Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Pitch

I'm registered for a pitch session with an agent at the upcoming LDS Storymakers conference in April and just received an email from author/editor Josi Kilpack, one of the organizers, providing a link to a blog post she wrote to help those who are preparing to pitch.

Being an often verbose person, I've been starting to practice whittling my words down to create a concise pitch and make the most of my 10 minutes with an agent. Hopefully Josi's tips will help others in the same boat.

I'm also looking forward to hearing from Inker Kirk (a.k.a. The S.E.) at our next meeting about effective pitches.

Just to practice, I've been creating pitches for existing works, either movies or books.

Guess the title or create one of your own:

Star-crossed lovers on a doomed ocean liner

In a post-apocalyptic U.S., a group of survivors fight for free will against a new government implanting mind control chips to create a "perfect" society.

A young orphan boy discovers he is really a wizard, destined to either save or destroy an alternate wizarding universe.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Olympic Moms

Things Mom's should get Olympic medals for:

Speed skating--In this Mom event you slide across a surface...not necessarily slippery to save a child or your upholstery from disaster.

Sick Child Marathon--A 26.1 hour marathon of nursing, soothing or comforting a sick child with no sleep, no aid stations, and no foreseeable finish line. Platinum medals need to be invented for this event.

Downhill Super G--In this Super G Moms are required to stop an avalanche of laundry from consuming an otherwise clean room.

These are just a few events Moms face everyday that no one is handing out medals for but someone should be.

What other events do you think deserve medals?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Princess of Glass

Diva Donna has some mad dog skills at being bold and asking for what she wants. Through this medium we Inkers obtained an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of Jessica Day George's forth-coming book, "Princess of Glass". We saw Jessica at Dragons and Fairy Tales independent bookstore in Eagle Mountain.

Now I am not articulate like my fellow Inkers when it comes to reviews (hopefully they will give a more in-depth/critical/authoritative review of it at a later date). I got to be the first to read it because, well truth be told, I pouted. So here goes:

Princess of Glass is a super fun spin on Cinderella. Princess Poppy (she is one of the dancing princesses from Princess of the Midnight Ball) is 16 and sent off to Breton to ease relations after all the Princes died in the previous book. There she encounters adventure and more black magic.

I loved Poppy. She is smart, funny, and able to take care of herself. Strong female characters is one of Jessica's strong points!!!!! Poppy has her own adventure, and for a twin that is something special indeed.

I LOVED this book. I can't wait to pass it on to my daughter (who has to wait til all other interested Inkers have had a turn). The book comes out sometime in May . . . look for it at your local bookstore.

A Great Blog on the Twilight Debate

I had to have two posts today. (I've finally got high speed Internet and a new computer--I'm going crazy.) I am the only Inker who adores and rereads the Twilight Series. J. Scott Savage had a great answer to the debate on Stephenie Meyer here:

Find Your Magic: BPA

This debate reminds me of one thing I learned about in a theatre class I attended recently. You want your audience to not have sympathy for your characters, but EMPATHY. You want them to feel what your characters are feeling. That is a key to a good story for me. Do I feel the emotions being played out on the page? What are some examples of creating Empathy in books you've read?

Back to the blog post: What is your strength in writing? I'm not sure what mine is yet . . . ideas probably. (Let me insert here a quick moral lesson: When you get those incredible ideas, write them down. I had one the other day that I KNEW was going to be amazing, but I didn't write it down and now I can't remember--you can all mourn with me now.) HA HA HA hA Ha

Monday, February 22, 2010

So Sushi Me!

The other night I had someone tell me, "Sushi is disgusting. I tried it and I don't see how anyone can like it. The only people who eat sushi are those trying to be cool."

Now, this statement offended me on two levels. First, because I LOVE sushi. And secondly, because she seemed to imply that I needed to try to be cool.

I'm plenty cool without the sushi folks. Trust me! I've never met a roll that can match me in pure awesomeness. But I digress...

This kind of nonsense is exactly what I posted about last week. We don't all have to enjoy the same things. We don't all have to hate the same things. You certainly shouldn't imply that if someone has a different opinion than you that they are somehow defective (or trying to be cool). No matter how neat I am, in a world full of Debbie's, I'd only be ordinary.

So let's celebrate our differences over a big plate of sushi. And if you don't like sushi then you are a loser with no taste.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Good Lovin'

I like happy endings. I internalize things much more strongly when I read than when I watch a movie or listen to music. Thus, I tend to choose material that doesn't focus on the darker side of the human condition too much. I get enough tragedy on the news.

