Friday, October 29, 2010

New Blog Team Members and Whitney Awards

We'll have some new blog team members join us in the next few weeks. Woo hoo! See if you can figure out who they are (hint: look in the sidebars). Check back on Wednesday to meet our first new member and then you'll know why Don Carey is so excited about it :).

Don't forget, if you've read a great book by an LDS author that was published in 2010, especially a book by a Cedar Fort author, go to the Whitney Awards and nominate it. Nominating is simple and we'd love to have Cedar Fort represented in the the Whitney Awards. We have fantastic books by talented authors so be sure to nominate by December 31, 2010.  And, enjoy the new site while you're there.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Power of Thought

Today I will be at the Santa Clara Library from 11am-6pm, as an election worker (early elections). Then next Tuesday morning at from 6am-9pm, I will be at the city Hall for the final election day. I tell you this because as an election worker it is my duty to remind all of you to be sure and vote.

Now, on to the power of thought. I want to share with you some thoughts from a book I'm reading, titled, "On Being the Creator of Your Destiny," by Peggy McColl.

We alone decide what we are going to think. There is no one else in our brains deciding it for us. When we think a new thought, an empowering thought, a thought that supports what we want to experience or create, we have to keep thinking those supportive, positive and empowering thoughts repeatedly.

When our thought creates a flow of energy - creative energy - it will have an effect on our lives, just as negative energy effects our lives.

James Allen said, "People do not attract that which they want, but that which they are."

Okay. Does that mean we were given the gift of imagination before we came to earth and that why we desire to become authors, artists, musicians?

Walter Chrysler said, "Enthusiasm is at the bottom of all progress. With it there is accomplishment. Without it, there are only alibis."

Does that mean even if we are born with a gift, Imagination alone is not going to being us success?

William James stated. "The greatest discovery is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind."

Ahha! Though we've been given the gift of imagination, we have to have enthusiasm and an attitude.

Napolen Hill put it this way. "Cherish your visions and your dreams as they are the children of your soul, the blueprints of your ultimate accomplishments."

Not only do we need imagination, enthusiasm and attitude. We need to cherish what we've been given.

Abraham Lincoln said, "You can have anything you want - if you want it badly enough. You can be anything you want to be, do anything you set out to accomplish, if you hold to that desire and singleness of purpose."

I believe he is saying that we are what we think.

And, I think I'm sharing these thoughts with you because I need to hear them twice, myself.

Have a good day

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Wonders of the Human Mind

I had a great many writerly things going through my mind near the end of last week.

Sigh. I really should write these things down.

As a ponder the upcoming release of my first novel (less than 40 days now), my thoughts have turned to my newest project--the second book in the series. Since blogging about it previously, that book has changed. I cut THE WILD QUEEN completely from the trilogy, and am now moving forward with THE TYRANT KING. To complete the trilogy, I added THE LOST PRINCESS. I'm excited, since it promises to be an action packed story.

I worry less about plotting now. A lot of things have started to become second nature. The trouble is, when revisions come along, it's harder now for me to know what to do first. Thank goodness for writers' conferences, because I took heavy notes last time I sat in on a class about revisions.

This week, I'm actually holding a pre-sale booth at the Ben Franklin Academy fundraiser. Wish me luck! :)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

It's all about connecting

                                                                    By Trina Boice

Writing a best-selling book is all about connecting...connecting with the reader through a great story, memorable characters, inspiring messages, and creating an experience that leaves the reader wanting to read more of your words.

Marketing a best-selling book is all about connecting...and in the world of SEO, the magic connection that draws readers to your web site these days is linking.  I just discovered this awesome, new tool that puts your link-building on auto-pilot!  IMautomator is a free social bookmarking tool that couldn't be easier.  You just enter the URL you'd like to bookmark and then IMautomator extracts the title, description and tags, and then sets up a submission schedule for automatic submission.  Pretty cool.   And no, I don't make any money by telling you about this helpful web site.

Another tool I found is SocialAdr.  It's a little more complex to understand, but just about as easy to use.  It's a bookmarking community where you will bookmark other people's content and they reciprocate.  Like IMautomator, you can pay extra for more features, but you can definitely get the job done with their free accounts.

OnlyWire has been around longer than the other two services, but involves some downloading and a few extra steps.   I'm still learning how to use all of these online tools and it often leaves me overwhelmed with all that I still need to do.  One day at a time, Baby.

If you're in to this whole linking concept, then you might really go nuts with this list of bookmarking sites that pay.   (You're welcome.)

There are plenty more, but that should get you started.  Whew!  So much to little time.  You're already sitting at your computer, writing the Great American Novel, so you might as well put that keyboard to work with your marketing efforts.   Have fun out there!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Defensive Tactics by Steve Westover

From the back cover:

Paul Stephens has it all--a wonderful job at the FBI, a new girlfriend, and a great apartment. Even when Jimmy, a friend from his past, unexpectedly ends up on his couch, Paul has no worries.

But when arresting a corrupt judge puts his girlfriend's life in danger, Paul and Jimmy will do anything to save her. How far will Paul go to protect the ones he love? Filled with suspense and action, Defensive Tactics shows just how much the bonds of friendship can endure.

I enjoyed reading this book by new CFI author, Steve Westover. I'm not a big fan of omniscient point of view, I prefer to stay in one person's head, but Westover did a good job of creating an interesting and suspenseful story. I think he created some great characters.

I loved that Emily didn't lower her standards to do her job. She was still able to do what needed to be done, but she did it with modesty and class. I really liked her personality and loved how ingenious she was with the oil and water--you'll have to read the book to see what I mean.

I also really liked Jimmy. He was such a flake, but a likeable flake. I felt sorry for him and all that he lost, but I was glad when he realized he could find happiness and joy again. No matter what trials we endure in this life, we can still find peace and joy. I loved the talk Jimmy had with the bishop and how clearly the bishop explained what he needed to do to be happy again.

Paul is the rock. He is constant and solid--great traits in a character and in real life. I'm glad that . . . . sorry, no spoilers.

Westover did a great job characterizing the bad guys, too. The judge is slimy, slimy, slimy--I'd like to slap him.

I'd recommend this book.

To learn more about Steve Westover check out his blog.

Although I received this book as a review copy, it did not influence my review--my opinion, as always, is my own.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

My Secret Marketing Weapon

With my novel Bumpy Landings coming out in just over two months (That's important background info, NOT shameless self promotion. Really.), I've been hard at work pulling together a marketing plan. In making this plan, I have come across what could be a significant challenge.

While the themes of the book are universal--integrity, self worth, and kissing pretty girls--the main characters are all LDS, which means the bulk of my readers will also be LDS, most of them living far to the west of my home in Texas.

Being a thousand miles away from family, friends, and coworkers has been a challenge. Activities and gatherings and day-to-day life all take place without me, and I'm left on the sidelines, watching from afar. I expect in-person book publicity to be equally challenging.

Every once in a while I'm able to make a trip to Utah, and then I get to participate in the fun. I've noticed that since I'm not around all that often, my very presence in town constitutes and event. My friends organize dinners, my family plans barbecues, and we all make the most of the time I am there.

If I am especially fortunate, I can time my visits to coincide with a writing event, which is what happened a few weeks ago. My travel schedule put me in Utah at the same time as the UVU Book Academy, and I made sure to go. The classes were great. The company even better. And I was blessed with some insight as to how I can turn my distance from my readers into a strength rather than a weakness.

Two different classes, one by Josi Kilpack and the other by Annette Lyon and Kelly Smurthwaite, emphasized the importance of giving book buyers and media people EVENTS that they can get excited about. Not just another book signing, but something bigger.

Josi talked about Launch Parties, and how their main purpose is to let the author crow about their book. It's an event, and the potential buzz around that event is as important as the number of books sold there.

Annette and Kelly talked about Media Publicity, and how the media needs a hook for a book to become newsworthy. That hook is often found in a related event.

Just being in town is enough of an event for my mom. I realize that Jane A. Reader and Bob D. Newsman are going to need a little bit more. But if I focus my efforts on creating an event every time I'm in the neighborhood, I can take the weakness of my distance and turn it into a strength.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

What I Have in Common With a Bedpost

The other day, I bought a used headboard for my girls' bedroom. Since it was used, there were some nicks and dings in the wood, and the stain was old. In my mind's eye, I could see the potential it had for looking so much better than it did when I bought it, so I decided to refinish it.

I started by taking it apart, spray-painting the metal parts, and repairing and sanding the wooden posts. Sanding was harder work than I realized it would be, (my arms are still sore), but it was fun smoothing out some of the rough parts and removing the worn and outdated stain.

When I finished sanding and repairing, I wiped down the posts, propped them up, and began applying the stain. I was amazed at the transformation that took place when the stain seeped into the crevices, and even the imperfections, adding depth and character to the wood.

Right then, a thought came to mind. I imagined what it would be like to be the poor post, being sanded and scraped, glued and pounded, then wiped with a cold damp cloth and rubbed with something toxic and sticky. It might be thinking, "What in the world are you doing to me? Just leave me alone and let me do my job of...whatever it is that bedposts do."

But from my perspective, I had seen the potential the wood had, and I was pleased with the transformation. I just kept thinking over and over how beautiful the wood truly was, it had just been hidden under all that old stain. Even all the imperfections I had once viewed as flaws became a unique part of the finished product. The outcome was worth the sanding, the scraping, the pounding, and the gluing.

I could even see how I apply this technique to my writing through editing. Sanding, pounding, applying finish, all make the final product shine as it should, because, a rough draft is really just that. Rough.

Then another thought came to my mind.

"You are like this post," the thought said.

"Me? No I'm not. Bedposts are stiff and rigid and straight, and they just stand there doing nothing all day. I'm more soft and flexible, and if you're implying that I do nothing all day, then-"

"I'm talking about the sanding."

"Oh, the sanding." Sometimes I feel like life is sanding me. Those are the times I cry in pain.

"Do you see where I'm coming from?" the thought said. "I so wish for you to see yourself and your potential as I see you, from My perspective."

"Whoa. Okay, I'll do my best."

And so I am.

Yes, sometimes life can be a bit scratchy, but how do I know that it isn't just a way of removing old worn out layers so that I can grow into my potential? Perhaps if I can just take a step back and view each scratchy situation as a work in progress, I can relax and allow the transformation to happen and be grateful for the process.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Memories and Thoughts

I Mama-sat my 87 year-old mother, this morning, while my sister went to the eye doctor. As we ate breakfast, Mom talked about my dad, who died when he was only 58 years old. It was emotion and fun, at the same time, to listen to her stories.

I don't know how many of you know where Castle Gate used to be, but my parents lived there when I was born. It was a unique little mining town located just above Helper, (if you know where Helper is). There was a Confectionery, a Movie House, a small grocery store and lots of coal being mined.

The railroad tracks were just across the street, it seemed, and during the night you could hear the train whistle blow as the train passed through town. Interestingly enough, the whistle had a soothing effect on me and now, when I hear a train whistle, it brings back sweet memories, and I get all soppy.

I believe our past designs and creates our present as well as our future. I believe it develops our thoughts, our creativity, our talents and ambitions. I'm grateful to my father who believed I could do anything I wanted to do. I just had to want to do it bad enough to put in the hours and energy to make the dream come alive. I think he is up there, looking down on me, encouraging me when I become discouraged and cheering for me when I succeed.

So Trina, I want you to know that I've already registered for Jack Canfield's teleseminar. We never quit learning, do we? That reminds me, I'm getting ready to promote my book, "Prince Etcheon and the Secret of the Ancient". If anyone has advice that would help me, I'd love to hear from you.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sharing the Writing Journey

I’m feeling a little reflective today. October 11th is my sister-in-law, Melissa Chesley’s, birthday. Mel is a writer, too. You can check out her blog HERE. In fact, it’s what we learned early on we had in common.

