Sunday, July 31, 2011

Using the New NetGalley

                                                               By Trina Boice


My publisher, Cedar Fort Books, is a subscriber to NetGalley, a new online service for the electronic delivery of galleys and press materials.  This cool, new technology provides wonderful opportunity of distributing these materials to the media electronically, saving thousands upon thousands of pages of paper. Even better, it's FREE!

What’s great about NetGalley is that you will be able to register and use this service to view new titles from Cedar Fort Publishing at no cost. You can read galleys online, download PDF versions to read on your computer or nook, read on your Kindle or Sony Reader, and search within galleys.

Through NetGalley, you can view marketing materials, book trailers, photos, author bios, cover art and more. Plus, NetGalley will reduce our environmental impact by utilizing digital content to get our titles into your hands faster!

Visit to register and request to view Cedar Fort Publishing’s galleys. Don't you just love technology?  And by the way, check out Cedar Fort's new facelift on their web site!  Great job, team!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Studies Show...

A new study in the journal Psychological Science found that reading a novel for 30 minutes makes you feel connected to the characters, which can help reduce feelings of isolation. In fact, your mood will improve afterward in a way similar to when you hang out with your friends.

I love this study! And I totally agree!

Life is stressful. And sometimes hard. But even when my house (and myself) are a total disaster, if I need a little friend time, I can turn to Sarah Mlynowski or Sophie Kinsella or Laura Caldwell. Within minutes, I can be with a bunch of friends in a tiny apartment in New York, shopping on the streets of London, or exploring the hills of Ireland.

I think this is one of the marks of a really good book, that you really connect to and care about the characters. What an amazing thing!

My next book, My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend, comes out in one short week, and I so hope it will make readers feel this way. Happier in 30 minutes! Awesome!

So, tell me, what characters make you feel happier? I’d love to know.


You probably didn't even notice, but I've skipped out on my last few opportunities to post here. I'm sure you want to hear all of my excuses for not doing one of those things at which I am supposedly most talented. I won't burden you with those.

I will say that summer gets me every year. She tantalizes me with her promises of long days, warm temperatures, and endless opportunities to get more done.


By the end of July each year, I remember through a haze of pyrotechnic smoke that summer is a fickle mistress. Her promises are hollow, her pleasures rapidly replaced by the pain of a hard slap against a sunburned back. I gaze longingly at the new gazebo in my backyard, where I was going to take advantage of the shade and long days to make huge progress on that new novel. Sadly, I haven't seen much of the inside of the gazebo, because the lawn needs to be mowed and watered, bike tires need to be fixed, sheds need to be painted, and dirt--don't even get me started about dirt, which in my opinion is the last substance we should build our homes on, since all it seems to do is bring forth is weeds and bugs.

My neighbors love the July holidays. I'm pretty sure their mortgage is paid off, because they invested several thousand dollars in fireworks this year. They also interpret the law prohibiting fireworks after 10pm in our city as a "suggested guideline." Of course I'm not going to call the police on them. I have to live next to these people for the rest of my life. Besides, if the endless gut-wrenching explosions, shock-and-awe fountains of sparks, and torrential clouds of burnt gunpowder won't draw the police, they're not likely to pay attention to my 911 call.

I don't want to come across as a complete party-pooper. I do enjoy a good seeded watermelon (there's something suspicious about seedless fruit), and fireworks in a controlled, scheduled environment with a fun soundtrack can be a hoot. Parades are okay under adequate shade and accompanied by chilled beverages and snacks. I like running in the 5k and 10k races and seeing the outdoor entertainment. And who can deny that a properly-constructed Navajo taco is one of the greatest of delicacies?

So summer's not all bad. I just don't find the time for writing, because there's so much ELSE going on. I'm torn between one desire to get out and DO everything doable, and another desire to lay down in the shade and take a nice nap. Writing just doesn't seem to fit into this milieu. It doesn't sound like a summer verb. Run, hike, swim, watch, paddle, swing, snooze, eat, yes. Write? Sounds like an indoor, cold-weather activity to me.

Of course, I'm writing this little diatribe in the summer. Maybe that's an indication that writing season is getting closer! I think I'll go take a walk in the sunshine, and think about it. Don't expect another post from me until mid-September.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Painting and Writing

by Rebecca Talley

One of my daughters has moved home from UT to attend college here because tuition is about $500 compared to $6500 in Provo at UVU. Her move has prompted us to rearrange bedrooms. With that rearrangement has come deep cleaning and painting.

