Monday, February 28, 2011

The Best Writers Conference Ever & A Contest Too!


I credit this writers conference with my success at becoming a published author. I have so many wonderful friends from this prestigious group and I want to share them with you!
I'll also be presenting at this conference in May and it'd be great to see you there.

 There's a contest and today is the last day to enter! That means you have until midnight today, February 28th to get this done, so act NOW!

First, register for the LDStorymakers Writer's Conference. (To do this, click here.)

Second, check out this blog, where you'll find information about a contest in which you can earn a 30 page manuscript critique from esteemed agent Sara Megibow, and/or a seat at a table with other highly respected agents, editors, and bestselling authors.
The rules are simple, and the prizes are . . . well, let's just say you'll love them.
They are as follows:

On Friday, three lucky winners will receive a reserved seat at the 8th Annual LDStorymakers Writers Conference for Friday night dinner. Also seated at the table will be:

Literary Agent Sarah Crowe

Author Larry Brooks

Senior Editor Marcia Markland

Author James Dashner
 Becca Stumpf

And one lucky grand prize winner will receive a 
30 page manuscript review by Sara Megibow.

So how do you want a chance to win these fabulous prizes? You'll need to register for the conference. You can do so here. Good luck!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Thursday Thought February

Always remember those

Who  serve.

In the  days when an ice cream sundae cost much less,

A  10-year-old boy entered a hotel coffee shop  and

Sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of  water in

Front of him.

"How  much is an ice cream sundae?" he asked.

"Fifty  cents," replied the waitress.

The  little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket  and

Studied the coins in  it.

"Well, how much is a plain dish of  ice cream?" he inquired.

By now more  people were waiting for a table and  the

Waitress was growing impatient..

"Thirty-five cents," she brusquely  replied.

The little boy again counted  his coins.

"I'll have the plain ice  cream," he said.

The waitress brought  the ice cream, put the bill on

The table and  walked away The boy finished the ice

Cream,  paid the cashier and left..  When the  waitress

Came back, she began to cry as she  wiped down the

Table.  There, placed  neatly beside the empty dish,

Were two nickels  and five pennies..

You see,  he  couldn't  have the sundae, because he  had

To have enough left to leave her a tip.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Book Review of Dearly Departed by Tristi Pinkston

Ida Mae
Babbitt rides again!

Ida Mae Babbitt may be a reformed woman, but trouble just can't stay away.

* I was so excited to read the latest Secret Sisters mystery. Tristi is a stellar author and this book was so much fun! I devoured it quickly, laughed at the delightful wit used by these Sister detectives, and enjoyed the page-turning twists in the plotline. I have found it difficult to find mysteries that are clean and enjoyable to read, so this is why I'm thrilled to recommend Dearly Departed to you. You'll enjoy the fun characters and the brain-itching mystery they set out to solve.

Follow the blog tour for Dearly Departed by Tristi Pinkston and learn
about Ida Mae's latest adventure.

We will be giving away THREE copies of Dearly Departed . One
GRAND PRIZE winner will win this fun
scrap booking pack.

It's easy to enter.
1. Visit the fabulous reviews and leave a comment letting us know why
you're excited to read Dearly
. Remember to include your email address.
2. For an additional entry become a follower of Walnut Springs Press blog,
Tristi's blog, or any of the fabulous reviews blog. Leave a comment letting
us know who's blog you now follow.
3. If you tweet about the blog tour, or post about it on your blog or
facebook, leave the link in the comments section and you'll receive an
additional entry for each post.

Good Luck! Entries close at midnight (MST) on March 6th.

