Showing posts from February, 2009

Writing Journey: Part VIII

Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IV
Part VPart VIPart VII

(Wow. This series is getting long . . .)

So Covenant wanted another historical from me.

Problem #1: Historicals take research. Research takes time. If you recall my previous discussions about trying to maintain a readership, I didn't have lots of time.

Up to this point, drafting and revising a book had always taken me over a year per book. I didn't have more than a year to draft and revise and polish before submitting something if I was going to "ride the wave" of House on the Hill's success as they'd requested.

This was April. I figured that any "wave" would be long gone if I didn't turn in a book by the end of the year so a new book could be out within a year and a half of HOTH.

Problem #2: What in the heck kind of historical should I write next?

I'd gotten enough reader mail to know that a lot of people were chomping at the bit to know what happened to Abe. Even though I had never intended to con…

WNW: Mormon Edition

Because we're a "curious" people with lots of quirks, I thought I'd throw in some Mormony word missteps for a change of pace.

I'm not going into common phrases that crop up in LDS prayers, testimonies, and the like. Instead, here are four common word bloopers you find frequently at church.

Three are pronunciation errors. The last one is a common scripture word mix-up that I think is important to understand correctly, because it impacts the meaning of other scriptures as well.

The first two I credit Lucy at An Ordinary Mom for pointing out to me:

As in the official Church magazine.

The title is NOT pronounced, "en-sun" (the pronunciation used for a low-ranking military officers) but "en-ZINE" (an emblem, or sign).

Until recently, there was even a notice on the contents page explaining the pronunciation.

Note the last half of this word. Is there a T in it? No, there is not. This is a four-syllable word.

But sometimes people panic becau…

Questions: An Experiment

It's getting close. I talk about it so much that you probably know what I'm talking about (and are probably sick of it): the release of Tower of Strength.

Depending on how quickly it ships from the warehouse, the book could be in stores in a little over a week. Woot!

So . . . for most of March and a good chunk of April, I'll be doing a bunch of fun bloggy stuff in celebration.

One big thing readers should have fun with will be March 9th thru 13th (that's a Monday thru Friday, beginning two weeks from today). On those days, I'll have a week-long giveaway bonanza.

Multiple prizes will be given away each day. You heard that right! Lots of cool prizes!

Stay tuned for more about the giveaway week, like how to enter and get lots and lots of additional entries and other good stuff.

There's more exciting book/bloggy fun coming, and I'll announce them as they arrive.

For now, though, I thought it would be fun to start next week by answering reader questions.

Is there someth…

Real-Life Bloggers

Saturday I had a ball going to a bloggy lunch hosted by KristinaP. I was amazed at how many women were there. One brave husband showed up to boot.

It was such a ball putting names (and blog titles) to faces, and I must admit, there were plenty of blogs I hadn't heard of before (but now have to check out, of course).

There were a couple of bloggers I knew but almost didn't connect with. Like right at the end as a few of us were chatting before walking out of the restaurant, I asked one woman I hadn't spoken to what her name was.


"Of . . .?" I asked.

She knew what I meant: What's your blog?

"Soggy Cheerios."

"That Amber?! I'm Annette Lyon!"

"No way!'

We both squealed and then chatted like old buds. (According to Amber, I look tall in my avatar picture. Even with the 3-inch heel boots I was wearing, I was much shorter than she expected. I love random stuff like that.)

This kind of reunion happened several times, like whe…

CD Giveaway!

No, not here. But I highly recommend hopping over to Sher's place and entering the giveaway for her upcoming CD.

Not familiar with her work?

Maybe this will ring a bell. She's the one who arranged and performed the music on my promo video for Tower of Strength. (Was I lucky, or was I lucky to be able to use her work? I know!)

Take a listen, be wowed, and then go over to her giveaway post and leave a comment to enter!

Also, check out her music site here, where you can hear more of her stuff and even pre-order her CD.

Writing Journey: Part VII

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V
Part VI

"We have the evaluations back on your murder mystery," the managing editor told me over the phone.

"And?" I gulped and held my breath.

"And the readers feel it's a little dark."

Ya think? The story was about a serial killer. That sort of ensures that the story will be dark.

Turns out that wasn't the primary issue. House on the Hill had been out just a couple of months by this point. "And here's the thing," she said. "Your historical is doing really well."

