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

Friday, December 30, 2011

Cute Craft or Book Desecration? You Be the Judge

The Book Wreath
I made this a few months ago, but didn't get around to hanging it up until yesterday (story of my life). I admit I had mixed feelings when making it. On the one hand, it's a cute and practically free craft project. Just some cardboard, hot glue, and an old book. On the other hand, I tore apart a book (two, actually) to make it! I used The Veils of Azlaroc by Fred Saberhagen and when that was gone, I used The Deep End of the Ocean by Jacquelyn Mitchard. They were both second hand books that I admit I never read.

It does go with the bookish theme of the wall above my bed:

That cute little girl helped me make it at a mother/daughter activity at church. She was glad I finally decided to hang it up.

So, what do you think? Would you make a wall hanging out of an old book? Are there certain books you'd object to being used in this manner? Do you think this will be the only good use for print books after ebooks take over the world?

Personally, I don't believe print books will ever go away. At least, I hope they won't. But I do think the wreath turned out pretty cute despite my lack of crafting ability.

Anyway, I hope you all have a very happy and prosperous 2012 filled with lots of great books, hopefully some written by you!

P.S. Looking at the labels on my last few posts, I realized how long it's been since "writing" was one of them. I'll be rectifying that!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Our Christmas Books

We always get books for Christmas. Each person gets one (or maybe two), but we all read all the books eventually. (For me, it can take a long time to get to all of them. I don't read as fast or as much as I used to.)

Anyway, I thought I'd share the books we got this Christmas, in case your looking for some good reading.

I got Blood Sword by Terry W. Ervin II and Become by Ali Cross.

My husband got Psion Gamma by Jacob Gowen and The Death Cure by James Dashner.

Son #1 (age 18)  got The Missionary Reference Library. (He'll be going on a mission for the LDS church soon, so he needs those.)

Son #2 (age 16) got Variant by Robison Wells.

Son #3 (age 13) got Inheritance by Christopher Paolini. (I admit, I probably won't read that one.)

Son #4 (age 11) got Guardians of the Hidden Scepter by Frank L. Cole

Daughter (age 7) got Silverlicious by Victoria Kann

Son #5 (age 4) got Pirates Don't Change Diapers by Melinda Long, Illustrated by David Shannon.

We also got Teachings of President Thomas S. Monson and a Christmas storybook, The Little Christmas Tree, from family.

I can't wait to read these!

How about you? Did you get any good books for Christmas?

Friday, December 23, 2011

My Gift to You

May you all be blessed with peace and joy this Christmas Day and always. Here is a gift from me to you. A short Christmas story I wrote. Hope you enjoy!

 The Wandering Star

When our Father in Heaven named the stars and set them in their places, he took little Astrael in his arms and said, "I have a special spot for you."
Astrael twinkled with excitement. What special place did the Father have in mind for him? Surely it must be somewhere very important and grand. Astrael puffed out his chest and shined his brightest and hurried off to his assigned spot in the heavens.
But when Astrael looked down, he found he was shining on a drab little spot of earth. A tiny nothing of a place where no one of consequence had ever set foot. He dimmed a little in annoyance. This wasn't such a special spot. Heavenly Father must have made some mistake.
Astrael ought to have kings and queens looking up at him in wonder and delight. He ought to be inspiring poets and painters and dazzling the eyes of star struck lovebirds. The more he looked down on his boring, unimportant patch of earth, the angrier he grew, until finally Astrael had had enough. He left the spot that God had chosen for him and set off across the wide universe to find his own place. Someplace that a star such as himself deserved.
But Astrael soon learned that the universe can be a cold and unforgiving place. He passed through nebulas so thick he couldn't light his own way and skirted the edges of supernovas that left him singed around the edges. Once he was nearly eaten by a hungry black hole. Through all of his wanderings, he could not find a place to shine. Bigger stars shoved him out the way. Brighter stars turned up their noses. Nowhere was there a truly special spot to shine over.
At last, cold and lonely, bruised and tattered, with his light all but spent, Astrael huddled in a dark corner of the universe and wept.
"Astrael? Astrael?"
The lonely little star lifted his head.
"Come back to me, my dear Astrael." Heavenly Father's voice drifted across the vastness of space. Astrael looked at his faded and broken self in shame. Would God be very angry with him? Slowly, he made his way back to God's throne with his head bent low, almost too dim to see.
Heavenly Father took the little star into his arms once more. "Poor little Astrael. You do look a bit worse for the wear, don't you?"
Astrael could only nod.
"Are you ready to shine in the place where I put you?"
"Yes, Father," Astrael whispered. "But there's not much left of me to shine."
"Don't worry, dear one. I will give you light enough when you need it."
So Astrael settled again in his own spot. It didn't look any more important than it had before, but Astrael was finished wandering. This was his place, the one that God had chosen just for him and he would be content with it.
But what was this? Something was happening down there. Astrael bent closer and watched a man lead his pregnant wife into a tiny stable.
"It is time," Father in Heaven whispered.
Astrael drew in his breath as the source of all light flowed into him, replacing what he'd lost when he wandered. Beside him, the Heavenly Choir burst forth in praise, and at last Astrael understood the purpose that God had intended for him all along.
His heart overflowed with joy, and little Astrael bloomed into brilliant radiance.

Copyright 2010 Angie Lofthouse
All rights reserved

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Giveaway Winner!

Thanks so much to all of you who entered and helped promote my giveaway of Danyelle's Leafty's books (not to mention the Butterfinger Jingles). The lucky, lucky winner (you are going to love these!) is:

Melissa J. Cunningham!!!!

