Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Lori Nawyn - My Gift to You

I met Lori at the LDStorymakers Conference this past April. My first impression of her was that she was the most kind-hearted, loving, and accepting person I'd ever met, and I was right. I highly recommend her book, My gift to You, and wanted to share it with my readers, along with a message from her.


Her blog
You can buy her book here


From the back of the book:
Trish Ingram works hard to maintain the perfect suburban household—or, at least, the appearance of one. By managing her outer world with lavish attention and rigid control, she’s able to ignore and conceal the darkness of her inner world, which is plagued by traumatic childhood memories of loss. Her terminally ill sister-in-law, Jamie, sees through the fa├žade and reaches out in love to Trish, inspiring her to seek a more meaningful life and a more authentic self. But the childhood scars run deep, and despite Trish’s best efforts, she’s unable to be the wife and mother her family needs.

Devastated by the departure of her husband and daughter, Trish faces the challenge and opportunity of a lifetime. She desires to move forward in faith, but this desire alone cannot mend her family's shattered trust. The hollow realm of denial and fear has been her safe haven. To confront pain and transcend the shadows of her past will require a level of courage she’s not sure she possesses. This gripping story of familial love and conflict tenderly reminds us that forgiveness—of self, and others—is both a difficult choice and a precious gift.

Lori's words on why she wrote the book:
“My Gift to You” is about forgiving ourselves, despite what we perceive as our shortcomings. When we judge ourselves as less than acceptable for any reason, small mistakes can cripple us with discouragement. It becomes easy to lose sight of our potential, as well as precious opportunities for growth.

I was an only child with ample time to ponder the intricacies of human behavior. At a young age, I became fascinated by the fact that while several people in my life were happy, upbeat, and in possession of inner peace in most if not all circumstances, some seemed inherently unhappy no matter what happened—good or bad. Money and possessions didn’t seem to have a bearing, and I wondered what did.

Though I’d been baptized when I was eight, my family didn’t attend church. If I wanted to go, I had to attend on my own. It took me a while to grasp gospel concepts, and I found that most of the time I was among those who were unhappy. About twenty years ago I decided to stop asking Why me? And instead start asking What if?

One by one, I replaced negative emotions with those of a positive nature. Instead of wondering why I couldn't make everyone around me happy—and becoming despondent because nothing I did seemed to change them or their opinions—I started asking things like, "What if happiness really is a choice? What if it can be my choice, no matter what anyone else thinks or feels?"

Instead of commiserating over why my extended family couldn't accept me for who I was and what I believed in, I asked myself, "What if I could choose my own thoughts and emotions based on what I know in my heart is right and true?" In short, "What if I accept myself for who I am?"

And, "What if I forgive—knowing that forgiveness doesn't mean acceptance?" When I began writing “My Gift to You,” I decided I wanted my main character, Trish, to discover something important about herself: I wanted her to discover her own inner strengths and worth—much like I had when I began to unravel my own life.

Some of the things I hope the book will lead the reader to consider:
What does charity mean? Why is it important we extend it to ourselves?

What can happen when we base our worth on what the world values? On what should we base our worth?

Why are women so hard on themselves? What defines true success?

What can result when we judge ourselves to be less than others? Why is important we have a clear sense of self and purpose?

Are cruelty and shallowness signs of strength, or weakness? Why can cruelty be the result of fear?

Lori's Bio:
Lori Nawyn's award-winning writing has appeared in regional and national publications including Outside Bozeman, Segullah, Deseret News, CraziBeautiful Women, and Latter-Day Woman. She is also a columnist for her local paper and a former member of Utah Press Women. One of her short stories was published in the anthology Stolen Christmas. Her first novel, My Gift to You, was released in October 2010.

Lori is currently writing her next novel, Day, about a mother’s relationship with her son. She works as a freelance artist and is the illustrator of the award-winning children's picture book What Are You Thinking? which was released in July 2010 by ThoughtsAlive Publishing. She and her fireman husband live in northern Utah where they enjoy spending time with their four children and two granddaughters, plus an assortment of dogs, rabbits, and chickens.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Why My Mom Rocks

Do you ever wake up with a heavy heart? Something akin to heartsickness? That's how I felt when I got out of bed today. It intensified when I found out many of my students had to evacuate their homes because of wild fires last night.

I don't know about you, but I have several things I do to get through this feeling. Here are a few of them:

1. Pop in my favorite Mormon Tabernacle Choir CD (Consider the Lillies. To me, this is their best, most calming and uplifting album.)
2. Stand back and re-evaluate my life - where I'm going and why, what my goals are and how close I am to obtaining them, and how I'm doing spiritually.
3. Serve others

I've done all on this list except item 3, and since I'm working three jobs and don't have much time, I decided to do something a little unusual. That is, I'm taking my lunch break to tell you all about my mother, and why, to me, she "walks on water." I wish I could be at home right now, helping her out in the garden or the kitchen, but this will have to suffice.

Betty Pearson, born on February 9, 1955, is the third of five children. She was raised in Bountiful, UT, in the same house where her parents still live.


When she was 14 years old, she learned to play the cello, and played in orchestras all through college and beyond.

Betty is the one with the cello. :-)

She met Karl Pearson through Mormon Youth Symphony, where Karl (my dad) played oboe. They were married on May 6, 1977, and are parents to five boys and two girls.



Betty has devoted her life to service and self-betterment, and has done so in the following ways:
  1. Service to Family
  2. Service to Church
  3. Service to Community

Service to Family 

Betty:
  • Learned to make a monthly budget of $450/month for gas, food, and non-food items for six adults/teenagers and three children when her husband lost his job several years ago--a budget she is able to maintain to this day
  • Has always had a huge garden - spends hours every day maintaining the garden, and preserving (canning/bottling, drying, freezing, etc.), harvesting, and storing the extra food
  • Taught her children basic business principles, and owned a home-run business for several years
  • Strongly encouraged wholesome music in the home, and started all of her children on instruments and singing (which they all continue today) 
  • Has saved (and made) more money by being a stay-at-home mom than if she'd gone to work, even while Karl wasn't employed
  • Helped her children appreciate other cultures by:
    • Hosting exchange students from more than 10 different countries - over 25 exchange students who stayed anywhere from three weeks to ten months
    • Opening her home to members of the LDS faith from all around the world who needed a place to stay
    • Encouraging and fostering a strong love of learning in her children, whether through formal or informal education
  • Home educated all seven of her children

The family - minus Mike (on a mission in Japan)

