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Showing posts from 2010

Best of 2010: Books

A list of 10 (okay, 12) great reads from 2010:
The first four were Whitney winners in April: Counting the Cost, by Liz Adair The Last Waltz, by G. G. Vandagriff The Chosen One, by Carol Lynch Williams In the Company of Angels, by David Farland
I love the language and stories and so much more about these books. (I loved lots of other Whitney books, but I read most of them in '09, so I'm not counting them here.)
Favorite Romances of the year: Courting Miss Lancaster, Sarah M. Eden Cross My Heart, by Julie Wright
I'm betting these will both be Whitney finalists (both of these writers have been finalists before). They're so good that I'd be surprised if one of these two books doesn't take the award for Best Romance.
Side note: Sarah's next book, Kiss of a Stranger, just hit stores!
Favorite National titles: The Hunger Games and series, by Suzanne Collins Loved all three books. Lots to discuss and think about. Disturbing, but in a good way.
The Help, by Kathryn Stockett Wow. H…

Christmas and Our Troops

This is the first Christmas after the release of Band of Sisters, and the one where, in my story world, the soldiers would be home and celebrating their first Christmas with their families. Even though they exist only in my head, I find myself thinking about Brenda, Jessie, Nora, Kim, and Marianne and how they're doing right now.
So for my last post before Christmas, here's a little something to remember our troops by.

(I'm looking forward to buying more Flat Daddies for families in 2011. Donate with the button in the sidebar.)

Reflections on Costco

Over the last couple of months, I've had a lot of book signings and other promotion.
Most of these signings have been at Costco, which is new for me. I've never before had a book at Costco. Some things I've learned:
Many staffers at Costco are the bomb. (South Ogden, Murray, and West Valley City especially rock. Love those guys.)
One Costco, however, has a total loser working the wireless phone booth. (Although he was delightful entertainment to listen to.) Based on a conversation with a coworker (fifteen feet from me, but apparently clueless that I could hear every word), he'll easily get married to a hot chick as soon as he gets a better job and makes more money. So he totally won't be single like, at 35. The hot chick doesn't need to know how to cook more than chicken nuggets.
Some people enjoy striking up the most bizarre conversations. One guy decided to tell me how much caffeine is in chocolate (way more than coffee, according to him, which not even almost tr…

Mixed Bag

Today I woke up to the tragic news about the devastating fire that destroyed the Provo Tabernacle.

If you know Provo at all, you know what a huge loss this is. For me personally, it's part of my childhood and teen years as well that went up in flames. We had stake conference there. I graduated from seminary there. Friends performed in concerts. Others competed in piano competitions.

So many memories.
And that's not even considering the historical loss. I hope they rebuild (if they don't, the center of Provo will have a massive hole in it, emotionally and visually), but even if they do, the original pioneer woodwork, the old organ, all of that . . . gone.
On a slightly happier note, sweet friend Sherry Ann Miller posted a review of Chocolate Never Faileth on her blog, Miller's Musings. She came up with holiday gift ideas for my recipes, things that never occurred to me.
Deirdra Coppel interviewed me on her blog the other day, A Story Book World. (I must say, she asked some f…

WNW: More on Passive Voice: Hi, Ambiguity!

A couple of weeks ago we discussed what passive voice isplus when it's actually okay to use it, even though writers are told over and over again to avoid it.
That post got some comments (hey, that phrase was passive :-D) about whether some sentence structures were passive, and I promised to clarify.
The example cited was:
She was excited.
IS that passive? It does have the key word was in there.
The answer: No, that sentence is most definitely NOT passive.
Except. English has some great ambiguity built into the underlying context. So all by itself and out of context, no, that sentence is not a passive construction. But it could be. (We'll get to that in a second.)
A similar example, showing why it's NOT passive:
Sarah was sad.
That sentence can't be passive; nothing (or no one) is being acted upon. We're just describing a state of being for the subject (Sarah), not what's happening to her.
You could make that kind of construction passive:
She was excited by putting up th…

Reader's Guide to How Publishing Works

At recent book signings, I've had a lot of people ask questions about publishing, stuff that as a writer, you almost forget you didn't know once upon a time and had to learn.
Here's a basic run-down on what publishers do (and don't do) and how a new writer goes about it.
You do not pay a publisher to put out your book. A legitimate publisher considers your book to be their product, and they invest a lot of money into it to make it successful. That money includes editing (many rounds of editing and revisions), copy edits, proofing, typesetting, and things like graphic design, printing, shipping, and distribution. As a result of all that, they have a lot of overhead and keep most of the money.
But they do NOT ask the author for money. Companies who do are called Vanity (or, the nicer term, Subsidy) Publishers. If you go with one of them, you're essentially self-publishing. (See below.)
Vanity publishers have a very bad reputation, especially those who pretend they'r…

WNW: Things We Say Wrong--Right

Found a fun video showing a lot of incorrect usage and pronunciation in English. It's really funny and worth taking a look/listen.

Two of my favorite bits:
"Text messaging has erased any sense of spelling you may have gleaned"

"I could care less."

But . . . I have a few beefs.

First, watch the video. Then read my rant.




Okay . . .

First off, he says that if you feel bad that's incorrect. He insists that the adverb form is needed: you feel badly.

See, here's the thing: feel bad is just fine.

In fact, it's more correct . . . unless he's discussing the sensing capability of his nerve endings and how they just don't work anymore.

Then he could feel badly, because he'd be NUMB.

Aside from that example, the fact is that you don't always need the -ly adverbial form, which he brings up multiple times, like with talk different vs. talk differently.

It comes down to FLAT ADVERBS, something this dude could use a lesson on.

