Success only flourishes in perseverance -- ceaseless, restless perseverance.
--Baron Manfred Von Richtofen

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Honest Scrap

Hope everyone had a great holiday. I sure did! (I know there's another one coming up this week, but I'm not so much into the whole New Year's Eve thing. All it means is that no one goes to bed and I don't get my alone time. Oh, well.)

 A couple of weeks  ago, I was nominated for the Honest Scrap Award by Aubrie Dionne and Nicole Green. Thank you, ladies! The last time I was nominated for this award, I sort of fudged and only told one honest thing about myself instead of ten, so this time I am mending my ways and presenting the required ten honest things about myself. Hope it doesn't put you to sleep!

1. I love ice cream. I got an ice cream maker for my birthday. Heaven!
2. I prefer natural childbirth. Seriously. I've given birth with an epidural, without any medication, and by C-section. Natural is the only way to go!
3. I love to wear hats.
4. I grew up in the tiny town of Ferron, UT, and from there moved to Las Vegas for high school. Culture shock!
5. I don't remember the last time I went to the dentist. (I do make sure my kids get in there regularly, though.)
6. Speaking of kids, I am the happy mother of five sons and one daughter, all of whom are adorable, brilliant and talented. Not that I'm biased or anything.
7. Someday, I want to sing in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. This seems more attainable than publishing a novel sometimes.
8. I hate politics, however I am going to attend my neighborhood caucus in March and run for state delegate. Something must be done.
9. I have never traveled outside of the US.
10. I used to think blogging was only for people with a desperate need for attention. How embarrassing! I was definitely wrong about that. I love blogging, love my followers, love the blogs I follow. Glad I decided to find out what I was missing!

Well, I just thought those up off the top of my head, so hope you enjoy. I have decided not to pass this one along, because it's too hard to pick out blogs out of the many that I read and love, so if you want this award, want to do your own list (and I'd love to read them!), please comment on this post, and the award is yours! Or just comment anyway, even if you don't want the award. I always love reading your comments.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

On Christmas Eve Eve

I want to wish you all a joyful holiday and a prosperous New Year. Here's a quote from President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, quoting President Monson, to get the year started out right:

When our wagon gets stuck in the mud, God is much more likely to assist the man who gets out to push than the man who merely raises his voice in prayer—no matter how eloquent the oration. President Thomas S. Monson put it this way: “It is not enough to want to make the effort and to say we’ll make the effort. . . . It’s in the doing,thinking, that we accomplish our goals. If we constantly put our goals off, we will never see them fulfilled.”

So, let's all get to it in the new year! Let's see some great things happen in 2010!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Merry Kiss-mas (or the Official Kissing Day blogfest)

Heard about this on Elana's and Nisa's blogs. It was started by Sherrinda. Looks like fun. You're supposed to post a kissing scene from something you wrote, so here goes. Here's a scene from my current WIP, The Ransomed Returning (it's sci-fi). Emma has lived her life in slavery and never learned how to really feel. Ben has just discovered his feelings for her, but doesn't know quite how to approach her. He decides to write her a love song. (Oh, and Joey is Emma's grandfather.)

Emma answered the door. "Hello, Ben. Joey's not here. He and Mariane went out visiting."
"Oh. Well, I came to see you, too. Mind if I come in?"
She shrugged "I don't mind."
He followed her in and sat down beside her on the couch. She didn't quite meet his eyes. "You didn't come to church with us today," she said.
"No. I went with my parents this time. I wanted to be with the nengwoonts'eng—the people I lived with in the mine."
"That man who was in the plane with Hannah, he was your leader, wasn't he?"
"Are you worried about him?"
"A little, but they most likely got out all right. Kwetoo'unuv can take care of himself wherever he is. I think they'll be fine."
"Do you think the Great Ones will come with more attack vessels and punish us?"
"No. And even if they do, we're ready for them."
Emma looked away.
"I'm glad you decided to stay here with us," Ben said.
She nodded. "Grandpa—Joey—says I should pray for God to help me."
"That's good advice. You know, I prayed and God helped me catch that watcher by the park."
Emma flinched.
"We took his overskin off. He can't hurt you now."
She shuddered. "Are you sure?"
"Absolutely. I could take you down to the refuge and let you see for yourself."
"I don't want to see him."
"We told him he could be free like us, but he won't do it. It's sad really."
"Maybe he's afraid," Emma said.
"Maybe. But there really isn't anything to be afraid of."
Emma stared at her lap. Ben took out the guitar. "Would you like me to play for you?"
She shrugged. "If you want."
He played the melody he'd been working on all afternoon. Emma's eyes drifted shut. She leaned her head back a little, listening.  Something almost like a smile touched her lips. She really was quite beautiful. He could imagine her happy and vibrant and alive. He'd like to see her like that. He'd like to see her smile again.
"That's pretty," she said.
His face grew hot. "You like it? I wrote it for you."
She opened her eyes and stared at him. "For me? Why?"
"I wanted to." He strummed a couple more measures. "Because I'm crazy about you."
Her eyes widened a little, as if she'd just then figured out what that phrase meant. Ben took a deep breath, and even though he didn't think the words were ready, he started to sing. As he did, the whole thing clicked in his brain and came out better than he expected.
It wasn't much really, but when he finished Emma had tears rolling down her face. Oh, dear. That wasn't the reaction he'd been hoping for. Come to think of it, he didn't know what reaction he'd been hoping for. He set down the guitar. "Why are you crying?"
She reached for him and he took her hand. "What I feel, it's so—so big. I don't know what to do. It frightens me."
He laid his hand on her cheek. "But really there isn't anything to be afraid of." He slipped his hand around the back of her neck and pulled her to him and kissed her. It lasted only a second.
Emma gasped. "Ben," she whispered and leaned toward him. He kissed her again, longer this time, enjoying the sweet scent of her skin, her breath against his cheek.
He pulled away from her and turned. "Joey. Oh, um—" There wasn't anything to say, so he just shrugged his shoulders. He didn't let go of Emma's hand.