Service to Church

Betty: 
  • Started and maintains an online email list for thousands of missionary moms (currently over 6,000 members worldwide) which has:
    • Helped at least (if not more than) 15 people find, and be baptized as members of the LDS faith
    • Connected childhood friends
    • Connected missionaries and their converts from years and years earlier
    • Provided needed support for mothers and fathers of missionaries
  • Has been instrumental in helping thousands of missionaries each year receive Christmas and care packages
  • Has served faithfully in every calling given to her.
  • Taught her children to 
    • Never say "no" to a calling 
    • Serve faithfully in any/every capacity
    • Recognize when unhappiness comes from within, rather than placing the blame on others or on circumstances
    • Serve faithfully as missionaries (her sixth missionary is currently serving in Japan. Only one more child to go, and all seven of her kids will have served missions.) 
    • Be independent
  • Spends hours doing family history research (one of her biggest passions) for family and friends
  • Spends hours a week instructing others on how to research their family history
   Service to Community
  • Founded and was chairman for Utah Valley Citizens for Decency - a group responsible for removing pornography from many stores and gas stations along the Wasatch Front, including all of the 7-11 stores.
  • Was Conference Chairman for the Utah Home Education Association
    • Responsible for organizing (and handling media and advertising of) yearly conferences for UHEA - which are similar in size and scope to BYU's Education Week, having over 50 workshops, over 100 commercial exhibits, keynote speakers, etc.
  • Keeps herself updated on all things political
    Self-Betterment
    My mom never allows herself to be complacent with where she is in life. I've never, ever seen her waste time. She spends all of it improving her life and the lives of those around her.

    Other things about my mom:
    • Co-authored and published a successful book with her husband.
    • Maintains her Suzuki training and teaches cello and music lessons weekly
    • Has learned so much about health and nutrition - and the diseases with which she deals - that doctors have had to refer her to other doctors... who in turn refer her to others. They all say they can't help her any more with her health than what she already knows.
    • Has paid off every car she has owned, including her current Subaru, through playing her cello at weddings, receptions, company parties, and through teaching cello lessons.
    • Does everything she can to keep herself healthy even though she struggles with the following health problems:
      • Diabetes
      • Celiac Disease (allergies to gluten (wheat) products)
      • Asthma
      • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
      • Fibromyalgia - which comes anytime she accidentally ingests wheat

      She isn't comfortable talking about herself (this will probably embarrass her a great deal), so my siblings probably don't know most of these things about her. This is my service to her, and my way to show appreciation to her for what she has done for me, and what she has taught me. I love her very much, and couldn't ask for a better friend or mother.

      Tuesday, September 14, 2010

      Must apologize!

      I haven't posted anything in a really long time and just wanted to say I'm sorry for that. :-) I have an actual excuse. Or four. :-)

      First, I'm working three jobs, and am away from the computer from 6:45am until 7:00pm most days. It's been fun to be so busy, but really hard on my "internet" life. :-) You know, Twitter, Facebook, and my blogs. My full-time job is centered around the computer, but I don't even have time to think about getting on the internet for fun stuff. 

      Next, I'm dating someone. He's totally super, hot, awesome, fun, and cool. Oh, and hot. :-) Plus, he's a genius - seriously. Molecular biologist, amazing artist, great musician. Can't go wrong with someone who has brains, in my opinion. :-)

      So, basically, I get home from work and head to his place, or we go out somewhere, then I come home and go straight to bed.

      Anyway. Just thought I'd let you all know that I still exist, but that I won't be blogging a whole lot for the next while. At least until things calm down.

      And, just for kicks and giggles, my newest favorite Youtube video:



      Isn't that awesome? :-) Okay, so if you have a hard time perceiving differences in pitches, it won't be so funny. Sorry 'bout that. :-) I think it's simply wonderful, though. :-)

      Friday, August 27, 2010

      Book Review: The Hidden Sun

      Author: J. Lloyd Morgan
      Author website
      Purchase the book here


      From Morgan's website:

      Eliana and Rinan are in love. However, Eliana is destined to become Queen of Bariwon, obligated to marry the victor of a competition called the Shoginoc while Royal Guardian Rinan, her personal protector, is forbidden to marry until he retires. Normally they could renounce their titles to be together, but these are not normal times. Abrecan, the malevolent governor of Erd, is determined to win the Shoginoc, thereby placing his easily manipulated son Daimh on Bariwon’s throne. Aware of his lust for power and the questionable way he has ruled the district of Erd, Eliana and Rinan are convinced the only way to counter Abrecan's influence is for Eliana to become Daimh’s queen. When a plan is devised for Eliana to retain her power, yet still marry Rinan, both she and Rinan see a way they can live up to their individual obligations and still be together. Little do they realize that they are choosing to be part of a deception that will threaten the peace they are so desperately trying to protect.  

      The Hidden Sun is a gripping tale which counters the lust for power with a longing for love. Author J. Lloyd Morgan weaves deception, devotion, caring and courage into a narrative that will keep you guessing. Its intriguing story line questions the worth of the things valued most in life, while considering the rippling consequences of a single choice.
       
      The very first thing I noticed while reading The Hidden Sun was that J. Lloyd Morgan knows how to draw in his readers. It didn't take long for me to become emotionally attached to the characters. I was really, really happy with how things turned out. His descriptions allowed me to really feel as if I were in the story itself. I found myself frustrated with Governer Abrecan to the point of wanting to strangle him myself. The "healthy" relationships throughout the book were fulfilling and satisfying, even with all the necessary road bumps. (And we all know that those bumps along the way keep readers reading. :-))

      Another thing that impressed me was Morgan's talent at developing twists and subplots. For example, and without revealing too much, I would never have thought up the solution to Eliana's problem with marrying Daimh, nor the resulting consequences. Other intricacies in the plot delighted me - I won't mention them here because I don't want to spoil any surprises for readers. His imagination caught me off guard - he didn't re-write popular stories, he created his own.

      The parallels found in the book were pretty cool. I've always been obsessed with light and darkness. And I was able to relate to the problems in The Hidden Sun because I see them in society around me. I like political books, but I like them best when they're mixed with other genres. Morgan found a great balance - one that worked really well for me.

      I highly recommend this book--pick it up as soon as you can and read it!

      Wednesday, August 25, 2010

      Typos!

      I don't know about you, but I needed a break from grammar rules! I've got ideas for more, and will get back to them eventually, but wanted to focus on something else I love. Typos! My mom found a really good one, posted it on Facebook, and had a lot of people respond with their own funny typos.

      I want to compile some of the best from your writing, my writing, or anything we've come across. Leave yours in a comment and I'll publish the compiled list in a few days.

      Monday, August 23, 2010

      Grammar Rules: Eminent vs Imminent

      Yet another "sounds similar" set of words. Eminent and Imminent. Two words with very different meanings.

      Eminent:
      "Well-known"

      Examples:
      This gum is eminent.
      He's an eminent scientist.
      Harry Potter is eminent.
      My books will be eminent. (One can hope! :-))

      Imminent:
      "About to happen"

      Examples:
      Charles' arrival is imminent.
      It's imminent after five months.
      My leaving isn't imminent.
      Your life is imminent.

      Have a great day!

      Friday, August 20, 2010

      Grammar Rules: Its vs It's

      Ever see someone trying to possess an action? "Its going to work!" Or trying to action a possession? "It's mine!" These are common mistakes, and it's sometimes hard to spot when we make them.

      Its (no apostrophe):
      Possessive pronoun

      Examples:
      Time to read its ingredients
      Its not hers.
      That book--its his, right?
      Without its kittens, the cat is lost.

      It's (apostrophe):
      Contraction for "it is."

      Examples:
      It's ugly!
      Wow, it's going to actually work.
      When it's working, it sings.
      It's hard to find my house.

      Authors/writers: Make sure you're on my list of authors!

      Thursday, August 19, 2010

      Hotel California Remake

      I LOVE watching and listening to talented musicians! Hotel California, by the Eagles, is one of my all-time favorite songs, and I'm very impressed by these two guys. Read the captions at the bottom of the video - it's really cool how they put this together. Enjoy!

      Wednesday, August 18, 2010

      Grammar Rules: Regardless vs Irregardless

      Another mistake I haven't seen in a while, but which could be reviewed: using Irregardless in place of Regardless.

      Correct: Regardless.

      Incorrect: Irregardless.

      Examples:
      He wants to date her, regardless of the outcome.
      Regardless of what her mother's actions would be, Suzette screamed at her brother.
      She hated her, regardless of the good behavior.

      Irregardless is improper and substandard. Again, don't let your writing be substandard! :-)

      Authors/writers: Make sure you're on my list of authors!

      Monday, August 16, 2010

      Grammar Rules: Farther vs Further

      At last! One of my favorite rules! :-) Farther vs Further.

      Farther refers to distance. (Physical)

      Examples:
      I ran farther than you!
      He can throw much farther this year.
      When will we move farther away?

      Further refers to extent or degree. (Not physical)

      Examples:
      They discussed the topic much further than was appropriate.
      The store's manager pushed the goals further than usual.
      No further mention is necessary.

      Authors/writers: Are you on my list of authors yet?

      Friday, August 13, 2010

      Grammar Rules: All Right vs Alright and A Lot vs Alot

      This one is simple. All Right is correct. Alright isn't. A Lot is correct. Alot isn't. Alright and alot are considered substandard. Don't allow your writing to be substandard! :-)

      Examples:
      All right, I'll come with you.
      The setting was all right with him.

      We used a lot of ketchup.
      He worked a lot of overtime hours.

      Authors/writers: Make sure you're on my list of authors!

      Wednesday, August 11, 2010

      Grammar Rules: Set vs Sit

      It's hard to come up with unique introductions to these grammar rules. Okay, so just don't break this one. It'll make you sound like a cowboy. :-)

      Set vs Sit

      Set:
      "To place."

      Examples:
      Please set your papers on my desk.
      She set the printer on the counter.
      I have set my keys here before.

      Sit:
      "to be seated."

      Examples:
      Sit down!
      She sat on the front row.
      I had not sat there before.

      ("Set yourself down" reminds me of my hometown. :-))

      Authors/writers: Make sure you're on my list of authors!

      Monday, August 9, 2010

      Grammar Rules: Reason Is Because vs Reason Is That

      Be careful to not make this mistake! It's not a huge deal, but most of the grammar things I've brought up aren't. Learning how to use these words will make editing with a professional editor so much easier in the long run.

      Correct: reason is that

      Incorrect: reason is because

      Examples:
      The reason she hates him is that he's annoying.
      The reason for bad business today is that the weather was really ugly.
      The reason she said yes is that he asked so nicely.
      his reason for eating the pie is that she told him not to.

      Authors/writers: Make sure you're on my list of authors!

      Friday, August 6, 2010

      Grammar Rules: Affect vs Effect

      These two words (affect/effect) sound nearly the same, and it can be frustrating to remember which to use. Make sure you understand the rules!

      Affect:
      Verb: "to influence," "to change."

      Examples:
      The man doesn't affect his partner.
      Good thing the cat's fur doesn't affect me now!
      He won't affect me.
      Leave it to me to affect the kids.
      Saying the word "affect" over and over affects my brain!

      Effect:
      Noun: "result," "impression."

      Examples:
      The man is emotionally scarred, but without any physical effects.
      Agony has a bad effect on her.
      Our sales should have no effect on the business.
      The wrong man will bring huge effects.

      Authors/writers: Make sure you're on my list of authors!

      Wednesday, August 4, 2010

      Grammar Rules: Accept vs Except

      I haven't noticed errors where Accept vs Except are concerned nearly as frequently lately. I'm still going to go over it here, though! :-)

      Accept:
      "to agree to."

      Examples:
      He accepted her proposition.
      They accepted each other whole-heartedly.
      The credit card accepted, she was free to travel!
      Don't accept the donations she gives!

      Except:
      "with the exclusion of."

      Examples:
      They liked everything except dessert.
      The man took nothing except the girl.
      Excepting the hat, your clothes are wonderful.
      Leave everything except the cat.

      Authors/writers: Make sure you're on my list of authors!

      Monday, August 2, 2010

      Grammar Rules: Quotation marks and Commas/Periods

      Misplacement of commas and periods when using quotation marks is one of the most common grammatical errors made by novice writers. The rule is fairly simple:

      Commas and periods always go INSIDE the quotation mark:

      "I hate eating here," he said.
      "That's just stupid," Sara said.
      consider the following numbers: "twenty," "fifteen," and "seven."
      I like the words "peach," "water," "blue," and "sunny."

      Authors/writers: Make sure you're on my list of authors!

      Friday, July 30, 2010

      Grammar Rules: Any One vs Anyone

      Any one vs Anyone: Two words or one? I used to confuse this a lot! Here are the rules:

      Spell as one word when the accent is on any:

      Anyone can use this room.
      Almost anyone has access to her tv.
      Can just anyone stop by?
      When will anyone care?

      Spell as two words when followed by of:

      Any one of them can come.
      Who will attend any one of the conferences?
      Any one of the dogs can fight.
      My mom could be any one of them.

      Authors/writers: Make sure you're on my list of authors!

      Wednesday, July 28, 2010

      Grammar Rules: cite/sight/site

      Cite vs sight vs site: another easy one! (For most. Slipping up happens to the best of us, though. :-))

      Cite:
      "to quote," "to mention."

      Example:
      Cite it correctly.
      She remembered to cite several other examples.

      Sight:
      Verb: "to look at," noun: "something seen."

      Example:
      He sighted the cow in the neighbor's field.
      The sight was something to behold!
      It was an ugly sight.

      Site:
      Most often a noun meaning "location"

      Example:
      It sits on the site of an old battlefield.
      The site of the WTC Towers.
      Her internet site is hideous!

      Authors/writers: Make sure you're on my list of authors!

      Another great quote from The 365 Stupidest Things Ever Said calendar: A rockstar at Woodstock II said, "I always think it's cool to commemorate cool things that have happened, because there's a chance that you may, through commemorating them, evoke them again." - the Spin Doctors' Chris Barron.

      Gotta love it. :-)

      Monday, July 26, 2010

      Grammar Rules: Complement vs Compliment

      The difference between today's grammar words (complement vs compliment) is nearly impossible to tell in speech, and easy to miss in writing. Isn't it weird how switching just one letter will change the meaning of a word?

      Complement:
      "complete" something.

      Examples:
      Your dress complements your features. (It completes you, basically.)
      The new paint coat complements the house. (It completes the project.)
      I asked for a new basketball to complement my new uniform.

      Compliment:
      "to praise"

      Examples:
      She complimented the man on his new haircut.
      His pride held back the much deserved compliment on his brother's decision.
      The animals complimented each other on obtaining the food.

      Authors/writers: Make sure you're on my list of authors!

      Something that makes me crack up every time I read it: "The Sydney Olympics transport plan relies heavily on the rail network. It is expected that 80% of every single spectator will arrive by train."
      Broadcaster Hugh Remington, Channel 9, Australia.

      He he he. :-)

      Friday, July 23, 2010

      Grammar Rules: Could of vs Could've

      Today's grammar rule is an easy one (for most writers. I don't see this rule broken very often in the writing world.).

      Correct: Could've

      Incorrect: Could of

      Example:
      We could've gone sailing today.
      It could've been a very long vacation.
      The job could've turned out better.
      Yes, but it could've been worse.

      Authors/writers: Make sure you're on my list of authors!

      Wednesday, July 21, 2010

      Grammar Rules: Different from or Different than?

      Trying to keep this shorter than the amount vs number post! It's so much easier to remember bite-size bits.

      Ever wonder whether you should say "Different from" or "Different than"? Ever know there was a difference, or a correct way to say it? Wonder no longer!

      Correct: Different from.

      Incorrect: Different than.

      Examples:
      My brain is different from yours.
      She's different from him.
      They're different from animals.
      This full-time job is different from any other I've had.
      The baby is different from his twin.

      Different than is considered substandard. Don't allow your writing to be substandard.

      Authors/writers: Make sure you're on my list of authors! I can't believe July is almost gone! Where did my summer go?

      Also, my interview of Rachel Ann Nunes (author) has been published on Mormon Artist here. Check it out! :-)

      Monday, July 19, 2010

      Grammar Rules: Amount vs Number, Fewer vs Less

      Bad grammar can and often will get a manuscript rejected - even before the agent or editor actually notice the story. I'm going to be posting a whole ton of grammar type information - things we went over in my advanced business writing class - in the hopes that the review will be good for me, and useful to you. :-) Any material which did not originate from my own brain came from my teacher. (Ask if you'd like to know his/her name.)

      Amount vs Number:
      Use amount when talking about things that can't be counted or about money. Use number when talking about things that can be counted.

      Amount:
      She received a higher amount of money.
      The amount of water astounded her.
      The amount of cells needed caused problems.
      He earned a lower amount of interest.
      The amount of dust in here disgusts me!
      We had an unusual amount of perfect scores on this test.

      Number:
      The number of people that arrived depressed the host.
      The number of jackets needed exceeded their expectations.
      The number of girls at the dance didn't appeal to him.
      The number of cds in the car needs to be boosted.

      Fewer vs Less:
      Use less to describe things that can't be counted or money. Use fewer to describe things that can be counted.

      Less:
      He has less interest.
      There's less light in here.
      She has less brain cells than others.
      We have less happiness.
      She has less money.
      A little less pride would be helpful.

      Fewer:
      There are fewer people in this room.
      They used fewer animals than anyone else.
      This street has fewer houses.
      I need fewer pens! (Is that even possible? I say no. Can't have too many pens. :-) It's impossible. :-))

      Authors/writers: Make sure you're on my list of authors!
      International visitors: Canada is still winning, but the United Kingdom is catching up! Australia and Japan come in next, nearly tying for third (Australia is one ahead Japan.) I love seeing the dots pop up on my map! :-)

      Thursday, July 15, 2010

      Needing Feedback on My Ad

      Okay, so I wanted to tweet/post the actual ad, but realized the info it contains is a bit too much to be sending out all across the internet. :-)

      This is soooo silly of me. I know it is. :-) But, I need some of my writer friends to give me critiques/feedback on an ad I've placed for private musical lessons.

      Here's how the ad looks:

      Violin, Viola, or Piano Lessons

      Willing to travel to your home if transportation is a problem. Family discounts available.

      Credentials:
      Orchestra director of largest elementary orchestra program in *nearby* School District.

      10+ years experience teaching piano, violin, and viola to beginner-intermediate level students.

      Have played viola and piano for 18 years.

      Received high marks both regionally and state-wide for solos, quartets, and small ensemble pieces.

      Suzuki trained, but will use any method that works for you or your child.

      Rates:
      $15.00 – ½ hour lesson
      $20.00 – 45 min lesson
      $25.00 – hour lesson
      (Add $5 to the above prices if I travel to you)

      I look forward to helping you or your child explore the wonders of music! Call me if you have questions.

      (End ad)



      Now, here are my questions:

      What is your first reaction?
      Is there anything in it I should tweak? (Grammar, style, etc.)
      Is there anything that is blatantly annoying?
      What should I change that first sentence to say? I couldn't find anything that would get attention... So, any suggestions are appreciated. :-)

      I'm given the opportunity to re-post the ad in 14 days and will change accordingly. :-)

      Tanks! :-)

      Wednesday, July 7, 2010

      Public Criticism

      I write this post to point out the fact that public criticism never works, and almost always backfires on those who attempt it. I don't want to tell people not to do it – I know I have no control over that – but the occasional reminder serves a good purpose.

      For those of you who don't already know, I'm a member of the LDS (Mormon) faith. As a heads up, a lot of my words today will reflect my Christian beliefs. Also, I'm not talking about any particular incident, merely an accumulation of events. I've waited a long while (several months) before mentioning anything, to be sure my intentions were in the right place. Please send any negative comments to me privately.


      It is not very often that I have someone burn or flame another person on my Facebook account or my blog. The last time it happened was a long time ago, I'm happy to say. I'm never sure how to handle it, besides deleting comments and sending private messages explaining why I did so. I hurt inside for those who are the object of public criticism or ridicule, especially when they're members of my family or are close friends. It hurts even more when members of my extended or immediate family or my friends harshly comment on each others' blogs or Facebook accounts.

      Dale Carnegie said if you have any criticism or correction to give at all, it must be done in private. We know that our first reaction when angered or incensed is never the right one, regardless of whether it is public or not. And “righteous anger,” as Christ experienced when throwing the money changers from the temple at Jerusalem, isn't applicable now – if ever. Christ was and is the only truly righteous person on the Earth, and therefore, His anger was justified.

      Perhaps it is necessary to consider the intent behind any form of public punition. Is it to bring ourselves up in our own eyes? To justify our pride? To show how much more we know than others? Or is it to help the other person? If it truly is for their sake rather than our own, wouldn't it be best if given privately, in lieu of a comment that everyone can read? Regardless of our intentions, pointing fingers and trying to make others look bad or show where they're wrong is always offensive to the Spirit, regardless of how offensive the original comment was.


      Please consider the following with me:

      1. “If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all.” Thumper's parents really knew what they were talking about. And anyway, suggestions are so much better received when given privately, from the stand-point of really wanting to help. As Christians and God fearing people, our first reaction should always be one of love, patience, and kindness. If it isn't, it is our duty to wait to respond until we can show these Christ-like attributes.
      2. "A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still” (Either Benjamin Franklin or Sir Walter Raleigh said this). And we'll never, ever convince someone they're wrong by doing so publicly, in an arrogant, humiliating, accusatory, and prideful manner.
      3. We can't help someone unless they want help, and we're in a position to give it.
      4. “He started it” is never a good reason to retaliate. (Do we even need to consider this? I don't think so. :-))
      1. People read comments, texts, posts, statuses, etc., in the tone of voice they choose, and it usually depends on their current mood. Kindness and politeness can come across as irritation, exasperation, and frustration, and we have no control over this. Which is a reason why, if we're trying to convey important information or any form of correction, one-on-one communication via technology should be avoided. Do it privately—face-to-face, if possible.
      2. Our memories are strengthened by things which cause an emotional response in our system, in effect, making them permanent. This happens because of epinephrine, which “fixes” things in our memory, much like photography developing. We comment in a moment of anger, indignation, or frustration, and in that instance perhaps we really do want to make an impression, so they'll forever remember what we've said. But I promise, there will always come a time when we'll hope it won't pop into their heads the next time they see us. To show my point, I'll never forget the time when a bishop – a religious leader of mine – pulled me aside one Sunday and told me I'd never amount to anything because of the way my parents had chosen to raise me. The emotions caused by what he said permanently branded his words on my brain. (But, ha! He was wrong! :-))
      1. The Internet, especially things posted on social networking or blog sites, is permanent. I read an article once (can't find the post now – if anyone knows to which article I'm referring, please let me know and I'll plug it in) which addressed this, mentioning that many of us cause permanent damage in our places of work, circle of friends, and family – extended and immediate – by making blithe, rude comments which we end up regretting later. And deleting remarks is merely a work-around, not a remedy. There are sites which take “snap shots,” called “change logs,” of everything posted on any site at any time, and anyone can go back through previous days, months, even years, to find something that had once existed. I used to do this for a previous employer.

      I hope what I've said isn't taken wrong. I love and appreciate my family and friends, and don't mean to be offensive by posting this note. (We've already heard most of what I've said before, anyway.) We should be working toward building each other up, rather than tearing one another down. And again, I know this won't keep criticisms from being posted, but I hope we'll be more aware of the affect our comments have on others.

      Thank you for reading!

      Again, please send any negative comments to me directly. . . and privately. :-)

      Tuesday, July 6, 2010

      Update on My Book - The Key of Kilenya

      I've been so focused on trying to find a job that I haven't given any updates on my book for a while. :-) Good thing I didn't, cause the newest one changes a lot of things. :-)

      We've pushed back the release of The Key of Kilenya for several months, aiming to have it come out late spring of 2011..

      As I've told people this news over the last couple of days, I've had a lot of people ask how I'm handling everything. As it turns out, I'm very grateful for this change in plans. Many of you know I'd been fund-raising for my friend, Clark, who passed away a few weeks ago. That was a difficult time for me, and I withdrew into a shell as I coped with things. Before he passed away I spent most of my time getting the word out about his situation and trying to put together fund raisers in my area. I didn't do anything toward my book release. Thank goodness someone with a lot more power than me is in charge – He knew I could only handle so much at a time.

      Anyway, I feel much better about my book coming out later rather than today (the original release date). My deadlines have changed where writing is concerned, so not so much stress there as I'd previously been under, and I now have a few more months to spread the word and focus on letting as many people know about The Key of Kilenya as possible. And, in the meantime, I've gotta find a job and chop off a bit of debt. :-)

      I'll definitely let everyone know when my book will be released. Let me know if there are any questions, and thanks soo much for your support! Visit my website for my Facebook, Twitter and email list information. :-)

      Oh, and if you're a writer/author, make sure you're on my list of authors!

      Friday, July 2, 2010

      No, seriously...

      I'm really wondering here. Does that part of the United States just not have the internet? :-)

      (If you're wondering what I'm referring to, just click on the map on my side bar that shows where hits on my blog come from.)

      I'm almost convinced it's a conspiracy against me. I mean, even Serbia and Azerbaijan have checked in. England and Japan are tied... and Australia is just below Canada's visits. I've always been really fascinated with geography and traveling, so this app is pretty cool.

      I haven't been getting in a whole lot of writing... Mainly been focusing on a side project. (To see what, check out my statuses on Facebook.) Oh, and if you haven't been added to my list of authors/writers, make sure you get that done. (Check out this post for info.)


      Not a very flattering picture of me, but heck, I hadn't been on a horse in years! Had to share. :-)

      Wednesday, June 30, 2010

      Authors and Their Blogs/Websites!

      I'm all about networking. It's the best way to do things, especially as authors. So, I'm creating a list of author blogs/websites on my site. If you'd like to be listed, I need the following information from you:

      Your name (name you're published under, or want to be published under)
      Published? Represented? (give me your representative's url. You don't have to be rep'd to be on the list)
      Genre?
      Blog url?
      Website url?

      Comment on this post with the above info, and I'll do the rest! (Will delete your comment as soon as I've updated my website.)
      Here's how it'll look:

      Pearson, Andrea. Rep. YA. Blog. Website

      Easy, peasy! Oh, and if you don't have a blog or a website, just leave that info blank. I do need one or the other, however. And, if I were already published, instead of "Rep," it would say "Pub," or nothing if neither. Remember, you don't have to have already been published to be on the list. :-)

      The point of all of this is so we can follow each other and keep up with favorite authors and author friends. Networking is such a huge tool - we need to be using it more often! I don't want to add people unless they give me permission to do so, by the way. Unless you're J.K. Rowling or something like that, where finding this info on you is already easy, and we know you won't mind. :-)

      Can't wait to get this started! :-)

      Edit: It looks like some people aren't able to comment for some reason. Send me an email (ap AT andreapearsonbooks DOT com) instead, with "Author List" in the subject line.

      Monday, June 28, 2010

      Why Do I Need a Critique Group?

      This is a question I had asked myself for a very, very long time. How would a critique group help me? Would it be a waste of time? Would I leave irritated with the other members? Would it be satisfying - a good mixture of humiliation and "building up"?

      I'm a very skeptical and analytical person and almost always prefer to do things on my own. I use the internet, read books, follow cool people on twitter who send out writing tips, and peruse other people's blogs rather than drive to a specific place (gas is expensive!) to get help. I naturally shy away from things that wouldn't be mutually beneficial, and I never saw a regularly-meeting critique group as accomplishing anything really worthwhile.

      Well, now I can happily say I was wrong. :-)


      I vaguely remember the first time I attended a critique group meeting. Actually, I haven't had the chance to forget it yet, since it was only two weeks ago. :-) And let me tell you, it was WORTH the time. We read samples of our writing, commented and critiqued, and it was very beneficial. (Course, I'm speaking for myself. :-) David West and Graham Bradley might disagree. :-))

      T.J. Bronley, our group's putter-togetherer, sent us this article, wherein Chip MacGregor explains how to get the most out of a critique group. If only I'd read it during the year 2008, when I first started writing seriously...

      I could go on and on about getting into a group, but would rather you read the article. :-) For those of you who aren't able to make the drive to specific locations, seriously consider using authonomy instead. It really is a great site.

      Here are my questions for anyone who happens upon this post:
      How long did your longest critique group last?
      Have you found them to be beneficial?
      How do you choose groups?
      Which of the two types Chip MacGregor mentions is yours? (from the article above - under point 1.)
      Why do you recommend a critique group?

      Friday, June 25, 2010

      Perfecting Your Work - Authonomy

      Almost a year ago I started searching for people outside of my family to read, edit, comment on, and critique my book, The Key of Kilenya. I was lucky enough to get in touch with Jeff Blackmer, a member of one of my mom's email lists, who pointed me toward one of the best sites I've ever come across as an writer. I'm very passionate about this site (run by HarperCollins) because of all the things with which it helped me. The name of it is...

      *Drum Roll* :-)

      Authonomy.com

      HarperCollins set it up to help them find more books to publish. Authors critique each other's work - you post at least 10,000 words of your WIP (it's a safe, secure site), and other people read and comment. If they like your work, they "back" it. The more backings a book receives, the higher it rises in the charts. If it's in the top five at the end of the month, HarperCollins will review it (reading the whole thing), and consider it for publication.

      My book was pretty ugly before I came across the site. The first chapter was long, boring, and irrelevant. :-) I learned a lot by reading other people's stories, and made a lot of really good friends. One of those friends introduced me to her publisher who is now my publisher.

      There are downsides to the site. All comments, messages, etc., are public. This actually prevents people from being really, really rude, but you have to have thick skin. (Which you need to have anyway. :-)) Also, you need to read other people's work in order to get them to read yours. Luckily, you don't have to read their whole book. :-) Most people only go over a couple of chapters. I found that by getting to at least four books a day, I had a steady stream of comments and backings on The Key of Kilenya. My book rose fairly quickly: in 24 hours, it rose from number 11,000, to 775. In three months it had hit #73 (out of 14,000 books). Then I signed with my publisher and pulled the book.

      At first it was hard to read what other people thought of my book. The comments were abrupt, pointed, and sometimes downright rude. But, as I edited and perfected things - that first chapter, especially - the comments became lifesavers when I was about to give up on writing. They encouraged me to continue onward, letting me know I really did have something worth pursuing. Yay for Authonomy!

      Questions? Comments? Complaints? :-)

      And now, because I have nowhere else to post it, my brother playing Jon Schmidt's All of Me (he hadn't played it in a long time, so there are mistakes. :-)):



      Have a lovely day!

      Thursday, June 24, 2010

      Writing with Passion

      How many of you have kids or siblings who are teenagers? My youngest brother just turned seventeen. The other day something came up, and he found himself having to defend a certain position. He fiercely stood his ground, his voice passionate, unwilling to budge. He doesn't get like this very often, but when he does, EVERYONE knows it.

      What is it about being a teenager? They feel everything so deeply--they're passionate about life, and it shows in everything: the music they write and listen to, the books they read, how they defend and stick up for things - even when they're completely off the mark. They're more likely than adults to be extreme in hairstyles, clothes, music, even food. They like to experience life to the fullest, trying everything.

      How is it that we as adults lose this passion? Or, is it more that we've come to understand how life works? We've learned to choose our battles?


      A few months ago, for the Mormon Artist magazine, I interviewed Michael Flynn, a Mormon actor, director, and producer. (Produced The Best Two Years. Mormons may recognize him as Pontius Pilate in The Lamb of God, or the sheriff in Footloose.) He commented on this topic. "Passion is what drives the industry — you need to really understand what your character wants, why they do what they do. You bring the passion to it, you bring the emotion to it. That’s really what it’s all about. The passion.

      After the interview, Michael made a comment that viewers can always tell when the actor doesn't feel passionate about what they're doing. And, he said, viewers will always choose a passionate movie over something that is only so-so where emotions are concerned.

      This applies perfectly to writing. A couple of point-blank questions we need to ask ourselves: why are we writing if we don't feel strongly about it? How can we expect someone to read our books if our characters don't have an intense pull to something?

      I think this especially applies to young adult literature. If we're writing for teenagers, we need to give them what they crave: passion. Hunger Games is an emotionally intense book, and no one will argue that Twilight doesn't appeal to its target audience. I'm sure you can name off other "zealous" books.

