Showing posts from October, 2007

On My Own . . . or on YouTube

In honor of the October writing assignment over at, here is my contribution.

It’s not a witty essay or a piece of fiction—just something silly that the prompt brought to mind. (That’s what a prompt does, right? Bring things to mind?) Had I managed to have more than three seconds to think straight over the last two weeks, I might have written something really inspiring and literary.

Or . . . maybe not.

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As I’ve mentioned before, I went to high school with a bunch of thespians. These are people who took acting and made it a lifestyle. Their favorite party games were acting games. (Ever played "In the Manner of the Adverb"?) Their favorite pastimes were viewing or participating in plays—or listening to Broadway soundtracks.With their insane music ability, it was a snap to stand around a piano while one (take your pick; it could be any one of half a dozen of them) sight read music and the rest sang along in perfect harmony. (Except me. "Give Annette the melody…

The Big 1-0-0

I feel like I've reached a milestone with my 100th blog post! In keeping with tradition, below is a list with 100 things about me. 1. With my children, I duplicated the family I grew up in: boy, girl, girl, girl. 2. I’m the middle girl.3. My children don’t at all resemble my siblings.4. Especially my son, a very mild child who hasn’t given any scars to his little sisters.5. But my brother gave me a scar when he was being nice, not during the times he held me over the bannister, locked me in a closet, or threatened to kill me. 6. Thanks in part to being a secretary in college, I can type really fast, which is one reason I cannot write books long hand.7. The other reason is that my handwriting is atrocious. I blame my older sister for that.8. I have six screws in my jaw from a surgery when I was 16. Not the easiest way to fix your bite . . .9. Recovery included having my jaw wired shut and being on a liquid diet. (Ensure, anyone?)10. With my swollen face, I look like a demented alie…

Executive Decisions

I feel a little sneaky; a moment ago I wrote, "Chapter 6" at the top of a page.

Lest you think that makes no sense, I'll explain. Since I often write out of order, jumping ahead to scenes, coming back to flesh things out and bridge gaps--and since my first attempts at beginnings are rarely set in stone--I generally begin my chapters with plain old, "Chapter" until I know for sure that there's nothing missing before that one and it's clear where it belongs and what number it would be.

At least two months ago, I decided that chapters 1-5 were solidly in place and ready for their designations. In went "Chapter 1," "Chapter 2," and on through "Chapter 5." But looking at the next section, I wasn't sure.

I hesitated, going back regularly to look at it and thinking that I really should return to another character's storyline after Chapter 5 before continuing with Tabitha's situation, which was the next one written. But I …

Big Whitney News

We have a new development on the Whitney Awards front: Winners will receive cash prizes in addition to the actual award and all the acclaim that goes with it.

The award is becoming an exciting new entity in the market, and I am thrilled to have a seat on the sidelines to watch it happen.

One major purpose of the Whitney Awards program is to raise the quality of the literature we publish. That can only happen if the best of the best are on the ballot, and that can only happen if readers nominate books so they'll have a shot at being a finalist.

Once again I'm encouraging readers to nominate their favorite books published by LDS authors during 2007. Nominating is easy at the Whitney Awards website.

The following was announced just two days ago by the Whitney Committee:




The Whitney Awards Committee announced today that they will be offering seven large cash awards to be presented at the …

More on Manti

First off, I have to say that the writing conference was terrific. Several other author friends were there, including Josi (my abosolute ball of a roommate) and Jules. My co-director for the 2008 LDStorymaker conference, Heather, was also there, and the two of us had our brains going the entire time in planning mode, noticing how they did certain things and getting new ideas for the conference.

It was also a great chance to learn some new things, refresh your mind on others, and just get charged for writing in general. I even squeezed a little writing in on my Neo.

I thought I'd post a little more about the Manti trip, since it was such a great day and my husband and I took so many pictures. (Trust me; I'll spare you most of them--like the dozens of headstones--but some are just too cool not to share!)

First, to address one question from last time: I have no idea why there used to be a tunnel through the bottom of the east tower. Wild tidbit for which I have to answer!

Now for a f…

To Manti We Will Go

A week ago I took a trip down to Manti for research purposes. While I've been there before, it's been several years, and I had never been there using my writer eyes, if that makes sense. I notice things in a very different way when I look at them as possible writing subjects, such as the many old homes still in Manti.

While I normally notice and enjoy things like that, I probably wouldn't remember any particular home after leaving. And I certainly wouldn't drive really slowly through the streets of Manti with hazard lights flashing, jumping out every so often to snap pictures of potential homes for locations in my story. Here are two buildings that will figure quite prominently in the book:

It was also good to be able to see the layout of the city and determine how far my characters would have to walk to get from A to B and whether my scene where I describe C could really have taken place where I put it (fortunately, that one works as I wrote it).

There are a couple of sc…

Skinny Deb

I'm so darn proud of my sister-in-law that I have to brag on her behalf. She's too humble to do it for herself, so here we go:

Several months ago, Deb and I were chatting when she told me that she had entered a state-wide weight-loss contest sponsored by Kmart.

"Neat," I thought. "Good for her."