My sons' room was a disaster. We took 5 large bags of trash from their room and donated almost as much to the thrift store. And this after they'd told me over and over and over again that they'd "cleaned" their room. Apparently, they are better hiders than cleaners because when I'd look at their room, although it didn't meet my definition of clean, it was okay. Little did I know there was so much lurking beneath.

We've been painting their furniture as well so all of their stuff is stacked in different rooms, including mine. We've painted their new room and are almost finished with painting the second bedroom. We'll then have the third bedroom to paint at the end of this week.

Years ago, I painted the kids' bathroom with a seascape. The upper part of the walls and ceiling were the "sky" with wisps of clouds and the lower part was the "ocean" with fish, sea creatures, and mermaids all painted by my children. My oldest daughter even painted Eric standing on his ship looking for Ariel from The Little Mermaid. We also had King Triton and Ursula. My oldest son painted a guy water skiing behind a boat with a huge open-mouthed shark right behind him ready to eat him. It was fun. But, with time, the figures had lost details and it no longer looked so cute. So I've also painted that bathroom.

As a result of all of this cleaning, moving around, and painting we are all pretty exhausted and my house looks like it belongs on an episode of Hoarders: Buried Alive.

I'm sure when we're finished it will all be worth it and we'll marvel at all the hard work we've done. Kinda like writing a book. In the midst of writing it, it may feel like it will never end, that we'll be writing that book forever, but when we finally finish we see that all the hard work has been worth it and we marvel at what we've accomplished.

Lots of people want to write a book, some are even writing it (or have been for years), but how many of us actually finish a book and submit it? That's something to be proud of. Even if it isn't accepted for publication the fact that we've finished such a big project should make us feel proud of ourselves. Publication may be the destination, but the journey is where we truly learn.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Signings are More Fun in Groups

Don Carey has already posted about THIS, but I thought I'd share my perspective. :)

Please ignore my goofy smile lol.

This is a pretty sweet group to work with. All of us have stories to share, and a willingness to listen to one another. That can make a long car ride really enjoyable--and it did.

Tamara Heiner is quite a skilled author, and I'm looking forward to her next book. I'm also hoping she will trust her instincts and go with what she knows is good. ;)

Lynn Parsons knows her stuff. I love listening to her, and I know I didn't get 10% of the information she has to offer. It's my hope her book will reach members of the church the world over. It will help a lot of people.

Don Carey is totally fun, and patient. He talked airplanes because my daughter (who came along for the second leg of our trip) wanted to know. And, he and I share a love of the movie Labyrinth, which apparently is not shared by his family--so we made Lynn sit through the soundtrack on the way from Arkansas. Poor Lynn, but she's a good sport! :)

Summer is a difficult time for book signings. Everyone has trips, and all sorts of other plans that interfere with trying to get them into a bookstore to see you. However, I will suggest to all authors that they contact their local Hastings Books and Music stores. Seriously. They have a motto of being your home town bookstore, which is why you don't see them in many big cities. They like to promote local authors, and will do a wonderful job if you give them enough time. We had a twofold problem--we didn't give them enough time and we were up against the biggest garage sale in the world. I'd forgotten, but Duncan, OK does that every year and it's city/county wide.

Still, this was an invaluable experience and I look forward to repeating it.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

End of An Era

                                                                    by Trina Boice

I was out of town last weekend when Harry Potter opened in theaters, but I'm VERY excited to finally see the final installment of the wizardry masterpiece tonight!  It's been a thrill to watch the characters and even the actors grow up right before our eyes. I'm a little hesitant, however.  Will it live up to my expectations?  Will I feel a satisfying closure or be left wanting?  Have you seen it yet?  What did you think?  Who will be the next J.K Rowling of our day?

A dear friend of mine, whose first book will hit stores soon, shared his thoughts with me.  His name is Steve Booth.   He has the talent to be an inspiring author and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that everyone loves him as much as I do.  He told me "It’s hard to over-estimate the impact of Harry Potter, both the book and the incredibly successful films. I personally believe that J.K. Rowling single-handedly redefined the meaning of the Young Adult Fiction universe. She was one of my initial inspirations in becoming an author, and several of her characters were the genesis for players in my book, Dark Talisman."

