Sunday, August 30, 2009

National Be Kind to Editors and Writers Month!

By Trina Boice

Years ago I worked in Washington DC and spent a day at a congressional reception, consuming every kind of ice cream known to mankind to celebrate National Ice Cream Day. While I thought it was a silly holiday, I was too busy shoving Drumsticks and ice cream sandwiches in my mouth to complain or request that our legislative efforts be spent on more noble causes. Hey, it was free ice cream after all.

Apparently, almost anyone can request that a national holiday be created to honor just about anything. Did you know that September is National Be Kind to Editors and Writers Month? Now there's a holiday worth honoring!

Be sure to finish reading this blog post before you race out to the store to purchase an outrageously expensive gift for me. Here is a very helpful list of of ten ways you can be kind to the editors and writers in your life. If YOU are the writer in your life, then you can simply print this list and set it on the kitchen counter or bedside table where your loved ones may conveniently happen upon it.

1. Sharpen all the pencils in the house. Do not sharpen the pens.

2. Stay off the computer. A writer might have an epiphany just as you are winning your game of Solitaire.

3. Do not interrupt your loved one while they are working. Haven't you ever heard of the "zone"?

4. Do not let your toddler use the computer paper as a doodle pad. What if I have an award-winning novel at my fingertips? There will not be one sheet of paper to print it on.

5. If your writer/editor/loved one is Blonde, take the initiative to clean the white-out off of the computer screen. She'll thank you later.

6. Set out lots of chocolate and late-night treats by the computer. Everyone knows that writers always wait until the last minute to finish a project. They will be up until 3 a.m. trying to decide if they should use the word "lie" or "lay" or "laid".

7. Offer to baby-sit for the writer/editor in your life. They still might not get any work done, but the kids will be out of their hair for awhile and that's always a gift.

8. Help your writer by answering that giant pile of fan mail. If there is no fan mail, write some.

9. Be kind to your editor by taking a few extra minutes to run that doggone spell-check before you send your manuscript.

10. Buy my books. (wink)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Where Do Your Books Come From?

By Christine Thackeray

Last year my mother passed away, and I inherited many of her books. It has been a wonderful gift. The funny thing I found is that my mother always read with a purpose. For example, she was going to England on a trip with my father, and she must have bought twenty books (most historical fiction or quasi-non-fiction) on the Victorian Era. Most are beefy hardbacks with ornate covers. She also grew interested in the Northeast and has another huge collection of stories about Cape Cod and Nantucket. There are a few other things that caught her eye. She bought a book by an author named "Thomas Tryon" which happens to be the same name as my sister's little boy. Add to that a handful of each of the big production writers of the 80's and 90's and then an unexpected treasure here and there and that's about it.

Looking at my Mother's books made me think about my own books. Many are volumes I purchased for research purposes. I have every one of C.S. Lewis's works and almost twenty books on King Herod. I'm also a post-temple trip bargain shopper and own quite a lot of LDS fiction. Whatever is on sale, I pick up. I also go wild in the back of CFI every time I go back to Utah. Also, I think I own every Jodi Picoult and Janet Evanovich.

So I'm curious... where do you buy your books, what are your favorites and what draws you to them?

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Ball's In Her Court Winner

By Heather Justesen

Well, I got my galleys yesterday, so it's really starting to feel like this book is going to happen. =) Seeing my name at the top of the pages made me tingly, and I like the title and chapter fonts they chose (this is, of course, of utmost importance, after all, lol). I'll be trying to burn through the minor changes my editor asked for, and to do a final proof so I can get it back to her as quickly as possible.

I had so many entries for this book, and I'm thrilled so many of you want a copy. I used to make the decision. And now for the winner--I know you're all waiting with baited breath--Cassie Osborne! Cassie, get your address to me and I'll send your copy out as soon as I get them!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

"Deadly Treasure" Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations to Jolynn, winner of a signed copy of Deadly Treasure! All I need is your mailing address which you can send to writeme (at) jillayneclements (dot) com, and I'll send you a copy as soon as possible. Thank you to everyone who entered!

Why Should I Know My Genre?

by Tristi Pinkston

I recently met an author who was struggling to describe his book. He had a captive audience - the lady stood in front of him, eager to learn more, as he fumbled around with a plot outline of sorts and a vague idea that it was sort of fantasy, but not really, and not really sci-fi, and he wasn't sure what to call it. I interfered (I'm good at interfering) and told him that it sounded to me like his book was speculative fantasy. The customer nodded and the sale was made.

Each genre carries with it a certain reader expectation. If you hear someone say, "I have written a romance," you know you're about to read a story where a guy and girl meet, go through trials of their relationship, and eventually end up together. If you hear, "My book is a romantic drama," you know that someone fell in love, and yet things didn't turn out the way they'd hoped. When you hear, "speculative fantasy," you know that the story will place in the future, generally after the world has come to an end, and with the sub-genre of fantasy, you know you can expect creatures and situations that are different from what we see in our every-day lives.

When you know your genre and you can pass it along to your reader, you've gone a long way toward marketing it. They know what they like to read, and if you know how to describe what you've written, you can help them make a quick decision about their purchase and you can save yourself a lot of pitching power, too. If your reader hates romantic dramas, and you say, "My book is a romantic drama about ..." they'll know right off the bat they aren't interested and you can move along to the next person, who probably just adores romantic dramas and will snatch up your book quicker than an ice cream cone on a hot summer day.

Your job as an author (now that you've written the book, rewritten the book, gotten a publisher, and all the rest of it) is to find those readers who like what you write. Learn what your genre is, learn how to pitch it, and start hunting down those readers.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Winner of Altared Plans

The winner of an autographed copy of Altared Plans is . . . . . drumroll . . . . Juliana. Congratulations! I hope you enjoy it.