Congrats, Melissa. Catspell, Firespell, and Applespell will soon be coming your way.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Into the Holiday Spirit

Nativity scene on the reflecting pond at Temple Square

Hi! Just checking in. I've been working hard getting ready for Christmas and enjoying some of our favorite traditions. Last Saturday, we went to see the lights at Temple Square in Salt Lake City. They're so beautiful! By random chance, we walked into the Assembly Hall just in time to hear our very own high school choir perform. It was awesome.

Also saw this bagpipe-playin' Santa:

Haven't done much writing, but that was a conscious choice on my part. Now that my shopping is mostly done, I hope to do a little more writing this week. We'll see how that goes. Writing will become a top priority again after Christmas.

Hope you are having a wonderful holiday season also!

* Don't forget, you have until Friday to enter my Fairy Godmother Dilemma Giveaway. Three e-books, plus a bag of candy! *

Friday, December 2, 2011

Giveaway Time!

I promised you a Christmas giveaway, and here it is! Books make great gifts, don't you think? Today I want to recommend some that I think would make a fantastic gift for a fairy tale lover (or anyone who likes to read).

My sweet friend (and fantastic writer), Danyelle Leafty, is down and out with kidney stones! Yikes. I cannot even imagine how painful that must be. I want to support her and give her a boost by letting you know about the eBooks she has available. She did a guest post here a few months ago about fairy tales as part of her blog tour for her fairy tale series, The Fairy Godmother Dilemma.

The first three books in the series, Catspell, Firespell, and Applespell are now available for Kindle and Nook! These are charming, fun, delightful books. I love fairy tales and Danyelle can spin a fairy tale like no one else. Her writing style is beautiful and her characters are real and engaging people.

So I'm giving away a copy of each of the the three books! Plus, (as if that weren't good enough by itself), I'll also through in a bag of my all time favorite Christmas candy, Butterfinger Jingles. Mmmmm. Books and chocolate. You can't beat that!

Here are the rules: (And forgive me if I have a few more than usual this time.)

1. Leave a comment on this post recommending a book that would make a great Christmas gift.
2. Go here and like Danyelle's author page.*
3. Go here and like my author page (or just use the gadget at right).*
4. Promote this contest somewhere (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) 

*If you don't use Facebook, you can still enter. Instead of liking the pages, just post a link to this contest, and to Danyelle's books on Twitter, your blog or some other form of social media (even email).*

Good luck! This contest will run through Friday, Dec. 16, and I'll announce the winner on Dec. 17.

Check out these other blogs featuring Danyelle and her books!
Andrea Pearson Books 
Anne Bradshaw's Place Diana's Amazing Book Adventures - Giveaway!
Christine Fonseca, Author - Giveaway!
Roots in Myth - Giveaway!
Robin Weeks - Giveaway!
An Author Incognito
Janette Rallison's Blog - Giveaway!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

By the Wayside

I fell short of my November goal.

For the last two weeks of the month I wrote only twelve pages a week instead of the fifteen I wanted. And this week has pretty much been a writing bust. It's been crazy, but I won't bore you with the details.

But, on the bright side (there's always bright side right?), I did write 55 pages this month! That is definitely more than a typical month. So I don't really feel too bad. That's one of the great thing about goals. Even if you don't reach them, if you try, you'll get farther than you would otherwise. So, yay for me anyway!

Now December is almost upon us. I seriously love Christmas time. Really! But there is a lot of work to be done (and a lot of concerts and parties to attend--the best part!). Therefore, blogging will be falling by the wayside for a month or so. I do intend to post and to read blogs, but it's not going to be a top priority. I hope you'll all still be around come January when I'll try and get back to more regular blogging.

In the meantime, enjoy the holiday season! I might just host a little Christmas giveaway too, so watch for that...

Monday, November 21, 2011

Give Thanks

More blessings!
Thanksgiving time is upon us again. I have so much to be grateful for in every aspect of life, but this blog focuses on writing. Let me share some of my writing blessings with you.

A huge blessing this year was having Walnut Springs Press accept Defenders of the Covenant for publication. A lifelong dream come true! I can't wait to hold the book in my hands soon, and to share it with all of you.

I got to present at LTUE at BYU and at CONduit in Salt Lake this year. Both a huge thrill for me. I got to sit on panels with David Farland and other illustrious authors I've looked up to for a long time. I had a blast doing it too! And the best part is, I'll get to do it again next year.

This year, I wrote a novella, "Refuge," a short story, "Spirits Bright" (a Christmas story), and 240+ pages of a novel, "Shattered Skies." That's great output for me. I did lots of revising and critiquing too. That's the best writing blessing of all--the actual creation!

And then there is YOU. This writing community is such a blessing to me. You helped me celebrate my joys and drown my sorrows. You encouraged me in my goals and kept me going when I wanted to quit. Thank you!

What writing-related blessings are you thankful for this year?

P.S. I'm traveling for the holiday, so I won't be blogging again until next week. I hope you all have a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving (those celebrating it, anyway).

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Still Going!

The first week of my personal NaNo, I wrote only twelve pages, three short of my goal. I didn't feel too bad, since that's still better than an average week. But, I felt I could do better. So this past week I made up the difference, writing eighteen pages to get to page 230 in Shattered Skies, and on track with the fifteen page/week goal. Yay! It makes me happy when I accomplish hard things. I'm on pace so far this week to hit fifteen again. It's always hard to predict what will come up and get in the way. I'm sure you know how that is. Life, right?

I am approaching half-way on my novel, I think. It's hard for me to know for sure (not much of a plotter). My last book went on about 20K longer than I expected. But I've come this far in less than six months, which is exciting for me. It would be great to have the whole thing finished within a year. At any rate, I should be halfway through by the end of the month.