He felt the same anxious excitement about watching the final movie and said "It was, therefore, with a good deal of trepidation that I attended the final episode of the film series in my local IMAX theater last night. I was not disappointed. Although I felt the ending lacked a certain definity, I left the theater with a feeling of both closure and completeness. Frankly, I wish that the quality of production and depth of acting in this, the final installment in the series, had been more evident in previous offerings, but I found it a highly enjoyable excursion, nonetheless."

So, we are left with the obvious question – now what? What new adventures are on the horizon? Where is the next, Great New Author.  I hope that someone will step into the fray, for I think, given the state of the world, that we all desperately need another Harry to walk with us through the difficult times ahead; to make us believe, if for only a short time, that magic could possibly exist in the world; that there is something wonderful around the next corner, or between the train platforms.

Pioneer Day Tomorrow

My son and daughter went on TREK this week. It's where teenagers dress as pioneers and push handcarts almost twenty miles in the heat of summer to give them an idea of the sacrifice of their ancestors. Well, in our stake they asked our children to find one of their ancestors and walk for them.

I hurried into the garage and dusted off the huge tupperware bucket that holds all my disorganized geneological records. I found a story I'd never read before about Thomas Condie. He was a store owner near the mines in Scotland. When his wife joined the church, he was furious and planned on kicking her out of the house. That night, an angel came to him and read a verse that said "no weapon formed against the church would prosper." Thomas really wanted to prosper, so he not only supported his wife but let the elders meet upstairs in his store.

Unfortunately, he didn't get which kind of prosper the angel was talking about because once people found out the Mormons were meeting upstairs, they wouldn't come to the store and it failed. He was so mad, he looked into the church, joined and headed to Utah.

I do think it is interesting that sometimes our interpretation of inspiration is entirely different than what we expected. In the end Thomas Condie did prosper in a way (although not financially) by going to Manti and working on the temple and having a righteous posterity. And so I wonder, am I prospering?

Depends on the day.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Do You Reward Bad Behavior?

               by Trina Boice

Personal note to Arnold Schwarzenegger: Zip up your pants, be a REAL man, and pay Maria Shriver's attorney's fees for the divorce YOU caused. Reports from MSN report that the unfaithful husband refuses to pay Maria spousal support or attorney fees. Granted, she may not really NEED the money, but it seems like such a slap in the face to the woman who put up with all of his disgraceful womanizing for so many years.

If Arnold is concerned at all about repairing his reputation, he may want to reconsider. Joseph Baena, Arnold's love child with his former housekeeper, said "Cool" when he was told who his real father is. Most movie-going audiences, however, are not having the same reaction.

Reuters announced that Schwarzenegger is shopping a new installment of the cyborg hit "Terminators." Will YOU see Arnold's next movie or will you voice your opinion of disgust by refusing to use your hard-earned money to buy a movie ticket? Are Americans forgiving or do we hold a grudge? Do other countries forgive and forget celebrity scandals easier?

How often do you embrace or reject a movie based on how you feel about the movie stars in the film? Does a celebrity's personal character (or lack thereof) dictate which TV shows or movies you support? Should they? Do you love to watch "naughty boys" on the big screen? Did I love Arnold's previous movies? Of course. Will I watch any future ones? I don't know.

Christian churches have worked fairly hard in the past decade to stand by their convictions and support decent, less-advertised movies in order to reward value-driven studios and encourage them to produce more of the same. Do you? Is it working? We can definitely vote for good or bad behavior with our wallets. Do we do the same when it comes to authors? How about politicians?  Should we expect more of our legislators whom we give our trust to lead and protect our nation?

Is talent valued more than character? A Hollywood scandal used to damage a celebrity's ability to work in Tinsel Town, but not anymore. As they say "Bad press is better than no press." What can we do to reward honor and integrity in the industry?  We can always vote with our wallets.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Interview with Cedar Fort Marketing Director: Kirt Forakis

Kirt Forakis is the new Marketing Director with Cedar Fort Publishing. I appreciate him taking the time to answer a few of my questions about the role of marketing in publishing and the philosophy of Cedar Fort's marketing efforts.

Steve: Please tell us something you are normally too shy or humble to admit about yourself.

Kirt: I won Utah state champion in physics and represented Utah in Nationals and was on the Deans list almost every semester in college.

