Monday, May 31, 2010
We didn't ask for this war. We didn't plan for you to get involved in it, though we knew it could happen. Today I honor you, my soldier who accepts his duty to leave his family for a year and serve his country.
How I treasure every moment with you. Every little moment that I've taken for granted over the past several years. I lay in bed next to you and felt the way you curled up behind me and wrapped your arm around my shoulders. I love that. I turned around and looked at you and you said, "You are so beautiful in the morning." You always say that. I don't know what you're seeing! But I just wanted to memorize you. The golden flecks in your blue-green eyes. The red stubble on your chin. Your wild eyebrow hairs that don't want to conform.
You held my hand in church. Our arms were stretched across the pew with our two little boys playing between us. I saw how your eyes reddened during the song and I can only imagine the thoughts that must be going through your head. I know the ones that go through mine. A year without you. A year of church, birthdays, Christmas, anniversary, all without you. Our oldest will be getting ready for kindergarten. Our youngest will be three, and not the youngest anymore. The baby will be almost walking. You rubbed your fingers over my knuckles and I held the moment close to my heart.
You led our family in prayer again. I love listening to you bless our house and our children and pray for our safety and prosperity. I love that you are so willing to kneel before God and in such a simple way set an example for our little children. My heart hurts that they won't see you kneel in prayer again for a long time.
I watched you playing with our boys today. They love jumping off the steps into your arms. You laughed every time they giggled and shrieked. You gathered up the little one and tickled him all over. He attached himself to you, not letting you even go to the bathroom without taking your hand. "Hand, Daddy." It made me smile. I know you are memorizing these moments also.
I love you. I am so proud of you. You are doing something honorable and wonderful and our nation thanks you. We will pray for you. Please come home to us.
Friday, May 28, 2010
I am so excited to tell you about a book I just read. The book is Heroes of the Fallen, by David J. West. I loved this book.
Heroes of the Fallen goes through the journey of several different people, from Amaron, the young, arrogant Nephite warrior determined to save his people or die trying, to Aaron, the Lamanite prince who believes a dark angel has called him to be the 'chosen one.'
Each character that David shows us is so real that even the evil characters have something soft about them, something that enables the reader to relate to them.
The story has a familiar feel to it that makes it seem historical,and yet it has a fantasy feel to it that is reminiscent of mythology and legend. I was engaged and fascinated at the manner in which David wove his scenes and motifs together. His writing style is lyrical and poetic. There is a lot of show of war and human cruelty, but there was nothing graphic or gruesome. All of the book felt so carefully worded and put together that even a mild stomach can handle the violence. It is refreshing to get a clean, honest vision of how such ancient cultures might have lived. Be warned: it does end in a cliffhanger!
My biggest complaint is that the multiple points of view at times were distracting. I felt that so much time passed between POVs that by the time we got back to character 1, I didn't remember anything about him. This is a juggling act that I am certain David J. West will have perfected by his second novel; finding the happy medium doesn't come naturally. As this is David's debut novel, I have no doubt that he is honing his craft. This novel comes together beautifully and I look forward to the next!
Click here to buy it!
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Today, an author usually has to create an audience and find a niche. One of the best ways to do this is public speaking. I took a great class on public speaking at the LDS Storymakers Conference, and it really got me excited to seek out these opportunities. I'm going to wait until my book is released, because I don't want to create an interest in a novel that people can't buy right at that moment.
A huge question I had in the class was, "Where do I find speaking opportunities?" We were told to look at community events. Last week we had a visit from the welcome committee in our new house. The lovely lady handed me a pamphlet with a list of community clubs and phone numbers on it. This pamphlet listed about 300 community clubs, and I got goosebumps. Each one of these clubs represents an opportunity for me to speak.