I've hit that point, though, where I start to get bogged down and wonder where I'm going with this thing. I have an idea of what I want to happen and where I want to end up, but the details feel elusive sometimes. I start to doubt my ability to even write a novel. It's kind of weird, this self-doubt. I mean, I've done it before right? I even sold one! I should be able to do it again.

This is where I just have to trust myself to get it all figured out and keep on going!

How are your NaNo goals coming? Can you believe we're halfway through already?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Fun Happenings on my Facebook Page

I don't know if you've checked out my Facebook page yet. I am trying to make it interactive and fun. A page that people will want to visit and like. Here's what I've got going on.

Monday is question day. I use the Facebook question feature to ask things like who is your favorite character from Lord of the Rings or your favorite line from Stars Wars or the Princess Bride. Things like that. It's fun to see how everybody answers. I love how when my kids answer, their friends all jump on to answer too. Fun to see what people think.

Wednesdays I post a fun link. This week was a link to a production video from The Hobbit. (Man, I can't wait for that to come out!) Or it might be an interesting article or cool picture. I try to make them sci-fi related.

Friday is my favorite, though. It's Fiction Friday! I post a link to a great sci-fi or fantasy short story. So far they've all been from Mindflights, since I know those stories are great. Pop over and check out today's posting. It's a wonderful tale. I'll post a new one each Friday.

So, come check it out. So far I'm pleased with the results. Last week, one of my top three favorite authors, Julie Czerneda, liked my page. That pretty much made my life! =) I am also planning a separate page for Defenders of the Covenant closer to its release. More to come on that later.

Do you have a Facebook page? Let me know and I'll go like it if I haven't already.

Got any other suggestions on how to make a Facebook page fun and successful? I'd love to hear them.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Lady in Waiting

Waiting, waiting, waiting. For a writer, it never ends, does it?

The release of my novel, Defenders of the Covenant, has been delayed until early next year It's a good decision for a variety of reasons. I agree with the publisher that waiting is the best thing for the book. But waiting is so hard! It's a lot like being pregnant. I may want to hold that baby in my arms right now, but I have to think about what is best for the baby.

It's got me thinking about all the interminable waiting I've done over the years since I became a writer. Fortunately, I have one surefire way of taking the pain out of waiting.

Work on something new! 

For me, it works every time. That's just what I'm doing. I wrote 12 pages last week on my new novel, Shattered Skies. It wasn't as good as the 15 I'd hoped for, but still better than an average writing week. That makes me happy.

I have come to realize that the only satisfaction I can count on in my writing is the satisfaction that comes from the act of creating. Sure being published, having readers, getting attention is nice. But those things are fickle and often fleeting. If I am happy to simply write, then I know I can always be happy.

So, I'm writing. I'm living. I'm waiting.

Some things are worth the wait!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Why Not Keep it Up?

I made my October goal. I finished page 200 in my novel on Saturday night, with two days still left in the month. Woohoo! I wrote 15 pages last week to make that happen. And since I believe in celebrating every little victory...

*throws confetti*

Yeah for me!

Now I'm inclined to just sit back and rest on October's laurels. In fact, I have shockingly little to show for the first two writing days of this week. But then there are all of you who are doing NaNoWriMo, turning on the juice, getting those amazing word counts, and I'm feeling a little ashamed of myself.

Now, I don't do NaNo. It doesn't work for me to put a bunch of words out there that fast. But, I figure, why not keep stretching myself this month like you NaNoers are? There's no reason why not!

So, my goal for National Novel Writing Month is to write 15 pages every week. That should put my to at least page 265 by the end of the month. Like I said, I'm already behind this week, so it's time to get crackin'! Wish me luck!

Monday, October 31, 2011

All the Magic in the World...

Happy Halloween, everyone! Welcome to the Darkspell Launch Spookfesta!

Today my friend Elizabeth Mueller is celebrating the release of her YA paranormal romance Darkspell! I'm so, so happy for her. To celebrate, Elizabeth is hosting the Spookfesta blogfest. I get to post a picture of what I would do if I had all the magic in the world.

Wow. What a thought. All the magic in the world? Would I end hunger? Bring world peace? Tempting possibilities. However, even if I had all the magic in the world, I still wouldn't have the wisdom to know how to bring changes like that. (I think it's up to us to do those things without magic. Just sayin'.)

So, if I had all the magic in the world to do something a little selfish, I'd conjure up one of these for my very own. And give myself the ability to fly it!

So what about you? What would you do with all the magic in the world? You can join the Spookfesta here. And be sure to check out Elizabeth's new book:

Winter Sky believes she is everything ordinary . . .until she is kissed by Alex Stormhold.
As seer of Stormhold Coven, Alex is sworn to be Winter’s protector against the darkness that hunts her. Violently thrust into a magical realm she always thought impossible, she stumbles upon a disturbing secret of her own.
Will love prove thicker than magic?

Happy Book Birthday, Elizabeth! Visit her blog and website or order the book here!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Hidden Sun--A Review

A faraway kingdom

A beautiful princess

A courageous hero

A ruthless villain

An impossible choice

The Hidden Sun by J. Lloyd Morgan, 2nd edition is a fun medieval adventure, with plenty of intrigue, action, secrets, heroes and romance. This is actually my second time to read and review this book. I reviewed the first edition a little over a year ago. You can read that here. Since then, The Hidden Sun was picked up by my publisher, Walnut Springs, and issued in a shiny new edition, newly edited, with a new cover.

So, what do I think of the second edition? Same great story, wonderful new package! In my first review, my main complaint was a large number of typos that I found distracted me from the story. That issue has been resolved, and without those distractions, I found the story even more fun to read this time around.

