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!!!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Ideas Versus Execution

I've always been an idea person. Ideas come to me all the time; thoughts that sneak into my mind while I empty the dishwasher, mow the lawn, or try to catch a few extra Zs on a Saturday morning.

I'm sure I had some good ideas growing up, although I don't remember most of them. However, one idea I had when I was a sophomore in high school is still as vivid as it was the day it came to me.

Our high school band was traveling from Hawaii to Florida for the Citrus Bowl parade, and I thought it might be fun to make a sign to hold up during the game--something silly like, "Aloha! We made this sign just to get on National TV!"

The reason I remember this idea is that, unlike most thoughts from that era, I acted on it. I shared the thought with some friends and, armed with markers, paint, and a bed sheet, we made the sign. We smuggled it into the game in my xylophone case, waited for just the right moment, and unfurled our queen-sized banner.

A camera wheeled over, the red light went on, and people all over the country saw our sign. We had our fifteen seconds of fame, all because I had the courage to execute on an idea.

I'm sure you've noticed by now that even the best ideas fall flat when the execution doesn't measure up. Have you ever picked up a book or gone to a movie, excited by the title and synopsis, only to experience terrible disappointment at the result? That's failed execution.

In writing, successful execution requires a number of things: clean prose, interesting voice, likable characters, and solid story structure. Execution takes time and effort.

And it takes courage. Because executing an idea is to risk failure. And the bigger the idea, the bigger the risk.

Every book out there started as an idea. The thing that separates the published works from the ideas scratched in notebooks is the courage, effort, and determination to execute on that idea.


In an act of shameless self-promotion, I would like to share with you a the execution of an idea I had more than half a year ago. I present for you the Bumpy Landings Teaser Trailer.

In connection with the release of the trailer, I'm holding a contest on my blog. Visit for the complete details.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Manuscript Makeovers

A few blogs ago, I mentioned that I liked makeovers of any kind, more specifically, what I call "Manuscript Makeovers." This is a happy way of saying editing, because sometimes when people think of editing, it is unhappy thoughts that come to mind.

I actually enjoy manuscript makeovers for a number of reasons (which I won't get into here because the list might be rather lengthy and boring), but there is a certain order to all kinds of makeovers. For example, when making over a room, you may begin by clearing out all the furniture and stripping off old wallpaper, then come in with fresh paint and new or remodeled furnishings and decorations. You first clear out what isn't needed anymore, then add things you do want. When making over a face, it's similar (although you can't really peel off outdated skin without drastic measures), but you can begin with fresh, clean skin. Usually you apply the foundation first, hence the name foundation, then add other things like blush, eye makeup, and lipstick, all applied in a different way, in the hopes that the "after" will be better than the "before."

So when I makeover manuscripts, there is a certain order I take, which is this:

1. Plot-I go through the whole manuscript to make sure the plot is solid and moves well. (If it's non-fiction, I still go over the whole thing to make sure it's set up in an orderly fashion.) This I like to do first, because it's kind of like the foundation. And it includes chopping out and or livening the boring parts lest my audience falls asleep, or worse, the potential publisher falls asleep and therefore my hard work goes unpublished so that there will be no audience.

(These next few steps can be done in any order, and not necessarily at different times. Sometimes I'll go through looking for improvements in all these areas, making notes to the side, then go back and fix them all.)

2. Character-Are there any parts that need more character and voice? This is a must because character, in my opinion, is every bit as important as the plot. I try to add character throughout the story in the rough draft, but there can always be room for improvement. Are there any places that could use more emotion or feeling or inside-the-head comments or weird quirky things that make the character lovable? Are there any places that could use less of these things because it slows down the plot?

3. Show vs. Tell-I look for any parts where my mind starts to wander. (When I start thinking about doing the dishes or wondering what I have planned for dinner, it's usually a sign that the story has lost me. And usually when a story has lost me, it's because it's doing way too much telling and not enough showing.) Adding a little show in place of the telling does wonders for adding back spark, and then I'm engaged in the story.

