Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Whitney Awards Deadline Tomorrow Night

According to The Whitney Awards website,, the following books by our blog team members have been nominated for a Whitney Award:

Lipstick Wars by Christine Thackeray
Luck of the Draw by Rachael Renee Anderson
Rebound by Heather Justesen
Defensive Tactics by Steve Westover
The Peasant Queen by Cheri Chesley

Congratulations! That's awesome. Good luck to all of you!

We still have two members of our blog team who have eligible books:

The Rogue Shop by Michael Knudsen
Bumpy Landings by Don Carey

Both of these books are late-in-the-year releases and haven't had much exposure yet. So here's the proverbial kick-in-the-pants to nominate these books if you feel like they deserve a nomination. Don't forget, and don't wait, because tomorrow at midnight is the deadline to nominate books for 2010. We don't want any great books to miss a nomination!

I've nominated books for a Whitney. Have you? Go here to nominate

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Eating the Elephant

Most authors like to be ready with new writing goals for a new year, and I'm no exception. Most of the last half of 2010 was spent preparing for the release of my first published book, and there is still a great deal of work to be done on promotion, including signings and conferences. Through all of this, I can't lose sight of the goal to produce at least a first draft of a new book during this coming year.

The difference this time around is that I'm writing in a different genre with an all-new setting (heck, an all-new WORLD) and characters. The format is much longer (as long as 175,000 words), with multiple points-of-view and a plot that involves centuries of history (all made up by me!) and magical goings-on. It's a big task, but I'm determined to make it happen in 2011. All I need to do is balance producing a 600-page manuscript with all the other roles in my life.

Now, I admire all you nanowrimo aficionados. 50,000 words in 30 days, daily "sprint" exercises and all that good stuff. As the founder of the nano movement likes to say, producing that much "crap" is better than doing nothing at all. But I don't have a month to dedicate to writing, and on most days I don't even have an hour. Even if I give myself an entire year to do it, how am I going to accomplish such a big task?

I'm going to eat the elephant.

A bite at a time. This requires a little math, which my brain shrinks from but is necessary. 600 pages divided by 12 months is 50 pages per month. Not bad, I tell myself, I'm not so scared. I've written 50 pages in 2 days before. 50 in a month should be no sweat.

Not so fast, Mike.

Remember, I'm dealing with a much larger plot (actually a series of plots and sub-plots), and the opportunities to write myself in a corner are legion as I discover the deficiencies in my outline or allow a character to take on a life of his or her own. Entire scenes, entire chapters will be balled up and hurled in the trash, forcing me to re-write others to fill the gaps. I'm not talking about editing or revision, folks, this is my rough draft process. While I'm quite happy to finish a draft that consists of 600 pages of wombat doo-doo, it at least needs to make sense.

So 50 pages per month breaks down to about 12 pages per week. That's only 2 pages per day if I take Sundays off! A chimpanzee with a keyboard could do that, right? Maybe, but the average primate has a bit more leisure time on his hands than I do, and all weeks are NOT created equal. I'm juggling a wife and three kids (not literally, since my youngest is afraid of heights and my wife gets motion sickness), a full-time job and a stack of miscellaneous callings, assignments and events that can on many days keep me going from 4:30am to 9pm. To make things even more interesting, I'm not a "flash writer". Little chunks of time like the 17 minutes between dinner and my son's basketball practice aren't of much use to me. My brain works more like an old 286 PC than an iPad. It can take 30 minutes just for the operating system to load up, all before the first word is written. The fantasy world with my unique creatures and characters simply can't occupy the same gray matter at the same time as the real world, and it takes time to get into it. I need at least an hour to get warmed up, and my best writing occurs in hours two, three, and beyond. This reduces my productive writing time to weekends, holidays, and rare weeknights where nothing else is going on.

On a bad week, I'll have 8 hours to write. On a good week, I'll have 12. On a miracle week, 16. Let's take an average of 10 hours. 12 pages in 10 hours. I can do that. Some weeks I will kill it and get 30 pages done. Other weeks I'll be lucky to get 4. But with my handy-dandy page log spreadsheet, I can ensure that I stay ahead of schedule by comparing my actual page count with my forecast. The Law of Averages will eventually become my servant.

A year from now, I'll either have the 600-page draft done, or I won't. There won't be any excuse if I don't, because I have done the math, run through the worst-case scenario, and declared it possible. I have proven that I have sufficient creativity, and logic dictates that there is plenty of time. A failure at this point would reveal a lack of willpower. That's not something I want to be accused of.

Let's not forget -- 2011 is also the start of a new decade, the "teens" or whatever history ends up calling it. Be sure to make your long-term goals as well!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Who's at the Door? by Dan Harrington

by Rebecca Talley

From the back cover:

Experience the gospel in a new perspective while witnessing Dan Harrington's spiritual journey. 

Not just another tale of conversion, Dan reverently reveals the Mormon religion through a non-member's eyes as he reflects upon his experiences with missionaries and Church members, forges new friendships, and finds an unexpected common ground of faith. 

Find out who's at the door and see what can happen when you open it. 

I enjoyed this book by a new CFI author. My son served his mission in Rome, Italy and I often wondered what it was like for the people that met him. He's so full of energy and excitement that I'm sure many he met caught his enthusiasm. This book allowed me to see a mission from another perspective--that of an investigator.

Harrington is candid and honest about his experience with the missionaries. He also shares his feelings about members of the Church he met. One particular experience made me cringe. A member of the ward was supposed to come and meet with him and the missionaries but didn't show up, on more than one occasion. I realize that things come up and we all have tremendously busy lives, but I wish someone from that ward would've been able to attend the discussion with Mr. Harrington and the elders.

I wasn't sure if I'd like this book, I'm not a big memoir reader, but it pulled me right in. I found myself thinking about it and hoping for a particular ending. This isn't a conversion story, it's about Harrington's spiritual journey and I liked his candor.  He didn't sugarcoat anything. It made me realize that I need to teach my boys even better how to be an effective missionary, how to be a friend to those they teach, and how to bring the Spirit to any meeting.

I hope Mr. Harrington continues on his spiritual journey and I hope it leads him to the Savior. I feel like I know him, or at least a bit about him, after reading his book and it's made me ask myself some questions.

I recommend this book to any who want to venture out on a spiritual journey and to any who want to know the other side of a mission.

I received a review copy of this book but it did not influence my review. My opinions are my own. Who's at the Door? A Memoir of  Me and the Missionaries is available at Amazon.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Signing Books is Fun

Today I'm doing my last book signing of the year. Considering this is the 11th book signing this month, I'm kind of relieved to get a break. My kids are, too. They want me home for a while. But I have to say, I've had a lot of fun.

I've always been a really introverted person, and I thought book signings were going to be a challenge because of it. But, as I write and attend author conferences, I grow, so by the time I reached this critical step in the writing process--book promotion--it's become something I look forward to rather than dread.

I've said it before--the days of the reclusive author who sits in a cabin and pens out a bestseller without every being viewed in public are over. If we want our book to do well, we need to do our part to promote it. But, I think we are all up to the task.

Go get 'em. :)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Interview with Emily Showgren: Cedar Fort Public Relations

Emily, thank you for taking some time to share information about Public Relations at Cedar Fort.

Steve: How long have with been with CFI and what are your primary duties?

Emily: I have been with CFI since August 28, 2010 so I’m still pretty new. My primary duty is author relations but I’ve also been fulfilling the role of publicist for the last month. Lately, I’ve been scheduling a lot of signings for our authors as well as getting them media attention.

