Tuesday, November 29, 2011

NANOers and Productive Writing Time

by Rebecca Talley

How many of you participated in NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month) or NANO for short? How did it go? Did you meet your goals? Are you happy with your results?

I participated last year and am currently revising that manuscript. I did not participate this year. I admire all of you who can consistently participate in NANO year after year. In fact, I admire all of you who can consistently write a novel, or more, year after year.

I know we should never compare ourselves with others, but, sometimes, it's difficult to not feel frustrated with myself when others who are busier than I am are also more productive. I'm looking forward to learning from the keynote speaker, Kevin Anderson, at the LDStorymaker writing conference in May 2012 because he writes so many books each year. I'm curious to know how he does it. I'm hoping to learn how I can better use my time to be more productive.

I don't have a lot of time to write. Between being a wife, raising my kids (I still have 7 at home), taking care of my home (the endless laundry pile), taking my youngest to speech therapy and homeschooling him, attending to my church calling, seeking to do service, and all the rest that comes from being a wife, mom, and member of the Church, I don't have the kind of time I'd like to have. But, I know lots of people in my same position who are very productive and use snatches of time to produce multiple books. I have so many stories floating around in my head. I need to learn how to better use the little time I have so I can write those stories.

What do you do to make your writing time more productive? 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Registration Opens Dec 1

by Cheri Chesley

Are you as excited as I am for the upcoming LDStorymakers' Conference? Well, why not? ;)

There have been a number of updates to the Conference's Facebook page, but I want to share some of the highlights with you today.

Here's the tentative SCHEDULE. Not everything is set in stone yet, but it still looks incredibly exciting. And educational. Look at all those breakout sessions. Imagine the learning!

Find out about BOOT CAMP, an intensive, extra course where you can get real hands on feedback from published pros.

Sign up for a PITCH SESSION. Pitch your polished novel to an agent or editor.

Check out the new (as far as I know) RESERVED CLASSES for those writers who have the basics but never want to stop learning--and moving forward.

Click HERE for dates, times, location and all the other pertinent details.

I love the Storymakers' conferences, even though I haven't had good luck with them. The first one I ever attended I could only go the second day. Felt a little lost. The second one I attended, I was still recovering from a serious illness and didn't make it through the first day--didn't even attempt the second. Last year, I had too much going on that month and couldn't even get there.

And now, well, I've moved 1200 miles away.

But I still want to go. It's that good. Not sure how it's all going to work out, but that doesn't mean I'm not going to try. Conference weekend is always packed full of great fun, great learning and extremely fun people. Authors are the best!

Hope to see you in May!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cyber Monday book deals

                                                  By Trina Boice (a/k/a )

While I’m not one to stand outside a store at 4:00 am for Black Friday bargains, I definitely get excited about “Cyber Monday.” Why? Because I can get great prices from the comfort of my home by shopping online!  Now is the best time to order those books you've always wanted!

Cyber Monday has become so popular and a part of our Christmas shopping lexicon that it’s even in Wikipedia now. The term Cyber Monday refers to the Monday immediately following Black Friday. Whereas Black Friday is associated with traditional brick and mortar stores, Cyber Monday symbolizes a busy day for online retailers. The premise was that consumers would return to their offices after the Black Friday weekend, making purchases online that they were not able to make in stores.

Each year offers some of the best bargains and this year they’re in a price war with I love that! Some of the common discounts include free shipping and percentages off the sales price. While I love going inside a real store and being able to touch the merchandise and get my picture taken with Santa, I REALLY love being able to stay home and shop in my pajamas!

Below are some really great web sites where you can see at a glance which retailers are offering discounts this year:

One of the great advantages to shopping online is that you can ship directly to your gift recipient, saving you hours of packaging presents, driving in crazy traffic to the post office, and standing in long lines during the busy holiday season! Some stores will even allow you to "double dip" which means you can stack discounts. Before you purchase anything online, remember to do an online search of the name of the store you're interested in buying from, along with the words "discount code" and you'll be pointed towards sites that give you special codes to use in the shopping cart to save even more money!