Steve: As Marketing Director, how will your marketing experience strengthen Cedar Fort as a publisher?

Kirt: Cedar Fort wants to get more involved with social media and gorilla marketing and I have seen success using both methods. I will help Cedar Fort expand their marketing avenues using proven methods and creative thinking.

Steve: How has your previous experience prepared you for this new role?

Kirt: First, I love marketing and advertising. It is a passion for me and I never stop learning or trying new ideas. Second, I have a lot of experience. I have used almost every advertising method I can find and have used several different ad campaigns and designs. Tracking is also important to me and I have tracked most the campaigns I have run. I have a good idea of what types of advertising tends to work and what does not. I have experience organizing and managing events, giveaways, websites, social media outlets, design teams, customer service, PR and media relations.

Steve: What is your marketing philosophy?

Kirt: In short, marketing needs to generate results and wow your audience. I believe you need to capture the attention of your audience within a few seconds and from there have a call to action that creates a direct response, preferably a purchase. From there, it needs to be as easy as possible to move from the advertisement or media to the decision making and purchasing phase.

Steve: What should writers expect from the publisher in terms of marketing effort?

Kirt: We will be using our experience and creativity to help authors reach their audience and reach their goals. Authors are the best marketing tools and so our goal is to teach them and give them direction in their efforts. We will work with authors throughout the entire process to help create a marketing plan and other materials that will be useful to make their book successful.

Steve: What should the author do personally to market their work?

Kirt: Everything they can! A publisher can only do so much and go so far. The author holds the keys and can make the difference between an average selling book and a top seller. Authors need to finish two important steps for their book to sell well. First, write a great book and second, do a great job marketing it. We will be producing an author training packet that will outline what an author can and should be doing to market their book that will contain details, examples, tips and screen shoots. Again, we will be here to help along the way and get authors started in the right direction.

Steve: What is your vision for marketing LDS based fiction and non-fiction in the LDS community?

Kirt: This will depend on the demographics for the book. There are several ways to market a book and first you start with “who” you are going to market to. Once you know the “who”, then we can plan the “how”. There are several LDS websites, blogs and social media sites that appeal to certain markets and we will find the ones that work for individual books. We already work with some LDS based media and authors are encouraged to find more places to talk about and discuss there books.

Steve: What is your vision for marketing Non LDS based fiction and non-fiction regionally and nationally?

Kirt: Again, this depends on the “who”. We have several media outlets for national and regional, but the genre of the book will direct the process further. For example, we will focus cookbooks to media that involves cooking in general. The author is advised to seek out any form of media related to their book and contact them. Some will request the publisher to contact them and we will contact corporate in such cases. Using marketing material will help your chances of getting on these media outlets such as reviews and press releases. These items should be thought through and included in the marketing plan.

Steve: What should every author understand about the marketing process at Cedar Fort?

Kirt: First, we need to start getting support material such as reviews, press releases, endorsements and so forth. These will be useful for creating buzz and initial sales. It is good to talk with authors over the phone or in person to make sure we understand each other and establish a good working relationship. Second, we will put together a marketing plan that outlines the “who” and the “how” for the book. It will include an outline and details for dates, goals and possibilities that need explored by the authors and by us. Social media will need to be set up and authors will need to be interactive on them to generate followers. The authors will then start plans for a launch event, book signings and interviews. We are here to help. We will work with corporate and other places where an author can get stuck such as Deseret Book and Barnes and Nobel. Training material is being created as fast as we can and will be a valuable resource for authors for a step by step of the marketing process.

Thank you Kirt for sharing some insight to the marketing process at Cedar Fort.

As Kirt said, authors have two main responsibilities. 1- Write an outstanding book. 2- Reach the intended audience through personal marketing efforts. Cedar Fort is committed to providing an Author Training Packet that will assist the author in learning how to effectively market their work. The publisher and the author are a team. Both have interest in making each work successful and by working together they can build an effective marketing plan.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Cedar Fort Author Group on Goodreads

Have you used Goodreads?
Cedar Fort authors can now collaborate together on a group specifically made for you. Click here to request to join the group. The more the merrier!

Goodreads is a fantastic social networking tool for anyone in the book world. Whether you're an author or a reader, this site will help you organize your books and keep in touch with other authors. You can become public fans of your favorite authors, and build a list of fans.