I love the way Morgan uses symbolism in the book. His characters are well-developed and easy to love and root for. I found I really cared about what happened to them and to their beloved kingdom of Bariwon. But the story itself is not the only thing to love about this book. I had fun noticing (on my second time through), Morgan's skillful naming of characters and places. Can you guess the secret of Bariwon and it's seven districts (Erd, Grenoa, Lewyol, Regne, Lebu, Donigi, and Teviol)? Not to mention such events as the Mortentaun and Shoginoc.

The Hidden Sun is full of surprises. It's also a good, clean read with no objectionable content. Just the sort of thing I'm looking for!

Check out J. Lloyd Morgan's website for more about the book and purchasing information. I always like to give books for Christmas, and this one would make a great gift.

*Please note: I received a free copy of the book from the publisher to review.

Monday, October 24, 2011

On My Way!

Well, I did it. In spite of being on vacation and all, I achieved my goal for last week and got to page 185, so I am on track to hit my target and reach page 200 by the end of this week. (Or by next Monday, you know, if I still need extra time.)

It's amazing to me how setting a firm goal and having a strong desire to achieve it can be so motivating. For the past couple of weeks, I had been floundering, trying to write with no ideas coming to me, wondering if this stupid book was any good at all. Then, I made up my mind. I public declared my intentions, and suddenly the ideas started flowing. I got excited about the book again. Making a commitment like that was really quite liberating.

That is the power of goals. Do you find your goals do the same for you?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Biting the Bullet

I am sad to admit that I squandered away the first half of October, getting almost no writing done. (I have various excuses for this, but they are just that--excuses.) So now I'm buckling down. I'm biting the bullet. I am here to publicly declare my goal for the remainder of October.

I will write 25 pages by the end of the month to get to page 200 in my novel.

This is totally doable if I just put my mind to it and start making writing the top priority again. I've been a little lax this month.

I know this is nothing compared to those of you who are planning for NaNoWriMo next month, but for me it's a legitimate stretch.

Do you have any goals you're working on currently? Let me know. I'd love to cheer you on!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Three Stars, Anyone?

I've seen a lot of authors bemoaning three star ratings on Goodreads lately, as if it were a bad thing. And I'm thinking, what? I thought three stars was a good rating. I routinely give three stars to books that I like, because that's what it says when you hover over three stars:

I like it. 

So, if I've offended any of my author friends with a three star rating, please rest assured I mean it as a positive review. Three stars is kind of my default rating. I don't bother rating (or even finishing) books I don't like. Four stars go to books that have something special about them that I especially like. Five stars are reserved for books destined to be my all-time favorites. Ender's Game, Lord of the Rings ... you understand.

It's so hard to boil down how you feel about a book into a number between 1 and 5. That's why I don't particularly like Goodreads, actually.

What do you think? What kind of books do you give three or four or five stars to? Would you be offended with a three star rating?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Take Yourself Seriously

When I was young and first starting out, I read some great advice in a writing book. (Sorry, I don't remember which one.) It was this:

Take yourself seriously as a writer. Tell people you are a writer. As long as you are writing, you ARE a writer. 

I took that advice to heart. I told people I was a writer. I told myself I was a writer. I worked on stuff with the hope of publishing it. I didn't try to hide it. I forced some pretty awful early stories on kind friends and family members who continued to encourage me. (You know who you are.) I made a commitment to myself that I was going to do this. I made it a priority over less important activities. I learned and practiced. I submitted and got rejected and kept submitting. Heck, getting rejected just added credibility to the fact that I was a writer. It was nine years before I got a word published, but I considered myself a writer the entire time. And, no, I didn't use the word "aspiring." I don't really like that word. Well, in this context anyway.

I still have to take myself seriously as a writer every day. I still have to commit to myself to keep going. I'm so glad that I took that advice all those years ago. If I hadn't, I probably would have quit a long time ago.

So, my advice to you is the same.

Take yourself seriously!  You are a writer.

But, you know, don't take yourself too seriously. ;)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What Readers Don't Care About


Seriously. I talk to people who like to read, but aren't writers about stuff like dystopian, thriller, steampunk, paranormal romance and all I get back are blank stares. What are you even talking about?

I asked a question on my Facebook page about which speculative fiction genres people liked best. I listed all sorts of stuff like space opera, epic fantasy, hard science fiction, etc. No one answered.

I wondered if it hadn't shown up in the newsfeed or something. My son pointed out that he didn't understand the question, or the answers (and he's a pretty smart guy). Oh. Hadn't thought of that.

Sure, people understand the big categories romance, mystery, historical, science fiction, etc. But they don't really care about the labels we writers are so anxious to give our work. They just want to read the books they like to read. At least that's been my experience.

Of course, we need to care about what genre we're writing and what the audience expectations are for that genre and stuff like that. But when it comes to interacting with readers, remember what they really want is a good book.  Don't pigeonhole yourself too much. You never know who might pick up your book and decide that's the kind of thing they like to read, even if they've never read anything like it before.

And isn't that just what we're after?

Friday, September 30, 2011

Why We Have Rules (and why you should break them.)

Any fool can make a rule, and any fool will mind it. 
~Henry David Thoreau

Haven't had a Thoreau quote for a while, and this one seemed appropriate to what I've been thinking about lately.

The Writing Rules. 

Yes, I've blogged about this before. That's okay. It's worth talking about again. I'm sure you've heard these "rules" for writing. To be verbs, adverbs, show don't tell, blah, blah, blah...

There are actually good reasons for these rules.

Avoid using "to be" verbs (is, was, etc.): Because this often indicates a passive sentence and those are, well, passive. Active is more engaging. But, really, we can't eliminate one of the most used verbs in the language now, can we?