Some of my favorite discount code web sites are:






Each year consumers spend more than $80 billion shopping on the Internet. It’s fast. It’s easy. No crowds. No searching for parking spaces. And who doesn’t love shopping in their pajamas? Unfortunately, one out of ten adults reported being victimized by online fraud in 2011, so you definitely need to be careful. Computer security experts have come up with some shopping tips to help protect you from cyber crime.

1. Investigate the vendor. Check the site for refund policies and contact information. It only takes a minute to review a company’s track record at (Better Business Bureau).

2. Protect your private information by never giving financial information by email.

3. Start a paper trail. Print online receipts, product information and email confirmations.

4. Choose carefully where you shop. Only shop online at sites that provide password protection and encryption. When you see “https” you know the site is secure.

5. Protect your computer with antivirus software and firewalls.

The Internet has also made the world a much smaller place. There might be a company in Wisconsin who has exactly what your son’s school needs but can’t afford. is a great resource where charities, businesses, and individuals donate items and can get free items in return! Be sure to sign up your kids’ schools or your church!

The holidays are a busy time to be sure. Remember to pause and reflect on what’s truly important. Toss the guilt if you can’t buy the expensive gift for others that you wish you could. There is no shame in writing up some of those hand-made gift coupons, good for one back rub or car wash. People on their death bed never say they wish they had that gadget; rather, they often express regret for not having spent more time loving and serving others.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Black Friday Books

                                                                        by Trina Boice

Now is the time to pick up an e-reader for Christmas or those expensive books you've been wanting!!
Saving money is all about being organized and thinking ahead.  Black Friday is a perfect example.   Most of us are completely exhausted after all of the busy activities of Thanksgiving and still have dirty dishes in the sink the next day, but the organized shopper wakes up early the next morning, ready to hit the stores and grab the bargains.  Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving, and it marks the beginning of the traditional Christmas shopping season in the United States.

The term dates back to at least 1966.  "Black Friday" originated in Philadelphia in reference to the heavy traffic on that day.  More recently, the media have used it instead to refer to the beginning of the period in which retailers go from being in the red (posting a loss on the books) to being in the black (turning a profit). In many cities it is not uncommon to see shoppers lined up for hours before stores with big sales open. Once inside the stores, shoppers rush around and snatch up what they can, as many stores have only a few of the big-draw items in stock. On occasion, some shoppers are so overly enthusiastic about the savings that injuries and even fatalities have been reported.   No savings is worth that!

This year, in hopes of surviving the rough economy, some stores have started their Black Friday sales already!  Check out these helpful web sites to find some of the great deals out there:

Now, having said all of that, the best gifts are those which come from the heart, and not the shopping mall.  In a tight economy, we should never go into debt just to purchase gifts.  There are plenty of inexpensive, yet meaningful gifts we can give to our loved ones without breaking the bank.  Remember, spending quality time with others is priceless!

Many retailers allow discount code web sites to "leak" their sales information several days before Black Friday.  If you love to shop at a particular store, do a Google search with the name of that store, plus the words "Black Friday" and you might get to find out what steals and deals they'll be featuring after Turkey Day!  Target and Wal-Mart have already released some sneak peek info about nice discounts on their flagship door-buster electronic items.  BJ's Wholesale Club, Harbor Freight, and Ace Hardware have already released their Black Friday catalogs as well.

While the best deals are usually found in the wee hours of the morning when the stores first open, most retailers this year are planning on extending their bargains through the Thanksgiving weekend to encourage more consumers to spend their dollars and kick-start the Christmas shopping season.  Do a web search with your city’s name, plus the words “Black Friday” and you’ll find some store listings with their special hours.
Happy Turkey Day!

A November of Miracles

I'm not doing so well with the newer November traditions.

