Friday, December 30, 2011

Looking back at your progress

Well, the year is almost up. Soon we will be ushering in 2012 with a new set of goals and aspirations.

So. How did you do?

Did you fly past your resolutions making this year one to go down in the history books? Did you land the dream agent? Did you finish the book? Did you sign a book contract?

Or, on the flip side, had you already given up/forgotten your goals before the Superbowl rolled around?

I think I fall somewhere in between. When I look at my goals for 2011, I admit, I'm bummed by what I DIDN'T do.

-I didn't land an agent.
-I didn't reach and STAY at my hot-Mama weight.
-I didn't write Danielle Never The Bride.
-I didn't land any new contracts.
-I don't have any more long term savings.
-I didn't attend a writer's conference.

But you know what? I think if I look at what I DID do this year, I would feel much better.

-I learned a lot about marketing and selling.
-I learned a lot about querying.
-I hit my hot-Mama weight, but then slipped back, and now I'm at a healthy weight that's somewhere in between.
-My blog grew in leaps and bounds.
-I co-authored a non-fiction book.
-I wrote 40,000 words on a new romance novel.
-I read 32 books.
-I learned to wakeboard (after three summers of trying).
-Our family successfully got through the first year of husband going back to school.
-I made some new friends and kept close with old ones.

Sometimes I think in the press to be so goal-oriented I forget that the steps along the way are accomplishments in themselves. It's not just the over-all prize that is important.

For instance. My eight-year-old daughter set out to read 250 chapter books in 2011. 250!!! However, she's not going to reach her goal. Instead she is going to finish the year at 240 books. There is no way she can look at that and not realize what an awesome accomplishment that is. She read 240 books in a single year when she was eight years old--and we're talking real chapter books like Secret Garden, Babysitters Club and Nancy Drew. That she missed her mark by a mere 10 books seems to be a moot point if you ask me.

So my question as you finish out 2011 is this:

What DID you accomplish this year? What are you proud of?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ahhh Shoot.

My sweet baby boy has a new phrase that cracks me up:

Ahhh shoot.

The first time I heard it he had spilled a cup of Goldfish down the stairs.

Ahhh shoot.

But now it's been adopted for lots of things.

Drop a toy?

Ahhh shoot.

Trip on the coffee table?

Ahhh shoot.

When I ask him, "Did you go poop?"

Ahhh shoot.

You get the picture. And now I have a little Ahhh shoot myself.

Am I going to the 2012 Storymakers Conference?

Ahhh shoot.

I know, I know. I PROMISED this was the year. I put it in my goals. I put it in my budget. I put it in the pre-planned-2012-babysitters-calendar. (Just kidding I'm not even close to that organized). But alas...

Ahhh shoot.

It's a no-go for me. And you want to know why? Of course you do!

Because my best friend moved to Denver in September and I was faced with this: go visit her for a weekend or go to a writing conference for a weekend. Both trips aren't in the budget for us college-student-salary-type folk (plus there is a big secret trip for the whole fam planned in the Spring that really eats up the budget). In the end it was a tough decision, but not that tough.

Go ahead, shake your head in disgust. Say I'm not taking my craft seriously. Say I'm not dedicated enough. Say what you want, I suppose.

I'm taking LIFE very seriously, which is exactly why I had to pick my Shalie.

Here is a picture of us in Boulder this weekend. It was so, much, fun.


Have you ever made choices between family/friends and writing? Do you feel good about the choices you've made?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


I've got a serious case of Holy Crap There's So Much To Get Done disease right now. Unfortunately, blogging didn't make the Top 10 (not to say my blogging life isn't important to me, because it REALLY IS, I just have to prioritize a bit this week). So, have a great week and I'll check in next week!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Okay, you know that cool thing you all do where you reply to your follower's comments via email?

Teach me to do that.

I tried by just clicking on their name and their email address, but it doesn't pop up with the comment there so they know what the heck I am replying to.


In the meantime (from my previous comments below):

Maggie @ Jolene--I hope you can relax next year. You totally deserve that!
Maggie @ Bonnie--We can encourage each other to be patient.
Maggie @ Jessie--Um, no, I can totally tell you're NOT fat. And I meant my kids (who are sisters) need to stop bickering; but I hope you and your sis can make Santa's list too! :)
Maggie @ Emily--Next baby? Isn't there one brewing right now? You are one serious planner, girl! I love it.
Maggie @ Rebecca--Oh, to be content. I need a lesson in this too.
Maggie @ Erin--gee thanks!
Maggie @ Jessica--my hub's get-through-college job requires lots of plunger-ing. Maybe I need to have him give your son a lesson?
Maggie @ Chantelle--One of these days I know I'm going to click on your blog and see that YAY! I have a book contract post. I can't wait!

Your grown up Christmas Wish

This pic has nothing to do with the post, it just shows a cute view of two of our girls on top of our Jeep. Last year it was super snowy, but right now we are totally dry.

Have you heard that one Christmas song?

"No more lives torn apart,
The wars would never start,
blah, blah, blah

Everyone would have a friend,

Right would always win
Something, something, something

This is my grown up Christmas wish."

(I've never claimed to be good at remembering lyrics.)

Anyway, that got me thinking. What's on my grown-up Christmas list?

1. Landing a dream agent.
2. A be-a-better-housekeeper magic wand
3. The economy to get back in shape for all of us who have felt it for the past three or four years
4. Mr. Mommy's Always Write to get done with college quickly
5. Sisters to not bicker
6. Me to be patient (without having to endure more trials to teach me patience)

What about you, what would be on your grown up Christmas list?

Monday, December 5, 2011

What was I thinking?

I've been dragged kicking and screaming back into my manuscript (after a few month break of laziness and querying other projects), but after my break, I needed a re-read it to get reacquainted with the plot and characters. I sat down this morning and got through about half of my 40,000 words.

I was reminded how hard this step can be.

When I first took Growing Up Gracie out of my drawer and started reading the rough draft, I was horrified at myself. When I was in the middle of the writing phase, I thought I was brilliant, but upon the re-reading, I realized I had a LONG, LONG way to go. It took several rounds of revisions and editing on each of the three books I've completed before I loved them.

On the flip side, I recently read a writing book that said the exact opposite. The author said after his "let it simmer" phase, when he begins reading his rough draft again he is instantly taken in and loves his work.

Oh boy I wish that were me.

How do you feel on the first read through? Do you get that excitement back? Or do you think "what was I thinking?"

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What's the low down?

WELL, Thursday is December 1. And you know what that means, right?

A. You can finally re-cinch your belt from your Thanksgiving feast.
B. You should really start Christmas shopping.


C. You can now register for the LDS Storymakers Conference for 2012?

Why C. Of course!

If you don't know anything about the conference that draws about 500 attendees each year, here's the link.

If you do, let's talk about your plans.

*Will you be staying at the Marriott or do you live near SLC?
*Will you be attending Boot Camp?
*Will you be doing a pitch session? (The idea of this nearly breaks me out in hives. I will definitely NOT be brave enough for this).
*Will you be staying for the Whitney gala?

You get the picture. Let's talk shop here. What are your plans for the conference?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Your thoughts on Happiness

I just finished Gretchin Rubin's The Happiness Project. This book is about one woman's attempt to spend a year becoming happy. She didn't face depression, have a recent loss or anything like that. Rather, Rubin already had the great husband, the nice house, the kids, and the job she always wanted but one day she realized even with all of those things, she wasn't as happy as she should be.

Have you ever felt that way?

The book covers the resolutions she worked toward over the year. Each month she tackled new things she wanted to be better at (such as enjoying new hobbies, being mindful of her eating habits, not nagging her husband, laughing more etc.). She kept a monster chart to track her progress.

I thought the Happiness Project was a good book and a great idea, but severely overwhelming. This woman comes across as SUPER WOMAN with all the things she did. (For instance, after tackling all the clutter in her own New York apartment, she does the same in several of her friends' homes). Instead of encouraging me to do my own Happiness Project, I was deflated with thoughts of "I could never do all that she did."

BUT.... There were many wonderful tidbits I gleaned from this book.

1. One of Rubin's Personal Twelve Commandments was "Be Gretchen." She talked about how she'd always been embarrassed that her favorite books were children's books. This didn't seem sophisticated enough compared to the heavy reading her peers enjoyed. But when she reminded herself to Be Gretchen and embraced her passion, she was happy. In fact she started a Children's Literature group that was very successful.
Over the past several weeks there have been times I've reminded myself to Be Maggie. For instance, we've often put on a big Christmas party, but when I asked myself if doing this really made me happy, I realized that it doesn't. In fact, it makes me stressed because of the cleaning and expense of putting it together. I decided to just Be Maggie this year and let the party go. I think this was Rubin's hope, that the reader doesn't think they need to tackle everything she did, but rather what works for them.

2. The Rubin family does a Polite Night often where they all dress up and have a fancier dinner (at home) and work on good manners with their kids. I think this sounds like an awesome new tradition.

3. Rubin quotes a prayer that includes the words "shield your joyous ones." She talks about how there are certain people we know who tend to have positive attitudes and be uplifting. And we tend to take advantage of these people by needing them to buoy us up and at the same time wishing they weren't always so positive. Rubin reminded me that I need to "shield my own joyous ones." For me this is my mom. I vent to her ALL THE TIME because she is encouraging and uplifting and kind and sweet. I am very negative to her because it seems like I just let everything I've held in pour out to her. I need to work on buoying her up and being more positive to her.

4. My favorite parts of the books were two of Rubin's thoughts on happiness.
~That happiness comes from increasing our feeling good, decreasing our feeling bad, feeling right, and having an atmosphere of growth. You have to read the book to really understand this statement, but I agree with her.
~I also loved her statement that The days are long, but the years are short. If you have young children, you KNOW this is true. The monotony and hardship of every day seem to go on forever, but when you look back, the time has passed so fast.

As part of the Be Maggie idea, I have really pondered what makes me happy. More specifically, what really makes me happy--not the cliche answers, and not what makes someone else happy, but me. Here are some I've come up with:

1. Holding a finished book I've written in my hands.
2. Laying with my kids in their beds at night.
3. How I feel AFTER I've ran.
4. The inside jokes Dan and I have that would only be funny to us.
5. Hottubbing with my girlfriends.
6. Letting my mom make me a cup of hot chocolate or a sandwich.
7. Watching my children succeed at a goal.
8. Watching Dan improving at wakeboarding.
9. Sitting in a bookstore all alone.
10. Sleeping on my stomach.
11. Closing my eyes and listening to music really loud.
12. Watching fireworks.
13. Surprising my kids.

*I think my happiest single moment of 2011 was one night before our friends moved away all of us adults who are best friends (9 of us) put the kids to bed and laid outside on the trampoline laughing and talking.*

This book taught me happy can be simple. We just have to recognize it.

Have you read this book yet? If so what did you think? If not, what are some of your thoughts on being happy? A "happiest moment"? What really makes you happy?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Jingle Bells--rejection style


Oh jingle bells, jingle bells

jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh....

I hit the snooze again,
Sleep calls a little more.
But then I clamber out;
Author's got no time to snore.
I wipe my yucky eyes.
Hunker down at my chair
And oh what fun do I find?
Three rejections await me there.

Oh rejection time, rejection time
Those agents must hate me.
Rejection time, rejection time
Maybe I'll query another three.

I open up the first,
The words I'd heard before.
This novel isn't right for us,
But please, oh please try more.
Number two is the same.
"You're really not our fit.
But don't give up, you're really great,"
It seems so filled with it.

Oh rejection time, rejection time
Those agents must hate me.
Rejection time, rejection time
Maybe I'll query another three.

The third one is a form,
They just filled in my name.
They really think my book could work,
But not for them the same.
I close my sleepy eyes,
Bury my head in my hands.
Why oh why am I doing this?
Maybe I should start a band.

Oh rejection time, rejection time
Those agents must hate me.
Rejection time, rejection time
Maybe I'll query another three.

I put the rejections on the stack.
It's really getting high.
Thirty something no thank-yous,
I often wonder why?
I think of all the pros,
Who faced rejection too.
I imagine eating lunch with them
And laughing at those who are new.

Oh rejection time, rejection time
Those agents must hate me.
Rejection time, rejection time
Maybe I'll query another three.

So I straighten in my chair.
Query Tracker I look up.
I research another 53,
and hope we can hook up. (in the metaphoric/rhyming sense, that is)
Ms. Smith looks so cool.
Mr. Jones seems so neat.
I hope they will love my book
And then they can compete.

Oh rejection time, rejection time
Those agents must hate me.
Rejection time, rejection time
Maybe I'll query another three.

But Jones and Smith say "yuck".
I swear this is high school.
They can only pick the best.
I just wanted to be cool.
I try and try again,
And I hold out for that day,
When Mr. Perfect (agent that is)
Rings the door and says.

No more rejection time, rejection time
That agent sure loves me.
No more rejection time, rejection time
I won't query another three!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My TBR pile

I am currently reading Deep West which is a literary collection by Wyoming authors like Annie Proulx.

Here is what I put on hold at the library recently:

*Divergent by Veronica Roth

*Variant by Robison Wells

*Glass Castle by Jeanette Wells

*Matched by Ally Condie

*The End Of Normal by Stephanie Madoff Mack

*The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Reading is so important to me. I truly believe the wisdom that a writer MUST read. In fact I met an author recently who said she hadn't read a book in ten years. I was shocked!

What book are you waiting to get your hands on? Have you already read all of the ones I listed?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Five reasons Friday's book signing was awesome

1. When I got out of my car at the bookstore I heard a very young-girl-meets-rockstar shriek. And it was directed at me! One of the bookstore owner's daughters is one of Growing Up Gracie's hugest fans and she was really excited to meet me.

2.Wow, signing with another author is about a jillion times better than signing alone! I had so much fun with Cedar Fort author Wendy Paul. She is the lady behind the 101 Gourmet Cupcakes; 101 Cookies; and 101 Cake Bites cookbooks. Her books have been super successful and she's a rockstar when it comes to publicity!
For instance I attended a Relief Society function she hosted on Saturday and there were 70 ladies there! Talk about getting the word out.

3. I sold a lot more books than I had anticipated.
4. A couple old friends I hadn't seen in a long time stopped by.
5. Duh, a few hours of being Maggie instead of being somebody's Mom/slave can be really exciting!

I also had to post this and give my friend Jolene Perry a little shout out. She lives in Alaska, and I know when you're far from Utah (LIKE I AM UP IN WASHINGTON STATE), the occasion of seeing your own books on a shelf is few and far in between. What's even better? I overheard this in the store "Oh my gosh, Next Door Boys was such a good book! You have to read it!" I swear! Hope that puts a smile on your face Jolene.

Friday, November 11, 2011


I will be signing copies of

Growing Up Gracie

today at

The Brass Plates Bookstore

with author Wendy Paul.

Spokane Valley

Come see me!!!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The writer who wasn't writing

I'm so mad at myself for this lack of writing I've been having lately. The things from the writing books I always read just keep coursing through my brain (you MUST write every day or you will fail. Fail. Fail.) Okay, maybe not in those words exactly.

But I just can't at this moment. I am still buried in photo editing. I am helping husband with school every night. And I think a good mommy also knows when she has too many irons in the fire and her family is taking a back seat.

I will get there. I promise!

For now though, The MOMMY part is outweighing the WRITER part.

Are you a strict, strict writer? Do you write every day no matter what? Or are there periods in your life where this talent/hobby/profession must take a backseat. You can be honest with me here. If you think I'm losing it forever by being a slacker, I can take it.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

So I was thinking...

~I should charge pay-per-view for tantrums like the one Daughter #2 had today. It was pretty impressive!

~I'm done with these run of the mill trials. I am ready for the bigger trials. (But ONLY these two in particular: 1. That trial where you have so much money you have to be humbled. 2. That trial where you're so pretty you're not sure whether people really like you for you or just because you're pretty).

~I'm so happy the Halloween Hoopla is over with. Bring on the mashed potatoes and Christmas music!

~Little #4 now copies every word we say and thankfully no one at this house has dirty mouths. Still, he's learning how to mimic some funny stuff. Like this: "Go away!" "Oh shoot!" and "In a minute!" He also tells birds on light poles to "Get Down!"

~I'm missing my bestie (who moved away a few months ago). And I'll give her a big shout out today because she ran her first half marathon this weekend and killed it. Way to go Shalie!

~I will admit it. I'm kind of excited to see the last Twilight Movie. I'm so tired right now I can't even remember what it's called and I'm too lazy to find one of the eleventy billion websites dedicated to it. But yes, I'll be there. (Not at the freezing cold-middle-of-the-night one though).

~Since babies wake up based on their bodies--and could care less about Daylight Savings Time--we got an extra hour to get ready for Church today. And you know what? It was the first time in ages we weren't late. Yahoo.

What were you thinking?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Did you know?

Did you know I have a whole other hobby/business/thing-that-takes-up-tons of time?

No... I don't do tight rope walking
No... It's not breastmilk selling
No... I'm not an envelope stuffer who makes thousands "from the comfort of my own home."

Are you out of guesses?

I will give you a hint. Here's my baby (and yes, it cost more than my first several cars... Combined.)

I'm a portrait photographer. I have been for close to ten years. I learned the skill in college and as a reporter at community newspapers during and after college. (WOW, writing and photography came from the same place!)

Just like my writing, my photography business goes in phases. When I'm in the mood I'll take on lots of sessions. When I'm too busy I pass my clients on to other photographers.

And why do I bring this up now?

Because during the past thirty days I did 20 mini sessions and one full newborn session, so it's very much on my mind right now as my rear sits in this chair and edits, and edits and edits until my eyeballs threaten to explode. You thought novel revisions were annoying? Try successfully Photoshopping a pesky hair out of a woman's eyeball.

So, if you want to check out my other thing. Go here.
For now I'll give you a little sneak peek into that other world.

What else keeps you busy? An etsy shop? Genealogy? The PTA?

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Help

I'm sure I was the last of you to read this. But lately Mr. Fechner has needed the computer all the time for school, so I had to read a good old fashioned paper book instead of a manuscript.

I loved The Help. I read it in just a few days.

Here are some discussion questions on the novel. Answer one of these if you want.

1. What do you think motivated Hilly? On one hand she is terribly cruel to Aibileen and her own help, as well as to Skeeter once she realizes that she can't control her. Yet she's a wonderful mother. Do you think that one can be a good mother and, at the same time, a deeply flawed person?

2. What were your thoughts on Minny's pie for Miss Hilly? Do you think a domestic worker would have ever gone this far to get back at their white employer?

3. What were your thoughts on the movie compared to the book. Do you think it was a good rendition?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A random thought about conversing (and the odd things I feel I must slip in...)

So one time my husband and I were on a date (or a non-date if you read this post about us being just friends) with another couple. We were talking about Hawaii, and I slipped in a little tidbit that went something like this, "ya, when my parents went there they went to the sugar cane fields," or something like that (because it was pertinent to the conversation). The guy who was the friend of my date turned around and looked at me and said this: "That sounded like you just said that so we would know your parents went to Hawaii."

I laughed it off, but I was kind of offended because I really had been just trying to contribute to the conversation. I mean who cares that my parents had been to Hawaii? Who's parents haven't been to Hawaii?

But tonight, for some reason, I got to thinking about similar conversation situations.

I feel like within each of us is some sort of a need to tell people certain things. Right? Are there some things you seem to tell people all the time (even folks you don't know well enough to?) just because you feel more validated as a person?

Maybe you HAVE to tell people you're a writer.
Maybe you HAVE to tell people you were a foster parent for triplets.
Maybe you HAVE to tell people you have an eleventh toe.

I don't know what your little HAVE TO mentions are. But here are mine:

*That I have big babies. I'm not sure if this makes me feel less embarrassed about the torpedo belly I grow every time I get pregnant or what. But I find myself slipping this in conversations all the time. And just because I can't resist, here it is: 9 pounds; 8 pounds 4 ounces; 9 pounds 6 ounces; and 9 pounds 6 ounces. Aaahhh how wonderful that feels (writing it, that is, not giving birth to it). Now don't you think I'm more of a woman? And maybe you'll forgive my wide hips? Ahem, anywho...

*That two of my children are close. They are 17 months and two days apart to be exact. Is this CRAZY close? No. Not really. I'm sure some of you have kids who are a year apart. In fact, a girl in my ward is like nine months apart from one of her siblings. But for some reason I feel validated by this statement. (And I even tend to exaggerate it to 16 months sometimes.) Because yes, that three days difference would really explain so much...... I know. I am certifiably insane.

*That I've been skydiving. See my ABOUT ME PAGE as case in point. Was it a blast? Yes! Would I ever do it again? Probably not because that one bone I had that used to be brave was forever lost when I plopped out a placenta and became a mother. Did I mention that was a pound too? Oh I digress.

*Money. This one makes me mad. Because I don't like when people talk about money. And I don't meet people on the street and say, "hey guess what? Our mortgage is xxxx per month" or anything embarrassing like that. But when I get around my besties or my family, money stuff (or the lack of it) seems to come out of my mouth a lot. I want to quit this. Make me stop.

*One odd thing I tend NOT to slip into conversations is that I am an author. This is terrifying to me for some reason (and could be a contributor to my book sales. Hmmm...).

So I'm hoping that by slipping these things into this blog, I can learn to refrain from slipping them into real-life conversations from here on out. In reality I am not a great converse-er. In high school and college I was outgoing and popular. I talked to lots of people. Then I married Mr. Shy and instead of me making him a Chatty Chatterson, he has molded me into a more sidelines kinda gal. These days I get all sweaty and nervous and fill the lulls in conversation with crazy stuff:

"Oh, did you say you grew cucumbers this year?....... That reminds me of my nine and a half pound baby."

What do you slip in to conversations? Do you wish you could quit this.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Five-Year Plan

This beezniss can be a tough one. I told my critique partner yesterday that I'm convinced we get 100 bad news-es for every one good news. And those good newses are SLOOOOOOOW coming. To make it as an author, you need to have an eye for the long term.

So, what is your five-year writer's plan?

Here is where I hope to be in five years:
-I hope to be enjoying writing
-I hope to have an agent
-I hope to have two more LDS published titles
-I hope to have at least one mainstream published book
-I hope to still be reading a lot of craft books, and just-for-fun books
-I hope to be attending conferences
-I hope to be still maintaining my platform through my blog (if blogging is even still around by then)

What about you. What are your long term goals?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Thoughts on Halloween

Here are Maggie's thoughts on Halloween:

1. "This is the song that never ends. Oh it goes on and on my friends...."
That's how Halloween feels to me. We have parties Wednesday, two on Friday, one on Saturday, and--oh yeah--the REAL holiday on Monday.

2. What I like most about Halloween: hearing the Monster Mash on the radio.
What I dislike most about Halloween: um, everything else??

Just kidding. I'm not that bad. I don't close my curtains and hide out on the Spooky Night of the year, but as I get older, I'm realizing I enjoy this holiday less and less.

First of all, every year my group of friends has a Halloween bash. Awesome, right? Yes! Tons of fun. Except for one thing: you HAVE to wear a costume. So, each year, I spend approximately thirty days running possible costume ideas by my husband. He spends approximately thirty days telling me why each one won't work. This is crazy making. And what usually happens is we throw something together in the last thirty minutes that is, well let's just say, not-award-worthy. The above picture is us a couple years ago as a Chick Magnet.

Second of all, my kids get sweets ALL the time, they don't really need a whole extra week devoted to loading up on more sweets. Remember when dessert and sweets were a special occasion? I remember hoarding my Halloween candy for ages because that was mostly likely the only candy I would be getting until my stocking on Christmas morning. But not any more. Here are some of the ways my kids get sweets: at home (duh, I like them too), at the bank, at church, at school, at the doctor's office. You know what I mean.

And finally the costumes. First off, I don't buy costumes. But before you go all "well-isn't-she-Miss-Betty-Homemaker-sewing-up-her-kids'-costumes-by-hand" on me, let me explain. I don't buy costumes. AND I don't sew costumes. I'm too cheap for either. If it can't be hot glued, forget about it. Yes, I am a mean, mean mother. Most of our costumes consist of regular clothes reconstituted. For instance, Daughter #3 is a ballerina (have all that junk); Daughter #2 is a old woman (pillows, a head scarf and mom's clothes make this easy peasy); Daughter #1 is a jockey (yeah, so this costume might not be easily guessed by others, but she thinks she looks like one, so who cares?). And baby? He gets a store bought costume! (Bought by my friend and hand-me-downed).
As far as adult store-bought costumes, I'm confused. How come no one dresses up as a nurse, a school girl, or a maid? But EVERYONE dresses up as a slutty nurse, a slutty school girl, and a slutty maid. There are even slutty kitty cats for goodness sakes. Why? Oh why?

What are your thoughts on Halloween? And... Have any good costume ideas for me and hubby?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

And the writer was...

Kristin got it right (in yesterday's post). The author of that statement (about improving your writing skill) was Stephen King in On Writing. I still don't know where I stand on his thought. I kind of agree with one of my commenters who said you can't teach the art of telling a story, but the skill of writing it can be improved.

In On Writing, King told about his road to fame which was fun to read. Can you believe he couldn't afford to keep his phone on and was writing in a laundry room when the letter came that Carrie had sold paperback rights for $400,000?

I also liked that he said even though writing is a huge part of your life, it need not be the center of your universe. He talks A LOT about how important his wife and family are to him, and I loved that.

I'm not sure I agree with all of his writing tips, for instance, he said writing conferences and classes don't do a whole lot besides affirm to you that spending your time writing is worthwhile.

But, I learned lots of other cool stuff. I loved his advice that when you write your first draft, you write with the door closed. Don't let anyone else in on your thoughts and just go gung ho. He said don't take more than a day off a WIP at a time or else you will lose your momentum. He said a rough draft shouldn't take longer than three to five months. When you write your second draft, write with the door open.

Another interesting tidbit he shared was this formula: second draft= first draft - 10%. He said he naturally was an adder of words, not a deleter of words, but since he's learned that formula his writing has greatly improved.

All in all, it was a good craft book and I enjoyed it.

Have you read this book? Are you a fan of Stephen King's fiction? What do you think of him?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What do you think?

I recently read this:

"...while it is impossible to make a competent writer out of a bad writer, and while it is equally impossible to make a great writer out of a good one, it is possible, with lots of hard work, dedication, and timely help, to make a good writer out of a merely competent one."

I can't decide if this depresses me or encourages me. I guess it depends on where I rank myself. I hope I am at least a competent writer.

How does this quote make you feel? Do you agree? Do you disagree? And for bonus points, who wrote this?

Monday, October 17, 2011

The rest of the story

On with the story of how Dan and I met.

So anyway, like I said, one of the guys of the group asked me out, but it wasn't Dan. We went on a few dates--one super fun one that involved jumping off a thirty foot bridge into a river--but decided to just move on. All the while I continued to hang out with the group of guys. Then one day Dan called and invited me to a group activity. I didn't think much of it.
When the three guys picked me up, they insisted I ride in the front seat (Dan was driving, but not the cool truck). Dan said "hi" and NOTHING ELSE for the entire two hour drive to the lake cabin for a day of boating (and yes, more swim suits for me).
Anyways, to make a monstrous long story a little bit shorter, more and more of these group things went on.
Then one day Dan called and asked me out. I thought this a little bit odd since I had kind of gotten comfortable in the group setting. But I said yes. We did a double date to the fair with a couple who was really lovey dovey. Then a few days later Dan took me mudding. Or, if you're from Washington, you would call it "four-bying." Psshhh. Either way it means tromping around on huge hills and muddy backroads in a truck. I had a BLAST! In fact, I hadn't had so much fun since Wyoming. Still, Dan barely talked and when he kissed me that night he was so nervous he almost fainted-- no joke!
We went on several more dates over the next couple of weeks, but not much changed. Finally, I couldn't handle the sitting in silence (I'm pretty social) and I told Dan the dating thing just wasn't working. I broke up with him and went back to the roster of potential datees.
But guess what? Dan didn't give up.
We went back to hanging out with the whole group. We started hanging out alone--as JUST FRIENDS. And you know what? As soon as the pressure of being a boyfriend-girlfriend was off, Dan opened up. He speaks!!!
Over the next six months, Dan and I became best friends. We weren't dating (at least in the regular sense). We didn't kiss. But we hung out every single day and I had the time of my life. The non-dates Dan and I enjoyed included: smashing pumpkins off of bridges; going on super long drives to nowhere; riding bikes; camping (don't worry, these trips were supervised people); and just hanging out. And talking. And talking. And talking.
One night after a super fun mudding trip, I walked in my door and said to my Mom "I'm going to marry him someday." I immediately covered my mouth and backtracked "No, I'm not. It's Dan!"
Dan was an awesome best friend.
I graduated college and took a few months off and started needing to figure out a life plan. I signed up to join the Americorp (think Peacecorp in America) and began getting ready to move to Maryland in January. Something in my heart told me not to go over and over and over again. But I had no real reason to stay. I didn't have a job. I didn't have a boyfriend. I was ready to move on in life. My plane tickets were on their way for me to leave in less than a month.
It was December and Dan offered to pick me up for the Church's annual Christmas Devotional broadcast. I told him he didn't need to and I rode with my Mom. After the program, Dan asked if he could drive me home. Again I told him he didn't need to I could ride with my mom. Talk about a major plan foiler! I went home and about an hour later he called and asked if he could come over.
Remember we were not DATING (in fact I was still going on dates with other guys although I didn't have a boyfriend). Dan came over to the house and we were down in my room talking but he was acting weird. He was so freaking nervous for some reason, and I couldn't for the life of me figure out what it was.
He kept saying stuff about how much fun we had together and everything like that. Finally, exasperated with what he was trying to get across, I said "Are you trying to say you want to try dating again?" (Remember I was planning on moving across country in a matter of weeks).
Dan went down on his knee pulled out a gorgeous ring and said, "Actually no. I'm saying will you marry me?"

Yes. Talk about a shocker.
Now, most of you kind of knew when your proposal was coming. Right? Me? Not. A. Clue. We weren't even dating! Beat that for shortest Mormon relationship!

It sounds corny, but with absolutely shaking hands I just said a silent prayer and asked Heavenly Father if it was right, and I knew it was. I really, really knew.

And I said yes!

We kissed. Told everyone else. And were married four months later.

Crazy huh? I love the behind-the-scenes story of our engagement though. On one of our nights tromping around in the backwoods I guess (I don't remember this) I described my dream wedding ring to Dan. He remembered. He bought it for me.

Also, during singles ward that morning, he had snuck out of Church and went and asked my Dad's permission to marry me. You know what my Dad said? "Don't feel too bad if she says no."

But I said yes.

It was a different route to marriage than most people's, but it had to be that way for us. It would have NEVER worked out the first time around (when he was still Mr. Silent), but becoming best friends was the perfect natural progression for one of the shyest guys in the world.

Dan is still a pretty quiet guy. Not at home, of course, but around new people. He is the most wonderful man I know. I am so blessed that he picked me. I love him with all of my heart. And I am so lucky we get to be together for eternity.

Share your real-lief love story. The long or the short of it.

Friday, October 14, 2011

That post with an overabundance of dashes and parenthetical statements

I bet you didn't know that you were going to read the story of how me and my husband met. Yep. That's what's on the schedule. There's nothing Mommy today. There's nothing writerly today. There's not the usual random crazy fodder to fill your brain. Today I have an actual story.

In high school I was a one-man-woman and had a relationship that lasted several years and spilled into college. After an especially hard break up I took it upon myself to test the advice to date a bunch of guys and just have fun.

And so I did.

I rolled down the singles ward list with vigor. There was the pre-mission guy who I was certain I'd wait for (does four months count?) There was the recent convert who LOVED the same football team as me (if that's not celestial enough, what is?) Unfortunately he also loved to date (and kiss) lots of girls at the same time. There was the guy down the hall who was still too immature. There was the fun guy who made me feel like a million bucks but was also stuck helplessly in a decade old love-triangle that he couldn't completely break free from. Next there was his roommate. He was a super fun guy. The only guy I'd ever dated who was shorter than me, but still very cute and training to be a pilot. For a date he invited me and previous-boyfriend-roommate-guy up in his little plane over Eastern Washington. Oh what fun, right?! Right... The ride started innocent enough. I offered to sit in the tiny back seat while the two guys sat up front. Yeah, I know. This is sounding less and less like a date. Anywho, about twenty minutes into the ride we started doing some left-then-right maneuvers. Some up-then-down maneuvers. Some oh-crap-I'm-going-to-barf-maneuvers. And when date looked back and saw me sweating profusely and completely green, he knew what was about to come up. He emptied out his pilot bag and I filled it faster than you could say Holy Ruined Date. But I digress. That man is not my husband. Moving on.

A mutual friend introduced me to a guy named Dan at a fireside and I didn't think much of him. Sorry. No love at first sight. He was nice, but he said "hi" and that was it. But the second time I saw him, I remember well. I was at a canoeing activity (new singles ward, new roster of potential datees). A huge black truck came barreling into the parking lot pulling a monstrous trailer of canoes and I had one thought: "Now this guy looks like a Wyoming guy!" (Everyone in Wyoming has a humongous truck and the lack of humongous trucks in Washington, since I grew up in Wyoming, was a serious beef of mine). A few weeks later the friend who had introduced us started inviting me to a few hangouts where Dan was. But--and let me get this straight here--I had no clue he liked me. If there was one thing I'd learned about Dan (besides that he had a great truck), was that he was silent. Very. Very. Quiet.

The group activities (in which I was usually the only girl in a big group of guys who had grown up together) consisted of swimming in pools and swimming in lakes and watching movies. And now that I think about it, I wonder if this was a ploy to get me in my swimsuit on multiple occasions. Hmmm... Anyway, guess what happened? One of the guys asked me out.

But it wasn't Dan.

Holy schmoley is this post getting long. Sorry. I will continue it on Monday!

Did this strike a cord with your dating life? I'd love to hear a dating disaster or experience of yours.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

This is what it's all about

I'm not even going to tell you all the things you should ignore about this photo (let's just say it's not my best). BUT... On to the post.

There are many things I love about writing, but number one, HANDS DOWN, is when a manuscript is finished. DONE! And ready to go.

Here is my third manuscript heading out the door. It's an LDS non-fiction book I wrote with a co-author (my crit partner Bonnie R. Paulson).

Wish this baby good luck!

Have you submitted anything lately? Getting close?

Friday, October 7, 2011

All about you

Boy looking back on the last few weeks my blog has sure gotten a little Look-At-Me Look-At-Me, hasn't it?

Oops, sorry folks. Back to our regular scheduled program.

So for this Fall Friday let's talk about you.

Check out some of my awesome writing friends:

Bonnie Paulson: Critique partner extraordinaire, lover of dirt bikes, awesome cook, and hardest worker I know. Bonnie is a super stud (and by the way she has a new novel out by Carina Press!)

Rachael Renee Anderson: This was the FIRST lady to help me in the LDS publishing world when I was a brand new newbie. She has three published LDS novels and is super sweet. She is a lover of happy endings. Go check her out.

Jolene Perry: If I only have time to check out one blog. It's Jolene's. Why? Because she's super witty and fun. And by the way this hard worker seems to post good news ALL the time. Am I jealous? Of course. Do I love her? YES!

Emily Rittel-King: This gal is newer to the blogging world, but she has some awesome tricks up her sleeve. How do I know this? She regularly pulls 30-ish comments on her posts! She is super sweet and fun and I can't wait to see some of her writing.

Brittany: I just found this blog a few weeks ago and instantly love it. Why? It's called My Life Herding Cats (and whenever I am trying to get all my kids moving in one direction I feel like I'm herding cats... Oops, back to me again.) Brittany's posts are fun and honest and I love them.

Jessica R. Patch: I love Jessica's sweet personality. She is a consistent commenter on so many blogs and her blog combines all things Christiany and writerly in a wonderful way.

Melanie Jacobson: This LDS Chic Lit author is so funny and honest, her blog will have you ready to pee your pants. She also has a new book out and is doing tons of give-aways. Check her out!

Kaylee Baldwin: Our books came out with the same pubber just a month apart and I've liked Kaylee ever since. She is really sweet and her writing is wonderful!

Any favorites you would like to add?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Our little crazies...

I've been feeling extra crazy this week--like even more than my normal never-going-to-make-it-through-this-day-without-breaking crazy. So I thought I'd share some of my craziness and maybe you could share yours (or maybe I'm just hoping someone else out there is as weird as I am).

Maggie's list of crazies...
-I hate feet. Hate them. After my kids are about two years old, cutting their toenails is about the worst form of torture (for me, not them) I could imagine.
-At times I hate writing. I feel a pull to it, and I NEED to do it, but I absolutely don't want to. Most times I really want to do it, but yes, sometimes there is serious hate.
-I have this odd notion that everyone is older than me. At Church I look around and imagine myself in the young crowd. When I find out people's ages (and yes, I stalk around a bit to discover this) I am soooo amazed to find out everyone I thought I would fit in with are way, way under thirty and I am an old, old woman of thirty-one.
-Certain days of the month (and yes, I'm just going to go ahead and say it) such as exactly ten days before that womanly monthly visitor, I am a pyscho. Seriously. I cry at songs on the radio. I yell at kids for breathing wrong (not really). I feel the need to reevaluate EVERY aspect of my life because NOTHING is going right. I strongly consider becoming medicated. Then I look at the calendar and take a big sigh of relief.
-I HATE loud clapping. Not the arena or sporting event version--that's fine. I hate when people clap for no reason. Why would people clap for no reason? I'm not sure. Maybe you should ask my husband.
-Since we're really revealing here (or just I am revealing, and I'm going to feel really stupid when I find out everyone else is really sane), I will admit that I am all kinds of crazy when it comes to cleaning. I NEVER sort laundry. And sometimes if I find a little toy and don't really feel like walking all the way downstairs to the toy box, I do exactly what CHILDREN do, I toss it behind the nearest piece of furniture.

There, I've said it. I'm crazy!

Are you?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Talking about our questions

Last week I asked you to pose some questions that you have and we would talk about them. I loved your questions. I'm going to list them here and give our readers a chance to answer. Then if we're still scratching our heads, I'll do a bit of research and give you the answers I come up with in a few days.

-Why do people hate adverbs?

-What do editors mean when they want more "high concept" fiction?

-What's a meme?

-What does it mean to "show don't tell"?

-Did Deseret buy Covenant and do I submit to them separately?

-What is a timeslip novel?

Alright, tackle one of these or all of these if you know the answer, or if you have more questions, add them to our list!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

What you always wanted to ask.

Okie dokie.

In this writing blog world of ours, there are many hmmm, how shall we say this... Know-it alls? I tend to be more of a know-it-nothing.(Like the grammer there?)

And sometimes when I'm out perusing blogs, I feel like I better be in tip top form. I better not let anyone know that I am still learning. I mean really learning. Sometimes I feel I'm at the bottom of the learning totem pole.

And guess what? I've been blogging for two years. I've been writing for ten years. I have a writing related degree. And I have a published novel!

But in the vast world of what-I-feel-I-need-to-know, I have only scratched the surface. I've only scratched the surface of the surface. I've only.... Okay, I'll spare you.

But all that aside, I decided today is the day you can let your faults be known.

Are there terms your fellow bloggers use that you just don't understand? Do you nod your head and smile thinking "what the heck is she talking about?" Are there topics you read about again and again that are failing to sink in?

Today's the day. ASK AWAY! There will be no judging of you (or me) for what you do NOT know. In fact, I think it's refreshing to admit we're still learning.

So, here is what I have been wanting to know (and of course, I could find the answer to this via Google in five minutes, but that wouldn't be fun now would it?)

What in the crap is Steampunk?

Go ahead, hit me with the answer. And while you're at it, please leave a question you've been wondering about. We'll all try to answer each other.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

You know there's housework to be done when...

When I have serious editing and revisions to tackle, you can guarantee I will procrastinate the heck out of it by cleaning my house. Sparkling toilets? I should be fixing my POV. Reorganized cupboards? I should be paring down my adjectives.

And now, I'm on the flip side.

I SHOULD be organizing the house we just moved into. Instead, I made myself a new About Me page on my blog. Check it out, it's super fun!

What do you procrastinate? And what activities fill your time when you SHOULD be doing something else?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Have you ever

...been asked if you were a daycare center when you were out and about with just your own family?
...been told, "you have your hands full" and thought the other half of my kids are at school!
...been given dirty looks in the grocery store?
...been asked "don't you know how this happens?"
...had to buy a pregnancy test with all your kids in the cart?

Yes, all of these things have happened to me. Sometimes people look at me as if I alone have overpopulated the Earth. And I only have four kids! On the flip side, older people often come up to us and say how neat it is because they don't see large families any more.

And, by the way, I know this is a kind of lame blog post, but today is moving day for the Fechner family, so this is the best I've got. Our move is only a mile away, but still, it's going to be a hectic day.

Share some of your "big family" moments.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Shut up and write already!

Sometimes in the blogging/writing world, I feel like I spend more time "talking" about writing than actually writing. So today my blog post is an un-post. My WIP is currently at 41,000 words and I still want to be finished with my rough draft by the end of the year. I'm just writing this morning. Feel free to join!

Do you ever spend more time blogging/facebooking about writing than really just writing?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sometimes the two don't mix

I LOVE my kids. These four littles are a HUGE part of why I felt I was put on this Earth. Without them I would not be complete.

I LOVE to write. I feel I was called by Heavenly Father to write. When I go even a few days without writing, I begin to feel down.

Writing is an excellent stay-at-home Mom job because you can do it from your own computer. However, I find being a Mom and being a writer at the same time don't mix. My writing schedule has traditionally been from 5-6:30 a.m. but over the past several weeks I have been a super lazy bones and not gotten out of bed early. Boy have I paid for this!

So, instead of writing when the house is quiet and peaceful, I've tried to eek out my word count during my Mommy hours.

Here's the results: (and please don't analyze the writing. This is a very, very, first rough draft)

Emmy ordered a hot chocolate and warmed her hands around the cup.
Mom, I need a drink of water!

She held it under her mouth and let the steam swirl up and meet
Mom, Lily's hitting Ryan!

her lips. The train was freezing. She glanced at the clock over the bar
How many minutes until the bus gets here? My hair is messed up, can you do it again?

and saw it was four forty five in the morning. They should be in Greybull by six.
Mom, you NEVER pay attention to me! I said I want a snack.
Me: let's turn on the TV for a few minutes.

Emmy finished the drink and tiptoed past the sleeping passengers on both sides of her. She reached under her seat
Mom! It's on grown-up shows!

and pulled out the blanket the attendants had passed out. She wrapped it around her shoulders
Mom! Did you pack my snack? *Baby begins crying*
Ryan wants up on the bed!

Mom! Come see this!
Me: Just a minute!
No. You have to hurry!
Me: Just a minute!
*I rush to the TV to see a commercial for anti-acne cream*
Mom, maybe you should get that. Then your face would be more prettier.

pulled up the socks she had put on over her stockings. Emmy reached for the chair
I think the bus is coming!
*Baby cries*
Lily just hit Ryan!

in front of her to sit down but the train lurched forward and
Mom. Come wipe!
*Turns off computer*

Tomorrow I WILL wake up at 5 a.m. Anybody want to give me a wake-up call?

How do you mix motherhood and writerhood? Or do you, like me, find they need to occupy different time slots?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Fall is coming!

Hooray. My favorite season is on its way. What show are you most excited for this fall?


PARENTHOOD! I so looooove this show and want to know why? It's a family saga--my favorite book genre.

THE VOICE! Adam Levine is awesome. Cee Lo makes me laugh. And Christina is gorgeous. Oh, and the singers are great too.

MODERN FAMILY! If you haven't watched this yet, order the back seasons now. Funniest thing on TV.

What are your fall shows?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Speed in your opening

My Journalism professors spoke a lot about leads. And speed. And how every single word in your first paragraph (or lead) should cost you a dollar.

Now, if you don't know the average salary of a newspaper reporter, let's just say this--it makes teachers look like they're rollin' in the dough. Paying a dollar for every word used would be akin to taking a pay cut.

But the point of my professors' logic wasn't to steal from poor starving students. Instead, it was to teach us to learn to GET TO THE POINT in our writing. News articles are measured in column inches, not pages, and a reporter has a very limited time to catch a reader's attention. Writing a novel is the same way.

If you've read any writing craft books (WHICH YOU FREAKING BETTER! YOU WANT TO BE A WRITER FOR GOODNESS SAKES!) you know that speed in your opening is of utmost importance. You have to catch the reader right away by introducing the problem, or conflict, or at the very least by alluding to some sort of change in the normal pace of life.

This is one of the most difficult aspects of writing for me. In fact, in every novel I've written so far, I end up chopping my first several chapters so that I can get to the point. (My critique partner can attest to this problem I have). I seem to think my readers need to know everything about a character before we can dive into the problem.

So, here's the point of my blog post: (Yes, I know, I didn't have much speed in getting to the point here) Why can some authors break this rule and still come out with a riveting book?

I am currently reading Anna Quindlen's EVERY LAST ONE. I love the book and can't put it down, so would you believe me when I say she didn't present the book's major problem until page 156? I kid you not! Page 156 out of a 330 page novel. This is definitely a character driven book, but still, how can she get away with breaking such an important rule and still come up with a best seller?

In my opinion, she does it by using these techniques:
1. Takes the American Dream to such heights that the fall will be unfathomable.
2. Creates such real characters that we read ourselves (or the "ourselves" we wish we were) in them.
3. Creates mini problems along the way to the BIG ONE. Now, the mini problems in this example weren't of much consequence: a depressed teenage son, a comfortable but not passionate marriage, a minor setback with the MC's landscaping company, etc.

I'm not suggesting any of us try these techniques and wait until our novel is half over to get to the point, I am just trying to work out in my mind how it works for Quindlen. I tend to believe you have to be quite masterful at the craft before you can blatantly and successfully break rules. If I am a rule breaker at this point, it's probably because I'm still learning.

Do you struggle with speed in your opening? OR, What books have you read where major rules are broken successfully? Are you a rule breaker?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

First Week of School Woes

Random facts about the first week of school that made me feel like a terrible mother:

1. Girl #3 has a tantrum when I PICK HER UP from Preschool--Not when I drop her off.
2. I tell Girl #2 I missed her so much while she was at Kindergarten. She says, "Really Mom? I forgot all about you!"
3. I forget to pack the "potty clothes" for Girl #3.
4. I forget to pack the water bottle for Girl #2.
5. I forget to pack the snack for Girl #1.
6. Keeping bus numbers and start and stop times straight in my head has me woozy. We have a morning preschooler, an afternoon kindergartener, and an all-dayer.
7. I filled out so many emergency forms I am beginning to think there absolutely MUST be many, many, many emergencies in public schools these days. (And this reminded me of the time my little sister had to fill out her own forms at the Dr.'s office because our Mom dropped her six-year-old off and let her go in by herself. Under the question Emergency Contact, she wrote, 911.)

Have any of you had a crazy first week back to school? Going from one kid in school to three has me running around like a chicken with my head cut off!

Share some first week of school woes.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Wait, wait, wait

As the microwave ticks down the seconds, I stand there impatiently tapping my foot. Fifty seconds is all it takes to warm a corn dog for my kids, but hungry children can do a lot of screaming in fifty seconds!

Teaching children to WAIT can be a difficult lesson. But I believe teaching adults to wait can be even harder.

If you are anywhere near the generation I occupy, you probably find waiting difficult. We are part of the "instant gratification" era where we can quite literally get what we want when we want it.

Remember the days when you and your friends waited to hear a certain song on the radio? I would sit with my cassette tape in the stereo and my finger poised over the RECORD button waiting for the announcement of my favorite song.

But not today. Today you type in the title of a song on your computer. Or your phone. Or your ipad or ipod or e-something-or-other. And instantly you have the lyrics, the downloadable version (legal and illegal), and a music video. Getting your needs met quickly is quite easy.

However, even in today's super-fast world, there are still things we have to wait for.

When I think of waiting, the most torturous wait seems to be the process of having a baby. First there is the wait until you're ready to get pregnant. Then there is the wait to conceive (counting days and what not). Then there is the wait until a pregnancy test is viable. Next, if timing is right and you get a + sign, the WAIT of your life awaits you. Forty weeks of wait, wait, wait.

There are many other waits in life as well. We wait for our children to hit milestones. We wait for jobs to change or health to improve or relationships to evolve.

And waiting is hard. Oh my gosh is waiting hard.

I honestly feel like I have been waiting this entire summer for a few emails. A whole season of waiting!

Although I wish this weren't a lesson Heavenly Father needs me to learn (patience), I know I need it. And so I wait with a cheerful--I mean somewhat cheerful--heart and hope for the best.

What has been a difficult wait in your life? Do you handle waiting well?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Go ahead, give it a shot

You can't go very many days in the writing blog world without coming across a post about plotting or being a by-the-seat-of-your-pants writer. These posts are usually titled something like Plotter vs. Pantster.

And I used to pride myself on being a pantster.

English was always my best subject growing up. I had no problem pumping out several-page papers. Essay questions were my forte. And I'd brag about straight A's (without ever writing an outline). In college, it went the same way, and when I began my career in a writing field (journalism) my attitude continued.

I did my best writing by simply sitting down and writing. Fast and furious.

Then I read a writing book, and the idea for my new story began unfolding in my head. I imagined plot twists and character arcs, settings and a killer climax. I decided to write it down.

I spent several hours working on my outline (which my crit partner told me was actually a synopsis since it wasn't in list form). This was a whole new experience for me. The synopsis ended up being a couple of typed pages. This was decidedly anti-pantster behavior, but it felt natural, so I went with it.

And you know what? I don't think I'll ever write another novel without a synopsis first. It has made such a difference in the speed of my writing. It has made such a difference in knowing exactly where I'm going. It's made such a difference in remembering where the story started.

I'm in love. Plotting IS worthwhile.

Now while I work on my WIP, I have the synopsis up on my computer at the same time. I highlight each sentence as I finish that portion of my story. It gives me a rough idea of how far along I am. If I make major changes in the story, I add those into my synopsis so that the end result will be a good summary of the book.

So today I'm challenging you to give the other team a try. Are you a strict plotter? Then try to write something letting the creative process flow with no worry of where things are going until you get there. Are you a pantster? Give an outline or a synopsis a chance.

Go ahead, play for the other team this once. You never know what you might discover.

Plotter or Pantster? Are you open to switching things up a bit?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Storymakers Advice

Alright, I missed out for two years in a row. I am definitely going to LDS Storymakers Conference in 2012.

I know it's early to be making plans, but I am.

Here are my questions for those of you who go regularly (or even have gone once).

*When would you fly in? Thursday afternoon, night, Friday morning?
*How did you get from SLC to the conference center?
*When did you come home? Saturday night, Sunday morning?
*Did you stay at the Marriott? And did you share a room?

And add any other info a newbie like me should know. Thanks!

Monday, August 29, 2011

To make you laugh

Some days you just need a good laugh. Here are my three favorite Internet sites to get me laughing. The first is called Awkward Family Photos. com. I usually end up crying I'm laughing so hard as I rifle through the horrid family pictures.

Second is Damn You Auto Correct! This one has funny messed up messages from cell phones.

Last is the Kid History videos made by a bunch of Mormon Dads. These took me a while to like, but now I think they're hilarious.

Do you have any LAUGHABLE websites to share?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

How ROUGH is your rough?

If you've been around this writerly blog for any length of time, you know I have no problem admitting my flaws. (There's plentiful material for blog posts that way.)

Today I'll be talking about feet. Well, er, feet in relation to writing. Hmmm... you're asking yourself. How could she possibly relate writing to feet? Hang in there and you'll find out.

You have feet. I have hooves.

You know those commercials where they show nasty, rough feet and you throw up a little in your mouth? Those feet look like a Christmas card compared to mine. The little cracks on your feet are normal. The cracks on my feet are Grand Canyons. I wear black running socks, so my Grand Canyons are now permanently black. From May to September my feet are in one of three things: water, sand, or flip flops. They are dry as dry could be. And it gets worse.... But, don't worry, I'll spare you the nasty details.

Sometimes I hear people talk about their rough summertime feet. And when I peek at their feet, I think wow, you wouldn't know a rough foot if it kicked you in the face.

My rough is rough.

I hate them. They're embarrassing. I feel the need to triple tip a pedicurist for having to deal with me.

Now, on to writing. Every novel starts with the rough draft, but everyone's "rough" is different. Some people spend three years on a rough draft. They painstakingly craft each sentence until it is perfect before they move on. When they are finished with that first draft, they may have very little needed in the way of revisions and editing.

Other people's "rough" is so rough they would rather show their nasty feet on public television than let someone read their novel the day they type The End.

These writers know a novel has to start somewhere, so they use the creative process to forge full-steam ahead. There is none or very little re-reading during the writing period.

Most of us probably fall somewhere in between. For me, a rough draft can take from three to six months. The work required after my rough draft is completed is still quite intensive. I usually must take several (like four or five) passes at full revisions and then a couple passes at copy editing.

You know what? As long as you promise to tackle those revisions with gusto, either way is okay. Last week I watched a WriteOnCon vlog with author Beth Revis. Speaking of her best selling novel, she said that probably less than ten percent of her original novel made it into the final draft!

So, where do you fall?

Is your rough draft like the picture above: beautiful, smooth, and close to your finished project? Or is your rough draft more like my feet (which I would NEVER post a picture of): rough, rough, rough and in need of serious repair?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Join the Writer's Platform Campaign!

Rach Writes is hosting a Writer's Platform Campaign and would love for all of you to join. If you want to meet fellow writers and bloggers, check this out!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Writing the Breakout Novel

Have you read this book?

Yes, I know. I know. It's old.... Like 2001 old. Old, as in Donald Maass says somethings like this, old: a terrorist attack by middle Easterners isn't a legitimate fear in the U.S.; and the e-publishing world may or may not make a big impact in the lives of readers and authors. BUT, besides all that outdatedness, it's a wonderful book on developing your craft.

You know I'm big on reading writing books. In fact it's something that is ALWAYS included on my current list of goals. I just finished this one and found a bunch of tidbits of wisdom.

Here are some of my favorite points Maass makes when teaching us about the "breakout" novel:

*He suggests you chart all of your characters, their traits, likes and dislikes. If several are similar, they can be combined. The key to several memorable characters is contrast.
*He suggests "breakout" settings are defined by how the character sees each scene, not how an author sees it.
*He talks about having tension on every page.
*To write a breakout novel, he says your premise must be outstanding. Take your original idea and build upon it. Ask, "but what if?" or "how could it get worse?"
*He teaches about the importance of upping the private and public stakes.

This book was great, and even though it's an old read, I'd suggest it. There were a few parts I thought were oddly placed such as his advice on how best to budget your upcoming six-figure advance, but most the advice was relevant to writers at any stage in their careers.

I was so motivated by Writing The Breakout Novel that I rewrote my premise and synopsis and have been building off of it in my current novel.

What writing tidbits of wisdom have you received lately? Maybe from a conference, a how-to book, or another author. Share.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Winner and MONDAY Random-ness

Ruth Josse using, you are the winner of Bonnie Paulson's Breathe Again! Email her at Bonnie R Paulson @ for the details.

(take out the spaces!)

And now for a Monday SMILE, here's me attempting to wake-surf (I'm better at wakeboarding, but only marginally :)

Because if you can't laugh at yourself, what's the point?

So, share. Are you athletic? Or do you try your best but still fall short (like I always do :)?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Drumroll, please

Today I am hosting one of my favorite authors.

She is the princess of pacing...

The master of motivating...

The queen of querying....

The dirt-biking diva...

And the critique partner of your dreams.

It's Bonnie Paulson!

Bonnie's awesome romance BREATHE AGAIN was just released by Carina Press (get it for your Kindle). Doesn't her cover make you swoon? And guess what? Her MC's name is Maggie! (don't worry, she picked this before she met me :)

Bonnie decided to do a guest post for us today about Forgiving Ourselves. Read her post and leave a comment and I will do a random selection so that one of our readers will get a digital copy of her new book.

Forgive thy neighbor. Forgive. Love. Turn the other cheek. Forgive them their trespasses.
Always, always Christians are admonished to forgive. Forgive. And always to forgive others.
Rarely do we hear about forgiving ourselves. Sure, we repent for Heavenly Father’s forgiveness. We atone for the wrongdoings we’ve committed. We accept apologies from others who have harmed or offended us, those who have hurt or ill-used us.
But what about our greatest transgressors? Our greatest saboteurs? Ourselves.
I remember things I’ve done in the past. Stupid, mean, spiteful things that I did but that I wouldn’t normally do and that I did my best to fix with apologies and repentance. But I remember the action or deed. It tears me apart still today. I go over and over in my mind what I did and how I could have changed it or done it differently. Sometimes, the guilt wakes me up at night and sometimes it just sneaks up on me when I’m doing the dishes or washing the kids.
I can forgive others, easily, but myself, it seems, I hold to a standard so high, that even though I know the Lord has forgiven me, I cannot find it in my own heart to forgive myself.
How do we forgive ourselves? For each person the answer is different. In Breathe Again, Maggie berates herself for the death of her husband. Without answers to key questions, she feels she is to blame and she can’t accept the possible chance at happiness sitting so assuredly before her.
Brodan, too, can’t forgive himself for the terminal sickness of his brother. He didn’t cause it, couldn’t have prevented it, but he still holds himself back from life and love because the guilt overrides his actions.
Writing Breathe Again awakened an awareness in me that everyone is on their own journey. If we can’t do what we’re supposed to and even forgive ourselves, how can we find what we’re really looking for?
I don’t know what I’m looking for, but I know if Maggie can do it, I can too.
What do you think you’re looking for and how hard is it to forgive yourself?

Thanks for having me, Maggie. I just adore you and everything you’re trying to achieve.

Don't forget to comment and Monday morning we'll select a winner!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Articles I like from WriteOnCon today

Check out these great articles for free today at the WriteOnCon conference site. Here are a few I've found today that I like so far. I'll add to the list as they come up!

1. Your Novel Isn't Ready Because...
***Yay, judging by all his points, my novel IS ready. Phew!***

2. How To Write A Killer First Sentence
***This made me rethink and rewrite my current WIP first sentence.***

3. Myths and Misconceptions

***In this video they talk about how it seems like EVERYONE but you is having good things happen to them over night. IT'S NOT TRUE! Did you know Suzanne Collins had lots of not-super-great books before Hunger Games? You do now!***

4. Your Own Hero's Journey
***I especially loved this because Kendra Levin says we all need GIFTS on our writing journey. Hooray for gifts!***

4. On Pacing
***She hit the nail on the head here: I take about 50 pages to get to the meat of my stories!***

What have you enjoyed at WriteOnCon?