Wednesday, June 20, 2012

How Well Do We Know Our Characters?

Today is officially the first day of Summer! YAY! Or BOO! Depending upon your perspective, this is a great day or a sad day. Great because it means summer is really here or sad because this is the longest day of the year, which means it’s all downhill from here as we roll back towards winter. Hmmm. Are you an optimist, a pessimist or indifferent? Do you prefer summer or winter? Do you care? What about the characters you write about? Do they care?

So much of what we do and how we interact in the world depends on our perspective and viewpoint. It may seem like a subtle question- The first day of Summer- Good or Bad? But it can reveal a great deal about us as individuals OR about the characters living within the pages of the books we write. In life, it would be improbable to be surrounded by only one type of person. It is much more likely that we are surrounded by complexity of competing values, opinions and even points of view, in the sense that not everyone can view the world in the same way. What a boring place that would be. Even as individuals we may find that we are both optimistic/pessimistic/indifferent depending on the circumstances around us or the subject we face. A mixture of these attributes amongst our characters adds interest and complication to our stories. It adds angst, conflict and depth. Without these qualities, a story will just be words on pages that don’t really speak to or move anyone. So, take a look at your current characters. Are they the same? Different? Are they cheery? Do they have a fatal flaw? Are they optimistic or pessimistic? Can they change? Should they change? Answering these questions and many more will help us to truly know our characters and make our writing more enjoyable and the experience for our readers more meaningful.

Oh, one more thing. Don’t forget about the inaugural Storymakers Midwest Conference on September 15th. Find out more information here.
I had originally planned to attend the Provo Storymakers Conference this year but was unable to attend so I’m thrilled to have a second shot at meeting many of my favorite LDS authors. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to attend a great conference near Kansas City. I am also very excited about this as I will be presenting two workshops: 1) The First 5 Pages  and 2) YA genre. It should be loads of fun. Sign up today!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Transformational Author Experience

TAE is like an on-line author workshop. I decided it would be a good learning experience, and it was. I'd like to share some advice from the author, Lisa Nichols.

Lisa struggled in school only to find out later that she is a creative learner, a kinesthetic, tactile learner. In her last English course, she failed the class. In front of the entire class her teacher said, "Lisa, you have to be the weakest writer I've ever met in my entire life."  In her first and last speech class she got a D. Her teacher recommended that she never speak in public.

What she learned from all of this is that some motivation comes wrapped in sandpaper or covered with nails.The words of her teachers became her motivator . . .her fuel . . . giving her that "I'll show you" motivation.

In her words; "If you can place situations in your life that are challenging or hard . .  . that may not be all they are because you can't determine or define every situation to be the way you want them to be, re-purpose them to serve as your fuel,  not your fortress between you and your goal. You can change any situation from being your reason why not to becoming your reason why to."

She continues. "That's what I did. I put a placeholder in my life and I said, 'Listen, this was the first 6 chapters of my life, but the next 6 chapters are blank sheets of paper and I hold the pen in my hand. I can either copy and paste the old story into a new chapter or I can re-write or write, for the time, a new experience."

Have a great day.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Show The Love for the Storymakers Midwest Conference!

(Reposted from

Show The Love for the Storymakers Midwest Conference!

We are so, so excited for the Storymakers very first Midwest Conference in Kansas City on September 15th. But we need your help to spread the word to let our friends, neighbors, and cyber-buddies know about this great opportunity to learn from incredible authors and the fabulous Lisa Mangum, editor at Deseret Book & Shadow Mountain.

And of course, we at Storymakers never ask for help without some awesome prizes up for grabs . . .

Now that you're drooling, let me share how you can help & enter for a chance to win. Everyone is welcome to participate!

  • Blog about the Storymakers Midwest Writers Conference and link to the conference site. This is worth 5 entries.
  • Blog about the Show Your Love contest and link back to the original post. This is also worth 5 entries.
  • Grab the html for the conference button and add it to your blog or website. Be sure to use the html so the link works.  =)  This is worth an additional 5 points.

  • Become a fan of the LDStorymakers Conference Facebook page and invite 5 friends to become fans. This is worth 1 Entry (limit 5 entries).
  • Mention the conference and/or the contest on Twitter. Either post the link in your tweet, or use the hashtag #StorymakerMW. This is worth 1 entry per day, up to 5 per week.

Shout It Out Loud!

Be sure and go to the original post and leave comments to let us know what you've done. Keep the hype up and return often! Everyone is welcome to participate, including attendees, presenters, and those who wish they could attend. The Show the Love Contest ends at midnight (CT) on July 31st. We will announce the winners before August 10th. If your e-mail isn't accessible through your Blogger profile, please leave it with one of your comments so we can contact you. Winning, and not knowing it, would be pretty rotten.

