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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I Attended the LDStorymakers Conference, YES!!!

JoAnn Arnold

First, I want to take my hat off to the the organizers of the LDStorymakers 7th Annual Writers Conference. It was impressive - enlightening - educational - fun - etc., etc., etc.

I got to see writers from FF and Facebook. We hugged and talked briefly as we passed each other on our way to the next session.

I enjoyed every session I attended, and felt sad over not being able to attend several others. I hate to have to choose between five classes when each one has something important to teach me.

I somehow missed Tristi's session on "Blog Tours: Inexpensive and Effective Internet Marketing, and that was one I wanted to attend. I wonder if I could e-mail her and ask if she has what she taught, written down and if so, would she e-mail me a copy? I think I'll give it a try.

And I missed Josi Kilpacks class: 3-2-1 Blast Off!: Getting the Most from Your Booksignings and Launch parties. I think I'll check with her, too.

I learned about the Character Bible - Part I and Part II. (J. Scott Savage). Excellent class.

I learned about Weaving Chills and Thrills (Stephanie Black). Excellent class.

I learned about Writing for the Masses (Dave Wolverton). Excellent class.

I attended The Dangerous Workshop for Writers: What Every Writer Should Know. (J. Scott Savage and james Dashner) Learned from this Excellent class as well.

I learned from Point/Counterpoint: 10 Habits of Successful Writers. (Julie Coulter Bellon and Robison Wells). Excellent class.

I learned from Sprinting to the Last page or Savoring the Writing: Pacing Your Story Properly. (Candace Salima and her assistant) Excellent class.

See what I mean! What a schedule! What fun! I only wish there was some way I could have split myself in half so part of me could have gone in one direction while the other went another, learning twice as much. I'm thinking of forcing my husband to attend with me next year. This year he relaxed and went to the BYU/Utah Baseball game, I'm sure he didn't have as much fun as I did.

Well I have to go practice my piano,now. I haven't really played for 10 years because the sounds of the piano affected the Meniere's disease, living inside my ears. But, somehow my Bishop found out that with the help of Acupunture, the Meniere's is now held at bay, and I had started playing, again (though it was like starting all over again), and he called me into his office, releasing me from one calling and calling me to be Relief Society Pianist. I have to say that my mouth dropped open in shock. How did he know I had been working my way back to being able to play the simple stuff? Inspiration? I don't know, but I do know this, I now practice an hour every day, and I'm actually happy in this calling.

Have a great day

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Best Laid Plans

I don't want to turn this into a "poor me" post. But I am going to start out with my disappointment in missing most of the Storymakers Conference this weekend.

See, I got sick the week before. Knowing I wanted to be at my best for the conference, I went to the doctor on Tuesday. He gave me the last antibiotic I'd used. What neither of us realized was I had a reaction to that antibiotic. I knew I'd broken out in a horrible rash, but I blamed it on the stress from moving and all that entails at the time.

But Tuesday my skin turned red and puffy until I looked like a puffy lobster. I got a half shot of epinephrine and a new antibiotic. The problem was, by Friday I still didn't feel any better.

My biggest issue was the sinus pressure and subsequent pain. I'm actually keeping the pain at bay by alternating two different pain meds. This is the worst it's ever been. At any rate, because of my misery, I didn't even make it all the way through Friday because I was in too much pain. And I was so mad. I was so disappointed. And thoroughly depressed.

Plus, I felt like a baby. Especially after seeing Karen Hoover hobble by on her not-quite-healed foot saying "ow" with each step.

Enough dwelling. Let's move on.

What I was able to glean from my first day of Storymakers was amazing. I had a great time. Not only was I able to see my author friends, but what I remember of the classes I attended--so glad I took notes--I know I learned quite a lot. One that stands out was Jeff Savage talking about what kind of time we spend developing our villains. Thankfully, I think I'm in good shape with my evil king. It's just a great reminder that my one character can't be a fluke. I need to focus a healthy amount of attention developing all my villains.