So there you have it. I actually do intend to include love song lyrics, but--yeah--I don't really know how to write a song. (Anyone want to write a love song for my book?)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Who Wins the Cookies?

I got my dozen roses, thanks to my sweetie. :) They're pink! I'd post a picture, but I haven't taken one and don't know where the camera is. (My life in a nutshell.)

I want to thank all of you who commented on the cookie contest. I really appreciated all the kind words about "Highway Songs." They made me smile. Oh, and a special thanks to David J. West of Nephite Blood, Spartan Heart for reviewing "Highway Songs" on his blog. I really appreciate that. Go check out his very interesting blog. His novel, Heroes of the Fallen will be out (I hope) soon.

So, now the moment you're all waiting for. The winner of one dozen homemade chocolate chip cookies is:

Rosslyn Elliot of Inkhorn Blue!

Congrats, Rosslyn. Just send me your address at angloft(at)gmail(dot)com, and I'll send the cookies to you, probably after Christmas. (I'm sure you understand.)

Thanks again everyone for entering (and for reading the story).

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

"Highway Songs" is Published!

I am very pleased to announce that my short story, "Highway Songs" is now available at Residential Aliens. (Cool picture to go with it, eh?) I'm very excited. This makes one dozen published stories! I feel like celebrating. Maybe with a dozen doughnuts or a dozen roses. I don't know. How do you think I ought to celebrate?

Oh, I know. I'll have a blog giveaway! If I get one dozen comments on this post. I'll hold a drawing for one dozen of my homemade chocolate chip cookies. (Disclaimer: You probably won't get this prize until after Christmas.) How does that sound? Go ahead, comment away! Read the story and let me know what you think, or comment here about anything you like.

It's a happy day for me!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

My How Times Have Changed

I've been thinking back to life when I first started writing. I had a one year old baby and our very first computer. (If you'd like to read the whole story, check out this post.)

Then: I did most of my writing on the computer in WordPerfect. I mailed in nearly all my submissions. Getting published on the internet was frowned upon. I used Courier New exclusively. I put two spaces after sentences. I went to Science Fiction conventions and writing conferences, but never really talked to anyone. (I'm kind of shy in person.) I didn't have any writing friends. There was no such thing as blogger or facebook or gmail. I went to the library to do the majority of my research. I worked in isolation.

Now: I write by hand, then type it up into Word. Times New Roman is the font of the day. One space after a sentence is considered standard. I prefer electronic submissions, though I do still have to use snail mail Internet magazines are respected, POD, and ebooks are all the rage. I still go to cons and conferences, but now I make an effort to network and get to know people. I do most of my research online if possible. Blogger, Facebook, Twitter, etc. have expanded my writing world. I don't feel so isolated. I have amazing writing friends even in real life.

I can't wait to see what the future will hold.

By the way, if any of you bloggy friends are interested in reviewing Stolen Christmas and Other Stories of the Season on your blog, please email ldspublisher(at)hotmail(dot)com, and she'll send you a code for a free e-book to review!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Stolen Christmas Contest Winner!!

A big thanks to everyone who entered my Stolen Christmas contest. I enjoyed reading all the things you love about Christmas. I also love snow and caroling, gifts and family, remembering loved ones and celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Christmas is such a wonderful time. I hope that you all are focusing on the joy of the season and letting go of the stress. I'm trying to do that myself.

The winner (by random drawing) of Stolen Christmas and Other Stories of the Season is:

Mikey Stephenson

Check out his blog: Written by Mikey

I loved his comment, so I hope he doesn't mind if I post it here. He said:

I think the most thing I love about Christmas is that ever year it gets better and better. This year I get to spend it with a beautiful new baby girl who brings such joy into my heart. I think every day should be filled with the love that we feel this season, the love of our savior Jesus Christ. Best wishes to all this holiday season!

Congratulations, Mikey. Email me your address to angloft(at)gmail(dot)com, and I'll get your copy of Stolen Christmas in the mail. Just as soon as I can make it to the post office through the snow storm!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Win a Copy of Stolen Christmas!

You know you want one. Well, here's your chance. To enter, leave a comment on this post telling me something you love about Christmas, and post a link to this contest on your blog or on 
Facebook or Twitter. You can comment anytime between now and whenever I get online on Monday morning. At that time, I'll hold a random drawing for your very own copy of Stolen Christmas and Other Stories of the season. Good luck!

P.S. I went to help out the 6th graders again today, only they weren't doing writing workshop. They were doing math. Dividing Fractions. "Use the multiplicative inverse of the divisor." Help! Brain cramping! Actually it was still kind of fun.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

December Story Feature: Sweet Singing in the Choir

This month's story is a special Christmas gift from me to you. "Sweet Singing in the Choir" is one of the many Christmas stories that I have written as a gift to my family and friends over the years, and it is one of my personal favorites.