My first November fail comes courtesy of the new "Mo"vember movement, which asks guys around the world to grow a "Mo", or mustache, for prostate cancer awareness. Instead of playing along, for the first time in 23 years I spent November with a clean upper lip.

My second fail has to do with NaNoWriMo. My version has almost been "National Non-Writing Month." I have been writing, and with any luck I'll have another chapter or two done by the time December starts. But that pales in comparison to the tens of thousands of words being cranked out by many of my awesome online friends.

The one November tradition that I am doing--and doing well--is expressing thanks for my many blessings. I'll spare you the laundry list of gratitude, but I want to share a true miracle that has taken place in my life this month.

Yesterday, I sat by my wife at church.

Those of you who know about our long, difficult battle with Lyme disease will understand how amazing this is. And while my wife still has a long way to go, the fact that she has recovered enough to join our family at church--not just once, but four times in the past five weeks--is a miracle truly worth giving thanks for.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

How do YOU spend your free time?

By Trina Boice

This made me laugh out loud and I just had to share it.  If you're reading this blog, then I know you'll appreciate it too!

Friday, November 18, 2011

New book cover for Family by Design!

By Heather Justesen

I've been sitting on this exciting news for a while, waiting for my final draft of the cover to arrive in my inbox, and for the back cover copy, so I'm totally excited to be able to share it now. My next book, published by Cedar Fort, inc. is at the printers right now and will be available for purchase in early January.

Cute, isn't it? I'm totally excited! And here's the back cover blurb:

Before he could think better of it, he blurted out, “I understand your concerns. I’m going to speak to my commander about getting an early discharge. My girlfriend, Rena, and I have talked about getting married. There just hasn’t been any rush.”

As soon as the words were out of his mouth, he wondered what he was thinking. Yes, they had discussed marriage, but not to each other! He and Rena had never even dated.

Tucker’s on his way to the biggest challenge of his life. Rena already has it all—except a family of her own. But neither one expected their friendship would take such a dramatic turn.

When Tucker becomes the guardian of his newly orphaned niece and nephew, he knows he can’t handle them alone, not when he might be shipped out with the Marines at any moment. Desperate, he turns to Rena for a major favor. His marriage proposal would give her everything she wants, but can she learn to live without the romance she’s always dreamed of?

As time, prayer, and a life-changing kiss work a little magic in her heart, Rena wonders if someone up there has a plan for her that’s better than anything she could’ve come up with on her own. And though it seems crazy at first, this could become her chance for a marriage that will last for eternity.

Monday, November 14, 2011

An Authors' Reality

by Cheri Chesley

This weekend has been an enlightening one, and I can blame/credit Facebook for that. I have the privilege of being friends with many authors in various states of publication and/or success--from National and International bestsellers to people still waiting to break in to publishing, or even those not so interested in publishing so much as sharing their stories or poems with friends and family. It's a blessed life.

And a cursed one. This weekend, several of my author friends have posted how their feelings of doubt about their abilities as writers have surged. These are established and even award winning writers. They have the chops. From the outside we question how they can doubt themselves or their abilities. They're proven successes.

But doubt and being a writer go hand in hand. It's the curse of art, I believe, or any artistic pursuit. We lack a standard by which we can measure success. Truly, success can be defined in different ways. Publishing a book. Getting the book contract. Having more than one book published. But, in truth, most of us just want to get better with each book. We crave the growth that comes with the process of writing. That is success.

It pains me to hear how my writer friends struggle. I know, from experience, that the doubt never really goes away. Right now I have what I think is the best manuscript I've ever written of to beta readers, and I know they're going to find problems with it. I want them to--so I can fix it, but, at the same time, I want to have the perfect book. Which I know is a pipe dream, but it doesn't stop me from striving for it.

To my friends who struggle with the process--and with their own doubts--I want to say that only you can define your personal success. As long as you are doing what you love, and doing your "Very best" as Gordon B. Hinckley would have said, you don't need to sweat the rest.