What makes these conferences so fantastic isn't so much what we learn, or what prizes we win (huge congrats to Christine Bryant)--it's the camaraderie we feel with one another. It was said more than once Friday, that writing is often such a solitary business it is so important to gather as a group and remember that we are not alone. That we aren't the only people to hear voices in our heads, and that it doesn't (necessarily) mean we're crazy. If you've ever visited Julie Wright's FaceBook page, under her picture she put "I write to stave off schizophrenia." Ain't that the truth?

And I'm sincerely hoping, for the next gathering, my health will not get in the way.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Writer's conference fun!

Today I've been at the Marriot at a conference in Provo. This is the seventh year for the LDStorymaker's writer's conference, and it's by far the largest ever, topping off over 450 attendees! I love conferences because not only do I get to learn more about my craft, focus on the problems in my writing and learn new things about publicity, but I get to visit with friends. Lots of friends. And make tons of new ones. And since this conference is 200 people larger than last year, there are oodles of new people to meet.

Writers are a funny lot. We spend hours researching odd topics, discuss situations, and get jealous when we find out someone has a chance to attend specialized classes like S.W.A.T. training. At lunch I was sitting with a bunch of ladies I either didn't know, or had only briefly met before. Three particular women were seated together and talking about someone. Now, I hadn't really been paying attention to their chatter, but I knew that they had co-written several books together, so I turned to them and asked--are you talking about a real person, or one of your characters. I shouldn't have bothered--of course they were talking about someone they had made up.

When you meet people in other ways the typical question would include what one does for a living, how many kids, they have, etc. The most common first question at the conference today among people meeting for the first time seemed to be "What genre do you write?" Real jobs and kids came way later in the conversation, if ever.

And can I just say how fabulous it is to go to a conference where a fantasy writer actually comes out and says that our writing needs to uplift, to teach and lead others to live better lives--even if that teaching takes place subtly, in a way that can't be considered preachy? Nowhere else could he say that, and it's unlikely that it would have been received with complete agreement anywhere else.

I love conferences!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Preparing for the LDStorymakers Conference

by Rebecca Talley

I'm leaving Thursday to attend the LDStorymakers Conference 2010. It's like Christmas! I'm so excited. I can't wait to see friends from previous years that have become even better friends through interaction on the internet and I'm looking forward to meeting new people and making new friends.

Thursday night I'll be going to the CFI authors' dinner. I even get to dress up. Can't wait!

Saturday I'll be teaching a class at the conference on writing short stories. If you're attending the conference and are thinking about coming to my class, we'll be analyzing, "The Gift of the Magi." We'll be looking for a pattern and I'll share a technique I use for writing short stories. This technique can be expanded for novels as well.

I have an appointment with editor, Krista Marino, and I'm looking forward to learning from her and listening to her insights. She agreed to read submissions for the appointments ahead of time so I'm interested to hear her feedback. It's always a good experience to meet with editors and agents because you can learn so much.

I'm excited to see if any of my friends won in the First Chapter Contest. I entered a chapter a few years ago and won 3rd place. That chapter was published in my book, Heaven Scent. I found the judges' comments very helpful. I  remember being in shock when I won. I believe those that won 1st and 2nd place that year have since had their books published as well. The results of the contest each year are so exciting and I get all goosebumpy for my friends.

I will be able to sell my books in the bookstore and if I'm brave enough, I might sign up for a signing time. I'm not sure I have that much courage :).

The only downside to the conference is that there are too many classes from which to choose. I'd like to attend all the classes and I've found it hard to only pick one each time. I'm amazed at the classes offered this year. Every year this conference gets better and better. I've heard there's well over 400 attendees.

I love this time of year. I love to be around so many others who love writing. I love to learn more so I can write better. I love the buzz and excitement that fills the air. Only 48 hours until I leave  . . .

