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Monday, March 29, 2010

A thought for a Tuesday



One day, when I was in my mid-thirties, I decided I wanted to become an artist, knowing that if I wanted to be an artist bad enough, I would become one. So I gathered up what an novice artist would need and began my quest. First, I took an art class from a good friend who patiently taught me many things about putting paint on a canvas. Then when my husband and I moved to Santa Clara, I found that Dale Parson's was an art teacher at Dixie State College so I registered, and my artist's education continued. I learned as I watched and listened and practiced the art.

One day Dale gave the class some very timely advice. He said, "Sometimes I work on a face for hours, leaving it only when I think I've got it right. then, the next morning I may get up and take a look at it and start over, again." He added, "Know that even the greatest artists don't always get it right the first time. So remember you never stop learning. You never know it all no matter how may years you've been painting.

I've never forgotten his advice. Instead, I let it guide me, and I ask myself if we as authors and artists were to reach perfection in our work would we loose the desire for the art? Isn't it the challange and the stretch which awakens the creativity and the curiosity inside us that remains the driving force behind the desire to write or to paint? Isn't it the path we've chosen that takes us on the ever winding journey of imagination . . . a journey we pray will never end?

So While I'm striving for perfection, I'll not be in too big of a hurry to reach it, striving instead only to improve the gift with each challenge with each painting . . . with each novel . . . with each song.

Before I sign off, I have to share this poem my little granddaughter send to me.

There once was a bee who lived in a tree,
And then met a very nice flea.
They played all day in the hay,
and then they broke their knees,

It is a young imagination at work, is it not!!

Have a good day

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Ya know what I mean?

                                                                       By Trina Boice
                                                                       http://www.boicebox.com/


You know what I mean? I hear that question a lot in conversations lately. While writers don't often insert those words into their manuscripts, they hope that the reader is understanding what is truly meant. Because we're the ones writing the words, WE know what we mean, but we might also be making incorrect assumptions for the reader. Take a minute or two to re-read what you've just penned or ask someone with fresh eyes to review it before the whole world sees it.


To make my point, here are some TRUE and humorous signs that were found posted around town that surely confused at least a couple of people:


TOILET OUT OF ORDER. PLEASE USE FLOOR BELOW


In a Laundromat:

AUTOMATIC WASHING MACHINES: PLEASE REMOVE ALL YOUR CLOTHES WHEN THE LIGHT GOES OUT

In a Memphis department store:

BARGAIN BASEMENT UPSTAIRS



In an office:

WOULD THE PERSON WHO TOOK THE STEP LADDER YESTERDAY PLEASE BRING IT BACK OR FURTHER STEPS WILL BE TAKEN

In an office:

AFTER COFFEE BREAK STAFF SHOULD EMPTY THE COFFEE POT AND STAND UPSIDE DOWN ON THE DRAINING BOARD

Outside a secondhand shop:

WE EXCHANGE ANYTHING - BICYCLES, WASHING MACHINES, ETC. WHY NOT BRING YOUR WIFE ALONG AND GET A WONDERFUL BARGAIN?

Notice in health food shop window:

CLOSED DUE TO ILLNESS

Spotted in a safari park:

ELEPHANTS PLEASE STAY IN YOUR CAR

Seen during a conference:

FOR ANYONE WHO HAS CHILDREN AND DOESN'T KNOW IT, THERE IS A DAY CARE ON THE 1ST FLOOR


Notice in a farmer's field:

THE FARMER ALLOWS WALKERS TO CROSS THE FIELD FOR FREE, BUT THE BULL CHARGES.

Message on a leaflet:

IF YOU CANNOT READ, THIS LEAFLET WILL TELL YOU HOW TO GET LESSONS

On a repair shop door:

WE CAN REPAIR ANYTHING. (PLEASE KNOCK HARD ON THE DOOR - THE BELL DOESN'T WORK)

Friday, March 26, 2010

My new book cover for "Rebound"

By Heather Justesen

Okay, it's official, my book cover is here--isn't it cute? I love the flower (since there is a lot of talk about landscaping in the book) and purple just happens to be my favorite color, so that's a bonus! It's due for release on May 8th. Here it is, and the back cover blurb follows:

Lily's life is perfect--a perfect lie.