Please send your snail mail address to talleyrl(AT)yahoo(DOT)com and I'll get it to you.

Happy reading!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Mishaps, Mischief, and Winners, Yahoo!

By Nichole Giles

A few weeks ago, my brilliant, beautiful, and multi-talented coauthor, Cindy Beck, announced that we are giving away a copy of our upcoming book, Mormon Mishaps and Mischief: Hilarious Stories for Saints.

The book itself won’t be on shelves until December, but we can’t wait for its release, and we’re pretty sure our 89.9 million fans can’t wait either, so…yeah. We’re giving away a copy now, and hoping the winner is a patient person, who doesn’t mind waiting for their prize until we actually have one to give. So sorry we can’t give away a llama—as requested—or dinner with a ghost, but perhaps we can send along a free bookmark or…some uneaten Christmas candy.

Or maybe one day we’ll just give away love. It’s all we need, right? (I think that’s what the song says.) But if you want to enter that drawing, you might need to check the updates at the LDS Humor blog.

Our book, Mormon Mishaps and Mischief: Hilarious Stories for Saints, contains humorous, true stories of Latter-day Saints that will have you holding your sides and laughing. It covers everything from bloopers at the pulpit and gaffes at priesthood campouts to blunders during family home evening. The book makes a great gift for yourself, family, friends, or even a Christmas gift for your home teachers—when they finally show up on December 31.
And the winner is…

Niid Raun

Congratulations, Niid! (Clap, clap, clap, clap, clap, cheer, cheer, dance.) To collect your prize, please email us your snail mail information to the humor committee at ldshumor at yahoo dot com. Whatever you do, please don’t camp out at your mailbox waiting anxiously for your prize to arrive. You might freeze to death when it snows.

And now, back to your regularly scheduled blog reading!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

By Love or By Sea WINNER

I'm pretty excited about this! I love book give-aways! Who doesn't like a FREE book? Anyway, two weeks are finally up and the winner of

By Love or By Sea

by Rachel Rager


Lynn Parsons

Congrats, Lynn! Just send your mailing address to
and I'll get that out PRONTO!!!

(I hope you love it! And I hope if you didn't win, you will still read it! And make sure to check back to see if you win one of the other books too.)

And, for anyone who wants a thought provoking question. . .

When Caleb Newman left for sea, he had different reasons for leaving than the popular opinion. If events had occured differently at the ball when he saved Alice's virtue,

would he have made the same decisions? If not, what would he have done differently? And how would Lydia Burns effect the dynamic of the story?

(Read By Love or By Sea)

Leave me a comment with your thoughts! I can't wait to hear them!!

Happy Kisses!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Famous Family Nights Winner – and Peek in the Past - Over the Garden Wall

Congratulations to Derisada, the winner of Famous Family Nights! Derisada, please send me a message by clicking on my website contact page HERE. I’ll pop a signed copy of the book in the mail as soon as I know your mailing address.

Many thanks to everyone who entered comments for this give-away. I read every entry and wish you could all receive a prize. May all your family nights be happy!

My last post on this blog ("The Bottomless Pond" for those who forgot already or never saw it), can be found by clicking HERE. Today’s flashback is to the same era. I know that sounds prehistoric, but it’s vividly current in my head :-) So here we go . . .

There was an old brick wall at the end of our garden (yard) in Knutsford, Cheshire, England. It was, of course, a magic wall leading to the mysterious world beyond. The top layer was weather-worn and crumbly, with several loose bricks. A few falls, scrapes, and scratches eventually taught me to take care when tripping along the top from one corner of our garden to the other. To me, it was a lookout post on my castle parapet.

When giant dogs or a handsome prince approached (or one of several boys on whom I had a crush), I jumped back down to the safety of our veggie patch, taking my giddy heart into the blackcurrant bush for refuge.

On the other side of that wall, the road curved in majestic sweep, and its surface was as smooth as stainless steel. It was my favorite place to roller skate. But I could only use it when no enemy was in sight.

When all was quiet, I tossed my skates over the other side, and scrambled after them, dropping from a great height onto the grassy ledge between tall beech trees. I clipped the skates to my shoe bottoms and turned into a skating champ.

I swooshed round that bend on one leg, on two legs, arabesque style, squatting, jumping, or flying backwards. Oh, for the confidence of youth. These days, the best I can do is stand on one leg while brushing my teeth.

More in two weeks. Tata for now.

Feel free to join a Facebook group for Famous Family Nights by clicking HERE.

Friday, August 21, 2009


Congratulations to the winner of my book, Pickup Games. Using, I selected Taffy's name. Yay, Taffy. Email me your address, and I'll send you the book. My email is marcia at Thanks to all those who entered. There are still other great books on the blog available!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

"Confessions of a Completely Insane Mother" Giveaway!

Last week I forgot to do a giveaway with my book! So this week, if you would like a chance to win a signed copy of the LDS humor book "Confessions of a Completely Insane Mother," a book that will make you laugh and feel really great about being a mother, then post a comment and I'll let you know when you win! Good Luck and enjoy the last week of summer!

Kersten Campbell
humor blog:

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Creative Journey Continues, The Sequel (Oh and a Book Giveaway, too)

The author, Joseph conrad, said that "a creative imagination is one of the most important attributes we can possess. Imagination, not invention, is the supreme master of life.

Marcus Arilias, an ancient emperor of Rome, revealed that creativity profoundly affects a person's life. In his words: "Man's life is dyed by the color of his imagination".

What does this mean to us as authors? Maybe it means that we have to be open-minded. Not so open-minded that our brains fall out, but enough that we are able to listen to and accept new, original, and innovative ideas to stir the imagination.