Steve: What should every new author know about Public Relations and marketing as they are writing or preparing for the release of their first book?

Emily: While writing, I recommend figuring out who the audience is and how they are going to sell the book. The book needs to resonate with as many people as possible. Also, I recommend keeping up with different blogs and other outlets online that would be a good fit for the book. Our world revolves around technology so it’s a great way to reach a lot of people.

Steve: Are there common mistakes most authors make in approaching the marketing of their book?

Emily: Trying to do everything themselves. There are certain things that need to go through us, especially book signings. If I know that a certain store doesn’t mind authors contacting them, I will give permission to contact. However, another common mistake is thinking the job of promoting the book is all mine and Cedar Fort’s. We need cooperation from authors as well as any ideas they may have. We’re pretty creative but there’s always a new idea out there.

Steve: Does Cedar Fort have a standard marketing plan for every book released, or is a specialized plan developed for each new release?

Emily: I send all the new releases each month to the appropriate media in Utah as well as other places the authors suggest. If we have an LDS title, it goes to places like LDS Living, Meridian Magazine, Mormon Times, etc. If it’s a national title, it goes to places like The Salt Lake Tribune, The Standard Examiner, Salt Lake City Weekly, etc. We’ve also been having a lot of success with bloggers. If a blog has several hundred or thousand followers it can be a great marketing tool.

Steve: There is a common feeling among authors that if a publisher wants a book to be a big hit, all the publisher has to do is throw marketing dollars at the project. Is there truth to this or is it totally off base?

Emily: This is definitely off base. There needs to be a combination of marketing and good old-fashioned PR. If you see a billboard with a book on it, you may not think twice but if you see the billboard and then run into the author at a book signing or see an article or interview with them, it reminds you. We see the most success with authors who are willing to go out of their comfort zones and work at selling their books. We have great sales reps here but the author knows the book best. It’s those authors who go out to do signings or who are networking who end up selling books.

Steve: How does CFI decide which books to place its marketing muscle behind?
(author following and prior sales, genre, personal marketing effort of author?)

Emily: All of the things you listed come into play. Sometimes authors think their work is done once the book has been published. It’s important the author sticks with it and puts as much effort into selling and marketing their book as they did writing it. When looking at what to spend marketing dollars on, we look at returning authors who have sold well as well as newer authors who have a great marketing plan in place. We do look at websites and blogs a lot as well to see if the author has a following and how they can use it to their advantage. If an author doesn’t have a webpage but we still feel they have potential, our website designer will help them put together a page. This is something brand new that we are starting for Cedar Fort authors.

Steve: For non-Utah authors, what can be done to encourage sales in Deseret Book, Costco and Walmart if they are unavailable for book signings?

Emily: There are opportunities to do signings at DB, Seagull, Costco, and other stores outside of Utah. Authors do need to be approved to sign at those stores and arrangements need to go through me and corporate.

Also, having an online presence is huge. Authors should be utilizing Facebook and blogs. Following blogs and inviting people to be a part of theirs is what is going to bring followers. Make sure to mention where the book is sold and link to the page the book is on.

Steve: How does CFI market non-LDS based fiction and non-fiction to the national market?

Emily: We have a national sales manager who does a great job at getting our books into national bookstores.

Steve: Is there a move at CFI to increase sales to a national audience?

Emily: We continue to try to find and publish books that will appeal to the national market so we can build our presence.

Steve: Authors are encouraged to sell their product by doing book signings and launch parties etc. Does CFI view book signings as a successful tool in driving sales?

Emily: We do as long as the signing is held in an approved and appropriate venue and the author is willing to work at selling their book. Sitting behind a table for two hours isn’t going to sell books and it’s not fun either. Engaging with customers and not being afraid to sell themselves and their book is most important.

Steve: What should an author expect of the publisher regarding marketing and PR?

Emily: First of all, trust us. I’m not going to steer you in the wrong direction. If I did, not only would you not be successful, Cedar Fort wouldn’t be either. I’m the person authors should come to regarding any and all questions they have after the publishing process. If I don’t know the answers, I will get them. I’m pretty good at responding to my authors within 24 hours – unless it’s a weekend and then it will be a little bit longer.

I will send out review copies to appropriate outlets as well as write and send press releases and help facilitate any media opportunities that come about. I’m also working hard at getting our books award recognition. I research different award opportunities and submit books I think are appropriate. I will notify authors if I’ve submitted their book and if they’ve won anything. Any media marketing opportunities (i.e. Radio and TV ads) go through the marketing team and we then decide what will be produced and run. Book trailers are something we’ve been working on as well and hope to produce more of those in-house soon.

Steve: What should an author expect to do on their own?

Emily: Network and find outlets that would be a good fit for their book. We give authors a 60% discount on their books so if they continue to come up with reviewers who are interested and the 10 free promotional copies have been used, they can get a great deal and get those books into hands.

I appreciate Emily taking the time to answer my questions. I'm sure this is no surprise to anyone who reads this blog, but the people at Cedar Fort are a class act.

Check out my blog to read my interview with Dan Harrington, Author of Who's At The Door? He's a fellow Cedar Fort Author who deserves our support. Interesting book-Interesting Interview.

On an ending note, I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas! I hope your holidays are filled with love and joy.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Lessons I have Learned

JoAnn Arnold

I have a book that I pick up and read when I need some good advice. It's called "Treasury of Wit and Wisdom." I'd like to share some thoughts with you.

Scott Adams said, "Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.

Cecil B. DeMile put it this way. "Creativity is a drug I cannot live without."

Sigmund Freud: "When inspiration does not come to me, I go halfway to meet it."

Harry Caray: "I've only been doing this 54 years. With a little experience, I might get better."

Robert Collier: Make every thought, every fact, that comes into your mind pay you a profit. make it work and produce for you. Think of things not as they are but as they might be. Don't merely dream--but create!

I love to sit down with this book and let these thoughts remind me that life really is crazy and it might take a few chocolate bars to wake up the creative section of the brain that sometimes likes to hide itself and sleep.

On a much more important subject, Christmas is just a few days away and I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Safe and happy New Year.

"For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour, which is christ the Lord."

Monday, December 20, 2010

That's Good; That's Bad; That's Life

When I was growing up, we had a picture book called "That's Good, That's Bad," by Joan M. Lexau. In the book, Tiger sees Boy sitting on a rock. "Run," said Tiger. "And I will run after you. And I will catch you. And I will eat you, Boy. So run from me."

Boy just sat there and looked at Tiger. "Eat me then," said Boy. "I have no more run in me."

Boy then shares with Tiger a tale of woe and joy, explaining why he has no run left. Tiger listens intently, replying "That's good," at Boy's little victories, and "That's bad," at every defeat.

The "good" and the "bad" alternate regularly, bringing the reader along in a compelling narrative, with the threat of Tiger eating Boy constantly lurking in the background.

Decades later, I'm still impressed with the effectiveness of this simple writing strategy: Something bad happens, and then something good happens, and then back to something bad. It's a powerful tool for building tension and keeping a reader's interest.

I think one reason this strategy captures our attention so well is because it's often the pattern found in real life. We're constantly tossed up and down, the good and the bad coming at us in rapid fire. We talk about clouds having silver linings, and about windows opening when doors close. That's the way life works--giving us a healthy blend of both the good and the bad.