Ida Mae Babbitt has done her community service and is a reformed
woman - no more law-breaking for her. But when Arlette's granddaughter
Eden discovers a mystery in a fancy nursing home, Ida Mae - with the
perfect excuse of a broken wrist and a broken ankle - checks herself into
the place. After all, it is for the greater good. Soon she's buzzing
around in her motorized wheelchair, questioning the residents and swiping
files from the office. She's bound and determined to get to the bottom of
this case. But can she solve the mystery before she becomes the next

February 16th
Starcrossed book
(Nichole Giles)

Febraury 17
(Karlene Browning)

February 18
Heather Justensen

February 21
Elizabeth Mueller

February 22
LDS Women's Book Review (Shanda

February 23
Rachelle Writes
(Rachelle Christensen)
Hard But Oh So Worth It
(Kimberly Coates)

February 24
Fire and Ice (Heather

February 28
Cheryl's Book Nook
(Cheryl Koch)

March 1
JDP News (Joyce DiPastena)

March 2
Teri Rodeman

March 3
Why Not? Because I Said
(Sheila Stayley)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Whitney Award Finalists

I have been reading a bunch of great books lately and I'm excited to share a list of books on my to-read list: The Whitney Award Finalists.
I'm pretty excited about this list, which is made up of authors who belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but the books do not have to be specifically LDS. You'll notice books in every genre and market on this list. I'm also excited about this list because if you look closely you'll notice that I am on this list! Yes! Wrong Number was selected as a finalist and I'm so happy to be grouped with the other stellar authors in the mystery/suspense genre.

Here's the list of finalists, books published in 2010:

  • Courting Miss Lancaster, by Sarah Eden
  • Cross My Heart, by Julie Wright
  • The Legend of Shannonderry, by Carol Warburton
  • Luck of the Draw, by Rachael Renee Anderson
  • Meg’s Melody, by Kaylee Baldwin
  • Cold As Ice, by Stephanie Black
  • Crossfire, by Traci Hunter Abramson
  • Murder by Design, by Betsy Brannon Green
  • A Time To Die, by Jeffrey Savage
  • Wrong Number, by Rachelle Christensen
  • Imprints, by Rachel Ann Nunes
  • Mr. Monster, by Dan Wells
  • Pathfinder, by Orson Scott Card
  • The Scorch Trials, by James Dashner
  • The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson
Youth Fiction—Speculative:
  • Fablehaven 5, by Brandon Mull
  • Matched, by Ally Condie
  • Paranormalcy, by Kiersten White
  • The Forbidden Sea, by Sheila Nielson
  • The Fourth Nephite, Jeffrey Savage
Youth Fiction—General:
  • Glimpse, by Carol Lynch Williams
  • Missing in Action, by Dean Hughes
  • My Double Life, by Janette Rallison
  • The Healing Spell, by Kimberly Griffiths Little
  • Wolves, Boys, and Other Things That Might Kill Me, by Kristen Chandler
  • Alma The Younger, by H.B. Moore
  • Oh Say Can You See?, by L.C. Lewis
  • The Sheen on the Silk, by Anne Perry
  • The Silence of God, by Gale Sears
  • Trespass, by Sandra Grey
General Fiction:
  • Band of Sisters, by Annette Lyon
  • Blink of an Eye, by Gregg Luke
  • The Cross Gardener, by Jason Wright
  • Finding Mercie, by Blaine Yorgason
  • Lucky Change, by Susan Law Corpany
Best Novel By A New Author :
  • Wrong Number, by Rachelle J. Christensen
  • The Forbidden Sea, by Sheila Nielson
  • Paranormalcy, by Kiersten White
  • Wolves, Boys and Other Things That Might Kill Me, by Kristen Chandler
  • Meg’s Melody, by Kaylee Baldwin
You can read more about the Whitney Awards here, but I'll tell you that the books go through a judging panel that includes publishers, authors, and book reviewers and 5 finalists are selected for each genre. As a member of LDStorymakers, I have the opportunity to vote on the finalists. In order to vote, I have to read all 5 books in each category. I anticipate being able to read most of the books, so we'll see how it goes! Wrong Number
Because Wrong Number is my first novel, I am also up for the award of Best Novel By a New Author. I'm excited to read the books in that category as well.
I look forward to sharing some of my reviews with you, so stay tuned.
Have you read some of the books on this list? Do you have any favorites?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Thursday Thought February

Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read.
One does not love breathing.
--Harper Lee

Isn't that quote phenomenal? Harper Lee wrote To Kill a Mockingbird, an all-time classic and one of my favorites!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