Don't use adverbs: Because adverbs don't leave a strong impact on the reader. Unless you use them judiciously and sparingly. Then they'll have an impact.

Ditto for dialog tags other than "said."

Don't start sentences with an -ing verb: Because if you overdo it, your sentences all have the same cadence and become sing-songy. Readers will tune out. But, hey, once in a while isn't a problem.

Show, don't tell: Because telling distances the reader from the story. There are times when you need a little distance in the story. Don't show when showing would be boring or unnecessary.

This will hold true for any writing rule you've ever heard. It's important to know these rules. It's important to know why they are brought up. It's important to know when to ignore them.

We each have a unique voice.  Don't stifle yours by obsessing about the rules. Only you can decide what is right for your story. Trust yourself to know.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Armor of Light--A Review

Before I start with the review, I want to let you know that there's a little contest going on on my Facebook page. You could win your favorite candy bar! Come check it out.

I first read Karen Hoover's The Sapphire Flute, Book one of the Wolfchild Saga, in May of last year. I loved it, and I've been anxiously awaiting the second book, The Armor of Light, ever since. This month I finally got the opportunity to read it!

Ember has been accepted into the mage academy, but not without cost. She has gained a new enemy, ancient and dark, whose entire purpose is to destroy all white magic and her along with it. After nearly losing her life in a brutal attack, DeMunth is assigned her guardian, and the keystone he wears, The Armor of Light, begins the transition that will make it a true power.

Kayla has lost most everything of importance to her—the people, the prestige, and all she fought for the past ten years. With nothing left to lose, she continues her search for the birthplace of The Sapphire Flute and the Wolfchild she believes to be its player. Her journey will take her to strange, foreign, and often dangerous places, and everything she had thought to be true will be proven wrong.

In a showdown full of betrayal and heroic loss, Ember and Kayla finally meet on the battlefield, fighting a war on two fronts—against C'Tan and her people, and the mysterious enemy bent on destroying all magic—the shadow weavers.

The story is full of power, betrayal, hope, and love. The elements of the universe are coming together, and none can know who will stand in the end.

The Armor of Light is a wonderful continuation of the exciting story in that began in The Sapphire Flute. I love both of the main characters, Ember and Kayla. They each have unique strengths and weaknesses and I could relate to both of them. The book is full of action, danger and just the right amount of romance. The exciting ending took my breath away! Now I can't wait to read the third book!

If you enjoy epic fantasy, then you'll love both The Sapphire Flute and The Armor of Light.

You can read samples of both and find ordering information on Karen E. Hoover's website. I highly recommend you check them out!

*I received a free e-book in exchange for my honest review.*

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Goin' Moblie

I want to start by saying that I don't have a cell phone. Well, okay. I DO have a cell phone.A droid. But I have no phone service (and, no, I won't be getting any). It's basically a glorified pocket watch. But I can get on the internet if there is a wireless network available, and luckily at my house there is! So, I do occasionally read blogs from my phone.

I would like to suggest that if you have a blog, you enable mobile view. If you don't the blog is basically unreadable from the phone. It's super tiny. And if I enlarge it, then I have to move the page all over to read everything. Annoying.

Here's what mobile view looks like:

I wanted a sample of my blog, but this was all I could come up with. You get the idea.

Yeah, there's no sidebar, but in my opinion, it's better to have someone able to read your posts from their phone than not. If they can read you on the phone, they're much more likely to visit your blog from an actual computer than if you annoy them with an unreadable page.

To enable mobile view, just go to settings, mobile & email, and enable it. Super easy.

Your mobile readers will thank you!

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Empty Well

Holy cow! It's been a week since I last posted? How did that happen? I had it in my mind that I had posted on Wednesday last week. I didn't realize it was clear last Monday. So sorry! (That sort of shows what last week was like.)

I've been pretty much empty of blog post ideas anyway. But on the plus side, I've been chock full of great plot ideas. I think that's a pretty good trade-off.

I know there are some of you writers out there who are brimming with ideas all the time. People who have so many all at once that they can't decide what to write first.

That's great, sure isn't me. Ideas tend to come to me in a slow trickle. And sometimes I have to dig pretty deep to find any at all.

Do you ever have that problem? I know there are ideas all over. Everywhere. In every conversation, in every place you go, in everyone you meet. I see them, but the vast majority just don't speak to me.

Oh, what a joy it is to find one that does. The idea that makes me sit up and go, "Yes! I can't wait to write that!" So, I'll trade off blog post ideas for story ideas any day.

What about you? Do ideas come to you in a flood or a trickle? Any tricks for getting the flow going?

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Time to Facebook And a Time to Refrain From Facebooking

One of my Facebook friends recently posted. "Face your problems. Don't facebook your problems."

Do you agree or disagree with that sentiment? (Do you think facebook is a verb?)

I tend to agree. At least for me, in the way I use social media, I have definite boundaries about what to post and what not to post. I try to keep it positive. After all, what happens on Facebook (Twitter, etc.) stays on Facebook. Forever. For everyone to see.

It may be okay to post, "Had a bad day at work." But it's not okay to post an all caps, profanity-laden rant about how much you hate your job. At least, not in my opinion.

My own rule of thumb is that I can never, ever use social media when I am angry. True story: The day I started my Facebook account, I deactivated it a couple of hours later. I was mad. The urge to get online and vent my frustrations was almost overwhelming, and I knew what a disaster that would be. I have learned the hard way that it is easy to say things online or in email that I would never say in person. And that's not the face I want to present online. So, I don't use social media when under the influence of anger.

What about you? Do you have any social media rules you stick to?

Friday, September 9, 2011

So, What's it About?

