it up for you; just 
include me in on the tweet @tamaraheiner or on Facebook 
@tamarahartheiner (unless you don't trust my
math, and then feel free to tally it up and send it to me).
THIRD PRIZE: 50-page critique of something of your choice 
(if you're not a writer, a $5 gift card) 
SECOND PRIZE: lot of five YA books
FIRST PRIZE: $20 gift card to
(You may also offer a giveaway, if you wish!)
Here's the information (again) for the upcoming blog tour:
Altercation $15.95 link on Amazon:
ebook for $4.99:
summary: The FBI promises Jacinta Rivera and her friends 
that they are safe. Jaci wants desperately to believe them 
but weeks of hiding from their kidnapper, alias "The Hand", 
have left her wary. Hidden from the
public eye in an FBI safe house, Jaci must reconcile both 
the mysterious disappearance of her father and the murder 
of her best friend.
A betrayal lands Jaci back in the grasp of The Hand, 
shattering her ability to trust and leaving her to 
wonder if she will ever piece together her broken life.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Home Stretch Again

Okay, for those of you who have noticed my serious lack of constant posting, well, I'm amazed you've been paying that much attention. 

But, all that said, here's what's been going on. 

I'm almost done writing a brand new novel.  One that NO ONE has read.  Not even my husband.  Of course, that will change soon.  If anyone wants to be a beta reader, please e-mail me at laurabinghambooks at gmail dot com

You don't have to be an experienced writer, but you do have to be willing to give helpful feedback.  I need to know what you think so I can make the story better.  And "I think it was all completely awesome" isn't the kind of critique that will turn my novel into a shining piece.  So, if you know you have it in you to give the brutal honest truth, or if you are a rare one who likes to edit, send me a note.

And, I've been choreographing dances lately, and that takes time too. 

It's all what I love to do, but it's made me a busy girl. 

I'm excited to see if any of you would be willing to read a rough-edged manuscript.  I'm not quite done with the book yet, but I will be soon. 

Off to work I go!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Summer MIA

Whatever happened to the lazy days of summer?  Sure, my kids have all day to play hard.  I can assure you, they take this endeavor seriously.  Playing has become a sport.

I can't even begin to explain the amount of wet towels and food consumed in a week.  It's astronomical.

Me?  Work.  Oh, yeah.  I have a list of things to do so long that I'm wondering if maybe sometime in July I'll feel like it's summer.

I love my work, so that's a blessing.  (Maybe except for the laundry and cleaning the house.)  But my point is, I haven't had time for blogging much.  Or playing.  And I don't think that's going to change this month- so we'll see how July is.

I have to add that Dave Lateiner- my good friend in New Jersey- is doing a big audio book giveaway.  Go Enter!!!

I need some play inspiration.  What do you do to play in the summer?  I think I've forgotten how.

Friday, June 8, 2012

I Believe In Jesus Too- Book Look

Mark Nielsen e-mailed me a little bit ago and asked if I would review his book.  I love books, and honestly, I nearly always say yes.  So when this gorgeous book came in the mail, I was excited and surprised.

I didn't know it was going to be a picture book.  I always get the YA books because that's what I write.

But I LOVE a good picture book.  I collect them with a vengeance.  Not just any picture book, though.  I need good ones.

And this, well, let me tell you how it went.

First, I read it to myself.  It was cool.  Simple idea.  Loved the testimony side of it.

Then, I read it to my two girls, who happened to find it on my bed while I was writing.  Oh, confession, I sit on my bed and write books nearly everyday.

So, I opened it up and started reading.  Several times my five-year-old reached up and turned the page back so she could look at the picture longer.

My seven-year-old said "cool" many times.

At the end of the story, I asked my five-year-old what she thought.  She said, "Read it again."

I asked, "But did you like it?"

"I loved it."

I don't think there is such thing as a better review than that.  The pictures are stunning.  The story is simple and yet it literally takes the reader all over the world with the turn of a page.  It has all the wonder of any favorite picture book, but is bold in its conviction of Jesus Christ. 

I rarely talk religion on this blog, but here goes.  I did get a tear at the end of the book, because I believe in Jesus too.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Dance Walk Baby

Okay, I stole this from my sister's facebook post.  But, I love it.  So funny.