So how do we know if we are really open-minded? History has proven that most people are not. For example: In the beginning the railroad was regarded as useless by many. People claimed that the trains frightened the cattle and started fires.

The British Association for the Advancement of Science claimed that the horseless carriage would fail because the human driver did not have an advantage for the intelligence of a horse in shaping its path.

I could go on but I think you get the idea. So how do we know if we are opened minded? To find the answer, I went in search of a key to unlock the door of a closed mind and I found 'curiosity'. Now curiosity is a close relative to creativity, and though I didn't have time to research its roots, I would say it is most likely a sibling. Its responsibility is to fuel the imagination.

As I was writing my second book, "Journey of the Promise," I became curiously aware that I was communicating with the characters. By the time I finished the third chapter I had gone back and completely re-written the first two because my main character, Callie McAllister, didn't want to be a grandmother as I had envisioned her. So, out of curiosity, I decided to find out where this story would lead if I let Callie tell it. I found that once I stopped trying to control the story, new characters began to introduce themselves, and I watched, and I listened, as they became part of an incredible story leading Callie through secret rooms and hidden caves to fulfill a promise she had made in another time. It was a plot and a story I had never intended.

I want to share this book in a book giveaway. Now, I'm not sure how one decides who gets the book, but I hope lots of you respond to my blog so that I can use my open-minded curiosity to create a great idea in giving away my book.

Thank you.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Giveaway, Bon Bons, and Dramatic Superhero Music

Imagine it: you've had a relaxing summer lounging by the pool, soaking in the sun and eating bon bons while your attentive and always-obedient children speak kindly to each other and fight for the opportunity to fan you. You've gotten through that entire To-Read list of fabulous books (which grew bigger throughout this month as you've heard of all the great books from the authors on this blog), your brain is all relaxed and happy-like and you think to yourself, Self, I'm ready to kick my brain in gear. If only I had a good non-fiction book.

Well, dear readers, I am here to save the day! (Cue dramatic superhero music.) With just a few presses of the keyboard and a click or two, you can be entered to win one of my two non-fiction books. You heard me right--you get to choose, you lucky, lucky blog readers!

Behind Door #1:

Enjoying the Journey: Steps to Finding Joy Now

As Latter-day Saints we strive for joy in eternal life -- but many struggle to find joy during the journey there. Let this book help you learn to rejoice and find more joy right here, right now. Clearing away the clutter, staying in touch, and living with purpose are only a few of the many tips this book provides to help you enjoy your journey through life. Specific steps in each chapter will guide you through important principles and help you apply them to your feelings, thoughts, and actions. Reach for your full potential as a child of God and find the joy the Lord intends for each of us during our journey back to His presence. Enjoying the Journey is a delightful and heartwarming message for any who need a lift.

And Behind Door #2:

Parenting the Ephraim's Child: Characteristics, Challenges, and Capabilities of Children Who Are Intenseley MORE

What is an Ephraim's Child?

Like those of the tribe of Ephraim, an Ephraim's Child has great determination, energy, and a headstrong will. Ephraim's Children are also often high maintenance, emotional, controlling, and aggravating. What other sources don't tell you is that these children are a special and covenant people. As Hyrum G. Smith declared, "Today is the day of Ephraim." These are the children of the final days when strength of character will be so crucial.

Parenting the Ephraim's Child: Characteristics, capabilities, and challenges of children who are intensely MORE examines the nine common characteristics with examples and real life stories to explain how each trait contributes to the challenge of raising an Ephraim's Child. Parents can understand and work with these temperamental traits, and then see how each is actually a strength in need of refinement. The scriptures and words of modern prophets are used extensively along with secular sources of wisdom to demonstrate how these qualities can be valuable tools in the Lord's hands. Ephraim's Children can be valiant in building the kingdom of God because of their characteristics, not despite them.

Choices! Choices!

The Rules
1. Comment on this post through the end of August.
2. In the comment, mention which book you'd like.
3. Include a funny anecdote about summer, your kids, etc. For example, last week I got involved writing and let my kids run amok for an hour (bad idea). Afterward, I found out they had a lot of fun with blue paint, and we're still scrubbing the front porch which looked like a Smurf murder scene.
4. If you don't want to do #3, then shameless compliments will suffice. You know, "Jaime, you are definitely the most talented cheese-eater I've ever known" or "I wish I could trip on nothing as gracefully as you do." Stuff like that.
5. Since I only post the third Monday of every month (I'll wait while you dash to your calendar to write it down) and you don't want to wait a *whole month* to see if you're the lucky winner, I'll do a quickie And the Winner Is... post on Sept. 1st.

Good luck!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Educational and Inspirational

By Trina Boice

I recently returned from a wonderful trip to BYU-Idaho in Rexburg where I presented 9 different classes at Education Week and attended others hosted by some really terrific speakers. I absolutely love Education Week and look forward to it every year. It's a chance to get my cup filled and rejuvinate. I always leave feeling inspired and motivated to do better in my life.

If you missed Education Week in Idaho, you're in luck...there's another opportunity at the BYU-Provo campus in Utah from August 17-21, 2009. It's a full week of classes on almost every topic you can think of from religion to marriage to finances and everything in between, running from first thing in the morning until late at night. If that weren't enough, there are also various concerts and performances to choose from each night, book signings by your favorite authors all day long in the BYU Bookstore, artist unveilings, special events for youth, and fun receptions and dinners all around campus. Oh yeah, and those famous BYU mint brownies. Heaven.

I love the thrill of learning a new concept. At the end of Education Week your brain is about ready to explode, brimming with new ideas to consider. You're shown how to look at certain scripture passages in a new way, how to use new parenting techniques to communicate with your rebellious teens, and where to find resources that will help you improve every aspect of your life. Love it. Plenty of fodder to kickstart your next writing project.