With a successful husband, a gorgeous home, and a growing family, Lily Drake has it all. But when the FBI shows up, she realizes her husband is not the man she thought he was.

Meanwhile, Lily's friend Curtis is about to be drafted by the NBA, but he suddenly feels pulled to find his birth family, and no one is prepared for what he'll discover. With so many obstacles in their way, Lily and Curtis must learn to rely on each other if they're ever going to find peace and learn to love again.

In this heartwarming family drama, Heather Justesen, author of The Ball's in Her Court, weaves a stirring story of hope. Reunite with your favorite characters and discover how determination, love, and faith can overcome even the toughest trials.

It's so exciting to see things coming together for this book and to start really planning launch parties and my book trailer and blog tour, among other things. Publicity is a fun but really time-consuming part of being an author. I love to talk to schools, church groups, and book groups, so if any of you are interested, drop me a line!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

New Blogger On The Block

Hello All!

I’m so happy to have been invited to contribute to this blog. It’s such an exciting honor.

Writing can be a very solitary endeavor, and I love that through the power of technology writers all over can share thoughts on the roller coaster that is putting words down on paper. I look so forward to sharing thoughts with you.

But for today, I guess I'll start by giving you a little 411 on me. So, here goes, in the form of 20 random statements.

1. I was born in Alaska, grew up in California, and currently live in Texas.
2. I am the author of two books, The Icing on the Cake, and Previously Engaged.
3. I love humor. I love reading it, writing it, watching it—sometimes even being the butt of it.
4. I watch American Idol. And I sometimes vote. I’m not ashamed. (Okay, a little ashamed.)
5. I’m thisclose to being finished with my taxes.
6. I have Miley Cyrus music on my iPod.
7. This is my first spring in Texas. For three nights in a row, I’ve had nightmares about tornados.
8. My younger sister is about to make me an aunt. I’m SO going to spoil that little girl.
9. I love Pandora.com. It’s a writer’s dream.
10. I’m so excited for the upcoming LDStorymakers Conference.
11. In high school I drove a 1967 Mustang.
12. I now drive a Honda Civic.
13. I play the piano.
14. My husband’s teaching me the guitar.
15. I’m 5 foot 10.
16. But I stink at basketball.
17. If I had to live somewhere other than my own house, I’d choose IKEA.
18. I find doing laundry soothing.
19. I’ve never gotten a traffic ticket.
20. Now that I wrote that, I’ll probably get one tomorrow.

Thanks for reading! I’m looking forward to getting to know YOU!

Monday, March 22, 2010

New Blogger: Cheri Chesley

Here I am!

This morning I was thinking, "What if we all woke up one day to realize we're all fictional characters in somebody else's work?" It's kind of like when Buzz Lightyear realized he was actually a toy and not a space ranger.

I'm really excited to start blogging here with other Cedar Fort authors. My qualification for being here, The Peasant Queen, is my YA romantic fantasy novel. Watch here for information on release dates.

Rebecca asked each of us newcomers to introduce ourselves, so I'll start with my family. I'm married with 5 children--3 boys and 2 girls--and we currently live in Tooele, UT. Aside from writing, I enjoy other forms of creation such as photography, sewing and cooking. Just don't ask me to garden. To go along with my fun pollen allergies, I also have no skill whatsoever making plants grow. Though I am pretty skilled at killing them.

I also have a Mommy Blog, where I post about raising my kids and other fun family stuff. And my Author Blog, where I post about the fun of writing, reading, and the occasional book review. Currently, I'm having a fun contest on my author blog, in conjunction with my sister-in-law's author blog. You can click HERE or HERE for more information, but basically we're recruiting followers as part of our Spring Into Reading contest. Once we both have 100 blog followers, we will do a drawing for the three prizes--a romance novel prize package, a fantasy novel prize package and a mystery novel prize package. Mel(issa) and I are really excited to give out these fantastic prizes, so don't miss your chance. Head on over and follow our blogs to enter!

I'm already looking forward to my next post. See you in 2 weeks :)

Monday, March 15, 2010

When Opportunity Knocked

JoAnn Arnold

When opportunity knocked, I opened the door wide, invited it in and was asked to be one of the keynote speakers in a Women's Conference, in Price, Utah, in April. When the invitation was given, the committee suggested I bring my books and art to display and to sell. YES!!! I share this opportunity with you so you will know that I'm actively engaged in a worthy cause.

Now on to the business at hand. I want to share just a tiny excerpt from my book "Prince Etcheon and the Secret of the Ancient," with you.

Etcheon learns courage, emotion, mental and physical prowess from the the wisdom of the panther, the horse, the Great Danes, the eagle, the owl and the two-headed lamb. Caspar-Arius, the two-headed lamp teaches wisdom through debate. An example:

"If in our life we are confined to the world of misery until we die," Caspar said, "perhaps it would be better not to have been born."

"Is there no joy on this earth, then?" Arius asked.

"Is there not more misery than joy?" Caspar returned the question.

"Yet without misery, would we know joy?" Arius returned.

Caspar pondered only for a short time before she inquired, "Is it better then, to have been born - to have experience both misery and joy in life, learning from each -than not to have been born at all, if one dies in misery?"

Arius wrapped her neck around Caspar's as if she knew she had won the debate. "If one dies in misery, having learned from both misery and joy, is it not his choice?"

"Baaa baa," Caspar conceded. "You have left me with no reply, for which I am thankful."

For days, Etcheon listens to the two debate until finally his mind begins to comprehend the lesson and the gift is felt within him.

"But this gift has not yet seen battle" Caspar replies when the lessons are complete.

"But in using the gift, he may not have to resort to the battle."

"Is it not the battle that will require his gift?" Caspar stared into the eyes of Arius, both having remarkable fun.

"Then we will know if you were successful in your instruction," cried the eagle from above them.

Oh, Isn't the life as an author fun?



Thank you for stopping by. Have a good day

Introducing...Donald J Carey

Hello, my name is Donald J Carey, although my friends just call me Don. And we’re all friends here, right?

My Y chromosome and I are excited to join the lovely and talented ladies here on the Writing Fortress blog. Rebecca has asked me to provide a little testosterone to the mix, so I’ll do my best.

Being the token male is a position I’m very comfortable with, as I grew up in a house full of sisters, and am now raising a house full of daughters. Even our guinea pigs are both girls. The only other boy around here is the cat, and he has to sleep in the garage.

My family and I live in a small town just west of Fort Worth, Texas, where we moved four years ago so my wife could be closer to Dallas for medical treatment. Prior to that, we lived near my sisters and parents in Utah.

By day, I am a software engineer, working from home for a small company in Midvale, Utah. I write code in Java and C++, and I like to joke that this is much like writing fiction, only with a lot more semicolons.

Although my first love in literature is Speculative Fiction, my muse saw fit to feed me a romantic coming-of-age story for my debut novel. (So don’t get too worried about testosterone overload just yet.)

The book is set in my hometown of Laie, which is also home to BYU-Hawaii and the Polynesian Cultural Center. The kernel for this story idea came to me in the middle of a harsh Utah February, when I was feeling particularly homesick for the tropics.

Last month, I signed a contract with Cedar Fort to publish this as-yet unnamed book. (Actually, it has about a dozen names, but nobody seems to like any of them.) This is technically my first novel, although the finished product is so different from my first feeble drafts that I could easily say I’ve written three or four stories over the last eight years.

While I have always loved reading, writing has been a fairly recent avocation. In my younger years, I scratched my creative itch musically, playing many different instruments in a number of high school and college bands. Once out of school, however, it became more and more difficult to coordinate the schedules and personalities required for a musical group, and I began writing as a more solitary creative outlet.

I soon learned, however, that while writing itself is a private activity, meeting and socializing with other writers – both online and in person – has been one of the most fulfilling aspects of writing.

Because of my love for that interaction, I really look forward to participating on this blog and getting to know both the Writing Fortress authors and readers. Thank you for giving me this opportunity.

And now I will leave you with a photo of the SR-71 Blackbird, because nothing says “testosterone” like tearing through the sky at Mach 3.2.

Photo by jamesdale10

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Writing for generations yet unborn

By Trina Boice

 
Want to put your writing skills to REALLY good use?  How about writing an autobiography for your grandchildren to read?  What...they're not even born yet?  Great!  That'll give you even more time to work on it!  How about writing your grandmother's autobiography or one for Uncle Alvin?  While your fiction manuscript may be brilliant, your family history is priceless. 

Here on our blog we don't usually endorse products, but this is a good one and it's FREE, so I thought I'd share it with you!  Here's the link: http://mail.google.com/mail/?hl=en&tab=wm#inbox/12753f4643888d73

Roots Magic is offering a free download for their genealogy software!  Here's a description of what their program can help you do (and no, I get absolutely no kickback for recommending their product):

Easy to learn and use:  RootsMagic Essentials' friendly screens and menus allow even the most inexperienced computer novice to get up-and running quickly. Navigation is a breeze with both pedigree and family views, and RootsMagic Essentials lets you view and edit every piece of information about a person from a single, easy-to-use screen.

Unlimited capacity:  Enter an unlimited number of facts, notes, sources, and multimedia items to each person and family.

Flexibility: RootsMagic Essentials makes it easy to track multiple relationships such as adoptions, foster parents, and more.

Find People Quickly: Easily find and edit anyone in your file. The RootsMagic Explorer lets you type a person's name to quickly jump to the person, or find people with an easy-to-use criteria search screen.

Multimedia Support: Add photographs, sound bites, and video clips to bring your family history to life. Then have RootsMagic Essentials include your photographs in your printed reports.

Reports Galore:  RootsMagic Essentials makes it easy to publish and share your family history. Create and print dozens of reports, charts, and lists.

Professional Looking Sources: Our unique SourceWizard writes and manages sources and citations for you. Built-in templates based on Evidence Explained make citing your sources as easy as "filling in the blanks".

Power Tools:  RootsMagic Essentials includes tools which make it a snap to clean up your data. Potential problem lists, sophisticated merge techniques, date and soundex calculators are just the start.

Unicode Support:  Don't limit yourself to a genealogy program that can't handle international character sets. RootsMagic Essentials' Unicode support means you aren't limited in the characters you can enter.

Compatibility:  Import directly from Family Tree Maker, PAF, Legacy, Family Origins. Plus RootsMagic Essentials has full GEDCOM 5.5 support for both import and export.

FamilySearch Certified: RootsMagic Essentials bridges the gap between your personal family history data and the New FamilySearch internet site. RootsMagic is also the first software certified to reserve and request LDS temple ordinances. You can find, reserve, and track needed ordinances from the comfort of your own home.

Enjoy!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Myths about Copyright

By Christine Thackeray

I'm still preparing for that conference where I'm talking about copyright so I wanted to dispell three copyright myths.

Myth #1- When I write something, it's mine and no one can use it without my permission.

Myth #2- Getting copyright permission to use quotes in a manuscript is so time-consuming and expensive that it's just not worth it

Myth #3- Once an author dies I can use their material without permission

Answer #1- Copyright law only protects someone from publishing and selling your material. Under Fair Use people may still critique, newreport, create parody or use your material for teaching and research even if you don't want them to.

Answer #2- Most major publishers have fair use guidelines posted that may make using a quote free if you check. If you use the CCC, an online service that specializes in helping authors get permission(www.copyright.com), you will usually have a completed contract within three days from almost anyone.(Although it can be just as fast and a little cheaper to do it yourself.

Answer #3- Recently Hollywood got into the copyright scene and a law passed that extended copyrights for the authors life plus seventy years. Yup. Your children, you grandchildren and even some of your great-grandchildren may have the joy of completing random permission forms. Whee!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Running down the home stretch

By Heather Justesen

Today I've been working on galleys for my second book, Rebound, which is slated for release in early May. Galleys are the final edit before the book actually goes to print--the final little detail edit, not time to change things wholesale. Everything's been type set and the little dingbats have been put in place, and I've been loving my story again.

You know, it's funny, by the time I submit a book I'm so sick of looking at it I can't stand to give it another look, but after working on a couple of other projects, and getting some perspective, I'm really enjoying my next read through the story, catching the nuances I forgot that I added into the scenes and reading the little hints of attraction between my male and female characters--and they work! It's such a relief to look at it now and see that it's all working and yes, the book really is good enough I can be proud of it.

I'm going to tell you a secret--writers are some of the more neurotic, insecure people I know. We all have moments when we think that everything we're writing is trash. Or days when we've submitted a new manuscript and sit on pins and needles thinking that, yeah, our other published book(s) were pretty good, but surely the publisher is going to HATE this one--no matter how much we sweated over it and picked apart every little detail and plot twist until it was perfect. (And I'm so not just talking about me here--I've heard Whitney winners express this same feeling.)

So when I see my finished product (or close enough) and I'm enjoying the story, and I'm hardly finding any problems with it (One very noticeable mistake--if you're more into Utah basketball than I am, but hey, we caught it so I won't have to be horribly embarrassed when someone emails me and says that I got it wrong.) And I can't wait to see the cover and have my book on the shelves and be able to share it with everyone.

Do you get the feeling that I'm excited?

When I post here again in two weeks I'll have my cover and back-liner copy and I can hardly wait to share them with you!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

My Core is Sore

Yesterday, I did some P90X core strength training with my friends. Today, I'm feeling sore every time I move, twist, bend, or do any other kind of movement. Probably because I've never actually done this particular workout, which is more than just simple crunches and other exercises I'm used to doing.

But with that lovely soreness comes the knowledge that my core is getting a workout, and with repeated usage of these muscles they are becoming stronger. Maybe someday I'll even have the female version of a six-pack. Maybe.

So why even worry about working the core muscles of my body? Because strengthening the core, not just abs, brings better flexibility, better body posture, lessens back pain, and can even help diminish love handles. The important part here, though, is that it's not just abs I'm working, it's also the back and side abs that create a balance of strength in the core.

Is there a core for writing? I believe, for me anyway, that following Gerald Lund's suggestions of the three E's, Edifying, Excellent, and Entertaining, is the core to good writing. If there's a core for writing, then there must be a way to exercise that core to make it stronger, and it comes with practice and learning.

But what happens if my writing is really edifying but not entertaining? Or what if the writing is excellent, but the flow of the book is just really boring and cheesy? Big problems arise when balance isn't achieved.

My first novel manuscript, which was thankfully never published, has a weak core, so unless I do some major revamping on it, it will likely stay on the shelf of my desk forever. My second novel, which did get published, has a stronger core, a better balance between these three things, but it's certainly not where I would like to be. I keep strengthening and practicing and using those core writing muscles so that each work I produce is hopefully better than the previous one. That is what strength training means to me.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Peek in the Past - All Change - Knutsford to Hale


When I was twelve years old, my parents move our family from the old Victorian semi in Knutsford, Cheshire, to a newer home some fifteen miles away in Hale. (Left: my sister, Sue, outside our "new" front door. Right: my mum in her modern (then) kitchen. No work surface, no refrigerator, no dishwasher, no microwave, no garbage disposal.)

It was a wrench leaving familiar places full of childhood imaginings. But I was growing up, attending grammar school in Altrincham (nextdoor to Hale), and it was time to leave childish things behind. Right? Wrong.

I’d been travelling from Knutsford to Hale by steam train for a year before we moved, and that loyal imaginary horse of mine galloped beside the train, leaping over rooftops, trees, and bridges, cheering me on whenever loneliness or fear set in. I tried lifting the grimy sash window once, to see if he was really out there, but acrid engine fumes and flying soot soon had me dropping the window, and breathing onto the glass instead, rubbing a peep hole with my hand.

I don’t know where the horse slept once we left our home-with-an-attic, but in my mind he was outside every classroom window on good days and bad. Especially bad. Many a sharp rebuke from a teacher swung my attention away from horse-dreaming and back to the lesson.


Not only did I leave behind my comfortable first school, with its soft and kindly teachers, but friends also changed, as did school uniform. And the dreaded homework increased beyond a joke. However, it didn’t take long to settle in at the senior school (left), make new friends, and discover my favorite lessons were English literature and language, and Art—with a huge emphasis on literature.

I also discovered that Mathematics, Physics, and Chemistry, were outside my brain’s ability to fully grasp.

I can still remember the first time a teacher praised my English composition. I was the only class member to use dialogue, and had great fun creating the story. At least a strong imagination came in handy for something. Pity it didn’t work on all the other subjects. History demanded too many facts for my liking. If only I’d been allowed to spice it up with a bit of creative writing, I’d have done so much better. And the Math teacher never did appreciate me making up my own answers. At least I learned a valuable lesson—the odds of guessing the right answer were zero to none. Therefore, taking up a life of gambling would not be a good idea.

(Credit for the photograph of Hale, Cheshire, above right goes to http://www.oldukphotos.com/)

Anne Bradshaw
Famous Family Nights
http://www.annebradshaw.com/
http://www.annebradshaw.blogspot.com/
www.facebook.com/anne.bradshaw
http://twitter.com/AnneBradshaw

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

We Learn From Each other

JoAnn Arnold

Today I'm blogging from Nampa, Idaho, where Brent and I are watching over 5 grandsons while their parents vacation in Hawaii - though I might add, the day of the tsunami warnings, they spent most of the day in their hotel room waiting until the warning was lifted so they could board the cruise ship that could not come back into port until all was well again.

To say that I'm just a little (what's the word I'm looking for?) Not brain-dead but close. The physical responsibility of keeping up with school events, band concerts, basketball games, and Pow Wows, along with laundry, meals, making sure everyone is safe and well, has my brain working on another level, Therefore, today, my block will be very simple.

Becky, I will miss your blogs and I think I'll visit your humor blog.

Christine, Thank you for blogging about copyright laws.

Jullayne, I thought your idea of writing a letter to certain characters, getting their input into the storyline was a Cool idea.

Something I have found in my life's experiences is that we learn some of the most important lessens from each other. During my battle with breast cancer, sitting beside someone who was going through the same thing, gave me a deeper understanding of the road we would travel, together.

Standing beside another student in an art class who was trying as hard as I was to make the tree look like a tree, gave me more understanding of color and brush stroke.

Reading another author's ideas and struggles in an effort to write a book helps me understand that I'm not alone in my quest.

Last night, for FHE, the boys wanted to watch the move, "Miracle." If you haven't seen it, it's the true story of the 1980 USA Hockey Team's triumph Olympic victory over the Soviet union. Starting with a handpicked group of undisciplined kids, Coach Brooks teaches them to play like they have never played before. He makes them believe they can achieve the unachievable. It takes 8 months of constant,unbelievably physical, emotional and mental work, and months of stumbling and pulling together. But they find themselves not only learning from Coach Brooks, but from each other, as well, and they become the miracle in the 1980 Olympics.

Though the movie was about a hocky team, the same philosophy applies to all aspects of life. We may stumble in the persuit of a dream, of a miracle, but if we simply pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off, and continue down the path, learning from each other, we will find that which we are truly looking for.

Have a very good day

Monday, March 1, 2010

It's Been Fun!

Posted by C.L. (Cindy) Beck



This will be my last post at the Writing Fortress. I wish it didn't have to come to an end, because I've enjoyed associating with the other authors here, as well as enjoyed the friends who've stopped by to read and/or comment. The moderator, Rebecca Talley, has been wonderful and it's been a joy working with her. I've appreciated that Cedar Fort has afforded me this opportunity, as well.

Alas, however, I have two other blogs that I write, and am in the process of spit shining (ugg, now that's an ugly image :) a manuscript that I hope to submit to a publisher soon. With all that I have going on, time just runs away, leaving me behind with a half finished to-do list every day.

That's the way life is, though, isn't it? Choosing between alternatives, even when both are good causes, is one of the things we're put on this earth to learn. Of course, that's just Beck 3:7 that I'm quoting, and anyone looking for it in the scriptures isn't likely to find it ... at least not in the same way that I just phrased it!

Thanks again to both the readers and authors who've graced my life with their presence and comments here at the blog. It's been fun!

~ Cindy

If anyone would still like to follow me, I'd be tickled pink ... and all other shades of color, too. You can find me at my humor blog.