Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Time to Write

Last Wednesday we talked about
who is the boss of your writing.
And the consensus: YOU are the boss.
You always wanted to be and now you are.

Along this same subject let's talk about time.
Every once in a while "time" becomes morphed and surreal.

Days go by in hyper-drive

And wrinkles are coming on everyone's faces, but not yours (or mine)?

And before you know it the time you were always going to hold in reserve for your writing
...well it's gone.

How can you get on top of this and make time work for you?

You've heard the saying, "timing is everything."
Well, how about scheduling time to write?

Boring, but think about it.
Consistently setting aside a certain time to write might work especially if you make sure everyone knows that you've set aside those precious hours and you're not to be disturbed unless its an emergency.

And since you're the boss, you can say what's an emergency and what isn't.

Just use the ER card sparingly.

What do you think?

 Can you set aside time to write?

How about early in the morning?

Or in middle of the day?

Or even late at night?

Or maybe every Tuesday evening the husband watches the kids while you go to the library and write?

Ideally you should write every day.
But depending on where you are in life you may have to work around other people's schedules.

Just don't forget to set your writing time aside.

What do you think?
Let me know.
I love to hear how other writers tackle this issue.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Bad News for The Stone Traveler’s July Release

Last week I was in the pit of despair.

My editor called and said the printer was having trouble with the ink for the cover of The Stone Traveler, which would delay its release.

Have you seen the beautiful cover?
I mean, look at it.

Such a cover needs the ink to be right. I’m so glad my publisher is looking out for my book and wants it to look great. I asked my editor what the new release date would be, and she told me they were looking at NOVEMBER!!!

After summer is over.

After school starts.


She explained that they have another author, who is a very big name in the LDS, YA time-travel genre, and his book is being released in September, so they didn’t want to release The Stone Traveler in August, because that wouldn’t be fair to my book or to his. Plus, they wanted to give his book September and October to sell, which left November for my book…but even that is iffy.

I’m very hopeful the release of The Stone Traveler will be in November, the month to be thankful for all your blessings.

So here’s the deal, I’m cooking up a really fun blog contest to coincide with the release of my book. Something I think you’ll enjoy. AND there’s a wonderful grand prize in store that would make an awesome Christmas present.

PLEASE put The Stone Traveler on your Christmas list.
You are making a list now, right?
I have already started mine.

 AND I remind Santa of it often.

So these are all the people who are excited for the release of
The Stone Traveler
Come join the party in November. 

But stop by here any time, day or night. ;)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Book Review - Alma the Younger by H.B. Moore

It is a real challenge to write a novel around a story well-known in the scriptures because those who have read them have formed their own opinions. Most members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints know the story of Alma the Younger and that he was a rebellious son who broke from the traditions of his father and left the church. His father fasted and prayed and an angel intervened and saved his son.

I’ve often wondered why God answered this prayer in this way. Many parents have fasted and prayed over their wayward children, but I’ve never heard of an angel coming to their rescue. Why was such a dramatic intervention warranted in this case? What was so special about Alma the Younger that an angel was sent to save him?

Moore answers these questions in the preface of her book: “…what Alma the Younger was doing had such grave consequences and the potential to devastate an entire nation—thus thwarting the Lord’s plan—that extreme action was needed.” Her logic is backed up by writings of Hugh Nibley, a noted scholar of the Book of Mormon.  

After I read these explanations, I was looking forward to reading Moore’s view of this story. Here is the back liner of the book.

As night descends, a scarlet-robed man emerges from the temple and a hush falls over the waiting crowd. The hooded figure dares to preach rebellion from the very place where King Benjamin uttered his final blessings on the people of the Church. Defiling the tower with his very presence, the man who embodies evil raises a hand to silence the drums, then calls to his followers through the eerie quiet. And that’s when Alma realizes the terrible truth: this man is his son.