It's the way great fiction works, too.

shameless self promotion: Watch for the Bumpy Landings next month! Launch party January 13th, 2011. Save the date.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Literary Agents Tweet Their Authors Right

                                                                     by Trina Boice

Literary agents do a LOT of reading, but they also do a lot of talking too, and these days, they're doing both on Twitter.

If you're looking for an agent, wanting to learn from the pros, or simply hoping to connect online, check out the following literary agents who are Tweeting up a storm.  Of course, the list isn't exhaustive; I only included those who looked like real book nerds or had an entertaining description.  After all, if you're going to use an agent, you want one who is truly addicted to good literature, is creative, and has a sense of humor, right?

Laurie Abkemeier: Literary Agent (former Editor), Looking for the Next Big Thing, home of the AGENT OBVIOUS TIP OF THE DAY
Jason Allen Ashlock: Founder of Movable Type Literary Group
Holly Bemiss: Literary Agent. Working to rescue cool writers from obscurity, one book at a time
Carole Blake: Literary agent with a fabulous list of wonderful clients, author of FROM PITCH TO PUBLICATION on how to get published
Michael Bourret: Literary Agent, bran muffin enthusiast and nerdy cat person
Lucy Carson: I’m a literary agent living in NYC, eating as many fried foods as youth allows, and generally ready with an opinion at all times, on everything.
Jill Corcoran: Agent with Herman Agency representing MG and YA authors.
Erin Cox: Gun For Hire
John M Cusick: Author of the young adult novel GIRL PARTS. Literary agent with Scott Treimel NY. Managing fiction editor at Armchair/Shotgun. Mostly harmless.
Greg Daniel: Literary agent, sumo wrestler.
Stacia Decker: Literary agent specializing in crime/mystery fiction.
Brian DeFiore: Literary agent, publishing geek, former editor/publisher, pretty good dad of two teenage girls.
Stephany Evans: Lit agent on the run. Love good food, good wine, good books, and good roads.
Natalie M. Fischer: Literary Agent with the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency, making my way through adventures in agent land.
Miss Daisy Frost: London lit agent and general mischief maker around town.
Louise Fury: Literary Agent, Marketing advocate and general lover of books.
Rachelle Gardner: Literary agent, firefighter’s wife, mom of two awesome girls, Starbucks freak.
Kate Garrick: I like books and i like food; i only like one of those things professionally.
Jonny Geller: literary agent & md of Curtis brown books. Publishing is not a closed book. It just looks like it sometimes.
Kathryn Helmers: Creative Trust agent.
Kristina Holmes: Non-fiction book agent, author advocate, obsessed with nut butters. Often found curled up with a book in one hand and a spoonful of peanut butter in the other.
Weronika Janczuk: Lit agent with D4EO Literary + writer (YA/lit/hist fiction). Lover of witty books, ’80s ♫, tea
Elizabeth Jote: Slushpile Warrior. Bibliophile. Horder of paper. Literary Agent. Chameleon. Random howler from inside the publishing beast.
Deidre Knight: Literary Agent and multi-published author of romance/women’s fiction who loves to travel to far away places, mentally and geographically.
Mary Kole: Kidlit enthusiast and associate agent at Andrea Brown Literary Agency!
Jennifer Laughran: “Literary agent at andrea brown lit, children’s bookseller, reader, raconteur, eccentric multi-millionaire and patron of the arts… and some of those are lies”
Kevan Lyon: Literary Agent, historical fiction fanatic, dog lover, beach walker…
Alexandra Machinist: Literary agent. Cultural explorer. Voracious reader. New Yorker. Observer. Sometime Nancy Drew. Sometime Carmen Sandiego. Lover of sandwiches.
Lauren E. MacLeod: A literary agent @strothmanagency with an emphasis in YA and MG fiction and nonfiction. Opinions are my own
Jean Martha: Lit Agent. Potty Mouth. Per @DonLinn you should follow me for NYC cab ride and bus commentary, general fun-and-games, wine-soaked lunches and baked goods
Anthony Mattero: NYC Rookie, Lit Agent, Philly Sports Apologist
Sara Megibow: Associate Literary Agent at Nelson Literary Agency. Publishing and parenting – that’s most of it. Some reading and skiing thrown in for sanity.
Brianne Mulligan: Once an editor, always an editor… But now I’m an agent.
Dana Newman: Tech/contracts/intellectual property lawyer, literary agent, mom, book lover, runner
Laura Nolan: literary agent, digital opportunist, foodie
Ayesha Pande: Literary agent, citizen of the world, lover of the written word, proprietor of boutique agency and book nerd
Jason Pinter: Bestselling thriller writer, upcoming ZEKE BARTHOLOMEW series for young readers, agent at the Waxman Literary Agency, HuffPo Books columnist, publishing wonk.
Barbara Poelle: literary agent, theater wife, professional Polish vodka sampler, it could get a little weird.
Chris Richman: Kid’s book agent, music snob, Philadelphia sports fanatic.
Holly Root: Literary agent, theater wife, cat person, iphone addict.
Elana Roth: Brooklynite, children’s book agent, Squarespace support-team member, semi-pro Jew, bourbon drinker. I work for lots of people. None of these tweets are theirs.
Tamar Rydzinski: Literary agent, mom, Washington Heights resident, scared of dogs
Meredith Smith: Literary agent, Episcopalian, flag football player, reluctant Tweeter.
Rebecca Sherman: Literary Agent at Writers House. Midwesterner transplanted to NYC. Musical theater loving, pop culture addict vegetarian.
Laura Strachan: literary agent representing literary fiction and narrative nonfiction. Loves books, art, theatre — compelling stories, well told.
Kari Stuart: I’m a literary agent in NYC. When I’m not reading fabulous new, unpublished books, you can find me testing new recipes or running in the park with my dogs.
Suzie Townsend: book lover, former HS teacher, literary agent, sci-fi/fantasy nerd, and owner of an unused $6000 wedding dress. love my life.
Joanna Volpe: NYC lit agent and lover of pizza.
Michelle Wolfson: I’m a literary agent. Check out my site and if you think we’re a fit, let me know. Otherwise just support my authors and buy their books!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Launch Party - What Worked and What Didn't

When I decided to host my own launch party, without involving publishers or bookstores, I knew there were risks. What if no one showed up? What if I got stuck with all those books? As a first-timer, it was a bit nerve wracking.

Of course, once my wife was on board, her organizational and decorating skills made me feel more confident with each passing day. She has an innate talent to magnetize an event, which has been well-honed on church and family activities.

The party is over, and it was everything we hoped for. Even the single uncontrollable factor, the weather, cooperated. We sent out 150 paper invitations, and touched another 500 or so online. Close to 200 showed up. We had prepared by buying 100 books wholesale, after agonizing over the number as being too high. The number turned out to be dead on, as the party started at 6pm and ALL the books were signed and sold before 8:00pm.

The food was another concern: No matter how much we packed into the back of the pickup truck before the party, it didn't look like enough. But as it turned out, despite the crowd, about half of it was left over. I think the key here is being up-front that you are serving "light refreshments". People have dinner before or after they come, they don't expect much, and they don't consume much.

The venue and decor were perfect for what we needed, and we had plenty of help from family to set up and take down. The "open house" format gave everyone a 3-hour window to show up, and the bulk of them came in the first half. It was all over by 8:30.