But who has the guts?

I could totally see myself doing it.  Oh, I mean, I think I already have.  In the grocery store, in the parking lot, uhm, on the sidewalk.  Yep.  I'm a chronic dancer.

Maybe not in a way to include the whole world, but I find myself dancing just about everywhere.

And yes, even in a hospital room when I was sure the nurse wasn't coming in.  I am a rebel.

Loved it.  Hope you do to.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Oh, Patience

Okay, I know.  Patience has never been one of my virtues.  I mean, I wait out of necessity, but that's not really the same thing.

I read a thread from one of my favorite agents about patience today.  It struck me.  Here it is:
7 times so far this year: I request full manuscript and author responds "I've just self-pubbed. Are you still interested?"
There's LOTS of great reasons to self pub, however if you're doing it because you're impatient with the query process, well...

 Incidentally, we are a *tad* behind in reading, but these 7 authors weren't waiting more than a month for those full requests.

 Wow.  As you can see, this is a whole different level of patience.  

As an author, I can tell you that these people probably had been querying long before they sent their work to her.  As an author, I can also tell you that they probably received so many rejections that they thought there was no chance they would ever get there.  

So why not just self pub?

I mean, you can.

But is that what your goal really is?  It does come down to that.  If you don't know what you want, it doesn't matter what you get.

If you know what you want hard enough, you will do whatever it takes to get there.

And when you give up because something else is probably easier and less painful, you'll never know what you might have been able to do.

It's interesting.  I know there's not one right answer for everyone, but it's good to ask ourselves once in a while.

Friday, May 25, 2012


It's the last day of school.  Need I say more? 

I'm feeling happy today. 

Last night was our Spring Show for the Boise Cloggers.  Aah.  I get such a rush spending that much time with such great people.  They are incredible, talented kids and parents.  I love them all. 

I'm always surprised at the end of a day like that, the same things happens.  I'm dead tired, but I can't sleep.  All I can think about is how great everyone danced.  How much fun it was and most especially, how blessed I am to have them in my life.

I don't take it for granted.  I treasure it.  I wonder how I ended up so lucky to be part of their lives. 

But I'm so glad I did.

Monday, May 21, 2012

What to do with Awards

Last weekend I spent sixteen hours with David Wolverton/Farland.  I couldn't help but notice how every writer has a different take on the writing business.

I learned some simple, valuable things about writing itself.  So simple that I could share it super quick.

*Start your story with pain- usually emotional.
*The middle of a novel is all about escalation
*Know your outer arc vs. the inner arc of your protagonist
*For YA girls, it's all about wonder, romance and adventure
*For YA boys, it's wonder and adventure
*For middle grade boys and girls, it's wonder, humor, adventure and horror
*Adults don't really get into drama novels until later in life
*You can make money writing books, but it can also take forever to do it

That's not even really a nutshell of the weekend, but it's what's been floating around in my head.

Now for awards.  David loves to brag.  shrug.  I mean, he has the coolest stuff ever to brag about, but he loves to shamelessly brag.  Or maybe to him, it's not bragging, it's simply a reflection of his experiences.

He used to be Stephanie Meyer's professor.  And Brandon Sanderson's.  And he taught Dan Wells.  And probably hundreds of other super successful writers.  He told Scholastics to push Harry Potter when it came to America as an unknown.

He's made lots of money.

And, he's won awards.

He's not afraid to tell you any of this stuff.  In fact, he loves talking about it.  Which, I have to admit, was a foreign feel to me.  It didn't even rub me wrong, it just felt weird to hear someone talk about cool stories and huge successes for two days.

We always hear about failures.  How hard the road was.  People usually slip the rest under the rug and hope you know how fabulous they really are without telling you.

So what did I learn from this?

If you don't tell people what you've done, they won't know.  People do want to know.

I bet that when you read that he used to teach Stephanie Meyer, you were suddenly interested in who David Farland was.  Or, have you heard the whole story of how he was a significant part of why Harry Potter went big?  But you want to, I bet.

Bragging, boasting, telling the truth.  We've been trained only to tell our failings.  It's sort of a society norm.

What about the good things?  Keep it a secret.  You must appear modest.

