Showing posts from March, 2009

Not on My Watch

Warning: Rant ahead.

Let me say upfront that teachers have my utmost respect and admiration. They have one of the hardest jobs in the world, and are way underpaid for it. Most go into education for the love of the students, hoping to mold the young minds of the future.

I had some fantastic and influential teachers in my day, and I owe them much. (I just found one of my best high school teachers, now retired, on Facebook. I wanted to send her a big long letter about how awesome she was.)

Today, I count my lucky starts I didn't get a doozee of a teacher like the one I'm going to rant about.

Here's the problem: My son hates his English class. Nay, he abhors it.

With a passion.

Almost every time I pick him up from the junior high, he has a horror story to tell. Worse, he gets totally confused with what the teacher is trying to teach, and he hates the assignments.

He dreads going.

To English class.

MY son?!

Put aside for a moment the fact that reading and writing are my life. Look at who…

Temple Trivia: St. George

The settlement of St. George was so significant to building the temple there, that that's what I'm focusing on today, rather than on specific temple stories. (I can go into those another time.)

After I learned about the settlement of southern Utah, I'm amazed anyone stuck around. Many didn't.

The original reason for getting a settlement down there was so the Latter-day Saints could be more self-sufficient. The Civil War had broken out, which led to a decrease in the cotton supply out West.

Combine that with the fact that Brigham Young didn't like to rely on outsiders for anything, and he decided that the Saints needed a way to get their own cotton.

(I found it ironic that even when the Cotton Mission was up and running, they always, always relied on dyes from back East to color the fabric.)

They'd already had success growing flax in what is now Utah Country, but they needed a warmer climate for cotton.

After scouts came back to Salt Lake and described the area, a lot…

A Video & A Graphic Novel

First, a reminder about my TWO book signings happening TODAY. See the sidebar for times and places.

My techno-genius teenage son figured out how to compress the file of his animation so Blogger could handle it. (Missed the still-shot? It's on this post here.)

For those who wanted to see the goblet turn into a sword:

Another gem: this week's Tuesday tour stop was too great to pass up. Rob Wells has a brilliant sense of humor, and what he created for his tour stop was so original that Mormon Times even picked it up and linked to it.

Click the picture to enlarge and laugh at a mini graphic novel called Bethany's Story, created entirely with my book covers. I tried to get it to post here so you could click on it to enlarge, but my techno-idiocy is shining through again.

To see the graphic novel (and laugh), click HERE.

Today's tour stop is one that touched my heart. Keith Fisher, who I met years ago at a writing conference, is one of the dearest men alive. He talks about reading…

Writing Journey: Part XII

Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IV
Part VPart VIPart VIIPart VIII
Part IXPart XPart XI

I generally get three reader evaluations back from my publisher on every accepted manuscript. There's a patten with reader evals, one I can't explain, because as far as I know, the three readers are never the same people.

For some odd reason, every time, one eval hasn't been helpful. It's either too vague, or the commentary is way off in left field, or something else. But the other two tend to be good, pointing out both strengths and weaknesses and giving a direction to go on revisions.

With Spires, the evals were a bit different. As usual, one didn't really help. And the other two . . . conflicted on almost every single point.

One eval said to add more of this, while the other said to take out what I already had of the same thing.

One described something as a strength, while the other called the exact same thing a weakness.

And so on. I read through them over and over, knowing I had to turn i…

Rejection Stinks

Not long ago, Rebecca asked how to get through rejection. Shortly after that, a cousin sent an e-mail saying she'd just gotten her first rejection and asking for advice on what to do next. Since I've gotten the same question from two directions, I thought I'd answer it here.

Here's basically what I told my cousin:

Congratulations! Now that you've been rejected, you're an official writer! Keep that first letter and start a rejection file. Then FILL IT UP.

One major thing working against new writers right now is the economy. Publishers have come back to reject manuscripts they've previously accepted because they're cutting back on how many they're publishing at all. Other books are getting release dates shoved back. So it's not always a matter of quality. Sometimes it's about plain old numbers.

With the typical timeline, Tower of Strength (which was just released this month) would have come out last September, and my next book, which I turned in O…

WNW: How Come?

Quick announcement: This Saturday I'll be at two book signings in Utah County. Check the sidebar for details.

On to Word Nerd Wednesday:

Friend, closet word nerd (don't deny it), and Whitney President Rob Wells asked why in the world we sometimes say, "How come?" when we're really asking, "Why?"

On the surface, "how come"really makes no sense, does it?

I had no idea whatsoever, so I did a little digging.

I discovered some consensus that "how come" is a shortened version of, "How did it come to be?"

Which, you know, actually makes some sense.

Similarly, Shakespeare used "How comes it" several times (such as in Comedy of Errors and Hamlet).

Supporting Shakespeare's way of thinking is one source I found that claims German and Dutch have a similar phrase hearkening to, "how did it come to be." (I don't know either language, so I'll have to take his word for it.)

However, The Word Detective says that the a…

Watch out, Pixar

Okay, so how cool is this:

When my son was just a tiny baby in one of those baby swings, I began writing alone for the first time instead of with Sam, my collaborator on two previous projects. As I've mentioned before, it was darned scary.

The book was a Young Adult fantasy which I entitled The Golden Cup of Kardak. It's a fun story, if I say so myself.

Here's the relevant part: near the end of the book, the goblet turns into a sword.

A couple of years ago, my son, who was no longer that little baby but a big kid, decided to read it. He marked it up with his own editorial red pen and seemed to really enjoyed it. At the end of one chapter, he scrawled, "Cool!" and on another, "Fantastic!" High praise from a then-11-year-old.

Fast forward to 2009. He's really into computer animation and wants to do it as a career when he grows up. He's been doing tutorials with Blender software and making a bunch of cool things with it.

Recently he said, "Hey, Mom,…

Temple Trivia: Salt Lake

Below: Me next to an Salt Lake Temple Earth Stone. Those puppies are huge!

(Taken roughly where Claude went after the dance his last night in the city, at least in my funky writer brain that has no grip on reality and thinks it really happened.)

One of my favorite pieces of trivia about the Salt Lake Temple is that Brigham Young originally wanted to build it out of . . . adobe.

Seriously. He even lobbied in general conference for it. He argued that adobe would outlast stone. (Wha-ha?)

When I first read that, I was confused. How in the world could he have assumed that the magnificent structure he saw in vision was made out of dried mud? Of course it was gray granite!

At first sandstone won out. It was relatively lightweight and close to the Temple Block. Work moved right along until, due to Johnston's Army, they buried the foundation to protect it and fled the city. As many people know, once the foundation was uncovered some years later, it was cracked and had to be replaced.

That is whe…

Writing Journey: Part XI

Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IV
Part VPart VIPart VIIPart VIII
Part IXPart X

(I know I've already said so, but I had no idea I'd be carrying this series on this long . . .)

Somewhere along the way as I was researching the Salt Lake Temple and bemoaning the fact that I couldn't do my really cool idea for retelling Much Ado about Nothing, I had a brain flash:

Why the heck not?

(Sort of a V-8 moment.)

So what if I'd originally imagined the retelling in a contemporary setting? Who said I couldn't retell the story in the 1800s?

And thus the plot and characters for my next book were born. Instead of trying to adapt Shakespeare's story to the twenty-first century, I could make it work in the mid-1800s.

That meant figuring out a lot of plot points: in what way could the Claudio character mistake one woman for another and how could it be believable to the reader? I came up with using a situation involving a photograph, which necessitated research into the photography technology at …

A Few Hours

As a writer, you hope people will open your book and be hooked, unable to put it down until they've read the last page.

I've already gotten a few notes along those lines about Tower of Strength, and each one makes me realize that I've been holding my breath, waiting to see reader reactions, because I'm past the point of being able to accurately judge this one. Every time I hear that someone enjoyed it, I can relax just a little bit more.

I know I can't please everyone, and that there will be people who don't like my work. I'm okay with that. But I love hearing from those people that my books do resonate with on some level.

(The best is finding out that I've kept a woman up until three in the morning so she could finish one of my books. I'm so sadistic.)

But no matter what, fears will still build up inside. I like to hope I'm improving with each book, but what if I backslide? (Rebecca totally made my day when she said she thinks it's my best one …

WNW: "Into" or "in to"? ACK!