Alma the Younger, son of the aging high priest, once was taught by the wisdom of prophets. Now, ensnared by the wiles of strong drink and harlots, he’s a bitter dissenter determined to overthrow the Church and lead the people into new “freedoms.” But en route to one of his malicious missions with his royal henchmen, Alma is halted by an unexpected opponent: an angel of the Lord, a messenger of the very God he has sought to defame. What unfolds is a story of miraculous redemption, a story building on the poignant Book of Mormon account to show how even the vilest of sinners can be transformed by the Savior’s amazing grace.

Alma the Younger is a novel that follows a man who falls into the trap of listening to flattering words filled with half-truths to reason away his actions, of looking past what he knows is right in an effort to justify his need to rebel, and of a man who is saved by divine intervention and then devotes his life to God. As I read some passages tears clouded my vision as I felt the pain of parents worried and fearful for their beloved son and the bad decisions he’d made. I also felt Alma the Younger’s sorrow as he grieved over his sins. How I wish that every young adult tempted to leave the church could read this book, feel the pain of grieving parents, and understand the importance of maintaining their faith in God.

Alma the Younger’s journey of becoming a very wicked and an idolatrous man only to repent and become a prophet of God is truly inspiring. Moore’s view of him bought the story to life lending texture and details I had never thought of before. She had the mighty task of making the hero of the book turn into a villain and then into a hero once again.

And she did it masterfully.  

(Covenant Communications published this book. I was given a free book to review, and I did so only because I liked it.)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wednesday’s Writing Tip – You are Your Own Boss

I’m facing some deadlines, still I wanted to give you something to think about. So hang in there. This will be painless, but needs to be said.

WORK is necessary for a writer to become successful.


But have you ever heard this before:

writers hate to write,

but love to have written?

I’m not saying this applies to you or me, but there are some writers for whom this does apply. They are writers who struggle with being their own boss. They let every little distraction take them away from their work. You’ve heard the excuses: the house is dirty, weeds are in the garden, kids need my attention, husband keeps interrupting, I just don’t have time to write, and on and on it goes. Some of these are good excuses. I've used them myself, so I understand. Really I do!

But what some writers forget is...

they are the boss of their writing careers.

It is up to them to set the pace. 

It is up to them to get the product finished. 

And it is up to them to see their dreams come true…or not.

Are you going to dream about being a writer?

Or are you going to work at becoming an author?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Blow Drawing....and Some Killers, A Kid, and a Toy.

The winner of the very last Love Inspired novel in my blog drawing is Rashelle

It’s been fun watching that pile of wonderful little novels disappear over the last couple of months.

Now for a peek into my life…

Wow, last weekend was movie time for me. I haven’t gone for a while and then boomed I went to three movies over the weekend. As a writer I love watching stories come to life on the big screen. And in my defense I live a block away from the theaters, plus it was Father’s Day weekend, and okay I just plain love movies.

So this is a blog about some killers, a kid and a toy.

Friday after my writers meeting my friend, Roseann, and I went to see Killers with Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl. A bonus was Tom Selleck and Catherine O'Hara were in the film as well. You would think with a cast like that it would be a good movie…you would think.

AND there were some funny scenes. This is the story of a young woman who is recovering from being dumped by going to Nice with her parents. She meets a very handsome young man, falls in love, and they get married. But what she doesn’t know is handsome young man is a spy who has killed many people in his life. However, upon meeting her he falls in love and leaves his spy life behind. Three years later his past catches up with him. Killers pop out from everywhere. It just didn’t work for me. I loved the opening scene with Tom Selleck, Catherine O'Hara and Katherine Heigl on the plane. And watching Ashton Kutcher play at being a James Bond-type spy was entertaining, but after that the movie struggled to stay afloat.

The next movie was The Karate Kid. I went to this movie not expecting a lot. My son, Ben, grew up with the first Karate Kid. That movie inspired Ben at a time when he was having a great deal of trouble with other kids in school. He really identified with the boy in the movie. AND, in fact, Ben wanted to take karate because of The Karate Kid. He is now a second degree black belt, and he continues in the sport to this day. So I was really interested in what Ben would think of this new movie. What a wonderful surprise. The Karate Kid was great. The backdrop of China really added a new elements: meaner kids, wiser teacher, and an ending match…well, let me just say that while the “crane” kick of the first movie was awesome in the new karate kid the move he makes to win the match is a knockout! I highly recommend this movie.

Now for the toy. Can you guess? Yep, Toy Story 3. Again I didn’t think there could be a movie as good as the first two, but was I surprised. This was a fitting end to the trilogy with Andy growing up and the toys in need of someone to play with them. The detours along the way were very entertaining and just plain fun. I laughed and cried in this movie. What a wonderful surprise! This will definitely be on my Christmas DVD list as a must have.

And looking at movies through the lens of a writer it's interesting to see what makes a story really awesome. That's what I want for my awesome story.

What is your favorite storyline in a movie?

Does it inspire you to write? 

Friday, June 18, 2010

Book Review - Trapped by Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen

Have you ever been trapped? I mean, really stuck in a situation that you could see no way of escape? Nightmares are built on such scenarios, and so is the novel, Trapped,  written by Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen.

Here’s the back liner of the book…

When Emi Warrin wakes one night to find a thief in her mother’s house, she has no idea the intruder has planted a trap—a mysterious letter that will change her life forever. Lured to the Austrian Alps with Daniel, the man she loves, Emi is thrown into a perilous, mafia-like world of feuding families and a devastating curse that spans generations. As the Firstborn She—the only firstborn female in hundreds of years—only Emi can free her family from the curse that will soon afflict her as well. But for Emi to break the curse, she must delve into her family’s dark past, and she must gain the trust of those who would use her for their own evil designs.

As Emi struggles to understand her destiny as the Firstborn She, she learns that everything isn’t as it seems and that all choices have consequences. Can Emi break the curse before it’s too late?

I knew I was in for suspense just from the title, but what I didn’t expect was a wonderful layering of mythical legend twined with the plot. I loved that the curse on this family was not going to be broken by a man, but by the Firstborn She. There were times when this book even felt Gothic with the heroine going to a mansion filled with people who on the surface were nice enough, but the undercurrents of foul play churned with these characters as the plot thickened.

Hinrichsen has done a wonderful job of keeping her readers wondering what is going to happen next, who the real villain is, and who will win Emi’s heart.

I had one little nit-picky, minor thing and it was probably just me and wouldn't bother anyone else, though just in case I thought I ought to mention it. Sometimes Emi took chances that I didn't understand, such as going out in the middle of the night by herself when she knew someone was out to get her. It reminded me of watching a thriller and the heroine goes out alone and you're telling her, "Don't do it." Yet, she does it anyway because, duh, she's only human. However, that’s also why I enjoy reading books like Trapped, because I can read about characters who take chances I wouldn't, and I can armchair quarterback them.

So if you want a fun, suspenseful read pick up Trapped. You’ll be glad you did.

(Walnut Springs published this book. I received a free copy to review. But I would never allow that to cloud my judgement. I reviewed the book because I liked it.)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Bare Bones of Your Story

I’ve been doing this writing gig for quite some time. I’ve met all sorts of writers, those who enjoy the research, take a ton of notes, read all the “how to” books, and yet they never finish a novel. What’s the deal?

Perhaps it’s the bones of their stories. What are the bones?

Dwight Swain gives a good list of elements (bones) to get you going:

1. a focal character
2. a situation in which this character is involved
3. an objective Character seeks to attain
4. an opponent who strives against Character
5. a potential climactic disaster on which to hinge the resolution.

As you work on this skeletal frame, you will see that pretty soon your story will flesh out with the characterization of the players, the setting, the theme, plot and etc.

Some people use these bones to help them outline a story so they know exactly what is going to happen in each chapter. Other people find that outlining smothers their creativity.

I’m somewhere in the middle. I like to think of the opening scene, then I plan the closing scene. Once I have a good idea how I want those to work, I can sit down and write. Research fills in the holes as the story progresses.

How do you work with the “bare bones” of your story?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Blog Drawing and North and South

The lucky winner of the book drawing this week is Elizabeth Mueller.

There is only one more weekly drawing, and then I'll be out of books! The time has gone fast. So if you want to win the very last Love Inspired book that I have to give away please leave a comment, become a follower of my blog, and your name will go into the drawing.

I'm getting ready for a major contest that will happen during the entire month of August to celebrate the release of my new book, The Stone Traveler.
So stay tuned because it's going to be BIG. There will be weekly drawings and a terrific grand prize at the end of the month.

Pardon me a moment while I wish my big/little brother a VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!
I love you, bro, and hope you have a wonderful day!

Now for a peek into my life.

Once a year my daughter and I like to watch an old mini-series. Let's see if you can guess which one with some clues:

It aired in 1985.

It had a ton of movies stars who did short appearances: Elizabeth Taylor, Robert Mitchem, Gene Kelly, David Carridine, James Stewart and many others.

It had a wonderful musical score.

Fantastic costumes.

It starred one of my favorite actors Patrick Swayze.

If you guessed North and South you're right!!!

Here's the trailer.

This was a wonderful mini-series. What I liked about North and South was it gave context to the War Between the States by showing how people lived and what they thought during that time. As a writer I like to hear both sides of an issue, because there are always two sides to any argument. And no one is totally wrong or totally right. Of course, the characters in the book and mini-series are fictional, but good fiction comes from research into real-life events. Plus, as I watch I pay attention to details: what their wearing, dialogue, and setting. All of this helps my writing.

If you haven't seen North and South you might check it out. BUT be forewarned you'll be there a while. We started watching at 1:00 p.m. and stopped around 8:30 p.m. and we're still not done.Which is great because we can watch more next weekend. :0)

What movie or mini-series do you like to 

watch because it helps your writing?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Interview with Author Deanne Blackhurst

When my first book, The Forgotten Warrior, came out, I remember sitting at a signing when Deanne Blackhurst introduced herself and asked if she could post about my book on her blog. What author doesn't want publicity? Of course, I said yes.

Later I learned that Deanne was the sister of best-selling author J. Scott Savage and that she was a writer, too.

AND now her book is in stores.

I ran into Deanne at the LDStorymakers Conference and this time it was my turn to ask if I could post about her new book on my blog. She graciously said yes.


Have you always wanted to be a writer?

I’ve always loved to read and writing often goes hand in hand with that. I use to entertain my kids in high school and college writing funny stories and using my friends as the main characters. It was fun trying to incorporate their mannerisms into fantastical adventures.

When I was a senior, one of my teachers asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. When I told him a writer, he told me it was so difficult to get into that field that it was pretty much impossible, and I should look in another career direction. That sealed it; I would be a writer for sure now!

Tell us a little bit about how this book came about.

Over twenty-five years ago I served a mission in Asuncion, Paragauy. Before I left, I looked for a book that I could read that would give me a feel for what a mission might be like. I couldn’t really find anything.

After I got home and had been married for a few years, I decided to write a non-fiction book about sister missionaries. I interviewed thirty-five different return missionaries of all ages who’d served throughout the world. My husband and I worked on this book for several months, but it just didn’t seem to be the right format. So we filed the transcripts of these interviews away.

About ten years later I began working on Turning Hearts as a fictional account of a sister missionary. I used many of the stories I’d collected before. It took many years as I wrote and rewrote and then revised and rewrote, but eventually the book was finally finished.

Tell us about Turning Hearts.

The story begins with a young woman who has decided to cancel her wedding and go on a mission. For years she’s had a reoccurring dream about a family that only she can find and unite. With this goal in mind she enters the MTC. But mission is a lot harder than she anticipated, and like all of us, she has her share of personal weaknesses that she must overcome in the process.

Once she gets to the San Jose, California Mission we follow her through four companions, and her struggle with the joys and heartbreaks associated with mission life. At the end of the story, there is a twist that will completely surprise the reader.

I strove to recreate a realistic view of what it’s like to be a sister missionary. My goal was to give readers a true sense of the ups and downs associated with fulltime missionary service, and something of the Spirit that comes with it.

What inspires you and motivates you to write the very most?

I love everything about writing, from the first infatuation of a new story, to the final refining and polishing of a finished manuscript. I don’t like major revisions, but I’m willing to do them if necessary. And I love the idea that I can create a world of living breathing individuals, and then share that world with other people.

Is there an established writer you admire and emulate in your writing? Do you have a writing mentor?
I’ve always loved reading Mary Stewart and Phyllis Whitney, and I set a goal to read every book Agatha Christie ever wrote. There are a lot of LDS writers that I admire and a lot of people who help me when I’m writing a book. My brother, J Scott Savage, and I often talk on the phone or meet for lunch and toss around plot ideas.

Location and life experience can sprinkle their influence in your writing. Tell us about where you grew up and a little about where you live now - city? Suburb? Country? Farm? If you could live anywhere you want to live, where would that be?

I was born in Oakland, California and have lived in Northern California most of my growing up years. We moved to New Jersey while I was in high school. I went to BYU and then met and married my husband in San Jose, California. Since we’ve been married we’ve lived in Kentucky, Illinois and now in Pleasant Grove, Utah.

Though I’ve always lived in suburban areas, I dream of living in the country on a piece of land big enough to have some animals and maybe a horse.

Bring us into your home and set the scene for us when you are writing. What does it look like? On the couch, laptop, desk? Music? Lighting, handwriting?

Haha. Okay, I’m sitting at the computer desk in my bedroom which is right off the kitchen. Currently my three sons are in the kitchen playing an on-line role playing game on three different computers and talking to each other at the same time about the monsters they are killing and the quests they are perusing. My fourteen year old daughter is playing with my two year old grandson here in the bedroom with me, while Elmo sings about the joy of pets, in the background. My daughter is texting to see how her baby is doing, and I’m sipping pink lemonade and trying to keep my train of thought. This is pretty typical of my writing environment.

Do you watch television or movies? If so, what are your favorites? Do they inspire your writing?

I watch way too much TV. I like mysteries like Castle, the Mentalist and Leverage. I like chick flicks, Disney movies and old black and white thrillers. I think everything a writer is exposed to influences their writing to some degree. My next book is a mystery so evidently there is a correlation.

How has being published changed your life?

I’m not sure that it has. I thought it would, you know like, well once I’m published then it won’t be as hard to write, or people will know who I am, or I’ll suddenly become organized and neat. It hasn’t happened.

But there is a feeling of legitimacy that does come with being published. I’m not sure that it should, because there are lots of great writers who still haven’t published anything yet, and there are published books that aren’t that good. For me, I think it opens doors to service opportunities. I love helping new writers learn the ropes and get up the nerve to try publishing their writing.

Thanks for the interview Deanne. You can learn more about Deanne at her website Dream Big.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Only you can answer that question. But before you do let’s go over a few things. You don’t want to make a snap decision.

To be a writer you must feel! Wait a minute…that was too easy. Everyone has feelings. But can everyone infuse their characters with emotion?

 Stories are made up of characters full of bubbling emotion that reaches out and draws readers into their world. You, as the writer, must feel to infuse your characters with emotion. And to be successful you have to be excited about writing.

Sometimes it is dog-gone hard to be excited about writing because writing is not for sissies. There are going to be days of rejections, days when you feel as though your writer’s group stabbed your story to death, and days of bad reviews. But hang on because if you have a passion for writing that will see you through tough days. And look at it this way, you’re feeling and this is good for your writing. Bottle up all those emotions and pour them into your characters. Though, don’t forget to be honest.

What do I mean by that? Don’t fake emotions. Let your inner-self show in your writing. Your readers can spot a fake a mile away. Simply put, don’t write what you don’t believe.  Be yourself.

Also, while you're being honest think about this. You may idolize Mary Higgins Clark, but you can’t write like her. You might be able to pull it off for a little while, but eventurally the true writer will come through and the fraud will be discovered. Only Mary can write like Mary. Only you can write your story.  But you’ve got to want it badly enough to hone your craft.

To hone your craft you should WRITE EVERY DAY!!!

In a nutshell if you can feel, be excited,  be honest, and hone your craft you just might have what it takes to be a writer.

I’m sure there’s something I’ve missed.

What would you add to this list?    

Monday, June 7, 2010


The winner of the book drawing this week is Stephanie at Hatshepsut: The Writing of a Novel.

I only have two books left so there’s only two more weeks for your chance to win a Love Inspired book. Just leave a comment and become a follower on my blog and your name will go into the drawing.

Now for a peek into my life.

I'm pretty tired as I write this blog and let me tell you why. Remember a couple of weeks ago I blogged about it snowing here on May 24th. Well, it put down a lot of snow on the Wasatch Mountains. In fact, as of a week ago they were still skiing at Snowbird Ski Resort.

It has warmed up considerably since the snow fell. And as a result the creeks are more like rivers right now, which is very dangerous. I serve as the Relief Society President in the 3rd Branch, which is an assisted living center. Right now there are over 80 residents living there. By the side of the care center is Cottonwood Creek. The residents can watch the water run by from an outside sitting area or even from the dinning room's big windows. Yesterday afternoon around 1:00 p.m. I received a call from the branch president that the creek was rising and they needed people to come down to fill sandbags. My husband and I quickly changed and went to the center. As the hours went by more and more people showed up to help. (Below is a picture of my husband and President Gunn working on sandbags.)

The poor elderly residents didn’t quite know what to think: some were scared, some were praying, some thought it was great excitement. The fire department was there. Local law enforcement came. The mayor stopped by around 10:30 p.m.

The water kept rising and rising and the center was afraid they would have to evacuate the building if the creek escaped its banks and came into the center. Then to make matters worse, of course, it rained, but people still sand bagged through it all. When the sandbags were filled most of the people left around midnight. The water crested shortly after that and the center is still dry inside. (Below is my son-in-law, Greg, and my grandson, William, filling sandbags in the rain.)

Though we’re still not out of the water (pun yes, but it applies) yet. The runoff continues, the weather is warming, and the creek is still madly flowing. If you think of it in the next couple of days, say a little prayer for the people at the care center and those working to keep them safe. Thanks!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Interview with Lisa Mangum author of The Golden Spiral

Years ago I met Lisa Mangum. I was in a writers group with her mother, LaRene Gaunt, and every once in a while we would meet at LaRene's home. So I met Lisa before she became a famous author. But as I said, that was years ago.

We ran into each other at the LDStorymakers Conference, and I asked if she'd like to be interviewed for my blog. I hope you enjoy this little peek into her life.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Yes, I have. My mom is a writer so I grew up surrounded by books and words. I even remember being in high school and setting a goal to be a published writer before I graduated. While that didn’t happen, writing and stories have always been a focus for my life. During college, my focus shifted a little more to the editing side than the writing side. And about five years ago, my friends and I started a writing group and that really helped motivate me to write more seriously and set deadlines for my work.

Tell us a little about your new book.
The Golden Spiral is my new book; it’s book two in a trilogy. The first book in the series is The Hourglass Door. The story follows the relationship between Abby and Dante. Abby is a senior in high school and her life is going according to plan: good friends, good future. And then foreign-exchange student Dante appears in her life; he is handsome and mysterious and guarding a centuries-old secret. As Abby learns more about Dante and his secret, she finds herself confronted by danger at every turn. Dante has come through a time machine built by Leonardo da Vinci, and he is not the only one who has experienced the journey. Zo, Tony, and V have come to the present day as well, and they are looking for a way home. Whatever it takes.

In book two, The Golden Spiral, it is up to Abby to find a way to rebuild the time machine and save Dante from certain destruction. At the same time, Zo has found a way to rewrite history and change elements and events in Abby’s life. Will she be able to accomplish her goal and be reunited with Dante? Or will Zo unravel her life first?

 Tell us about your other books.
My only other published book is The Hourglass Door, but I have some new ideas for other YA titles as well: a contemporary YA novel and a fantasy story about fairies. I’m really excited to work on them and tell some new stories.

What inspires you and motivates you to write the very most?
I really love it when a story takes hold of me and won’t let go. I enjoy seeing the story take shape in my head and knowing I’m the one who can bring it life.

Is there an established writer you admire and emulate in your writing? Do you have a writing mentor?
I have a long list of authors I admire. I love Stephen King, Margaret Atwood, Tad Williams, Neil Gaiman, Jennifer Roberson, Scott Westerfeld, Jane Yolen . . . the list goes on and on. I also love finding new authors I’ve never heard of and reading something new.

I don’t have a “writing mentor,” but I do have a writing group I meet with every couple of weeks. I really like having a group of people to help me with my writing, give me honest feedback, and make suggestions on story and character. And being able to give the other people in my group feedback and suggestions has helped me look at my own writing more objectively and critically.

Location and life experience can sprinkle their influence in your writing. Tell us about where you grew up and a little about where you live now. City? Suburb? Country? Farm? If you could live anywhere you want to live, where would that be?
I was born in Indiana, but I grew up in Sandy, Utah. It was a great place to grow up—a suburban neighborhood with lots of friends nearby. I lived within walking distance of my junior high and a couple miles away from my high school. In fact, my husband, Tracy, grew up about five miles away from me.

If I could live anywhere, where would that be? I like living where there are the different seasons, though winter is my least-favorite season. (I’m not a big fan of the cold.) In Golden Spiral, Dante tells Abby, “Home is wherever you are.” That’s how I feel when I’m with Tracy—when we’re together, we’re home.

Bring us into your home and set the scene for us when you are writing. What does it look like? On the couch, laptop, desk? Music? Lightning, handwriting?
My favorite place to write is on the couch in my family room, with my MacBook Pro laptop plugged in, my iPod on shuffle, and my cat asleep on my legs. I really like working with music on in the background; sometimes it helps me set the scene or mood of the story if I have a particular song playing in my head. And working on a laptop is helpful because I often take my computer out and about when I’m writing. While writing Golden Spiral I wrote on the Trax train during my commute to work as well as at local libraries. I’ve also written by hand on occasion when I didn’t have my computer handy and the story had to be written.

Do you watch television or movies? If so, what are your favorites? Do they inspire your writing?
I love movies! My tastes vary wildly—from Disney/Pixar animated movies to documentaries to foreign films. Action, comedies, dramas. Some of my favorite TV shows include Lost, The Big Bang Theory, and Chuck; I’m also a big fan of the Food Network. There is something about watching people cook beautiful food that is oddly soothing.

How has being published changed your life?
I’m a lot busier than I’d thought I’d be!  I’ve been surprised at how much I have enjoyed going out to bookstores and schools to talk to people and tell them about my book. Growing up, I was painfully shy, so being able to stand up in front of a crowd of a couple hundred people and talking for 45 minutes is a big deal for me. It’s also been a joy to get e-mails from people who have contacted me or found me on Facebook to tell me how much they have enjoyed my stories.

Do you have any books signings, tours, or special events planned to promote your book that readers might be interested in attending? If so, when and where? Also tell about your blog and website.
I do have several book signings lined up for  June; all the dates are posted on my Web site: I haven’t been as diligent a blogger as I probably ought to be, but you can follow my meager attempts at I also have an incredible opportunity starting May 18: Wal-Mart will be carrying the paperback edition of The Hourglass Door and the hardback edition of The Golden Spiral in 2,300 of their stores across the country. I’m thrilled to know that my books will be featured in so many stores; it’s quite a vote of confidence for my books.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Stone Traveler Book Cover!!!

Here it is...the cover of my new book, The Stone Traveler.

Isn't it fantastic?

I love the crystal-like stone right in the middle of the word, stone.

And the jaguar, purrrrfect!

So this leads me to the topic of today: book covers.

Does the author help with the cover? The answer But it also depends. If the author is a bestseller he/she might be able to request something for the cover, but from what I've experienced and from what I've heard from other authors, we have very little to do with the cover. It's turned over to the design department of the publishing house. What the writer can do is provide a plot and character synopsis for the art department, and also if possible, send in pictures that helped influence your story. But after that most generally the matter is taken out of the author's hands.

Does a cover help sell the book? Definitely. A cover can attract readers to the book and get them to pick it up, but the first few pages of the actual novel is what will make the sell.

Now it's your turn.

Do you have questions about book covers?

What do you think of my cover?

Would it make you pick up the novel?


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