Monday, October 27, 2014

Praise to Authors - Whitney Awards

When you read a great book, you probably tell your friends about it, but did you ever think to 'tell' the author? Tell them with an award nomination. What author wouldn't want to be recognized by their readers in this way? It's one of the highest forms of praise. 

About this time of year, the buzz starts over which LDS (members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) authors' books you have loved throughout the year. Yes, I am talking about the Whitney Awards and it's time to think of which books you might nominate.
I care because this is the community of authors that I associate with and they put out some great books. I care because I will be eligible next year when my first novel is published. If we take the time to read any fiction over 50,000 words by an LDS author, and loved the book, shouldn't we say so with a nomination? It takes X number of days to finish a great book, but takes about one minute to nominate. Easy-peasy. Just go to www.whitneyawards.com for all the info you might want, and click the word nominate. The authors will love you for it.

I'm heading over to my Goodreads 'read' list to see which ones I loved that qualify. Then I'll go do the easy-peasy thing. How about you? Can you spend a minute to praise an author or two?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Book Review and Reading Variety

Product Details
The Great American Family Reunion Cookbook is the perfect title for this new book by Lori Nawyn. Not only is it a cookbook with recipes especially geared toward family gatherings, fifty states are highlighted with recipes and state notes or tips. Food is the focus, of course, but you will also find motivation, ideas for themes and activities, and go-with menus. You'll want to peruse the entire book, drooling at some of the recipe titles and getting non-food ideas. When you're ready to try something out, a nice table of contents will help readers remember and find anything in the book. I recommend it as a gift to yourself or for the head honcho of your next family reunion.

Does 'reading' a cookbook count as reading? You bet it does. Especially ones like the above that include more than recipes. Even comic books count, but let's not get carried away. Variety adds spice to life.

Do your reading habits include different genres of fiction and non-fiction? I hope so. Especially if you're a writer. Writers learn from different authors by focusing on their strengths and weaknesses. One may be good at dialogue, another description or characterization. Reading a variety helps us know what is out there, to view different writing styles and language, and let's us find new things to love or discover why we don't like something. It's all good. Happy reading!



Monday, October 13, 2014

Dreams: My Writing Journey to Success, Part 2 of 2

How I wrote and submitted my Book of Mormon fiction was discussed in the previous post. Well, the condensed version anyway. Let's start at the point of me moving on to other projects (because, yeah, I'm serious about this and that's what writers do) while playing the waiting game to hear from publishers. I get beta reader feedback from a new source during this time, and it's significantly thorough. Great suggestions that I both begin to implement and regret not having the publishers see. I'm feeling like the copy I sent out is not good enough, so I gear myself up for rejection. I still figure I will improve upon this manuscript and self-publish if need be. After all, I believe I have a worthwhile story to share and I can get it to the level it needs to be.

One publisher sent back a rejection. Two weeks later after a long day, I remembered I hadn't checked my email. I quietly slipped into bed and grabbed my phone. My husband needed to get up early and had already gone to bed. Scrolling through the emails, I see one from the publisher that I most hoped would accept my book. My breath caught with excitement before I remembered to expect rejection. To my surprise, the publisher loved my character and wanted to publish the book! Hooray! 

If I had been on my feet I would have done the happy dance and let out a squeal. But I was flat on my back, trying to be quiet, and stunned. My tired mind wondered whether to wake hubby. My energized body didn't want to relax. A minute or two of indecision went by, and then hubby rolled over. I whispered, "Are you awake?" He was now, and I shared the good news. Not the way I imagined this milestone.

The book was slated for about fourteen months out. More waiting while working on other things. I'm beginning to realize how new authors may have their second books ready to come out shortly after the first. During this time, I see the actual contract and wonder if this is really best for me. I'll start with requesting a few changes. More time passes as the request may or may not have been sent to the correct person. They finally let me know they are working on a new company contract. 

In the end, my choice was to sign the new contract and go with the publisher. The current target date could be as early as February 2015. Covenant is attempting to push it through the channels as fast as they can. We shall see how the round of edits goes, but at least my editor will start with my current changes. Don't worry, I'll keep you updated. It's an interesting process.

Where are you in your writing journey to success?

Monday, October 6, 2014

Dreams: My Writing Journey to Success, Part 1 of 2

Expect your dreams to come true, but the road is not always as expected. It will be longer and harder than first imagined. It will also be worth it. 

Once upon a time I read a certain book and thought, I can write something that good, so I took on the task. I had always enjoyed creative writing back in my school days. My new project fulfilled me creatively and I spent several months until I had a completed manuscript. That in itself gives a great sense of accomplishment. Was it any good? I really didn't know. It was time to risk sharing it with others.

Parts were interesting, but it was in no way refined. A close relative really liked one of the chapters. This, I learned later, was where the greatest conflict lay. I had much to learn. Imagine that. A big goal was completed and the next phase set aside for a busy year of building a home.

Once settled in our new home, a neighbor found out of my interest in writing and asked me to join a critique group. I didn't realize how much this would teach me. It is stimulating to see your writing grow by leaps and bounds--fueling my desire. I started a new project and attended a few writer's conferences. My eyes were opened wider.

I entered the polished first chapter (meaning several tweaks and critical eyes had scanned it) into two contest, winning first place in both for my category. More fuel. I could do this! I worked to get the rest of the story, then titled The Seventh City, into shape. It had a problem in the climax that I didn't know how to fix, but I figured I had done my best. Finding very few beta readers to give feedback, I grew impatient and submitted my story to a few publishers. It came back REJECTED.

This would be an easy place to give up. But I loved writing and felt I had something to offer, so I went on to another project. After a break, I came back to the award-winning story and worked through a fix to the climax. One beta reader was especially helpful and I revised a bit more. I submitted again, including the best fit for my LDS audience, telling the publisher that changes had been made.

I received two rejections and then ... an acceptance! Doing the Happy Dance. The new title is Secrets of the King's Daughter: A Book of Mormon Romance.

How long did it take for my dream to come true? I should have kept better track, but I'm going to guestimate here. Keep in mind that your schedule will be different.
  • Writing the first draft had to take 1 1/4 years with sending my critique group pages nearly every week.
  • Revisions would take another few months, say 1/4 year.
  • Waiting for readers to complete an entire read-through took another 1/4 year.
  • Miscellaneous time ignoring the book and later readying for submissions, 1/4 year. 
The dream of writing a complete novel worthy of publication took me at least 2 years. You could be a faster/slower writer, have less/more writing time available, or need less/more craft development. But hey, time is going to pass by anyway, so go for it!
That was 1.5 years ago. Find out what happened next in the next post.

Monday, September 29, 2014

A Book Shout and Stimulate Your Writing: My Newest Writing Project


I'm excited to share the news of my brother's new book, Our Savior Jesus Messiah. This is a major non-fiction work (the first of three volumes) that has taken him three decades to research and put together--and he's practically giving it away! You can have your own copy about the most important person who ever lived for the cheapest price Amazon will go. Great gift idea too. Click here to read a sample or get yours. Check it out!


Some days I switch writing projects that I'm working on, especially if I get stuck on one of them. A change of pace can be revitalizing to one's writing. Writing something as short as a letter or a blog post can get those creative juices flowing, get you in the writing mode, and before you know it, a task is accomplished. Check mark. 

Recently I was asked to write my own 2,000+ word life sketch for a family project. Ugh, one more thing. Sounded daunting at the start, but what fun to have old memories surface! If you need a break or some stimulation, try a small-scale personal history. There are online worksheets using fill-in-the-blank questions for the basics, and ideas for fleshing out more details. Or just write as the memories flow. Your family will love having these recorded. In fact, you may wish to do your own history or that of an elderly loved one to give as a holiday gift.

Suggestions to Stimulate Writing: 
   Do ten minutes of writing by hand. It stimulates the creative side of your brain. 
   Start with a writing exercise, letter, or blog post--anything to get writing. 
   Clean up your work space and get a comfortable chair/pillow. Put distractions out of sight.
   Set a timer for 15 uninterrupted minutes. Ignore the phone and, if possible, settle the kids into a do-it-yourself activity. 
   Get inspired by reading someone else's writing, a writer's conference, or your critique group. 
   Set a small goal or two that you can realistically achieve today. Be sure to write goals down so you can check them off later. (That part feels good.)
   Reread the last few paragraphs of what you wrote last so you can get into the story again. (I use this one all the time.)
   Adjust your attitude. Be excited that you get to write today! Even 100 words is more than you had yesterday.
What works for you?