The discussion boards will enable all of you Cedar Fort authors to get in touch with each other and plan events, brainstorm ideas, and support each other!

We look forward to seeing you online!

(Originally posted by Emily here)

Team Book Tour: 4 Authors on the Road

Four debut authors. Three book signings. Three states. Twenty-four hours. What a trip!

This past weekend I had an excellent opportunity to take Bumpy Landings on a summer book tour with Tamara Heiner (Perilous), Lynn Parsons (disAbilities in the Gospel), and Cheri Chesley (Peasant Queen).

Tamara and Cheri came to Dallas on Friday, where Lynn and I met them for an evening signing at Moon's LDS Bookstore. Then, bright and early Saturday morning, we drove to Hastings in Duncan, Oklahoma, where Cheri is visiting family. After our morning signing there, we zipped across the state to Springdale, Arkansas and Beehive Mercantile, which is Tamara's hometown bookstore.

The tour was fun and extremely valuable, although maybe not financially profitable. Was a trip this size worth the time, cost, and effort? I think so, if only because of the people met and lessons learned.

As we sat down to breakfast yesterday, we talked about what worked, what didn't, and what advice we would give to someone else planning a similar tour. Here are some of the things we came up with:

  • Two of our stores had several months to prepare, although only one actually put together an "event". This was a much better signing.
  • One of the stores was a last-minute replacement, with only a week of preparation time. This signing was good, but could have been so much better with a month or more to prepare and promote.
  • Signing with other authors is awesome! When the signing is slow, there is good conversation to be had. Travel time conversations are great, and it's nice to split the gas costs.
  • Two to four authors is a good number. It's not so many that it intimidates customers, and "unknown" authors still get some attention (unlike, perhaps, mega-signings with dozens of other writers).
  • Summer is a convenient time for authors to travel, but may not be the most optimum time for bringing in customers. Check with the bookstores to find out when their busy times are.
  • Traveling to multiple locations in a day is fun and would seem to be an efficient way to work. However, it forces compromise on the schedule. Our morning Oklahoma signing would have been much better in the early afternoon, but then we would not have had time to make it to the signing in Arkansas.
  • This kind of signing is like a business trip, and the planning and coordination need to be professional.
  • This kind of signing is like a vacation (or writing conference), in that (especially for 4 debut authors) the only thing you can really count on is meeting new people and getting to know the other authors really well. Most vacations don't turn a financial profit, either. The real value is time spent with others, learning and growing.
  • Get the word out! Relying on walk-in traffic is courting failure. The most valuable customers are the ones the authors bring in themselves. Also, this kind of book event is an opportunity for you to crow about something. The publicity the tour itself generates may be the most valuable return you get.
Have you done a big multi-store, multi-author tour? What have you seen that works (or didn't work) and what things have you learned from taking your book on the road?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Celebrity books in the news

                                                                By Trina Boice

Arnold Schwarzenegger was bragging that he was about to sign the biggest book deal of all time a month before the news broke in May that he fathered a love child with his housekeeper. But after the scandal, it’s Maria Shriver’s book that publishers are chasing, sources say.

#1 NYT bestselling author James Patterson’s next 26 books, including 4 new series for young readers, with 13 titles each for Michael Pietsch at Little, Brown, and Megan Tingley at Little, Brown Children’s, for publication through the end of 2014, by Robert Barnett at Williams & Connolly.

NYT bestselling historical thriller writer Matthew Pearl’s The Bookaneer, about a literary spy and bounty hunter in the 1890s who sets off on a quest to the Samoan Islands to wrest a manuscript from a dying Robert Louis Stevenson, moving to Ann Godoff at the Penguin Press, in a two-book deal, by Suzanne Gluck at William Morris Endeavor, and to Stuart Williams at Random House UK, by Cathryn Summerhayes at William Morris Endeavor.

Rock music legend from The Band, Robbie Robertson’s untitled picture book biography, written by his son Sebastian Robertson, focused on his early years growing up in Canada spending time at Six Nation Indian Reservation, and, later, living and working in America, joining Ronnie Hawkins ’s band as a guitarist at 16, sold to Christy Ottaviano of Christy Ottaviano Books, for publication for Spring 2013, by Ryan Harbage at the Fischer-Harbage Agency.

Jim Collins‘ Great By Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos and Luck – Why Some Thrive Despite them All, co-authored with management professor Morten Hansen, asking why some companies thrive in uncertainty and even chaos, based on nine years of research, enumerating the principles for building a great enterprise in unpredictable, tumultuous, and fast-moving times, also to be released in ebook form for the first time (with Collins’ four previous bestselling books now being released as e-books from July through September), sold to Hollis Heimbouch at Harper Business, for publication on October 11, 2011.

When does YOUR next book come out?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Goodreads Giveaways

by Rebecca Talley

My first book, Heaven Scent, was published in 2008. It was automatically added to Goodreads. I'd never heard of Goodreads and had no idea what to do with it. Since that time 137 people have added it to their to-read shelf.

My second book, Altared Plans, was published in 2009. Again, it was automatically added to Goodreads and with this book I became aware of Goodreads Giveaways so I initiated one giveaway contest in which 669 people entered to win a copy. As of today, 191 people have added it to their to-read shelf.

My third book, The Upside of Down, was published in January 2011 and was added to Goodreads. Since I was aware of the giveaway contest that Goodreads sponsors I decided to do one about the time the book was released. 1230 people entered that contest. I held it for one month. A few months later, I did another giveaway for about a week or so and 979 people entered. I decided to do another giveaway for the month of June and 1368 people entered. As of today, 638 people have added this book to their to-read shelf--quite a jump from how many people have added my other two books.

I share these stats with you to show you that doing a Goodreads giveaway helps expose your book to many people. As you can see, many more people added The Upside of Down and I think it's a direct result of the giveaways I held.

Doing a Goodreads Giveaway contest is simple. Go to the page that lists your book, click on the "list a giveaway" icon in the upper right and then follow the directions. You can decide how many copies you want to give away and to what countries. Goodreads advertises the  giveaway, determines the winner, and then sends you the address(es) of the winner(s). Your only responsibility is to mail off the copy, or copies, of your book soon after the contest ends. Easy, easy, easy. For the price of a copy of your book, an envelope, and postage you can get your book in front of hundreds of people. Seems like a great deal, eh?

I try to respond to those who rate and review my books on Goodreads. In doing so, I met a woman who loved The Upside of Down. She was not LDS, my target market, but she really enjoyed it. When I asked how she'd heard about it, she said she'd entered the giveaway contest and when she didn't win she bought the book anyway. Hopefully, she'll now recommend it to her friends. Of course, it's impossible to determine exact sales from a marketing effort, but at least one person bought my book as a result of that contest.

As authors we want to write, we don't want to waste time marketing. But, that's a very important part of our job if we want our book to be successful. After doing Facebook ads, Goodreads ads, display ads, sending out postcards, emails, doing signings, holding my own contests on my blog, and doing blog hops, I'd say that doing a Goodreads Giveaway is one of the most cost-effective ways to advertise your book.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Stress and the Life of an Author

By Cheri Chesley (re-post from 5/24/10)

**These are simply my observations, and should in no way be taken as established truths.**

As an author, I dream of deadlines. I long to have an editor pushing me to get my revisions, or my drafts, in by a certain day and time. Yeah, I'm a glutton for punishment. But we do this. We want this. And, if we have a contract and this isn't happening, we (or at least I) can really drive ourselves up the wall.

But, in our heart of hearts, I think we can admit a good deal of the stress we experience as writers is self-inflicted.

I'm not going to tell you that setting goals and deadlines for yourself is unhealthy, because it's not. If you don't, you could well be working on the same novel for 20 yrs. At the same time, we are not above heaping stress upon ourselves for a great number of things.

Let's say we miss that deadline by a week.

Or we make the deadline because we've put off our family to have time to write.

After about ten minutes at the computer, I have horrible upper back pain. It just starts aching, and pretty soon I'll have to get up. I don't do my stretches. I don't see my chiropractor regularly and, sadly, have only had one massage in my life. I'm beginning to think, at least for me, these things are critical in relieving stress and making me a more prolific writer.

The sad thing is I can't offer any real solution for resolving the stress. There may be none. But, perhaps, some of you have ideas on reducing it. Thoughts?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Submissions Wanted: Mother's Day Pamphlet

Do you love mothers? Are you a writer? Have a great idea for a mother’s day book or pamphlet*?
Then we want you!

Yes, Mother’s day is still a few months away. But if you know anything about publishing, you’ll know that the sooner you submit your manuscript – the better!

