Monday, April 30, 2012

Ideas anyone?

Where do you get your ideas?  I hear that a lot.  Do you?  It's kind of one of the hardest things to answer.  I know Susan Elizabeth Phillips, (non-LDS/fiction writer) always tells people that she gets them from a warehouse in Tulsa.  I think that's kind of funny.  But what makes a musician compose?  I know certain artists had muses, or certain models that they loved to paint, but lets be honest, they were usually just their girlfriends and they happened to be hanging around a lot, right?  But writers, what inspires you?  For me, it's the relationship between men and women.  That inspires me.  I love walking down the street and watching people and trying to figure out their story.  Have you ever seen a young woman stare at  a young man with adoration on her face and he's completely oblivious?  Or seeing two newly weds walking through a grocery store holding hands.  What's their story?  That's what inspires me.  I have a brother who happens to be inspired by zombies.  I know, go figure.  Turns out there are tons of people in the world who are.  I think the question should be, what doesn't inspire you, because the world is out there, and if you just open your eyes, (and your heart) you can't help but be inspired.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Weekend Excerpt! From The Broken Road

   "Ooh, this is working perfectly.  I don't know why I didn't even think of it," Sophie said delightedly as she munched on a lettuce wrap.
     Maggie clapped her hands together happily. "Did you see his face, Sophie?"
Allison looked at the two women curiously.  She had no idea what they were talking about.
"He looked like he wanted to strangle Trey! And I love Trey, so we can't allow that, but can you imagine?" Sophie said.
   Maggie nodded quickly.  "Where's Jacie?  Her plan needed step number six: make Will so jealous he can't see straight."
  Allison frowned and felt depressed all over again.  "Would you tow stop it? Will and I are over.  He told me when he got here that he just wanted to be friends with me.  There is no more plan.  It's over.  now, the good news is that I just met Trey, and he's a lot of fun.  I'm actually having a good time tonight, even with Daphne here.  So please just let everything else go," she pleaded.
     Maggie and Sophie looked at each other and grinned as both of them shook their heads.  "Not on your life, Allie," Sophie said with a toss of her red curls.  "Will is still in love with you.  While you were dancing with trey, he looked like he was going to burst into green flames."
Maggie grabbed Sophie's arm.  "No! He looked like he wanted to grab Allison, throw her over his shoulder, and run off with her."
     Allison laughed and rolled her eyes.  "Girls, the fairy tale is over.  Time for reality.  Will has what he wants.  He has Daphne."
     Maggie looked at her like she was demented.  "Fine, if you don't believe me, then why is Will standing over here staring at you like he's starving to death and you're chocolate cake?"
    Allison looked over Sophie's shoulder and caught Will staring at her as she stood by a window all by himself.  She swallowed nervously and tried to look away, but his eyes held her.  he didn't smile he didn't blink.  He just looked at her.  it was like magnet was pulling her.  She left Maggie and Sophie without saying another word and walked over to Will's side.
     "Are you okay? You look like you're mad at me," she said quietly.
Will grabbed her hand and pulled her closer.  "What are you trying to do to me?" he asked in a low, hard voice.
Allison shook her head.  "I'm not trying to do anything, Will.  Like you said, you want to be friends.  I tried everything I could to make things right with you.  You've moved on, Will.  It's time I did too." she said, pulling her hand away so she could walk back toward her friends.
But Will grabbed her elbow and made her turn back.  "I don't want you dating Trey Kellen," he said darkly.
Allison raised her eyebrows at that and yanked on her arm.  Will kept  tight possession of it though.  "I'll date who I want to Will.  Trey is a really nice guy.  I think you'd like him."
Will's smile was almost ferocious.  "I don't care if he's the nicest guy in the world.  I'm going to pound his face into the dirt if you dance with him one more time," he promised.
Allison's mouth fell open in shock.  "Don't you dare threaten him.  You can kiss and date whoever you want to, but I'm not allowed to dance with anyone?  Will, you're always telling me not to play games with you.  But you're the one who doesn't know what he wants," she said, yanking her arm away from Will furiously.
Will sighed and rubbed his face with his hands.  When he looked back at her, his eyes were just as intense.  "I know exactly what I want, Allison.  That's the problem."