When Eliza, better known as Lazer, slips into the church looking for a bathroom, she doesn't know she's about to get drawn into a memorable experience with the off-key choir practicing in the chapel.

I hope that you'll enjoy "Sweet Singing in the Choir," and that it will brighten your Christmas season. Leave a comment here to let me know what you think.

P.S. If you like "Sweet Singing in the Choir," check out another of my Christmas stories, "Shepherds and Kings," in Stolen Christmas and Other Stories of the Season.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Since I'm leaving town tomorrow, this will probably be my only post this week. In honor of Turkey Day, I thought I'd make a list of writing related things that I am thankful for:

I'm thankful for writing. It is such a fun and fulfilling part of my life.
I'm thankful for notebooks and gel pens.
I'm thankful for daydreaming.
I'm thankful for a supportive spouse who also happens to be a computer genius and a wonderful proof-reader, who watches the little ones whenever I want to go off and do some conference or just go write by myself.
I'm thankful for supportive kids who read my stuff.
I'm thankful for an amazing writer, brilliant critiquer, and best friend who lives right up the road from me.
I'm thankful for the support of my extended family.
I'm thankful for our computers, printer, etc. despite the fact that they often give me grief.
I'm thankful for this great writing community I have found online.
I'm thankful for blogger and a free blog.
I'm thankful that a dozen of my stories have been published. That has been so rewarding.
I'm thankful for my involvement in Mindflights.
I'm thankful for my 87(!) followers.
I'm thankful for fun characters and exciting plots.
I'm thankful for great books.
And, since I firmly believe in giving thanks in all things:
I'm thankful for rejection letters. It means I'm actually trying, plus rejections have taught me a lot.
I'm thankful for all the things that take time away from writing, because I have a wonderful, full life.
I'm thankful for the hunger that keeps driving me forward.
I'm thankful for the experiences, good and bad, that lend depth to my writing.
And finally:
I'm thankful for my Father in Heaven, who blessed me with this desire and talent.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Just a quick note

Stolen Christmas is now available for order or CreateSpace! Order soon to get it in time for Christmas. It's just chock full of great Christmas stories.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Stolen Christmas now available for pre-order!

If you love Christmas stories like I do, then don't miss this. Stolen Christmas and Other Stories of the Season is now available for pre-order here. It will be available on Amazon and CreateSpace by Saturday the 21st.

Here's the blurb:

What happens when you're so poor you have to steal your Christmas presents? Have you ever taken a punch in the face as your Christmas gift to the girl you love? Or saved Christmas while hunting were-weevils?

These award-winning Christmas stories are the best of the best from the LDS Publisher Christmas Story Contests. From Christmases past, to present, to future; from sweet and inspirational, to zany and delightful-there's a story for everyone in this eclectic collection.

Seventeen stories to celebrate the season, from Sarah M. Eden, Tristi Pinkston, Joyce DiPastena, Christine Thackeray, Don Carey, and more.

Sounds fun, huh? My story, "Shepherds and Kings," is inside! 

Friday, November 13, 2009

Great Things

I have a few great things to talk about today. My short story "Highway Songs" was accepted for publication in the December issue of Residential Aliens. That's great. My Christmas story, "Shepherds and Kings," will soon be released in the collection Stolen Christmas and Other Stories of the Season. That's also great. I can't wait. This will bring my total published stories to an even dozen!

I am up to 85 followers! That's really great!

I also got some great awards. Diana at Writing Roller Coasters passed along another Heartfelt Award. Thanks, Diana. (What a cute picture, eh?)

And Michelle at The Surly Writer awarded me A Lovely Blog. (Another cool picture). Her blog is lovely, too.

But the great things I really want to talk about have to do with this post over at LDSPublisher's blog. Her suggestions for greatness include, write a lot, write well, write honestly, and write about great things. Great ideas, all. I've been thinking about the Great Things we can write about. What are they? Some that I thought of (in broad terms) are:


This is no comprehensive list of "great things." What are your ideas on the subject?

Monday, November 9, 2009

How 'Bout Some Inspiration?

Here is a video my husband put together. It's a time lapse of clouds over Mt. Loafer, as viewed from the writing chair. The music is "Teeming Autumn" by David Tolk, whose music never fails to inspire me. Enjoy!

Friday, November 6, 2009

6th Grade Writing Time

Today I had a blast volunteering in my 11 year old's sixth grade class during their literacy and writing time. I helped them with the final proofread and edit of their Halloween stories. Oh, my. It was so much fun! The stories were so cute, funny, scary, creative, imaginative... They must have had a great time writing them. I certainly enjoyed reading them and marveling at their unfettered creativity. I wish I could just let my imagination go like that. I am getting better at it, actually. I was impressed with the kids' vivid descriptions and clever dialogue.

