Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Repetition is a Good Thing, (most of the time)

JoAnn Arnold

I'm a tad late in posting my thoughts today, but I had to do my visiting teaching this morning. We don't usually wait until the last day. In fact, we usually have it done the first week. But there are times when not all goes as planned. And if anyone has some really good back excercises that will help me walk and sit and lie down without pain, please forward them.

Now, onto more important things. I know that my last three posts had a little bit of repetitive quotes and remarks. You ask why? The answer is simple. Repetition is a good way to remember and maybe I was checking to see if anyone noticed. Did you notice?

I want to list a few tips that might help us in our journey in becoming the authors we visualize in our imaginations.

1. Don't bore your reader
2. Be clear
3. Avoid cliches
4. Think new and surprising
5. Think sounds
6. Think in images
7. Don't begrudge the rewrites

Elmore Leonard put it this way. "Try to leave out the parts that people skip.

Alfred Hitchcock reminds us that Drama is life with all the boring bits cut out.

And Mark Twain said, "Why use a quarter word when you can use a nickel one, instead.

Now if I can just remember all this stuff.

Thank you for reading my post

Monday, September 28, 2009

Online Marketing to the MAX

Go here and sign up for the special CFI authors discount.

These presenters are as good as it gets. Google, The Twilight Guy and Bryce.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Writing Journey Through Music

By Trina Boice
My eyelids were drooping and every part of my body was aching last weekend as I sat in front of my computer screen for hours, scrambling to make a deadline my publisher had given me to finish my latest manuscript. I felt tired and uninspired, yet determined to finish.

What do you do for inspiration and motivation to keep hacking away at the keyboard? Well, I'm so excited about my latest discovery that I just have to tell you about it! Have you heard of ? I absolutely love it and I have it to thank for keeping me on task with my last writing project!
It's like a music radio station online, except without all of the annoying commercial breaks and songs you don't like. You simply tell it what songs you like and it creates a custom station just for you! Best of all, it's free!
To get back some energy I plugged myself into the "Journey" channel and suddenly felt a surge of writing strength overcome me. Yeah, I'm dating myself, but Journey is one of my favorite bands of all time. Thankfully, they're making a come-back with their 2009 tour, so now I won't seem so old, right? I hear their new singer, Arnel, is blowing everyone away. Sure love that Steve Perry...
When I needed to think harder and work on the more spiritual parts of the book I switched to the "Yanni" and "Enya" channels. Perfect. I even created my own "Wicked" and "Dream Girls" channels when I wanted to sing out loud while I continued typing away. declares itself as a music genome project that began in the year 2000. They've grouped songs together by sound, rather than genre, making for a very nice collection that appears to be able to identify my taste spot on.
I used to be one of those writers who prefers silence as their writing companion, but now I'm converted to! What do YOU do for inspiration?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Am I Happy?

By Christine Thackeray

This week I've had a cold which has left me a little down. In an attempt to lift my spirits, I noticed a book about "Happy People" and decided to read it. In the late seventies Jonathan Freeman did a study on happiness. Although he was clear that there is no simple recipe for happiness, he did hypothesize that different categories of people were more happy if certain things in their lives were in harmony. He called these the "Ten Pillars of Happiness." They were different for single and married people and for men and women. For married women he found the list went as follows:

1. Being in love
2. Marriage
3. Partner's happiness
4. Sex life
5. Recognition
6. Personal Growth
7. Primary Activity
8. Friends and Social life
9. Health
10. Being a parent

Now, right off the bat I considered the study flawed because these were the priorities of people who claimed they were most happy. I mean every euphoric newlywed will claim to be extremely happy whereas when life starts hedging in marriage alone might not keep you there. Still, I have to admit that the quality of our marriages is the largest factor in our happiness (which entails the first four items on the list).

What really got me about this study is that it reminded me of a scripture I was reviewing in Proverbs 31 last week about women being more precious than rubies. I personally hold that this list is a basic blueprint of an ideal priority list for women's greatest happiness. Anyway, here it is:

10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no
need of spoil.
12 She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.

I think its fascinating that the number one item in this list is marriage as well. Only it is far more specific about which aspect of marriage we need to work on- that we are careful with his "heart." The we don't stamp on his feelings, injure his ego or intentionally push his buttons.

The line "so that he shall have no need of spoil" holds special significance. In a Biblical sense, spoil is most often referred to as the fall out of conflict, as in spoils of war. How many marriages go through difficulty because a clever wife throws a zinger at her husband who in turn isn't quite as adroit so he tries to get her back with something that harms their relationship? Then she blames him instead of looking at herself and that initial act. Not only have I been guilty, but I can think of a handful of examples from my closest friends. Wow, I'm going to be nicer, especially when I'm tired or hormonal.

Ironically, I had planned to write about the number TWO item on the list- recognition and personal growth, i.e. wool and flax, as in pursuing writing or other talents in balance with responsibilities, but there you are. Often in writing our characters don't do what we plan, and I guess for me today blogging went the same way.