Be sure to say "hello" if you're attending. It will be a fabulous weekend.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Meeting Face to Face

By Don Carey

I love modern communication technology. It allows me to work a thousand miles from my company's main office, connect with friends old and new - many in far-flung locales, and access vast quantities of research material from the comfort of my own home. Yet despite the advantage and convenience of remote communication, I've found there is no substitute for meeting face-to-face.

As an example, for years I've read articles touting the end of the trade-show industry. As more product information became available on the internet, the need for the hassles and expense of industry to gather and display their wares was supposed to go away. But as my recent visit to a large sign printing expo has shown, the trade show business is still alive and well. Bringing hundreds of like-minded people together in the same place generates energy and excitement, and provides a forum that virtual meeting technology will likely never replace.

The internet and advanced telecom have caused changes to these shows, however. Rather than aimlessly walking booth to booth to see what's available in the market, I noticed many show attendees had already researched the products and vendors, and were in looking for specific, detailed information.

A similar shift is underway in the world of book marketing. Facebook, Twitter, and virtual book tours join websites, blogs, and email newsletters as tools in the modern author's marketing arsenal. Less costly than signings and book store tours in both time and money, these virtual connections have put a whole new face on 21st-century book sales.

Yet these tools are best seen as supplementary to, rather than a replacement for, in-person marketing efforts. While electronic and virtual interactions are great at spreading the word about your book, it's the personal connection you make with readers and booksellers that will really make the difference.

A few weeks ago, I took the opportunity to stop at Moon's LDS Bookstore in Dallas. I don't get there much, as it's over 50 miles from my house, but it's my "local" LDS bookstore - the only one within several hundred miles. After introducing myself to one of the salespeople and telling her about my up-coming book, we talked a little about signings and promotional events. She told me about two other authors in the area - one who came and did regular signings at the store, and another who called every few months to complain that the store didn't sell enough of his books.

Which author do you think she steers customers towards?

Make no mistake - I think having a strong online presence is very important. However, the biggest value I see in virtual networking is its ability to raise awareness so those in-person meetings take on far more meaning.

Two years ago I attended my first LDStorymakers, and because of interactions I'd had online, there were a half-dozen new friends waiting to meet me. During the conference I met dozens of other friends, and afterward we kept in touch online. This week I am beyond excited to once again gather with friends old and new, some of whom I will be meeting in person for the very first time.

If you will be in the Provo area this Thursday night, you are invited to attend a Writer's Conference Eve Soiree - an unofficial, informal gathering at Borders in the Provo Riverwoods. Come by any time between 6 and 10, say hi, and rediscover how great that face-to-face interaction can be.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Whew, It all went well

JoAnn Arnold

Before I start AGAIN, I have to tell you that I have already written this, saved it and needed to make one correction and BOOM, I lost the whole thing and was out of the blog. AEEE!!!. Oh well, I shall try again.

What I want to tell you is that my presentation at the CEU Women's Conference, in Price, on Friday, went very well.

I know that most of you know where Price is but I wonder how many know where Castle Gate is . . . or was? Castle Gate was a small town that you would pass by as you were starting up Price Canyon. It got its name from two cliffs on separate mountains that were separated by the road between them. But as you traveled the winding road up or down the canyon, the cliffs gave the appearance of opening and closing, bidding you farewell as you left and welcomed you when you came home. The cliffs have since been blasted away and the town torn down for the sake of the coal beneath it's gound.

The trains traveled through Castle Gate early in the morning, mid-day and late at night. Their sounds were soothing, and to this day, whenever I hear a train, I think of Castle Gate and the wonderful memories.

Now, to get to the point at hand, the conference. I had studied, worried, worked and prepared for weeks, having to remind myself to breathe. but it wasn't until I read something in a book on writing, which incidentally I borrowed from a friend and have since returned it, so I'll have to paraphrase what I read.

It went something like this. "To promote their work, authors have to speak at events which brings great stress and often times takes the author to his/her bed." (There was more that I can't remember - though it was very well said.) After reading the full paragraph, I felt much better knowing I was not alone in my stress.

