Sunday, July 31, 2011

Tristi Pinkston's New Book Celebration

Today I'm posting for my friend and fellow author Tristi Pinkston. She 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!

Tristi knows how to have fun. I hope you check out her blog and book launch.


Friday, July 29, 2011

Kat's Fav Things . . .

I came across this picture on and thought, why not use it? In my younger days, some people called me Kat, and I do have favorite things.

Since it says "things" I'm not going to list people. And I'm not going to list my books. See them over there in the right sidebar. They are my babies, and it's a given that they are part of my favorite things.

Here are some of my other favorite things in no particular order . . .

My computer. I spend more time with my computer than anyone or anything else.

My bread mixer. This looks a lot like my mixer. I make smoothies, bread, cookies, sauce and etc. You name it and this mixer delivers. (No, I'm not being paid to say this.)

My car. Right now I drive a Ford Explorer that looks just like this one. I like it because I'm higher off the ground and I feel safe. (Again, I'm not being paid to say it.)

My red shoes. I know it's weird to like shoes, but I just love them.

My black guitar. I don't play it very often, almost never, but I love to pull it out every once in a while.

What's some of your favorite things?


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Every Writer Needs Conflict

Interesting picture. See how everyone is conforming until you get to the two fighting. That's what catches your eye. There's conflict there. And people are drawn to conflict.

I hate conflict in my life. When Hubby and I have a disagreement, my world seems out of kilter. Or when I know I've said something that may have hurt someones feelings, I feel horrible and can't rest until I've made amends. 

But there is a place where every writer needs conflict . . . in the books they write.

Every good book is filled with conflict. Conflict captures attention and drives the story. The strength of a novel depends upon the strength of conflict. And it can't be a mere disagreement. I'm talking deep conflict that is layered, can't be avoided, and is inescapable.

Layered conflict . . .
What do I mean by this? Not only do your characters need to have inner conflict (the demons that they fight within), but outer conflict (what's happening beyond their control). A simple example of this is Harry Potter. Poor Harry fought inner conflict. He wrestled with self-esteem all the time. Much of his young life he felt alone and inferior to others. What fed his inner conflict? His aunt and uncle treated him horribly. The kid slept beneath the stairwell and had to cook and clean for them. That was definitely out of his control and an outer conflict he battled against whenever he could. The inner and outer conflict was layered. You can still layer on more conflict. just make sure you add a dash of hope in between.

Conflict that can't be avoided . . .
Again I'm going to use Harry. Hogwarts was a blessing for Harry because he found Hermione and Ron, which gave him some relief, however his conflict was also heightened because more and more Voldemort crept into Harry's mind turning up his inner conflict. Plus, Harry's outer conflicts grew more and more intense: finding the sorcerer's stone, the chamber of secrets, and on and on. No matter where he lived or how hard it tried, Harry could not avoid conflict.

Inescapable conflict . . .
Harry couldn't run from conflict because it followed. He couldn't hide from it, because it found him. And when he finally realized he couldn't escape fighting Voldemort, he bravely faced him. The entire series of Harry Potter worked toward this inescapable moment.

J.K. Rowling knew the power of conflict and how it fed her story.

I may not like conflict in my personal life, but I have to write it in my stories for them to thrive.

Think about the stories that you have liked the most. What inner conflict did the main characters fight? What outer conflict did they contend with? Was conflict layered, unavoidable, and inescapable?


Monday, July 25, 2011

Heroes with Heart

I love, love, love reading books or watching movies that have heroes with heart. What do I mean by that? Hang on and I'll explain. Saturday night I saw the movie Captain America. In case you're like me and haven't read a lot of comic books, let me share with you what I found out about this wonderful hero.

Captain America first appeared in comic books way back in 1941. Joe Simon came up with the idea for this character. At first he was going to name him Super American, but Simon wasn't happy with the name (nice to know other authors struggle with names). There weren't a lot of captains in comics, so he decided on Captain America.

The first comic featuring Captain America hit the shelves before Pearl Harbor. It showed Captain America punching Adolf Hitler. Over a million copies sold. The public overwhelmingly loved this new hero. I think I know why.

Steve Rogers (Captain America) is a hero with heart. As the movie opens, Rogers is trying to enlist in the army. The doctor gives him a 4F rating because of asthma and a load of other ailments. But that doesn't stop Rogers from yearning to serve. He is determined to do what he feels is right. So, of course, the audience pulls for him. While trying to enlist again, Rogers finds a friend in Dr. Josef Reinstein, who sees the goodness in Rogers. Reinstein believes that Rogers would make a great candidate for his new serum that will turn an ordinary soldier into a super-soldier. The serum turns Rogers into a muscular man who makes women swoon, but--and this is very important--it is Rogers' strong belief in doing what's right for the right reason and against incredible odds that makes him a hero with heart. We already liked him before he went through the transformation. We liked him because he gives us hope. We liked him because we saw in him what we want to become--brave and couragous.

Joe Simon has shown how to write a hero with heart. First give him/her flaws, then strengthen them by showing how they overcome those flaws by making wise choices for the right reasons.

Easy, right? :/

How do you write heroes with heart?

I thought you might be interested in learning more about this movie so here's the trailer. 


Friday, July 22, 2011

Lifelong Friends

One of my favorite things about summer are the reunions that take place. Last Saturday I traveled to my hometown of Rigby, Idaho to attend my high school class reunion. What a blast! In the picture I'm standing between two of my lifelong friends: Cozette (Peterson) Romney and Diana (Hughes) Barney.

These two had a great impact on my life. Not only were Cozy(that's what I always called Cozette) and Diana very good friends of mine, but their parents had a huge influence on me as well. Cozy's  father taught my husband about the LDS Church, which enabled Hubby and I to marry in the temple. And when Cozy and her parents moved, Diana and her parents moved into Cozy's old house. Diana's mother became my Young Women's leader. I learned a great deal from her. 

Cozy, Diana, and I didn't do a lot together. However at different times I...

went to school with both of them . . .

played baseball with both of them . . .

and even went to camping with them.

We always had a good time.

I'm so grateful for these lifelong friends. 

Do you have friends who have made a great impact on your life?


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Finding Characters in Unusual Places

Last Thursday I had the opportunity to go downtown Salt Lake City for jury duty. I've never done this before. What a great adventure! 

I was one of eighteen people summoned that day. Out of eighteen only four would serve on the jury. I had always thought twelve people were needed, but in Utah the law does not state the number of people that makes up a jury, so for this case they were using four. 

After filling out forms, watching a video about serving, and waiting for a couple of hours, we were ushered into the courtroom. We were sworn in and then the judge asked all of us a number of questions. 

I found the process very interesting and a great place to people watch for future stories. (Aren't the best characters where you least expect them?) There were wonderful personalities all around me: from the jury pool, to the judge, and even the clerk. They weren't at all the cardboard characters you see on TV courtroom dramas. Real life is much more intriguing. I found an awesome hero: tall, muscular ex-marine who was respectful of those in authority, and yet had a gentle manner. I also found a great secondary character: female student who couldn't drive a car, drank cup after cup of coffee and had the innocent face of a waif. Oh, did I mention the attorneys? and the officer testifying? and ... well you get my drift. The room was packed with wonderful traits to give characters.

After the judge finished asking us questions, the prosecutor and the defense attorney chose the four to serve. 

I was not chosen. I was glad and sad at the same time. I would have loved to have stayed and gained more insight of the court system and also discover more interesting characters for future stories.

Where have you found some of the characters that people your books? Where is your favorite place to people watch?


Monday, July 18, 2011

How to Handle Unexpected Rewrites in a Story

Last week we put new carpeting in our entire house. What a hassle. We had to move almost everything into the garage. We asked the gal at the carpet place if the carpet layers would do the upstairs first. She said yes and that they would start in the room farthest from the front door. So we thought we had it made. We moved all the books (twenty huge boxes at last count), bookcases, my office, filing cabinets, nightstands, small couches and etc. to the garage, but we put some things in the living room. We thought installing new carpeting would take two days and that the carpet layers would finished with the upstairs the first day and that would allow us time that night to move everything from the living room. 

Well, here's the deal. The carpet layers arrived and said they could have the entire house done by 2:00 in the afternoon. Oh boy did we do the hustle getting everything out of the house. The new carpet is beautiful, but brother did we have to scramble. As I have thought back on the experience, I realize that even though I can do everything I can to prepare for a major event, the unexpected can still happen.

Which brings me to unexpected rewrites in a story. You can write your story and think your baby is perfect but then the unexpected happens.  For instance, when I first plotted River Whispers I pretty much knew who the killer was. I wrote the book and felt good about it. But when I sent the book to readers, a friend told me that she was very disappointed in learning who the real killer was. I was  shocked. However, I thought about what she'd said and realized she was right. I had to change the killer. 

Now a change such as that is a major overhaul, like getting new carpeting. I had to take out all the old to make room for all the new. AND I had to do it so the story felt natural and the reader would be satisfied. To do this a writer needs to revamp character background, use logic, and be thorough.

Revamp character background . . .
For my villain to change I had to think which character could have suffered from a severe past that could have scarred them so badly that when pushed they might be capable of doing something unthinkable. I looked at each possible suspect and reworked several backgrounds before something finally gelled, and I had my new villain.

Logic . . .
To change my villain I couldn't have the character act out of the perimeters I'd set. I had to be logical and add some character flaws throughout the entire book, leaving a  trail of little things that when added together would lead to who the villain was. I found it fun to go in to some scenes and plant new hints.

Thorough . . .
I only know of one way to be thorough and that's to read the entire book several times. First to find the spots that need to be changed. Then to make certain the changes flow naturally. I read that book at least two or three times after I made the big change.

Unexpected rewrites to a story can be a lot of work, but when it's finished it should be clean and soft like a new carpet. :)

Have you ever had to go in and make changes to your story that turned into a major rewrite? What did you learn from the experience?


Monday, July 11, 2011

Crazy Busy

The winners of the "Spreading the Joy" contest are: Charlene Raddon and Nikki Trionfo.

Thank you for posting reviews of River Whispers. I sincerely appreciate it.

I have a lot going on this week.

My home feels as though it's been tipped upside down. We're having new carpet installed starting Monday. This means everything has to come out of the house. I've been packing boxes and running up and down stairs like crazy. Who knew I had so many books? Well, I had some idea. And, you know what? I'm proud of the books I've collected over the years. As I packed one treasured story after another I told my daughter a little about them. However, there were some that I couldn't remember the actual story just that I liked the book. What's with that? I realized that I need to revisit some of my old friends and read their stories once again.

Another thing that will keep me busy this week is I have jury duty. In the middle of all the craziness with packing and such, I need to call the courthouse every night to see if I need to make the trip downtown and serve on a jury. I think it might be interesting to see the workings of our judicial system up close.

And then the other thing going on . . . I have my 40th class reunion Saturday in Idaho. I can hardly believe I've been out of Rigby High School over 40 years. Makes me sound so old. After hauling all those boxes of books to the garage my back feels old, but my mind is still young. I can't wait to see my friends.

The long and short of it is, I will only post one blog this week. But I'll be back Monday, and I'm hopeful to have pictures of my beautiful new carpet, a trip downtown to the Salt Lake County courthouse, and of course, photos of my reunion.

Have a wonderful week!!!


Friday, July 8, 2011

Christmas in July

Wednesday I wrote about embracing summertime. So what's the deal with this post? 

I had a "Christmas in July" moment yesterday.
Every Christmas my publisher releases a book of short, true-life Christmas stories. My editor emailed and told me that my little story will be part of this year's book. I'm thrilled.

I love writing Christmas stories, but in July? Well, yes. In fact the new YA time travel I finished the end of June takes place at Christmastime. Some authors don't care to write Christmas stories because they are only in stores for three maybe four months. Some publishers don't like to do them either. They want stories that aren't controlled by the calendar, which is really a shame.

Holiday stories may have a very short shelf life, but if they're done right people will remember them year after year. For instance A Christmas Carol, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, The Little Match Girl, The Gift of the Magi, An Angel on Main Street (I had to include it) and I could go on and on, but all of these stories are memorable and have touched people's hearts. Isn't that what writers want to do--write stories that touch the heart?

For me, Christmas is magical and brings to mind white lacy flakes floating down from the heavens, singing beloved carols, and giving gifts to those we cherish. These are moments that contribute to the holiday and need to be written about. 

Which reminds me of another Christmas story I started a few years back. The opening scene has a father standing in the Santa line with his twins. One isn't feeling well and the other has to go to the bathroom when all at once . . . I think I'll open that file and visit those characters once again. 

Christmas in July? Why not? 

Okay, so forget it's July and tell me what are some of your favorite Christmas stories? 


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Embracing Summertime and Writing

There are only three days left in my Spreading the Joy Contest. Check it out!

Do you embrace summertime?

Do you enjoy having the kidlets home from school?

Or fixing dinner on the grill?

(I had to throw this picture in.)

Sometimes summer has been a struggle for me to write. But I remember one summer, Hubby and I took our little family to the Oregon coast. Since we're inlanders, this was a real treat. We walked on the beach, fished for crabs, and visited all the tourists traps. During that trip I grabbed fliers at every stop, purchased the local newspaper, and took a ton of pictures. While I didn't get a lot of writing done, I gathered enough information to fill a file drawer. AND later when the time was right, I was able to write a book set on the Oregon coast. 

So even though I wasn't actually writing on that trip, I realized whether I'm writing or researching I'm still working on a story. 

It's all good. 

Look at the picture below. This beach doesn't have a single footprint. The sandals are there waiting for you to put them on. Summertime is like this picture . . . it is waiting for you to embrace the moment, gather information, and watch the sunsets.

How do you embrace summer? How do you mix writing with enjoying the long, lazy days of summertime?


Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July!!!

Happy 4th of July!

I'm taking a little break.

My blog is going through a major remodel. Hang on. It's just about done.



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