Now I'm going to go upstairs and give my poor hubby a hug. He caught my cold.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Cover art and how to finish a book

By Heather Justesen

First, you may have noticed my new book cover in the column on
the side, but in case you didn't, or haven't seen it on my regular blog, or my website, or Facebook profile or any of the multitude of forums I belong to (I'm not at all excited, in case you couldn't tell), here it is.

Last week I received an email from a friend who is an aspiring writer. I've read the first three chapters of her book, so I know the girl can seriously write so I was surprised when she asked me this:

Okay, I'm feeling totally overwhelmed. How do you keep at a book when it seems like you're looking at a decade of work?

The problem? She kept going back to revise the previous chapters instead of focusing on getting the book written to the end. So this is what I told her.

I’m going to give you an assignment. Write the book—you are NOT allowed to go back and edit ANYTHING. If you realize in chapter 22 that you need to go back and change something in chapter 6 then make a note and keep plowing on (unless you’re going to add a scene, that is permissible. Editing the scenes around it while you’re at it is not). If you edit each chapter into perfection before you allow yourself to keep writing, it won’t get finished. This is your first draft—you’re going to have to rewrite it anyway to add or arrange for things you don’t know are going to happen yet. Wait until later, then edit the whole thing at once when it’s DONE.

The book I’m working on now I’ve worked on a chapter at a time. I take the chapter to critique, mark their notes on it, then keep writing. I haven’t made any significant changes to it, or read it through, just made notes on the text. When I finish getting the whole thing through my critique group, I’ll go back and do my editing. And I can see piles of things that I did wrong, or that I should tweak to reflect the direction my book is going now, but I don’t give myself permission to work on those until the last chapter is written, or the end will never get finished.

Try it and see what happens. It’s too easy to get distracted with everything you did wrong earlier in the book and let that stop you from moving forward. It’s much easier to fix the book when it’s done, even though I know that seems daunting. Trust me, I hate doing full edits, especially when there’s a significant amount of reworking that has to be done. I drag my feet and procrastinate for months. I’ve looked at piles of manuscript that are covered in red ink and think it’s going to take me FOREVER to fix all of the problems my friends pointed out. Strangely, it’s never as bad as my mind makes it out to be. Usually, I finish it much faster and less painfully than I expected.

Go for it!

Yesterday at the Book Academy conference at UVU Brandon Sanderson was a key note speaker. He spoke about the ten things he had to learn before he got published. (If anyone got the title for #4, please let me know, I seem to have missed that slide). During the speech he talked about the difference between discovery writers (AKA seat-of-your-pants or 'pantsers') which he referred to as multi-drafters, verses single-drafters or plotters. He talked about the different methods, and how he uses different ones for different books, and--here's my point (yes, I do have one). He said multidrafters often have trouble finishing books because they don't have the ending planned, while single-drafters (a mis-nomer, of course, because even those who plot excessively have to edit their first drafts and revise--and they HATE to revise) tend to have trouble in the middle (and now I know why I struggle so much when I'm 60% done).

Understanding what kind of writer you are can help you avoid the pitfalls of never finishing your books so you don't have 13 on your hard drive that are nearly done (again, using me as an example. Well, 13 may not be exact, I haven't counted lately). Whatever your tendency, figure out what's holding you back and get the book finished. As Nora Roberts is commonly quoted: "You can't fix a blank page."

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Harvest Blessings

At the beginning of the growing season, I planted a couple of cucumber plants. Cucumbers, it seems, are one of those plants that I grow and usually only end up with a few bitter-tasting cucumbers, so I normally don't bother with them. But this year I decided to try again. I started them from seed in the soil and watched them grow, survive the grasshopper invasion that left my apple tree without a single leaf, and then the fruit fly swarms that ate my tomatoes off the vine before they were even ripe enough to pick.

Throughout the summer, I enjoyed several cucumbers from the garden right to my plate, but the other day, when a light frost killed some of the leaves on the plants, it revealed several more cucumbers that had been hidden under thick leaves, some had been hidden for a very long time judging from their size. There were way more than I thought possible for our family to use, so I decided to make pickles. I've never made them before, but that didn't stop me from trying.

I went out to my garden to harvest my cucumbers, plucking them and putting them in my biggest colander, but it quickly filled. I had to go back inside and set them on the counter and go back out to the garden for more. The same thing happened again. And again. Overall, I had more than 40 cucumbers to turn into pickles, and I didn't know if I had enough jars or ingredients to make them. Luckily, all turned out well, and now I have several quarts of pickles and pickle relish for my family to enjoy.

What a fun learning experience for me to discover that sometimes right before our very eyes, are the fruits of our labors and other blessings. Sometimes I think I get so involved with life that I don't take time to look for the bounteous blessings all around me, but when I do take time to look and feel grateful, I feel richly blessed.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The World is a Piece of Paper

by Tristi Pinkston

When I realized it was my turn to blog today, for a moment I drew a blank. What should I write about? It seemed my stash of cleverness had run dry. But as I sat here, having a deep conversation with my keyboard, I realized something ... the world is a stage, and we are but players on it, but the world is also a piece of paper. We can write about anything, and by using our own unique voice, we can create something that will inspire, uplift, entertain - just by taking advantage of the cues around us and applying them to our own situations.