This week, in the wake of Valentine's Day, I was working on the romantic subplot of my novel, which got me thinking about some of my favorite love stories - in books and movies. I realized several of the best do not end with the couple blissfully in each other's arms, living happily ever after. Namely, Gone With the Wind, Casablanca, Witness, The Age of Innocence, and of course, Romeo & Juliet.

So, although still a sucker for a satisfying, happy ending, I have great admiration for those who can tell the tale of star crossed lovers well, staying true to what is realistic or best for the characters. I would argue that I would have appreciated the resolution of the Twilight series more if Bella would not have turned out to be a supermodel, butt-kicking vampire married to the man of her dreams, but if the couple had instead been driven apart because of their circumstances, or even if one (or both) of them had *gasp* died.

We had a discussion in our writer's group awhile back about how love needs to be in every novel to some degree, even if it's dark and twisted, even if it ends unhappily. Love is such an integral part of human nature, a story just doesn't ring true if it isn't there.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Meeting Richard Hatch

I had the fine opportunity at a conference this past weekend to meet and see a presentation from Richard Hatch, best known for his roles as Apollo in the original Battlestar Galactica and as the terrorist-turned-politician Tom Zarek in the new Battlestar series.

He is one of the most amiable people you'd meet, very kindly answering many of the group's questions, including mine asking about how he got into his role as Tom Zarek--one of the most complex and "gray" characters in the reimagined Battlestar series. He went on to explain how Tom Zarek believed that everything he did was right, that he was something of a Nelson Mandella character, challenging the status quo. Later in the presentation, he also noted that Ronald Moore told the writers of the new Battlestar that Tom Zarek should always speak the truth, no matter how difficult. He pointed out the irony of how Zarek was viewed as a terrorist earlier on in the series, but after the New Caprica occupation (where Zarek's naysayers were forced to commit their own campaign of terrorism against the Cylons), he was seen in a better light as someone who had to do the necessary things. Another interesting point he brought up was that most viewers of the show don't know the background of Tom Zarek: that he blew up the government building on his home planet because the government was despotic and gave no legal or political recourse for the members of its society.

Richard Hatch also showed us the trailer for his original push for a Battlestar sequel, named Battlestar Second Coming. This was originally shown to Universal Studios in a proposal to create a sequel series to the show. While disappointed that the sequel series never caught on, Hatch was approached by Ronald Moore to appear in the new Battlestar as Tom Zarek, and Hatch accepted, even though he would vastly have preferred appearing in a sequel series (instead of a reimagined remake).

Another great aspect of the presentation was Richard Hatch's trailer of his newest project: The Great War of Magellan book series. He told us about the series and how one of his marketing strategies is to create as much of a community for an intellectual property as possible. So it seems he will not only be creating books for the Magellan series, but also graphic novels, websites, paraphernalia, and other mixed media. Hatch is a savvy entrepreneur in his vision of a good story's potential.

Richard Hatch conducts acting and other seminars and presentations, along with a lot of other really neat pursuits. For more info, please check out his main website.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tempting Titles

Chocolate Abandon.

What have you got?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Olympics

Yesterday the Olympics sucked me in. I was up till 2 watching the athletes and at times I was moved to tears. It was great.

I've always loved the Olympics. As a kindergartner I remember doing a fundraiser selling LA Olympics gear. I think I still have a little stuffed Olympic Eagle.

I was a swimmer--speed and synchronized. I loved watching those events. One year a Gold Medalist Synchro swimmer came to one of our events. To me, she seemed HUGE. She had survived the Olympics and came out on top. She was stunning. I remember marveling that she didn't get perfect 10's across the board. That was shocking to my 8 year-old eyes. Little-known fact about Synchro. In order to keep your hair in a perfect bun it must be covered in Knox Gelatin. When that dries, it's hard as a rock--you can knock on it. This swimmer amazed me because after her performance she came out with her hair beautiful. Later that day I washed my hair and I couldn't get all the knox out. It took weeks to get it all out of my hair. That athlete knew tricks!

I also got to go to the Junior Olympics. I think (again I was 8--its a little fuzzy) the competition was held at the Olympic Training Facility in Colorado Springs. That was fun. I didn't do great, but my big sister did awesome.

Later I loved being a part of the Salt Lake Olympics. Sadly, my two babies had a scary case of the flu and my Olympic tickets went to a friend. Still, the energy was palpable. I hope that someday they will return to SLC.

As a desert raised kid I loved the Summer Games. Now I enjoy the Winter Games a lot more. I was even drawn in to the Hungary/Canada Curling event last night at 1:30 am. (Maybe it was just tired brain that was entertained.)