How successful was it as a launch? Well, we put the first 100 copies of the book into the hands of people who will read it, all signed and personalized. From this group of readers will come the first wave of online reviews and verbal recommendations. Certainly we succeeded in setting up that initial "launch" group. Financially? Forget about being in this business for the money. The receipts from the books sold will not come close to covering the overall cost of the event. The plan is more long-term, strategic: If this core group of 100 readers likes the story and spreads the word, the results will pay off in future months, combined with additional signings, appearances, and online promotional efforts. At the party, I was able to ask people if they would consider helping me with promotion. I asked people face-to-face if they would consider the book for a Whitney Award nomination when they turn the last page. I can't do all that if I just point people to bookstores. In that sense, the event and all the preparation and work leading up to it were well worth it.

Click HERE to see pictures from the party and more information about how it went. In the coming first quarter of 2011, my focus will be more on bookstore appearances and the WOMBAT marketing program. Here's wishing you all a Merry Christmas and best of luck in your own promotional efforts.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Meg's Melody by Kaylee Baldwin

by Rebecca Talley

Meg's Melody by Kaylee Baldwin

From the back cover:

It's only after her husband leaves that Meg finds out she's pregnant.

Now facing the prospect of single parenthood, she'll have to rely on the family she pushed away, the church she abandoned, and an unexpected friendship to see her through.

This touching story combines romance with real conflicts to remind you it's never too late to find love - if you know where to look.

I read this touching story a while back and I've been waiting until its release to review it. I loved this book. I thought Baldwin did an excellent job of portraying this young woman's reactions to her conflicts. Her husband was a loser and I wanted to slap him. What a jerk.

I thought the budding friendship was realistic and wasn't rushed and I loved the end. I also thought her reluctance to go back to church and the feelings she experienced were very real and I felt like Meg was a fully-developed character. I also thought Baldwin did a good job developing Matt and I felt like I was witnessing a real friendship in the making.

I shed tears while I read this book and I would definitely recommend it if you enjoy romances with some meat to them. Great book. I expect to see much more from this new CFI author.

Meg's Melody is available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and should be in LDS bookstores as well. Great idea for a Christmas gift!

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Little Christmas Cheer

I'd like to share with you a poem I wrote some years ago to celebrate the Christmas holiday, and the true meaning of the season. This is my own personal rebellion against the insane commercialism that hits us sometime in September and doesn't let up until January 15th or so. ;)

"Jesus Child"
by Cheri Chesley

The star shone high and bright,
in the sky above our heads.
We tried to tend our flocks,
but followed it instead.
How far it led us, we know not.
Nor do we really care.
For we'd have trod a thousand steps
to see who we saw there.
He was so small, this Son of God,
an infant child who lay
in a manger, with Mother dear
on a bed of hay.
His eyes, so bright, just like the star
that shone in Heaven above,
looked on us with approval
as we gazed at him in awe.
Others came, but we were first
this sweet child here to see.
And we knew then, deep in our hearts
our Savior he would be.

December 19, 1994

Thursday, December 9, 2010

'Tis Not Long Before Christmas and I'm Going Insane

'Tis not long before Christmas, and I'm going insane,
With thousands of to-do lists going all through my brain.
There’s the shopping and the wrapping while the kids are at school,
And I musn’t forget to make dinner; that wouldn’t be cool.

Then there’s housework and homework and service for neighbors,
Programs and projects and festive favors,
Cards and gifts and another trip to the store,
New callings and teaching and oh, so much more!

And what about writing, editing, and my blog for today?
How can I make time to even think what to say?
And what of those voices of characters in my head,
Reminding me that I’m neglecting them! That fills me with dread.

Then out of the blue enters a thought crystal clear,
“Remember the importance of why you are here.
Is it not to be a daughter, a wife, and a mother?
Your role in the family can be filled by no other.

“So smile and hug; there’s no need to hurry,
Do the best that you can and the rest just don’t worry.
This is the reason Jesus was sent from above,
To do what we can’t, because of His great love.”

So with this advice, I feel the insanity leave,
All I really need to do is my best and believe.
As far as writing, I can jot down my thoughts,
While running errands or scrubbing out pots.

With everything else, I’ll just do my best,
And remember to eat, exercise, and get plenty of rest.
Well, that about wraps up all I have to say,
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good day!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Interview With Shersta Gatica- Acquisitions Editor for Cedar Fort

Today I am pleased to post my interview with Shersta Gatica, acquisitions editor at CFI. As authors hoping to be published for the first time, and even published authors hoping to be published again, it is important to learn about the business side of publishing.

I worked with Shersta on the release of my first book, Defensive Tactics and had a wonderful experience working with her. I thought it would be helpful to ask her some questions and have her share some of her knowledge and wisdom for aspiring authors.


Shersta, thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions about the acquisitions process at Cedar Fort.

How long have you been with CFI?

About 1 year

What are your duties?

As Acquisitions Editor, I am in charge of all new submissions. I record each submission as it comes in, and then review (read) them one by one, making notes as I go. If the submission is not something I think Cedar Fort wants to publish, I will send the author a letter explaining our decision. If I think the submission is exceptionally written and is a good fit for our company, I will prepare a presentation on it, which I give at our weekly team meetings. If the submission is accepted, I then create and send out contracts and other materials. I monitor and facilitate any contract negotiations and special terms, as well.

Once we’ve signed a book, I will then prepare an announcement for the other members of my team, and oversee the transfer of the text and publication materials to the editorial and design departments. In addition, I actively research and solicit new book ideas from various media and print sources, as well as stay informed as to current trends in the marketplace.

Can you give us an idea of how many manuscripts are submitted to CFI annually and the percentage of manuscripts accepted for publication?

It varies, but I would estimate we receive about 1,000 submissions annually. Of those, we publish approximately 6-8 a month, which is less than 10%.

Do you see a large influx of submissions following NaNoWriMo? Is any time of year better than any other for submitting a manuscript?

Yes. And no, each submission is given equal consideration. The one exception would be seasonal submissions like Christmas, etc. We like to see these in January. It is best to anticipate about 9 to 12 months from submission to release, sometimes more.

Who is involved in the acquisitions process and how does it work?

Decisions about acquisitions are made as a team, with members from sales, marketing, production, and management, together with the acquisitions editors. Once a submission has been presented, members from each team are invited to ask questions and comment on how they see the book performing under current market conditions, the financial and logistical implications of production, etc. All final decisions are made by management in a separate meeting.

What are the three main concerns a publisher has in deciding whether or not to publish a manuscript?

1-Content. Is the writing high-quality, well-presented, relevant, and credible? Does it grab your attention immediately, and then keep you turning the pages?
2- Market. Who is the audience? Do our readers buy this kind of book?
3- Financial. Can we produce the book in a way that is high-quality and appealing to buyers while keeping it competitively priced?

What are the biggest pet peeves for an acquisitions editor? What makes you cringe?

Ah, don’t get me started! My list is too long, but I’ll point out a few common mistakes that new authors should try to avoid:

1. Missing information. Include the Submission Form and all other requested materials with your submission. We really do use and need everything we ask for, and following the instructions really does improve your chances of getting published.
2. Calling or emailing just to see if your submission was received. If you are really concerned about it, include a self-addressed stamped postcard or envelope with your submission. It is thoughtful and shows that you are paying attention.
3. Showing up unannounced just to “talk.” If you feel the need to discuss your work in person, call and make an appointment.
4. Insulting the acquisitions editor in your cover letter. If you show that you are difficult to work with, or pushy or extremely opinionated, we will take that into consideration before we offer to publish your book. Treat us like you’d want to be treated – with respect.

What 5 things should authors avoid doing on the first page of their manuscript?

1-Avoid cliches (i.e. Weather, dreams, etc)
2- Proof-read your work. Don’t just hit the spell-check function of your word processor. READ it and fix the spelling errors before you send it in.
3- Do NOT start slowly. I read so many submissions that yours needs to stand out in some way. Hit me with it! I’ve got to be hooked from page 1.
4- [Do not]Explain why you wrote the book. This might work for memoirs and some other forms of non-fiction, but for the most part this should be in your cover letter or on the submission form, not part of the writing itself.
5- Avoid cliches. Did I say that already?

Do you have any tips for first time authors in presenting a compelling query to Cedar Fort?

Follow the submission instructions. Follow all of the submission instructions. Did I mention that you should follow the submission instructions? And then, go the extra mile. Prepare a nice cover letter with a well-written and compelling blurb (paragraph) about your book, and another paragraph about you. Put some thought and effort into it. But leave out anything that is not directly relevant to your work as an author. If you have never written anything before, say that. It won’t scare me off. And a page filled with all of your previous church callings and hobbies does not make you look good. We can tell when you’re trying too hard.

What role do BETA readers play in acquisitions?

For genres like juvenile and children’s fiction, we often will recruit readers in the target age group to review a submission. Of course, this is after the acquisitions editor has already determined that it is a possible candidate for publication. Our junior readers are not given any information about the submission, and then once they’ve read it they are interviewed by a member of the acquisitions team.

How much weight is placed on prior book sales when considering making an existing CFI author an offer on a new manuscript?

A ton (pun intended). If the book is in the same genre as his or her previous books, prior book sales are a major consideration. Sometimes, however, we will have an author submit work in a new genre, and then they are given the same consideration we would give any new submission, plus some extra for being one of our own.

Does CFI have a formula for how many books to accept in different genres?

Not really. We do prefer to produce more non-fiction than fiction, as non-fiction tends to sell better over the long term than fiction. But it still boils down to the quality of the submissions. If we don’t have enough quality non-fiction, we’ll accept more fiction until we’ve filled our production schedule.

Is it useful for an author to query CFI prior to beginning a project to ensure that CFI is interested in the concept of the novel?

No. For works of fiction, we require the full manuscript before we will consider it for publication. You’d be surprised at how many times a novel will start out strong and then fall apart near the end. For non-fiction, we do accept queries as long as you include all of the requested materials.

As a major publisher in Utah and among the LDS community, does CFI have plans to extend its national market share through the acquisition of non-LDS based fiction?

Yes, we are currently working actively to expand into the national market. We have had a few notable successes in the recent past, and are always working hard to make more. However, we have decided that any national market fiction we produce will adhere to the same standards that are expected of our LDS fiction. As evidenced by recent adult national bestsellers, this is a little different than what many national market buyers might expect, or even want.

With the emergence of e-books in the publishing world, does Cedar Fort plan to acquire manuscripts for e-book only distribution?

Not at this time. E-books, while an expanding market, still represent a very small percentage of total book sales. However, this may change as the demands of our buyers change.

Shersta, thank you for taking your time to answer my questions.

I learned something and I hope you do to.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Believing in Ourselves

I've been doing a little research in a book entitled "On Being the Creator of Your Own Destiny. One chapter tells we that we create our own beliefs. We can create beliefs that support us, or not.

I would like to add something. I believe that what we dream helps to make us what we are. Dreams fill our imaginations, and it is the imagination that gives us power to believe that we can become that which is our destiny.

Bernard Edmonds said, "To dream anything that you want to dream; that is the beauty of the human mind. to do anything that you want to do; that is the strength of the human will. To trust yourself to test you limits; that is the courage to succeed.

In my book, Prince Etcheon and the Secret of the Ancient, I believe these very things are proof of his destiny. First he is given the dream, then the strength of will, and finally the trust of those who have prepared him, as he finds himself battling the evil tricks of magic in order to save his people.

His mentors include two Great Danes, a panther, a two-headed lamb, an owl, a horse, a beautiful princess, and the ancient of trees. What they teach him makes him more powerful than the evil and twisted wizard he must battle in order to reach the kingdom he must save. But it's not only the wizard he has to contend with. An equally wicked King, who holds his mother and father prisoners, watches for his arrival.

Now, I would like to give a copy of "Prince Etcheon and the Secret of the Ancint" to someone. But who will it be. If you are interested simply e-mail me at

Thank you for visiting. and because my Visiting Treachers are coming in a few minutes and I'm still at the computer in my pj's, I think I had better go get dressed


Monday, December 6, 2010

Giveaways Galore at Best I've Read 2010

It's begun! Nine awesome book review blogs have joined together for a great 2010 best reads giveaway. Throughout the next week there will be a lot of fabulous titles given away each day. Just click on the link to their blogs below and enter to win.

I can't say enough good about these people and their fabulous blogs! Love them!

Growing up Gracie by Maggie Fechner Giveaway

by Rachael Renee Anderson

Growing up Gracie is charm in a book. It was like reading a modern day Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea all rolled into one. Filled with humor, depth, strong bonds of friendship, and yes, romance (my favorite), Maggie takes the reader on an adventure so real and poignant, it will make you wish you grew up in a small town.

And not only is her book wonderful, but she is too.

Me: When I read a book I always wonder how much of the author is in the main character. Are you anything like Gracie? And if so, what are the two biggest similarities?

Maggie: A lot of people who know me now think I am Gracie. But those who knew me growing up know I wasn't at all. I come from a smaller family and I always envied those huge families. My parents are great, but only one of them is a member of the church. At times we weren't completely active when I was growing up.

Also, I often wanted to be with the more popular crowd instead of staying true like Gracie did. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't a Chelsea, but I was somewhere in between.

I DID grow up in Cody though, and I do LOVE that place with all my heart. I DID have great friends too and I DID marry an amazing man who was shy as heck until he came out of his shell (and I think he did have some dorky glasses back in high school although I didn't know him then).

Me: Ooohh, I love romantic stories. How did you meet your hubby?

Maggie: We have a fun story. The first time I saw Dan we both lived in Washington. He came driving up to a singles ward canoeing activity in a huge black truck and I thought, "now this looks like a Wyoming guy, I think I could like him." We dated for a few weeks and broke up because he was just so shy he would barely talk. THEN with the pressure of being boyfriend/girlfriend off, his shyness faded away and we became absolute best friends. About six months later I had plane tickets to go into the Americorp in Maryland and was getting ready to go. Dan surprised me by proposing. We weren't even dating! Now that took guts. I said yes and the rest is history.

Me: So cute! It's the perfect love story and your husband sounds as wonderful as you. I love it! Now maybe it's because I grew up in a city, but I have to know, have you ever milked a cow or gone cow-tipping?

Maggie: Never milked a cow. Never gone cow tipping. I have been on pack trips and things like that, but my family was a town family, not a country one. That's another thing I always wished for. Now that I think about it, it seems like Gracie isn't me, but was the me I wished I was when I was a kid. :)

Me: That's what makes writing so fun, isn't it? But you do more than write, don't you? In fact, I've decided that you are far too talented, so if you had to choose between writing and photography, which would it be?

Maggie: Ooh tough one. Photography is definitely more expensive, but also pays a lot better. ha ha. I guess if I HAD to choose I'd write still and give up photography (as a business). But there's no way I'd stop photographing my kids and you couldn't pry my camera from my fingers if you tried. It's one of my babies!