And I didn't think much of it again, but lo and behold, over the next several weeks, Deb started shrinking. I'd hear about her latest nutrition strategies and exercise routines. She'd even give me tips and pass along Slim Fast products that she got for free as a participant. (She preferred the non-chocolate flavors . . . something I'll never understand, as much as I love the woman.)

Suddenly she announced that she had won the contest for the entire state of Utah. For being the winner, she received a small cash prize and, if memory serves, a piece of exercise equipement.

After congatulating her and being horribly impressed, I didn't think about the con…

Made My Day

I'm probably not supposed to know this, but I found out, and so I'm excited and all that.

I'm officially in the running for a Whitney Award this year.

That doesn't even mean I'm officially on the ballot, but to me it's something to celebrate nonetheless. What it does mean is that at least five people liked Spires of Stone enough to nominate it for the award, so the book is officially on the list for consideration by the Whitney committee. I'm assuming I've been nominated under the Historical Fiction category. (And I'm up against stiff competition. I'm sure my good friend--and excellent writer--H. B. Moore will be nominated too, among several other authors.)

The folks on the committee get to read every single book that gets at least five nominations, and they decide on the finalists that go onto the ballot. Then the Academy, comprised of industry professionals (editors, bookstore owners, etc.) get to vote.

It's nice to imagine getting a Whitney a…

Writing Topsy-Turvy

The way I write comes as a surprise to many people, readers and writers alike, but I can't help the way I do it: I don’t write my books chronologically.

Yes, I do start at the beginning and go from there. Sort of. My beginnings have a tendency to be cursed. My critique group laughs at me because I’ll bring what I think is my first chapter with the heading reading only, "Chapter." I won’t commit to it being "Chapter One" until later, because way too often I’ve had to rewrite the chapter—several times, start elsewhere in the story, or (worst of all) trash the section altogether.

Once I figure out the beginning, I generally go on my merry way for several scenes or chapters. But then I can’t help myself; I always jump ahead.

While I don’t write strict outlines of my books with every scene and plot point pre-determined, I do have a general idea of where I’m going. If the plot has points from A to Z, I know what D, G, K, P, and W are. I also know Z. But I don’t always k…

One Down, Two to Go

You might have noticed the 4-week challenge on my sidebar, where I've been tracking my progress through my current manuscript. As you can see, my goal was to reach 70,000 words by the deadline (which was yesterday), and I made it, squeaking past the finish line around 9:10 pm with 137 extra words.

The challenge was Tristi's idea, and I'm glad I hopped on board, because it gave me the motivation and the accountability to keep moving forward, even on days when it didn't feel possible.

The problem now is that I still have to keep going on this book at the same pace, and Tristi's challenge is over. Now what?

The way I see it, I have two more challenges ahead.

I'm hereby instituting my own 4-week challenge, beginning today, October 10th, and ending on Wednesday, November 7th. Again I'll track it right here so that I'll just have to get it done to avoid embarrassing myself in front of the blogosphere.

Then I'll have edits and revisions to do, just in time for …

Inquring Minds

Since the release of Spires of Stone about a month ago, I've gotten a few questions posed repeatedly. Since I'm guessing that others have the same questions, I thought I'd answer them in one spot.

Here goes:

1) Are your historical books a series? (Do I have to read them in order?)
The simple answer: No. They're stand-alone books that can be read without having cracked open another one.

The slightly more complicated answer: At the Journey's End does take one character from House on the Hill and carry on his story. It's not really a sequel, but more of a spin-off. Rest assured, you can read his entire story without having read the other book. However, if you plan on reading them both, I suggest reading House on the Hill first so the ending isn't ruined when you pick up Journey's End.

As for Spires of Stone, it isn't connected to the other books at all as a sequel or a spin-off. It opens a good decade earlier than House on the Hill and only briefly features…

Buzz Going Big

Exciting news!

The networking site I've been hanging out at, Cre8buzz, is going semi-public on SUNDAY.

That means anyone can hop on over and browse through the place. Check out profiles in whatever area you're interested in, discover new blogs and site and so much more.

For a little bit longer, actual membership will still be invitation-only, but I still have invites I can pass along (just give me a holler--and your email address--and I'll shoot one off to you).

Cre8buzz has been a ball (even if it does feed my computer addiction . . .), and it's only going to get better.

I could try to explain how it works and what's so great about it, but I thought I'd just send you over to the Farmer's Wife (someone I met, yep, at the Buzz), who explained it oh-so-well.

Go read her blog about it--and then on Sunday jet over to the Cre8buzz site to check it out!

I'm a Computer Addict

They say the first step is admitting you have a problem.

But somehow I don't think doing that much is anywhere near finding a solution. I discovered just how intensely I needed the computer when I couldn't get onto it.

Today after getting hubby and the three oldest out the door, I had a few minutes to fold a load of laundry, get another load going, take a shower (and wash my hair--darn it, I should have done that yesterday; I could have used the time I spent drying it) before getting my preschooler into the bath, dressed, and into the car for a dentist appointment.

While there, I (of course) pulled out my Neo, knowing that this might be the one and only shot I'd get to write today. 45 minutes later, she came out smiling (impressive, since she got some baby cavities filled), and I tucked away the keyboard.

I threw a granola bar and a baggie of fruit snacks at her so she could eat on the way to her buddy's house, where I dropped her off in time to jet over to the Alpine Coun…