(For a quick lesson, check out Gram…

Author Interview: Jonathan Langford

Nearly a year ago, as a Whitney Awards judge in the General category, I read No Going Back, by Jonathan Langford. I knew little about it going in, but I admit to being somewhat wary. This was a first-time novelist taking on a daunting task of telling the story of a faithful LDS young man who struggles with same-sex attraction. Basically, he's a faithful, gay Mormon.One thing that surprised me (in a good way) about the book is that it wasn't, as I expected, a didactic, preachy story where the author had an agenda he was determined to whack the reader with so often that there's no way to avoid getting the message. (Something that did happen in another nominee I read.) I talked about the difference between the two back in January over at the AML blog.As my long-time readers know, I don't review books here, but I do sometimes interview writers. So here's my interview with Jonathan Langford, whose No Going Back did end up being Whitney Award finalist for Best General No…

WNW: When Passive Voice Is OKAY

Don't use passive voice; use active voice.
Ever heard that writing rule?
It's a good guideline, for sure, but like any writing rule, exceptions abound.
First, what is passive voice?
Passive voice shows up when something or someone is being acted upon rather than doing the acting. It's usually a weak way to construct a sentence or a scene because your characters are like chess pieces being moved around and having stuff thrown at them rather than actually doing anything themselves.
Often passive voice can be changed with a little tweaking, and doing so almost always results in a stronger sentence.
Consider:
Tom was hit by a car.
This is passive because the car is the one actually doing the action. Tom is the recipient of the effect.
The car hit Tom.
That's active, but it's still a bit telly.
Since the first sentence (Tom was hit by a car) was rather non-specific (ie telly), let's do better on both counts. Let's show AND use active voice:
A red Jeep squealed around the…

A Reader's Guide to Book Signings

Over the years, I've had a gajillion book signings, give or take. Lately, that number has been growing.
And in the last bit, some people, knowing that signings aren't totally awesome unless your last name is something like Rowling, have asked how they should act when they see a writer at a book signing. What's the etiquette?
If I hadn't been on the other side of the fence, I wouldn't have the answer. But alas, I have been there. Many times.
And some days, I wish I had a sign with tips for people to read as they pass.
So today, a list of DOs and DON'Ts for the reader who happens upon a book signing:
1) DO Make Eye Contact and Smile. In other words, don't panic, pretending the writer doesn't exist, then veer the other direction as if we have leprosy. Yes, we know you're avoiding us. And no, a simple acknowledgment of our existence doesn't obligate you to buy our book. A simple "hello" can go a long way in making the writer feel at least human…

A Turkey Story

Image
For your Thanksgiving reading enjoyment, and with permission from my second grader, here is a story she wrote for class.
Spelling and punctuation hers, although I've clarified a couple of words in brackets. (She got help spelling "unconscious" from a student teacher. I was stunned to see it spelled right at first.)


Turkey Trouble
Once apon a time there was a tacky turkey named Jill. Jill lived on a farm. Her Grandma told her all about Thanksgiving. Jill didn't believe her, because fore ten years the farmer had not eatan turkey. Sence she was a tacky turkey she made the farmer laugh. Until one year when the farmer got annoyed. He got so annoyd that he wanted to eat her!
So she ran and while she was runing she hit her head on a rock and lost her memory and for a fyow [few] minutes she was unconscious. When she woke up she found herself on the counter and the farmer was rite next to her. The farmer was holding a very sharp and shiny thing.
It was very close to her neck so…

What One Book . . .

At a book signing not long ago, a store employee posed the following question:
If you could pick one book to read over and over again for the rest of your life, what would it be?
She said it was her tricky way of finding out people's favorite books.
I disagreed. For me, at least, the answer to that question didn't necessarily point to my favorite book. Because of the way it's phrased, the question alone eliminates several contenders.
Here's why:
Some of my all-time favorite books aren't quick, fun, happy reads. They aren't something I'd necessarily want to have at my fingertips, every day for the rest of my life even though they blew me away or I love them dearly for whatever reason.
Some of them are hard reads. Or slow reads. Some are filled with musical language or voice or character as big as plot. Some make me weep. Others make me think. Hard.
So if I could have just one book to read every day for the rest of my life, it almost certainly wouldn't be one…

Briefly out of Hiding

Checking in really quickly in the middle of my month of insanity. (So weird to not be blogging regularly. I feel rather cut off from part of the world . . .)
Just had to drop a note to say thanks to the great English 195 class I got to speak to today at BYU. You guys were awesome. Your enthusiasm was contagious, and you made me feel welcome.
(One of the student aides graduated from my high school. Yay for T-bird English majors!)
I felt like a college student again and had to remind myself constantly that it's been awhile, that I'm more than twice the age of incoming freshman, and that my son could be here in three years.
THREE. (I hesitate to ponder too long on that freaky fact.)
One story I shared with the class is something I posted here awhile back about the myth of English being a fluffy major and of Dr. Cracroft's awesomeness about it. (Read that post HERE.)
Eng 195 students: Feel free to contact me if you have questions. I'd love to help!
(And Dana, follow your dreams…

For Mom, Who Is Not on Facebook

Taking a tiny break from my chaotic editing/proofing/NaNoWriMo schedule to post the television segment that aired like a week ago.
I put it on my Facebook page. Mom's not on Facebook, so for her sake, here it is again (especially because I mention her in the clip . . .).
The two main segments are on the Channel 2 site, but my husband compiled every teaser and clip that I was on.
Another note: Thursday is Veteran's Day! In honor of the holiday, Channel 2's Fresh Living morning show is having me on to talk about Band of Sisters and the Flat Daddy program.
(I know; when it rains, it pours! Never thought I'd do 2 TV segments for the same station in the same month but for different books!)
Fresh Living KUTV Channel 2 Thursday, November 11 10:00 AM
And now the kitchen segment with Chef Bryan Woolley: