Monday, January 31, 2011

Let's Dance!!!

Do you ever become so wrapped in writing and the busyness of life that sometimes you forget to just have fun? Well, that's how it's been around here lately. 

But last weekend Hubby and I attended the second reception for my nephew and this time there was room to dance. And boy, did it feel good. Here I am dancing with my favorite partner my grandson, Jonathan. Isn't he the cutest?

You can't see that he's pulling my hair, but other than that he was a great dancing partner. Light on his feet and always a smile on his face.


We had a wonderful time!

Wait a minute. I started at the end of this awesome adventure. Let's start at the beginning.


The drive to Idaho was mostly foggy, but we hit this patch of blue sky as we passed Pocatello. Clouds were crawling over the mountain. One word describes the scene, beautiful! 


After several stops along the way, we made it to the reception. Here's a picture of the bride and groom with their parents.


My sister, Jo Lynn, came to the reception. You're going to hear more about her as the release of my book, River Whispers, draws near. She helped inspire me to write the book. She's taken me fishing, camping, on cattle drives, to rodeos, and etc. In the picture, going left to right: Jonathan, me, Jo, Julie (my sister's daughter), and Stan, Julie's husband.


After visiting and eating we danced. Such fun! 

Here's the bride and groom, Craig and Kassie.

This is the mother of the groom, Tonya, dancing with her son.
 
This is the father of the groom, Steve, dancing with the bride.


 This is my daughter, Kristina, dancing with her husband, Greg. (Kris, what are you looking at?)

This is my brother, Bill, with his wife, LaRae.
This is Hubby and me dancing the night away.
I learned a lesson. When life gets busy, DANCE!!!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

So Whose Viewpoint Is It Anyway?

As we drove to Montana last week, I realized my point of view of our journey was much different from Hubby's. I was merely a passenger, while he was driving. Yes, there were times that I feared we might end up in the gutter with the other cars, but I'm sure Hubby was much more concerned about skidding off the road. Not only was he worried about hurting me, but the car and others on the highway. If I were to write that scene in a book, I'd make my protagonist my husband because he had the most stress and most to lose, while I was just a passenger.


As you sit down to write your book, ask yourself:


Who is watching?
Why are they watching?
And who has the most to learn?


Viewpoint, as I'm sure you already know, is the place from which your reader views your story. As a refresher let's make sure you have a firm grasp of viewpoint and which one you feel most comfortable writing.


How many viewpoints are there? Quite a few and when you add tense to the equation we could be here for quite a while. But I'm only going to dwell on three viewpoints: first person, third person and omniscient.


First person...
In this viewpoint the reader only sees the world through the main character. First person is used a great deal and there's good reason for that. Once you're locked into this viewpoint you're not likely to slip into another character's because everything is seen, heard, and felt through you.


Example:  I could smell the thief coming. The scent of spoiled milk churned my stomach.


Third person ...
This viewpoint takes a step away from the main character, but is widely used. You  have to be especially careful of pronouns because clarity can become an issue. And there is also the danger of head-hopping. You know what I mean, switching pov in the middle of a scene. Again clarity is most important. You may have read some stories where within a scene pov is switched. I know several romance authors who are quite comfortable head hopping, but I don't recommend it.


Example:   He could smell the thief coming for the scent of spoiled milk roiled in the air.


Omniscient ...
Think of this viewpoint as a wide lens that sees everything. It's not used a lot because immediacy is yet another step away from the reader. Think of this point of view as a movie camera. A camera doesn't think or feel, which makes it difficult for books written in this pov to convey emotion because they can't dig down into the inner psyche of characters and show layers of thought. I'm not saying it can't be done, because it can. Just know that having clarity and showing emotion will be an uphill challenge.


Example:  A smelly thief ran down the alley.


Which viewpoint are you most comfortable writing?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Slip-Sliding Away




You'll never guess where I was last weekend. 
I was actually several places.
The picture above was taken at 
Mac's Inn in Idaho. 
How cold was it?
So cold that in the rest room
there was a sign over the sink that read, 
"Please leave the water running."




And look at these icy and snow-packed roads! 
Slip-sliding away doesn't really describe it. 
Hubby was driving. 
I didn't dare have him stop, so 
I took this picture through the windshield. 

We were on our way to Billings, Montana
for the wedding of my nephew. 
The drive was pretty dicey.
North of Livingston, we ran into high winds 
and drifting snow the likes of which 
I've never seen before. 
Snow snaked and swirled across 
the highway like angry dust devils. 
At times, it was a total white-out.
Talk about white-knuckled driving.

The freeway closed
because so many cars slid off the road.

Luckily, we made it to Billings in one piece.
On the big day, the sun was shining.

The wedding was beautiful. 

Here's the happy couple, Craig and Kassie,
with my brother, Steve, and his wife, Tonya.


While in Billings, I stopped at Every Needful Thing, where they carry my books. I met the owner/manager Andrea Ayers. She has a wonderful store. I promised if I ever came back to Billings that I would let her know ahead of time to schedule a signing.


Other family members came to the reception.


This is TJ and his wife, Libbie. 
Such a cute family!

We left the next day. 
The forecast warned of a 70% chance of snow, 
but we were lucky and missed it. 


Here's a pic of Island Park on our way home. 
Beautiful scenery!!! 






So, what wonderful adventure did you have last weekend?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Beginnings . . . How to Hook Your Reader?

Question Mark Pictures, Images and Photos


As you read the following opening sentences to some great novels, don't just wonder who wrote them, but think of other questions that come to mind.



""Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again."


"It is truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."


"The man was still smoldering when we came upon his body."


"Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much."


"When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold."


Okay . . . did you come up with other questions besides the obvious ones of who wrote them? If not, read them again. I'll wait.
 
After your second reading, weren't you curious to know what had gone on before?

For instance in the first sentence you might wonder, why was this character dreaming about Manderley? 

In the next sentence you might ask, why does the narrator think a single man in possession of a good fortune wants a wife? 

The next, why was the man smoldering? 

And  the next, why were the Dursley's proud that they were normal?

Last, but not least, why was it important that the other side of the bed was cold?

All of these authors started their novels in the middle of something. This forms questions in the reader's mind. But that's not all a good opening does. A beginning needs to do three things:
  • clue the reader what kind of story this is going to be
  •  introduce and characterize the main character
  • hook the reader.
The first page of your novel has only a few seconds to sell the book, so you need to set the scene, show your character, and hook the reader fast. There's no better way to do all three than to plant your characters in the middle of a situation. 

 It's not easy. Many writers get stuck on that opening page and can hardly break away from it. If your opening is giving you fits, leave it for a while. Continue to write your book. You might want to even finish your manuscript, then go back and write the first page again. This way you can tie the beginning directly to the climax, which is a great thing to do!
 
In case you're wondering who wrote which sentences and the titles of their books, here they are.

"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again." --Rebecca by Daphine DuMaurier

"It is truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." --Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

"The man was still smoldering when we came upon his body." --Master by Toni Sorenson

"Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much." --Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling

"When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold." --The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

So, what are some opening sentences to your favorite novels that really hooked you?



Monday, January 17, 2011

Are You What You Write?

Have you ever watched the cable show What Not to Wear

It's a show where the couple above teaches others what clothes looks good on them. On every show that I've watched, they've told people over and over that how they dress projects an image of who they are to the world. So . . . if you dress sloppy, people see you as someone who doesn't care about appearance. This may ripple into other areas of your life. People might think you don't care about your work, your family, and etc.

Yikes! 

So this made me wonder . . . have you ever thought about how people see you through the written word? You know what I mean, your blogs, short stories, novels, even emails--every written word posted, published or emailed must say something about you. 


If your blog posts are constantly about how depressed you feel others might see you like this:

If your short stories are dark your image might look like this:




If your emails are in ALL CAPS, PEOPLE MAY SEE YOU  LIKE THIS:



And novels . . . what do they say about the writers?


Thrillers



Romance

Historical

In this modern day and age, you would think people could separate writers from what they write. 

What do you think? Do you think readers form opinions about writers by the books they write?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Redefine, Recommit, and Reconsider.

I had planned to talk with you about the beginning of your book. However, a comment left last week made me take a detour. Don't worry, we'll discuss how to begin a book next week. 

One person wrote that while she could say yes to all the questions about whether she had a good idea for a book, she was still having a hard time finishing her novel.



I want her to know that this is not an uncommon problem. I have a lot of friends who are in the same place, in fact, they've been there for many years. I've often wondered what could be done. Perhaps it has to do with the dream of becoming a writer and how badly you want to accomplish it. That sounds too simple, doesn't it? We all want our dreams to come true, but how much are we willing to do to make it so?