Do you have trouble answering that question about your book? I sure do. I'm almost afraid to answer it. What if they think it sounds stupid? But...I think I'm going to have to come up with a good answer because lots of people having been asking lately. The deer-in-the-headlights look probably isn't the best thing.

I'm thinking, "Mormon youth fight to free the earth from alien invaders." Or something like that.

Anyway, if you really want to know what it's about (you do right?), here's the blurb I posted on my brand-new website.

Hannah and her friends have been warned about the danger lurking outside of their secret refuge, but some things, like friendship and freedom, are more important than staying safe.

Hannah and Derek have spent their lives hidden underground, out of the reach of the alien invaders who devastated the world years before. When McKenzie and Jeremy decide to run away, Hannah and Derek follow, determined to bring their friends home.

Once outside, the four teens soon realize they cannot return to their refuge without endangering everyone there. Captured, enslaved and separated, Hannah, Derek and McKenzie each learn the unique role they must play in liberating the Earth, because even an alien invasion cannot stop the work of God. 

 Oh, that really leaves out so much cool stuff. Like the Avenging Angels--high tech air/space strike fighters. And Toovuts, the Paiute Indian Wolf deity. And the overskins. And...well, lots of stuff. Why do blurbs always feel so inadequate?

I just want to thank you all for all the love on my last post. It really is wonderful to be able to celebrate our successes together. I just love this community. Thanks so very much!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

I Did It!

Almost two years ago, I set a Big Goal for myself. If you don't remember, it was this:

Within two years (by Nov. 2011), I will have a novel published or at least have a contract. Also, I will be presenting at a local writing conference.

Well, check this out.


Yep. That's me signing my book contract with Walnut Springs! And guess what? My sci-fi adventure novel, tentatively titled Defenders of the Covenant, will be out by November!

So, with my presenting at LTUE and CONduit, that big goal?


*throws confetti*

See? Dreams really do come true. And if I can do it, you can do it too!

(P.S. Come and check out my Author Page on Facebook! I'll have a new website coming soon too, so watch for that. And thank you, thank you, thank you for all your awesome support. I couldn't have done this without you.)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Dreams in my Pocket

I've been writing for a long time. A really long time. Like almost-half-my-life kind of long. But for many of those years, I carried my dreams around in my pocket. I knew they were there. I often reached in and held onto them. I kept them safe and cherished. But I didn't get them out. I didn't let them see the sun. I didn't share them except with a select few. There were circumstances in my life that prevented me from doing so. I didn't give them up,  but I kept them in my pocket. There, but out of sight. Waiting.

Illustration by Dana K.
Now things have changed. It's time to pull those dreams out of my pocket and set them free. And you know what? Those dear little dreams are starting to take flight. It's wonderful and scary too. What will happen to them? Where will they end up?

I don't know. I just feel so grateful that I've finally taken the chance and pulled my dreams out of my pocket and cast them into the sky.

Friday, August 26, 2011

A Different Drummer

Here's some more wisdom from Thoreau on this lovely Friday.

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. ~Henry David Thoreau

I don't know about you, but I'd far rather walk to my own special beat than anyone else's. What about you? In what ways do you step to a different drummer?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Occupational Hazards

As a writer, there are some occupational hazards you should be aware of. I'm sure you know about carpal-tunnel syndrome, eyestrain, back pain, etc. But have you considered these others?

Ink stains on all your clothes. (At least if you write by hand like me.)

Ink stains on your family's clothes, too.

Ink stains on the walls. (When you fail to notice your three-year-old sharpening a pen in the pencil sharpener right next to you.)

Other lost-track-of-the-three-year-old disasters (including, but not limited to, half an inch of water on the kitchen floor, a dozen broken eggs, toilet-flooding, etc.)

A tendency to space out in the middle of a conversation when a great plot point suddenly pops into your head.

Compulsive email checking.

Losing track of time and realizing you're ten minutes late for picking your kids up from school.

Accidentally posting on the wrong blog (like I just did).

Any others you can think of?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Qualities of a Writer Part VII: Perseverance

per·se·ver·ance[pur-suh-veer-uhns] noun-- steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement. 

I've saved the best--or most important--for last. You've probably seen the quote at the top of the blog.

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

As soon as I saw that quote in my fighter combat book, I knew I had to make it my motto. Perseverance is the hallmark of my life and in my opinion the single most essential quality for a writer at any level to possess. It is patience, courage, enthusiasm and confidence all rolled into one.

You write a book and your crit partners tear it to shreds.  
Keep on going!

You submit and submit and submit and submit and gather hundreds of rejections.  
Keep on going!

You get writers block and stop believing you can achieve anything.  
Keep on going!

You sell a book or story, but it doesn't end up being published.  
Keep on going!

You publish a book, but it gets lousy reviews.  
Keep on going!

There is never, ever any excuse to quit. And I don't mean just at writing, either. Life is amazing and fantastic and downright hard!

You can do it!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Qualities of a Writer Part VI: Confidence

con·fi·dence [kon-fi-duhns] noun -- belief in oneself and one's powers or abilities; self-confidence; self-reliance; assurance:

There are other definitions of confidence, but this is the one that best suits this post. Belief in oneself! It takes a great deal of confidence to become a writer. I know it took me a long time to find the confidence to even begin writing. I didn't know if I could do it. It seemed so far out of reach. I spent my college days writing critical essays, but fiction? I didn't have the confidence to try. Thank heavens my husband gave me the encouragement to get going, and my confidence has been growing ever since.

Believe that you have important stories to tell.

Believe that you have the ability to tell them.

Believe that others will want to share them.