Recently, a friend asked if I could be anything I wanted or do anything I wanted in this world, what would it be. After some thought, I had to say I would be and do exactly what I'm doing now. I get to stay home and be here when my kids need me--which, after years of working, is such a blessing. And I get to write. I'm not the fastest or most prolific writer out there, but I'm steady. This has been my dream for so long, and I'm living it.

What would you be?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sometimes Dishes and Inspiration Go Hand in Hand

By Christine Thackeray

Last weekend I went to the Northwest Writer's Retreat and came home on fire, ready to pound out brilliant prose and finally finish my WIP. The first chapter whizzed by without a hitch and the second chapter wasn't bad but fell a little flat. The third chapter just plain stunk. I knew what I wanted the final scene to look like but the build to get there was not coming. I couldn't imagine having my MC merely run in circles until the final show down be an effective stategy.

Finally I slammed down the computer lid and faced my kitchen. Now I don't know if your house is like mine but when I'm writing we often only cover the "have to" and let the details go. In the kitchen that means pots and pans. The dishes get washed all right, but cake pans filled with soapy water may linger in the corners days after the macaroni casserole has been consumed. So this morning I decide to get every corner clean. I started at 7 am and just kept scrubbing, drying and putting away as the counter slowly reemerged from its hidden condition.

As I sloshed in the bubbles, ideas popped in my head. Humor- the brother says my wife Miriam never liked Rheba and Ananel replies "A two week old opinion doesn't count." (Okay, it was funny when I thought of it.) Action- There's a secret passage in the villa. His ex-betrothed leads him to it and the evil priest Kohen Yacob directs him back in a circle for the final showdown. Ananel thinks he's being lead to freedom and he promises the vindictive rabbi that he will not return. Kohen Yacob laughs "No, you shall not" as he opens the door and delivers him to a sword drawn Simeon.

I finished and was ready to write, pulled out my computer and then remembered I was supposed to blog today. So I'm going to add all of it and keep writing. Meanwhile my kids came up to get breakfast and have taken out eggs, tortillas, cereal, milk, the frying pan, bowls, grated cheese and spices. They've eaten as I've typed and just walked out the kitchen door, leaving it much the same as when I entered this morning. My plan is to type for an hour or so and then I'll roll up my sleeves and attack. Maybe I'll get more inspiration before lunch.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


EVERYONE- PAY ATTENTION: Check out this awesome new website that goes live today. The concept of Big World Network is intriguing and is worthy of our attention.

From the BigWorldNetwork Website- "Think of us as a television network, but for literary series written in episodic format. Choose between reading each week's episode or listening to the audio versions."

BigWorld will list weekly episodes that can be read on the website or Audio Episodes that can be downloaded free from iTunes. The website includes a ratings system for the work included on the site and even has a submissions process for authors who would like to be involved.

Heather Justesen & Trina Boice, our very own Writing Fortress Authors, are involved and you can read their episodes now. Some of our other favorite authors such as Tristi Pinkston are also involved.

Visit the site. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Whitney Awards: Eligible Novels

Have you read a great novel by an LDS author? We have several novels written by blog team members as well as other CFI authors that qualify for nomination.

Minor Adjustments by Rachael Renee Anderson
My Girlfriend's Boyfriend by Elodia Strain
The Upside of Down by Rebecca Talley
Blank Slate by Heather Justesen
Bitter Blessings by Christine Mehring
Alias by Mandi Tucker Slack
The Last Archangel by Michael Young
Wings of Light by Laura Bingham
Carving Angels by Diane Stringam Tolley

If you'd like to nominate a 2011 novel written by an LDS author you can visit The Whitney Awards. Finalists will be annouced in February 2012 and winners at the Whitney Awards Gala on May 5, 2011 at the Provo Marriott. If you'd like to learn more about the Whitney Awards program you can go here.

Be sure to tell your friends about the Whitney Awards that were established to recognize writing excellence by LDS authors.