Me: So funny, and I can see why. You are an exceptionally gifted photographer as well. And I'm so glad to hear you'd never give up writing. Do you have any more books in the works? Please say yes.

Maggie: I currently have three projects in the works. One The Letters Never Sent is a mainstream family saga that is currently in revision stages. Second is another book about the All-Mormerican Family the Fremonts! This one will focus on Danielle, one of Gracie's older sisters. I hope to eventually write one on each of the six kids. And last I have a start on another novel called Ever After Emmy that is a mainstream romance based in the 1950s.

Me: I love your titles, and your writing style, and can't wait to read them all. Hurry, hurry, hurry! :) And for anyone who's looking for a wonderful book to curl up and get cozy with, definitely check out Growing up Gracie by Maggie Fenchner.

Enter to win a copy here: Rachael Renee Anderson

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Buying an e-reader for Christmas?

                                                                   By Trina Boice

E-readers are on every book-lover's wish list this Christmas, and probably on yours too.   The prices are getting so much more reasonable these days too.   Here is a quick comparison guide in case it's on your shopping list this year.  If you're the avid reader in the family, then print out this blog post and leave it where your loved ones will see it and get the hint.

What are your choices?
*  Amazon's Kindle 2 or DX
*  Barnes & Noble Nook
*  Borders' Kobo eReader
*  Sony's Reader Pocket, Daily, or Touch Edition
*  Apple's iPad
*  Kogan Technologies eBook Reader
*  Spring Design Alex eReader
*  Skiff Reader

Things to look for:
*  Battery life: 20,000-30,000 page turns
*  Software that allows you to purchase from your favorite bookstore
*  Comfortable hold
*  Can be registered as an Adobe Digital Edition reader
*  Decent photo viewer
*  Memory card slots for additional storage
*  Bookmark feature
*  Can navigate through the index and pages easily
*  Displays a pdf layout larger than 6 inches
*  Comes with free ebooks
*  Headphone jack
*  Protective cover
*  Decent price!
*  Wireless
*  Size of display

Which one do I want for Christmas?  Whichever one ends up under my tree!  Otherwise, I'll be using this one:

Here's a great site I found with some pretty thorough reviews:
Don't worry if you missed Cyber Monday; there are plenty of great deals still out there.  Good luck!

Friday, December 3, 2010

November writing challenge a great success

By Heather Justesen

So November is over and hundreds of thousands of NaNoWriMo participants around the world are taking a break from pounding their keyboards. I've participated in the yearly novel-in-a-month challenge four times now, but this is the first year I've actually completed the 50K words during the month of November. That's not to say I haven't managed that many words during other months of the year, but November is always insane for me, so I've never managed it before during the annual challenge.

This year I decided I needed to plow through as quickly as possible, so I started the month strong, and with the help of a three-day writing retreat I managed to complete the 50K goal by November 8, and am currently working on my third draft of the manuscript--but if I'd tried to write just the daily allotment each day instead of speed-writing, I wouldn't have finished, because, again, the last half of the month has been crazy.

I learned a number of things from this year's challenge:

1: I can accomplish anything if I just stick my rear-end in the chair and go to work.

2: Writing mysteries can be fun!

3: Plotting in advance, even if the plot is sketchy, makes the writing go so much smoother (Okay, so I've known this before, but it was good to have it reinforced)

4: Character sketches and journaling from the characters' point of view is extremely helpful to understand them. I've never journaled for my characters before, but it was totally great!

5: Having friends cheer you on is great motivation. There were 32 people from my original writing group all participating in Nano this year, and 15 of us reached the 50K goal. We had a spreadsheet with everyone's total words available so we could see where everyone was, and we held writing sprints several times each day to help us get and stay on task. Also, it turns out I've got a healthy competitive streak I usually ignore.

6: Sometimes even the writer doesn't know who dunnit until the climax scenes are written. I know that might sound odd, but I *thought* I knew who the murderer was until I went to write the climax, and it just wouldn't come. As soon as I changed the murderer's identity, everything fell into place and the scene practically wrote itself.

7: A supportive spouse can never be overvalued when you have a major goal. Mine is completely great about allowing me time to focus on my writing and at understanding that means either he's going to cook a lot, or we're going to be eating scads of leftovers. Thanks sweetheart!

December is going to be chock full of edits for various projects (I have so many in need of editing it's not even funny), in addition to the usual Christmas preparations. I'm excited for everything in store.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Bring Back Thumper's Rule

Ever since I was a little girl and saw Bambi for the first time, I've loved Thumper's rule. I'm sure you know it, and can almost hear that cute little voice saying: "If you can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all."

Thumper's rule is oft quoted in my family, and something I think if I could really master in my life, I would be in good shape. And let me tell you, lately I've found myself wishing we could all live this rule a little more.

It seems like every day I hear or see something about how mean words are being thrown around like footballs. Kids being bullied at school. Politicians being called every name in the book.

Enter the internet, and things get even crazier. Public figures are having multiple surgeries to "fix" the "problems" they're read online they have. People are finding photos of themselves on websites with horrible captions and comments. Even comments on some of my favorite blogs and sites, like Goodreads, can get downright mean.

So, I've decided I'm going to do something over the next two weeks. I am going to try to live Thumper's rule a little better, and I'm going to keep a daily log about it. In my next post, I'll report on the results.

Here's to saying something nice or nothing at all. Here's to you, Thumper.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ready to Launch!

An important part of the marketing campaign for my first novel is the launch party. Without a track record or an established reputation as an author, I need to make the release of this book an event to be remembered, a LAUNCH in every sense of the word. It's not just a celebration, it's a marketing kickoff that will have an impact on long-term book sales. In this post, I'll detail the things I'm doing to prepare for the party. My next post on Dec. 15th will be a post-mortem on what worked and what didn't at the party, scheduled for Dec. 13th.

First of all, who to invite? For me, the more the merrier. I am mailing out about 100 invitations to family and friends, and will get an invite to every home in my ward. I'll leverage Facebook, blogs and email lists to get the word out as far and as deep as possible. It all starts right here -- YOU are invited!

Next, the venue. Can't hold it at my house (too small) or at the church (against Church policy). I don't want to impose upon relatives who have big houses, and I'm operating on a budget here, so hotels and restaurants are out. Eventually, the perfect place was found--a nearby city park with an "indoor pavilion", a 2,000 square foot room with a fireplace, round tables, folding chairs, restrooms and kitchen facilities. We were able to rent this place from 5pm-10pm for about $60.

It looks big and empty now, but on the night of the party it will be filled with gorgeous holiday decor, music, and food. I've had two 20"x30" posters of the book cover made (best deal is at Costco - $8.99 each), one to go behind my signing table and one by the buffet table. There will be several Christmas trees, and one of them will be covered with promotional bookmarks ( will make you 1,000 full color glossy bookmarks on cardstock for about $60) using ornament hangers.

What about food? Unless you are independently wealthy, expect your book to be a New York Times bestseller, or expect a small crowd, feeding everyone dinner is probably not an option. We're planning to serve various hors d'oeuvres and treats as light refreshments. The party is open-house, so people can have dinner before or after they stop by.

We want to make it fun. There will be some nice door prizes we will award every 30 minutes, giving people some incentive to hang around and enjoy each other's company. The story and cover of The Rogue Shop involve formal wear, so I will be in a full tuxedo and my family will be in matching red, white, and black semi-formals. Everyone else can come as they are, we're not enforcing the theme! We found some cute little tux and bow tie favor bags at Zurchers, and the table coverings and balloons will all match nicely (my wife is in charge of this, so it is guaranteed to be nice).