Join Us!

If you haven't registered for the Storymakers Midwest Conference, you can learn more about & register here.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Lightning Tree by Sarah Dunster

Lightning Tree, by Sarah Dunster is an intriguing and often sad story about the life of a pioneer orphan, Maggie. Set against the political and social intrigue of the "Cedar Incident" Maggie must find ways to cope in a new and often inhospitable environment with a heartless adopted mother and a sometimes indifferent adopted father. Nightmares slowly remind Maggie of the terrible events that have unfolded in her life, events that she suppressed because they are too awful to remember, but her memories are not always accurate which adds to the pain and confusion she feels. Dunster does a wonderful job of exploring Maggie's pain. It really is heartbreaking, but she does it in a way that is exciting enough to keep me turning the pages. While I admit that I found myself most drawn to the political intrigue and secrecy surrounding the "Cedar Incident", Lightning Tree successfully mingles the emotional struggles of the individual with the social struggles of the community. This was a fascinating read, and while Maggie's dramatic personal conflict sometimes overpowers the political I think there is plenty in this book to keep both the male and female reader engaged.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

We Never Quite Learning.

I’ve had the opportunity to be on the listening end of an on-line “Transformational Author Experience.” It has been well worth my time and the expense of downloading the scripts and recordings. I’d like to share with you some of Lisa Nichols comments.

Lisa Nichols is a bestselling author as well as a popular public speaker. Yet in high school she was told by her English teacher that she had to be the weakest writer she had ever met in her entire life. Her speech class teacher recommended that Lisa never speak in public.

When asked how she overcame the “You can’t write nor can you speak,” attack, her comment was, and I will paraphrase.

“Some motivation will come wrapped in sandpaper. Some of the things that inspire you the most aren’t covered with glittering gold and hearts all warm and fuzzy. While it’s disheartening that my educators would say such a thing, it became a challenge and at some point, it became my fuel. So, instead of having inspirational motivation, I had a little bit of ‘I’ll show you’ motivation.”

Lisa allowed this experience to be her fuel to change her situation from reasoning why not to—to why not. She went on to explain that she put a placeholder in her life. In her words, “This was the first 2 chapters of my life but the next 6 chapters are blank sheets of paper and I hold the pen in my hand. I can either copy and paste the past or I can re-write or write, for the first time, a new experience. And that’s what I chose to do.”

Lisa had much more advice and insight that has inspired me but it’s time to close my post. My eyes lids keep falling over my eyes because it’s almost Monday, midnight.

Everyone have a great Tuesday. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Getting Paid To Give Away Free Books


How would you like to get paid to give your books away for free?   Amazon has a new program that does just that!  Their KDP Select-Free system helps you get your name out in front of millions of customers.  Book sales will not take off until your words are read, enjoyed, and recommended. Word-of-mouth publicity is made possible by Amazon’s KDP Select Freebie Days. Amazon pays you to give your ebooks away!
 Have you discovered Dan Poynter yet? He's considered one of the top gurus in the book industry, helping thousands of authors navigate the publishing world and become successful.  He even has a free newsletter you can sign up for with terrific tips each week.   Now he has a new book out that teaches authors how to understand the KDP Select-Free program at Amazon.  In his book you will discover:
--The step-by-step details on how KDP Select-Free works.
--How to set up your ebook for the Freebie Days.
--Promotion. Where to send announcements. A valuable, long list.
--Tracking your downloads and sales.
--Responding to emails from your new readers/friends.
--Detailed steps and advice. No generalities. 
Dan Poynter is also a master at advertising his book, as evidenced by some of the big names he got to endorse his new book:
“Dan Poynter is the top coach for writing, publishing, and, most important, promoting.”
—John Tullius, Director, Maui Writers Conference.
“One essential ingredient to our Chicken Soup success was consulting with Dan Poynter in the early stages.”
—Jack Canfield, co-author,
Chicken Soup for the Soul series
“Dan Poynter has generously guided thousands to authorship. Their books make this a better world.”
—Dr. Robert Müller,
Author and Past Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations.
Dan Poynter is the author of more than 130 books.  He has been a book publisher since 1969, and is a Certified Speaking Professional. His seminars have been featured on CNN and his books have been pictured in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. 
If you're interested in checking out this book, you can find it on Amazon at:

To sign up for his free author newsletter, go to: 

Good luck out there in the book world!