Those who were ready came back to the table where I was sitting and I read their stories aloud with them, circling any errors and making sure they understood what was wrong. Most of the problems I saw had to do with proper punctuation in dialogue. There sure is a lot to remember when punctuating dialogue. New paragraph for new speaker, punctuation inside the quotation marks, how to properly handle dialogue tags. No wonder they have a hard time with it. Overall, though, I thought they had done a great job. I can't wait to go back next time. I go the first Friday of every month. I almost hate to admit it, but this is so much more fun than reviewing alphabet sounds with the kindergartners. Not that I don't love teaching kids to read, too. Seeing them blossom into little writers is just so cool! One girl who wasn't quite finished bemoaned the fact that she didn't know where to go with the story. Oh, I hear you on that one! I won't say whose story was the best, but let's just say that I may have been more partial to one of them over the others. You'll never guess whose.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

November Story Feature: Fidelity

"Fidelity" was a top ten finisher in the Science Fiction Writers of Earth short story contest in 2000, and first appeared in the anthology Unparalleled Journeys, from the writers of Amazing Journeys magazine, in 2005. Readers had this to say:

A truly enjoyable story mixing the feel of a fairy tale with a futuristic world, rolled up in a serious drama. I'm not sure how to get into any of the details without giving anything away! The story opens with a bang and Angie's handling of action is excellent. No sooner has the action subsided than the real problem begins to rear its ugly head. The main character struggled valiantly with feelings of duty and honor against feelings of friendship. All of this happens with some great scientific twists going on that help build a rich, believable world.

The theme of "Fidelity" is, "to thine own self be true." Do our genes control our fates? It started with a particularly vivid dream about a body guard and a prince, and took off from there. I hope you enjoy "Fidelity." Stop by and leave a comment here to let me know what you think.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Nothing to Sneeze At

That's an odd phrase, isn't it? Am I the only one who uses it? Anyway, I did not make it to page 300 by the end of last week. I came close, though. I got to 297, and that's nothing to sneeze at. I wanted to blame my lack on dentist appointments, band concerts, and family parties, but the real reason I didn't quite make it was that I came to a scene that kicked my butt for 2 days. I always thought I was more of a seat of the pants writer, but here I learned for certain that I cannot write a scene that has not been adequately planned. Most of the planning takes place in my head, but still, I have to plan it before I can write it. I finally made it through the scene, though I still think it needs some work. All together, I wrote fifteen pages, and decided instead of feeling depressed by the lack of three pages, I will be happy that I wrote that many. That's 50% more than usual! And I intend to make 15 my new weekly goal. I should be to page 300 by tonight (or whenever I get to sit down and write), so that's not bad at all.

Other things not to sneeze at: My dear friend Suzette has an agent! Read all about it on her blog, Shooting Stars. I am so happy for her. She is a fantastic writer. I can't wait until her book is a huge bestseller! Go, Suzy!

My cousin-in-law, Derek Westra, published a childrens story in Knowonder! magazine. His story, "Trains" is on page 12. Go grab your little ones and read it to them. It's darling. Way to go, Derek!

Friday, October 23, 2009


Thank you! Diana over at Writing Roller Coasters has given me the Heartfelt Award. I really appreciate that. Her blog is great if you haven't checked it out yet.

Here are some blogs that I think deserve a Heartfelt Award:

Nisa for both Wordplay, Swordplay and Daily Journeys of an American Gypsy
Michelle H. The Surly Writer
Rosslyn Elliot's Inkhorn Blue
L.T. Elliot's Dreams of Quill and Ink 

Thanks again, Diana!

Writing update: I have written nine pages. That leaves only two days to write nine more. I didn't write anything yesterday. Oh, dear. Can I do it? Crazily enough, I still think I can, even though my parents are coming into town and we have a big family Halloween party on Saturday. I'd better get off the computer and into the notebook.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

One of Those Rare WIP Updates

First off, I'm awesome! Elana said so. Go check out her awesomeness post. She's awesome in my book! Anyway, it's been a while since I updated you on my writing projects. Or at least it feels like it has been. I've been working on The Ransomed Returning for seven months. As of last night, I have written 18 chapters and 285 pages or approximately 60,500 words.

Combine that with "Consecrated," my novella, and I've written 84,000 words over the past year.

That's a record for me, at least in the past decade or so. Last year at this time, I increased my weekly writing goal from 5 pages per week to 10 pages per week. Now, I'm going to increase it to 15 pages per week. That didn't work out so well last week, but at least I got 10. My official goal for this week is 13 pages, but secretly I'd like to write 18 pages, and reach page 300 by the end of the week. Go me. I am awesome, after all.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

First Paragraph Contest

You've probably heard about Nathan Bransford's First Paragraph Contest going on this week. I decided, what the heck? Might as well enter. Here's my paragraph:

No tree grew in the Black City; no bushes, no flowers, no blade of grass. Not even a single scraggly weed penetrated the endless stretch of bevakm. Ripping the bevakm out was back-breaking work, especially without an overskin, but Peter didn't mind. He would have torn it out with his bare hands if he had to.

That's from the novel I'm working on now, called The Ransomed Returning. Any good? I guess time will tell...

Monday, October 12, 2009

MindflightsRe-opens to Subs Today!

I am so excited that Mindflights is at last open to submissions again. I have really missed reading them! Really. Okay, it was nice to have the summer off, but I do love reading the subs. I love giving out acceptances almost as much as receiving them. I have to say that reading the slush pile has done my own writing and self-editing skills a world of good. At Mindflights, we always give feedback to all of the submissions.