One of the things I love the most is that you get a chance to meet some of your favorite authors and hear them speak. I think it's so much more fun to read books after I've personally met the authors because then I can "hear" their voices in the written word.
Another thing I love is hooking up with my old friends who gather from all corners of the country to meet for dinner and catch up on what's happening in our lives. So girls, see you at Los Hermanos Monday night!

For more information on BYU's Education Week this summer, to register or to see the class schedule, check out

Saturday, August 15, 2009

What Makes a Great Ending?

By Christine Thackeray

Sometimes when we put a book down or walk out of a movie, there is a feeling of complete satisfaction. The book was "right" and you want to the shake the author's hand. Other times you want to throw the book against the wall or ask for your money back at the theatre. But what makes an ending work or not.

This week I've been working on short stories. One of the benefits of that form is it gives you practice in creating a concise story arc with a satisfying conclusion. What interested me is that the ending was the most difficult part. This is why I struggled:

  1. Don't beat a dead horse- After I made my point, I kept on going. Sort of like disciplining a teenager, once you've said your peace you need to be quiet. It is not effective to nag, especially as a writer.
  2. What's the point- A story is different than a journal entry. When you finish there has to be an epiphany, a new insight, that the story awakens in you or at least an emotive response. Like a good joke, in the end there has to be something to "get." If not, then it isn't really a story at all.
  3. Letting the reader do his part- If you have to explain everything in the end, then you haven't done a good job in the middle. In two of my stories I had to lighten the end so that the reader could finish the equations and finish the story feeling complete. Sometimes stopping just before the end can work.
  4. Echo the first scene- To illustrate character growth, I really like it when the final scene mirrors the first in some way. The best is when the mirror isn't easily recognized but still there.
  5. Stop at the end- I don't know if you've every read a story that went too long. Once the central conflict is complete STOP! Many stories stop at the first kiss rather than show the wedding because the wedding goest without a hitch and is BORING. Although I'd love to see what happed after Rhett said "Frankly, Scarlett" I don't give a damn." I never watched "Scarlett" because I really felt the story was over. I didn't need or want to see more.

So what are your favorite endings?

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Ball's in Her Court Giveaway!

This month as part of the End of Summer Giveaway, I'm offering an autographed copy of my book, The Ball's in Her Court, which won't be released until October. I dont have a cover yet, either, but it should be coming before too long, and I promise to post it as soon as I have the final version. I'll be picking a winner for my book on August 28th, so make sure to leave me a comment to enter the contest.

Denise DeWalt thought she had it all together and put the past behind her. Then an incident in her apartment parking lot brings the memories of her abusive childhood back to the forefront. When her past continues to haunt her, she decides the time has come to look for her birth parents. She just hopes the family who saved her from a life in the foster care system will understand.

Rich Jensen felt drawn to Denise the moment they first met--when he was introduced to her as her new boss. Though he knows he should keep things professional, every instinct has him finding ways to get to know her better. As he watches her struggle with her search and her past, he wonders if there's any hope for a future, but he's willing to give her time. The ball's in her court.

And to tease you with a little taste, a scene from the first chapter:

The afternoon was almost over when Denise caught her first look at the promising interviewee. Southwick ushered him into the room like an old friend. The younger man exuded authority and self confidence from the tip of his well-polished shoes to the mass of brown hair on his head. The body in between was broad shouldered and powerful looking as well. It wasn’t until he turned his gaze around the room that Denise saw his confidence went all the way to the core.

His dark eyes saw right through her, jolting her, stealing her breath, and there was something familiar about him. Denise wondered if the lightening bolt of recognition wasn’t where the aura of power came from. Or was it the other way around? His eyes widened for a moment before he blinked and returned his gaze to Southwick.

Denise could feel her pulse beating a wild tattoo in her veins. She calmed her expression and fought to make her insides comply as well. Maybe he attended the University of Utah or had a sibling who did. Or maybe he reminded her of someone she once knew. She clung to those explanations, though none of them accounted for the something more than recognition bouncing around inside her.

When Southwick reached her and Richard Jensen extended his hand, she took it in her own. A strange tingle began at her palm and extended up her arm. She met his brown eyes—eyes that would have seemed too big on any other face. Somehow the strong chin and cheekbones seemed perfectly suited to them. “It’s a pleasure to finally meet you, Denise.” The words flowed like Southern honey from his lips—strange for a guy from Chicago.

“Finally?” Denise smoothly withdrew her hand from his grasp, desperate to break a connection that had her antenna standing on end. She wondered why her hands weren’t shaking when her insides were doing a tango.

“I’m Lily’s cousin. You are the one who told me about this company,” he murmured.

“And we’re sure glad you did. I know Jensen here will do well, though he’ll have quite a job to fill my shoes!” Southwick said, pounding Richard on the back and grinning.

“Oh.” Denise felt stupid the moment the sound left her mouth. No wonder he had seemed vaguely familiar, Lily had shown her his picture after Denise had sent him a list of companies he might want to check into. “Well, welcome to our little family.” Hoping to inject a note of levity, she jerked her thumb toward Jake. “Don’t take the joker here too seriously. And don’t let him anywhere near your soda if you don’t want it tampered with.” She forced a smile and hoped it looked sincere.

Richard glanced over at Jake and smiled, turning his slightly nicer-than-average face into something only a step below breathtaking.

Or maybe she was a bit short of breath after all. His gaze returned to her. “I’ll keep that in mind.”

You can read the whole first chapter on my Website here. But first, leave a comment so I can enter you to win a copy!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Deadly Treasure Giveaway!

