Sunday, January 31, 2010

Drum Roll, Pleeze!!!

Wow, I think I was more nervous drawing names than singing my trio at church today! My lovely assistant, Mike--aka, husband--helped me with the pickings. Here is the lucky person who gets to have her very own original fan art and share the spotlight here in my blog!


I love my friends so much, that I actually felt guilty so I drew two more names! They will receive fan art of their own, but in secret.




Congratulations!

I had so much fun with this and really appreciate everyone's participation and excitement! I would LOVE to do this again sometime very soon--it turned out a whole lot better than I had anticipated!

Thank you for following my blog and leaving comments and being my friend!

PS--sorry I posted it later that I wanted, I was having technical difficulties and couldn't use the pretty little picture I took of the names. :(

Honest Scrap Award


I am so flattered that Courtney Reese chose me as one of her victims of the Honest Scrap Award! Woohoo! Thank you Courtney!

Since she chose 10 fun and honest facts to share about herself, I would think she'd appreciate that I do the very same. So, here it goes:

  1. I believe I am honest to a fault
  2. I've had many people take my energy as sarcasm and not genuine interest
  3. I love to help people and make lots of friends
  4. I love children with all of my heart and NEVER take for granted that I am a stay-at-home mommy
  5. It drives my mother-in-law absolutely NUTS that I am always wearing black (I feel safer in black and I have no idea why)
  6. When I first got married, our relationship took a severe nosedive--15 years later, it has never been better! Woot!
  7. I don't know how to ride a bike and am embarrassed to try--imagine a grown woman like me trying to learn? LOL
  8. I enjoy being a stay-at-home mother and never once have regretted that choice!
  9. I freeze when I have to speak in front of a large group and hope that I don't do that when ever the day comes that I am a panelist at a writers conference
  10. I have had many dreams where I am trapped in a HUGE building of some kind--either alone or with a group of people--and there are hunters in search of me to kill me. Only a few of those was I able to defeat but no longer have them IF I remember to pray for sweet dreams on a nightly basis!
I really appreciate Courtney's thoughtfulness, so I will return the favor by choosing 5 others! Muahahahaha! >)

What was the coolest award you've gotten for your blog and how did it make you feel?

I am sorry for my disorganization with the way I handled the announcement of my contest. :( I will do better next time, but I will post and notify the winner at 4 pm! Thank you for making it fun for me!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Powerful Words


Hello! My daughter brought home this wonderful hand out on powerful words from her Language Arts class. I find it a valuable tool for when we write! You are more than welcome to copy and paste it, book mark it, email via the option at the bottom of this post or whatever, so you could use it as a reference!



unquestionable
incredible
tremendous
gorgeous
outrageous
abundant
dazzling
gigantic
splendid
comfortable
magnificent
marvelous
petite
generous
ample
tantalizing
fascinating
exuberant
eccentric
memorable
glorious
spectacular
amazing
superb
phenomenal
vivid
lively
quaint
tempting
stunning
dazzling
first class
brilliant
exceptional
tranquil
breathtaking
appealing
quintessential
worthwhile



(I tried to put it into 2 separate columns, but unfortunately, I can't figure out how to make it do that!)

*What are your most favorite words?

Oh, it's not too late to enter my contest you have until the 30th, this Saturday by 11:59 pm. I will announce the winner on Sunday by 4pm!
*has been updated

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Becoming Self-Reliant





The visiting teaching message for January. What does that mean to you? Becoming self-reliant. The first thing that comes to my mind is independence. Heavenly Father wants us to take responsibility for the things that He has blessed us with. Our spiritual and temporal living.

Becoming self-reliant is following Christ's footsteps.

Imagine you are a young child still living with your parents. They teach you the ways of the Lord and life. Reading scriptures, attending church, praying, balancing a check book, shopping smart, driving a car. Think about it. If you were never taught those essentials (along with much more in between), would you be able to reach out and help others?