If you're interested in submitting to Mindflights, we are looking for short fiction and poetry that is speculative (sci-fi, fantasy,etc) and also family-friendly/Christian-friendly. We like works that entertain, enlighten, and uplift us. Have a look at our guidelines, then send us your best! I can't wait to read it.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Creativity Killers

Here are some of mine:

Lack of Sleep: This one is a catch-22, because often if I want to get any writing done, I have to stay up late to do it. I have to find a balance, though, because I can't be creative when I am dead tired.

Strong Emotion: I'm talking about the kind that takes me by the throat and doesn't let go. The kind that overwhelms all rational thought, and leaves me hung over the next day. Emotional drunkenness. Anger, indignation, anxiety, despair. Believe me, no writing happens when I'm in the grip of one of these. 

Fear, doubt, and envy: These don't come with overwhelming passion. These are much more subtle and insidious. It's the nasty voice inside saying, "That's the dumbest idea ever." "No one will want to read that." "You're just a fraud." "You're not good enough." "You'll never make it." Can't create if that voice is too loud.

Disorder: I can hear my husband laughing at this one. Just for the record, I am not an organized person. I don't spend a great deal of time on housework. I feel I have better things to do than scrub the walls. But I try to maintain a certain level of cleanliness. If the house is so strewn with toys, books, school papers, dirty clothes, etc, that I can barely walk from room to room, it's really hard to get in a creative frame of mind.

Yikes! I hate the creativity killers. I have to counter them with some creativity nourishers: 

Beautiful music
The view from the writing chair
Good books
Family and friends
Prayer and worship
Kind words

I could go on. Luckily, that is a much longer list than the other. So, tell me. What are your creativity killers? What are your creativity nourishers?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Thinkin' About the Future

In which I ponder what I learned at The Book Academy, do some soul-searching, and give out an award.

I am realizing now that my notes for the other classes I attended at the writing conference are woefully inadequate for blog posts. I did want to talk about James Dashner's presentation entitled, "Things I Learned from Springville to New York." Side note: I was sitting in the right place at the right time, and James Dashner invited me to sit with him and some friends for lunch. That was cool. He had a great list covering topics from good writing to finding an agent to marketing your work. What impressed me the most was the story he told of being at a writing conference listening to a famous author go on and on about how great she was, and feeling really depressed because all he had was one small press novel with a bad cover. He said he dealt with that depression by setting a goal. A totally ridiculous goal, in his words, that he would quit his job and write full time within five years. You know what? He did it. Five years later, he quit his job and is writing full time. His book, The Maze Runner will be released this week. I was inspired by that story! I wanted to set a ridiculous goal of my own and make it happen.

Then I hit a snag. I couldn't come up with a goal. Dashner's goal was perfect because it was specific and concrete and measurable. I didn't know what goal to set. "Become a successful author in X amount of years," seemed a little too nebulous to me. How do I define "successful" anyway? I can't set a goal to quit my job, because I can't, in fact quit my job. I don't want to anyway (except sometimes). I'm a stay-at-home mom. I've always wanted to be a stay-home mom. I love being a stay-home mom. I wouldn't trade it for anything. Which got me thinking: Do I have to give up being a stay-home mom to be a successful writer? I mean, obviously this is a job that can be done at home, I'm doing it right now, right? But, really, what if I had to go on a book tour? It seems silly to even think about since no book tour is even remotely on the horizon. It worries me, though. Does being a good writer mean giving up being a good mother? Maybe I should have gone to the class on being a writer and a good parent. There were just too darn many good classes to choose from. I have a hard time defining myself as a working mom. That's just not me. But, obviously becoming a published author would qualify me as working. Sigh. Should I just give it all up to take care of my family? I sure don't want to.

I've been doing some serious soul searching over this. I don't know if I have the answers, but I have come to this conclusion. Writing is too important to me to give up. My family is even more important to me than that. Here's the thing. I think my family is better off for my writing. I am setting an awesome example of perseverance, determination, and following your dreams. My kids are smart, independent and creative. I have to think that comes in part from watching me write and develop my own talents. Most of them are old enough now to read my stuff and enjoy it. I totally love that. Who knows what the future might bring? Stay-home mom is not a job that lasts forever anyway. I'm going to keep chasing this dream, because it makes me happy to do so, and because I believe that it is part of God's plan for me. Even though I often doubt and sometimes despair, I really do believe that in my heart.

So, without further ado, my very own ridiculous goal:

Within two years, I will have a novel published or at least have a contract. Also, I will be presenting at The Book Academy or some other conference of similar size.

Do I have what it takes to make it happen like James Dashner did? He worked hard to achieve his goal. I will too! Woah, it's really kind of scary to put it out there like that.

This post has probably gone on too long already, but I have one more thing to do. Give out an award! Diana at Writing Roller Coasters was kind enough to give me the Super Comments award. Thanks! Since it's a comments award, I'm going nuts and passing on this award to everyone who commented on my Keynote Address post, my most commented post to date. If you commented on that post, the award is yours. Furthermore, everyone who comments on this post gets the award too!

Phew! The post is finished. Hope I didn't ramble you all to death.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

October Story Feature: Getting Colder

"Getting Colder" first appeared in Amazing Journeys magazine in the June 2004 issue.

Baron would do anything to save his wife from an incurable illness, but the answer he finds will tests the limits of his strength, his faith , and his understanding.