It may seem like arrogance, believing that you have something to say that others will want to hear. Believing that they'll pay for the privilege of reading your words. You may have self-doubt plaguing you. But don't listen. You can do this. I know it.

Just believe it.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Qualities of a Writer Part V: Patience

pa·tience[ pey-shuhns] noun 1. the quality of being patient,  as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like. 2. an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay: 3. quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence:

Some qualities we are born with, like creativity and curiosity. Some we can nurture like enthusiasm and courage. And others must be developed like it or not. Like patience.

Most of us are not born with patience. At least I know I wasn't. I don't know if I even qualify as patient now after many years of patience-building experiences. But if you want to be a writer, patience is something you'll have to work on.

Take a look at definition #1. the quality of being patient,  as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like. It takes that kind of patience to deal with rejections, criticism, bad reviews, doubters, lack of support, setbacks, etc. etc.

Look at definition #2. an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay: It takes that kind of patience to deal with submitting and waiting FOREVER for a response. Or getting an acceptance and still waiting FOREVER for actual publication. Waiting for beta readers to get back to you, waiting for time to write. Waiting, waiting, waiting. You know what I mean.

What about definition #3? quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence: It takes that kind of patience to finish a manuscript. To revise it. And revise it again. And again. To submit it. And submit it again. And again. Writing a great book takes time. Publishing it takes time (yes, even if you self-publish it).

Patience may not be the easiest or most fun quality to develop, but it is one of the most important.

How have you developed patience? Any tips for the endless waiting game?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Qualities of a Writer Part IV: Enthusiasm

en·thu·si·asm [en-thoo-zee-az-uhm] noun -- absorbing or controlling possession of the mind by any interest or pursuit; lively interest

I think it's true of anything in life. To succeed, you must have enthusiasm. Take a look at that definition. Absorbing or controlling possession of the mind. Ever feel that way about writing? I do.

Admittedly, there are many aspects of writing that just aren't that fun. (Typing. Submitting. Rejections, anyone?) But our enthusiasm for putting words on paper (or screen) can carry us through the tedious, difficult and downright heartbreaking parts. Creating characters, devising plots, finding skillful turns of phrase to describe it all. Yeah, it makes all the un-fun stuff totally worth it.

Your enthusiasm will shine through all your work. It will make your words sparkle. It will bring the stories to life.

How do you show your enthusiasm for writing?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Qualities of a Writer Part III: Courage

cour·age [kur-ij, kuhr-] –noun 1. the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.

Writing takes a great deal of courage at every stage. I have blogged about courage before, but I think it's an important quality for a writer to cultivate. It's worth talking about again. How about this quote:  

Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway. ~John Wayne

That pretty much sums up my writing journey. I was afraid to start writing, afraid my ideas were no good, that I didn't know what I was doing, that I was doomed to failure. I was afraid to let anyone read what I had written. I was afraid to submit it. I was afraid to keep going after I'd been rejected.

But you know what? I did all those things anyway. Writing meant too much for me to give up just because it was scary.

How about you? Do you have any fears about writing? How do you find your courage?

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Hang 'Em High!

Author Tristi Pinkston is excited to announce the release of the third novel in her Secret Sisters Mysteries series.

Titled Hang ‘em High, this novel takes place on a dude ranch in Montana. When Ida Mae’s son invites her to come for a visit, of course she brings Arlette and Tansy along with her. They are expecting to spend the week looking at horses, avoiding the cows, and making amends in Ida Mae’s relationship with her son. What they don’t expect is to be stuck on the ranch in the middle of a blizzard and to be thrust headlong into the middle of a mystery.
Help Tristi celebrate her new novel in two ways. First, come participate in the two-week-long blog contest, where you can win a book nearly every single day! All the details are up on Tristi’s blog.

Second, come to the book launch!
You are invited to an
August Authorama!
Saturday, August 13th
Pioneer Book, 858 S. State, Orem
12 – 4 pm
Games, prizes, balloons, face painting,
and Dutch oven cobbler
prepared by world champion cook
will all be there to sign books.
This is one book launch event
you will not want to miss!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Qualities of a Writer Part II: Creativity

cre·a·tiv·i·ty [kree-ey-tiv-i-tee, kree-uh-] –noun. The ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination. The process by which one utilizes creative  ability.

This one's a no-brainer, right? We wouldn't want to be writers if we weren't creative. President Deiter F. Uchtdorf said:  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.

That desire to create is at the heart of writing. But creativity can wither and die if we don't give it constant care and nourishment. Some things that I do to nurture my creativity are:

Listen to good music
Read good books
Go for walks around the pond
Spend time in nature
Have fun with my family
Play piano or guitar
Sing along with the piano or guitar
Get enough sleep
Get some exercise
Pray and meditate
Study scriptures
Nurture my relationships with family, friends and God

What about you? How do you keep that creative spark alive amid all the pressures and stresses of life that threaten to suck all our creativity away?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Qualities of a Writer Part I: Curiosity

Cu·ri·os·i·ty [kyoor-ee-os-i-tee] –noun, plural -ties. The desire to learn or know about anything; inquisitiveness

We writers are a curious bunch. (And I do mean curious as in inquisitive. Not curious as in weird. That's a whole 'nother post.) At least I would contend that we need to be. Wondering about stuff is the beginning of finding a story. For my first novel alone I had to find out about fighter jet design, fighter combat, biospheres, bone cancer, Paiute Indians, and coal mining, among other things. I've researched economics, diplomacy, anthropology, black holes, space flight, polygamy, deafness and more. And I love it. I love to learn new things. I love to ask why things are the way they are. I love to wonder why people do the things they do or say the things they say. I want to know everything there is to know. And writing is a really good excuse to find things out.