4. Dialogue-This is so entwined with show vs. tell and character, but basically, I look to make sure the dialogue is natural. For example, "Charlie, I am so sad that our cat, Fluffy, got hit by a car. I am going to cry," Martha said sadly to her husband. This is kinda boring and uses the dialogue to explain the story. Vs. "Charlie! Come quick!" Martha ran to the street and scooped up Fluffy. He was bleeding and didn't appear to be breathing. "Oh, baby, don't die, please don't die!" This shows a lot more emotion, character, and you automatically know that Martha is probably sad or panicked without having to actually say it. (This example also shows how character, show vs. tell, and dialogue can be intertwined. You improve one, and it improves the others.)

After I've gone through the first four steps, then it's time to move on to more technical things like spelling, grammar, word choice, and word flow. These don't have to be done in any order, and I can take the manuscript and pencil in any mistakes or improvements in any of these areas and go back and fix them all.

After all that, I like to read through the whole thing again just to make sure there isn't anything I missed. (By this time, the entire thing is pretty well memorized, so perhaps saying that I like to read through the whole thing again is a misuse of words.) Plus, it's always nice to have someone else, or several someone elses, read through the manuscript carefully, because lots of times they can catch things I missed because my brain automatically sees the sentence as complete when really it's not, no matter how many times I read through it.

I have by no means perfected my process of manuscript makeovers, but it works for me by giving me some sense of order and by making it fun as well. If you would like to see an example of a manuscript makeover (which includes living examples of character, show vs. tell and dialogue,) click here.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Who Do You Think You Are?

What voice do you hear when you read this question? A schoolyard bully or maybe even a teacher? Your mother? When I hear this question in my head the first voice I hear is Clint Eastwood. “Who do you think you are, punk?” Can you hear it? It can be abrasive, accusatory and mean. But it doesn’t have to be. James E. Faust once asked the same question and when I hear the question in his kind voice, it takes on a whole new meaning. “Who do you think you are?” I then hear his follow up question, “Who are you really?”

If I hope to be happy, which I do, there must be consistency between my true self and the person I think I am. In other words, perception must meet reality. For example, if I ‘think’ I am the most gifted writer of my generation I will be disappointed every day when I look at the NovelRank or re-read an awkward sentence from my book. I will be frustrated that the masses can’t see the glorious talent laid out before them in the thrilling pages of Defensive Tactics. I will get upset every time someone gives a blog, Goodreads or Amazon review that recognizes a weakness in my work and gives me less than five stars. There is danger in overestimating my abilities and contributions. Likewise, if I underestimate who I am, my skill, talents and positive character attributes, I will wallow in a world of self-doubt, pity and fear. Underestimating myself is not being humble; it’s only being depressing. I should be accurate in my self-evaluation.

First, who do I think I am? Since I’m new to Writing Fortress I’m going to tell you a little about who I ‘think’ I am.

I am a husband. I am a father to four wonderful children. I identify and define myself most by my faith, family, job, hobbies, friendships, and most recently, as a writer. Cedar Fort released my first novel, Defensive Tactics, in August 2010 and I am eagerly awaiting reply on my second. The writing world is a fun new community I am grateful to be a part of, and I’m thankful for Cedar Fort giving me an opportunity. That’s who I ‘think’ I am and I ‘think’ its accurate.

As writers and more importantly as sons and daughters of God, we must be honest, recognizing who we really are, the good, the bad, and the average. Please don’t misunderstand. I don’t have to accept the bad or the average. If I don’t like my reviews or how many copies my book sold I can work, struggle, study and fight to become the writer I want to be. I can rise above the bad or average with practice, patience and perseverance, but I can’t lie to myself. That’s just mental cheating, dishonesty at its worst, and it won’t work.

One last question—who do your characters think they are? Is there a gap between their real selves and their flawed perceptions? It’s a struggle we all face in real life so it only seems fair that sometimes our characters will have to struggle with the same issues in coming to a true and accurate understanding of self.

Through honest evaluation of ourselves as people, and as writers, we allow ourselves the greatest opportunity for personal growth. Who do you think you are?
To find out more about me and Defensive Tactics, please check out my blog.

Steve Westover

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


JoAnn Arnold

I'm getting a late start with my blog, today, because my sister had to have eye surgery yesterday, and between helping her and taking care of my mom, I just got back home. I want you to know that the first thing I did was sit down at my computer and get to work on my blog.

For those of you who had the chance to read my last blog, I want you to know that the elections, last Tuesday, went very well. People were lined up most of the day. We election judges were there from 6:00am until 9:30pm, with hardly a break to eat, etc.

A few blogs ago I talked about Castle Gate, (my birth place) and one of the comments I received gave me an idea. The comment was that there just might be a novel somewhere in my memories of Castle Gate. Well, I was helping my mother sort through her things, the other day as we were unpacking her boxes, and I found some newspaper clippings with pictures of Castle Gate (taken in the olden days) and I thought, "Why not?" Maybe it will come into being.

Life has in interesting way in influencing our decisions. we have a responsibility to our patriotic duty - to family - to ourselves, and to a commitment made.

In writing a novel, we find ourselves responsible for the structure, the story values, The rhythm, The plot, the sequence, the characters, the climax, our readers. The list goes on.

Sometimes, we find ourselves with a migraine of re-writes - an empty cup - unexpected interruptions that steal our imagination for a period of time. But, that's life and life is a constant learning experience.

Now, I've got to get back to the read world. Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.

p.s. I want you all to know that I learn from reading your blogs. Thank you.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Too Many Ideas?

by Cheri Chesley

I feel really blessed to be a member of the Cedar Fort team. I love being able to say I’m a Cedar Fort author, even though getting my second book submitted for possible publication has taken much longer than I had planned. But I’m working on it. :)

As some of you know, through my blog posts and Facebook, I’ve struggled with the second book of my trilogy for some time. I thought it had it all in the bag, but then I realized how lacking in actual plot it turned out to be. Recently, I sorted it out, and now am on my way to editing and submitting book three—which is now book two. I even came up with a really great plot for the new book three.

Coming up with ideas has never been my problem. At the moment, my brain is backlogged with story ideas. That can be as challenging as not having inspiration hit. Why? Because it’s difficult to choose which story to concentrate on and bring to focus.

As I type this, ideas for my trilogy, two YA contemporaries, and two middle grade series are swimming around in my head. It’s moments like these that I truly feel schizophrenic, since the characters speak to me so clearly in my mind it’s almost a challenge to decide which one is speaking loudest.

Time is my other enemy. Sometimes I feel as though I’m racing death, like I’ll never get all my stories out of my head before I’m either too old to write, or I die. When I pray, I pray for focus and energy. Because I always seem to need both.

Good luck to all writers. We need it.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Running Out Of Ideas?

                                                                  By Trina Boice

Wow, my head is spinning and it's not because I just did a bunch of somersaults with my son.  I just spent two days at the Self Reliance Expo in Utah as one of the presenters and now have a bunch of new ideas swimming around in my head.  I also checked out the Women's Expo next door and yes, I spent some money. 

I get the biggest kick out of expos.  I absolutely love the free swag the vendors pass out, but what I really love is talking to people who are passionate about a new product or idea.  The energy is palpable at these events and the exchange of information is wonderfully stimulating.  Sure, people are there to demonstrate their wares and sell you stuff, but it's more than that; knowledge is being given freely and there is hope and vision in the air.

If you ever feel like you're running out of fresh ideas to write about or you're experiencing an uninspiring writer's stupor, wander over to your nearest expo and start talking to people.  I promise you'll find things to write about! 

By the way, to find out when the next Self Reliance Expo is, check out their web site at

Saturday, November 6, 2010

You Mean, You Haven't Had the Same Experience as I?

By Christine Thackeray

I've recently went to Goodreads and found 11 reviews of my latest book "Lipstick Wars". Some were good, but other readers said they hadn't met anyone as diffident as my main character or as rude as some of the women in my story. Ironically, most of my characters were based on real people who I had softened to seem more realistic. I'm amazed that some people have never met women who behave the way they do in my story and have come to conclude it must be a cultural thing.

I've never lived in Utah except to go to school where I was surrounded by out-of-staters. Is everyone there nice? When I lived in Dallas, people were amazingly polite to your face, but gossip ran rampant. In New York, on the other hand, there is honor in voicing the obvious. Gossip is done to your face. It's not considered rude, merely intelligent, and the response should be a great comeback or acceptance and change. Minnesota "nice" is different entirely. The facade is eggshell thick and doesn't reach the eyes. Southern California is blatant like NY but they don't put it in words. Shunning is done through overt body language and head bobbles.

I suppose one of the gifts of reading is sharing other people's experience. (Boy, this post sounds like sour grapes. Urg.) Live and learn and then buy LUV's.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Hail the Fortress

I'm pleased and honored to join the "Writing Fortress" of Cedar Fort authors. At first I just admired this group from afar, later I started visiting some of the authors' individual blogs, then I actually started commenting. Because of this blog, I've been able to "virtually" run into first-time novelists like myself with releases over the next 60 days including Maggie Fechner, Don Carey, and Cheri Chesley. I look forward to meeting them all in person in the near future.

Our publisher, in my opinion, has provided us with some unique opportunities. Their willingness to take a chance on new authors is obvious, and in my case they took on a book rejected by all the other market publishers. In fact, their initial response to me was also a rejection, but it included enough useful feedback that I was able to revise and resubmit it within a month into something they could accept. My experience with the editors and designers has been nothing but positive. When I browse through local bookstores, I can always pick out the CFI books before I even see the logo. They're the ones with the artful, textured covers and varying sizes that stand out in contrast to the books by the largest fiction publisher in our market whose books, let's be honest, have a certain sameness to their look.

I've been a writer in hiding. By the age of eight I was creating my own picture books, my drawing talent nonexistent but the stories themselves flush with a vivid, adventurous imagination. This ease with words continued through high school and into college, where I majored in English and had dreams of taking the Nobel prize in literature.

Alas, real life intervened and I realized that there was a bit of competition for the Nobel prize. Also, I would need to get a job that paid real money if I was going to support my growing family. I parlayed my college degree into a career in business and kept little more than a pinky finger in the literary world (besides reading hundreds of books, which was always a habit) for many years.

Then in 2009, I realized that middle age was less than a stone's throw away and I had no published work. With massive determination, I temporarily abandoned the massive multi-volume epic fantasy I'd always dreamed about, and decided to finish the little story set around a Salt Lake City formalwear shop that had haunted me for 20 years. On January 1, 2010, the manuscript was in the mail to 7 publishers, and I held my breath.

I exhaled about a minute later. Otherwise I would have asphyxiated, since two months elapsed before the first response. No, No, No, No, No, No, Maybe -- If you'll consider making these changes. Thankfully, the requested changes did not interfere with my theme or my voice, and I gladly made them and resubmitted. then on May 11th, the email came from Cedar Fort. I sat and looked at it on my laptop, unable to make sense of it, as if an unknown species of insect had somehow crawled into the LCD screen and died there, an enigmatic specimen that could not be fathomed by my limited mind.

Fathom it I eventually did, and life rolled onward, though for me it was changed forever. I've discovered a community of writers, who share not only my talent but my religious beliefs and standards. These are some of the finest people I've met, online or off. I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you on a bi-weekly basis, and will continue to enjoy that socialty that we all need as we struggle through the travails of giving birth to luminous new works of fiction!

Michael Knudsen

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Upside of Down

I'm happy to announce that my new book, The Upside of Down, will go to press next week and will be officially released in January.

What do you think of the cover? Would you pick up the book based on the cover? Does the back cover blurb intrigue you?

From the back cover:

“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.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Awesome Book Review Blogs

There are tons of incredible book review blogs out in this cyberspace we call the world wide web, and today I want to mention two that I have come to love. Not only do they offer great, candid reviews, but the women behind them are incredible also. Whether you are a writer or just love to read, you really ought to check them out.

Kathy is amazing! She is always giving away books, books, and more books. She hosts giveaway hops where she joins with other blogs to do massive giveaways, and she also allows others to post giveaways on her site. On top of all this, she somehow finds the time to read and thoroughly review hundreds of books. And once she's finished reviewing a book, she gives it away. How perfect is that? She's brilliant, fun, kind, and I just love her!

Heather at Fire and Ice is incredible! She's a brilliant photographer, talented jewelry designer, and a great book reviewer to boot! It's like she can't make up her mind what she likes best, so she does it all. Oh, and she's a mom with kids and pets. She boggles my mind with all she does and I love reading her reviews and author interviews. She's not afraid to say what she thinks, but she also has a great sense of humor and is the kindest and most genuine of people. Love her!