Showing posts from January, 2009

Writing Journey: Part IV

Part I
Part II
Part III

After that February phone call, my editor Angela and I began the editing process pretty quickly because I had an unusually early release date. At first they waffled on two different ones: July or January.

With the typical publishing pipeline process, January would have made much more sense. I don't know why they ended up picking July, but I've always guessed they had an unexpected open slot or something. Looking back, I can see how insanely fast it all happened.

July turned out to be very good for me, as I was due with baby #4 mid-September. That gave me two and a half months to promote before baby arrived. Trying to do book signings and the like with a newborn would have been a challenge. (As it was, dragging my huge, swollen self around was tough enough. My last book signing was days before she was born.)

I spent my spring going over edits and proofs. At one point, Angela informed me in an e-mail that my book would be called Lost without You.

I stared at th…

Random Sevenness

Rebecca tagged me for this one, and since I haven't blathered much (at least lately) about my non-writer self, here goes: Seven random things about me you probably didn't know.

1) I clean left to right. Or right to left. But I can't stand cleaning randomly. I have to see my progress and what needs to be done next. For example, when I'm cleaning the kitchen counter, one end will be clean and clear while the other is still messy with dishes and junk mail as I move my way across it.

2) I select my clothes left to right. Unlike people who organize their closets by color or whatever, here's what I do: I hang up clothes on the right side of the closet. When I get dressed, I try to find something from the left side first. This tells me pretty quickly what clothes I don't really like to wear (or which no longer fit or whatever), because they end up lingering on that end of the closet. If they sit there too long, I know it's time to get rid of them. Goofy, I know. But…

WNW: Reader Edition

Apparently, I’m not the only person who twitches at word missteps. I have several such readers—fellow Grammar and/or Usage Nazis—who have shared with me some of their peeves.

I must say, they’re nearly all peeves of my own. (My readers are kindred spirits! It brings me joy!)

So for today’s Word Nerd Wednesday, you are the stars.

The first peeve was suggested by both Blondie and Rebecca:

I could care less/I couldn’t care less.

Which is correct? Not the first one, but you’d never know it by how often you hear it thrown around.

What you’re trying to say is that you care nothing at all for something, right?

So think about it: “I could care less” says that you could theoretically care less than you do at this moment. Which means you do care at least a little.

I COULDN’T CARE LESS, on the other hand, means that you currently care so little that there is no conceivable way you could possibly care less than you do.

There is absolutely no care-age involved. None. Nada.

(So I made that word up. Sounds li…

Weeeee!!!! I Love It!

I'm mucho excited here. I wasn't planning on posting today, but something changed: I just received the cover for Tower of Strength!

Opening the file for the first time is always nerve-wracking: will the cover be something I like, love, am indifferent to, or totally despise?

It's pretty rare for an author to have much say in a cover or in the title (more on that Friday on my Writer's Journey series). So you kinda hold your breath and hope that marketing and you are on the same page.

To be honest, I've had a range of reactions to my covers. Today? All happiness. Here it is, in all its glory:

Isn't it pretty? (I'm really liking the green.)

Since the vast majority of my readers haven't read it yet, I have to point out why it's so perfect. Before the book opens, Tabitha leaves Manti as a young bride (which totally fits, because doesn't she look like a bride?! I know!) And the book closes at Christmas time (which makes the winter scape fit). It's like …

In Case You Couldn't Tell, They're Writers

I got a Google alert recently that made me laugh. Actually, it was the second one to make me laugh. I got one last fall that informed me I was dead. It was the obituary of some Annette Lyon in New York. Apparently, she’d lived a good life and was a good cook (definitely not me).

This particular alert informed me of a copy of Spires of Stone for sale at an online shop . . . in AFRICA.

How in the world did it get there, you ask? I think I know. See, about a year ago, I drew a winner for one the contests I run on my website. Turns out she lived in South *#$&#*# Africa. Since I hadn’t said on my contest that I wouldn’t ship internationally, I figured I should send her the book.

(I'm wondering if I'm going to lose a fan after posting this. Hi, if you're reading this! I won't mention your name!)

Shipping the book cost me somewhere around six times what it would have cost to mail somewhere here in the U. S. So while I normally wouldn't bat an eye at someone selling off on…

April's Giveaway

So you can ignore this post, because if you do, I'll have a better shot at winning (posting about the giveaway is part of what enters me into it).

But here's the deal: April over at April's Showers is having an awesome giveaway as part of her 100th post.

(See the cute button on my sidebar? Use it to go there and find out how to enter. Or don't. Then I might win. And I really wanna. :D)

Writing Journey: Part III

To catch up:
Part I
Part II

Having gotten rejection after rejection—but often positive ones that encouraged me to submit again—I felt as if the brass ring had been in reach. Over and over again. But never in hand.

Valerie, the champion in my corner at the publishing house I wanted to be at, was gone. The brass ring had slipped away just as my fingers skimmed it.

By this point, however, I knew what grasping that ring would feel like, and I was more determined than ever. I would not give up.

Instead, I printed off my newly-polished manuscript that Valerie thought had the most promise from a marketing standpoint (since I no longer had the cool privilege of e-mailing it to her). I wrote a nice cover letter to the managing editor with an explanation about my history, plus Valerie's suggestions and a note about our lunch together.

I mailed it off, holding my breath as the postal worker tossed my precious package into a bin.

That was November 2001.

I started working on another project right away…

WNW: Laughing at Myself

In an effort to prove that we all make mistakes and need to laugh at ourselves (and so you call all have some chuckles at my expense), I thought I'd tweak something I posted awhile ago for the Writing on the Wall blog where I'm the Wednesday contributor (it's a writing and editing blog for Precision Editing Group, which I'm part of).

Long-time readers have heard me sing the praises of my critique group, which is composed of several talented, published writers. (But we started out as a group of unpublished, aspiring writers. Look how far we've come!) We continue to meet regularly and read our work aloud to one another for feedback.

I've been attending for over 9 years, and I won't stop anytime soon. Some might think that by now we must have exhausted our usefulness to one another, that we've learned all we can, and might as well move on. Nothing is further from the truth. I've found that extra sets of eyes looking at my work will find things that I am …

I'm Tagged; You Get Chocolate

I don't get tagged all that often, but on Sunday Amanda D from The Little Things tagged me for this one I'd seen going around blogland:

Post the sixth photo in your sixth folder.

Here's mine:

To explain: This is my daughter's hands as she makes the first layer of Chocolate Bark. I took pictures of her doing the entire process as part of a query for a girl's magazine article. The department I was shooting for likes recipes girls her age can do with little to no adult help. Chocolate Bark totally fits.

I'm far from a chocolate expert, but I have had some fun with it, and I've collected a lot of recipes. At some point (in the relatively near future, I hope), I plan to write a chocolate cookbook. More on that another time.

In case you're interested, here's how to make it. (Some day I may post more specifics, like how to actually melt the chocolate and so forth, but today, I'm going for simple.)Chocolate Bark

Spread parchment over a cookie sheet.

Melt thre…

And She's Cute, Too.

My youngest (age 6 and a half) has a game she like to play, something I sure many of you do with your kids.

It goes like this:

"I love you more," she says.

"No, I love you more," I answer.

"I love you a hundred."

I counter, "Then I love you a thousand."

"I love you a million-zillion-billion plus two!"

"I love you FOUR million-zillion-billion plus eight!"

In a fit of energy, she proclaims, "I love you more than you can think of and more than I can think of, put together and infinity! I win!"

Then she giggles herself silly.

I knew she understood the generic concept of infinity (thanks to lectures from her older siblings), but I had no idea she knew it went beyond the theoretical "biggest number there is, to no end."

The other day she left a note on my desk. It revealed that she's darn smarter than I gave her credit for. I don't know where she learned this:

Translation: "I love you Mommy infinity" (no…

Writing Journey: Part II

Part I is here.

Following that Labor Day weekend in 1994, I continued writing and submitting my work. High school buddy Sam and I finished our Rumpelstiltskin novel. I wrote a YA fantasy—the first full-length novel I ever finished on my own.

I found writing alone surprisingly hard. Remember, by this point, Sam and I had written two full-length works together: a full screenplay and a novel. We worked well as a team, in part because we could be totally honest with one another. If I had a really dumb idea or wanted to add a line of dialogue that sounded cheesy, she’d say so.

Facing the computer screen without her to keep me in check was scary. I had no idea if what I was doing amounted to crap.

During this time, I submitted my work and got several positive responses that were still rejections. (“We love the concept! Now send us sample chapters! We loved those, so send us the full manuscript! We still love it, but it’s not quite right for us; sorry.”)

In the middle of all this, I started query…

Extra! Extra!

I interrupt my regular posting schedule to make a brief but exciting announcement:

The manuscript I submitted last fall has been officially accepted for publication!!!

Excessive use of exclamation points is warranted!!!

Tentative title!!! Band of Sisters

Tentative release!!! Spring 2010

Five women whose husbands are deployed in Afghanistan. Each has her own struggle and story, and the experiences they have and the friendships they make change them forever.

(Quite a departure from the whole historical temple novel thing, no?)

Good thing #2 baked brownies after school. It's time for chocolate!


(Thought I'd add more exclamation points. They fit. I'm exited!)


WNW: Banish the Paranoia, Literally.

This week's Word Nerd Wednesday is partially a public service announcement.

There is no need for bloggy/writing/conversational paranoia.

Really. I've had a lot of comments and e-mails along the lines of, "I'm not an English major, and I don't know grammar. You'll totally freak out reading my blog . . ."

But here's the thing: I won't. And I don't.

When I say that certain gaffs make me twitch, it's almost always in professional publications or other places like that.

Blogs and other casual settings, including daily conversation, aren't a big deal to me. Really, truly. There are places where the editor hat and the mental red pen go into a drawer and stay there.

An example, which has happened on many occasions:

A friend sends an e-mail, which I quickly read and reply to and don't think about again.

Five minutes later, another e-mail arrives, wherein the writer corrects her typo in the first e-mail, sure that I cringed reading it.

Here's the…

I'm Not Totally Hating It

Usually by this point, I totally do.

By the time I get to proofing the galleys, I've read the stupid story dozens upon dozens of times, revised it until my fingertips are raw (okay, not really, but you get the idea), I can recite it in my sleep, I and want to set a match to the thing then watch it go up in a blazing bonfire of papery glory while I cackle.

This time is different. It could be because I submitted the manuscript well over a year ago and that the rewrites were done when the snow was still on the ground early last spring. And that the only edit in the fall was really light. I haven't gone over it a hundred zillion times. (Just a million times. Makes quite a difference.)

It's been long enough since I saw it last that I've come across a few paragraphs I don't remember writing . . . and kinda liking them. At this point, however, I'm still too close to be totally objective. This is the place where I wonder if the story or the writing are any good, if this b…

Writing Journey: Part I

I often get asked how I began writing and how I got published, so this post is the beginning of a series I'll do (probably about once a week) chronicling the journey thus far.

As my readers surely know, I've always loved books and language. Being the child of a bibliophile and a linguist, I suppose that was inevitable.

When my older sister began tinkering with stories, I became fascinated and tried my hand at it. I don't remember exactly how old I was when I began writing, but one novel (Raymond's Runaways, never completed) was in third grade, and I had begun at least Mean Marvin the Mouse before that. I figure second grade was when the bug bit me.

I've never been the same.

I regularly piled pillows and blankets on a chair to reach my mother's typewriter, and was thrilled when she got a self-correcting brand that even beeped when you misspelled a word. I got pretty fast at typing, albeit hunt-and-pecking. (Learning how to type properly helped in that area, as did b…

Man, I Love That Kid

My son keeps amazing me. No, he's not perfect (he's got a long way to go on cleaning his room properly, for starters), but in the things that really count, he's becoming a young man I'm in awe of.

Two examples have jumped out at me recently.