I'm giving away a copy of my new novel, Deadly Treasure. If you would like to enter to win, just post a comment below. But first, read a little about it. :)


None of these things are on Lexis mind when she returns home to Park City, Utah, for her grandfather's funeral. That is, until she stumbles across an old diary while cleaning out his attic. Soon Lexi's head is filled with tales of hidden treasure buried deep in the mines of the Uintah Mountains.

When the diary is stolen and Lexi realizes her life is in danger, she decides to find out if the stories are true. She heads to the Uintahs in search of the secret mine, with her handsome friend Brad by her side. What they don't know is that someone is following them, someone who will stop at nothing to get the treasure. Soon Lexi and Brad are in a fight for their lives, just as they are starting to realize that there may be more to their relationship than they originally thought.

With surprising twists around every corner, expect the unexpected in this thrilling tale of adventure, romance, and mystery.

The Story Behind the Story

Wealthy pioneer, Thomas Rhoades, mined considerable amounts of gold from the Uintah Mountains. Some of this gold was shown to him by the Native Americans at the time, the rest he was led to by Spanish maps. But when he died, he took the secret locations of the wealth to his grave. To this day, these mines are lost, guarded, and sought after. Not surprisingly, few have found the gold, and those that do, die or disappear before they can take any.

I had no idea that these mysterious gold mines would be part of my book when I first started typing the characters' dialogue that popped into my head one day. That is, until I went to the library to look up some info about Park City and plot ideas and found all these books on the Rhoades mines sitting right there on the shelf. I couldn't move. I couldn't speak either, and it wasn't just because I was in the library and was supposed to be quiet. "Whoa, this is it! This is it!" I thought with my arm hairs sticking straight up. "This is it, not just because the whole idea is intriguing, but because Thomas Rhoades is my husband's ancestor!"

Once I started researching, I didn't expect to uncover the real life murder mystery of young Enoch Rhoades, whose mysterious death in the mountains over 100 years ago haunts me to this day. Nor did I expect to gain a profound love and respect for Thomas Rhoades and his family.

You can do your own research on this topic, but please be cautious if you decide to venture into those mountains. You may end up just like everyone else, and then who would be around to read my c0-authored cookbook coming out next summer?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Captain Hook

by Tristi Pinkston

I was twenty-four when I wrote my first novel, "Nothing to Regret." It took a little while to go through the publication process, so I was twenty-six when it came out, but still, my age was a curious thing to my readers. My novel was set during World War II, and a question I received often revolved around my young age vs. my interest in history. My age was a novelty (if you'll pardon the pun) and it drew a lot of readers to me.

A few years have gone by since then. I'm now thirty-three and I've even sprouted two white hairs (I yanked those puppies out as fast as they were discovered, believe you me). My age is no longer quite the attention-getter it used to be.

When you're an author, you not only have to come up with a hook for your book - something that will make them want to keep reading - but you need a hook for yourself, telling your readers what makes you special, what makes you unique. For me, it was my age, not that I purposely went out there and said, "Hey! I'm young! Come read my book!" - that just sort of happened on its own. But now I need a new hook because I've lost that age factor. Look for ways to market yourself that are timeless, that won't change in a few years or with the discovery of a little white hair. Create for yourself an image that is based on the essential nature of who you are, and you will draw readers to you because of the strength of your own unique personality.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Win a Copy of Altared Plans

The perfect day. The perfect marriage. The perfect groom.

What could go wrong?

What do being dumped at the temple doors, being called to be the "mom" of the FHE group, dressing up in a clown suit, an ex-girlfriend, an unwanted suitor, and dancing under the stars have to do with each other? If you read Altared Plans you'll find out.

"Rebecca Talley's new novel, Altared Plans is LDS chic lit at it's best. If you are looking for a good light-hearted romance, with many twists and turns along the way, this book is the one." Sheila Staley, Book Reviewer

"Talley's magic is in her dialogue." Tristi Pinkston, LDS author

"It was a quick and easy read and it was so hard to put down and do other things that needed to be done. Out of 5 stars, I give this book a 6!" Marie Lundeen, Reader

Leave a comment and you'll be entered to win your very own copy and find out exactly what could go wrong with "perfect" plans. Come back in two weeks to see if you're the winner.

Good luck!

Monday, August 10, 2009

LDSBA Convention

I've been reading the blogs this morning on LDS Booksellers Convention. It is always amazing how perceptions flow. This year at convention CFI had 6 booths, DB has 6 booths, Coven. had 4, Granite 2, Millennial 1, Signature 1. Excel wasn't represented as I recall. I can't think of anyone else who had more than 3. Last year DB had 20, we had 8, covenant had 8, Granite had 6.

There were 27 fewer vendors at the convention this year compared to last year (about a 25% drop). There were about 15% fewer retail attenders.

The most interesting aspect of the convention was that the association bought the entire hall, but only sold 70% of it. Apparently this was an effort to see if we could fit into a smaller hall. All exhibiters were limited to a maximum of 6 booths.

DB and Coven. have made no secret that they want a smaller convention. They have expressed that they do not like the expense of the event. I talked to nearly half of the board of directors. There were many opinions expressed privately that would not be expressed openly at the meeting. Apparently there was some talk of DB not attending if anyone were allowed more booth spaces than the six they wanted to buy.

I guess we will continually work on our perceptions to find out where reality lies.

Who Decides What Makes an Author?

By Nichole Giles

When I was first getting started with writing—I mean, writing for real—I used to wonder at what point a writer became an author. Did I have to be published first? And what kind of “published” meant I was officially an author? Do magazine stories count? Or should I wait until I have a book published?

Then I wondered who gets to make those kinds of decisions. I could see it in my mind’s eye: Someone official and special (probably an editor or agent) would come to me, big published book in hand and say, “I hereby proclaim you, Nichole Giles, an author of the first degree, promoted forthwith from the title of lowly writer.”

Except guess what? That never happened. I’ve published numerous articles, blogs and other pieces of writing, and am working feverishly at several books—some which will be on shelves this year, and some next—but no one ever came to me and said, “Hey, you’ve been promoted.”

What’s the deal?

Okay, here’s the truth. It doesn’t matter what you write, or if or when you ever get published. Does not matter if you publish short stories, or articles or epic series novels, you can still be a real, live author. If you write, you’re an author. No one has the power to decide that for you. No one but you gets to decide what value you put on your writing. No group, or organization, or special agent, or super powered editor is going to sit you in a chair and interview you to determine if you are—in fact—worthy of the illustrious author title. No one can make that crucial decision except you.

So go ahead. Call yourself an author and be proud of it. Go to conferences, get-togethers, and other gatherings, and introduce yourself as an author. It’s okay, you aren’t lying. And if you feel funny about it, like maybe you need that justification, here it is: I, Nichole Giles, Author of the Highest Degree, hereby proclaim you, (insert name here), an author, forthwith promoted from the lowly title of writer.

You’re welcome. Except, there is one catch. In order to keep the title I’ve just given you, you have to go forth, write, keep writing, keep trying, and never forget how important it is for you to write. That is the only charge for my services today.

Stay tuned in two weeks for the announcement of the big winner. (Remember, Cindy Beck and I are giving away a copy of our book, “Mormon Mishaps and Mischief: Hilarious Stories for Saints.” The winner will receive their prize hot off the printing press in December.)

See you next time!


Sunday, August 9, 2009

By Love or By Sea - Give Away!

I thought I'd give you a little treat and include a small section of my book. I'm so thrilled with the idea of this contest! And I hope you will all eagerly leave me a comment! I will announce the winner on Sunday, August 23rd. (So just leave me a comment about how much you want to read it and how much you adore me and you are automatically entered!) There will be prizes given away between now and then too from other authors, so make sure to stop by and see what they are! I wish you all the best of luck and happy kissing.

As Alice began on her journey home and passed through the town, she exchanged pleasantries with a few people but mostly kept to herself, enjoying the view of the vast ocean growing in front of her and the goings-on of the town...
Then, as though nothing more than a mirage, she saw a tired man crest over the hill coming from the beach and walking towards her. The distance between the man and herself allowed her time to stare at him without being obvious. The tall man wore a tattered pair of trousers and a fairly clean, cotton shirt fastened only by three lower buttons, allowing his vast muscles to protrude from beneath as he carried a knapsack on his shoulder. His skin was bronzed from what she assumed were probably years spent in the sun. His sandy whiskers weren’t long but had obviously been neglected for many days, and his blonde hair was nearly as white as old Mrs. Winters’, but unlike hers, his hair traveled halfway down his back.
He sported an odd appearance, yet he was almost intriguingly familiar...
“Excuse me, miss?”
Alice turned at the sound of a soft, masculine voice and there, looking expectantly at her, stood the man she had been visually devouring only moments before. “Yes?”
“I realize this is probably a strange thing to ask, but . . .” He paused and looked at the inquisitive eyes that were lingering on him from passing spectators. He seemed suddenly less sure of himself. “D-do you know if the . . . the Newman’s still live around here?” he asked in a lowered, hesitant voice.
“Well, sure. They’ve lived west of town about a mile for longer than I can remember.” Then as curiosity got the better of her, she could not restrain the question from escaping her lips. “Are you one of Augustus’s nephews? You bear a striking resemblance to Augustus himself.”
The man chuckled uncomfortably and pushed a hand through his tangled hair. “Well, thank you, miss, but I’m not his nephew.”
A look of pain seemed to cross his face before he tipped his head to her in parting and left her alone to ponder on the encounter. Alice knew she had never seen this man before. She would have remembered. His weathered face made him appear quite old, and she felt a stab of sorrow at the look of pain that had so recently crossed his face. The look in the man’s eyes caused him to look somehow even older than he did at first sight.
That evening as she sat in the parlor with her nana and pappy, her gaze lingered on the fire while her embroidery sat forgotten on her lap. “What has your mind in a tumble tonight, peach?” Gretchen asked.
“Oh, I don’t know,” she answered casually...
“Well, are you just going to sit there until she drags it out of you, or are you going to tell it to us straight out?” Henry asked, equally concerned about his granddaughter.
“I don’t really know what to think, Pappy. My mind’s all muddled up and I can’t seem to make heads or tails out of anything.”...
“Why don’t you start by telling me how things were while you still could make sense of them,” Gretchen encouraged.
“Well, I went to see Mama and everything went well. She was attentive to me, and we had a real nice time. I came home, just like I always do and then . . .”
“Yes?” Henry said when she paused.
“Oh, I don’t know what to think,” Alice whispered desperately. “I was walking home, and then there was this man who came over the edge of the hill. He’d obviously come from the beach.”
“Was it Clarence?” Gretchen interrupted. “He’s normally coming back to town about that time of day.”
“Of course not,” Henry put in. “She would have recognized him.”
Gretchen and Henry were both completely captivated by what Alice had to say, but in truth Alice could not figure out what she was thinking. So how on earth did they think she would be able to tell them a story they could understand? “No, it wasn’t Clarence. In fact, I don’t know who it was. My gut instinct tells me he was a ghost, except he spoke to me.”
“A ghost?” Gretchen laughed. “Really, peach! What would put your mind to thinking something as crazy as that?”
“I’m serious, Nana!” Alice whined loudly.
“All right then. What was it about the man that put it into your mind that he was a ghost?” Gretchen asked repentantly.
“Well, he looked real enough, but he reminded me of . . . He kind of looked like . . .”
“Who?” Henry coached.
“I don’t know if I can utter his name.” Gretchen’s rather disappointed look displayed itself blatantly upon her face. Alice knew her grandparents were dissatisfied with her answer, but she didn’t know if she could tell them who the man looked like. So she changed the direction of the conversation. “He spoke to me though. His voice was low and hushed, as though he was afraid to speak.”...
“Alice, who was it that the man reminded you of?” Henry asked.
“Pappy, I don’t know if I can utter his name,” Alice whimpered.
“And why not?”
Alice hesitated, attempting to give enough information without actually having to say the man’s name aloud. “He died about six years ago in a ship wreck while he was at sea as a merchant sailor.”
“Are you trying to tell us that you spoke to Caleb Newman on the street in town today?” Gretchen asked reverently.
“I don’t know that it was him, Nana. And besides, how could it be him? Remember? Grace said there were no survivors.”
“But . . .”
“No, Nana. I’m certain my mind was just playing tricks on me. It was probably some poor sailor, anchored in town for a few days.” With that, the topic died, and the conversation moved on to other things, but that night as Alice lay in bed waiting for sleep to engulf her, the image of the man on the street kept her weary mind company. He was, after all, intriguing and very striking in his appearance, no matter how tattered and tired he looked. The thought of him being an older version of the ever-so-handsome Caleb Newman made the mystery of the man all the more enticing. He had been such a good looking young man; tall and very handsome. Rolling over with a smile on her face, she eventually found respite as she fell asleep thinking of the young man she’d thought of so often before.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Another Giveaway!!

We're doing an end of summer giveaway on the blog. There will be opportunities to win really cool books. If you would like to win a copy of my book, Pickup Games, leave a comment. Toward the end of the month, I'll announce the winner.

Pickup Games is a spin-off of Reasonable Doubt. It takes place five years later as Mick Webber attempts to put life back together. Here's the back cover details:

When Mick Webber gets a new job hosting a college basketball show, he is less than thrilled to learn he will be co-hosting with Cara Jones, a pretty brunette trying to get over her failed engagement. From the start it is clear the two will not be playing nice, and work soon turns into a battlefield. But as the season progresses and the two are forced to work together more closely, they begin to see that first impressions can often be deceiving.

Post a comment and you'll be entered to win. Make sure to come back for more chances to win other books from Writing Fortress authors.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


I know I usually write about humor, but this time I just had to blog about an author who I admire named Georgette Heyer. She lived and wrote from the early 1900's to the 1970's and her specialty was regency romances. I love her books because they are clean and beautifully written, most especially the vivid characterization of her main characters. Her characters are so full of life they just pop out of the pages at you. You literally fall in love with them. I have been trying to study her works to find out why this is, and I think that I have discovered several reasons.

1. They are fallible- Her characters have faults and plenty of them. It is so refreshing to read about 'real' people, especially as they struggle in a time when it wasn't okay to be 'real'.

2. The characters keep us guessing- The characters in her books are always doing something wierd for some reason that you never find out until the end.

3. They grow- Georgette is an expert at showing how a character grows and changes from the beginning to the end of the story.

4. Her character's dialogue is witty and fun and full of Characterization- Some of the dialogue in her books are riotous in their humor and Characterization, for example in her novel "Frederica" a young child who's about to live with a Marquis who has fallen in love with his sister asks him, "Would it be all right if you built me a workshop if I promised not to blow anything least very much?"

4. She shows, rather than tells- When you read this passage from one of her books called, Devil's Cub you will see what I mean:

"The man in the coach drew his right hand out of his pocket at last. There was an elegant silver-mounted pistol in it, still smoking. The gentleman threw it on to the seat beside him, and crushed the charred and smouldering portion of his greatcoat between very long white fingers."

You can just feel from this passage how smooth, cold, and emotionless this man is. And the best part is we get to read about how he grows from this cold emotoinless state and how he got there. Georgette is wonderful at not letting out these details too early and keeping us in suspense.

If you want to improve your characters and make them more vivid I highly suggest reading a few of Georgette Heyer's novels. I have found that by studying a master's work, I gain many insights that make my writing better.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Authorship, A Creative Journey

I have been thinking and it dawned on my that I have never formally introduced myself.

Hello. My name is JoAnn Arnold from sunny Santa Clara, Utah and I have five published books. They are: "Miracles for Michael," "Journey of the Promise," "Pages From the Past," "the Silent Patriot," and "Prince Etcheon and the Secret of the Ancient." I love to write, I love to paint and I love to work on my Family History.

Now to my post. I was a speaker at a writer's conference in Arizona some months ago, and today I would like to share with you some of the thoughts of my presentation.

I asked myself, "Wouldn't it be nice if writing was as simple as eating a chocolate bar or getting out of bed one morning and saying to your children, "Children, today I'm going to write a book so you will need to play quietly and fix your own lunch."

Then I asked myself some deeper questions, "How many of us would actually become authors if it were that simple? Would we write if there was no stretch or challenge? Isn't it the challenge that activates and stimulates our curiosity - our creativity - our imagination? aren't we a creative, curious, imaginative group?

In 1963, Alfred Kazin made the statement: "A writer writes to teach himself, to understand himself to satisfy himself. the publishing of his ideas, though it brings gratification, is curiously anti-climatic.

Who would think that having a book published could possibly be anti-climatic? But then, is it not the journey traveled as the story begins to unfold in the mind, and in the imagination, that brings true satisfaction?

We have all been asked, at one time or the other, what the recipe is to becoming a published author. So I did some research and this is what I discovered:

As Writers we learn to think for ourselves. We are honest in our writing. We have taught ourselves to read as a writer. We inspire ourselves to embrace the vision of being a creator and learn the skills we need to write compelling works. we have learned the importance of revision. We read, write, and we never, never give up. We think to get ideas. And if the ideas don't come, we think harder.