And then no one will know that you can do anything.

You can see why I raised my hand and asked what good would it do me to have a gold seal on a bunch of books that aren't in any stores.  A book that if I do get published by a big press, won't even be recognized as a book at all.  Isn't that like not winning the award in the first place?

No.  I had it all wrong.  He told me to tell everyone.

It's an international book contest.  International.  It doesn't even matter that you've never heard of the contest- it's still proof that I CAN WRITE.  Not just cruddy, mediocre junk, but GOOD stuff.

Whoa.  It feels weird to brag.  Wrong even.  But that's what we're supposed to do in the book industry.  If we don't tell people that we're good, they won't know.

A whole committee took the time to decide that my writing was above other things out there.  For that, I owe them and myself the recognition that they were probably right. 

I don't know about you, but this is a whole new way of thinking.  Try it.  Start telling people what you did right and see what happens.  And, if you have a similar story to share, please tell me.  I would love to hear.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The 2012 Book Blogger's Cookbook

The 2012 Book Blogger's Cookbook

Get on the train to delicious books and mouth-watering recipes.  Be sure to take a moment to get off the train long enough to see all the stops along the tour.  Big prizes.  Talented writers.  Fun blogs.  It's a win/win.

Go here NOW!   Seriously.  I love this stuff.

I get bored in the kitchen.  I've got five kids and they've seen all my tricks.  I need new ones sometimes and this cookbook is filled with fresh ideas.  Yumminess.  And it all works.

Christy is an adorable person, but you should know that she is also a talented Irish dancer, which naturally earns her big kudos with me, AND she's a writer with ideas that seep into your head never to leave.

And she cooks.

Need I say more?

At the LDStorymakers Conference a couple weeks ago, she took second place in the nonfiction first chapter contest.  Further proof that this girl knows what she's doing.

But if you're in it for practicality, get the cookbook because new food is fun to try, and in this case, even better to eat.

And... check out all the book reviews from bloggers... cuz I'm in it!  I was a little shocked she let me in.  So I'm taking the bragging rights here, and telling you that I've helped write (two tiny spots) a new book!

Ha ha ha.  But it's tons of fun.

Here's the official listing...
The 2012 Book Blogger's Cookbook is a community project from some of the blogosphere's best book bloggers in a simple, easy to read format.  The cookbook combines a love of reading and dining to help you find books you'll devour and recipes you can't put down.

You’ll love The Book Blogger’s Cookbook because…

The Book Blogger’s Cookbook has 50 different book reviewers from every corner of the blogosphere.  It bridges the gap between author and reader—putting you in touch with book reviewers who can separate the 5 star books from the mediocre.
The Book Blogger’s Cookbook showcases great reads and provides an interactive experience with links to author and book reviewer websites. The cookbook is created for those who like to experience what they read long after they’ve closed the book.
The Book Blogger’s Cookbook tells why each recipe complements its companion book.  Recipes and books combine to make the reading experience satisfying and entertaining.

Book launch and Contest
During the first week of the book launch, The 2012 Book Blogger's Cookbook will be available for a reduced price of .99 cents.  Please spread the word. 
Every person who comments on one of the blogs during the tour will be entered to win a grand prize: a copy of every book featured in The 2012 Book Blogger's Cookbook (22 in all, over $200 value). 

About the author:

Christy Dorrity loves to read about cooking and cook about reading. She was taught early to have a discriminating taste for both books and food. Christy grew up on a trout ranch in Star Valley, Wyoming. She taught elementary school and lives in the mountains with her husband Devon and their five young children. When Christy's not reading or writing, she's probably trying out a new recipe in the kitchen.

twitter: @christydorrity

Monday, May 14, 2012

In no particular order

I didn't really mean to be a once-a-month poster, but I've been a busy girl.  Now that the LDStorymakers Conference and Clogging Nationals is over with, I'm taking a breath and jumping back into my regularly scheduled life. 

And, I didn't want to post something out of obligation.  I wanted to say something because I had something to say.

So here are some things I've thought about more in the last few weeks.