From where I'm sitting, I can see my son's prayer rock that he made in Primary a few weeks ago. He glued what was supposed to be a tail on the back, but it was a little lower than where my older son thought a tail should go. It was very amusing to listen to this discussion - I call it a "discussion" most generously - as these two feuding siblings discussed just exactly where a tail belongs on a prayer rock, each certain they were right, when neither of them stopped to consider that rocks don't have tails at all.

From where I'm sitting, I can also see the small bottle of aloe vera gel we bought at the health food store for my daughter's rat. She has been through four pets this last year (you can read all about it here and here, although I was remiss and didn't blog when Billy and Honeysuckle died) and the latest, Stephanie, had developed some scabbing on her back. After a week of putting aloe vera gel on her back every night, her back is nearly better and it's our hope that we will not be sending a fourth rodent to join her brothers and sister in Grandpa Joel's garden. This whole experience has been a rough one, as my daughter has learned the pain of loving something and then losing it, then the cautious willingness to open her heart up again, only to have it broken again. Most of all, it has shown me the depth of a grandfather's love for his granddaughter as not just once, but three times, he has dug deep holes in his yard and created a meaningful burial place for her pets.

Also from where I sit, I can see three little yarn dolls my daughter made for me. I made dolls just like this when I was a little girl, and I showed her how it was done. She has taken the art form to a whole new level, though, creating dresses and legs and hair and angel wings and all kinds of other things I never would have even dreamed of. When I look at those dolls, I wonder what kind of woman she will grow up to be, and I remember the little girl I once was.

Truly, the world around us is full of writing material. Words lurk behind everything we see. Every experience is laced with emotion, every conversation has potential for story. Send out your feelers, listen with your heart ... and get writing.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Whitney Awards

by Rebecca Talley

As we enter the last quarter of 2009, I wanted to remind readers to nominate books by LDS authors for a Whitney Award.

The Whitney Awards were created to recognize excellence in literature written by LDS authors. The books do not have to be targeted to the LDS market, but the author must be LDS to qualify for a Whitney Award.

We have outstanding books in the LDS market, including books by the authors here at our blog. If you've read a book that you think deserves to be nominated for a Whitney Award, you can nominate books here. It's an easy and painless way to recognize LDS authors.

The judges will whittle down all the nominations to five finalists which will be announced in February. This is a great way to recognize LDS authors.

The winners in each category will be announced at the Whitney Awards Gala hosted after the LDStorymakers Writers Conference on April 24, 2010 at the Provo Marriott. If you love to be surrounded by great LDS authors, you'll want to plan to attend the Gala.

Have you nominated any books? I have!

For more information, visit The Whitney Awards.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Reader Pet Peeves

**P.S. (not post script, but pre script) Will Impkatt - the winner of my August giveaway - please contact me at jaimetheler AT yahoo dot com with your mailing address so I can mail your book to you?**

I thought about giving some writing advice for my post today, which might be interesting to those of you who are authors or aspiring authors, but... nah! If you're in the mood for some writing advice there are some great posts by many talented authors here on this very blog.

One of the reasons--okay, probably the biggest reason--that I started writing is because I love to read so much. As I've grown older and wiser I've come to grips with the fact that I'm addicted to reading. I not only read multiple books a week, but I also read cereal boxes, shampoo bottles, any signs around me, newspapers (except the sports section - I am purely a SportsCenter highlights type of sports fan), magazines while waiting in line at the store, picture books, bookmarks, etc. I'm a pretty equal-opportunity addict, so I've read at least some books in almost any genre. And I've discovered some pet peeves that crop up again and again.

I thought it might be fun to rant (just a little). So.... Jaime's pet peeves as an avid reader:

1. When the author can't think of another way to show the hero as sensitive and loving except to make him cry all the time. Or mist up, or get choked up, etc. I like a man to appreciate a sunset, but if he starts blubbering, I'm leaving. If I want someone to cry at the drop of a hat, I have a 6 year old daughter for that. These books not only get put down, but thrown across the room. If only the hero was there in person, then I could forgive tears at being hit by a book in the face.

2. Building up to an awesome climax, only to have everyone talk it out and walk away. (*cough*Breaking Dawn*cough*) Whhaat?! Where's the smackdown?

I like action movies. I like the ending of Sahara where Matthew McConaughey shoots a cannon into the windshield of the bad guy's helicoptor. (And it only has a little bit to do with the fact that it's Matthew McConaughey doing it :) We get a thrill of vicarious justification in the Knockout ending. It doesn't mean I'd like to see someone get hit by a cannonball in real life, but don't hype it up, then let it fizzle out on me like a can of opened pop left on the counter all day. That's just sugary sweet with no punch. Ick!

3. Large sections of nothing but contemplation, followed by some more thinking, some philosophizing, and maybe a cup of tea. I'd also rank up there wandering around for months in a tent, hanging out forever in a cave, and just mooning into someone's eyes for three chapters. And yes, those are specific references to specific books.