Public speaking can be a lucrative way for you to increase your writer's income, but in the beginning it won't be that way. When you start out making speaking arrangements, neither your book or unknown name are going to be selling points. The selling points will be "local author" and "speak for free." I can't imagine many organizations turning down an opportunity to have a guest speaker for no charge! The phone conversation would go something like this: "Hi, I'm a local author and speaker and would like to speak at one of your group meetings for no charge."
People love local talent. And they love feeling like they are important enough to get offered a free speaking appointment.
Your local chamber of commerce may have a list of community organizations that meet regularly. Or check the newspaper. If you see an annual event that's past, call them and offer to do it next year. Make sure you develop your platform and make them remember you. This is about you. If they remember you, they'll remember your book.
Eventually you'll reach a point where you can safely charge money. I'm not there yet, of course, but I imagine you know this has happened when people begin to call you and ask you to speak. When you have so many speaking appointments over the next few months that you are starting to turn them down. Then there's a demand for you, and you're hot.
Anyone already at this point? Had any really awesome public speaking moments?
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Sometime in the summer of 2009
My editor, Allie, and I had a lot of fun going through my novel Perilous. She was very upbeat, always telling me how great I was and how quickly things were coming along. That doesn't mean she didn't request changes, though.
Revision 1 The first change Allie wanted to see was the addition of my detective's POV. I put the detective in the opening scene, as a kind of pseudo-prologue. It was his only appearance in the entire novel. Allie saw him as a great way to bridge the demographic, crossing the book over from YA to adult. So we added him, and I love him. He owes his existence to Allie.
Revision 2 Once we had the detective in, Allie thought it would be fun to see the opposite POV: that of the villain. So we added him in, as well.
Revision 3 Next Allie had me change the introduction to the characters. All four girls were introduced at once. I had had several beta readers tell me that initially, the girls were a bit difficult to keep track of, but I didn't really know how to fix it. Until Allie told me, of course. She had me just introduce two of them! Duh. Then we added the next two in in the subsequent chapter. She also had me add character tags to the dialogue so we could easily identify the speakers.
Revision 4 This was the point where I had to do some cutting. The middle of the book had a ton of romance--like five chapters of it! It was with much remorse that I had to cut it down. But I understood why. A little romance in a thriller goes a long ways. Everyone loves romance, but it can't stop the story! I knew that already...but I was so pleased with the dialogue, the jealousies, the emotions! That was a hard cut for me. But Allie was great, helping me to see what I could cut and still keep the tension and hormones that I wanted! This was also the point that we decided it needed a new title.
Graduation Once we finished revision 4, Allie felt that I was ready to move on to the next editor: the one that would fine-tune my book. Allie was the big picture editor. I was very sad to part ways with her, but very excited that we were moving closer to publication!
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Here's a fantastic quote I found on MPOV from a fellow author:
"Writing in multiple points of view has many advantages. It allows an author to piece together a complex story without requiring a single character to know and see everything. It makes it possible to give more information to your reader than you’ve given to your main character, which in turn makes it possible to rachet up the tension and the sense that your beloved protagonist is in danger. And finally, as my comments about omniscient voice imply, it helps with character development, by putting your reader inside the thoughts and emotions of several characters."
Boy, that just says it all! I want to make the tension more for my reader. They are privy to information that my main character is not. He mentions the benefits of a single POV as well, and I agree. I was quite pleased with the 'mystery' and 'closeness' that developed between the reader and Jaci when it was entirely her POV. There won't be quite as much mystery, and for many of my readers who were annoyed that they didn't know what was going on in the rest of the world, that will be a good thing. I will work hard to maintain that closeness! I want my readers to feel like they know Jaci!
Another website said this: "In novels the point-of-view can easily be changed at a chapter break, and 2 or 3 clearly distinguished time-lines or story-lines are juggled."
Ive had some issues with the juggling in the past. The problem with both books was that I started them in omniscient POV, not realizing it is a kiss of death. So while I'm about to add more POVs to Perilous, I'm trying to eliminate some in my other book and make the ones I have appear at predictable times. Particularly when we are switching back and forth between dimensions, it's important that the reader not spend too much time away from one dimension, and thus lose all interest in what's going on there.