*Agents and editors are people too.
*Don't give up
*Sometimes when you least expect it, great things happen
*Be grateful, there is always something to appreciate
*Live in the moment
*It's okay to live only one moment at a time
*It's okay to be addicted to vegetables
*You would be surprised how many people you can relate to
*You would be surprised how many people share your same problems
*I'm addicted to reading
*Yes, you can live through disappointment after disappointment and still end up a decent person
*Make goals and stick to them
*It's okay to find a new way to fit all the old things into your life
*I will never finish the laundry

And now that I have some of those thoughts floating around, I'm going to pick one here and there and explain it later.  And I'm going to send you on a blog tour for my friend who writes awesome recipes.

Okay, I'll be back soon!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

For the Love of Blogging

Is it a dying phenomenon?  This blogging.

Borrowed from a blog who borrowed it from someone else's blog is this:
Mostly blogs ebb and flow with the life rhythms of their creator. Graduate students with blogs get deep into their dissertations, or finish a dissertation, and decide to put aside a blog. Babies arrive, or people get seriously ill. Work makes new demands, and takes energies away from a blog.
However, I think there’s also something about the form itself that poses a problem, and that the problem has gotten more acute as blogging has evolved as a practice. A self-aware blog writer eventually starts to recognize static or repetitive patterns in their posting that threaten to devolve into schtick. Readers may not object: in fact, the larger and more stable a community of readers a blogger has, the more they may in fact come to rely on the blogger to merely convene or spark a rolling conversation among commenters, to be the rhetorical equivalent of comfort food.
After more research, I learned that 11% of blogs die after one year.  Those who remain open may fizzle, but surprisingly, most remain alive, changing and evolving with time.


And I'm still stuck on the concept of blogging "comfort food".  Like blogging that makes you fat?  Ha ha.

It's true that there isn't always this amazing something to share.  Or life is just too personal to put it out there for the whole world to see.

Or we just run out of something new to say.

Or we're sure you're falling asleep hearing the only thing we can think of to say.

Unlike books, life isn't always suspenseful, exciting and living on the edge.  But what we read should be.  That's why we read.  Even blogs.  We like to know what goes on in other people's heads.  Their genius and their idiosyncrasies.  We like good news, sometimes bad news, and we love to learn something new.  

I recently read a blog about trying to lose weight followed up by some good old fast food.  And I laughed.  Mostly because it was real.  Then I looked at pictures on a blog showing us her monthly weight loss- and it was inspiring, because it was real.

I sound like I'm obsessed with weight.  Actually, I am researching another book idea.  Fiction, of course.  Which I have no business doing because I'm in middle of writing something else, and I really should edit another manuscript before I even think about writing another book.

But it's still interesting to me.  

What's your thoughts on the blogging world?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Still ...

Last night my 7-yr. old daughter asked me when my new book cover was coming out. "Well, didn't you say you've written some more books?" she asked.

Yes, I have. But I'm still looking for a home for them. How do you explain that to a girl who has seen a new book for as long as she can remember? Isn't it that time of year again when I have a new book come out?

It does make me wistful. It even makes me almost willing to throw a book at a small press just to see a book cover. And I may still do that, eventually.

But right now, it's not time. Right now, writing has taken over. I need to finish what I started. Who knows if I'll sell this new one either, but I will get it done.

And whether it's this story, or three more stories from now, I am absolutely going to get where I plan to be.

Sometimes plans can take their own road, that's for sure.

On a different note, the LDStorymakers Conference is coming up in TWO WEEKS!!! Whew. I can hardly believe it. No. Seriously. I remember how busy I was last year, and I had a genius author helping me out and doing most of the work. This year I know is going to be just as busy, if not a touch more.

I love this conference. It's amazing. Hands down my favorite writers conference. If you're going, I can't wait to see you, or meet you for the first time. My goal is to make new friends, and keep the old.

If you're not there this year, and you're a writer, you should consider going next year. It's worth it.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Shooting for the Stars

I'm finally feeling a little caught up. I'm sure it's a temporary thing, but at I'm going to enjoy it while I can.

I've been helping organize a small part of the LDStorymakers Conference coming up May3-5. As I was working through some of the scheduling, I was given a small piece of perspective that I am every so grateful to have.

I'm not the only one.

I spend too much time beating myself up for not reaching my goals/dreams. It's not that I have ever stopped working towards them, but in the end, for my goals to be realized, someone else has to see my work and decide to take it on.

In other words, my goals are impossible for me to accomplish alone. Of course, this makes me wonder if my goals are realistic. And honestly, it doesn't even matter of they are because I can't change my dream. I even tried, but I can't.

And as I scheduled pitch sessions for over a hundred other writers, I saw over a hundred other writers in my same boat. A goal/dream that can not be realized without the help of someone else.

I'm not sure why this felt like such a comfort to me, but it did. I know a lot of these people and I can tell you first-hand that they are talented writers. So, if there are tons of talented writers out there still shooting for their star even if there is no promise they'll hit it, I guess it's okay for me to be one of them.

It makes me wonder if they beat themselves up like I do. At the end of the day, do they ever feel like their value can be measured in rejections? I know I shouldn't, but it's hard not to wonder if I'll ever be good enough to get to where I can't stop wanting to be.

And even if I'm not there yet, I sort of count on the fact that since I can't quit, I'm only going to get better with time. If I never stop writing, one of these days I'm going to write that book that gets that contract.

Then again, should I never reach that star, I can honestly say that I have still learned a lot in the process of trying to get there. Experience is an education.

To all of you still shooting for your star, don't give up. Somehow it will all be worth it in the end.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

My to-do list

Hmmm. Yep, it's official. I have nothing amazing to say today.

So, I thought I'd share a random thing that has nothing to do writing.

You know, in case someone else's boring life is more exciting than your own.

Lately I've been researching...

*How to pour a concrete sidewalk.

Guess what step one is. Planning and tools. You would think this would be obvious, but there is something to be said about starting a project with all the stuff you need.

Beyond that, and within the text of the process it states, "Caution: do not lose an eye." Well said.

I could lose an eye putting in a sidewalk???

People, this is why I need some help from a man who figures things out. And is strong. Good thing I'm married to one.

Now all I need to do is find him about two days worth of free time. Ha ha ha aha ha ha... oh, that was a good one.

Which is why I'm actually reading the "How to pour a concrete sidewalk" article. And I still think I couldn't do this thing alone. Very well. Cement is heavy.

Hmmm. The mud path leading to my front door will have to wait until it stops raining. After that, we'll see how desperate I am to fix it. If you see me outside with tools, you'll know.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

St. Patrick's Day 2012

St. Patrick's Day was a whole lot of fun this year! We visited four elementary schools and loved the excitement and energy we received as we danced. What a fun Friday for us.

Some of our dancers had their first St. Patrick's Day experience dancing show after show. Saturdays were filled with lots of performances. Thanks to everyone for making it a rich experience. We had a unique appeal that included singing, violin, a drum and a guitar. And dancing. We must have the dancing.

It was a joy to be involved with. I look forward to many more shows from Shamrock Irish Dance.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Laughing in that...

It's-Not-Even-Funny sort of way.

I keep waiting to have something fabulous to share. Something funny, inspirational, educational, interesting or thought-provoking.

That explains why it's been a couple weeks. That, and I've been making Irish costumes like mad.

The season of Irish dance shows is coming up! Our first show of many is this Saturday. Shamrock Irish Dance is my new project. It's a long story, but at the end of it, I can tell you that I never really meant to have my own Irish studio, it's a ton of work, and I'm still waiting to see if it will ever get off the ground. But, at the end of the day, I have dancers who are steadily improving in this art. Isn't that the only reason I ever decided to teach dance?

Yes, it is. It does come down to that. In spite of everything else.

Switching gears completely now... here's the most intriguing rejection letter I've ever gotten. Read it. Is it just me, or does this sound like a yes with a no at the end? Like I said, I'm laughing in the it's-not-even-funny sort of way. What are you gonna do?

Dear Laura,

I am so proud of you. You’ve improved the work ten-fold. I never, ever expected you to get back to me as quickly as you did and when I heard back I was fairly certain the work would be so-so because that’s usually what happens. Writers work hard to “fix” and end up missing the mark. Instead, you’ve done well to hit on things I was most concerned about and I’m so impressed.

Here’s the kicker; as an agency we’ve made the decision to refrain from taking new clients because we’ve been so very blessed with the clients currently on board. It seems as though one sale has led to another and we’ve become all the more busy in an effort to ready ourselves for upcoming releases. Mind you…I’m not complaining, but it’s an amazing process!