To overcome this problem you may have to redefine why you're writing the book, recommit to your story, and reconsider your action plan.


Redefine  . . .
Why do you to want to write a book? Is it to fit in with your peers, have more money, or maybe the hope of fame? OR, did you want to write a book because you had something to say? Do stories keep coming into your head and you just have to get them down on paper? Take a good hard look at why you want or need to write a book. Redefining why writing is important to you, will help you when the going gets tough.

Recommit . . .
How do you see yourself? Do your see yourself as a professional writer committed to meeting a deadline? Or do you see your writing as a hobby? If you seriously want to sell your book, you need to think of yourself as an author with a deadline. There are several reasons to think this way: 1) you start living your dream instead of dreaming it, 2)you're conditioning yourself for the time when you are published, 3)you show others that you are serious about your writing. These are but a few, but I think you can see what I'm getting at. If your dreams are going to come true, you need to recommit and start acting the part.

Reconsider your action plan . . .
You're sitting back and shaking your head. You're saying, "Yes, Kathi, I write because I love to tell stories and I do see myself as a writer. BUT life gets in my way." So, your problem may be your action plan. Perhaps right now you have little babies that need your attention, or you have an elderly parent who needs you, or between church callings and family you don't have time to do what you want to do. 

REALLY? Hey, I do understand how crazy and busy life can become. However, if you start publishing books you are going to have to learn to balance the crazy along with the busy. 

I want you to try something. For one week write down how you spend your time. For example:
8:00 - 9:00 Got the kids ready and off to school
9:00 - 11:00 cleaned the house
And so on.

Once you've written it down, look at your schedule. Between exercise, cleaning, kids, and everything else, did you see where you could squeeze maybe an hour of writing in? And think about this: if you wrote for an hour during your lunch, at the end of five days you'd be five hours ahead on your story? It's not a lot, but it is progress. 

I want to see you succeed. But you will only succeed when you redefine, recommit and reconsider your plan of action that will help your dreams come true.

Okay, now it's your turn. Tell me what you think. I love reading your comments.  

Monday, January 10, 2011

Detours

Have you ever gone on a trip and had to make an unexpected detour?



Sometimes taking detours can open your eyes to a whole new way of doing things. You see things you didn't know were there. I remember one time we took a detour on our way to my parents cabin in Idaho. We'd taken the same road for years, but this one summer road work caused major delays so we took a detour and learned that this new way shaved about twenty minutes off our regular route. That detour turned out to be a good thing for us.


Why do I bring up detours?


Here's the deal. As I was preparing to submit the sequel of  The Forgotten Warrior to my publisher once again, I found I would have to make a detour. When I first wrote the sequel I had planned for a third novel as well, so there was another cliffhanger ending. I DO NOT want to ever do that to my fans again. Therefore, I needed to take a detour in resubmitting book two and change the ending.


BUT . . .


I really think you'll like what I'm planning to do. I'm very excited about it. 


I feel bad that this will mean yet another delay in getting the sequel to my fans, however, in the long run I think it's for the best. 


Sometimes the road most traveled needs to be reassessed and detoured around, but in the end it will make for a much better journey.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Results from Cover Contest






I thought I'd let you know that The Stone Traveler cover came in second in LDS Publisher's Book Cover Contest.

Thanks to EVERYONE who voted for my book. You're the BEST!!!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Everything Writing on Wednesday


Hey, did you notice in the left sidebar that The Stone Traveler has been nominated in LDS Publisher's Best Cover Contest? If you liked my cover, please click over and vote for it. The deadline is Thursday, January 6th at midnight.

Now on with today's post.


  

I decided to change "Writing Tip Wednesday" to "Writing on Wednesday" for my blog this year. Why the subtle change?

So much is going on in the writing industry. More and more writers have an opportunity to become published. And more and more books are being offered not only in the stores, but online.

It's vital for writers to hone their talents, so I thought on Wednesdays I'd focus not only on helping you achieve your writing goals, by answering questions you may have or spotlighting the basics of writing, but that I'd also have an occasional posting by a guest writer, do an author interview, or even post a book review on Wednesdays. I wanted to jazz it up a bit while also doing what I can to make Writing on Wednesday all about this crazy profession we're drawn to.

I thought to start off the new year we'd discuss something very basic. Something you should think of before you sit down to write. So here we go . . .

We all have times when we have a brilliant idea for a book. But is that idea worthy of an entire novel?

Here are four very basic questions to ask yourself as you stretch and pull on that idea.

  • Is it really a story you want to tell?
  • Is this a story that will appeal to a broad audience?
  • Will characters in the story grow?
  • Are the stakes high enough?

Let's take these one at a time.

Is it really a story you want to tell?
Are you willing to stick with this idea, doing the research and writing for months about it until the book is finished? As I've talked with many writers, a lot of them have started a book, but have never finished. Why? Part of their problem is they've lost interest, they don't want to do the necessary research to make the story exciting and believable or they just don't have the time. So please, do yourself a favor and honestly think this over. Is this the story you want to tell?

Is this a story that will appeal to a broad audience?
Some of us have lived through trying ordeals. But would these ordeals appeal to a broad audience? How many writers have already written about the topic? Will you bring something different to the table? Also, what age group are you targeting with your book? Would they care about your story? If not, keep working on it until they will. But if your idea does appeal to a broad audience, great. You're almost ready to start.

Will characters in the story grow?
I can't tell you how important this is. Yes, there are books where the characters never learn a lesson and thus never grow, but did you enjoy reading about them? I remember reading a novel for several days, always hopeful that the characters would learn from their mistakes. Well, they didn't, and I felt as though I'd wasted my time. Please show your characters growing. If your story doesn't show growth, is it a story worth telling?

Are the stakes high enough?
This doesn't mean that the end of the world would happen if "A" doesn't save us from the bomb. But it could mean that if "X" doesn't realize she's a jerk she may never find true happiness and that very well could mean that her world could come to an end. Showing the high stakes of your story involves many aspects: setting the scene, characterization, and growth to name a few. All are vital to building a great story. . . and most importantly a story that a publisher will buy.

So if you've answered all the questions with a yes, you might have a story idea that will make a great novel. 

Next week we'll look at plotting and the importance of the opening page. Yep, we're starting at the very beginning that makes or breaks a novel.

Have a great writing week!!!



Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Great News!!!

Wouldn't you know that one day into my supposed cut back on posting to my blog, here I am posting. But I have great news!!!


The cover of my book, The Stone Traveler,  has been nominated in LDS Publisher's 2010 Book Cover Contest!!!


Please go to LDS Publisher's blog by clicking on their icon below.



Voting starts January 3rd and ends Thursday the 6th at midnight. Check out the rules and if you liked my cover, I'd love for you to vote for The Stone Traveler.

What a happy surprise!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Where Have I Been? And What Am I Planning?

You may have noticed I haven't posted a blog since December 22nd. Where have I been? I've been on vacation.

Well, not a real vacation.

I've been retooling The Forgotten Warrior Book Two. I didn't realize I needed to send it to my publisher again until about a month ago. Because so much was going on before the holidays, I decided to devote my holiday vacation to working on this book.

I love the sequel to The Forgotten Warrior and reading it again made me realize how much I have missed the characters. A lot happens in the second book. I don't want to give anything away, but all of your questions will be answered in the sequel. I can't wait for my fans to read it. 

As I worked on the sequel, I started thinking about what I wanted to accomplish in 2011.
 
Did you make goals for the new year? Please share them. I'd love to know!!!


I'm always hopeful at the beginning of a new year. It's like I'm given a "do-over."


Some of my goals for 2011 are:
  • spend more time with family and friends
  • do more in my church calling
  • finish writing at least two books: Raven Spirit and Chasing the Star
 For me to accomplish these goals I'm going to cut back on a few things. For a while, I'm only going to post twice a week on my blog: Mondays and Wednesdays.


Mondays will be a glimpse into my life. Not that I think I do anything interesting, but I enjoy reading your personal posts and so I thought you might enjoy reading mine.


Wednesdays will be about writing. Wow, you never saw that coming, right? I'll share more about what I'm planning for that day on . . . Wednesday's post. But I'm hopeful to jazz it up a bit.


Something very big is happening this year. My romantic suspense book, River Whispers, is scheduled to be released in May. As the date draws closer I'll probably have a contest of some sort. I'm torn about doing a blog tour. You might be able to help me decide. I've done a blog tour for all three of my books and have mixed feelings about the process. So please tell me:


Do you enjoy Book Review Blog Tours?
Do you follow them?
Do they inspire you to read the book?



I'd really be interested in what you have to say.

I hope you have a Happy New Year and accomplish all the goals you've set.

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