What are your favorite events? What are your memories?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Dan Wells' Pics from Dinner

As promised, here are one or two pics from our dinner with Dan Wells and his wife, Dawn.

I know Donna already posted a great recap of our dinner here, but I will go ahead and add my own thoughts.

I really look up to the way Dan goes about writing a book. His focus on both plot and character is a wonderful example to us beginning writers. For those of you who haven't read his 7-point system, check it out here. It is the most concrete system I've ever gotten out of an author for how they structure a story in the first place. Dan, to my delight, gave a one-hour class on this system during LTUE and I'm told he will be posting much of that power point presentation on his site very soon. When that happens, I will be happy to post links.

Until then, happy writing!

Monday, February 15, 2010

I'm Right...Or Am I?

I attended LTUE last weekend (a writers conference held at BYU). There were great classes, amazing authors, and inspiration handed out every hour. I had a fabulous time.

With the hundreds of things I heard over the weekend, I chose one specific element to focus on:

"90% of everything is crud."

That is Sturgeon's law, as quoted by Brandon Sanderson. His point in telling us this law was not to agree, but to boldly disagree. He talked specifically about the genre of science fiction and fantasy, and charged all in attendance to be a little more positive. He said that if someone likes something, it's not our job to conform their opinion to our own (more correct) opinion :) Or if we like something that someone else doesn't, we shouldn't start a debate to prove our taste level. For example, I wasn't a huge fan of Twilight, but there are millions of other people (errr, women), who disagree. Instead of picking the book apart, I should celebrate the mass production of something that supports what I love. Writing.

Sanderson said, "We are the genre of hope and optimism, and we need to remember that."

I've admitted that I am a picky person. I am also an optimist.

But I still didn't like Twilight.

If you attended LTUE, what did like best? If you didn't, what have you heard before that has helped you see more clearly?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

So long, Salinger

It seems I am drawn to blog about the dead. I think this is my third or fourth tribute to the recently deceased. Maybe it's because the novel I am working on revolves in large part around a funeral, so death is frequently on my mind.

In any case, I couldn't avoid mentioning the passing of J.D. Salinger, author of the classic The Catcher In The Rye and famous recluse. I'm not one of these rabid Catcher fans who carries a worn paperback copy in their back pocket or anything. I read it once, quite a while ago, and thought it was excellent.

The passing of Salinger has caused me to pull it out and read it again. I'm not too far into it yet and I'm already loving it, such a strong voice and unique character. It's inspiring me. I can't get enough of the first sentence:

If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.

Part of me thinks it's sad that such a talented writer only published a few things and then shut himself away from society for the rest of his long life. But, the other part admires anyone who willingly walks away from fame and fortune.

In an article I read about his passing, he is quoted as saying, "There's a marvelous peace in not publishing. Publishing is a terrible invasion of privacy....I love to write. But I write just for myself and my own pleasure."

Interesting perspective, no?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Tobias Buckell's SF&F Advance Survey

Check out Tobias Buckell's very enlightening survey of fantasy and sci-fi authors' first- and last-book advances right here.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Dinner with Dan Wells, Delightful!

There is nothing quite like eating raw fish with a horror author. Thankfully, dinner with the Inkers and author Dan Wells and his charming wife did not include deadly blow fish. Rather we all enjoyed fantastic sushi and delved into the depths of Dan's writing knowledge.
Photos will be provided once the Tart who is visiting this week for LTUE figures out how to get them onto my computer.
For now you we will focus not on the loveliness of the dinner party, but rather the fabulous advice that Dan and his wife shared. I think even they will be surprised at how much they taught us.
Wisdom over sushi:
Dan's pearls of wisdom included, 'Allow yourself to write a bad book and move on', 'Self motivation is an important attribute for a writer', take yourself seriously. When Dan met his wife, for the second time, he told her that he was going to be a fantasy writer. She was impressed with his confidence and frankly so am I, and then she read an essay he had written for his English class and said, "This guy is going to get published." (Imagine wide grin here.)
Write as much as you can.
Dawn's wisdom:
Balance is important, writers need time to write and they also need to be with their families. She also backed all of Dan's advice with example of his writing that she has read but may never be published.

Thanks to Dan and Dawn for an awesome dinner. Those of you going to LTUE be sure to go to Dan's Pacing and Story Structure class Friday at Noon AND Dawn's panel on living with an artist (Yes, creepy but likable horror author are artists too.)