The first was over Christmas break, when the family was visiting grandparents a good hour or so north. On Saturday night, my son and his grandpa went to a hockey game that was roughly halfway between our two homes.

While they were gone, we got a call about a sister-in-law in the ER who needed minor but immediate surgery at the hospital close to our house. Long story short, we spent time on the phone trying to find a place for their baby to go overnight and otherwise arrange for things at home.

We contacted my FIL at the game. Since they were only half an hour away, he and our son left the game early for the hospital to give support. We told them to stay at our house that night instead of facing icy roads to come back, since it would be…

WNW: My Latest Peeves

Remember how my eye twitches when I read a novel with typos and grammar errors?

Yeah. Last week my eye was a-twitchin' something fierce.

The novel I was reading got off to a great start, and I expected great things from it. Then the story sort of died off, the characters no longer acted like real people would, and I stopped believing it.

Which is sad, because I can see what the author was trying to do. And that thing was way cool. But they missed the target by a wide margin.

Plot and character issues aside, the grammar and editing led to serious twitchiness.

There were proofing mistakes, like accidentally calling people by the wrong name or having quotation marks missing and the like. And of course (as is to be expected in so many books), frequent (but not consistent) errors with lie/lay.

Plus, by the end, I was ready to smack someone if a character couldn't just SAY something. They all had to "inquire" or "comment" or "defend" or use some other synonym…

Today, A Tag

Meant to do this one from LisAway for ages now, and since I have a minute . . .

Where is your phone? In my purse.

Where is your significant other? One room over, watching TV.

Your hair color? Formerly blonde. Now boring blah-ish brownish.

Your mother? Gorgeous: looks like Meryl Streep. Seriously. Way smart. Gospel scholar.

Your father? My favorite Word Nerd in the world (surely where I get it from). Wisest and kindest man I know.

Your favorite thing? Um . . . could we be a bit more specific? That could be anything from chocolate to writing to my family to a hot bath.

Your dream last night? I don't remember it, but I woke up thinking, "Weird."

Your dream/goal? I have lots. One of the biggest is to raise four children who are happy, moral, well-adjusted adults.

Your hobby? What's a hobby? Okay, I suppose knitting, when I get around to it. Which is far less often than I'd like.

Room you're in? My office. Which I love. I'm hiding from the kids. It's not working ver…

QUICK! A Giveaway!

Because I'm a (new but rabid) fan of David Bowman's artwork, I just had to participate in this giveaway. It ends TODAY, MONDAY, JANUARY 5 at NOON (I'm assuming Utah time, but I could be wrong.)

Scroll down to see why I love his work; Christ has a real warmth and depth that's lacking in a lot of other artists' work. I've seen paintings where the artist portrays Christ as smiling instead of somber, which is fine, but too often it comes off as goofy-looking. The smile below is genuine, the kind I imagine Christ would wear.

I love all three prints . It'll be hard to pick which one I want.

Here's the deal:

Copy and past the info below onto your own blog, and you'll get a copy of one of the three prints below FREE!

Here's the info to copy and post on your own blog, including words from David Bowman himself:

Okay, copy now!

Get a FREE signed 8x10 print of your choice (out of the three prints) by copying and posting to your blog or website everything below. (B…

How NOT to Name a Character (OR: The Hairy Ape Man)

When writing what turned out to be Lost without You, I made one crucial mistake naming the hero. See if you can spot it.

The following is how I went about deciding on his name:

1. Think about the type of first name I want.
I don't want a long name. One syllable sounds good. It needs to be a strong name fitting a strong, male lead, but not a harsh one, like Butch. It needs to be likable and warm, but not wimpy.

2. Come up with names like that.
I think through names of guys I know personally and as acquaintances and try them on for size. I look at name tags at grocery stores and restaurants. Eventually I remember a gal from high school whose boyfriend was named Greg. I hardly knew the guy, but I like the name and decide to go with it.

3. Be far less demanding with the last name.
Mentally, I go through neighborhoods I've lived in, up and down the streets, thinking over the names of the families who lived in each house: Ferguson, Stringham, Lambert, Tolman, Van Dyke, Stevens.

Hey . …