Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Peanut Butter goes with Jelly like Writing goes with...

Some things just go well together. Bubble baths and candles work. I gag every time I see chocolate covered potato chips on pinterst, however. Here are somethings that I feel work with a writing career, and some that don't.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Book Review: Once Upon a Christmas by Nancy Lawrence

Once Upon A Christmas
A sparkling Christmas romance set in Regency England.

Miss Nerissa Raleigh isn't interested in finding a husband, but she's in desperate need of a hero! She has written a Gothic romance and it's her dearest Christmas wish to see her book published. If she can support herself as an authoress, she'll be saved from having to make a loveless marriage as her sisters have before her. But the publisher won't buy her book until she makes the story's hero more dashing, daring, and fearless. Nerissa needs a real-life example, a patterncard of a hero. But where can she find such a man in the beau monde?

She finds him driving his curricle in a neck-or-nothing fashion through the streets of London. Handsome Breck Davenant is a wealthy, undisputed leader of fashion and a confirmed bachelor. Breck has no intention of serving as the model for Nerissa's romance nor is he willing to listen to her absurd notions of heroes and love. When Nerissa assures him she's interested only in his hero-like qualities and not at all in him as a man, he's appalled . . . and intrigued.

Before long, Breck is driving his curricle at hair-raising speeds through London with Nerissa by his side. In a Yule season filled with festivities, Breck's amusement over Nerissa's romantic notions slowly turns to love. He wants her for his wife, but first he'll have to prove himself a real hero by capturing her heart.

I'm always looking for a good, clean regency novel. This time of year, I especially enjoy a Christmas themed one. Overall, I enjoyed this romance and thought that the characters were developed well and changed over the story. At first I thought that Nerissa was too naive, which I thought the author used to explain some of the rules of society. She grew on me throughout the book however, and I kind of liked that she was so young and oblivious. Though I have to say, I get it already! Breck is a hero. I didn't need to be hit over the head with it. I liked Breck, and looked forward to his interactions with Nerissa. I also enjoyed his sister and wished she'd made more appearances in the story. This author needs to learn not to head hop though. The POV changed rapidly from one paragraph to another and it was very distracting. There were some typos but nothing that bothered me too much, and some flaunting of society's rules that I thought unfortunate and improbable, but nothing like I've seen in other stories. In general a good story. For my own blog, where I can do what I want, I'll give it 3.5 stars, but on Amazon, I'll round it up to 4 to encourage the author to keep writing.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

My Twelve Months of Christmas

January – I hit the clearance sales. Since there wasn’t enough room to put up all of our decorations (and only two tubs of them left unused in the garage) I know I need to buy more. Luckily they’re all super cheap in January. Wrapping paper is also an important purchase because you can never have too much wrapping paper. I’m so glad my kids don’t mind if their birthday presents are wrapped in reindeer and santa prints.

February - My kids generally break about half of our precious, memory rich ornaments and decorations every year. I put them in a basket and spend January thinking about gluing them back together. By February, I usually get tired enough of looking at them to sit down and do it.

March – Now that everything is glued back together, I can pack up all the decorations that have been dumped in the garage. If I find anything else broken at this point, it stays that way till next year. I also buy another tub or two for the new purchases I made in January.

April – Time to get down the Easter decorations. While my husband’s up in the attic, I ask him to put up the Christmas decorations. He takes one look at the massive stack, mentally measures it, and replies, “Look, let’s do that later. We’re not doing anything next Saturday.”

May – I decide to have a garage sale and push all the Christmas decorations aside. I cover them with a sheet and a sign saying “Not for sale.” Sometime into the morning, I turn around and both the sheet and sign have mysteriously disappeared. So has my husband, I realize, as I try to explain that there’s been a mistake and I’m not selling my stuff.

June – My kids go into the garage to get their bikes and find the Christmas decorations. I find them later in a jumble of garland, ornaments, and singing reindeer. I chase them outside. Gather up the mess, dump it in a box, and try to forget about all the things they’ve re-broken.

July – Stepping outside is like walking into an oven. Nothing sounds better than a winter wonderland. I start playing Christmas carols full blast get out my balsam and pine candles. Sure the neighborhood kids think I’m nuts, but they don’t seem to mind. They run around singing along to Jingle Bells in their swimming suits while eating popsicles with my kids.

August – I make my gift list far in advance. Browsing the wonderful array of tutorials for homemade gifts, I carefully decide which treasure to craft for each person on your list. For a blissful moment, I’m on top of things.

September- Losing weight becomes imperative. I know I’ll put on a good five pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas. If I lose five pounds before the holidays, I break even. I also decide that at this point, there’s not much point in putting the Christmas decorations up in the attic.

October – While decorating for Halloween, I always reflect on how weird I am. I hang ghosts from my trees and lay out my Barbie Zombie Graveyard while listening to Christmas music. Deciding that I should give it a break for a while, I switch to something else. This usually only lasts a couple of weeks.

November- I start to freak out a little bit. The stores are decorated for Christmas, festive merchandise is everywhere, and the new toys are coming out. It’s finally almost here. Wait, I haven’t started all those homemade gifts yet! I haven’t sewn a single candy cane striped pot holder or spent any quality time making kid friends decorations with my children yet. Hurry!

December – I rush out and buy all my presents (homemade is over-rated), throw up as many decorations as I can, spin into a crazy frenzy of trying to get everything done. Then I panic that Christmas is practically here and I haven’t enjoyed the season yet. I realize abruptly that I am not in the mood. I’m not sensing the magic. I need to feel jolly. Help!

And this is why I wrote Aglow. I focused all my Christmas yearning into one sweet, festive romance. Now when I need a dose of Christmas spirit, it’s there waiting for me. I hope it will work the same magic on you – even if you aren’t crazy like me.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Is there an Organization Expert in the house?

That's right. It only took eight hours to clean this mess. Every minute of it, I was wishing that I hadn't let it get like this. Why hadn't I kept it clean that last time I'd cleaned it? The truth is that I'm a creative person, not an organized person. Luckily, I know how to organize, I just don't automatically do it.

What does this have to do with writing? EVERYTHING! Sorry. I know that I yelled, but I'm a little high strung right now. With my first novel, Aglow, I learned a hard lesson. Creativity isn't enough to make story work. After months of rewrite, I sent it to my editors and they bravely informed me that I didn't have enough conflict to drive the plot or keep the readers interested. What? How did that happen? To fix it, I went back to the basics and diagrammed my story. Sure enough, the rising conflict only rose a couple of inches on the chart, nowhere near the climatic peak. I had to start from scratch.

Well, I've learned my lesson from that story and this garage episode. Don't wait till everything is in a tangled, hopeless mess to wish you'd been more organized. To that purpose I have a giant story chart on my bedroom wall and recipe cards spelling out the important points. I'm diagramming my next story so that I can look at it everyday and plan it all out. Now, when I sit down to be creative, I will have a clear road map to follow and no regrets down the road. I won't be heading into a fourth rewrite thinking, "What the heck is wrong with me?"

Coming Soon

Complete Guide to the LDS Lingo!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Paperbacks and People Watching

Now Available on Paperback!

How exciting it was to hold it in my hands- to feel the smooth, glossy cover and see my words in print. This milestone in my life didn't come the way I expected it to, but it's exciting nevertheless. A dream has been realized, and I've joined the ranks of all the other courageous and slightly crazy souls out their who put their souls in print for others to peruse.

I knew I should be a writer when I was very young and realized that at least half of my awareness was always devoted to a different persona. Not in a schizophrenia kind of way, in an imagining I'm someone else kind of way.

For example, I'll take you to the other night when I went to see the off-Broadway Wizard of Oz production with my children. I'm enjoying the moment with them as their mom, relieved that they're behaving themselves. I'm also the cute usher girl flirting with the gorgeous guy taking tickets at the door. I'm a young girl a few rows down going to see a play with her boyfriend and his parents, looking nervous and clinging a little too tightly to his arm. I'm the conductor in the orchestra. I'm the attractive actor playing the Tin Man who looks a little too fondly at Dorothy.

When I'm in public, I am constantly watching people and projecting myself into their lives. I infer or invent feelings, motives, and desires into them based on their body language, dress, and expressions. I notice details about setting and mood that I'm sure most people are oblivious to. I feel like I'm weird, but only because I know very few writers. I'm getting to know more of them though, and they've assured me that while I'm somewhat unique, even among their ranks, we're all avid people watchers. So if you ever get a creepy feeling that you're being watched, there may be a writer around somewhere in the crowd of normal people.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

These Happy, Golden Days

Last weekend, my husband and I enjoyed some time in a cabin on Lake Lucerne, near Eureka Springs, AR. My two sisters and their husbands went as well and we had a great time. Unfortunately for me, I had just put my book up for sale so I had a harder time relaxing than I otherwise would have. Unfortunately for my sister, Cara, she was the only one able to get an internet connection so I was constantly on her phone checking sales, facebook, and my Amazon page.

My husband and I were celebrating our 11th wedding anniversary. I was also celebrating my first ever book sales. I'm looking forward to celebrating many, many more anniversaries and hopefully many, many more book sales in my life. Of course, the golden days of celebration are few and far between. Most days we just have to put our shoulders to the wheel and do the heavy, gritty work that makes them possible. Marriage and parenting are at once the most challenging and most rewarding pursuits in this life. I have to say that writing is not far behind them. Marketing is turning out to be extremely challenging and I have yet to see if it is rewarding. Ugh! I'm going to stare at this picture for a while and try to relax again.

Cute Flying Pink Bird