However, I have noticed times when multiple POV can be distracting. Times when I feel like I never really get to know a certain character because we switch back and forth so often. How does the author find the happy medium? More on that later...
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
There are two ways I want to do this:
1) Through my books
2) Through my example
Through my books
I don't want my books to be preachy. I sure hope they are not. But I have carefully chosen characters that represent different ways of thinking, ways of life, with different morals and beliefs. My hope is to get people to put themselves into a mindset that is not their own, and make them think a little bit about why this character acts the way he/she does. I want my readers to question their own lives because of how they see things play out in my books. I hope there are certain characters they will admire and respect, and certain characters that they will strive not to be like.
But above all, I want them to pick up my book and feel understood. To know that their thought processes and feelings are just as real and valid as anyone's. To know that we, as adults, appreciate what uniqueness they have to give to society right now.
Through my example
There's a lot to be said for having a dream. We really can accomplish whatever we want--with a lot of sweat and perseverance! And many of our dreams begin when we are young. I started my first novel when I was 9 years old. Only made it three chapters before I quit, but still. That's what I wanted, and I knew it.
I wrote Perilous when I was 12 years old. I finished it. It's true that the draft I wrote 15+ years ago is very different than what it is now, but it's the same story. Just several several several drafts later. Just because someone is young doesn't mean they can't accomplish something big. It's important to believe in oneself. To keep the future in mind. There's a girl at my church who, with her sister, raised enough money to build a library in Cambodia. They are teenagers. It is inspiring what young people can accomplish.
And you don't have to be pretty, popular, or rich. Oh, how I wish I had a picture of myself in junior high! My glasses were tinted and took up half my face. I wore my hair long and unstyled, usually with a clippy holding back half of it. The only clothes I had in my closet were t-shirts and jeans. I had friends and they thought my writing was silly. None of them wanted to read my drafts. They didn't care. And I certainly wasn't rich. We all joked that my first car would cost $50 and have no seats or flooring. We'd have to run to get it started just like a Flintstone car.
But I had notebook paper and a pencil and study hall. I wrote a book. And it got me somewhere.
Share with me one of your childhood dreams. Is it still a dream? Have you accomplished it? What are you doing to make it happen?
Image from http://www.iparentingcanada.com/articles/preteenagers/friends-or-foes-1187/2/.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
On to the subject of today: Cliffhangers! Merriam-webster defines a cliffhanger as "an adventure serial or melodrama; especially : one presented in installments each ending in suspense." So, basically in writing, what we'd call a series.
In my opinion, there are three different types of cliffhanger endings:
1) Book #1 has a complete resolution. You are left curious about the characters' lives and futures and would read book #2, but the conflict of book #1 is over. Think: The Boxcar Children, Sweet Valley Twins, etc.
2) Book #1 resolves one conflict, but a bigger one is left open. Or a new conflict begins right at the ending. This leaves the reader unresolved and eager to pick up the next book. Think: Fablehaven, Gregor the Overlander.
3) Book #1 is the first half of a story, and there is little or no resolution between book #1 and book #2. The story continues in book #2 right where book #1 left off. Sometimes the characters might think the story is resolved but the reader knows otherwise. Think: Lord of the Rings, The Hunger Games, Maze Runner.
In general, I think that #3 is becoming very popular. And I think it's a smart move on the part of publishers and authors. There's always the possibility that a reader forgets how much they liked the book and the characters between books #1 and #2, especially if there's a lengthy wait in between book releases. That's not likely to happen if there's no resolution. Those characters and that book are going to be on the forefront of the reader's mind, waiting for the ending. (Think: Harry Potter.)
Of course, there are always the moments when you pick up a book thinking it is a story on its own, only to reach the end and go, "No!!! I have to get the other book!!!"