I got the idea for the illness in this story from reading about an angelfish plague. The symptoms were normal for fish, I'm sure, but when my imagination jumped to people it struck me as really creepy. The title comes from a song by Gordon Lightfoot. Readers had this to say:

"The twist in Getting Colder can't be seen coming; and for the life of me, though I tried to guess what would happen, I too was caught off-guard. Great chars, nice plot line and a back story that told itself!"

I hope you enjoy "Getting Colder." Be sure to leave a comment here and let me know what you think.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Brandon Sanderson's Keynote Address

"Ten Things I Had to Learn Before I Could Sell a Book."

That was the title of the keynote address by Brandon Sanderson at the Book Academy conference last week. I got there early enough to grab a seat right up front. The speech was probably the highlight of my day. Here's a recap of his ten things:

1. Everyone is different. Learn what works for you and what doesn't.
2. Writing can be learned. Fill your writing toolbox with all you learn and then use the tools that work best for you.
3. Write what's in your heart. A lot of people can tell you what kind of book is or isn't selling at the moment, but what's always selling is a good book.
4. Pay attention to the market. You don't have to chase the market, but a part of you has to be a business person that thinks about how to exploit the art that the creative part of you is busy creating.
5. To begin is human. To finish is divine. You have to finish stuff before you can sell it. You have to practice finishing. You need to develop good habits, and if something's not working, try a new habit. Shake things up, offer yourself a reward, try something different.
6. To begin is human. To finish is divine. To revise is hell. But you have to do it. Great writers are even better revisers.
7. Nobody starts off perfect. It's okay to suck.
8. Keep at it. Be a little arrogant. Believe you are going to make it.
9. Luck happens.
10.You can improve your chances drastically. Just by doing something as simple as following the submission guidelines, you can get ahead of 50% of the manuscripts submitted. Learn to write well, to revise well, and you get ahead of 75%. It can be tough, but it can happen!

To conclude he said, "You can get published. Everyone in this room. I did it. If I did it, you can do it . . . You will make it. Go learn and write!"

I found it so inspirational and helpful after my awful feelings of discouragement and doubt. Since I had a seat up front, I plucked up my courage and went up to him after the speech and told him how much I appreciated it. This is so not like me, but I really wanted to talk to him again. You see, I had just met him in person at church. His in-laws live in my ward (and are some of my favorite people). I was so nervous at church, that I felt like I must have come off as a total dork. I'm not sure I came off any better at the conference, but it doesn't really matter. He's a super nice, approachable person, not to mention a terrific writer, and I really enjoyed hearing him speak. If you haven't read any Brandon Sanderson, you really should!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Book Academy Writers Conference

I had a great time at the Book Academy on the 24th. I'll give you the general overview today, and do some future posts about the classes I attended and all the terrific things I learned. I heard about the conference a few months ago, and knew right away that I had to go. I arranged (begged) for my husband to take the day off work so he could be with the little ones, and he graciously agreed. I've been looking forward to it ever since, but then something happened last week that took the wind out of my sails. I was devastated, to be honest. I didn't want to go to the conference anymore. I didn't want to be with other writers; I didn't want to have to listen to the real writers lecture me about stuff I already know. Fifteen years I've been at this. Fifteen! Bitterness, jealousy, resentment. It wasn't good. I am embarrassed to admit to feeling that way, but I was. However, I had paid my money and I was going to go anyway. I worked hard to change my attitude. A couple of really great posts on other blogs helped. I prayed a lot. I asked for grace, and I received it. By the time the conference rolled around I was excited and feeling (mostly) better again.

Boy am I glad that went! I was blessed to be able to let go of resentment and jealousy. The speakers and classes were motivational, informative and fun. I stopped thinking about myself and what a dork I am, and decided to talk to as many others as possible and met some really great folks. I even got to meet Windy in person. I especially loved Brandon Sanderson's keynote address and James Dashner's class. I left feeling good about carrying on with this crazy, difficult, heartbreaking and yet exhilarating journey of writing. I wasn't even too upset about my parking ticket.

Before I go, I want to thank Nicole (Struggling to Make It) over at Chapters for awarding me a Kreativ Blogger award! I really appreciate that. Since I just recently passed that one on to others, I'm not going to it again, but I am grateful that you thought of me. Thanks so much!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Three Cheers for my Followers!

I just reached 70 followers. Yeah! Cookies for everyone! I sure appreciate you guys following the blog. Here's my "Welcome to the blog" post that I did a while back. I have a lot more to welcome now!

Just want to say HI and welcome to all the followers who've joined recently, and to those of you who have been following for a while. It's great to have you here! Be sure to check out the links to my fiction there on the sidebar, and while your at it, enjoy some more great reading over at Mindflights Magazine. Want to be my friend on Facebook? I'd love it. I appreciate all of you following, and I'd love to see your comments. Come back often!
I'm curious. What are some of the other blogs that you follow? Do you have any favorites? I always love finding great new blogs to follow and read, so let me know which blogs you love.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Hooray for Dr. Seuss!

Don't you just love Dr. Seuss? I do. I think he's one of the greatest writers ever. What other author gets his birthday celebrated around the country every year? He taught us how to read. What's not to love?