The only time we can serve others is when we have strengthened ourselves. Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said: "It is important to understand that self-reliance is a means to an end. Our ultimate goal is to become like the Savior, and the goal is enhanced by our unselfish service to others. Our ability to serve is increased or diminished by the level of our self-reliance."

It is my testimony that, no matter how small the steps we make toward becoming self-reliant as we serve others, we will truly be blessed. In application to our writing, if we choose to help others with theirs (critiquing, building confidence, mentoring, batting around ideas, etc.), I have no doubt that Heavenly Father will help us become powerful, influential and yes, even successful!



__________________________________

I have transferred this info below from a handout so you could (hopefully) copy it and print it up. I hope it helps!




Food Storage for about $5.00 a week



Week 1: 6 lbs salt

Week 2: 5 cans cream of chicken

Week 3: 20 lbs sugar

Week 4: 8 cans tomato soup

Week 5: 25 lbs of flour

Week 6: 6 lbs of pasta

Week 7: 6 lbs of brown sugar

Week 8: 8 cans of tuna

Week 9: 1 lb each of yeast baking soda & powder
Week 10: 50 lbs of wheat

Week 11: 8 cans of tomato soup

Week 12: 20 lbs of sugar

Week 13: 10 lbs powdered milk

Week 14: 7 boxes of Mac & Cheese

Week 15: 20 lbs of rice

Week 16: 5 cans cream of chicken

Week 17: 1 bottle of vitamins

Week 18: 12 cans of evaporated milk

Week 19: 5 cans cream of mushroom

Week 20: 50 lbs of wheat

Week 21: 8 cans tomato soup

Week 22: 10 lbs beans

Week 23: 8 cans tuna

Week 24: 3 lbs shortening 3 lbs oil
Week 25: 25 lbs rice

Week 26: 5 lbs honey

Week 27: 10 lbs powdered sugar

Week 28: 20 lbs sugar

Week 29: 5 lbs peanut butter

Week 30: 50 lbs wheat
Week 31: 7 boxes mac & cheese

Week 32: 2 quarts of Mayonnaise

Week 33: 1 bottle Aspirin

Week 34: 5 cans cream of chicken

Week 35: 50 lbs wheat
Week 36: 7 boxes mac & cheese

Week 37: 6 lbs salt

Week 38: 10 lbs beans

Week 39: 8 cans tomato soup

Week 40: 25 lbs flour
Week 41: 5 cans cream of chicken

Week 42: 20 lbs sugar

Week 43: 1 bottle vitamins

Week 44: 8 cans tuna

Week 45: 50 lbs wheat
Week 46: 6 lbs pasta

Week 47: 20 lbs sugars

Week 48: 5 cans cream of mushroom

Week 49: 5 lbs honey

Week 50: 10 lbs of rolled oats
Week 51: 8 cans tomato soup

Week 52: 10 lbs wheat


You will end up with:


300 pounds wheat, 100 pounds sugar, 20 pounds of powdered sugar, 12 pounds salt,

10 pounds honey, 5 pounds of peanut butter, 45 cans of tomato soup, 15 cans of cream of mushroom soup, 15 cans cream of chicken, 24 cans of tuna, 21 boxes of mac & cheese,

1 bottle of Aspirin (Tylenol), 1 pound of yeast, 2 bottles of vitamins, 3 pounds of shortening

12 pounds of Pasta, 50 lbs flour, 12 cans of evaporated milk, 2 quarts of Mayonnaise, 1 lb baking soda, 6 lbs brown sugar, 50 lbs rice, 10 lbs of rolled oats, 20 pounds beans, 1 lbs baking powder, and 20 pounds of powdered milk.


This is almost a complete year supply for two people of everything that is needed. The things that you might need extra of is rice, beans, milk (canned) and rolled oats, so if you get extra cash buy more or those. They also recommend fruit vegetables, jams and jell-O. You will also need 28 gallons of water.

Monday, January 25, 2010

P.S.!


Even if you are a published author, you can consider this contest as your very own FAN ART!

How cool is that???

(I'll be sending you the original!)