We met in one of the oddest ways. One day, I got an email from her introducing herself as my husband’s brother Larry’s girlfriend. Never one to have had any real communication from any of Larry’s previous girlfriends, I was a little surprised that this one would email me like that. But we started talking. Shortly before this, I had written a brief history of my first few years as a mom. I sent her this 100 page document as a way of introducing myself. Since we both liked to write, and read, it seemed the easiest way for her to get to know me—especially since, at the time, I was NOT one to talk about myself. At all.

We’ve never lived close to one another (that we knew of lol), but pretty much from the beginning we’ve been close. I remember once telling my husband that Larry had better not mess this up because I was keeping Mel. She’s mine. But Larry’s a bright guy. He married her, and now she’s ours forever.

Mel and I write similar things. Both of us see no purpose in being graphic with our writing—she more so than me—and we like good, clean fun. We’ve taken different paths to get where we are now, and we like to share what we learn along the way with one another. It’s one of the greatest relationships I’ve ever had. And, it’s kind of cool that I have a sister who’s a pirate. You saw her blog. I mean, it’s pretty awesome.

But Mel and I are much more than what we have in common. We’re sisters, beyond marriage and siblings and blood and all that. I’ve said it before, but I had to get married to get sisters.

The last time I saw her, even though it was crazy early in the morning when I got in from the airport, she got out of bed to sit with me at the table and say hi. We were that eager to see one another. And it was really hard to say goodbye just a few days later, especially after all we did that crazy weekend.

Happy birthday, Sis.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Where do you want to be as an author?


                                                                        By Trina Boice

You've seen him in the movie The Secret and he's appeared on more than 1,000 radio and TV shows in nearly every major market worldwide, including Oprah, Larry King Live, 20/20 and The Today Show.

As an author, he's sold over 115 million books and holds a world record for having seven books on the New York Times Best Seller list at the same time.  He's also one of the world's most successful speakers and travels the globe, sharing his inspiring message with huge audiences.

Yet despite all of his success, Jack Canfield has never forgotten what it was like to be a school teacher, struggling to get his first book out.  For that reason, he's full of great insights and advice for any author, speaker or entrepreneur - regardless of whether you're just at the idea stage, recently published for the first time, or already an advanced marketer.

On October 14th you can attend a FREE teleconference with Jack Canfield and learn from the pro!   He promises to help you discover:
*  What to do if you need to make money within 30 - 60 days
*  Two mindsets you need to create a best-selling book
*  How to find someone to sponsor your book
*  The "bypass marketing" strategy that made Chicken Soup a big hit
*  How to systematically create word-of-mouth marketing for your book
*  How to get started as a public speaker
*  How to use the Laws of Attraction with your book writing and marketing

The host of this special event for writers is Steve Harrison, who is an EXCELLENT marketing guru for writers and publishers.  I've attended several of his teleseminars and receive his e-newsletter.   Writers need to become marketers too if they want to truly become successful in this industry.

To register for this FREE 90-minute teleseminar, go to or call 1-800-989-1400 extension 784.    I'll be there!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Making Your Romance Steamy Clean

By Heather Justesen

Can you make kisses steamy, and still keep them clean?

This is a big issue in the LDS market, and in clean romances everywhere--and the answer is YES!

The key to a good, clean first kiss that gives your reader a payoff without venturing into murky waters is two-fold, though both techniques work in tandem.

First, you want to focus on the senses--what does the viewpoint character hear, smell, feel, etc?

The second thing you do is draw the kiss out so it increases the tension. If your characters look at each other, their eyes blaze in awareness and he kisses her--all in twenty words--you've not allowed the tension to build. Now, there may be times when you want to keep your kiss lighter, and this might work--and you certainly don't want to try and make every kiss tension-fraught, because, face it, they wouldn't be in real life, so pick and choose your most important kisses--starting with the first one.

Here's an example of a bare-bones first kiss from my book, The Ball's in Her Court:

“It’s her cupboard.” She shrugged, knowing he couldn’t see it. His arms were surprisingly muscular for a desk jockey and his short-sleeved blue shirt emphasized his biceps and the width of his shoulders.

He opened the cupboard and picked the jar of salsa out, turned and placed it on the counter beside her. Denise looked up into his eyes when he placed his other hand on her shoulder.

“You’re a lot of fun when you let yourself be, Denise.”

She couldn’t respond to that as her mouth went dry. The look in his eyes said more than she wanted to see. Why had she thought they could just be buddies, friends? Hoping to bring some sanity back to the moment, she tried to protest, despite not wanting to step back from the situation. “Rich—”

“I’ve never wanted to work for a company besides Donaldson. Not until I met you.” His voice was low, barely more than a whisper.

Denise turned her head away, focusing on the sink. “Rich, we can’t.” The protest sounded weak even to herself. She wanted him to kiss her.

“For just a minute I’m going to forget that you’re strictly off limits.”

His lips slid over hers and she felt herself falling into the kiss. Something inside her had wanted this since the first moment they met, and she couldn’t beat it back. At that moment, she didn’t even want to.

Now here's the full excerpt--what actually ran in the book--with all of the sensory details. See what a difference it makes?

“It’s her cupboard.” She shrugged, knowing he couldn’t see it, or the way she tracked every move he made with her eyes. His arms were surprisingly muscular for a desk jockey and his short-sleeved blue shirt emphasized his biceps and the width of his shoulders.

He opened the cupboard and picked the jar of salsa out, turned and placed it on the counter beside her. Denise looked up into his eyes when he placed his other hand on her shoulder. Her stomach quivered.

“You’re a lot of fun when you let yourself be, Denise.”

She couldn’t respond to that as her mouth went dry. She swallowed, trying to get past the sudden lump in her throat. One of his fingers brushed her neck and she felt goose bumps run down her arm. The look in his eyes said more than she wanted to see. Why had she thought they could just be buddies, friends? The moment stretched out for several seconds as they stood, motionless, neither breaking eye contact as the moment wound around them. Hoping to bring some sanity back to the moment, she tried to protest, despite not wanting to step back from the situation. “Rich—”

“I’ve never wanted to work for a company besides Donaldson. Not until I met you.” His voice was low, barely more than a whisper.

Denise turned her head away, focusing on the sink, but Rich slid his hands up her neck and onto her cheeks, his gentle touch alone enough to have her turn and face him. One thumb brushed across her cheek and the fingers of his other hand slid into her hair. “Rich, we can’t.” The protest sounded weak even to herself. She wanted him to kiss her.

“For just a minute I’m going to forget that you’re strictly off limits.”

When Denise looked up, his face was drawing closer and she wondered if she would breathe again. His lips slid over hers and she felt herself falling into the kiss. Her hands grasped the cotton at the side of his shirt, pulling him closer. His torso was solid beneath her hands and the movement of his fingers on her face and in her hair sent shivers down her spine, into her scalp. Something inside her had wanted this since the first moment they met, fighting against the memories that warned her away. His soul called out to hers and though she fought it, she couldn’t beat it back. At that moment, she didn’t even want to.

The first version was adequate, but not strong enough for a first kiss in a book that has a strong romance plot line. The second one allows time for the tension to build--and there was actually a little more buildup to this tension between them before the excerpt. You don't have to use words like desire and lust (words that are both no-nos in this market) to make your reader to feel that sweet ache of excitement that comes with a new relationship. It's all in the details.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

What Inspires You?

Inspiration: It’s a thing creative types think a lot about. The painter. The designer. The songwriter. The author.

For me, I love that each day holds the possibility of a thousand little inspirations for my writing. The unusual shade of blue in the Crayola box that is the perfect eye color for a character. The city I happen to get stuck in on a cross-country road trip that would make an amazing setting. The article in a magazine that gives me a really fun plot idea.

I have no less than seven notebooks in strategic places in my home office, home gym, bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, car, purse, and church bag for when such inspiration strikes.

Taped inside one of those notebooks right now: A magazine-torn photo of the shoes above. I saw them. I loved them. I ripped the page out. Because I want to create a character who wears these shoes!

I can see her. Feminine but tough. 5 foot 10, and not afraid to tower over everyone. Her pedicure is perfect, but her fingernails are a mess. She would rather see movies by herself than with someone else. She munches on Vlasic kosher dill pickles when she’s stressed. Her checkbook cover is black and her toothbrush is red. I love her. And I love the prospect of getting to know her even better.

Thank you, Mr. Louboutin, for the inspiration.

Tell me now, blog reader, what inspires you?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Too Busy?

by Rebecca Talley

I always love General Conference. It's such a fun weekend hanging out with the family and listening to talks by those who've been called of God to lead us in these latter-days.

President Uchtdorf touched on a subject that I think is important. His talk during the Saturday morning session was about being busy. In the world we live in, we tend to be very busy. We schedule so many activities, meetings, and things we have to get done that sometimes we neglect that which is most important. We give up the better for the good.

What is most important in our lives? I would say that our relationship with our Heavenly Father and His son, Jesus Christ would rank at the top. I would also add in our service to Him in building up His kingdom. We can build our relationship with God by reading and studying His words and by communicating with Him through prayer.

Next, I would say is our spouse and children. After all, if we don't enjoy being with them in mortality, Heavenly Father certainly isn't going to make us suffer with them throughout eternity. Are we doing all we can to create strong, loving bonds within our families? Do we spend time with our spouses and our children? We have been given counsel on how to strengthen our families by having family prayer, family scripture study, family home evening, family dinners, and wholesome family activities. 

It is good to involve our children in wholesome activities such as sports, music, dance, theater, and other activities to help them develop their talents. However, we should use caution when scheduling these activities to make sure we don't infringe too much on our family time or the time we need to be close to the Lord.

In this day and age, it's easy to over schedule. We want our kids to experience all sorts of activities, prepare for college, and do as much as they can. As community members we want to serve our community, be active in politics, go to PTA meetings, volunteer with other organizations, and do our best to fully live our lives. Oh, and for those of us infected with this writing virus, we also want to share our words with the world.

As we seek to do these good and worthwhile things, it's important to evaluate them and how they affect our lives. Being busy for the sake of being busy doesn't mean we're being successful, only that we're being busy. Of course, I'd love to produce multiple books each year because that's the only way I'll ever write all the stories in my head, but is that the best choice  for me and for my family?

I don't want to be so busy with activities, including writing, that I don't have time to enjoy blowing bubbles with my son, reading a book with my daughter, or listening to an older child's problems at college. I want to soak in every moment with my family and I'm confident, that as I build my relationships with my Heavenly Father and my Savior and as I seek to focus on my family, that Heavenly Father will provide time enough for me to write. I may never produce very many books, but if the books that I do produce are pleasing unto my Father, then that is enough for me.

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Sunday, October 3, 2010


Rachael Renee Anderson

I loved President Thomas S. Monson's talk this afternoon. For me, it was a message of joy, peace, and hope. I want to take bits and pieces of it, type them up, and hang them around my house. I want the daily reminder that gratitude is the way to go, the way to be, the way to think.

Too often, I get caught up in the ups and downs of life. And in the world of writing, even as a published author, there are still ups and still downs. It's part of life isn't it? Something all of us deal with and really can't get away from. I have to say, though, that I despise being down. Down is zero fun. But how different would I feel, I wonder, if I simply concentrated on being grateful all the time. Grateful for my life, my home, my family, my health, my writing.

Somehow, I think there wouldn't be nearly as many downs.