(This is Copyrighted material)

Friday, April 27, 2012

The gift of writing

I've been thinking about writing and how it has changed my life. I'm wondering if it is a spiritual gift or a genetic gift or if I just said the same thing twice.  I've always thought of it as a gift from God and I'd remember that parable about the master handing out talents and that one guy who buried his.  I still don't get why he did that.  But then, when I look at my kids, I think, Holy cow. Writing is genetically coded into their cells just like the color of their eyes - because my kids can write.  They write WAY way, better than I did at their age.  I have a daughter who is an amazing poet.  And I'm not saying that in a fit of misdirected mom pride.  I'm in awe of her.  And my son could be a political writer for the NY Times yesterday.  Okay, I really do sound like I'm bragging here, but I swear that's not my objective.  I'm just pointing out that talent runs in our blood and it shows up in our kids.  And that goes for every parent out there.  Will it skip a generation? Sure, here and there.  I have a brother who is a great artist.  Did not get that gene.  But I have a couple children who did.  It's funny how it works, isn't it?  I think as parents, no matter what talent we have passed on to the next generation, we cultivate it.  We encourage it. And we get to watch it grow.  Now that's a gift.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Never Give Up

     I remember I was at a writer's conference with Allyson Condie and she was giving the big speach.  She read through a stack of rejection letters.  I'm talking big.  She went on and on and we got more and more depressed. For her, sure, but more for ourselves.  Because if Allyson Condie was getting rejected, oh my word, what was in store for us?  But then, she did it.  She read the very last letter.  And it was a great letter.  It was the type of letter that would have most of us running in the streets, yelling with joy and possibly skipping. Her book was accepted for publication.  By the way, that book that was accepted?  A little book called Match.  I'm sure you've seen it at Costco.  Hugely successful.  Hugely amazing.  You know the one.  So I'm not going to go on and on about this, but my point is: It only takes one YES.  Just one.  It doesn't matter how many no's you've heard.  I don't care.  It just takes one yes.  So if you have a manuscript you've submitted eight times.  Get it out.  Dust it off.  Go over it again and then try.  Keep trying and don't give up.  That and keep writing.  Because your next book might get accepted first which will pave the way for the previous one.  That's happened to me.  Anyone willing to try one more time?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I have to apologize - seriously

Ok, I have to apologize, but this is hilarious.  I had so many people view my blog yesterday, and so I was sitting there, scratching my head, and then it dawned on me.  Oh my word.  The shirtless guy on the horse!  Everyone was probably wondering if I'd taken a trip to the dark side. Would I throw away my LDS Author credentials for a life of gorgeous half naked men and half dressed ladies of ill repute?  So tempting, but nah.  Still G rated, thank you very much. But yes, I'm still giggling.  However, it does bring to mind: Sex sells.  Sex sells video games, music, movies and yes books.  I think the top book right now on Amazon (and I'm not printing the title because I'm not going to advertise it!), is pretty trashy.  I think the #1 book right now would make my shirtless horse rider from yesterday blush and run to put his shirt back on.  But why is the question.  Harry Potter, in my mind, is the most successful book series in the world/universe/existence etc. etc. besides the Bible of course.  Side note: The Bible has way more sex than the Harry Potter books.  Snogging Ron included.  But getting back to my point, Harry was so successful and he was PG rated.  Okay, okay, the movies were PG-13 but that was because of some seriously scary magic.  Let's get something like that back on top at my dear Amazon store.  Let's get good writing and fascinating plots back on top where they belong and get rid of the garbage.  Anyone disagree? 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Perfect Cover

I think a lot about book covers.  When you're an author and you've handed your baby into the hands of the publishing company, your biggest fear is the cover.  Will it look right?  Will it tell the story in one glance?  Will it embarrass me?  Am I going to hate the color?  Every time.  Since Do Over is in the hands of my publisher even as I write, I have to admit I'm already stressing it.  I was on amazon and decided to check out a couple covers.  Now this one tells the story in once glance:

Even the title has told you everything.  Half naked guy, horse, enough said.  Right?  Now just to see the difference, check out a fellow LDS author's cover:

 Now this cover leaves a little more to the imagination.  What's it about?  The title gives me some clues, but I have to admit I'm curious.  Better check it out.

Okay, now here's one:

This covers tells you a few things immediately.  1.) It's going to scare you.  2.) Holy crap where is that little boat going and why? 3.)  The clown is going to get somebody at sometime in this book.
So this cover did it's job right?  Might not be your cup of tea (oops, apple juice), but you have to admit it's effective.

Now just for kicks and giggles, lets look at one of my favorites:

I love this one because of it's simplicity.  The title and the simple image made an impact.  All time favorite and I don't even like pink. 
What's one of your favorite book covers?  Would love to know your thoughts on covers.

Monday, April 23, 2012

How to shock people

I do shock people.  A lot.  How? I tell them I write books.  Instant disbelief.  I'm not kidding.  I guess I don't look like a writer.  But what exactly is a writer supposed to look like?  Does every single writer have to wear glasses?  I believe that's a stereotype.  What else?  Oh, I'm not a man.  Yep, I'm a woman.  Come on people, it's 2012! Oh and the biggest one.  I'm a mom.  No way can a mom, and a mom of 6 kids write books.  That's probably the biggest shocker. I was talking to a man yesterday who had a really hard time believing I had actually written a book.  He and his wife were at my house and finally one of my kids went and grabbed a few novels to show him.  He was SO surprised. Yes, I got a cheap thrill out of that and yet, really?  That much surprise? Sigh.  What about you guys?  Any funny reactions to people finding out you write?  Would love to hear them!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Excerpt Weekend! From The Broken Road

“Think of it this way. There are two mirrors,” the bishop explained.

“One mirror is held up by Satan. The other mirror is held up by Heavenly

Father. Let me explain how your father can look in the mirror

every day and truly believe that he’s a great guy. When your father

looks in the mirror, he’s hearing Satan whisper in his ear, ‘Wow, what

an amazing man. You’ve done so much good in this world. You stop

missionaries in the street to give them money for lunch; you take them

out to dinner. You have a good heart. Okay, maybe you’ve had to bend

the rules a little here and there, but it’s the end result that matters.

Your intentions were always pure. What a good guy.’ ”

The young woman rolled her eyes. “That’s him perfectly.”

The bishop nodded and continued. “But if he turns and looks in

the mirror that Heavenly Father is holding up for him, it’s a different

story. He’s not going to hear what he wants to hear. Heavenly Father

will stand there and look at your dad, and he’s going to say, ‘I love you

with all my heart, but it’s time we do something about those fangs. I

have a Son who’s a great dentist. His pliers will hurt, but those fangs of

yours have damaged too many people. They’re getting too sharp. And

all that poison you have inside isn’t doing you any good. We’re going

to have to do a little open-heart surgery before it takes over your whole

body. My Son is a good physician, though; you can trust him. It will

hurt a lot, but he’s the best. And those scales you have all over your

body? We’ve got to do something about them. The only way to get rid

of those is with the refiner’s fire. It hurts a lot, but in the end, you’ll be

the man you were supposed to be.’ ”

The bishop smiled slightly as the young woman nodded. “Do you

see why your dad likes looking in Satan’s mirror more? It’s painless.

It’s pleasant. It makes him feel good. And it’s easy.”

The girl sighed heavily. “Yeah, I get it. But how do you honor a


Copyrighted Material


Friday, April 20, 2012

When it works without a formula

     So I was thinking after I posted yesterday about that formula of all formulas and I thought about all the stories that worked without it.  I thought first about The Help.  Girl did not get boy. He turned into a real racist jerk and dumped her hard.  But girl did get job of her dreams and Abilene got the job of her dreams and Minnie too. They all got some kind of freedom.  And freedom trumps cute boy everytime. Sorry cute boys, but it's true. So even without a satisfying love story, I feel satisified at the end of that. I leave that story feeling filled and not cheated.
      But lets look at Gone with the Wind.  Huge hit.  I've read it 3 times. (Southern heritage, sorry.) Girl falls in love with wrong boy, pines and pines and pines, get's super hot other guy instead.  Couldn't care less.  Overcomes everything, get's rich, but can't appreciate what she has, so she loses super hot guy.  Now  have to admit, I always leave this story, movie or book, feeling cheated. I want to scream through the streets, 'Wake up Scarlett!  Wake up you idiot!  Go get yer man back!'.  But alas, she never wrote a sequel.   But why was that book such an amazing success?  I'm not sure that I can answer that, because if I sat down right now to write a book similar to Gone with the Wind, it would be a disaster I'm sure of it.  Let me know if you figure it out though.
     Okay, one more and this is just for any male writers/readers out there.  Star Wars.  Yes, I did it, I dared to bring it up.  Let's go back in time to the first one.  Luke Skywalker, so darn cute.  And Leia with her buns. Who could resist that hair?  Love story made in Sci Fi heaven.  But then? What? They're brother and sister?  Oh my heck, can you get grosser? Is anybody still traumatized by that?  Leia does end up with Han Solo, which hello, makes up for quite a bit, but poor Luke.  And did he ever get a girl?  No!  Never did.  He hangs out with the Ewoks.  Tragic people.  Really.  And don't get me started on Anakin/Darth.  Now please don't send me mean emails, but I'm just looking at this from a formula perspective. As an epic saga? A masterpiece.  As a satisfying love story? Eh.
     So, as you write your story, you can use the beloved formula, or you can toss it to the curb and kill off your cute guy (Titanic anyone?). Or you can jump into the formula with both feet and enjoy the soft landing of your happily ever after.  Your choice.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

What's the formula?

I was asked by my brother what I do to get ready to write a new book.  Do I plot everything down on paper?  Do I ponder and analyze anything before I start?  Surprisingly no.  I guess if I had anything on the left side of my brain doing something like that would make sense.  But since I don't, I don't.  All I need is a story in my head.  Nothing huge, just an idea really and then I picture the main characters in my mind.  And then . . . I sit down and write.  But you'll hear the words formula a lot.  If you go to any writers conference you will hear the words formula over and over.  Boy meets girl, tons and tons of problems to keep girl away from boy, then everything is wonderful and perfect and then, oh no, wait, something even more horrible comes up that threatens the happiness and joy of everybody and then thank heavens by the last chapter everything is perfect and the guy gets the girl and you have your happily ever after. If you're sci-fi, add in a few space crafts and creatures.  If you're suspense, add in a murder. Etc. Etc. But that, boys and girls is the formula.  Are there other formulas out there that work well?  Of course, but this is the main event. Think of most of your classics and they'll fit. Take Pride and Prejudice, my fave. Love it! People have loved this book forever and it's still relevant.  It's still read and it's still enjoyed.  It's amazing what you can do with a good formula, isn't it? The question is, what are you going to do with it?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Want to write?

Okay, so here's the truth.  I am not a professionally trained writer.  Yep, I do not have a degree in English.  So how in the world can someone without a degree in English write a book?  Easy, I just do it.  I know, who do I think I am?  A mom with no credentials.  Well guess what?  You don't need a degree to write.  Please, for the sake of all who read it, know basic grammar, but other than that?  Jump off that cliff and start flying.  Seriously, flap your wings and start having fun.  Rule #1:  Have a story.  Rule #2:  Sit down at your computer and tell it.  Sound too simple?  Maybe, but it's the truth.  I will say this.  I love the book by Stephen King, On Writing.  Love it.  Don't worry, he won't scare you.  There will be no clowns, no kids coming back to life and no demonic children ghosts following you around creepy hallways.  No, it's just a simple book on how to write and how to do a good job of it.  Best book on writing I've ever read.  Read that and then get to work.  But most of all, and this is seriously the most important thing to remember about writing.  Have fun.  If it's work, what's the point?  If you think you should write about some serious subject because your boss or your grandma is going to read it, forget it.  It'll be horrible.  Sorry, just saving you paper and ink.  If you love reading Sci Fi, write a Sci Fi book.  If you love reading romances, then for heaven's sake write a romance and this way you control how it ends and who she ends up with.  Write for yourself and have fun doing it.  If you enjoy it, your readers will enjoy it and that my wonderful friends, is what it's all about.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

How do I find the time to write?

Every time I do a book signing, I hear the question, how do you write books when you're a busy mom? Yes, I do have six kids, and I am single, so life is crazy. And by crazy I mean, busy, wild, exhausting, insane and most of the time wonderful. Check out my blog, if you don't believe me.  So how do I write a book in between laundry and cooking and on and on and on? I write when I can.  Okay, that sounds like a dumb answer, but it's true.  I decided that I would choose to do something I love and something that brings me joy instead of say, watching TV.  Cut out 3 hours of watching TV a day and you have yourself a book. And those TV hours were usually when my little ones were put to bed.  I use to kiss my angels good night and then go plop right down in front of my favorite show and if I couldn't find a show then redbox was always there for me. But I wanted to write so I had to make a choice.  It was a choice of acting or being acted upon.  But I now have 9 published books and a contract signed on my newest manuscript.  I'm not telling you it's easy to cut the TV habit, but I am telling you it's worth it.  And I'm not perfect.  I'm obsessed with The Voice on Monday nights. (Who isn't?)   But that's the only show I watch.  Not lying. To gain something of great worth, you usually have to make a sacrifice and if getting rid of The Jersey Shore or The Kardashians is the only thing holding you back? Come on, what are you waiting for?

Monday, April 16, 2012

What's next for me?

So now that Do Over is done and safely in the arms of my publisher, I'm of course thinking of my next project.  I have been thinking of doing a paranormal book forever.  I love reading paranormal books so why not write one?  I just read the Hush Hush series by Becca Fitzpatrick and loved it.  It's YA and also written by an LDS author although not written for an LDS audience specifically.  I also read A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness and enjoyed that too.  So I thought, of course, I'll do a book about witches! Or something.  Fairies, whatever.  So I've been waiting for inspiration. Usually how it works with me, is that I think, hey, I want to write a new book, and thoughts about characters, plot ideas and situations start to fill my head.  But this time?  Nothing.  Seriously, zero.  So I've been thinking about the "well" for my inspiration and I don't think my well works with witches.  I think my well for inspiration comes from a source that enjoys the fact that I try and bare my testimony in some way, small or large, of Christ and his gospel.  Sooo, where does that leave me?  My witch book has now turned into a book idea of a girl with ESP or something along those lines.  Visions? Telekinesis? Did I even spell that right? Astral projection? Oh my heck the list goes on and on.  Let me know if you have a suggestion though! PS, this is not meant as a slam at Stephanie Meyers.  I love the Twilight Series along with every other eighth grader in the world.  I just know how it works for me and I'm not passing judgement on anyone else's source of inspiration.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Why Do I Write?

     I get asked this quite a bit.  Why do I write?  For some people, the thought of sitting down and writing a book would be torture.  Reading, now that's fun, right?  But writing, who has the time?  I write because it's just something I have to do.  I need to do it.  If I don't, things get ugly.  Writing keeps the volcano from erupting.  Writing keeps the clouds away.  Writing keeps me sane.  Period.  It cleanses my soul, not in an atonement kind of way, but in a throw the garbage out and make room for happiness kind of way.  I recently went through a divorce after 19 years of marriage and writing a book about a girl who ends her marriage was very cathartic.  I think, oops, I know that if you look through all of my past books, you'll see that every book is me dealing with some strange, weird or hard issue in my life.  Which is good. For me anyways.  I get to write about it, deal with it and then thankfully - let it go. Move on and be free.  I know that's why God gave us talents.  Each one of has one.  We just have to figure out what it is, use it, and make our lives better because of it.  Hopefully in the process we make someone else's life better too.  I know art, poetry and music uplift me.  I can't draw or paint, and I couldn't write a haiku if you had gun to my head.  And please don't sit next to me in church if you want to hear something pleasant.  But I'm so grateful for the people who do have those talents and who are brave enough to share them.  They cleanse.  They uplift.  They make me happy. I hope I can do that for someone else.

My new blog

Hey everyone!
Well, I switched over to a blog and got rid of my old icky website.  This will be more fun.  Sorry if you've tried to get in touch with me and hit a wall.  It's been a year of transitions to say the least.  But I'm on my best behavior now and promise to update you on my newest books and projects.  Right now I've just signed a contract for the last book in my Alpine series.  It's going to be called Do Over.  I'm sure you've read Makeover, Taking Chances and The Broken Road.  If not, you've got some catching up to do.  If you've been banging your head waiting for Trey's book, then relax.  Do Over is Trey's story and he meets his match in Iris Levine.  This girl is wild, which is exactly what Trey needs in his life.  This book is laid back, in your face, hilarious and touching.  I'll give you more details on a publication date when I get it.  In the meantime, go back and read some of my books that you might not have read  yet.  Soul Searching, A Trusting Heart or Forever Friends.