TAG! You're It Tuesday at Christine's Blog

My friend, Christine Bryant AKA DayDreamer has a fantastic blog and she's always doing fun things.
Today, I'm a guest because I was tagged by someone else last week. Pop on over and see what it's all about and read what I have to say. I think you might learn something new and hopefully useful today.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Valentine for My Friends

Happy Valentine's Day!
I love my family and my sweet little kids. It was so fun this year to watch my second-grader fill out her Valentine's for her class. It brought back a sweep of memories as I watched her sort through the cards and choose just the right one for each person in her class. I remember doing that!
I remember trying to find just the right card for the boy that I had a crush on--one that wasn't too obvious, but also conveyed some subliminal cue that I was definitely someone he should notice.
I also remember selecting the most special card for my best friends--ones that conveyed a message of how glad I was to have such great friends.
 I want to give a Valentine to all of my friends today.
heart clipart envelope

To all of my followers and blogging buddies-- thank you for your comments. It has been so fun getting to know you and I've made so many wonderful new friends through my blog. Thanks for being patient when I rant, for cheering me on when I succeed, and holding me up when I fail. I appreciate what you add to my life and I hope that you have a wonderful Valentine's Day 2011!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Come Visit Me at Renae's Blog

Renae interviewed me over on her blog, Renae's Writespot
She asked some interesting and fun questions. Pop on over and you can find out a little bit more about me and my writing process.
Here's the link to the interview

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Reprint of WRITERS ON WRITING; Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle

I just read a fantastic piece someone sent to my author's guild and I wanted to share it.
These tips are valuable and I incorporate many of them when I'm searching my manuscript for ways to polish. I'm in editing mode right now with my next novel, so this was a great review.
This guy has published a ton of books so his tips are a great handbook to write by.

Elmore Leonard's Ten Rules of Writing
Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle

from the New York Times, Writers on Writing Series.


These are rules I've picked up along the way to help me remain invisible when I'm writing a book, to help me show rather than tell what's taking place in the story. If you have a facility for language and imagery and the sound of your voice pleases you, invisibility is not what you are after, and you can skip the rules. Still, you might look them over.

1. Never open a book with weather. If it's only to create atmosphere, and not a character's reaction to the weather, you don't want to go on too long. The reader is apt to leaf ahead looking for people. There are exceptions. If you happen to be Barry Lopez, who has more ways to describe ice and snow than an Eskimo, you can do all the weather reporting you want.

2. Avoid prologues.

They can be annoying, especially a prologue following an introduction that comes after a foreword. But these are ordinarily found in nonfiction. A prologue in a novel is backstory, and you can drop it in anywhere you want.

There is a prologue in John Steinbeck's "Sweet Thursday," but it's O.K. because a character in the book makes the point of what my rules are all about. He says: "I like a lot of talk in a book and I don't like to have nobody tell me what the guy that's talking looks like. I want to figure out what he looks like from the way he talks. . . . figure out what the guy's thinking from what he says. I like some description but not too much of that. . . . Sometimes I want a book to break loose with a bunch of hooptedoodle. . . . Spin up some pretty words maybe or sing a little song with language. That's nice. But I wish it was set aside so I don't have to read it. I don't want hooptedoodle to get mixed up with the story."

3. Never use a verb other than "said" to carry dialogue.

The line of dialogue belongs to the character; the verb is the writer sticking his nose in. But said is far less intrusive than grumbled, gasped, cautioned, lied. I once noticed Mary McCarthy ending a line of dialogue with "she asseverated," and had to stop reading to get the dictionary.

4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb "said" . . .

. . . he admonished gravely. To use an adverb this way (or almost any way) is a mortal sin. The writer is now exposing himself in earnest, using a word that distracts and can interrupt the rhythm of the exchange. I have a character in one of my books tell how she used to write historical romances "full of rape and adverbs."

5. Keep your exclamation points under control.

You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose. If you have the knack of playing with exclaimers the way Tom Wolfe does, you can throw them in by the handful.

6. Never use the words "suddenly" or "all hell broke loose."

This rule doesn't require an explanation. I have noticed that writers who use "suddenly" tend to exercise less control in the application of exclamation points.

7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.

Once you start spelling words in dialogue phonetically and loading the page with apostrophes, you won't be able to stop. Notice the way Annie Proulx captures the flavor of Wyoming voices in her book of short stories "Close Range."

8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.

Which Steinbeck covered. In Ernest Hemingway's "Hills Like White Elephants" what do the "American and the girl with him" look like? "She had taken off her hat and put it on the table." That's the only reference to a physical description in the story, and yet we see the couple and know them by their tones of voice, with not one adverb in sight.

9. Don't go into great detail describing places and things.

Unless you're Margaret Atwood and can paint scenes with language or write landscapes in the style of Jim Harrison. But even if you're good at it, you don't want descriptions that bring the action, the flow of the story, to a standstill.

And finally:

10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

A rule that came to mind in 1983. Think of what you skip reading a novel: thick paragraphs of prose you can see have too many words in them. What the writer is doing, he's writing, perpetrating hooptedoodle, perhaps taking another shot at the weather, or has gone into the character's head, and the reader either knows what the guy's thinking or doesn't care. I'll bet you don't skip dialogue.

My most important rule is one that sums up the 10.

If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.

Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can't allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative. It's my attempt to remain invisible, not distract the reader from the story with obvious writing. (Joseph Conrad said something about words getting in the way of what you want to say.)

If I write in scenes and always from the point of view of a particular character—the one whose view best brings the scene to life—I'm able to concentrate on the voices of the characters telling you who they are and how they feel about what they see and what's going on, and I'm nowhere in sight.

What Steinbeck did in "Sweet Thursday" was title his chapters as an indication, though obscure, of what they cover. "Whom the Gods Love They Drive Nuts" is one, "Lousy Wednesday" another. The third chapter is titled "Hooptedoodle 1" and the 38th chapter "Hooptedoodle 2" as warnings to the reader, as if Steinbeck is saying: "Here's where you'll see me taking flights of fancy with my writing, and it won't get in the way of the story. Skip them if you want."

"Sweet Thursday" came out in 1954, when I was just beginning to be published, and I've never forgotten that prologue.

Did I read the hooptedoodle chapters? Every word.

Here is the link to this post

Friday, February 4, 2011

Love Notes

The other day I was looking through my writing folder on my computer and found some old gems that I had completely forgotten about. One was an essay I wrote titled “The Best Husband in the World” to nominate my husband for something. I wrote it back when we only had two kids—now we have four. It’s funny I can’t remember what I was nominating him for, but everything I wrote in that essay still rang true.

I read it and thought, Wow! My husband really is the best husband in the world. He is amazing and I need to tell him. So I sent a quick email and attached that old file and told him, “I love you and all of this is still true, plus more.”
Here’s an excerpt from what I sent:

Steve has made me feel valuable as a person because he respects what I do and he always encourages me to follow my dreams. One of my dreams is to be a writer and he often gives me time to write while he plays with the kids. No matter how unreachable my goals may seem, he believes in me. It’s so inspiring to have someone beside you who thinks you are so amazing that you can do whatever you put your mind to. When other people doubt or discourage, he is cheering me on.

He opened the email at work the next morning and told me it was the highlight of his day. He wrote me a nice note back and I believe those notes colored the rest of my day. I was wearing rose-colored glasses, life was good and I just kept thinking about how I was married to the best man in the world.

The next day I went to throw something in the garbage only to find that while my hubby was cleaning up the miscellaneous newspaper ads he inadvertently threw my magazine (that had arrived the same day as the ads) in the trash. Normally, I might not have been very nice in telling him that he had accidentally thrown away my magazine. But then I remembered the love notes and I decided the best husband in the world deserved a little more credit and patience. I handled the situation with kindness and my husband reciprocated.

For the next few days we exhibited extra kindness and love toward each other all because of a simple love note. This is not the first time this has happened, but I’m always amazed how something so simple can create such an effect.

I’m lucky to be married to a very thoughtful man who will often leave me thank you notes or send an email saying thanks for taking care of the kids or getting up in the middle of the night to care for the baby. Each time I find a note, no matter how frazzled or grumpy I might be with my kids—I can’t help but smile.