More than anything I encourage you to continue shopping the work because I think it’s so good. I do believe you write well and you have a lovely future ahead of you.

Best wishes as you go – I want ARC’s!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Keep the Wheels Turning

The book industry is one of the slowest businesses I know. In fact, if you know a slower industry, please tell me what it is.

If you want to be a writer, one of these days you'll have to face the facts:

*it takes a long time to write a book
*it takes a lot of work and time to edit the book properly before you send it to professionals
*it takes a lot of time for agents/publishers to get to your query
*it could take a while to get a contract
*it takes even more time for a professional edit
*it takes time- usually a year or two- for your contracted book to become a book

If you're looking for a quick way to get rich, don't become a writer. In fact, if you are looking to get rich, keep your job and take a good look at your education.

If you want to be a writer, be prepared to dedicate years of your life to it. Even if you're a one-book-wonder, it's going to take years.

So why write? Because you love it. Because you have a story to tell. Because when you tell yourself you're going to give up, it follows you around, nagging you with it's story.

You write because it is part of who you are.

Whether your story is coming together slowly, or hitting the pages like fire, it's a story. Sometimes it feels like it's worth it, and now and then you may be passing time before a better story ticks into your head.

But there's one thing I can tell you for sure- there will be times when it all seems worth it. They may be fleeting moments, or monumental experiences, but sometimes you will come across validation that helps you know you are doing the right thing.

And if you're a writer at heart, no amount of rejection or waiting will ever stop you from shedding more words into a story.

Being a writer is a decision, but it's also part of who you are. Make goals. Work toward them. Write whether you can see the success happening yet or not.

The best thing a writer can do is write. So, taking a page from Nike, "just do it".

Friday, February 17, 2012

Readers' Choice 2011 Book Best Cover

as voted by LDS Publisher blog readers
A big thanks to everyone who voted for my WINGS OF LIGHT cover! I can't tell you how surprised I was to win the genre vote... but now the overalls for 2011. Sweet.

Naturally, I owe my real thanks to the talented Cover Designer: Megan Whittier.

An interesting twist of fate here that most people don't know... Megan is the sister-in-law to one of my cloggers. Before Tonya adopted a gorgeous little girl, she danced at my studio. She was the one to tell me that her sister-in-law was working on my cover art for my next book to be released.

It was pretty cool knowing a connection to the one who created the face for my book.

People do judge a book by its cover. I hope you take the time to find out whether the inner beauty of this book matches the delicious outer.

Thanks again to all of you. It's like a hug and a handshake from hundreds of people. Thanks for taking the time to share that.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Hearts

Congratulations to Pricilla- winner of a copy of WINGS OF LIGHT. This book won the cover contest for its genre and now is up for the 2011 Best Cover contest. Click here to vote!The day where all the little girls in elementary school want their hair a little extra special. The day when even the boys are donning their red shirts.

In fact, it might be the only holiday where kids intentionally reach out to every single person in their class.

And if you're all grown up, you know, say fourteen, there's the excitement of watching your friends get carnations, or getting heart Valentine's from friends.

As the years pass, married with kids- the magic never really stops. As long as you still want it, it's there for the taking.

Valentine's Day is a chance to reach out- just like you did in elementary school. A chance to say "Will you be my Valentine?" Sometimes that just means "friend".

And for your real sweetheart- don't let the day slip by without a smile, hug and kiss.

If there's one thing we need more of in this world today, it's happy hearts. Hoping you have a happy heart today, from the bottom of mine.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Vote for my cover!

It was nice to have something fun to share today. It's the first time this has happened to me, so I was pretty excited.

WINGS OF LIGHT made it to the finals for the YA Speculative Book Covers contest. This is a vote rated contest, so I need your help. It's easy.

Just click here and vote for Wings of Light.

And, since I'm having so much fun with this, if I win the contest, I'll give a book away.

Which means you need to leave a comment so I can draw a winner. The contest ends at midnight Feb. 10. If I win, then I'll draw a winner from the comments below.

And even if you don't want another copy of Wings of Light, go vote anyway.

