Thursday, December 30, 2010

JANUARY is going to rock!

Okay, to my whole 7 followers, I have news. January is going to be a big month for my blog. And by February, I better have some more readers!

Here are some of the exciting things happening at Mommy's Always Write next month.

* My LDS Mommas writing contest. Here is the link. So far we only have two entries. But Christmas is over now, so get to it! The deadline is January 15th. The contest isn't based on how good your writing is, just on number of entries. So if we get at least 10, one of you will win a $25 Barnes and Noble gift card. Please enter!

* An awesome "blog hop" with three of my fellow new Cedar Fort Authors. Michael Knudsen, Cheri Chesley, and Dan Harrington will be joining with me in reviewing books, interviewing each other, and of course, offering prizes.

*And don't forget January 22 I will be at the Brass Plates Bookstore signing books from 2-4.

So please become a "follower" via the button below. But more importantly, become a reader by checking back often.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My Anti-Resolution Resolutions...

I'm not a huge fan of New Year's Resolutions. As my husband says, if you're really going to do something, you wouldn't have to wait until January 1 to start it. However, I do have a couple of plans for next year (and both of them are already in the works).

Revise The Letters Never Sent and submit it to the publisher. I have hid my rough draft away for a month to get some space from it and will be pulling it back out in a few weeks.

Finish a rough draft of Danielle, Never The Bride. I am at 10,000 words (out of 75K).

Try to attend LDS Storymakers Conference. The trip is kind of expensive for a non-Utahan, so hopefully this can work out.

Good luck writers with your goals for 2011! Post them here if you want to.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

My READS for 2010

When I was a college student, studying journalism, we started nearly every class period with one thing--reading the newspaper. We read for exceptional journalism, we read for tight leads, we read for errors, but mostly we just read (sounds like red) to read (sounds like reed). haha

My professors all agreed, you can't be a writer without being a reader.

When I delved into any creative writing courses, the main theme was the same: You must read to write. So here is a blog post devoted to being a reader, not a writer.

What have you read this year? What was great for you in 2010 and what was not so great? I'd love a comment with your top picks and bottom of the barrel stuff too.

Here was my 2010 shelf:
1. Graceling by Kristin Cashore (fantasy)
In this novel "graced" characters are people with special abilities who perform the work for kings in the 7 kingdoms. Katsa, the main character, has been graced with the ability to kill.
I loved the voice in this novel and the impeccable description. I disliked parts of the ending that seemed forced (just to set it up for a sequel).
My grade? B+ (I recommend it.)

2. Fire by Kristin Cashore (fantasy)
This is not a sequel to Graceling, however it is touted as a "companion" book. I found the two had a minuscule amount of material that linked them--and the parts that did link them felt forced. However, I really enjoyed Fire. In this book our heroine is a "monster"--in a very unusual sense of the word. She is gorgeous and can read and control minds. I loved this character better than Katsa from Graceling. She was more feminine and with fault. I also liked the ending.
My grade? A (I recommend it.)

3. Long for this world by Sonya Chung (fiction)
I can barely remember what this was about because I read it at the beginning of the year. What I do remember most is that I went the entire book without really knowing which character was which. The difficult Korean names were so confusing to me, I really couldn't follow it.
My grade? C- (only because it had some beautiful wording. I don't recommend it.)

4. and 5. Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (YA fantasy fiction)
I loved the post-Apocalyptic premise of the story and how the series jumps off with a bang with the "reaping" ceremony. I also really enjoyed the first person perspective in these which allowed the reader to be left wondering about what was happening with the other tributes in the arena. There was only one part near the end of book one that really bugged me and that was the quick addition of the monsters that seemed too far out of the realm for the rest of the book.
Katniss was really bugging me by the time I got part way through Catching Fire, and when they announced the Quarter Quelle, I was like, "oh give me a break!" So much so, that I decided not to read Mockingjay (and judging from the negative reviews, many readers disliked the third book).
My grade? A on Hunger Games. B- on Catching Fire. (I recommend them both).

6. Letter to My Daughter by George Bishop (fiction but made to sound memoir-ish)
This quick read had a very realistic mother-daughter relationship (especially for coming from a male writer). However while the book moves fast I would have enjoyed seeing how the "letter" changes the future for the mother-daughter relationship.
My grade? C (Don't recommend it.)

7. Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah (fiction)
I absolutely loved this book about two sisters bound by a loving father who have a horribly cold mother. When the father dies they delve into their mother's life story and begin to understand why she is the way she is.
This book features a story within a story. I believe most readers will be much more invested in the back story than the one that is based in present day. I know I was. I absolutely loved Vera's character. My only dislike was a part near the end that was fairly cheesy.
This book got bad reviews from my book club because it can be quite a heart-wrencher and has a slow start. I agree with those critiques, however I loved the story and also loved the ending.
My grade? A (I highly recommend it.)

8. Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris (vampire--Does this have its own genre yet?)
Barmaid Sookie Stackhouse falls in love with vampire Bill and helps find a murderer with her psychic abilities. Okay, I hate to compare it to Twilight, but can I really not? Whereas in Twilight you love Edward despite what he is, you really don't with Bill. I mean his name is Bill, for heaven's sake. How hot vampire-y is that? Also I just couldn't get past the picture of the older woman author in my mind whenever I was reading a sexy scene--which by the way were a bit too graphic for my tastes.
My grade? C (Don't recommend.)
9.
Come Sunday by Isla Morley (fiction)

A book about a couple living in Hawaii who face tragedy in the beginning. The novel is their journey through the grief. I love sad books as long as there is a type of redemption or lesson learned. This had neither. Just plain and simply depressing. However Morley does have beautiful writing and I enjoyed that.
My grade? C (Don't recommend).

10. Alicia: My Story by Alicia Appelman-Juhrman (memoir)
My favorite read of the year! It's Alicia's story as a survivor of Nazi-dominated Poland. She was such an amazing girl with incredible integrity and courage. My only critique would be at times while reading this it almost had a Forrest Gump feel. I kept thinking, really? Could all these things really happen to one person? It's truly unbelievable and I believe much more engaging than Anne Frank.
My grade? A+ (You must read this!)

11. The Wednesday Letters by Jason Wright (fiction)
In this book siblings find old letters from their father to their mother and discover some unknown things about family. This book was especially interesting to me because I wrote a book with a similar premise. It was a fast easy read and had good morals. I also enjoyed a twist in the end. I feel the characters could have been a bit more developed.
My grade? B (I recommend.)

12. Luck of the Draw by Rachael Renee Anderson (Mormon chic-lit)
A college guy takes a bet to date three unsuspecting roommates simultaneously. This was a light-hearted, fun read. I was often annoyed at Dani, the rich but money-hating roommate, because of her hypocritical nature. I think my wanting to slap her on one page and then hug her on the next shows that Anderson's characters were very well developed. I identified with each of them and in the end was really hoping for a certain outcome.
My grade? A (Highly recommend for an LDS audience)

13. Bringing Up Girls by Dr. James Dobson (non-fiction)
This how-to manual on raising girls was wonderful. It highlights the perils of girls these days and the things we can do to help them. It specifically encourages strong father-daughter relationships. I really enjoyed this book.
My grade? A (Recommend, if you have daughters!)

14. Becoming Kate by Dixie Owens (fiction)
In this book Liz Lindsay becomes the first successful recipient of a brain transplant when she dies in her late 20s. Unbeknown to everyone else she still has her own memories but is now trapped in a young girl's ailing body. The idea was strange, but somehow Owens made it believable. I moved through the novel quickly and enjoyed it as a light read.
My grade? B (I Recommend.)

15. A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick

It's hard to argue a best seller, but this book wasn't for me. The writing was lovely and the idea wonderful. However nearly every page was full of sex, drugs or violence (and some references were very, very dark). About a hundred pages in I wanted to keep reading so much, but I knew it just wasn't good for me. I returned the book and read the spoilers online. Most reviewers admitted it got even darker and more sexual as it went. I'm glad I put it down.
My grade? D (I wish it would have been more clean because the idea was fascinating.)

Let's hear your 2010 best and worst!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Writing for release

What do you do to calm your nerves?

Do you enjoy a day at the spa? Go for a run? Have a sit-down with your hubby and vent all the things wrong in your world?

Here's an idea. Try writing.

I wake up early and try to write every week day. It doesn't always happen, but when I am pushing myself for a word count or something, I really stay on the ball and I rarely miss a morning. Sometimes getting out of bed when the alarm goes off at 5 and my sweet honey says, "babe? Are you getting up today?" is really tough. Maybe he shouldn't put it as a question. It's true, sometimes I roll over and say, "I don't think so." But most the time I say "yeah" and after another ten minutes I drag myself out of bed and to the computer.

It takes me a few minutes to get my brain in gear, but once I do, and the words start really flowing, I feel fabulous. And when the clock nears 6:45 and my morning write is almost done, I feel even better. For me, it's the same as that horrible feeling of not wanting to go work out, but then once you do you are so glad that you did. Does that make sense?

The next time life feels a bit hard (And with the economy, sickness, stress of holidays, or children home from school--trust me life will feel hard), I challenge you to write. Get out a piece of paper if you like to do it old school, or sit down at your computer if you would rather. Just let your mind wonder.

WHAT you write is not important. THE act of writing is the therapy here. I think many people would love to be writers, but they are afraid what they will write might be junk. I have news for you. What EVERYONE writes is junk! It's only after revisions and outside readers' opinions and feedback that the junk we write starts to take shape and become something worth reading.

So give it a try. And maybe I'll give exercising a try. But then again... probably not.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Growing Up Gracie review

Author Michael Knudsen recently reviewed Growing Up Gracie on his blog. He tells about how his daughter read it quickly but he thought it definitely wasn't for a grown man.
It turned out he was glad he got past his preconceptions of a "Mormon chic-lit" book and read it.

Log in to his blog here to read the full review. And check out his new book The Rogue Shop on Amazon. I can't wait to read it!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Brass Plates Bookstore Signing

I am scheduled for my first book signing. It is at The Brass Plates Bookstore in Spokane Valley. Mark your calendars for January 22 from 2-4. The owner is going to have lots of copies so I look forward to seeing you all there!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

LDS Women's Book Review

The LDS Women's Book Review just added Growing Up Gracie to its list of best gift books for Christmas 2010.

The link and a quick interview are here: LDS Women's Book Review

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Deadline

There are a few of you wondering about a deadline for the "Mothers" Contest. (See next post down for info). I forgot to post one.

Since Christmas craziness is upon us right now, I am going to set the deadline for the contest at January 15, 2011.

Shalie M. was our first contestant to enter, and has already received her winning copy of Growing Up Gracie. I've also received one other entry. SO, get to writing ladies. I want to hear about your mommy moments!!! (And I really want a chance to give somebody some Barnes and Noble bucks too!)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Calling all LDS Mothers

So, I have an idea, but I am going to need a lot of help.

Why should you help me, you ask?
Because there is DEFINITELY something in it for you.

I am asking for submissions from LDS MOTHERS. Not writers, per se. Just MOTHERS. Yep, that means you!

Here is what I want: 400-1500 word essays on one of these four topics.

1. Major Mommy Follies: Any mess ups you've had as a mother, like the time you almost had a heart attack after you drove 200 miles and realized your child's car seat wasn't attached to the car.
2. The Unbelievable Things My Children Have Done: What did your child do that just about put you over the edge?
3. Other Mothers: The women you admire and how they have improved you as a mother.
4. I Knew There Was A Reason I Became Your Mother: The wonderful moments that make it all worth it.

Here's what you get: I will give a signed copy of Growing Up Gracie to the first person who enters a legitimate submission to the contest. If I get 10 or more entries, I will give a Barnes and Noble gift card of $25 to one writer (chosen at random). If I get 20 or more entries, I will give a $25 Barnes and Noble gift card to two writers (chosen at random).

Rules: You must be willing to see your entry reprinted (on this blog or in print). Your entry must have no profanity or show abuse in any way (such as I am a bad mom because I beat my kids). Your entry must be legible. You must be willing to allow editing (for grammatical and spelling type errors) of your submission. You can submit entries in each of the topics, but your name will only be considered as 1 of the 10 for the drawing.

Submit entries (not as an attachment)at maggiefechner@gmail.com. I won't open attachments so just write it in the body of your email message.

Lots of you have told me you've always wanted to write. Now here's your chance!

Thanks. Good luck! And the funnier, the better!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

An Author's Pet Peeves

As a new author--and I mean brand spankin' new--I know I haven't really EARNED the right to have developed any pet peeves yet. Nevertheless, I must say I've got a few.

As I've mentioned before, the road to publication has been wonderful with so many well-wishers and kind friends and family helping me along every step of the way. These pet peeves are to the rest of the world...

1. When people say, "How much money did you make? Is Dan going to quit his job?"
That one makes me laugh so hard milk comes out my nose!
First of all, I won't have any idea how much money my book has made until six months after it's release date and even then I will only be paid a small percentage of my book's sales price on a monthly basis.
From what I've learned from other authors, the writing business is for THE LOVE and not for THE MONEY. I wrote Growing Up Gracie for fun. Then I attempted publishing it because I thought it would be neat to see my name on a book shelf and my daughter's name in the title of a real book. I never began this journey with the idea of making money.
Only a very small handful of people make it big in the writing world. And the LDS market is even smaller. A best seller in the LDS world is like 1,500-2,000 copies which would roughly net me $55 per week for the time I worked on the book. It would be more lucrative to join a bogus multi-level marketing campaign! So, now that I've divulged all financial inquiries, stop asking if I'm going to be rich.
And some day, if I do make it rich with a big national best seller, your check's in the mail.

2. You're going to be like Stephanie Meyers
Yes, I am Mormon. Yes, I did write a book. That's it.
If you believe I'm like Stephanie Meyers, you obviously HAVEN'T read my book. She is one of the few people I was talking about in my previous pet peeve that actually HAS made it big. And if I could make $50 mil in the first year my book was released, trust me, I'd love to be like her.

3. Your cover is so beautiful. You did a great job!
Well thank you. I love it too. Actually though, the publisher has 100% control over covers, blurbs on the back, and titles. I had nothing to do with my cover. I did name my book however.

4. You should have demanded this (insert some crazy demand here) and this (another crazy demand here) in your contract
Thanks for the advice; however, most first time authors don't have a lot of clout to be in the position of DEMANDING anything in a contract. We mostly take it or leave it. I'm not saying its good to be walked all over, but in the publishing world, you kind of have to tread lightly until you have a little more experience (and book sales) backing your name.

5. When people ask "How much did you have to pay to get your book published?"
Nothing. Nada. I didn't go with a vanity press or a blog printer. Growing Up Gracie is an actual company published book backed 100 percent by Cedar Fort. (I'm not knocking self-publishing, it just wasn't a route I was willing to take).

6. When people ask, "Where do you find the time?"
I've already covered this one on Facebook. I feel everyone FINDS the time for the things they love. As I've said before, there are many things I don't FIND the time for because I'm not really interested in them. For instance, I don't sew, deep clean more than occasionally, or exercise. Most my dinners can be cooked in 30 minutes or less. I envy other mothers I know who seem to get so much done each day. It's all a matter of our own priorities.

Now that I've aired all my pet peeves, I hope you got a laugh out of this and nothing more. This wasn't meant to offend. What are some of your writer's pet peeves?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Growing Up Gracie Author Interview--This one is awesome!

Growing Up Gracie got another review and an awesome interview. My author friend Rachael Renee Anderson reviewed it on her blog here.

Here's an excerpt: "Growing up Gracie is charm in a book. It was like reading a modern day Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea all rolled into one. Filled with humor, depth, strong bonds of friendship, and yes, romance (my favorite), Maggie takes the reader on an adventure so real and poignant, it will make you wish you grew up in a small town."

I liked this interview because she asked some fun questions about my real life and my awesome husband!

There's a giveaway too.

Happy Reading.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

New Interview

The Children's and Teen's Book Connection posted an author's interview with me today. They will be reviewing Growing Up Gracie soon.

Interview here