The author, Ayn Rand said, "the solution is alway to think over every aspect of the scene and every connection to anything relevant to the rest of the book. Think until you almost go to pieces; think until you are blank with exhaustion. Then, the next day, think again - until finally, one morning, you have the solution.

Rumer has it that creative people rely on effortless inspiration or spontaneity. Not true!!! It's persistence they rely on. Albert Einstein said, "I think and think for months and years. Ninety-nine times I'm wrong. the hundreth time, I'm right."

That's enough for today. Thank you for reading my post.

Monday, August 3, 2009

A Chance to Win "Mormon Mishaps and Mischief"

By Cindy Beck

In case you missed Jillayne Clements' post last night, we’re holding a giveaway here at the Writing Fortress. For your edification, let me just tell you what we are not giving away—a llama, Gila monster or night on the town with Burl Ives (which you'd probably appreciate not winning, since he's passed on).

Most, or possibly all of the prizes are real, live, printed-on-the-page books by authors here at the blog.

Unfortunately, the printed-on-the-page book that co-author, Nichole Giles, and I have written (with stories compiled from other great authors as well) won’t be out until December, but we wanted to give our 90 million readers a chance to win it.

What? We don’t have 90 million readers? Okay … 89.9 million.

Our book, Mormon Mishaps and Mischief: Hilarious Stories for Saints, contains humorous, true stories of Latter-day Saints that will have you holding your sides and laughing. It covers everything from bloopers at the pulpit and gaffes at priesthood camp outs to blunders during family home evening. The book makes a great gift for yourself, family, friends, or even a Christmas gift for your home teachers—when they finally show up on December 31.

How do you win a copy of Mormon Mishaps and Mischief? Just leave a comment on this blog entry and we’ll throw you into the random generator … well, not actually throw you, but your name (which will be assigned a number) into the mix and pull a winner two weeks from now, when Nichole posts her thoughts here. That person will win a copy of the book and we’ll send it when Mormon Mishaps and Mischief comes out in December.

Best of luck to each of you!

~ Cindy and Nichole

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Cedar Fort Authors Present...The End of Summer Giveaway!

We would like to express our appreciation to the visitors of our blog by giving away some really cool, fun stuff. (Mostly our books, which are quite cool if we don't say so ourselves.)

How it works: Each of us on our blog day, in the first half of the month of August, will be giving away either a free copy of one of our books or some other kind of prize. If you wish to win one of our books or prizes, you may post a comment under our blog. You may also enter to win with more than one author. In the last half of the month, we will announce the winners on our blog day, get the addresses of those who won, and mail out the goods.

For example, let's say in the first or second week of August, you enter to win a really cool book by your favorite author. You post a comment under that author's blog like this: "I'd love to win a copy of your book! And by the way, you are totally amazing." The next two weeks are painfully long while you kill time, hoping with all hope that you'll win. Two weeks later to the day, you go to and while reading that author's post that day, you find you actually won her book! Wow, your life is now complete...or at least it will be as soon as you get her your mailing address, receive her book in the mail, and read it while eating chocolate.

Thank you for stopping by our blogspot. We hope you have as much fun this month as we will!

The Cedar Fort Authors

LDS Bookseller's Convention

By Trina Boice

When my first LDS book was published, I received an invitation to do a book signing at the annual LDS Booksellers Association Convention in Sandy, Utah. I never even knew that such an event existed. I left feeling excited, rejuvinated and completely inspired.

The good news is that this year's convention starts tomorrow! It takes place August 3-7 at the South Towne Expo Center in Sandy, Utah from 9:00 am - 4:30 pm. The bad news is that it is only open to members of the LDS Booksellers Assocation and their guests. See what you can do to become a guest!

By the way, Cedar Fort has a terrific reputation for consistently having one of the best booths and is always decked out with impressive decor to coordinate with the theme for the year. This year's theme is "Discovering Treasures." As readers, we all know the thrill of finding a hidden treasure in a great book, whether it be a fun character, inspiring word choice, exciting adventure, or a new mind-expanding idea. Great theme. I wonder if there will be lots of pirates holding books, wandering around the convention hall this year?

I'm telling you, this event is fantastic! My friends call me a giggler...that is to say that I get all giggly and groupie when I meet famous people. It's embarrassing, really. The convention hall overflows with LDS "celebrities" you can meet and have sign their books, music CD's, artwork or DVD's. I brought my camera and made a real idiot out of much fun.

I love meeting people who have worked hard at improving their talents and who are doing amazing things. It energizes me and motivates me to try harder. Zig Ziglar said "Duty makes us do things well, but love makes us do them beautifully." You get the sense that all of these great musicians, artists and authors truly love the gospel and are trying to use their talents to build the kingdom. I love that.

It's also extremely invigorating to see the latest, greatest, and newest LDS merchandise to hit the market. I absolutely thrill to be around people who are creating, dreaming, and contributing something positive to the world.

To see the schedule of events and learn more about the LDS Booksellers Association, check out their web site at

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Hidden Treasures

By Christine Thackeray

My parents went on their mission to South Africa and told the story of a poor native boy who found a large unusual stone about the size of a human head and took it home with him. The family used it as a doorstop. One day years later two geologists came to his village and were surprised to discover the stone was one of the largest uncut diamonds ever found. For years the family had been scrounging for food and barely making ends meet when right below their noses they had something of such worth they could have been living in a palace.

I think too often we are the same way. We live our lives focusing on all the things we don't have or haven't done when there are treasures all around us that we either don't appreciate or don't even recognize.

I think one of those treasures for me has been finding my voice as a writer. I've given myself permission to explore the things I'm interested in at my own pace and it's been a delightful journey of discovery.

I'm curious what your diamonds are.