31 July 2012

Making Mountain From A Molehill

Summertime holidays make it harder to want to wake up early.  All this week, (month) I have struggled to wake up and get my mental gears moving.  I hit the snooze button at least three times before stumbling my guilty conscience into the kitchen. (I think the motivating factor for most of my actions is that guilt I lug around with me.  Is that a woman thing?  Or just a human thing?)
As a result, my production has gone waaaay down.  (Production signifies number of pages written.  Production does not necessarily reflect quality.  Production in no way establishes a concrete page count and even the best of witticisms cannot be relied upon to remain through to the finished draft.  However, Production is the easiest way for this author to gauge progress made.)
I am not the kind of author that requires myself to reach a certain word count before I can stop, or a certain number of pages.  I give myself a time limit.  (For example:  since I slept in an extra 30 minutes, I gave myself 45 minutes of writing time this morning.  That was all I could spare.)  However, I do like it when I write a page or more.  Then I feel the morning has been truly productive. (Read: Production + me = smiley face.)
I read once that it’s easier to keep a story alive than to try to resurrect one.  I guess that means that once you have breathed life into a story, it’s better to work on it a little each day than to leave it to starve for a few weeks before resuscitating it.  (I think that metaphor needs to be laid to rest.)  So, being true to that theory, I try to at least do something everyday, even if I end up deleting it all the next morning.
I suppose that, more than anything else, makes a book of what started out as an idea.  Those initial movie clips become full-length cinema gold after endless bleary-eyed mornings with me tapping out words on my laptop.  It all comes down to commitment.  Commitment to the story, or to writing, or to my unbreakable schedule, or just doggedly doing it because I said I would.  
Sometimes I do it because it’s fun.
And that, gentle readers, is how a person can go from having a notion to having a book.

23 July 2012


Everyone has their own beginnings, the impetus that starts a story running through their heads.  For some, I imagine, it comes from thinking of a plot point, or a character flaw, or a world they want to create.  For me, it comes most often like a movie clip from a movie that’s never been made.
I had a complete Cinderella adaptation played out behind my eyelids as I was waking up one day.  It’s written down now and waiting for me to do something with it.
I saw Pete in the stables at Ridgemoor, silently worshipping Rosalynn.  I saw the details of the sun slanting through the windows and the dust motes floating down from the hayloft.  I felt his longing and her indifference.  I could even smell the horses.  
June’s post-dance encounter with the school teacher was inspired by the same experience happening to my grandmother when she was that age.  After hearing the account of my grandmother, I had it pictured in my mind, the details forever engraved. The aftermath every bit as devastating.
The rest of the story flowed from that.
Of course, I knew going into it that I wanted it to be a love story, that the two of them would end up married and happy.  That it would be a long journey for both of them.   That June would have to forgive.  That Pete needed confidence.  I also knew I wanted June to triumph over James Jamison by herself.  I felt she needed it.  Also Pete would have to confront Rosalynn and find himself disenchanted.
Originally, I told the story linearly, without flashbacks, starting with the day Pete’s father died.  We didn’t even meet June until much, much later.  Almost halfway through the book.  I was told that it was too slow, took too long to get to the good stuff.  So, I added a lot more backstory for June and rearranged everything.  I printed the story off and cut it up like a puzzle to put back together.  Believe it or not, I cut out a good chunk of the flashbacks.
Of course, other stories have come in different ways.  I have dozens of notes to myself describing story ideas, little bursts of inspiration that I just had to remember.  
Sometimes I just start writing with no clear idea of what the story will be or where it will take me.
Other times I want to try my hand at a certain genre, or way of writing, and go from there.  
For some, the hardest part of writing is coming up with an idea, but that’s never been my problem.  My biggest problem is finding the time to write up all my ideas.
I had someone ask me how I completed the story once I got the concept in mind.  But that’s for another post, I think.

17 July 2012

Thank you. Thank you.

Many thanks to Aurora for her praise.  And just because everyone should know how great this book is, I'm going to post a link to her review.

I can't tell you how lovely it is to get feedback like this.  To be honest, I have a hard time believing it, and would find it easier to credit if people hated it, or just thought it was mediocre.  (Remember that post about our inner critics taking over?  Yeah.  Mine is alive and healthy.)

So, I must, once again, and from the bottom of my squishy, mushy heart thank anyone and everyone who likes "Uneasy Fortunes".

15 July 2012

Down Time

I've heard from a few well-established authors that there are book signings that don't go well.  I have to admit, I've had a couple now.

Chalk up the experience, I guess.

What I enjoyed most about those hours of sitting, looking at other people's books on the shelves behind me, watching the ladies re-fold modbe shirts, was handwriting some bits of a story that have been floating around in my brain for a couple of weeks.

I may have mentioned that I sent in a manuscript and had it rejected and that I was pretty sad about that.  Well, I've since decided that the editor was correct in her assessment, even though it hurt to hear it.  Since deciding that, I have been trying to figure out how to make that manuscript work. I love the setting.  I love the characters.  I think it's terribly funny.  But how to give it heart?

That's quite a problem.

So, I've been mulling it over, and I think I've come up with a solution.  Thanks to my time alone, and in quiet, at those book signings, I am happy to report I've made a start.  A few handwritten pages, a few conversations, and hopefully a little heart.

And honestly, making a start is the biggest step.  Sometimes also the hardest.

May all my book signings be slow ones.

Unless you want to come.

09 July 2012

Intense Hour of Gratitude

I hope all of you had a fantastic 4th of July week and weekend.

We had a family reunion.  Since my parents have 13 children (no twins and no step-siblings.  Pretty impressive.  My mother is my hero)  I have a lot of nieces and nephews.  My dad is really into numbers, so he has given everyone in the family their own number.  He is 1.  My mom is 2.  Since I'm the youngest, I am number 15.  We just added number 126 this year.

As you might imagine, it's difficult to find accommodations for such a large group for three days.  So, we divided into age groups this year.  Since all three of my kids fell into the youngest age group, I got to be a facilitator for them and 21 other littlies at my brother's house.  It was super fun.  We got to do a giant slip 'n' slide, horse rides, 4-wheeler rides, crafty things, eat, play and eat and play some more.  One of the days we looked out the window and saw some of the 7 year-olds having a pig poo fight.  It was awesome.  They stunk something fierce.

With all of us having a huge sleepover, we didn't get much sleep.  I think I'm still recovering.

During the last night, everyone went to a park to play night games, and I opted to stay home with the kids who didn't want to go.  Turned out, it was just me and my son, who would sacrifice his teeth to play a Wii, so it was lucky he just sacrificed fun-time with his cousins.  I was happy for the hour or so of quiet and decided to take my laptop outside and get some writing done.

The breeze blew in some purple clouds and cooled things down after a scorching day.  The green valley was a perfect contrast to the brown cliffs surrounding it and I found myself taking deep calming breaths.  Those huge sprinklers they use on alfalfa fields were spanking themselves in the distance, bringing the smell of wet earth.  I took it all in.

Then I dove into the wild west headfirst and wrote a fight scene between some cowboys and aliens.
This story is perhaps the most fun I have ever had writing.  I get excited reading what I wrote the day before and thinking of what I'm going to write next.  My life would be so lame without the stories in my head.

The hour was far too short and I was still tap, tap, tapping away on my keyboard when the thundering herd arrived.  And while I make it sound like a chore, I was so happy to be there and happy to spend time with each and every little grown-up.  There is nothing quite as beautiful as three, four year-olds singing a hymn for their talent show.

But I was intensely grateful for that hour.

02 July 2012

Be Our Guest

I have a guest post up for reads (is that even a real phrase?) on Cedar Fort's blog.  Let me know what you think.  If anything.

I've had a few good book signings and have a schedule for more.  Are you hungry for more?

Friday, July 13, 4-6 PM, American Fork Seagull Book
Saturday, July 14, 3-5 PM, Spanish Fork Seagull Book
Friday, July 20, 4-6 PM, Provo Seagull Book
Saturday, July 21, 3-5 PM, Orem Seagull Book
Saturday, July 28, 3-5 PM, South Orem Seagull Book

I'm seeing a pattern here.