What are you curious about? Do find curiosity fuels your imagination and desire to write?

I'll be blogging about other qualities I feel are important for writers to possess, so stay tuned!

Saturday, July 23, 2011


I'm back from the family reunion. Four days of hanging out with extended family. I have no idea why the topic of conflict would be on my mind. =)

Really, I did have a good time at the reunion and it was great to see family that I haven't seen in years. But there was an element of conflict. There always is, isn't there?

Conflict is inescapable in real life. It surrounds us, like it or not. Our expectations collide with someone else's. The weather refuses to cooperate. People disagree with our opinions. Tragedy strikes. The list goes on and on.

I think most of us would like to minimize the amount of conflict in our lives. But when it comes to fiction, conflict is absolutely essential. Without conflict, there is no story. It is the tension created by the conflict that keeps the reader going. Time and again I have seen stories that have little conflict or in which the conflict is too easily resolved. Boring!

You can have all types of conflict in your fiction. Relationships, wars, illness, loss, pain, loneliness, oppression... The possibilities are endless. Just make sure you've got something there and that the characters have to struggle and sacrifice in some way to resolve it.

That is the heart of a great story.

So, I recommend you try and reduce the amount of conflict in your life. But when it comes to your story, ramp it up! Make those poor characters suffer. Your reader's will thank you.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Thoreau Quote Friday

Okay, it's late on Friday, but here's today's quote:

If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.

Having spent many years moving only tentatively in the direction of my dreams, I am now a firm believer in going more confidently!

What do you think? Have you met successes unexpected in common hours? What does that mean to you?

P.S. I'm off to a family reunion out of state all next week, so I won't be around the blogosphere. I'll catch you all when I get back!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Guest Post: Why Do We Speak in Fairy Tales?

Today I am turning the blog over to the fabulous Danyelle Leafty, author of The Fairy Godmother Dilemma.

Sixteen-year-old Breena never thought anything could be worse than being forced to leave the faerie realm. Then she got stuck with a fairy godmother. But if she has to choose between the two, she’d leave the Faerie Realm over getting bossed about by a faerie with a pointed stick any day. Unfortunately, her attempt to evade her fairy godmother gives her growing pains in the form of fur, whiskers, and a tail.
Turning into a cat is the least of her worries, though. The potion wasn’t meant to bring out her inner feline, it was meant to put her to sleep. Forever. If Breena wants to make it to her Happily Ever After, she’ll have to accept that sometimes a fairy godmother really does come in handy, after all.

Sounds great, huh? Take it away Danyelle!


Why Do We Speak In Fairy Tales?

All it takes is four little words—once upon a time—and readers are immediately transported to a place where magic really does exist. Where there are dragons to be defeated, maidens to rescue, princes to enchant, and where good always triumphs because they all live happily ever after.

Fairy tales have been told for hundreds—and I’m guessing thousands—of years. Even in our modern times full of high tech gadgets and fast paced lifestyles, fairy tales are just as popular as ever.


There are a lot of theories, and this is mine. We tell fairy tales as a way of sharing the very things that make us human so we don’t drown under the weight of humanity. We also share them to remind us to hope, because sometimes the world can be a very bleak, dark place. Fairy tales remind us of the sun and give us the promise of hope. Fairy tales also remind us of the wonder we had as children when the world was a brand new place, bursting with possibilities.

G.K. Chesterton said it best, “Fairy tales do not give a child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon.” And “Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten."

Children, probably more than most, know that dragons exist on a very personal level. Some dragons are small, annoying things that gnaw on your ankles. While others are giant, fire breathing behemoths that devour their souls. In our world, sometimes the only power a child can have comes through stories.

And adults are not immune from dragons. Some dragons rage without, while others gobble us up from the insides. Stories, fairy tales, empower us—if only into realizing that we have a choice to act or not act. To offer mercy or to withhold forgiveness. To help another or lead them to an iron cage. Fairy tales remind us that not only can we choose our response, but there are consequences for our actions. Things are a little less black and white in real life, but the same concepts apply. How we choose to act creates ripples that affect those around us. Nothing we do is without consequence.

An excellent article that discusses the relevance of fairy tales today was published in the NY Times. Practicing Medicine Can Be Grimm Work is an excellent read. Fairy tales explore the darkest and brightest aspects of human nature—something we all share.

Fairy tales also remind us what it was like when we saw the world for the first time.

One of my favorite quotes comes from Chesterton again, "Fairy tales say that apples were golden only to refresh the forgotten moment when we found that they were green. They make rivers run with wine only to make us remember, for one wild moment, that they run with water."

Do you remember how fascinating everything was when you were little? How a sunrise could hold you breathless, and discovering new animals and plants delighted you?

Sometimes, in the path that leads to growing up, we forget that we are surrounded by daily miracles. Granted, they’re small as a child’s laugh or the first bloom of spring, but things don’t have to be flashing and big to be miraculous. In a world with a short attention span, where the weight of the world hangs heavy on your shoulders, and there’s never enough time to do it all, it’s good to be reminded that we are drowning in wonders. If only we have the eyes to see.

And fairy tales, as well as other stories, serve as excellent bifocals.

What about you? Do you speak in fairy tales?

(Leave a comment on this post for your chance to win a free e-book subscription to The Fairy Godmother Dilemma!)

Danyelle Leafty writes MG and YA fantasy. In her spare time, she collects dragons, talking frogs, and fairy godmothers. She can be found discussing the art of turning one's characters into various animals, painting with words, and the best ways to avoid getting eaten by dragons on her blog. Her serial novel THE FAIRY GODMOTHER DILEMMA can be found here. You can contact her here.

Don't miss the rest of the stops on the tour: