Showing posts from 2006

What are you calling it?

This is probably the most common question I get from readers about whatever my current work in progress is.

Sadly, I never have an answer for it. I no longer name my books as I write them, and I haven't for a few years now.

Why? For starters, authors rarely get to have any say in their titles.

That can come as a surprise to aspiring writers who spend hours concocting the perfect title and imagine it emblazoned on a stack of books at their favorite bookstore.

But the reality is that the marketing department gets to pick the title, and an author is extremely lucky to have any say at all. Every book I've submitted has hit shelves with a different title than I gave it. (The closest I've come is with book #3: the title I suggested had the word "house" in it. The final title was House on the Hill.)

I think most authors will be honest and admit that there's a part of us that hates having no control over the title. It's MY baby; why can't I have a say in what it&#…

Blogging for a Friend

Jeff Savage, long-time friend and member of my critique group, is part of a great blog circle made up of six LDS writers (and, apparently, a frog).

Each writer takes a day of the week for their posts. In addition to Jeff, there's Kerry Blair, Sariah Wilson, Robison Wells, Julie Bellon, and Stephanie Black. You can spend a frightening amount of time reading their entries as you laugh your head off one minute and learn something about writing the next. It's great fun.

This week Jeff is having fun with his family at the Happiest Place on Earth. Word also has it that today he has set up shop at a table in New Orleans Square and is writing to his heart's content while his family plays. This is his family's third time to Disneyland this year, and they have a season pass, so getting in cost him nothing. Talk about a writer's dream!

As a result, he asked if I'd sub for him on his blog this week, so I did.

Check it out. It was posted December 12, 2006 (Tuesday).

So now that …

Time of birth: 1:05 pm

YES!!! My "baby" is born!

Today I officially finished my manuscript.

I have a few things to thank for it. In part, I have a suspicion that the planets aligned just right. And a few panicked prayers were definitely heard.

For starters, yesterday I managed to get some work done thanks to two big things.

One: The migraine medicine finally kicked in after three hours (how's that for an odd time table?). So by 11:00 am I was almost pain free--feeling a bit off center and more liable to make typos, but relatively close to my normal self. At least close enough to do some writing.

Two: When my friend picked up her kids, she took pity on me and swept away my sweet little four-year-old to her house. She also took my daughter to her tumbling class, fed her lunch, and tended her until my the kids were out of school and I sent one of them down to pick her up.

Then today another dear friend tended my daughter as a favor after I had helped her with some editing on her own manuscript last wee…

Migraine, anyone?

Murphy must be laughing his head off. Aside from having four smoke alarms lose their batteries in three weeks (see my "CHIRP" blog about that), I'm having trouble getting my book finished. I promised my editor to have it to her by Christmas, and I'm still working toward that goal

Backing up a bit--the Relief Society president in my ward is out of town for her father's funeral, so I needed to go to Enrichment last night (being as I have the building keys for now as her counselor). Besides, December is one of the few times of the year that I don't meet weekly with my critique group, so I figured it would be good to actually be part of the ward for once.

I've been on the final push to finish my current manuscript (my next historical temple book, this one a romantic novel centered on the Salt Lake Temple). I've gotten a ton done and figured I was right on track to finish up this book between Thursday and Friday, so I could afford to not work on it last nigh…


This is the time of year that I tend to do what I refer to as the headless chicken dance. For the third year running, my sisters and I are producing the Utah Chocolate Show.

Fun? You bet. Tasty? Oh, yeah.

Stressful? Save me now!

To add to the fun, for the first time ever, I had a fall release with my fourth novel, At the Journey’s End. I was thrilled when I got the news that it would come out in September, right in time for holiday shoppers.

Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew I’d have to do book promotion and show production simultaneously, but I figured if I planned carefully, I’d manage just fine.

Somewhere in the back of my mind I also justified that the other big thing going on each fall wouldn’t faze me: finishing a manuscript.

Three major events going on all at once. Not the smartest thing to allow to happen to a person, and this isn’t counting the wife and mother hats I also wear. Or soccer season. Or the million other things that intrude on my life. Like trying to keep the fami…

Confessions of a Non-historian

Since the publication of two historical novels, I frequently get variations of the same question:

How can you do so much research so fast?

The simple answer: I don't.

Frankly, if I were a dyed-in-the-wool historian, I wouldn't have a prayer of writing novels; there wouldn't be any time. So I don't pretend to be a true historian. I am, first and foremost, a novelist. I try very hard to make things as accurate as I can, and I would hate to find out I did something wrong (I haven't gotten wind of any errors yet, but that type of news is a historical novelist's lingering fear).

Since grade school I've read books set in or written during the 1800s, so writing about it myself isn't too strange. While I'm not an expert on the period, I do have a decent grasp on how people talked, what they did on a daily basis, and what the customs were. Some of the best compliments I've gotten on my books is that the voice feels real to the time period.

It was interest…

Updates and Book Fun

First, a few updates on previous posts:

1) I’m still weird.
Today I found myself pulling out my poisons book to research snake bites. Which is worse—that I already own that book and have it underlined and highlighted, or that I’m rereading portions for a scene involving a nine-year-old girl who gets bitten by a rattlesnake?

I must be weird and sadistic.

2) The soccer season is improving.
The game following the Yellow Jackets fiasco was a world apart. We lost again, but this time everyone was able to leave the field with their dignity intact.

Even better, my daughters have been expressing how glad they are that they have friends who don’t care about things like clothes and hair, because "those things don’t matter."

My seven-year-old even rolled her eyes at the idea of only being friends with someone if they’re wearing cute clothes. "That’s just dumb, Mom. Clothes don’t make a good friend."

Maybe we should make a banner out of that and hang it at the high school.

3) Writing …

Dead Horse Pulp

I am probably the biggest proponent of writing critique groups I know of. From personal experience, I know how valuable good feedback is. After years of writing, reading, conferences, and rejections, my first book was accepted—not even close to coincidentally—after it went through the critique process. My writing has improved by light years since I began attending this same group six and a half years ago. I have no intention of quitting; I don’t dare.

The group has morphed over the years as members have moved and we’ve gotten new people; I think it’s stronger and better than ever. Counting, me, three of the original members are still around, and we’ve gotten several others over the years, maxing out currently at eight. (Although it’s a rare week we manage to have more than five of us.) Among our number are three other LDS authors, Jeffrey S. Savage, H.B. (Heather) Moore, and James Dashner.

I am a firm believer that a writer—no matter how talented—needs outside feedback. One simply canno…

Life's Yellow Jackets

My family isn’t particularly new to community sports. We’ve been involved ever since my oldest was in kindergarten soccer. This is our seventh season of soccer (fifteen soccer teams between the kids). We also dabbled in T-ball and coach pitch until we realized we hated it (making another six or so teams).

Sure, I had heard the horror stories of unsportsmanlike behavior. Maybe we lived a charmed existence, because aside from an occasional obnoxious father thinking his kid is the next Olympian, we’ve never had a problem. Rob and I have even dabbled at coaching. Our kids love playing team sports, and it’s been a great experience.

Until now.

This week my second oldest, age nine, had her first soccer game of the season with a brand new team. They played their little hearts out—my girl running and kicking and doing her absolute best until her face was beat red and she was ready to collapse.

Sadly, the other team slaughtered them 10 to 0.

But that wasn’t the problem. All our kids have been beaten…

Me and My "Twin"

Since it’s been happening for twenty-eight years, you’d think I’d be used to it now, or at least I’d be able to figure out the why it’s happening. But no.

When I was four it made some sense for people to mistake Sheryl and me for sisters, twins, or each other. It doesn’t take much for two chubby-cheeked, strawberry blond little girls with pig tails to look alike. Have them play together a lot, and they’ll naturally end up acting and talking like one another.

But when our baby fat melted away and my hair lost any trace of strawberry (Sheryl kept hers) and mine was a plain old dishwater blond, people still thought we looked alike. Maybe it was the pigtails. We still wore those.

The worst case of the identity mixup was around second grade when I took dance lessons. The studio picked you up for class in a van and dropped you off afterward. I had gone to my first dance class the day before, and now my sister had hers. The van pulled up just as Sheryl crossed my lawn to come play. The driver a…

Of Bread Dough and Racing Stripes

Recently my three-year-old was watching me getting dressed. She’s at just the right height (or wrong height, as the case may be). She tilted her head and quite soberly declared, "Mommy, your tummy is SO big."

Gee, thanks for pointing that out. On Sundays I can mask it with control-top hoes and one of those things they now call a "body shaper" but is really just an elastic girdle that makes it hard to breathe.

Now all I needed was commentary on saggy skin and stretch marks.

I smiled and tried to explain that Mommy’s tummy got a bit stretched out because four babies had grown inside there. "Before you were born, you were in Mommy’s tummy, too."

Nice way of shifting the blame, I know.

It wasn’t until she answered that I realized that unlike my older three children, she had never seen me pregnant and didn’t understand the concept.

She narrowed her eyes, snorted the way only a toddler can, and with a shake of her head and a giggle said, "Nooooo . . ." App…

You Calling Me Weird?

Not long ago, I pulled one of my many reference books from my office bookshelf so I could get a few details for an upcoming scene I’m writing.

Holding the book in my hands, I immediately felt transported back to the time I first read it, and I had to smile. Suddenly I felt sentimental.

It was the Christmas holidays, visiting my in-laws, during the time I was still a hopeful writer who hadn’t yet been published. I remembered the manuscript I was working on and why I needed this particular book to help me with certain details—and I still remember what those details were. Snow fell; holiday cheer abounded; carols drifted through the house.

And here I was engrossed in Body Trauma, where every chapter follows an organ system, explaining injuries and how they affect the human body—and even better, how those injuries can be used by writers in their work.

I know; you don’t have to tell me. I’m morbid.

It’s great to be reading along about blood and guts, then have the author insert something alo…