Cedar Fort is looking for fresh ideas and well written stories that exemplify mother’s like never before.

Submit your Mother’s Day themed manuscripts or ideas with outlines by August 1st.

Take a look at our author guidelines before sending in submissions.

*note, pamphlets are 16 pages in length.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Spurt Writing

I sometimes find that I don't spend the time writing that I ought to. A day will go by and then two. Then a week, three weeks, a month. Yikes. Maybe the rest of you aren't slackers like I am, but time can easy float by without any writing accomplishments. Why is this? I want to write. I like to write. How can I let so much time pass without writing? There are a couple of simple answers.

1- Life is busy. Shocker! It doesn't feel like I have enough time to make meaningful progress on my WIP. I am a slow reader and a slow writer and I need a significant period of time to commit. I can't sit down for 20 minutes and knock out a page on my WIP and then get back to my other activities. It just doesn't work for me.

2- I lose focus and get out of practice. Then I start procrastinating because I know it will take even longer to get into the flow of writing my scene.

3- I don't feel creative. Maybe my creative energies are spread too thin. My well is only so deep and I have already depleted my creative juices at work, church, family etc. Do you ever feel this way?

What can we do about it?

Spurt Writing- short writing periods of 5-10 minutes. What are the benefits of Spurt Writing?

1- It is easy to find 5-10 minutes as opposed to a 2 or 3 hour block of time to write. If I don't have enough time to spend on my WIP then I can spend a shorter period of time writing something else. Anything else.

2- It allows me to stay fresh and in practice in organizing my thoughts by observing and describing what I see or feel. Short spurts help me to avoid long writing haituses. Instead of writing on my WIP I can spend 5 minutes describing how to fold a paper airplane out of the brochure on my desk. I can describe the taste of a sour Skittle. I can describe the smell of the berry hand sanitizer that glopped onto my shirt.

3- Writing helps me generate creativity. I often start writing with no clue whatsoever what I want to write. Once I start writing the scene or character takes on a life of its own. If you don't know where to start, begin with a "what if?" senario and see what happens.

As writers we must organize our thoughts and find interesting ways to describe the world we are creating. We can practice this even when we can't write. If there is no keyboard around and you don't want to waste your time scribbling something down because you know you won't be able to read it later, and you haven't had a chance to write today, spend 5 minutes describing OUT LOUD the way your body feels as you're working out. Describe the pain, exhaustian, exhiliration. Describe out loud the way the leaves flutter in the wind or the muggy dampness of the air you're breathing. Speaking often helps me find the proper rhythm.

If you find you are not spending the amount of time writing you would like, start with the short spurt. Take 5 minutes and describe simple things at your home, or in your garden, or thoughts that pop into your mind as you hear a verdict in a high profile murder case, or the emotions you feel when a driver cuts you off in traffic. It can be anything.

For me, this helps. Fine, I don't have time to write a chapter today, or even this week. There's no use beating myself up about it. But maybe something I describe in my Spurt Writing will spark some creativity and find its way into a later work.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Get to know your characters through journaling

By Heather Justesen

I'm always trying to learn new and better ways to improve my writing and last fall I was reading How to Write a Damn Good Mystery: A Practical Step-by-Step Guide from Inspiration to Finished Manuscript by James N. Frey (This is the second one of his writing books I've read and they were both well worth it). Frey suggested that a great way to get into the head of your characters is to write journal entries from their point of view. This has been a great break through for me personally, and helped me on the past two books I've worked on. What better way to learn who your character is than to channel them and write a few things about their thoughts and history. It's amazing what you can learn about them in just a few minutes of stream of consciousness writing.

I started doing this with the culinary mystery I wrote during NaNoWriMo in November. It helped me get into the heads of my main characters, the person who was murdered, and all of the suspects. It helped me with dialogue (how do they talk, what kind of phrasing would they use) as well as all of the other information.

Things you might want to cover as you write journal entries:
1) History--who are they, what kind of family did they have growing up, where did they grow up, siblings,
2) Defining moments in their lives
3) Likes and dislikes
4) Their relationship to other characters in the story
5) Their thoughts about what's happening around them

Just this week I wrote a journal entry for the bad guy in one of my stories. How he feels about the other characters, what motivates him, and how far he would go, to get retribution? And it really helped me get a better handle on him so I could figure out how he would write my big confrontation.