Then there is always the chance that a publisher might be reluctant to take on your book if it's a #3 cliffhanger. After all, what if the book doesn't sell well? They're not going to publish your sequel. It's like asking them to take a chance on two books instead of just one. At least with a #2, the book can stand on its own.
What are your thoughts? Do you like series? What sort of cliffhanger do you like? What kind are you writing? (My book Perilous is a #3, btw. So be prepared to want the sequel.)
Friday, May 14, 2010
So for now, we're in that weird state where we're so excited that we got extra time, we've kind of quit doing things. Everything. I feel like a bozo. I quit cooking, quit writing, quit reading, quit teaching, quit exercising, everything so I could just spend time with my family.
That's gotta stop. I have to get back to doing the things that empower me.
I've got my editor's latest markups in front of me, and I'm going to get to work. I want to finish today feeling like I accomplished something besides unpacking.
What things have you noticed that make you feel more invigorated after doing them?
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Which would be wonderful. But to think we've gone through all this heartache, worry, taking the week off of work (for both of us)...just to find out that the military SCREWED UP, well...it's frustrating.
But on another note, I got the second half of edits back from my editor. I am excited to tackle this, though I don't intend to start until next week. And I've put my synopsis and my other novel on hold. Don't worry! I'll get back to them. Later. LATER.
I think this is our last round of edits before copyedits. I'm still scheduled for release in the fall. So we'll see, folks!
Thanks for all the well wishes. Please don't stop praying for us. We have no idea what's happening.
Monday, May 10, 2010
We got a call an hour ago from my husband's sergeant; he's been activated. He's scheduled to deploy later this week.
I don't want this change. No way.
Pray for us. It's for 13 months in Afghanistan. My husband and I are trying to get a one-month extension before deployment. I think that's the most we can hope for.
Sunday, May 9, 2010
Somewhere in there I'm supposed to write 3500 words a day. Ha ha!
You may or may not see another blog post from in that time. No commitments.
Friday, May 7, 2010
First, I have to clarify something. We're not choosing which novel for me to write. We're choosing which novel for me to write FIRST. All of these novels will get written eventually!
I was pleased to see that every novel had at least one vote. That means I have an audience for all of them, even if some of the audience is smaller than the others. That being said, right now I want to focus on the novels that have the biggest audience. The three most popular were Radio, Inevitable, and Mirror Image. I went to bed last night plotting beginnings to all three, not sure which would rise to the top.
But one rose. And it's Inevitable! Ha, how's that for a play on words! I'm so totally stoked about writing this book. I spent the last two hours writing an outline and a character bio.
Meet Jayne (yes, the name changed), our reluctant psychic. (BTW, if this picture disappears, let me know. I've had some issues attaching it.) Normally her hair is straight with a hint of wave to it. She's the only one her in family who doesn't have brown eyes. And when she Sees someone, her eyes turn a brilliant turquoise.
Doesn't she look sweet? She is. But also very reserved. Seeing everything she's Seen makes her a bit withdrawn.
Jayne's story will be about 60,000 words long, and it starts tomorrow. I'll keep you updated on how it goes!
Thanks for all your help!
2000 / 60000 words. 3% done!
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
So, I'm trying to decide which novel to write this month. I need to get started on this, outlining and all.
I was going to write the next one in my fairy tale series, but the response I'm getting from agents is that fairy tales aren't hot right now. (Okay, as Simon pointed out to me, I've only heard back from four.) But still, it's enough to make me rethink what I'm doing.
I need your help. I'm going to list some of my projects and try my hand at writing hooks. And you tell me which one you think I should work on and why. Of course, I'll base my final decision off my gut feelings, but I really want to know what you all think. And quickly. The month is passing! (oh, and don't decide based on the title--these are all working titles!)
1) Leza--a retelling of the Beauty and the Beast story, told in modern times with a fantasy twist, very similar to White as Snow. Leza's father arranges for her to marry a wealthy bachelor in order to relieve his financial debt. Leza agrees to it, but doesn't realize that the man she's marrying is not only chauvinistic creep, but is harboring some nasty secrets. YA/New Adult fantasy.