Well the day came and I stood in front of the audience of women and I remembered to make eye contact, to smile, to remember, to enjoy the moment, and to laugh. Oh! it was fun. (And to think of all the suffering I went through to prepare . . . but I ask myself, did all that worry and suffering make me a better speaker? I will never know).

I talked about my books and sold many books. I had several paintings on display - not to sale because I didn't want to sell them. But I enjoyed watching people stand and enjoy them, talk about them, discuss them and say good things about them. (It was a lift to my small ego).

All went well and I'm so glad I accepted the invitation to speak and to be a part of this CEU Women's Conference.

Before I conclude, I want to add one more thing. While preparing for this speaking engagement, a thought came to me. I think so many times we are hard on ourselves, expecting to be perfect in the achievement. But the day we reach perfection, if that is possible, I believe we would lose interest in the art. It is the stretch, the challenge that awakens the creativity and the curiosity that lies within us. We want to always be learning, always be growing, and we never want to grow up.

One more thing before I end. I have to share this poem my little granddaughter sent to her Grandpa and Grandma Arnold.

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 the knees.

Deep insight from the creative mind of a child.

Have a good day.

Monday, April 12, 2010

And for my second post...


I plan to type the whole thing while standing on my head.

Okay, not really. I have sinus problems. But, for a second there, it drew a visual. Didn't it?

There's a great deal going on in my little corner of the world, and I'd like to share it with you. First and foremost, The Peasant Queen has a tentative release date. Provided I make the press deadline of October 15th, my book will be out by December 1, 2010. I can totally make that work. The fun part is, I've already started planning. Is it crazy that I'm looking forward to all the work that's coming? I'm just so ready to start selling this book!

Secondly, I'm currently taking part in a Blog Challenge on my Author Blog. Basically, each day of April, save Sundays, participants post for a specific letter. (Today, Monday April 12th, is for the letter J) Without Sundays, there are 26 days of April which works well with the 26 letters of the alphabet. It has been great fun, and I'm meeting a bunch of new people--Not to mention I'm getting followers and lots of comments on my posts. In return, I visit the other participants' blogs and reciprocate. It's been a blast.

Also on my Author Blog is my ongoing Spring Into Reading contest. I'm doing this jointly with my sister-in-law, Melissa Chesley. When we each reach 100 followers we're doing a drawing and prize giveaway. We have three prize packages--Mystery, Fantasy and Romance--that will include genre specific books (some autographed by the authors) and other fun prizes. Check out her blog HERE to see what she has to say about it. Incidentally, Mel is also participating in the A-Z Blog Challenge, and has come up with some great letter oriented posts. She's got over 80 followers and I've passed 60, so we're well on our way.

There's a great deal going on in my personal life, too. We just moved and I'm still unpacking and organizing the new place. We went to our new ward for the first time. April is a big month for birthdays in my family. I have three kids with birthdays on April 21st. No kidding. My youngest came along as a birthday gift for the (then) five-year-old twins. And this year, for their 11th birthday, the twins have asked to have a friend party, meaning I let them invite friends and we have a party that isn't drenched in family activity. This is the first time I've done that kind of party, believe it or not, and intellectually I believe I should be more nervous about it--but I'm not.

Of course, by my next post, I may have changed my mind. :)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Writing "An Angel"


By Christine Thackeray

My latest project is due to hit bookstores in the next few weeks. It's a story about a mom who is asked to stand in for a weary angel for just one day. After flitting around doing what angels do all day, the mom flops in bed exhausted. She expects some great fanfare, but what she gets instead is much more valuable.

Like all projects "Could You Be an Angel" had an interesting beginning. It started with preparing an Enrichment Night. My RS counselor was impressed by Jeffrey R. Holland's talk of angels and wanted to do an angel-themed evening. We got a musical number, a craft, nice refreshments and a speaker, but there was something missing. I wasn't sure what.

As luck would have it, my sisters (I have seven) had planned our first ever sister's retreat about that same time. With three hours to kill on the plane, I took out a pad and pencil and worked the entire time on building this idea. The hardest part was figuring out what guardian angels actually do. I finally decided they mostly nugde and whisper, right at the moment you need it most.

My sister Julia is an incredible poet in her own right and helped me clean up my meter. Then I posted it on line where a few friends added their two cents. At last it was ready, and I copied it on scrolls tied with gold ribbon.

When the night of Enrichment came (now RS Meeting), my musical number canceled due to a cold and the craft person bugged out. I was sure the whole night would be a disaster. We had the angel food cake and strawberries, our keynote speaker and then I stood to deliver this poem.

As I spoke the room was silent and with my last word, I could tell it had really touched some people. It turned out to be a wonderful evening, and I felt the women left revitalized and ready to serve. Afterward, I put the poem away and didn't think about it for a while. Then a woman in my writing group suggested I submit it for publication and here it is.

It's awesome that the final product is inexpensive as a greeting card and can be used for a visiting teaching gift, mother's day card or simply something you give to anyone. It is written to be general enough for any audience, so you can even share it with your non-LDS friends.

Friday, April 9, 2010

It takes a village

By Heather Justesen

They say that it takes a village to raise a child, but how many people realize it take a village to write a book too--or at least to publish a book.

My case in point: I have a book written that started with an idea spawned from a news report somebody wrote. I mulled the idea, then talked to a friend about ways to make it work, ways to expand it, extra conflicts. Then I went online to research information yet another person culled and posted. Several other people, most likely.

I worked on the story, asking for opinions from an ER nurse, my parents, and husband as I was trying to form everything and make the pieces fit.

Next I took it to my critique group and they gave me more feedback about things they liked or that needed more explanation. They told me what wasn't working and made me think about different ways to convey that information.

When I eventually find a home for the manuscript it will go through several readers, editors, line editors, and possibly more revisions.

Did I write the book? Yes. Could I have written it and gotten it to the final format without any help? Perhaps, but it wouldn't have been as good, it might not have resonated with as many people if I didn't have input and direction on how to finesse the story. My characters might not have seemed as real to the final audience.

We always say that writing is a solitary profession, and for the most part it is. I'm the one who put those words on the page. I had to suffer through countless edits and tweaks as I worked to make the wording just right, but I didn't do it all alone. I have a phalanx of loved ones and supporters who also want my book to be all it can be, and who are willing to give suggestions and feedback to help me accomplish that goal. And I've had other writers, those who are smarter and better at the craft than I am, who have helped me reach this place in my writing career, and who continue to support and cheer me on.

Because of that, I know I need to do the same. Though I've been talking about starting a local writing group since late last summer, we finally pulled a few women together last month and met to try and make something happen. We've each been in touch with additional people, and hope that in a few months we'll have enough dedicated writers to create an official chapter of the League of Utah Writers. But if that doesn't happen, I now have a core group of at least three other women living near me who want to take this writing thing seriously. They're all extremely talented, so I know we'll all have something to contribute to the group.

When a job is as solitary as writing a book, it takes a cadre of friends to help us reach our goals.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Manuscript Makeover

Makeovers are awesome, especially on people, cars, rooms (before decorating and after). Manuscripts are no exception. Some people may refer to this as editing (which can sound a bit painful and boring) but I like to call it a manuscript makeover. To make my point, I would like to share with you some before and after shots of something I wrote a long time ago. It's an excerpt from my very first--and never published--novel.

Before:

That night, Mathew came up behind Liza in the garden, and took a seat next to her. They began to read together, but Liza was extra quiet as they read.

“What is wrong, Liza, you seem so quiet tonight?” Mathew asked.

“Nothing, I am just thinking about things.” Liza answered.

Mathew smiled and said, “Tell me what you are thinking Liza, we are friends, remember?”

“I am afraid you will not like what I am thinking about.” Liza said coolly.

Mathew looked at her in surprise. He had never seen Liza so distant and cool before. Something was definitely bothering her. He thought for a moment then asked, “Liza, we are friends. You give me advice, and I can give you advice. Tell me what is bothering you and perhaps I can help.”

Liza could feel her emotions welling up inside her. Mathew was making a horrible mistake, and she couldn't let him do it. She was afraid he would never forgive her for the things she might say. After Mathew asked her again what was wrong, Liza let all her feelings and emotions come out. “Mathew, you are making a big mistake. Don’t marry Miss Rachel. She doesn’t love you! But I do.”



In the time since I wrote this manuscript, I have read and studied and learned a lot about writing and editing. (One great source is "Self-Editing for Fiction Writers" by Rennie Browne and Dave King.) The things I have learned have helped me become a better writer and manuscript makeover-er, knowing how to utilize characterization, show vs. tell, strong dialogue, beats, tags, plot development, and everything else that goes into making a good book.

Now here's a view of this same section of manuscript with my suggestions on how to make it better and more engaging:

That night, Mathew came up behind Liza in the garden,(no comma) and took a seat next to her. They began to read together, but Liza was extra quiet as they read. (Okay, how are they reading outside in a garden at night? I don’t think the moon was that bright. Maybe change to something else. Also, what’s the setting like? More detail.)

“What is wrong, Liza, you seem so quiet tonight?” Mathew asked. (No need for these two characters to call each other by name all the time.)

“Nothing, I am just thinking about things.” Liza answered. (Could use a beat instead of tag.)

Mathew smiled and said, “Tell me what you are thinking Liza, we are friends, remember?” (More natural dialogue.)

“I am afraid you will not like what I am thinking about.” Liza said coolly. (Okay,it's becoming apparent that all the dialogue going on needs to be more natural, and here’s a good place to really bring to life.)

Mathew looked at her in surprise. He had never seen Liza so distant and cool before. Something was definitely bothering her. (Add some show vs. tell.) He thought for a moment then asked, “Liza, we are friends. You give me advice, and I can give you advice. Tell me what is bothering you and perhaps I can help.” (Clean up dialogue.)

Liza could feel her emotions welling up inside her. Mathew was making a horrible mistake, and she couldn’t let him do it. She was afraid he would never forgive her for the things she might say. After Mathew asked her again what was wrong, Liza let all her feelings and emotions come out. “Mathew, you are making a big mistake. Don’t marry Miss Rachel. She doesn’t love you! But I do.” (Lots of narration here, could be shown better with action or dialogue.)

(Overall, punctuation could be cleaned up, I could use more show vs. tell, more emotion, more beats instead of tags, better dialogue, and way less usage of the name Liza.)


Now, we can take these suggestions, plug them into the manuscript, and see where that takes us. (Keep in mind this was a quick revision. It still isn't there yet, but good enough to illustrate.)

After:

The stone bench in the garden seemed extra hard and cool tonight. Had it always felt that way, or were Liza's thoughts influencing her surroundings as well as her emotions?

“Can I have a seat?” It was Mathew, standing behind her, so close she could almost feel him.

She slid over, pulling her dress alongside so it wouldn’t snag on something, but said nothing. Her dampened neckline was evidence enough of the warm night, so making an effort to count the chirps of the crickets hidden in the surrounding hedges wasn’t necessary. Still she counted, though. Anything to keep her mind off her thoughts.

Mathew pulled a leaf off a nearby hedge and twirled it between his fingers. “You uh, seem a little quiet tonight. Is something wrong?”

“I’m just thinking.”

“What about? You can tell me.”

She pushed the breath she had been holding through her teeth. “I don’t think you would like it.”

Mathew dropped the leaf to the ground and looked at her with widened eyes. “From the look on your face, I would almost mistake you for a hardened criminal.”

The corners of her mouth twitched somewhat like a grin, though she still felt more like scowling.

“Come on,” he said. “You can tell me. Maybe I can help you.”

Emotions welled and swirled inside her, surprising her with their intensity. How could this man make such an obvious, horrible mistake? And he couldn’t even see it! “Don’t marry Miss Rachel, she doesn’t love you!” Liza shifted back, taking in the shocked expression of his face that matched the feeling inside herself, then, letting her voice and emotions soften, said, “But I do.”


Incorporating these different techniques and suggestions into the manuscript, so that it can be it's best, will hopefully not only engage your readers and keep them turning the pages, but also catch the eye of a potential publisher. :)

Characters are Everywhere

by Rebecca Talley

I was supposed to post yesterday. I missed my previous post because I had a great excuse, I was in Hawaii. But, yesterday, I simply forgot in my focus on getting my next manuscript ready for submission, preparing for the LDStorymakers conference, and taking care of my family and house.

While I was in Hawaii, my husband decided we should check out the north shore to see the big waves. The day before we got there, the waves were rumored to be about 30 feet--those are some big waves. When we arrived at Waimea (I think that's how you spell it) Bay the waves were 12-15 feet high and my husband went body surfing. He got pounded. The beach was gorgeous and I was glad we went (not glad my husband got pounded, though).

Since we were staying on the other side of the island on Waikiki Beach we decided to take the city bus to the north shore (takes almost 2 hours, but only costs $2). On our ride back, I wished I'd had my notebook because I saw such interesting characters.

The most interesting, in a sad way, was a skinny, middle-aged Hawaiian man. His black hair was matted, but stuck up on top. His clothes were mismatched. His hands were black with dirt and his eyes were wild. He didn't say much, but constantly stood while we were driving and acted as though he were fishing. He'd cast a line, wait for a moment, and then acted as if he were gathering up a net. He stepped close to several of us riding in the bus and gathered up something behind our heads. Invading my personal space made me feel uncomfortable, but watching him made me so sad. I'd guess he fried his brain on drugs. I realized, while taking in his pantomines, that "characters" are all around us. Maybe he won't ever be a character in any of my books, but the experience made me more observant. I never ride public transportation at home (we don't have any here in the boonies), but what a goldmine if you need to pan for character traits.

I also saw a lady in her seventies, I'd guess, that was wearing a white suit with a mini skirt. She carried a little dog in a fancy carrier, had long dyed red hair, wore a lot of jewelry and makeup, and carried a cell phone. A woman who refused to acknowledge her age, perhaps? A woman who was searching for love? I let my imagination wander as I observed her and tried to make some mental notes.

We also made some local friends along the way and I noticed a speech pattern. Locals add "yeah" to the ends of their sentences. "You like it here, yeah?" "You saw the Dole pineapple plantation, yeah?" "Going to see the big waves, yeah?" "I've lived here for ayear, yeah." It was interesting, once I noticed it, to hear the locals use it.

Who knew that public transportation would provide so many character ideas? The next time I'm stuck on a character, I think I'll drive to the city and hop on a bus for an hour or two. Or, better yet, I'll fly over to Hawaii and ride the city bus again--sounds like a great idea to me :).

Monday, April 5, 2010

And yet another Newbie . . .

Hi Everyone!

I’m Rachael Renee Anderson, author of Divinely Designed, and I'm excited to be part of this blog!

Here’s a few random facts about me that I lazily stole from my website (if you only knew how long it took to think of these things initially, you’d understand why I’m plagiarizing myself).