Speaking of winning, I didn't tell you that I got 3rd place for the YA category for the Sharp Writ Book Awards. This is a world-wide contest, so even though I got 3rd, it was still pretty cool.

Alright everyone, go vote!

And if I'm going to see you this week at the LTUE- YAY!!!!

I'll be on panels... Thursday 1:00 Writing for the LDS market, Friday 3:00 Injecting Romance into Ghost Stories, 6:00 You've Written a Book, Now What? 8:00 Book Signing, Saturday 4:00 Contemporary Urban Fantasy

It's going to be a blast!

Monday, January 30, 2012

You've written a book, now what?

It's the topic of the last panel I will be discussing at the LTUE Feb. 10.

And it's a relevant topic for me, personally.

Only, if I were to revise that sentence to include all my writing situations right now, it would sound something like this...

You've written three books that aren't yet published, you've lost your agent, you've got a full manuscript out with an agent AND an editor.... now what?

Now what indeed.

What I'm actually doing is slowly writing another book. I say slowly because I've never gone at such a pathetic pace before. Instead of writing like wildfire ready to devour the forest, I'm sort of picking away at it one page at a time.

It may or may not end up being a great story. I'm not sure. I just know that in the middle of all this waiting, I just haven't had the same urge to write.

And I feel like I have the last book of the Alvor series looming over me. I want to write it, but I'm not entirely convinced my publisher will step up to the plate like I need them to. I know, for some of you that seems like a lame excuse. For others, you may not know what I'm talking about. Since this isn't my complain blog, I won't get into it. But it's the conflict that has kept me from writing that last book.

So now what? I'd say in terms of furthering my career, I've sort of done what I need to. Waiting is part of the book industry, after all. Probably the worst part.

If I could give myself advice, I'd say, "Keep writing, Laura. Sooner or later you'll either have an answer, or another book on your hands. And whether you land an agent this time, or secure a contract with a publisher and then land an agent, the best thing you can do today is write. It's the only thing you have control over."

Today. It really is the only thing we can do anything about.

I know I didn't answer the big question- You've written a book, now what?

The short answer to that is: edit like crazy, write a killer query letter, send it out to agents or publishers and then cross your fingers and hope. And wait. And while you're waiting, write something. It's a vicious cycle. Write-send it out- wait- write.

Friday, January 20, 2012

LTUE, baby

It's almost here. And I get to go this year. I Can't Wait!

The LTUE is one of my favorite writer conferences. Quick catch up for those who don't know...

Life, The Universe & Everything
The Marion K. "Doc" Smith Symposium on Science Fiction and Fantasy

February 9-12, 2012
Cost: $30 Students Free with Current ID

Utah Valley University

And here are some of the stars you'll get to meet...

James A. Owen

(“Starchild” and “Here There Be Dragons”)

Special Guests:

Writing Excuses Podcast Team:

Brandon Sanderson

Mary Robinette Kowal

Dan Wells

Howard Tayler

Chris Schoebinger

Acquisitions Editor for Shadow Mountain.

Featured Guests:

Larry Correia

James Dashner

David Farland (Saturday only)

Tracy & Laura Hickman (Saturday only)

L.E. Modesitt, Jr. (Saturday only)

Brandon Mull (Saturday only)

Are you starting to see why I love this conference? It's simply a blast. I guess that's really why it's one of my favorites. This is the conference where writers become friends. Authors have conversations. There's hardly any pressure (no pitches to national editors or agents) and it's just a bunch of great information from people who know the business.

I know I'm not the only one who knows this, but I'll let you in on the secret to this conference.... yes be good and go to classes- but also SKIP some classes too. I know. It sounds counter-intuitive, but it's the key. Plan on what classes will make you happy, and then plan on some blocks of time outside of the rooms. This is how you get to have conversations. Or think. Or write. But at the end of the conference, if you do this, you'll end up with new friends.

Friends that will be in the writing industry for a good long time, and if that's where you plan on being, it's good to have some friends there.

Go if you can. It's the cheapest conference, and there is so much to learn. The panels are awesome, and there are plenty of editors there to keep things real. Tons of authors too.

So excited.

Friday, January 13, 2012

"It's a mind game."

Here we are, in the middle of January. I thought for sure I'd have something amazing to say by now. Hmm. I guess not.

So here's a little twist to mix things up. I'm a dancer and a writer- what if those worlds collided?

From this month's issue of Dancespirit, I give you YOUR TOP 10 COMPETITION FEARS, Everything you worry about on Comp day- and how to deal. And geniusly changed to fit the world of a writer...

Fear #1- the nemesis move-

In dance, this is that one trick that makes your dance pop, but what if you miss it?
In writing, this is that one streak of pure perfectness in your story line that makes every reader in your target audience want your book.

The fix: "Now is the time to trust your training." If you don't hit it this time, you will next time. Keep breathing and practice, practice practice.

Fear # 2 -costume malfunction-

I think it's safe to skip this one in the writing world.

The fix: You know, just in case you're a dancer...uhm, dress rehearsal, body glue, sticky tape, and just leave your hat on the floor should it fall off. I'm guessing you really didn't want to hear all of that.

Fear #3- Forgetting to pack something

In dance, we're talking dance bag. There is nothing worse than arriving without an essential item.

In writing, this is each scene. Does it have enough in it to make it shocked with emotion and movement? Or do you have a dead chapter?

The fix: In dance, "make a list and check it a million times". In writing, read your chapters objectively and ask yourself why anyone else would want to read it.

Fear #4- Blanking Onstage (AKA Deer in the Headlights)

In dance- nuf said.

In writing, blanking on the story. The "I've got nothing" scenario.

The fix: "Any performance-related opportunity builds confidence and decreases the chances that you're going to freeze onstage." Actually, I believe this 100%. In writing, if you're really stuck, ask people leading questions. For example, last night I asked someone what could go wrong if you're riding a horse. The list I was handed was full of possibilities that I hadn't considered. Let the story simmer if you have to, but also get back to your computer and keep trying.

We're going to skip the next few...#5 losing a team member at the last minute, #6 dealing with unpredictable props, #7 Unpredictable stages, #8 the quick change and #9 Letting the team down

Having said that, I can personally tell you that these are all valid fears that my dancers face at shows and competitions on a regular basis. Sometimes it makes you feel better when you realize that you're not the only one. But I like this quote, "Don't be mean to the girl who messes up, because the next time it might be you."

That said, we come to...

Fear #10 Getting psyched out by your competition

The fix: Do it for yourself, not for them. "But if you do choose to check out the others, make the experience a positive one, not a scary one. Try to get inspired."

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Bits and Pieces

The last month has been a whole bunch of madness with a sprinkle of this and that. And now that we are officially in twenty twelve, I'm trying to find that sense of normal I used to know.

But here are the pieces I do have.

*Did you know that if you pass the right things when taking your TCRG exam, it qualifies you for your TMRF? But, should you accept your TMRF, you would have to RE-TAKE all five exams to qualify for the TCRG. Uhhg. If you have no clue what I just said, consider yourself lucky and move on.

*A "D" is a passing grade at my son's high school. Hmmm. Not that I'm happy with a "D". I'm still going to be a mean mom and work endlessly for at least a "C". Yes, I called the school just to make sure it was really true. Who knew? Okay, don't answer that. I was one of those kids who never got a C from 7th grade on.

*I'm in the mood to edit. Weird. Really weird. Because I'm supposed to be in the mood to write (which I'm still doing). But I'd rather be editing. Is this some rare disease?

*Thank goodness it's twenty twelve. I'm so ready for a brand new year.

*I've been getting a lot of e-mails asking for the third book. Is that kind of pressure a good enough reason? I'll probably fold and write it after I get done with the book I'm writing right now.

*Working with free weights has improved my posture. I know this sounds really random, but I'm here to tell you that seven months of working with free weights has not caused me to lose weight, look like a model or give me to-die-for parts of my body. But it has improved my posture, and the awareness of my posture, especially when I'm dancing. Just thought I'd throw that out there for you.

*"See that mountain over there? One of these days, I'm gonna climb that mountain." From an old country song I clogged to when I was a kid. It's true though. The figurative mountains- one of these days I'm going to get to the top of them.

*"Believe in yourself and then live so as to reach your possibilities." Thomas S. Monson This is my motto for the new year. It's hard to top those words.