SEE you in PROVO!!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Blah and Destiny

I just read the last two days worth of posts. (My husband was home and I don't get a lot of computer time when he's around.)
Before reading them I was hoping to say "Blah" and be done with it.  But my dear friends and Inkers sparked a thought.
Gearing up for LTUE my husband took Friday off so I could go all three days.  Then, as we near the days, all sorts of family obligations have come up that are impeding my complete attendance.
So, I am destined to become a published author.  However, I am also destined to be a great mother.  I must balance the two great destinies.  By being true to both possibilities I can become great.  Some days may take juggling, some days may mean having a 5 year old sitting next to me at LTUE, and some days may mean missing out on dinners with authors so that I can catch an hour of my boy playing ball.
It isn't easy and there is no magic ball that can direct us.  However there is help and if done well it can lead to a satisfying life.  For me, I realized that in 6 months my youngest will be in school.  I will have a few hours a day with no kids around.  Maybe I need to spend the next six months prepping for my Superbowl.  I may not be the first, I may not be the best, but I will not give up.  There may be seasons when I just think about writing, but I still won't give up.  The dream is out there and if I continue to believe it will never die.
May we all reach our destiny, without compromising what's important. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


I've been thinking about what I should blog about today, but I'm uninspired. It seems like I frequently come up with topics that are all about balancing your life or keeping your perspective, but in reality, I'm the one who needs to hear those things.

It's very difficult to live a life of responsibility plus set a little time aside for personal pursuits. And, while I know it has been done before, I often wonder if its the right choice for everyone. I know for myself that if I neglect my responsibilities, I will literally get depressed and my life will become a jumbled mess. On a similar vein, I have a friend who texted me the other day to say that she was depressed and she didn't want to do anything or go anywhere. I texted her back saying that working and doing when you don't want to are two major keys to happiness in life. The only problem is that it's so counterintuitive, when you feel like crap, to get up and be productive!

Anyway....the moral of this story is that I have to pack and write and bake and clean and get kids dressed and take kids to preschool and practice the organ for church on Sunday and go running and I don't want to do it. Any of it.

I'm sorry, because Deb's post was so positive yesterday, but this is one of those moments when I really need to hear that I'm not the only one. I mean, we can't all be Graham, right?

Okay. I'm done complaining. I will get started on my life now. :)

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Power Of Destiny

Perhaps you watched the Superbowl last night. Perhaps not. If you weren't among the 100 million viewers, major spoiler alert: the New Orleans Saints won.

I love football. I would have watched the season concluding game no matter who played. But I found something of particular interest this year.

Every player of the New Orleans Saints felt destined to win.

Four and a half years ago, Hurricane Katrina decimated New Orleans, flooding over 80% of the city and calling for the first ever mandatory evacuation. But not everyone got out. In these desperate circumstances, the Superdome, stadium of the Saints, sheltered over 30,000 people. The stadium, and by extension, the team became a symbol of hope. The Superbowl was more than just a game. To the people of New Orleans, it was a message that the city was alive and well, a message delivered to the nation in the form of a football team.

I find the concept of "destiny" fascinating. Was the team really destined to win? Or was it simply a clever coaching ploy to make the players feel like they couldn't lose? Did fate have a hand in the game? Or were they just the better team?

I believe in the power of positive thinking. I believe in destiny of a sort. I believe we can accomplish what we know, in our hearts, we are meant to do. I am going to be a published author (see, there is my positive thinking/destiny speaking). Bear with me as I tie this into a football analogy:

While destiny may have played a part, it certainly wouldn't have been enough for the Saints to win. They had to put in the work as well.

1st, training camp. I'll compare this to writers conferences. These help develop the skill set necessary to accomplish your goals.
2nd, practice. The team runs the same drills and same plays, over and over again. This is like writing and editing. Tedious? Maybe. But it'll make you better.
3rd, working together as a team a.k.a writers group. I love the Inkers. I wouldn't be anywhere near my goals if I didn't have a team that supported me.
4th, playing a great season, and the best *entire* 60 minute ever. I can write great things. Chapters upon chapters of flowing poetry. But if I never finish my novel, then I don't even have a chance to play in the Superbowl.

We are all destined to do something. What do you feel destined to do? Let's all put in the work necessary to become what we want to be.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


Yesterday I did something I haven't done in a very long time. Away from my kids, hubby, cell phone/email, computer, TV, and radio, I sat, still and quiet, and cleared the clutter out of my mind.

After ten minutes of attempting to rid my brain of "To Do" lists, reflections, and random intrusive tangents, my thoughts were silenced for a few blissful moments of peace. As the intrusions gradually began to poke their way back into my consciousness, I shooed them away and focused on nothing. It calmed me to the core of my being.

I know I'm not inventing anything new here. Meditation has been a practice for eons. But, in our increasingly hectic society today, it seems our brains work on perpetual overdrive. People sleep less, and even in sleep we're often busy dealing with our dreams. We have to work harder to get our brains to relax.

The past two weeks have been so busy for me, I began to notice a lack of focus creeping into my writing as I continued to work on my novel. I realized I'd been trying so hard to use every spare moment of time I had to get something written down that I hadn't given myself any time to envision how I wanted my current chapter to evolve. It reminded me that thinking time is as important as writing time, more specifically, focused thinking time, not running through a scene while driving, grocery shopping, making dinner, or any number of activities. So, I've decided not to feel guilty if my word count is low this week, because I've reached a point in my story where the thinking time really needs to come first.

Friday, February 5, 2010

And here it is, the big news: the Whitney Award Finalists are in

[Placeholder for a breaking news story that will boggle your mind and possibly change the world as you know it forever.]

Okay, here's the story (seven hours later): The Whitney Award Finalists have been announced this morning. Check out the link.

I'm particularly excited for several of my authors who made it into the running: Stephanie Black, Gregg Luke, Betsy Brannon Green, David Farland, and Julie Wright. And I'm also thrilled to see one of the best novels of the year in the running: The Chosen One, by my dear friend Carol Lynch Williams. I wish Carol were one of the authors I work with. I read an advance copy of The Chosen One and believe it to be one of the more meaningful books of the year--about a girl growing up in a polygamist compound who gets "assigned" to be her lecherous uncle's new bride. It's a very thought-provoking and engaging story. I'm also excited to see John Brown's Servant to a Dark God as a finalist. I read an advance copy of his debut novel and really enjoyed it. I reviewed it on my blog here. And Jeanette Rallinson's on the list, too. She is a class act, for sure.

Anyway, I'd like to start an anonymous poll going of who the winner will be in each category. Please send me your votes, and we'll post them as a total on the blog.

And to all the authors on this finalist tally, congratulations and best of luck to you! I'll see you all at the Whitney's banquet.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Love for LDS Storymakers

As I gear up for LTUE next week at this time. I also want to put in a plug for the awesome LDS Storymakers conference in Provo, April 23 & 24th. The Storymakers conference has grown year after year and is a great place to get specific writing instruction and inspiration. It was the first writing conference I attended after college (disregard the gap in years here) and it truly helped me define what I wanted to do with my desire to write stories. The link above will take you to the site to see what LDS Storymakers is all about.

Also they are running a great blog contest thru February and you'll definitely want to check this out!! The prize is a HOT seat at a table where any aspiring author would love to be seated. Editors, Authors and Entertainers all in one place and all a captive audience for your shining personality or Q&A, which ever makes you happy. Be sure to check it out and hopefully we'll see you there.

Let us know in the comments if you are planning to attend Storymakers.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Deep Thoughts

At the UTA conference a few weeks ago Anne Bogart (she is the fabulous lady who gave us the 7 points of advice from last Wednesday's blog) said something that struck a chord with me. I want to see what you think.

Certainty leads to violence.

In other words, when someone is so sure they are right it could lead to violence. Or if you are certain someone else is wrong, you could do violence to them.

Ms. Bogart followed it up with: Tell the truth and don't worry about the outcome.

What do you get from this? I think it is a great point. It doesn't matter how others take your words or actions. If they don't believe you or if they don't like you, you've still just done your best. Leave it at that. We don't need to defend ourselves. All will answer for their actions. On the same note, I don't have to fight against those who are "wrong". Even if I am certain they are wrong.

Does this make any sense? What do you think?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Life, the Universe and Everything

There's been some discussion on this topic already, but I'm adding. I was looking at the schedule for this conference and finding myself severely disappointed. Mainly because Dan Wells' reading is set for Saturday evening, well after I have to leave to drive back to Reno. Aaaaaaaargh! Oh the humanity! For all of you who have not had the pleasure of hearing Dan read, you're missing something, GET THERE!

Other highlights I'm looking forward to for this trip (aside from the actual panels and learning that will take place) are: sushi at Yapona's, listening to Brandon Sanderson speak, going to the book signing at Dragons and Fairy Tales (Bree Despain will be there, among others) and spending a whole heck of a lot of time with my best friends in the world, the Inkers.

Can't wait to see you all!