  • I have serious decision-making issues. I hate making them. Be it where to go for dinner or what movie to rent (unless there is a new romantic comedy available), my typical response is, "I don't care." The worst part is that I married someone with the same problem. Sometimes we drive around for an hour before one of us finally decides.
  • I love peanut butter. I couldn't live without it. One of my favorite treats is a spoon full of peanut butter dipped in milk chocolate chips. Yum!
  • I really don't like to empty the dishwasher. It has to be one of my least favorite jobs. But I don't mind loading it. Why is that?
  • Anne of Green Gables is one of my favorite movies (second only to Pride and Prejudice). I still have daydreams of living on Prince Edward Island. I hope that is what heaven is like. What a perfectly gorgeous place to live.
  • I bite my fingernails. It's a disgustingly bad habit, but one I have failed to break over the years. Maybe someday.
  • I wither when the temperature is rises above 90 degrees.
  • I absolutely HATE shaving my legs. Why in the world did Heavenly Father make hair grow on a woman's legs? He kept it off our faces, why not our legs and armpits?
  • I am incredibly afraid of bees. You'd think I'd be allergic, but I'm not. I act like a complete fool anytime one flies near me. It's embarrassing.
  • I love British and Australian accents. Who doesn't?
  • New Zealand is at the top of my travel wish list. It used to be Australia, but thanks to my sweet hubby, I've been able to go there.
  • Whenever I have to speak in front of a crowd, whatever is left of my brain freezes and I turn into a complete idiot. Seriously. I was asked to say the prayer in church once and I said, "We're grateful to be here this Saturday" instead of "Sunday." I told my husband, who was saying the closing prayer, that he needed to say Friday so I wouldn't feel so dumb. He didn't. Where's the love?
  • I do NOT have the patience of Job.
  • My dream mom vehicle is a Toyota Sequoia, but I think I will always drive a mini-van. I'm far too practical and would rather spend the extra money on a fun vacation. Maybe to New Zealand.
  • I have an intense fear of heights, yet I love extreme roller coasters. Explain that one.
  • One of the lights on our entryway chandelier has this large paint blotch on it, compliments of me. I have yet to figure out a way to get it off. I'm praying the light bulbs never burn out because then we'll have a very dark foyer.
  • I love watching my children while they sleep. I'd be like that mother in the book I'll Love You Forever, and pick them up to snuggle if I wasn't afraid that I would wake them up.
The end.

Oh, and if you’re interested, I’m giving away 6 books on my blog this month. It’s a fun, guess the number of jellybeans contest. Take a look:
http://rachaelreneeanderson.blogspot.com

Thanks!
Rachael
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Saturday, April 3, 2010

Peek in the Past--Nothing to Climb

There was nothing to climb in our new home in Hale, Cheshire. Our old place had walls and trees, and a garden swing that inventive minds turned into a climbing frame and circus trapeze. Life takes on a different perspective when you’re soaring in the breeze. Imagination gains more freedom somehow.

I still recall perching high in a leafy lilac tree in our front garden at Knutsford, calling down to my mother, “I’ll be climbing trees when I’m ninety!”

The closer I get to ninety, the more I flinch at that idea. I’m only in my sixties at the moment, and the thought of clambering up a tree is no longer pleasant. But back then, a house with nothing up which to climb, and no attic in which to hide, was not my idea of fun.

It was because I was up a tree one day, in our cousins’ garden back in Knutsford, that we found our dog, Gyp. They lived around the corner from us, and had a huge oak with branches overhanging the neighbor’s concrete yard. I looked down, and there they were—the most adorable trio of puppies I’d ever seen. The mother was a Corgi. We found out later the father was a Spaniel. So the pups had their mum’s size and dad’s floppy ears. I wanted one with such fervor I nearly fell out of the tree in my rush to race home and tell my mother.

I’ll never know how I managed to convince Mum to visit the puppies, but once she saw them, she too was smitten. Persuading Dad was another matter. I think the fact his brother (our uncle) agreed to his family having the tan colored girl, was the thing that made him say yes. Brotherly rivalry, maybe?

Anyway, we took the little black male home, and I was happier than frog in a rainstorm after a drought. After all, a real live dog was way more entertaining than an imaginary horse.

I’m sure my brother and sister had some claim to Gyp, but in my mind he belonged to me. He was a bright little friend, quick to learn tricks, and devoted to protecting our household. I think he must have thought he was ten times his real size from the way he defended us and our property.

Climbing trees may not be for the older generation, but it brought happiness back in the day.

Happy Easter, everyone. And remember, "Our Lord has written the promise of the resurrection, not in books alone but in every leaf in springtime." (Martin Luther)

Anne Bradshaw
Famous Family Nights
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