If it's a thinking book, then fine. But I've read some great books that make you think while the characters are doing something--other than chatting at a coffee shop.

4. Fantasy kick-butt female characters that wear next to no clothing. I don't care how good she is with a sword, or axe, or staff, or 15 daggers, if she's wearing a fur bikini, she's not going to fare well in a fight. Sorry. And it's a dead giveaway a man wrote it. I doubt he's ever tried doing anything remotely physical in a bikini. She'd be too distracted by trying not to pop out.

5. A book that has to use more than 3 pages to list the characters. Unless it's War and Peace, (which I must admit I haven't read, but it sounded good) I don't want to have to refer to a spreadsheet to keep everyone straight. This includes speculative fiction where the names are all so out there and similar that I can't keep them straight. Maybe it's just lazy of me, or maybe it's the fact that everything else in my life is complicated and I don't want my few minutes of spare time to be just as stressful as juggling my family's schedule.

6. Bad guys who are bad... just because. Just because we all know bad guys are e-vil, the fru-its of the de-vil. (So I Married an Ax Murderer reference.) Although I could see a really fun humorous book about a bad guy who is just bad because he is supposed to be. Maybe he's a really bad, bad guy. Or maybe he wants to buck the system. Maybe a villain coming of age story...

Hold on just a second. I'm going to go write that down.

7. Books that take forever to get into the story. I might give them to chapter three, but if I'm
still thinking "So what?" I'm moving on. The time of Moby Dick is gone, people. To quote my brother, "If it's not instant, it's not worth it." Of course, he was talking as a bachelor about food preparation, but I think it sums up the Instant Generation.

8. Gratuitous, excessive swearing. This is especially annoying when the character with the potty mouth doesn't enter the story until the last third of the book, like in this fantastic horror/suspense I read years ago on a really long plane ride. I'd stayed up and read the entire book while everyone else on the plane slept. I was invested in the story and a new character entered right before the climax that swore every time he talked. Every! Single! Time!

*deep breath* Sorry, it still ticks me off.

9. A love interest who isn't very lovable. A great example of this is a much-hyped set of 3 movies that were prequels to a ground-breaking set of 3 movies that came out when I was a kid. And somehow the director expected us to believe that a mature, accomplished, beautiful woman with a long-established political career and a lot of spunk would really fall in love with a younger, whiny, brooding, rule-breaking guy with an entitlement complex. And completely buck the system and get pregnant over him. What-ev.

And, my biggest pet peeve...

10. When I as a writer commit the very pet peeves that drive me nuts. :)

So, what are your pet peeves? Please share so I make sure I don't do it.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Stranger She Married

Review by Rachel Rager

I am amazed at how the act of reading helps me as a writer. When I read well written books, I want to be a better writer and I try to incorporate new writing techniques. I think it was Nicholas Sparks who said that the best way to be a better writer is to read, read, read!
I’ve heard of Donna Hatch’s book, The Stranger She Married, for at least a year now and am just barely getting around to reading it. I am so sorry it has taken me so long! I really missed out on a great story for a very long time! Donna Hatch is not only a gifted writer but a master storyteller. Her story is full of adventure, intrigue and deception! What better elements are there for a romance book? (I loved this book and am very excited to finally own it!)

When her parents and only brother die within weeks of each other, Alicia and her younger sister are left in the hands of an uncle who has brought them all to financial and social ruin. Desperate to save her family from debtor's prison, Alicia vows to marry the first wealthy man to propose. She meets the dashing Lord Amesbury, and her heart whispers that this is the man she is destined to love, but his tainted past may forever stand in their way. Her choices in potential husbands narrow to either a scarred cripple with the heart of a poet, or a handsome rake with a deadly secret.
Cole Amesbury is tormented by his own ghosts, and believes he is beyond redemption, yet he cannot deny his attraction for the girl whose genuine goodness touches the heart he'd thought long dead. He fears the scars in his soul cut so deeply that he may never be able to offer Alicia a love that is true. When yet another bizarre mishap threatens her life, Alicia suspects the seemingly unrelated accidents that have plagued her loved ones are actually a killer's attempt to exterminate every member of her family. Despite the threat looming over her, learning to love the stranger she married may pose the greatest danger to her heart.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Every child is born a genius

Thomas Edison said, "Every child is born a genius. But the reason why most people do not function at genius levels is because they are not aware of how creative and smart they really are."

I had never thought of myself as being a genius, and if in thinking about it would make me so, then I will try to think that I am. So I try and I try, but as hard as I try I can't make myself believe it and I ask myself "Why?"

Vincent Van Gogh said, "If you hear a voice within you saying, 'you are not a painter,' then by all means, paint, and that voice will be silenced."

Theologian Jonathan Edwards said, "The ideas or images in men's minds are the invisible powers that constantly govern them. It's the beliefs locked into the sub-conscious mind that either advances or blocks creative flow and imaginative ideas."

So, If I can't believe that I am a genius then I will simply imagine that I am a genius. I will silence the voice inside that tries to convince me I'm not.

Now, you may ask where I'm going with all of this. I think what I'm trying to say is this; I want you to never believe that you are anything less that a great, inspiring author. I want you to never doubt your ability. I want you to believe in your genius. I want you to know that what you have is a gift from God. And I think I'm trying to let myself know, as well.

another thought. "The greatest books are yet to be written." Are we the ones who will write them?

Oh!! my back keeps crying out to me. "Can't you feel the pain I'm dealing with? Get out of that chair and walk." So, I will end with this quote from Orson F. Whitney. (And though I'm sure you've heard it before, it never hurts to have it refreshed in our minds).

"We shall yet have Miltons and Sheakespeares of our own. God's ammunitiion is not exhausted. His highest spirits are held in reserve for the latter times. In god's name and by His help we will build up a literature whose top shall touch heaven, though its foundation may now be low on earth."

(Is he telling us that we've only begun our journey into the unknown book that lies within our imagination?)

Monday, September 14, 2009

What Inspires You?

By Nichole Giles

Do you ever wonder where authors get their ideas? How they are able to hold entire stories in their heads—complete with the smallest of details—and spew them onto paper? Yeah, well, just in case you thought I was about to answer that question, I’m not.

That’s not what this blog is about. Or, not entirely, at least.

When was the last time something struck you in a way that made you want to remember it forever? Or, maybe not forever. Maybe you just reveled in the moment, accepting whatever you were feeling and channeling it into a bottle in your innermost self—saving it for future use on…something. Were you feeling hurt? Was it happiness? Peace? Joy? Love? Confusion?

Whatever else goes into it, writing should start first and foremost with those genuine emotions we’ve all experienced, but have buried over time. If—as an author—you can’t dig so deep within yourself that you literally feel as if you’ve probed your heart with a needle, your readers will feel that lack. But if you do, readers will feel it with you, laugh with you, cry with you, and connect to your writing and your characters in a very personal, emotional way.

How do we do this? Okay, everyone’s different, so I can’t really tell you the answer. Instead, I’m going to make a few suggestions and throw out a few ideas to help you along.

1. Keep a journal. Never fool yourself into thinking that any particular moment in time has been so branded in your memory that you won’t forget even the most minor details. You will. Major ones too. Write it down, for goodness sake!

2. Pay attention. Notice the smaller details of what’s going on around you. What color is the sky today? What is that smell in the air? Does it make your mouth water or gag? What’s making that weird noise? These are things readers need to know in order to feel involved in a book, and you can’t write them if you don’t notice.

3. Appreciate the world. It’s a beautiful place, and inspiring simply because of those who created it. Do the earth justice by looking at and appreciating the handiwork there.

4. Follow your gut. When you get that insane urge to write—even if it’s in the middle of the night after you haven’t had any sleep for days—give in to it. Most likely, there’s a character, plot, or setting that absolutely must get out before it shrivels up and dies in the light of the rising sun. Just do it already!

5. Allow yourself to write a crappy first draft, because it can be fixed later. No explanation needed. That’s what editing is for.

6. Read, read, read, read. If you do nothing else to further your skills as an author, you must read. Know what publishers are buying. Know what readers are buying. Know what’s hot and what flopped and what is missing from the market. It doesn’t matter what you write, so much as it matters that someone else wants to read what you’ve written. Right? As I mentioned in this blog, it only takes one person to change the world.

Okay, this is getting long. Did I give you some ideas? Now, go get a notebook, write down all these suggestions, and then begin thinking of your story. Now do you have a good idea? I thought so! (If you don’t have one yet, you will soon.)

And you thought I wasn’t going to answer the idea question! Ha ha. I fooled you, didn’t I?

Until next time, write on!


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Words Worth Writing

By Trina Boice

Just a few months ago, President Obama signed legislation officially establishing September 11 as a federally recognized National Day of Service and Remembrance.

In a moment our country changed forever. This weekend we honor those who fell on that tragic day, however, our gratitude for this country can easily extend into more than just one government-sanctioned day.

If you love to write, then you'll really love this simple project where your words will truly be meaningful..."Thoughts and Wishes for Our Troops" is a service project sponsored by the United Way here in my city, as well as others nationwide. You can bring together your office, school, social group or family to assemble cards, notes or banners to send to service men and women to thank them for their service. Your loving words of encouragement will mean more to them than any novel they could read.

Gather your cards and letters and then mail them to:
United Way of Southern Nevada
1660 East Flamingo Road
Las Vegas, NV 89119

I know that freedom doesn't come for free and I truly appreciate all of those in the military, police force, fire departments and other First Responders who work hard every day to make our country safe.

God does bless America and He does it through you and me.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Made it--barely

by Heather Justesen

I started my morning at 1:09 AM when my pager went off for a medical call for the ambulance. By the time I got back to sleep it was four, so I slept late then ran through my morning routine so I could head out of town much later than I had planned. Today I met my sisters (the three who live in Utah) for a girl's night, er, overnight activity. We rented a hotel room and have talked and giggled through the evening, sat in the hot tub (no pictures, I know, you're probably relieved about that), and took multiple video clips to email to my sister in Mexico and my mom who aren't able to join us.

We're staying in a hotel just outside Park City, hopefully not keeping any of our neighbors up while we giggle and laugh and tease, trying to get each other to knock over the Jenga tower while we sit around the table, hopped up on sugar from ice cream and candy.

I love getting together with my sisters. Usually we only make it for an evening a few times a year, but we love these nights together talking about anything and everything. I feel sad for people who don't get along with their siblings--they're such a huge blessing in my life, even though they live hours away (hours by plane, in the case of my older sister).

I was hoping to be able to reveal my book cover today, but apparently it'll have to wait. In the meantime, I'll leave you with this curious photo we took as we were driving around trying to pick somewhere to eat dinner. (Yes, after an hour of driving, we picked the restaurant across the street from our hotel).
Yes, those are shoes in the tree, hundreds of them. I don't know the story behind this shoe tree, but there's an ode to it in the Park City Magazine here. There's also a silly little video of the same trees here.

There's got to be an interesting story behind this... or at least a few fun tidbits. If anyone knows when the shoe tree started or why, I'd love to know.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Writing from the Heart

The other day, my daughter was asking what Michael Jackson used to be like, so for fun, we went to YouTube and watched an interview with him back in 1983. I had never seen an interview with him before, I just used to like some of his songs way back when, so I was surprised at what I heard. One thing he said, when asked how he comes up with his amazing songs, is that he writes them from his heart, and that he is his happiest when he is creating.

Now, I didn't realize that I had anything in common with Michael Jackson before, but his comments touched me. I am my happiest when I'm creating, and my writing seems to flow better and come more easily when I write from my heart.

But I don't believe his message applies only to writing music or books. There are endless possibilities in what we can create, and doing so is one of the most satisfying feelings we can have, especially when we do it with our hearts.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Where Does It Come From?

by Tristi Pinkston

Now, before you get all nervous, let me clarify that the title of this blog isn't "Where do babies come from?" It's, "Where does it come from?", the "it" in question referring to the inspiration to write.

I was asked this question the other day by a man who has the greatest respect for the written word and the process involved, but who does not write himself. He told me he's always been interested in just what it is that makes an author sit down and write something, whether it's an assignment or a voice inside the head or a feeling in the heart - what is it? I launched into a rambling and probably far-too-long explanation of just why it is that I write (I don't get to talk to adults very often) and at the end, I was surprised to see that A) he hadn't fallen asleep or run away and B) he seemed to get it.

Every author has their own inspiration source, although I think it's safe to say that we don't always get our story ideas from the exact same place each time. We also do it for different reasons, although I think it's safe to say that writing keeps us all sane. Regardless of the reasons or the techniques or the methods of so doing, we all know it comes from the same place - as a gift from our Heavenly Father. All talents are from Him, and when we truly seek to use them in the way He intended, to lift others up and to bring beauty or knowledge or inspiration into their lives, we'll find that our inspiration continues to flow.

I've found that when I go through my hardest periods of writer's block, it's either because I've worn myself out so badly I can't be receptive to those little voices, or it's because I've forgotten to give proper credit and thanks to the Source of all that flows within us.

So where does it come from? The idea might come from a line of a song, from an overheard piece of dialogue, from a dream ... but in the end, the source is always the same. It all comes from the one True Source, the One who created us and blessed us to see the world in words.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

By Love or By Sea by Rachel Rager

by Rebecca Talley

By Love or By Sea
Rachel Rager

From the back cover:

When a mysterious and ragged sailor appears in the seaside town where Alice Lind Frank lives with her grandparents, Alice is shocked to learn that the sailor is her childhood love, Caleb, who she thought was lost at sea. She yearns to trust him again, but what about her plans to marry Clarence Hielott, the wealthy shipyard owner? When Clarence exposes the secrets of Caleb s past, Alice realizes that the boy she once knew is now a man with a dark history. Can she trust Caleb with her heart once again? And what will she do about Clarence? Find out in this thrilling and adventurous love story.

I enjoyed reading this sweet love story. I also enjoyed being taken back in time and experiencing the adventure. By Love or By Sea is a fun story filled with interesting characters. From the slimy Clarence to the innocent Alice to the ruggedly handsome Caleb to the feisty Betsy Winters.

I loved the character of Betsy Winters and learning why she was so rude and mean in the beginning. I thought Rachel Rager created a believable character as well as developed a realistic storyline that unraveled at just the right pace. I loved how Alice, the main character, was spunky enough and determined enough to find out more about the town's meanest citizen.

This is an enjoyable book and I recommend it.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Cindy's Brain Joins the Circus

By Cindy Beck

Why is it that when I open a blog composition box, my brain runs away and joins the circus?

Really, it's not that hard to write a blog, is it? Nowadays, almost everyone does it ... including Bo-Bo, the Chimp. I'm proud to say that even my seventy-three-year-old mother, who's definitely smarter than Bo-Bo, writes a blog.

Wait. Look at that last sentence. Is "seventy-three-year-old" really supposed to have that many hyphens? It looks like someone took a knife and stabbed it in multiple places.

I'm thinking it's questions like "What hyphens go where?" that cause my knees to shake and my insides to feel like they're filled with live gummy worms when writing something for the Internet. After all, what if I hyphenate something wrong? Or my spellcheck runs a mock and lets all kinds of pore lee spelled words through?

For many years, I chugged along in ignorant bliss believing that if I made errors on a web page and posted it, I could delete the page seconds later. Poof ... with one keystroke, all my grammar sins would be forgiven.

But, nope.

Some time ago, in a heart wrenching moment of discovery, I learned that in a galaxy far, far away there is actually an archive that's been keeping track of posted web pages—you know, the type pages—since the Dark Ages of 1996.

Alas and alack, yes.

I'd list the address of the archives, in case there are some who want to check the accuracy of my facts, but I intend to delete this entry right after I post it, in case it contains errors and is being archived.

Besides that, I can't remember the address. Along with being a talented, fat-fingered typist who can fool spellcheck with sound-alike words (also known as homophones), I have a memory that's like cheesecloth tied in a knot. Or not. See? Another homophone.

It's lucky for me that I have such a sieved memory, because otherwise I'd be out there moaning over my misspelled words, poorly placed images, and text that looks like it was written in China.

Still, despite the dangers of making a bloggy mistake that makes me look like I'm related to Bo-Bo the Chimp, I'm here today, posting more words to grieve over in the future.

Why? Because after a vast amount of research (ten seconds just now on the 'Net), I'm thinking the robots that do the archiving can't access this blog. I'm not sure what that means for Bo-Bo the Chimp, but for me it means I'm safe as long as I'm here.

And that makes me feel a lot better. Therefore ... let the miss steaks beguine and the chips fall wear they Mae!

(Author's note: This blog entry was all in fun, but the archives are real and if you're interested in accessing them, you can find them here:

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Writing in 5 minutes

Several years ago I read a blog about writing. I don't remember who's blog or much that I read that day. (I know. It must have really been amazing!) But I do remember doing some writing exercisers. Now, I've never taken a creative writing class and any bit of writing I've mostly learned through trial and error. I also don't feel like I have a lot of time to do writing exercisers. So I was skeptical about this exercise. However, this one only takes 5 minutes! And after trying it, I was utterly amazed with myself!

So let me tell you a little about this exercise. I will show you two words, which you may look at for 30 seconds, and you sit and write anything that comes to mind at the first glance. You have five minutes to complete the assignment. It doesn't have to be a full story. Just start writing. Don't let your pencil (or fingers) come off the paper (or keyboard.) Try to write for a solid 5 minutes. Push yourself and see how much you can do in 5 minutes. You'll be amazed.
There are a couple of things, though. You need to use the first word shown you as the first word of your writing. The second word needs to appear in the first sentence.
So, are you read?
Get set...
(Remember you only have 30 seconds.)




Now write and let me know how it goes! Good luck and have fun!
If you want to do this again, go here and there's another set of words.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Peek in the Past - The Old Prison Site

Another place from childhood memories of Knutsford, Cheshire, was the old Prison Site. This place conjured up the strangest imaginings in my young mind. I wasn’t old enough to understand the full extent of man’s suffering when freedom had gone, and all that was left was the monotony of four walls and memories of better times, but still, the old place had a feel to it that was creepy, yet compelling.

I often cycled over there on my black bike (a second-hand but repainted birthday gift from my parents), riding up and down the bumpy hills worn into uneven paths by years of feet taking a short cut to town.

The ground, which was about the size of two soccer fields, had been known locally as the “Prison Site” for so long that the words were more a title than a phrase, and the meaning forgotten—similar to the way Brits call a vacuum cleaner a Hoover, with no thought to the real meaning.

This aerial photograph of the prison dates from about 1930 before it was demolished. The four-storey prison was built in 1853 to hold a hundred women. It was known as the 'House of Correction' in 1860, when it held 273 prisoners, with a capacity for 700, according to Joan Leach in her book Behind Prison Walls. And David Woodley, in his book, Knutsford Prison: The Inside Story, says, “Over the years, as well as local criminals, debtors and offenders against the Game and Bastardy Laws, Knutsford Prison housed disaffected Chartists and those awaiting transportation. From 1886, until it was taken over by the Home Office as an Army detention barrack in 1915, nine executions took place on its scaffold.”

When we lived nearby, the old prison had long been knocked to the ground, leaving heaps of brick and rubble over which grass and weeds grew in wild abundance. No one ever questioned why the debris wasn’t removed. It stayed there until after we moved home when I was twelve, and provided secret caverns big enough for my hand to insert small treasures, buttons, and a bright-but-broken Christmas ornaments. I always closed the hole containing my secret booty with a brick marked with chalk.