Today's Word Nerd Wednesday is brought to you by astute reader Lucy from An Ordinary Mom, who requested I clarify for readers one of her peeves:

The difference between into/in to and onto/on to.

First, let's take out the TO part and just deal with IN and ON.

IN and ON are both a plain old descriptors. They describe where something currently is.

The book is in her purse.

The cat is on the pillow.

When you add movement to the sentence (when the subject isn't just existing in a location anymore, but getting there), you have the option of adding to to the end of the word, creating one longer word:

She put the book into her purse.

The cat jumped onto the pillow.

You don't have to add to when there's movement. The sentences work just fine without it:

She put the book in her purse.

The cat jumped on the pillow.

So here comes the part that confuses people:

When do you use IN TO and ON TO as separate words?

You make them separate when they're not working together, when they just happ…

Questions #4

Below are the final set of reader questions. But first, since it's St. Patrick's Day, I have to mention a minor issue. A year ago, I blogged about how I totally scarred my daughter on St. Patrick's Day during kindergarten because I forgot to send her in green, so she was pinched all day long. (The horrors!)

That kindergarten trauma was FOUR YEARS AGO.

Now, her little sister is in kindergarten. Last night, I was ordered in no uncertain terms to MAKE SURE #4 wore green today so she wouldn't suffer as #3 had. I laughed and assured them both I would.

Apparently my word isn't good enough. Both older sisters got #4 out of bed early (she's in afternoon kindergarten) and dressed her in case I'd forget. Then they kept telling her what a great St. Patrick's Day she'd have, unlike #3's in kindergarten, which was just so horrible . . .

I'll never, ever live that day down.

Today's questions:

Heather asked: Are you going to write a sequel to Band of Sisters…

Temple Trivia: Manti

One of the best part about writing novels based on historic temples is learning so many cool tidbits that most people never hear about.

I learn far more than ever makes it into my books (first and foremost because they are novels, not history lessons), so I thought it'd be fun to pass along a few fun things that aren't in my books, starting with Manti.

First off, David, a friend of mine (who has a private blog, or I'd link over) passed along an article about the Manti Temple. It's a great read. Thanks to my research, I already knew most of the information in it.
(Edited Oct 2011 to add: The old link above stopped working, so I've replaced it. Another piece about the Manti Temple is HERE. Also, I've since learned that a commonly stold story about Scandinavian boat builders basically making a boat and flipping it upside down for the roof is almost certainly untrue. There's no evidence of it, and the roof doesn't resemble the hull of a boat at all.)

One part o…

Grand Prize Winner!

What a fun week this has been! Thanks to everyone who participated in giveaway!

Today's post will be short and sweet, announcing the grand prize winner, who gets the Colorado Kernels Gold Gift Basket, worth $40.00!

As a reminder, here's what the winner gets:
Tall 12oz. Chocolate Avalanche
Tall 12oz. River Bottom Crunch
Tall 3oz. Cheddar Cheese
6oz. Cherry Cordial
6oz. Caramel Corn
6oz. Seasonal Flavor


And the winner is: Hi, it's me, Melissa C!


(Be sure to send me your mailing address!)

See you all Monday!

Winners #4 & Writing Journey: Part X

First, announcing the next set of FIVE winners from my giveaway:

1) TWO people get the Love Notes CD of romantic music performed by Glenn Hatch. Those two people are LexiconLuvr and SO.

2) The SLC Baby Bandz gift pack goes to Lolli.

3) The Sew Sara bib goes to Krystal.

4) And The Worldwide Ward Cookbook goes to Brooke.

Congratulations, all!

Winners, be sure to send me your mailing address so the sponsors can get your prizes shipped! (annette at annettelyon dot com)

Tomorrow I'll announce the Grand Prize winner of the Colorado Kernels gourmet popcorn gift basket. (Not entered yet? This is your last day. Do it quick on the giveaway post!)

Now, continuing the Writing Journey series:

Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IV
Part VPart VIPart VIIPart VIII
Part IX

Unfortunately, in the end, the financial risk was deemed to be still too high to publish girl chapter books like the two I'd submitted about St. George.

Let me say one thing: rejection stings. No matter what.

It's painful, it's icky, and it…

Winners #3 & Lurkers I Didn't Know I Knew

First, the important business of the day: the latest giveaway winners!

If you haven't entered yet or still want to get more entries, it's not too late. Visit the GIVEAWAY POST for details. Friday midnight MDT is the deadline to be part of the grand prize drawing.

1) The winner of the April Showers personal blog header is Mrs. Darling!

2) Sandra's Urban Botanics bath and lotion gift set in the White Pearl scent (inspired by Tower of Strength) goes to Wonder Woman!

3) And finally, the lucky person who gets Rebecca Irvine's new family scripture study CD, Adventures with the Word of God, is Taffy!

Congratulations, everyone! More prizes tomorrow!

Now, today's post. Lurkers, beware.

With one exception, if you don't comment, I don't know you're reading my blog.

I know my parents read it (Hi, Mom and Dad!). It's one way they have of keeping up with what's going on in my life while they're out of the country. Once in a while, they'll drop me an e-mail ab…

Winners #2 + WNW: What Are You Implying?

Wow! This giveaway has become such a riot; I'm loving it!

I've even got an update: ONE MORE prize has been added to the pot:

One lucky winner on Friday gets a copy of The Worldwide Ward Cookbook, by Deanna Buxton. If you don't win, no worries: the author is showing off some of her chocolate recipes at a fun event called, "Confessions of a Chocoholic Cook" on March 18 at the Scera lobby in Orem at 7pm. (I KNOW!) The event is free, but you must RSVP by the 16th. Just e-mail covenant promotions at gmail dot com. The book is now on the giveaway post.

(You are entered, right? You have until Friday night.)

NOW . . . today's prize winners from my week-long giveaway:

1) The open circle pendant from Jenn at Handmade from the Heart goes to: Rachelle at Rachelle Writes!

2) Brittany Mangus's book, Prepare Now for the Temple, goes to: Cheryl at Happy Meets Crazy. (Holy cow! We've got almost 400 entries so far, and she's won twice! Multiple entries are worth it, peop…

Winners #1, Questions #3

First, the today's giveaway winners.

Selected by using

1) The 2 oz. bottle of "Tabitha" perfume, donated by Karlene of Urban Botanics, goes to Mindi at The Battraws!

2) The cookbook by Luisa of Novembrance, Comfortably Yum: Food for Body and Spirit goes to Sandra of Sandra's Dance!

3) And Sherrie Shepherd's pre-release CD, Solitude goes to Cheryl at Happy Meets Crazy!

Congratulations, everyone!

Stay tuned for more winners tomorrow! (You do have all 13 entries you're entitled to, right? Check the giveaway post to see how to get them all!)

Now for more reader questions:

AmandaD asked: What other LDS authors do enjoy reading?

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but here are some I enjoy:

LDS Market:
Michele Paige Holmes (Counting Stars)
Josi S. Kilpack (Her Good Name and others)
H.B. Moore (Abinadi)
Julie Wright (My Not-So-Fairytale Life)
N. C. Allen (Isabell Webb: Legend of the Jewel)
Robison Wells (The Counterfeit)
Sandra Grey (Traitor)
Angela Hallstrom (Bound…

A Week FULL of Giveaways!

As part of the celebration for the release of my book Tower of Strength, I'm doing a giveaway that will last through Saturday, with winners drawn every single day! (Can I hear a woot, woot!)

I have lots of sponsors providing oodles of prizes, and trust me; you'll want to win!

When you enter, you'll be automatically eligible for each day's drawing, so you don't have to come back every day to keep entering (just to see if you won!). You'll especially want to enter for a chance to win Saturday's grand prize. (See below. Oooh, yeah.)

First, the prizes:
See all the great stuff my sponsors are giving away and then read below for how to enter to win them (including how to get up to THIRTEEN entries!)

Here's what you're entering for:

1) Remember my post about designing a perfume for Tabitha in Tower of Strength? Now you get a chance to win a 2. oz bottle of "Tabitha" (valued at $24.95). The rose scent is tempered with China musk and gets a slight…