2) The Last Unicorn--A girl wakes up in a strange place with amnesia. She falls in love with the soldier who is taking care of her. As the days go by, she begins to remember snippets of her old life, and she realizes that she was a unicorn. She accepted a mission to become human so she could free the other unicorns. But if she fulfills her mission, she will transform back and never be with the man she loves. Based off the old cartoon, "The Last Unicorn." MG fantasy.
3) Caleb and Heather: A Love Story--Caleb realizes right after he starts his affair with Rose that he's made a mistake. But it's hard to break off something like that, especially when he feels so estranged from his wife, Heather. Heather, swamped with housework and a new baby and two other children, doesn't realize at first that Caleb is distant from the family. And when she realizes why, she has to decide if she wants to work through it or start over. Adult, chick lit?
4) Fairy Struck--Nicole begins meeting with a fairy boy every night in her dreams. Oddly enough, she notices that the magical things he teaches her at night, she can do during the day. But her ability to prevent horrible tragedies is stunted by her mortality. The boy tells her that she can stop things from happening if she wants to--but she has to become a fairy first. If she does, she won't be able to speak to those she loves except through their dreams. YA/MG fantasy
5) Inevitable--Kayla is psychic. When she meets certain people, she knows in one instant everything that will happen to them, all the way to how they will die. She has tried to change these events before but has found it impossible, so now she just tries not to care. And then she meets Ben. In the first moment, she knows she will fall in love with him and he will break her heart. Except this time, she's determined to change things. YA/New Adult fantasy
6) Golden Gates--A hundred years into the future, a conservative Christian community decides to isolate themselves from the world because they don't like the direction the world is going. Becca never feels the need to venture out of her familiar community until her brother runs away. Becca has two choices: let him go forever, or venture out into the world and try to bring him back. She leaves the community, and discovers a world both frightening and beautiful. Christian/Speculative fiction
7) Mirror Image--On the night Liesel's boyfriend breaks up with her, she discovers that she can find out the truth in what a person is saying--by using a mirror. When she looks at someone's reflection, all lies and euphemisms fly out the window, and she hears exactly what they mean. Then Liesel meets a man who seems to be saying exactly what he feels, truthfully. Liesel thinks she has finally found a perfect person--until she discovers he isn't human. YA Paranormal.
9) The Princess Wars--The princess and her lady-in-waiting are the best of friends and share everything--but that wasn't supposed to include the prince! When the princess and the prince meet at a banquet, they immediately hit it off. The princess leaves the banquet for a moment, asking her lady-in-waiting to keep him from talking to other girls, and while she is gone, the two fall in love. But it doesn't matter. The prince can't marry a servant girl. YA general fiction?
10) Radio--Conner is the starting quarterback on his high school football team, and he's only a junior. His parents let him have free reign, and even the cops ignore him if his team wins a game. He's only concerned with himself, and why not? He's the best. Then Conner's radio starts talking to him, and he can't make it shut up. Unless he does what it says, and sometimes the requests are HARD. He finds an ally in an unlikely place--a supersmart trumpet player in the band. She helps Conner fulfill his missions, and Conner finds himself turning into a person he hardly knows but really likes. YA/MG urban fantasy
11) Death Dare--Jared is certain he's created the ultimate machine: A machine that brings back the recently dead. The Revival Machine works on smaller animals, and so Jared puts his creation to the test and kills himself, leaving it up to his friends to revive him. Only it doesn't work. YA speculative fiction
Okay, yes, I know, that's a lot of would-be future projects. Help???
And no, that's not me in the picture. Just some guy whose picture I got from Wikipedia. Hopefully they know who he is.
What is a writer's platform? Basically, it's your special angle that sells you. Not necessarily your book (because you're an author and you write lots of different kinds of books), but you. And in selling you, the book will naturally follow.