What truly inspires me, though is when I learned that his first picture book, And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street, was rejected by 27 different publishers. 27! He had about decided to give up on writing children's books, when he ran into a friend who worked for a publisher. The friend offered to show his manuscript to the big bosses, and they decided to publish it. So, we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief that the world was not deprived of Dr. Seuss because of a boatload of rejections. I try to remember that when I feel discouraged about this whole process. What if he had given up? I shudder to think of it.

Just remember what Dr. Seuss himself said:

“You’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So . . . get on your way!” (from Oh, the Places You'll Go.)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Congratulations, Elana!

My friend Elana has a new book out today, From the Query to the Call! How exciting is that? You should also check out her new Query Ninja blog.  Sounds awesome! Can't wait to get my copy. Way to go, Elana!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Have you been to Mindflights lately?

As you may now, I am an editor over at Mindflights Magazine, so I'd thought I'd give it a little plug here. At Mindflights we strive to publish fiction that is entertaining, enlightening, and uplifting. From our vision statement:

All flights have a destination. Mindflights' journeys are speculative—science fiction, fantasy—and our ultimate destination is truth.
We believe some truths are universal. Some truths are there for all persons to find through observation and pondering, with inquiry or with introspection, with stillness or with debate. Other truths must be sought, hunted, and they are more difficult to capture. Both can inspire stories and poems.

I have been with Double-Edged Publishing, first with The Sword Review and then with Mindflights for over four years. We have published many fabulous stories and poems during that time. Here are a few of my very favorites:

Singing Me Home by Jenny Schwartz

The Bone Setter by Suzette Saxton

Quite the Character by Joanna Mallory

Grubs by Steve Miller

And many others! So, come check out our current contents and browse through the archives for some great, family-friendly reads.

Mindflights is a non-profit organization and everyone on the staff is a volunteer, because we believe in what we can accomplish through uplifting speculative fiction. If you do like what you find on Mindflights, consider making a small donation to help us continue bringing you high quality work. It would be much appreciated!

We'd love to see your work, too. We are currently closed to submissions, but we'll be opening to subs again in October, so send us your best!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Thanks Again!

A great big thanks to Michelle at The Surly Writer for recognizing me with the Honest Scrap award. I really appreciate that!

 I've been feeling overwhelmed with all the awards (in good and bad ways), and so I'm playing fast and loose with the rules (sorry), and I'm going to drop a zero and tell you just one honest thing about me that most people don't know and pass on the award to one highly deserving blogger, so here goes:
About me:
I almost died of Toxic Shock Syndrome when I was fourteen
And my pick for this award:
Nisa at Wordplay, Swordplay, because she's just awesome!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Sand Through the Hourglass

First of all, I have to thank Anna C. Morrison for the Splish-Splash award for a dazzling blog. Wow. I don't know if I deserve it, but thanks so much! I'd like to pass that award along to Bethany and Suzette at Shooting Stars and Elana at Elana J. Author whose blogs continue to dazzle.

Now on to the post:

One of my pet peeves when I'm reading is when a character thinks something along the lines of, "Was that only three days ago? It feels like years." Um, no. That feels unauthentic to me. Just because for the author it was, in fact, years in between those three days does not mean that's how it feels to the character. It certainly doesn't feel that way to me as the reader. My perception of time is usually quite the opposite. (It's September already? What happened to August?) I suppose this stems from a desire to illustrate the great changes in the characters life during the course of the story. I'm not sure using time is the most effective way to do that, however. My most recent unexpected and life-changing event was the birth of my last child, over a month early and while on vacation in Vegas. I do remember thinking, "Gee, our other boy's birthday party was less than a week before the baby was born." I didn't feel like the party had been years before, but I was surprised at how fast everything had changed.

Anyway, it's got me thinking. How do the characters perceive the passage of time? I know children see time differently than adults. Young children have no concept of time at all. My five year old still has trouble with "today" and "tomorrow." She usually refers to tomorrow as "next day." For me, time is always flying by way too fast, but then there are other times, like the two weeks that my preemie baby spent in the hospital, that drag on and on. Is it worth thinking about how the characters feel about time? I don't know if I ever consciously have, except to avoid the temptation above. I think the passage of time, or the perception of it, is worth considering. Not that it needs to be deliberately included, but it seems to me one more way to add depth and realism to the story. Any thoughts?

Monday, August 31, 2009

September Story Feature: Sacred Places

"Sacred Places" first appeared in Irreantum Magazine's Winter 2003/Spring 2004 issue, after receiving an Honorable Mention in the 2003 Irreantum Fiction Contest. 

Life on a distant planet with her archeologist husband is not all that Rachael Murray had hoped it would be. With two small children, a busy husband, and neighbors she's not sure she wants to meet, Rachael feels homesick and neglected. But if she opens herself up to the possibilities, she may find more to love in her new home that she ever imagined.

I hope you enjoy "Sacred Places." I would love to hear your thoughts about the story. Oh, and a big congratulations to this year's Irreantum Fiction Contest winners!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Why Thank You!

The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before. Deiter F. Uchtdorf

Windy over at Like the Weather was kind enough to give me a Kreativ Blogger award. Thanks, Windy! You're so sweet.

Here are the rules for the award:

1. Thank the person who nominated you for this award.
2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
3. Link to the person who nominated you for this award.
4. Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting. (below)
5. Nominate 7 Kreativ Bloggers.
6. Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate.
7. Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know they have been nominated.