Sometimes, the contents would disappear by the time I next visited my hole, and that’s when I invented stories about prisoners still in dungeons below the ground, who took my gifts to perk up their days. Of course, they were always innocent prisoners, wrongly captured for crimes uncommitted, and there was always a fair maiden (me) waiting for the right moment to rescue the rugged hero. Actually, my heroes all looked like Cornel Wilde, an actor in a movie I saw with my mother. He was a trapeze artist in the 1952 version of The Greatest Show on Earth.

That was the first movie I ever watched, and it marked the beginning of an enchantment with the silver screen and all things connected. In England, trips to the cinema were called “going to the pictures.” As I grew older, I added stage musicals, concerts, and pantomimes, and invariably became so absorbed in the tale that the end always came too soon and it was a shock to find the world around me hadn’t changed.

By the way, in more recent years, the old Prison Site became the home of Booths Supermarket, and I understand there are reports of paranormal activity by local residents. Oh, for the time to write more. There has to be a good story in there, somewhere.

Back in two weeks. Oh, and if you'd like to read the latest review of Famous Family Nights, hop on over to author Sherry Ann Miller's blog by clicking HERE. Her first sentence says, "Famous Family Nights . . . is one of the best books I've ever read on Family Home Evenings." Thank you, Sherry Ann, you made my day. And I have to add, all credit for it being that good goes to the 91 participants who sent in their fascinating stories. Hats off to them all.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Writing Workshop At the Library

by Marcia Mickelson

So, I'm doing a writing workshop and book signing at my local library next month. I've been thinking about what I want to say. I guess I'll start off with how I began writing and talk about my journey through revisions, rejections, and releases. Basically, the 3 R's.

I'm not the kind of person who talks that much about herself. Sometimes, I really feel I just don't have much to say. But, this is going to be all about me, and I wonder will people be that interested?

I want to touch on the important aspects of my writing-- how I got published. I think that's what most people want to know. I wonder how much to delve into my individual books and what they're about. Do people really want to know what inspired each book?

I think I'll talk about the writing process for those who are aspiring authors. I'll mention a few key aspects to think about when you write- POV, pacing, dialogue.

So, I ask you. What would you want to hear about if you went to a writer's workshop? What would make it interesting for you.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Winner "Confessions of a Completely Insane Mother"

And the winner is.....drumroll.....Valerie Ipson! Congratulations! You've won a signed copy of "Confessions of a Completely Insane Mother!" I hope it will make you laugh and feel great about being a mother! I think I need to re-read it after I set my stove on fire when I made strawberry jam the other day. Sigh. If you didn't win, don't worry, you can read some more humor stories on my blog. Have a wonderful day!
humor blog:

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Holy cow! September already?

I was happily going along with my crazy week when I realized that it's September 2nd. And that I said I'd pick a winner for my book giveaway on Aug. 17th and post it the first day of September. Which was yesterday.


Even though I'm a day late, helped me choose a winner! And it is the commenter Impkatt!! *applause* *whistling* Email me your mailing address at jaimetheler AT yahoo DOT com. Impkatt wanted me to pick my favorite of my two books, but I won't tell which one. I'll let it be a surprise. (Mostly because I haven't decided yet.)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Rumor Has It . . . . And the Winner is . . . .

Rumor has it that the sub-consicous has the power to move the world? Hmmm. Very interesting. Is that why we get ideas, find solutions, conclusions, answers, plots, more often than not in the middle of the night or in the middle of doing something completely opposite of the the current writer's block whirling around in our head? Are we simply freeing up the sub-conscious, giving it time to work on the problem? Wasn't it Agatha Christie who said, "The best time for planning a book is while doing the dishes."

Dr. Linus pauling tells us that the best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas. so where do we get lots of ideas? 1. We may think them. 2. We may read them in a newspaper, a book, a magazine. 3. By being a people watcher. 4. Maybe through our own life experiences. 5. TV or movies. 6. History. 7. Curiosity. 8. By simply listening to the twittering of a bird - to the silence of the night - to the quiet beauty fo the day - to the sunshine or the rain.

I might add while visiting an art gallery, listening to music, painting a picture, hiking, swimming, etc. Oh, there are so many ways.

I took an art class from Dale parsons, who you all know to be a impressive artist. One of his most timely bits of advice to his class was this. "Sometimes I will work on a face for hours, leaving it only when I think I've got it right. Then, the next morning I may get up and take a look at it and start all over again."

Knowing that even the greatest artists don't always get it right the first time, tells me that I'm doing okay. It makes me realize that no matter how long I've been painting or writing, I will never quite learning.

today, I am giving away a book and I am so excited. What I've done is copied all the names on pieces of paper and, at this moment, they are sitting in front of me all clumped together, waiting . . . . I shuffle through them . . . close my eyes . . . reach out my hand . . . Ah. And the winner is . . . Wait a minute . . . oh, no . . . There are two pieces of paper in my hand. Maybe I should have kept my eyes open. The only fair thing I can do now is to give two books away. Isn't this fun!!! And the winners are: Joylynn and Janice

If both of you will e-mail me your address at I will get your books in the mail.

I want to thank all of you who commented on my blog. See you in two weeks.