It's the special angle that will get you into schools, libraries, luncheons, firesides, anywhere where you can go and talk to people. But remember: you're not going to plug your book. You're going to plug you.
How do you find your special angle? If you don't know your platform, you will after this blog. Let's get started. Sometimes it's easy and obvious. Answer these questions:
What kinds of books do you write?
Who is your audience?
Why do you write what you do?
Who do you hope to impact?
What is your long-term goal?
In answering those questions, you've started to come up with something to talk about. But now you need a one-sentence 'mission' that kind of encompasses you as a writer the way a query hook encompasses your book.
If you're like me, you can't think of anything because you keep thinking about your book. That's the thing: LEAVE YOUR BOOK OUT OF THIS. Of course it's going to be a part of it. But only because it's a part of you.
Look up a list of adjectives. Just Google it, you'll find lots. Now look at the good ones (hopefully you won't have anything negative to put as your special angle) and pick 3-4 that mean something to you. Here are the ones I chose: Reach, Empower, Elevate. These three words describe what I would like to have happen to people.
Now you've got your adjectives. Think about something in this world that you are passionate about and would like to do something about. This can be anything, though if you write non-fiction, it will very often be your book topic. Think now. Is it political? Financial? Educational? Be specific. "I want to change the way our president is voted into office." "I want to make the public education system safer for inner-school kids." Mine was: "I want there to be stronger families and fewer broken homes."
Okay. You've got your issue(s) and your adjectives. Now you are going to combine them. Attach those adjectives in however way you can, and you've got a strong, passionate mission. Here is mine: "Reaching children, empowering women, and elevating families through writing."
My platform doesn't have anything to do with the subject matter in my YA books. But it does have everything to do with WHY I write about what I do. And it has everything to do with how validated I feel as a woman, doing something like writing. And I can't think of a better way to help families than by helping the wives and children that are creating future generations. (The husbands just kind of get mopped in there.)
Now when I answer all of those questions above, I can think of my platform while doing so. I can target each group, depending on who my audience is.
Sharing time! What's your platform? (Even if you're not a writer, what's your mission statement for your business/life?)
Picture from http://internetceomoms.com/?roadtohealth
Monday, May 3, 2010
Exciting news for all is that we're MOVING!!! We are fortunate enough to have found a lovely townhouse, bigger than where we live now and much closer to hubby's work. We've started moving stuff over and should be completely moved in the next two weeks. Yay for us!
I'm working on my SYNOPSIS for White as Snow. I've avoided querying all agents that ask for a synopsis because I don't have one. So, I signed up for the synopsis workshop on Writing.com, and by the end of this month (if I do my homework) I'll have a synopsis! (This is free, btw. You just have to join and know how to find the workshop. Ask if you're interested.)
I'm also putting aside all other projects and starting a new one. I need a BREAK so I'm going to write a new novel. I have so many spinning around in my head, and I don't know when I'll hear back from my editor. Plus it will give all those agents a chance to ask for partials and then fight over me. :) So by the end of this month, I should have another under my belt! I hope!
And I'm finally getting a WEBSITE up. Luckily I'm not designing this, just paying for it. Hee hee. It might take longer than a month. Or it might not!
But that's MY work. Here's what I've got for you guys.
1) We're at 131 followers! That means I'm less than 20 away from 150. I still don't know what the prize will be, but there'll be a special megaprize for both Follower 150 and whoever brought Follower 150 to my blog.
2) Comments have been waning. Yawn. What good does it do me to have 131 followers but only six comments??? I want to hear from you guys! So, now there's an incentive. As part of MOVING, I'm discovering lots and lots of books. Some I've read, some I haven't, but most I don't need anymore. So, every time you comment during the month, you will be entered into a contest for a book. I haven't decided yet if I'll choose the book or let the winner choose. But that's ONE ENTRY for EVERY COMMENT. There, now you have a reason to comment!
I think that's it. More later!
What are your grandioso plans for this month?