Okay, 7 random, possibly interesting things about me:

1. I am the mother of five boys and one girl. Yeah, she's spoiled.
2. I play the guitar.
3. I belong to a women's choir called the Musettes. I love it.
4. I am the oldest child in my family. I have two sisters and one brother.
5. I was introduced to my husband by a fugitive felon.
6. I was married in Las Vegas on Valentines Day.
7. I gave birth to my last child in Las Vegas. We were on vacation. He was five weeks premature.

Enough of that. Here are 7 blogs I think are worthy of this award:

1. Mandoo is Dandoo
2 Cynde's Got the Write Stuff
3.The Surly Writer
4.Tess Hilmo
5.Three dead moths in my mailbox
6.Nephite Blood, Spartan Heart
7.En Violet

Monday, August 24, 2009

Christmas Story Contest Results

I am happy to report that my story, "Shepherds and Kings," won the Publishers Choice Award in the Christmas story contest! This is so exciting for me. Thanks to all of you who participated, and congratulations to the other winners. What a fun contest it was. I really enjoyed reading through all the entries. See all the results here.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Chocolate Giveaway Winner!

Time to announce the winner of the Chocolate Giveaway! I so enjoyed reading all of your comments. I could totally relate to all the answers. Thanks everyone for entering. If you missed the comments, you can read them here.

And now, the winner... (drum roll please)

Aubrie Dionne!

Congratulations, Aubrie. E-mail me your address to angloft (at) gmail (dot) com, and a bag of Hershey's Nuggets will soon be on it's way.

Thanks so much to everyone who entered. This was fun. I may have to do it again sometime.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Voting begins today for the Christmas story contest

The rules for voting in the LDSPublisher Christmas story contest are here. Voting starts today and ends on Saturday, the 22nd. I have a story in the contest. Your participation would be appreciated! Good luck to all the contestants!

Don't forget to enter my Chocolate Giveaway below.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Chocolate Giveaway!

Yes, that's right. Free chocolate! Here's the deal. Leave a comment here answering the following two questions:

1. Why do you write?
2. Why don't you write?

Next Saturday, I'll hold a random drawing of all the comments for a bag of Hershey's Treasures. Mmmmm. What's more inspiring than chocolate? To get you started, I'll share my answers to those questions.

1. Why do I write?
Because I love to daydream, and writing is a great excuse for daydreaming all day. Thinking about my stories helps me get to sleep at night. I love the thought that the things I write have an effect on other people. I hope it's a positive effect. Writing is my creative outlet and gives me a sense of purpose. I want to use the talents God has given me to make the world a little better.
2. Why don't I write?
I think I've gotten past the I Don't Have Time excuse. I have made time for writing. Nowadays, it's more a lack of confidence that holds me back. The fear that I'm really no good after all. I've learned though that all writers feel that way sometimes. Besides, how can my writing improve unless I actually write?

So, there you have it. I'd love to hear your thoughts and, hey, maybe you'll get a bag of chocolates out of it. Good luck!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

LDSPublisher's Christmas Story Contest

I've been writing Christmas stories for many years, so when I heard about this contest, it seemed only natural to enter. The judging is by vote by readers (like you guys). The stories are being posted here all this week, and voting will be from Aug. 16-22. So, pop on over and read the stories. You can comment starting now, but the rules for voting will be posted on the 16th. I'd appreciate it if you'd go vote. I can't tell you which one is mine, so go ahead and read all the great entries and vote for your favorite. Oh, and the contest is open to entries until the 15th, if you would like to enter. The rules are here. Enjoy a little dose of Christmas Spirit in August!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Back in Business

I took an unexpected two day vacation from the internet when a lightning storm knocked out both our ISPs radio tower and fried the network card in our server. (Okay, the only reason I understand any of that is thanks to my computer genius husband.) It wasn't so bad actually. It made me realize just how trivial most of my email is. It's good to be back, though.

I am also back in business with my novel. I got a few new ideas that pumped some new life into the story. I haven't been much better on actual writing this week, but I hope that will pass and I'll get my momentum back. Until next time, happy writing!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

August Story Feature: Among the Silent Stars

"Among the Silent Stars" first appeared in Amazing Journeys Magazine in March 2004. It also received First Honor in the Science Fiction Writers of Earth short story contest in 2002.

Readers had this to say:

"Among the Silent Stars" was a great crowning achievement to your magazine. This one pulled me in; I felt like I was right there with Manon and her grieving for Poppy and then her triumph. Good stuff.

"Among the Silent Stars" finished the issue with a bang. What a neat idea. Who would have thought a space colony would need protection from the government who sent them in the first place, that protection coming from an old man and a deaf girl?

Since I am not deaf, writing from a deaf perspective was a challenge. I did a lot of research to try and get it right. Manon is one of my favorite characters. I hope you enjoy "Among the Silent Stars." Feel free to comment here and let me know what you think.

Aw, Shucks

Suzette at Shooting Stars awarded my the One Lovely Blog Award. I would award her the One Lovely Person award. Thanks, Suzette! So now I'd like to pass the award along to the following blogs:

Windy Apahayrath's Like the Weather
Dellgirl's At the Starting Gate
The Beastmaster's My Brood of Wild Beasts (Don't let the name fool ya.)
Author, Flutist, Teacher Aubrie Dionne
and Linz's Every Day is Special (Not a writing blog, but lovely nonetheless)