I hadn't known that.

Another thing with being published that people don't usually know: you're often in the dark about sales. I get a statement twice a year, in February and in August. Those are the only times I ever see sales numbers. HOTH came out the first part of February, so I'd get my first statement on it in August. The call was early April. I was months out from having any clue how well my book was selling.

This tim…

WNW: "Think" Is a Noun?

One night at critique group several years ago, I corrected a sentence Lu Ann had written. It went something like this:

"If you think that, you've got another think coming."

Naturally, I changed think to thing, because, first off, think isn't a noun, and second, the phrase isn't, "you've got another think coming" but, "you've got another thing coming."

Duh. Of course.

But when I mentioned it, she insisted, "No, the phrase is, 'you've got another think coming.'You think one thing, but you're wrong, so you have another think coming after that."

I argued with her, saying that she'd heard it wrong, that think made no sense.

"But that's how we said it in Indiana when I was growing up," she said.

In the end, I offered to ask my father, Mr. Linguist, what the correct version of the phrase was. His gut reaction was the same as mine, that it was thing. But he decided to ask around at work to see what others i…

As Requested

After the wedding memory meme last Saturday, several people asked to see my bridesmaids' dresses and my dress. And my ring.

I found one great picture that shows off my bridesmaids' dresses and my dress pretty well. It's a goofy picture we took for the fun of it (the pose is so unlike someting Rob or my bridesmaids would really do that the very idea is hysterical). You can see how the bridesmaids' dresses are the same pattern as mine, but with a few tweaks (shorter hem and sleeves, different colors, buttons).

As I said before, I loved the point the bodice comes to in the front. The point is hidden in most of the wedding pictures because I'm holding the bouquet in front in it. One reason I love this picture is that you can see the whole dress. For the most part. You can't really see the hand-pieced lace on the sleeves, the bodice, and the point, but you really have to be close up to it to see those pretty details anyway.

My little sister is the one of the far left h…

About a House

After writing last Friday's Writing Journey Post, I decided to share another tidbit connected to House on the Hill involving one of the significant houses in the book.As I mentioned in the notes at the back, the house Lizzy's family moves into is based roughly on my grandparents' home on Main Street. It was one of the very last homes standing on what became a commercial center. When I was a kid, it was rather fun to drive past Fred Meyer, gas stations, and restaurants and then pull into the driveway of this small white house in the middle of a city with traffic whizzing by.The business next door kept changing, and each time we went up, we'd guess if it was still Pizza Hut or a tire place or something else.My grandparents both passed away before I was out of grade school. For years, the house was rented out to university students. Eventually the family siblings decided to sell the house. I knew this on some level, but it didn't really register.The summer before my s…

Looking Back on Valentines

I saw this meme at Sher's place and decided it was the perfect thing to do for Valentines Day: a look back at our wedding. We're a couple of months out from our 15th anniversary. Wow!1. Where did you and your husband meet? I told the whole story here on our last anniversary, but in short, we ended up as cha–cha partners on a BYU back-up summer ballroom team.

2. How long before you kissed? About 5 or 6 weeks after we started dating, but that would be months after we met. Totally my fault there that it took so long. He was one patient guy.

3. Who kissed who first? He did, but not until he was sure I wouldn’t duck again. (Long story. Like I said, patient guy.)

4. How long from the time you met until you were engaged? About five months. We met in June, danced as partners for two months, started dating in August, and got engaged in December.

5. How did he propose? On my birthday! He was treating me to this totally awesome, romantic evening, which I attributed to my birthday. He was act…

Writing Journey: Part VI

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V

When I set off on the adventure of writing a historical novel, I went into it refusing to allow myself to commit a personal pet peeve.

I'd read historical novels with chunks that were thinly disguised history lessons. You probably know what I'm talking about: a real historical event must be shown because, well, it was real and important and happened right then, but it doesn't have much bearing on the actual plot. But it MUST be shown! So characters A and B just happen to be at the real event, and therefore, it's in the book.

Peeve, peeve, peeve.

To me, that isn't good storytelling. That's shoving a history lesson down the reader's throat. In my mind, the history should be the backdrop to the story, the hanger on which the plot drapes. It should impact the story in natural ways. It should never be so far into the forefront that it's what we see at the expense of an actual story.

Think Gone with the Wind. Yes, the Civil War w…

WNW: The Power of a Hyphen

I love punctuation.

I adore how these little marks allow writers to "conduct" the music that is their sentences and paragraphs. If a writer knows how to use punctuation well, the meaning is clear, rhythms flow, and everyone lives happily ever after.

Fine. That's a slight exaggeration. But the basic concept is sound.

One of my favorite punctuation situations involves hyphenated compound adjectives, because leaving off a hyphen with these little buggers is a classic way of inadvertently creating writer bloopers.

What?! Hyphenated compound adjectives sound as interesting at burnt toast?

Try this on for size:

Not long ago, there was an episode of Monk where sportscaster Bob Costas guest-starred. Bob expressed his gratitude for a time earlier when Monk had saved his life from a situation involving a demented cat salesman.

Bob tells the story to Captain Stottlemeyer of the San Fransisco Police. Since Monk is known for catching murderers and solving apparently unsolvable mysteries, th…

Today Is the Day!

Today is the big day many LDS readers and writers have been waiting for: the announcement of the 2008 Whitney Award finalists!


Spires of Stone was a Whitney finalist last year, and I couldn't have been more thrilled over that. Whitney committee members aren't eligible for the award, and since I didn't have an '08 release (so wasn't eligible anyway), I offered to serve on the '08 committee. Among other things, it meant I got to be a judge for two of the categories.

It's been a fantastic experience so far. I've had the opportunity to read a lot of books I never would have picked up otherwise, books nominated by readers.

That's how the program works; it's reader-driven. So if you think an '09 release by any LDS writer deserves to be considered, whether they publish in the LDS market or the national one, nominate it!

Some of the books have been stellar. Some . . . haven't been. But every book taught me something.

I believe the existence of th…

Writing Journey: Part V

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV

I'd been writing for years and years (buckling down and getting serious for eight years by this point). That meant I'd written lots of manuscripts. What that didn't mean was that they were all good. It also didn't mean I had several just lying around, ready to be submitted.

In fact, one of them in particular is so awful I don't think I'll ever open the file again. I call it one of my "learning experiences." (What NOT to do . . .)

I had a problem, though: if I didn't submit something else very soon, I'd end up with a two-year gap between my first and second books. I was working on something else (more on that in a minute), but I wasn't anywhere near done with it. At the rate I was going, trying to finish it might take a year or more . . . which could mean three or four years between books.

Not a good way to build a readership.

As things stood, I'd spent nearly 3 months on promotion and about that long again a…

WNW: A Place for “Ain’t”

I’m all for using correct grammar. (You know that, right? Especially if you’ve read Word Nerd Wednesday for any length of time.)

That said, the word nerd in me has much joy discovering fun and interesting grammar tidbits in odd places.

One such oddity is the word ain’t.

While I won’t advocate the average person using it (particularly if you hope to sound educated), get this:

In English, there is a grammatical place for ain’t. Really.

Check it out:

First off, let's look at the basic “to be” chart with all the regular pronouns.

I am
You are
He/She/It is

We are
You are
They are

With me so far? Good. Now let’s negate them:

I am not
You are not
He/She /It is not

We are not
You are not
They are not

Simple so far, yes?

Now, since we generally speak in contractions, let’s make these into contractions, starting with the plural side this time:

We aren’t
You aren’t
They aren’t

Now for singular, starting at the bottom:
He/She/It isn’t
You aren’t
I . . . ????

There is no contraction …

One Month! And, I'm Old.

Yesterday, I was informed of the following by my six-year-old:

"Mom, if you were in cat years, you'd be dead."

Um . . . thanks, cutie. I can already feel my joints creaking . . .

Fun stuff: We're only ONE month out from the release of Tower of Strength! Yes!

So even though the release is a little way out, I thought I'd put up a fun doohickey video thing I put together about it.

Keep in mind I'm not a photographer. When hubs and I took these photos, it was on a research-gathering trip to Manti. It wasn't until much later that it occurred to me to use some of them this way.

(Have to say that it was awesome picking out buildings were certain events happen in the book, and a few of them are in the video.)

One of my favorite parts is the music. It's an arrangement of "Come Thou Fount" with some "If You Could Hie to Kolob" thrown in. It's arranged and performed by the talented Sher. (Be sure to check out her music website here.)