My Discoveries and a Question


I mentioned how my husband was a great help to writing Rock Star. I've decided that I've run him into the ground and need to get off my little fanny and do some big time research. While I was doing some online digging for Rock Star, I ran across a few cool sites I think you would LOVE!

One of them is "Blog Like a Rock Star: 7 Rules for Your Blog World Tour". I thought, hmmm, not what I was looking for. It was extremely informative! I learned how to make my reads interesting and entertaining and informative without bogging down my fans!

Another very interesting site I've come across is how to outsmart groupies! I found this fascinating and I just may have to refer to it once all of my books hit the NYT bestsellers list! ;) We all know that is what Stephenie Meyer has done.

I am still riding the wave and learning more and more about rock stars. (I shiver from the things I've read on groupie gossip!)



You know, the funny thing is, as an artist, I make sure I time stamp every sketch. But I don't my novels until my latest one. Oops. I've been writing since the dawning of my life and I have never once thought to time stamp it. And guess what? When one computer dies and you save it to another, it changes the 'created' date! (Unless you know of an ancient Chinese secret to find out when the thing was really born, please share!)

Doh!

I can only guestimate his birthday around September 2008. :(


*Bowing and smiling* Thank you for dropping by to see me! Luv ya!

What kind of interesting things have you come across while doing research for your books? How do you keep track of when you create your writing project? And most importantly! (Something I run into all the time). Do you write first while the muse speaks or research first so that what you write makes logical sense as you write?


Don't forget my spotlight/coverart contest ends this Saturday--don't miss it! ;)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Contest not My own!












Wonderful author Steph Bowe is providing a chance to win a paranormal romance book back! How COOL is that? The contest closes 11:59PM February 1st AEST.

I am all for it! Woohoo! Are you??





*Don't forget to enter my contest by January 30th!





I am a Rock Star!

Thanks for visiting me! I always enjoy the wonderful faces of my followers and when my fans drop me a thought or two--it makes me feel like I am doing my job right.

*Bowing*

What is this all about? It is in honor of my WIP. I am revising, editing, hacking my own Frankenstein! Woohoo! But his name is Rock Star. He is a YA worthy romance.

I have to pretend to be a rock star as I write/rewrite (it's so fun to revisit my beloved characters!) and be dismissive with my other characters. I need to be laid back. Vulger. Selfish.*

I have done some performances and can draw on some of the euphoria of people applauding and adoring me. Imagine living a life where people would do just about anything to see you? It is a heady sensation. ;) (At least that is what my MC can tell you.)

I used my lovely hubby as my source of info to write this story. He is a fan of Motley Crew, Metallica, Def Leppard, White Lion, White Snake, Poison, Winger, Hinder, Theory of a Dead man, Cinderella, Bon Jovi, ... and when he was a young 'un, he went to many a concert.

I am embarking on a tour to discover what it is like to be a big-time rock star. From the drugs to the groupies to the performances. I need to stop picking my hubby's brain. (I'll post about this another time.)

Here is an excerpt from my newly rewritten portion. ENJOY!


Moggie opened his eyes and said with a husky tone, “You know this tune. Our first song right after the accident. An accident that steals hope from children.” He swung his hair from his eyes and scanned his fans. They waited. He clamped his lips together before he could force himself to say the next words, his throat tight. “But I give it back . . .”

The audience roared in reply.

He sniffed and dove into the measures, his fingers moving quickly across the strings. The crowd approved and cheered into a crescendo of howls, washing the music away, until they tapered into scattered cheers and whoops and whistles.

Moggie clung to his instrument as if afraid it would vanish right before his watch, his hair dripping with sweat. He could hardly contain his weeping as he listened to the doleful notes of Zag’s lead guitar twining with his. Their sound rose and fell, glided and tumbled, growing strong and weakening before he would speak the words . . .

The words of Zag’s first written song ever. It had pulled them out of the one hit wonder era. Moggie shut his eyes against the dancing lights and lowered his chin. He could feel the solid comfort of the floor beneath his knees, the glowing energy of his fans and the living beast called music. He opened his mouth. The sound of his voice flowed, reminding him of the lost notes of a flute in the forest. He nodded and swayed, his brows pulled low. The tears finally fell from his chin and slid down his neck.

This song was composed after the fire, but never sung until he and Zag felt comfortable enough to share it. With the urging of their band in those days, it had taken Zag five years to finish this piece. It was about the carefree days of a child until tragedy darkened his life into nothing more than waking horror, but hope and love and peace claimed his heart in the end.





Yikes! I hope you enjoyed that. No one has set eyes on that but me, so you've just had a sneak peak!

What do you to do slip into your character? To become that character? To think like that character?

(PS--please don't forget to enter my never-before-seen contest! It's not too late, you have until the 30th of January!)

*I've had to update this and say that not all rock stars are like that, but my MC is!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Spotlight Contest!

Contest:

I have this crazy idea and would LOVE your feedback. I am considerably new to the blogging world, but I love the idea of holding a contest for my followers! It will be a little different than what you have seen out there, but here it goes (hope it's not too weird)!

I will spotlight you on my blog on any one thing you have written, as well as a hand drawn picture of your book cover (just for fun) like the one I did here or of your most favorite character/s.

The rules to enter the drawing? Post a comment and become my follower if you aren't already! You have until the 30th (Saturday) to enter! Good luck to us all and thank you. :)

Spotlight
:

My good friend, Shanna Blythe, has asked me to draw her a cover for her book that she is currently working on, The Middle Princess. I had so much fun! She gave me permission to post it, so here it is along with an excerpt of her wonderful story!


It is a lively story about a princess who detests being the middle child of the royal family and does everything she can to break out of that mold. While Fortuna works hard to earn the label of being clumsy, something awful has happened in the lands near and far.

All princes have vanished!

And Fortuna is just the one to find out why, so she sneaks off on a quest to perhaps even rescue them. Her plans for a true adventure are ruined when her father, the king, assigns the traveling troupe staying in the castle to protect her from any harm.

Aaron manages to catch her while the others struggle to keep up. He follows her into an old woman's home who claims Fortuna as her long lost daughter, through woodlands filled with fairies, and kingdoms wrought with danger. Will the princess ever discover where the princes have gone?

Shanna has a knack for creating tension and a real talent for spinning a true adventure tale. She is full of surprises and is an expert at whipping the reader around unexpected corners. And best of all, she knows how to weave a love story.

I really enjoyed her book and have no doubt of Heavenly Father's plans for Shanna! Thank you, Shanna, for letting me share this with everyone.
:)

Friday, January 15, 2010

In the Beginning . . .



Hi! I've been wanting to share my thoughts about certain aspects of writing for a long time and talked about it with my new pal Kim! She says it sounds like a good idea, too. I feel that it is a very important aspect in a writer's life and we all need to (should) share this with each other.

It's about how I started out. It's a funny thing, really. I grew up with teachers telling me that I had a hard time comprehending the things I read. True. When I started college, I had to take a remedial writing class. Funny. I found out why I struggled with comprehension. Interesting. One would think that I would steer way clear from the stuff. Look at me now--a writer and loving it! Well, ahem, I love to read, too.

Okay. Sorry. My problem had to do with the way I was raised. I endured child abuse. I had learned how to mentally switch off. A coping mechanism. I turned to pretending. As a child, I found great escapism in creating stories and living them. I LOVED stories. My sisters and I would whip up plots and characters and settings that blew our minds and had us involved for hours--even weeks at a time. We would draw (yes, draw!) entire tales on paper about elves, horses, unicorns, mermaids--anything that snared our fancy. It was so much fun!



The magic of creation never left me. I wrote my first poems in 4th grade. My first novel when I was 11 (Shelly and the Two Stallions). It was as cheesy as I'll get out. I still have the book! I wrote another story after that (Thunder). Thunder was a wild black stallion. I started little stories here and there. Just whimsical--fun--at this point. Nothing serious. I wrote many poems in high school and then took a creative writing class. I fell in love. I was engaged. I was soon after married to writing and have never looked back!



I have a serious relationship with writing. I started my first full novel when I was 16 (1991). Proud of my first chapter, I handed it to my older sister to share with her my excitement. She handed it back, marked up with red ink. I was devastated! I remember throwing a fit and fixing it up and stashing it away. Well, I wrote several pages after that and began to illustrate enough pictures to fill an entire scene. I got bored and set the novel aside for a year. Then I would take it out and add another passage and set it aside for another year or so. This went on and on until one day, when I was 19, I decided to make a go of it. I finished it 5 years later. By this time, I was married to my husband and pregnant with our second baby!

It is over 700 pages long.

I had written it long-hand, and then transcribed it into my brand new computer when my baby was about 3 months old. Whew! I did tons of revisions and rewrites. I had fallen in love with the magic of writing and never stopped. I have written and completed many other novels since.


It wasn't until 2 years ago I decided to turn my hobby into a career. No, I am not published yet. I will be. I look forward to the time when I am. One step at a time. I am savoring the journey and will not have it any other way.

Since, I have attended a few writers conferences, several writers groups and found the coolest writing friends ever. You know, writing can be very lonely because there are really no 'co-workers'. There is no competition but within yourself, I've learned. But writers need writers.

I would love to hear how it all started with you--as far back as you can remember. You can post it on your blog and/or leave a comment here if you'd like. I can't wait to read what you have to say!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Life is Beautiful



I am feeling solemn as I write this. Our ward has had another death—this time it was one of our Young Men. He was suffering from severe depression and it had only worsened the last 2 months. His mother did everything she could, including home schooling. He had actually begun to show a turn around.

During his funeral, our bishop encouraged every person present to enjoy life. The sound of a baby’s laugh. The smell of flowers. The warmth of an embrace. The joy of a smile. As he said this, I cried because this young man lost his chance to experience the joys of serving a mission, marrying in the temple, having a family and holding his babies as they are born, along with many more pleasures this life has to offer. But he is in a happier place.

On Sunday, the topic was on the Plan of Salvation. I am ever grateful for Christ’s love for me and how He sacrificed His life so that I can live with my Heavenly Father again.

In times of darkness, when all seems lost and impossible—remember to hold tight to the iron rod. We are truly loved and blessed by our Father in Heaven and never, ever are alone. If we could only view ourselves as He does, we would stand in awe every moment of the day.




To David

Monday, January 11, 2010

Shifting Balances




Lately I've been feeling as if something was wrong. Very wrong. I have been feeling stifled in just about everything I've been doing from cleaning my house to reading my scriptures to writing. Why is this?

I know that my priorities have all changed since Thanksgiving. Holidays, kids not going to school and vacation did that to me! I no longer read scriptures first thing after sending the kids off to school. I stopped practicing the music I lead for church as much as I should. I stopped keeping up with my household chores and was available for my kids only when they needed me. I wasn't happy! I spent most of my time doing things like editing, blogging, updating my FB, visiting everyone's blogs.

I have decided to press the 'reset' button and go back to the way I handled things before chaos snuck into my life.

I feel refreshed and even surprised that I had allowed my priorities to shift around to where the most important of things were at the bottom. For me this is the way it works best: Heavenly Father, Family, ME (writing, drawing, singing, dancing--whatever my hobbies are). I feel fulfilled and happy when I do it in this order.

How do you keep balance in your life and stick to it?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Contest!


Suzette and Bethany, two agented authors, are holding a contest! What are they doing? Five of us lucky writers could win a critique of the first five pages of our manuscript along with the ole query letter, and Bree Despain's autographed The Dark Divine! How cool is that?

What? Are you still hear reading? Zip on over there and check it out!

Good luck!!

;)

My Starving Book


I thought I would let my No Kiss post linger a while, but I feel I should write about my editing experiences.

I have written my first novel ever to be shorter than 200 pages! Can you believe that? I guess it wouldn't be considered a novel then, right? I feel it has a good, strong story line, the characters are rich and believable and their trials are oh so real. The problem is that after reading a how to edit book, I was so self-conscious about writing that I starved my book! It is the most skeletal story I've ever written!

Well, I submitted this poor thing to Scrawl (my awesome critique group of bestest friends ever) and they gave it back to me telling me exactly what I knew it needed--flesh on its bones. LOL!

I've gone over their comments, suggestions and edits and have jotted down notes and set aside my notepad for the time being. I have to admit this: I am scared of it! I am scared of the great unknown.

Sure I have received critiques in the past before and have done many rewrites and edits and so on and so forth (I have 7 other books I have completed) but none of them are starved and needing so much building. It will be a challenge. A huge one. Maybe. Maybe not. I only think it will be because this is my first time. But you know what? I am up for the task. I have total faith in my capability as a person and as a writer to get the job done and I know my Scrawl will never lead me astray. I only feel bad for any frustrations they may have felt of reading a 'half baked' book!

I would love it if you shared with me how you have personally honed up to the challenge of rewrites when/if your editors/critiquers required one. On top of that, what is your process to combing through the comments and applying them? (I know that sometimes interpreting them can be frustrating as well).

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Aspiring Authors



I've been wanting to write about aspiring authors and what it takes to become one. From my experience alone, it is NOT an easy thing. We are starting something from our own volition. It is a love. A passion. Something that stirs deep down in the heart of our souls.

We are like foot soldiers in battle. The first to struggle to maintain our own stance. The first to be blown to pieces. The first to experience drudgery. The drudgery of others' nodding politely with a cynical smile as you tell them your dreams.

It takes a platoon of strength to move on from the nonbelievers and hold your head up high and say, "I can do it." We especially need this fortification when we see our first works off into our alpha readers' hands. The ones who whip out their little red pen and start marking up all of our mistakes. Eek! I know the first time we see the bloody mess, our hearts sink.

Oh no! You may think, I felt so moved, I felt so clear and so sure, how can it be?

I know the pain involved when I first see all the mark ups. But there is still hope. The more battle worn we are, the tougher our skins become and the red mess on our perfect white sheets will be our badge of courage. It will be our strength to better ourselves and soon, we will welcome it for we know what comes after when we apply the useful comments. A gleaming story ready for submission!

Sometimes the comments can be destructive from those who do not know what they are doing. Once I followed someone's advice against my better judgment. Well, as I learned, it took me far away from where I should have gone. I had to start from ground zero. I put my novel back to where I thought it should have been in the first place. It is much better now.

As writers, we need to maintain a balance of what we feel is right as we listen to our critiquers' comments, but not to get our hearts tangled in the mire of confusion of self doubt! Remember that no one knows your story better than you. What they mark up is only opinion. If it doesn't feel right and you feel torn, take it to the Lord in prayer and then make your decision.

Another thing that I have found myself doing--especially after reading a self-help book on writing--is editing as I write. I wrote a novel so tentatively that is threadbare because of it. It is so skeletal because the rules kept biting me with every word I wrote. It was very destructive and made me feel inadequate.

Remember to try to write your first draft for the FUN of it. Let it carry you to those daring, fun, carefree places. Try not to think how odd it sounds as you write out that scene. Let it come straight from the heart! When you are finished, put it away for a few weeks (about 4-6) before you edit it for your critiquers.

A wolf cub is still a wolf and more so if it runs with its pack than cowering in its den. Do not be afraid to interact with published authors and feel that they are better than you. They were once where you are now.

Yes, it is an admirable thing that they have realized their dreams. Do not let them intimidate you because they are where you want to be. Let them be an example to you. You will get there. Let us be strong together and encourage other aspiring authors because without aspiring authors, the writing world will surely die. Never give up and lose sight of your dreams.

I would LOVE to hear your experiences (good or bad--be honest!) as an aspiring author and how it was for you if you are now published. :)