How many books to have on hand? A hard question, and no matter which number I choose, I'm bound to either run out of stock halfway through the party, or wind up with a big pile of unsold books. We opted for cautious optimism with 100 books. If we run out, I have an "I'm sorry" flyer with instructions on how to order the book that includes a drawing for those who buy it elsewhere within 72 hours. Other handouts include an intro to my "WOMBAT" marketing program and a "For Your Consideration" flyer linking to the Whitney Awards website.

Will it all come together like I dream it will? Meet me back here on the 15th and I'll have a complete rundown. Meanwhile, if you'll excuse me, I need to go get fitted for my tux.

The Rogue Shop - A Book Release Celebration

Monday, December 13, 2010 6-9pm Open House

500 E. 8680 S. Sandy Utah

5 WOMBAT points for attending party, 1 point per adult guest you bring up to 5 more.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Whitney Awards

by Rebecca Talley

It's hard to believe, but we only have one more month left of 2010. I remember all the fuss just before we welcomed the year 2000, or Y2K, here. Time sure flies by, doesn't it? The older I get, the faster is seems to fly by.

As we wind down this year, don't forget to nominate your favorite books by LDS authors for a Whitney Award. The Whitney Awards were created to recognize writing excellence by LDS authors and the program has continued to grow since its inception. In order for a book to be nominated, it does not have to be LDS, but the author must be LDS. Each year books geared toward the national market are nominated and win. For a complete list of eligible books please visit LDS Publisher.

To nominate a book for a Whitney Award please visit The Whitney Awards.

We have some excellent books written by our very own blog team members. Remember, each book needs at least five nominations to be considered. Make sure to nominate your favorites--I have. This is a great opportunity to recognize LDS authors.

Visit today and nominate your favorite books!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Be A Cheerful Giver

Edward Sanford Martin has said “Thanksgiving Day comes by statute once a year. To the honest man [or woman] it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow.”

Though occasional days of thanksgiving were pronounced in the early days of our country, it was not until 1863 that President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving Day a National Holiday. At this time of year and particularly on Thanksgiving Day, we are reminded to offer our gratitude to the Lord, as well as to our family, friends and neighbors. As citizens of this great nation we have a rich heritage we can appreciate and be thankful for.
We have been taught that we are to Love God and we are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. How can we Love God, and how can we love our neighbor if we do not have the humility to show gratitude to them.
The first reason it is important to show gratitude is that it shows our humility before the Lord and our love of Him. Like the healed Samaritan who returned to “Glorify God” and offer thanksgiving, we too can acknowledge the greatness of God by offering our gratitude directly through prayer, as well as indirectly by serving and being grateful to others.
The 2nd reason we show gratitude is to show love for our neighbors.Acts of gratitude may be simple, but they are also powerful. A story is told of a grown man who had his memory pricked concerning a favorite teacher from grade school. He made the effort to locate this teacher and wrote her a brief note, offering his thanks for her teaching and care. The man later received a letter back from this elderly teacher, overcome by the note of thanksgiving she received. She explained that in all of her years of teaching, his note of gratitude was the first she had ever received. The simple note became a treasure to her.I believe as we show gratitude to others, our words and deeds of thanksgiving also praise God.
As we love our neighbor we love our God. As we thank our neighbor, we thank our God and we are keeping the two great commandments.
“Whatever language is spoken, “Thank you”, frequently expressed will cheer your spirit, broaden your friendships, and lift your lives to a higher pathway.” Thomas S. Monson
Offering a simple thank you is easy to do and can have a tremendous impact on both the giver and the receiver.
2 Corinthians 9:7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
When we give repeatedly, we become a cheerful giver. When we are stingy in giving, the rare times that we do give become more of a struggle and we are less cheerful in giving. When we give our thanks and gratitude we are also giving a touch of joy and happiness. As we practice and make a habit out of showing gratitude to others we become cheerful givers.

We have so much to be thankful for. As we offer sincere gratitude we please the Lord and we are blessed with great joy and happiness. We can share that joy with others. Let us be cheerful givers of gratitude to the Lord and our neighbors.

I'm sorry this blogpost wasn't about writing, but showing gratitude impacts every facet of our lives, including writing, marketing and building meaningful relationships.
Please take a moment to comment about one simple thing you are grateful for.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Being Grateful for Each Day

JoAnn Arnold

Yesterday, I was one of several models for a fashion show at the Jubilee of Trees, in St. George. My sponsor - Christopher and Banks. Now, this wasn't just any fashion show but one to raise awareness of Breast Cancer. Those of us who are Survivors, were given a pink rose to carry with us as we modeled. While we waited in the wings, friendships were made and stories shared.

One thing I believe we survivors all have in common is the fact that after experiencing Breast Cancer, we view the world with a different prospective. We are more thankful than we were before. More aware of life and what it brings to us. We find that we have more courage than we thought we had. We are aware that this life threatening disease could find us again. But knowing that fact makes life even more precious to us . . . more meaningful. It makes us love our spouse, our children and grandchildren with more intensity. It makes us want to accomplish something worthwhile.

The quote (and I'm not sure who said it): "It's not life that matters. It's the courage that we bring to it," is a quote I have in plain sight on my desk. The point is that it was there before my experience with breast cancer. It was there to encourage me as an author. But I found it's meaning to be much the same in both cases.

As authors, we want to accomplish something worthwhile, and we find that it takes courage to put our work out for the criticism or the delight of those who read it. But that's life. It's a life we view through an author's creative eye, and we love what we do with great intensity.

Thanksgiving is just two days away, and I want to wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving and, because of the weather report, drive carefully if you are traveling. If you are flying . . . if you are flying . . . how do I put it? If you are flying, I guess you will just have to bare with it.

Monday, November 22, 2010

It's Here!

I had a simply amazing Friday! No wonder it's my favorite day of the week.

Friday morning, my editor emailed me to say my book had arrived in the warehouse (on Thursday, actually). I got the email shortly before 10am. Now, here's my Friday:

I babysit other people's kids during the day. That day, however, two of the kids I was supposed to have didn't come because their dad took the day off. And I had one that I don't normally have--the only one that day.

My kids got out of school at 12:15pm. Early out, because the teachers had training. Fortunately, the child I was tending was one of the teacher's kids, so she said she'd take him when I picked up my kids. That was truly awesome of her.

My husband worked until 5am Friday, so he slept until I woke him up at 10 to tell him the books had arrived. And he insisted we go down and get them. I told him he needed to sleep. He said he wasn't sleeping anymore that day.

So, we packed the kids a lunch, picked them up from school, dropped the baby off to his mom, and headed for Springville. From Tooele.

Ya. I know. But, it's my BOOK! lol

I'll spare you all the details of driving that far with 5 children in a van we're outgrowing, but I will say that I gasped when I saw my book in person. A.Maz.Ing.

We walked out with 25 books, popped open our bottle of sparkling cider, and toasted my success in the Cedar Fort parking lot. That's just how we roll.

And, as of right now, I only have one book left that is not spoken for. Looks like we're going to make another trip to Springville!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Phantom Phan

                                         Phantom Phan
                                             By Trina Boice


Fireworks on stage?  Yep, the Las Vegas production of the beloved “Phantom of the Opera” has it all: gorgeous sets, beautiful costumes, stunning music, a wonderful Phantom who mysteriously appears and disappears throughout the theater, and fireworks so bright you can feel their heat from your seat.  The Venetian Hotel brags “You’ve never seen Phantom like this before” and they’re right.