Who doesn’t like to be noticed, appreciated, and thanked?
It’s such a simple thing but it makes a big difference. My husband also enjoys receiving short notes of thanks and love. Sometimes I leave a sticky note on the bathroom mirror for him to see in the morning or if he goes on a business trip I’ll tuck notes into his suitcase.

Love notes aren’t just for spouses; you can give a love note to anyone. Here are a few ideas that take a small amount of time, but provide great dividends.

The first time I made a lunch for my second-grader this year I included a small note that took me ten seconds to write. The next time I made her a lunch, she said “Will you put a note in my lunch?” and now she looks for a little note each time she takes a lunch to school. Something that seemed inconsequential to me was of great importance to her.

Write a love note, a thank you note, or just a note that says, I see you. I know you’re there and I notice the things you do each day. Sometimes we feel as if no one really understands the work we do each day, the effort it takes just to keep a smile on our face. When someone takes note, the burdens of life seem so much lighter.

Give a love call. If you’re not into writing notes, pick up the phone and tell someone how much you appreciate them today.

Write a note to your children or grandchildren. I have a box full of old notes from past to present. Every once in a while, I pull that box out and read some of those notes. The sentiments from those cards and letters never fades or expires. Some of the people who wrote those notes have passed away but I still have something tangible from them that says “I love you.”

Send an email or a text that says, “Thank you for being you!” or “I’m so grateful you are a part of my life.”

Life will never slow down for us, so we have to make a special effort to remember the little things that make a big difference. I challenge you to take a moment today to send a love note to someone who might need a boost. Tell that person how much you care and be ready for the joy you’ll feel in return.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Thursday Thought

The quote today is from a famous football coach, one of my husband's favorite football heroes because he coached the Green Bay Packers. The NFL Super Bowl trophy is named after Lombardi.

Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.

--Vince Lombardi

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Author Interview with Cheri Chesley

Today I'm happy to welcome new author, Cheri Chesley, to my blog for a little interview. Cheri wrote The Peasant Queen  and here's a bit about the book which is a Young Adult Fantasy:

After running away from home, Krystal is transported to a faraway kingdom where an evil tyrant is bent on taking the crown - and Krystal's hand in marriage. But when she falls in love with the rightful heir to the throne, she must make an impossible choice: sacrifice her one chance at happiness or face the destruction of an entire kingdom. 

What inspired you to write The Peasant Queen? I wrote The Peasant Queen because of Krystal. This character came to me, and wouldn't leave me alone. She fascinated me. Then, my villain, Gregory, got into my head. He's why the story has never died.

What is your favorite and least favorite thing about writing? I love those flashes of lightning when a scene or character motivation just fills your head, and you can't wait to get it on paper. It's so exhilarating. Conversely, I hate sitting there in front of my computer knowing what I want to happen next and having no idea how to word it.

Do you have a favorite author, book, or genre of books you'd like to share? Hmm, I'm really bad at narrowing things down to a single favorite. I read what I'm in the mood to read--fantasy, romance, historical, mystery/suspense--and when I like a book, it's more to do with how it made me feel than how that book looks on a literary dissecting table. But I think, right now, my favorite book is the one I'm writing. That's how it should be for an author, right? :)

What are a few of your hobbies or what do you do when you're not writing and raising a family? :) I love to create (no surprise there). And, though I don't excel at any particular hobby, I love to bake, sew and photograph. I really enjoy taking scraps and seeing what I can do with them.

The Peasant QueenWhat advice do you have for aspiring authors? Never give up! It took me nearly twenty years to honestly accept writing was my path. I dreamed about being a writer, hoped to be a writer, but it took that acceptance before I could actually work to make it a reality. People are going to tell you, all through your journey, that you aren't good enough. And while it's always good to take constructive criticism and advice--you don't have to listen to the ones who are just trying to tear down that precious part of your individuality.

Thanks Cheri! It was fun learning more about you. You can visit Cheri's blog here
and The Peasant Queen is available wherever books are sold.


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