While the Vegas version of the show is an edited, shorter production, it is still most worthy of a standing ovation, which last Friday night’s audience eagerly awarded the performers at the curtain call.   Some might argue that a few scenes seemed rushed, while others are grateful to see the storyline move along more quickly, but either way, the 95 minute version still contains everyone’s favorite songs. 

The haunting melodies carry your imagination away, which is a very good thing since it is often difficult to actually understand what words are being sung.    The cast is solid and the Phantom’s dramatic stage presence easily earns the largest applause from the audience. 

I recommend NOT sitting too close to the stage, as the theater itself is part of the show.  In fact, this theater was designed specifically for the show.  I loved when the stage was magically transformed into a river bed with lighted candelabras rising from the fog.  My only complaint was that most scenes were a bit too dark, but then again, so is the plot.  The famous chandelier in the Paris Opera House holds everyone’s attention several times during the show and you can almost hear the mannequins in the balcony boxes cheer with delight.


People have loved the Phantom of the Opera production for so many years that it doesn’t surprise me that Andrew Lloyd Webber has finally come up with a sequel: “Love Never Dies”, which opened recently in London.  The heart wrenching love story continues, but this time in America, ten years later.   I won’t tell you what happens, but it features Coney Island acrobatic sets, ensuring the Cirque-style production will end up in Las Vegas eventually.

But here's my question, do you really want to see a murderous villain win the fair maiden in a sequel?  I don't want to give away the plot...I'm just saying...   Does writing a sequel ruin or enhance the story?  Would you write a sequel to Phantom?  If so, what would you want to have happen?  Are some stories better left with a haunting ending than having everything tied up nicely in a musical encore?

Tickets start at $59 for rear mezzanine seating and can be purchased by calling The Phantom Box Office at or (702) 414-9000, online at . Reservations for groups of 15 or more are available by calling (866) 633-0195.The Phantom VIP Experience runs $250 per person and includes the following:
  • A backstage tour of the custom-built Phantom Theatre
  • A private meet and greet with cast members
  • Premium seating in the VIP Golden Circle Section of the Orchestra.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Write Planner by

If you're a writer, or have always wanted to write, a friend of mine has created the perfect planner designed just for you . . .

Introducing The Write Planner, a 12 month day planner designed especially for writers. Its convenient 5x7 size is perfect for everyday use, but comes loaded with features to keep you focused on your writing.


  • Sturdy Cover with inside pocket
  • Weekly motivating quotes
  • Full 2011 Yearly calendar
  • Monthly Calendars
  • Weekly layouts with daily goals
  • Monthly writing goals
  • Card stock dividers
  • NaNoWriMo tracking sheet
  • Track your progress
  • Visual progress bars
  • New contacts
  • Critique group info
  • Notes
  • Upcoming conferences
  • Built-in Ribbon bookmark
Check it out here:

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Open Season on Wombats

It's great to see the promotional efforts the authors with upcoming releases are making. I have to chuckle over all the questions I've had to field about the references to Australian marsupials on my website and blog lately. Curiosity has been rampant about my mysterious "password protected" pages.

As of Monday, my WOMBAT RECRUITING site went public and the news is out. I'm not talking about cute little mammals from down under; I'm talking about marketing my book. WOMBAT, you see, stands for Word of Mouth Buy And Tell, the natural, organic way that we have been creating exposure for our books in this market for years. Blog tours, reviews, interviews, Facebook and email blasts, launch parties, posters and bookmarks have long been staples in getting the word out, and I'm sticking with those standbys for my campaign for The Rogue Shop's December 8th release. The difference is, I'm trying to stimulate even greater enthusiasm by offering some attractive incentives.

I've seen authors give away a book or two, and one recently offered up a Kindle to the person who generated the most buzz for her book. I'm trying to build a small army of WOMBAT warriors who really like or are anticipating my book, so I'm throwing out up to $255 in gift cards to those who really take this show on the road.

Most of us know we're not going to get rich anytime soon writing fiction for our little market and publisher. We do, however, want as many people as possible to read our books. In order to maximize that potential, we need to make ourselves visible on this vast sphere of noise called the internet and make it clear that we have something worth buying. The investment in these prizes is well-worth it to me if a select group of individuals will take a few minutes and help create this visibility with me.

How well will this work? I have no idea. It's an experiment, and I'm willing to share the nuts-and-bolts and results with my fellow Cedar Fort authors so we can all learn something. If it does have a positive impact, I'll be happy to reciprocate and participate in similar programs for you when your time comes. If all goes well, I'll put more books in readers' hands and you get more blog traffic and followers - setting you up for more book sales down the line. Oh, and you may very well walk away with a gift card worth up to $50, too. This is not a random drawing -- it's purely based on the number of points accumulated with your activities.

Go to to find out exactly what kind of WOMBATical activities I'm talking about, and how to earn the rewards. Meanwhile, in the comments let's invite some of the established authors to tell about the things they've done that resulted in more sold books, or in positive buzz. Have online advertising, blog tours, or video trailers worked for you? There are no trade secrets here; we're all in this together!

By the way, if you haven't seen Don Carey's utterly charming video teaser for Bumpy Landings (even if you have, like Inception it gets better with repeat viewings), go directly to Monday's post on this blog!

psst, Don -- do I get another point for that?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pre-Order Contest: The Upside of Down

by Rebecca Talley

My new book, The Upside of Down, went press last week. Woo hoo!! In celebration, I'm going holding a contest for a $50 gift certificate to Amazon. I've never done a pre-order contest before, but my goal is . . . 1000 copies pre-ordered in 10 days. That's 100 pre-orders each day. I'm so excited! With your help, I know we can do it!

In case you haven't seen the cover or read the blurb:

“Hmmm,” the doctor muttered.
Natalie wrinkled her forehead, almost afraid to ask, and said, “What does that mean?”
“You do know you’re pregnant, right?”
Her breath caught in her throat. “Excuse me?”
“You’re pregnant.”
Her heartbeat thundered in her ears. “I’m what?”

Natalie Drake certainly has her hands full raising a large family, dealing with her difficult mother, and maintaining a relationship with her rebellious teenager. Just when things seem to be going smoothly, she finds out another unexpected surprise—she’s going to have a baby. Faced with so many challenges, Natalie must learn to trust in a plan that isn’t what she imagined and discover that every situation has an upside.

Beloved author Rebecca Talley carefully creates this touching and heartfelt story that is sure to inspire you. With true-to-life characters and situations, The Upside of Down will reignite your faith and remind you of the importance of family.

Here are the rules:

1. Pre-order my book at Amazon here.
2. Send me a copy or your receipt or other proof of purchase for the pre-order at rebecca(AT)rebeccatalley(DOT)com to be entered into the drawing. Each pre-order gets one entry into the contest--if you purchase two, or ten :), as gifts each one garners an entry

3. The contest runs from Monday November 8, 2010 until midnight on Thursday, November 18, 2010. You must send me proof of purchase during these dates to qualify.

4. The winner will be chosen at random and posted on Friday, November 19, 2010 on my blog

5. The winner will receive a $50.00 gift certificate to Amazon--just in time to use for Christmas!

The books should be available for shipping in late December or early January.

You can read the prologue here.

I broke up the first chapter into segments, but you can now read the whole thing on my blog.

Tell all your friends! Thank you!!!!