      I've read the occasional story where the MC didn't care about things around him/her. But, after a few chapters, they always ended up fiercely defending or wanting something. Our own characters need to reach this point, else we run the risk of losing readers.

      Now take your passion and make it happen! (Name that song... :-))

      Sunday, June 20, 2010

      What's up with that?

      I swear, there's this whole section of the United States that refuses to visit my blog. Click on the map farther down my side bar, and you'll see what I'm talking about. Seriously - what's up with that? Did I offend several states worth of American citizens? :-)

      Things are going well, all things considered - I just haven't had the emotional energy to be on the internet lately. But everything happens for a reason, and I know the Lord is watching out for His children. (Check my last post for more information on what I'm talking about.)

      Speaking of "everything happens for a reason," the release date for my book has been postponed. There was an error in production (many of you already know this), and things have come to a halt. This sort of thing is fairly common in the publishing world, and I'm hoping The Key of Kilenya will be coming out as close to July 6th as possible. I'll keep everyone posted. :-)

      In the meantime, I've finished the first draft of book two, and am trying to decide what else to do. Perfect book two? Write the first drafts of all the other books in the series? Write a completely separate book? Water the garden? Paint daises on a big red rubber ball? Answer the phone when it rings? Sigh. Too many choices. :-)

      This made me laugh:


      He he he. :-)

      What's going on in your lives? Any cool announcements? Random facts? Funny kid quotes?

      Friday, June 11, 2010

      My friend, Clark Kimble


      Just wanted to let everyone know that Clark passed away this evening. Thank you for your support and friendship. Yesterday when I spent time with him he was laughing, talking, still tired, but the fight was in his eyes--today his body started shutting down. I know he isn't in pain anymore. His spirit no longer inhabits a tabernacle of infection and viruses. He was a great example to me of faith, perseverance, long-suffering, patience, and love.

      The Lord who knows everything called him home where he will continue to bless the lives of those around him.

      Thursday, June 10, 2010

      I'm not Dead, I Promise. :-)

      I haven't had a lot of time lately for Twitter and blogging. Sad, huh? I'm not neglecting any of you on purpose and promise to come back soon, but my time has been stretched really thin lately.

      Last year my friend, Clark Kimble, contracted a really scary virus which killed his liver. They got him a transplant, but the virus continued to attack his system--destroyed his bone marrow--which in turn destroyed his ability to make his own blood. He needs a transplant, but has been rejected by Medicaid three times, even though they're covering him. Weekly blood transfusions suffice for now, but he's really having a hard time fighting bacteria and such without his own blood. Plus, the transfusions are VERY expensive. We're in the process of getting the attention of "higher ups" to help us out.


      I went up to the hospital (Huntsman) yesterday with a friend and my sister-in-law to bring up Clark's car for his mom to use, and to drop off some donated money. Clark was in and out of it the whole time--probably doesn't remember we'd even visited. His mom and sister asked me to try to wake him up. To get his attention, I practically had to yell his name, and he'd open his eyes only long enough to see us, then would be back asleep again. He's had an especially hard time the last couple of days because of infections in his lungs.


      Anyway. I feel really strongly about helping him and his family. Just reading through the posts they've put on his blog (here) makes me cry. They've been through so much, and I want to do everything I can to alleviate that pain. He's had 18 major surgeries in the last year and he's only 24!

      Long explanation, but there you have it. :-) I haven't forgotten any of you! And I'm not gone forever! :-) I'm spending most of my time heading up a bunch of fund raisers in the area and working on my first edit of book two in my series. Wish me luck, and see y'all soon. :-)

      Sunday, June 6, 2010

      Friday, June 4, 2010

      Book Review: The Thorn

      Author: Daron Fraley
      Daron's website and blog
      Read my interview of Daron
      Information on the book and how to purchase it here.




      From the back of the book:
      Three tribes are at war on the planet Gan, unaware that the sign of Christ’s birth on an unknown world – Earth – is about to appear in the heavens.

      During a bloody skirmish with Gideonite troops, Jonathan of Daniel spares Pekah, a young enemy soldier, gaining his trust forever. These two distant brothers from estranged tribes covenant with each other to end the war being waged by a self-proclaimed emperor, and soon discover the intentions of a far more dangerous foe named Rezon – a sinister general bent on ruling those he can bring into subjection and destroying all others.

      Daron has talent as a writer when it comes to descriptions and emotions. They're enough that they help readers picture things, and yet did not go overboard and get boring. I felt drawn into the story through Jonathan and especially Pekah--their experiences, thoughts, and reunions with loved ones. There were many instances when I actually got chills at what was happening. I found myself yearning to understand what was going on in this world, and was happy with how things played out.

      As authors we've been told to not use dreams in our stories--they tend to pull people out of the book, or don't help further things the way the writer wants them to. I found this to not apply to The Thorn. Two significant dreams occur, and the way Daron used them propelled the story forward, keeping my interest. (They were dang cool! And the ending of the book--holy cow! The battle scene was awesome, and tons of super-cool things happen! *ahem.* Sorry about that. Back to the serious review. :-))

      My favorite character was Pekah--his humble, unassuming ways endeared him to me. His experiences placed him on a pedestal, and yet he didn't try to make himself important in the eyes of other people.

      I loved the contrast between the characters: Rachel and Jonathan, Pekah, Jasher, Abigail and Eli. I especially felt close to Abigail--a humble, selfless, sweet and even-tempered young woman who goes through enough trials to last a lifetime.

      If you are looking for a book with a calm, peaceful story which focuses a great deal on character development, the battle between right and wrong, and uniting long-estranged brothers, pick up The Thorn. You'll be happy you did.

      Wednesday, June 2, 2010

      Writing Tips: Stop Yer Procrastinating!

      I absolutely love to surf the net for writing tips, tools, advice, anything aimed to make my writing better, and anything dealing with other authors and their agents/publishers. I know many of you are like this, and honestly, it isn't a bad thing. We should keep up with the publishing world, even if we're not ready to start submitting, or even if we're already represented. (A good place to start on all of this would be Nathan Bransford's blog.)

      He he he. I can't help but laugh every time I see this. It's sooo sad! :-)

      One of the biggest lessons I've had to learn as an author is there must be moderation in all things. Yes, this is something taught by basically every person everywhere, but in the writing world, I still forget it occasionally.

      And it's no wonder we get distracted: there are many things to keep track of and to master. It's easy to get sucked into our computers and forget to watch the clock.

      A post of mine from a while ago (What to Do While Writing) addressed this issue, and in it I mention something Jaime Thelar observed: we use internet resources as a crutch, or as a way to procrastinate our actual writing.

      Case in point: I once spent several hours trying to find the perfect name for a character and even the best actor to play him on the big screen. It finally dawned on me I'd been avoiding my writing. But why? Why was I so focused on this character?

      I took a long break--probably watched a movie with my mom--then went back to the computer to figure out what was wrong. It came easily then: I'd been trying to find a name for a someone who didn't really belong in the story. I ended up revamping his personality, basically removing who he'd been and replacing him with someone better, getting me excited about writing and ready to forge onward. Problem solved!

      Many days I can't allow myself to open the internet, to talk to people, or even sometimes to eat until I've done my writing for the day, since I'll use these as excuses to leave the computer. (I've learned when my body lies to me about it being hungry. :-))

      What have you found which works for you? How do you keep yourself from getting sucked into surfing and spending too much precious writing time on researching and self-education?

      Back to Writing Tips Index

      Monday, May 31, 2010

      Friday, May 28, 2010

      Author Interview: Daron Fraley!

      This week has been so much fun! I've truly enjoyed getting to know the authors I've interviewed and can't wait to conduct more. Don't forget to let me know if you'd be interested in swapping interviews!

      Daron Fraley and I met through a writer's group made up of people from last year's LDStorymakers conference Bootcamp group. We found out rather quickly that we both have a love for Linux, and that he'd worked with my dad on a few occasions. I was thrilled to be accepted by Valor Publishing Group, because I already knew a couple of the people they represented (Daron and Jenni James). I'm excited to introduce him to my readers.

      Daron's website
      Daron on Twitter: @DaronFraley


      Daron, welcome to my blog! It's a nice place, and my readers are nice, too. :-)

      Now then, let's get to business. What sorts of things do you do when not writing/working?

      Well, this is mostly a summer thing, but I really like camping and fishing. As a boy I would fish for hours. Never wanted to go home. I must admit that in the winter I am mostly a homebody. I don't care much for winter sports because I don't like the cold. But I love hot chocolate and wassail.

      Hopefully your wife likes these things as well. :-) Speaking of her, she's one of the coolest people I've gotten to know recently. Tell us how you met.

      She was dating my roommate at BYU. I was new in the apartment, and my roommate suggested that I take Jennifer on our group date (since I had met her), and my roommate took another gal. Pretty simple. We played volleyball and ate ice cream afterwards.

      Then, I'm assuming, you fell in love and got married, right? :-) I knew I should've brought her in on this interview so my readers could get the juicy details. :-)

      All right, back to the interview. Would you please explain to us why kill -9 would be Chuck Norris's secret weapon? :-)

      Ooh. You are a vicious creature, aren't you Andrea? It couldn't be kill -15? You had to go for the jugular? Straight for -9? I think it will be far more fun to just say: "These are extremely technical computer procedures, not for the faint of heart, the uninitiated, or those who play minesweeper", and then leave it at that. Mystery... there is power in mystery, isn't there?

      Most definitely. Especially where things like this are concerned:

      "Make me a sandwich."
      "What?
      "Sudo make me a sandwich."
      "Okay."


      Uh... little bit of a command-line issue there...  the command "make" is going to get awfully upset about non existent targets like "me". Observe:

      lachish@elessar:~$ sudo make me a sandwich
      make: *** No rule to make target `me'.  Stop.

      I am sure you know, but your readers may not... This is how you fix that problem:
      lachish@elessar:~$ sudo make "me a sandwich"

      It's good to be a geek.

      Ha ha ha! I keep getting us off track. :-) Anyway, How did you get involved with computers, especially Linux (go tux!), and how did you get involved with writing? Is there a correlation between the two?

      I got involved with computers because years ago I was forced to by a Zenith SuperSport 286 Laptop as part of my job as an insurance agent at Prudential. I became more interested in the computer than I was in insurance. I taught myself how to use WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS. After a couple of years and the when the internet started to become a household word (yes, I was a computer geek before Mosaic became Netscape Navigator), I got into Linux at the suggestion of a friend who said if I REALLY wanted to learn about computers, I needed to get away from that DOS / Windows 3.1 garbage. Wow. I'm getting old, aren't I?

      Writing... I have felt a hunger to write ever since my Creative Writing class in High School. I always thought it would be cool to write a book. One day I made a list of written goals. "Write a book" was on the list. Funny how that works, isn't it? Is there a correlation? Hmmm. Maybe. I think both working with computers and writing are creative outlets. I like to build things. Perhaps my book was a building exercise?

      Where did the idea for The Thorn come? How many books will there be total in The Chronicles of Gan series? Do you plan to write more books?

      I am writing book two, "Heaven's Garden" right now. Well, not right this very minute, but now. Yes. There will be three in the series.

      Time to get serious (what I mean is no more joking, for at least the next 20 seconds). The idea came from this quote by Neil A. Maxwell: "How many planets are there in the universe with people on them? We don’t know, but we are not alone in the universe! God is not the God of only one planet!

      “I testify that Jesus is truly the Lord of the universe, 'that by [Christ], and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God.' D&C 76:24"

      —Neal A. Maxwell

      That's a really good quote. I have to admit, a couple of months ago I started writing a book based on a different planet. But it's nothing like The Thorn--it's more sci fi than anything. Speaking of your book, I'm nearly finished reading it, and have really enjoyed it. Tell us how you manage to write, work a full time job, and be married with kids?

      Yeah. Tough question. Can I say that this is nearly impossible? I am really struggling with it. There is not enough time in the day. If I figure this out... how to balance my life correctly so nothing suffers... I'll let you know.

      Do you have any advice for writers who have crammed-full schedules?

      Scratch out some time to write. Take the laptop with you to soccer practice. ALWAYS carry a notebook with you. Inspiration hits at strange times. You have got to be able to write it down, because you WON'T remember it.

      What sort of writing goals do you have? Daily? Weekly? Monthly?

      My current writing goal: 1000 words a day. And I didn't meet it today. :)

      I haven't met mine yet for today, either. :-) It's tough getting everything finished.

      Last but not least, who do you appreciate and look up to the most: Brandon Sanderson, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and Tchaikovsky combined, OR Linus Torvalds? :-)

      LOL. Linus Torvalds is a very respectable icon. He literally turned the information technology field upon its head. Linux is now EVERYWHERE. Embedded in just about everything you buy anymore. People just don't know it. But, I am going to have to give it to my writer and music heroes. I love the written word. And I love music. Once again, there is simply not enough time in the day to satisfy all of my interests! When the Lord came to Solomon and asked what he would want as a blessing, Solomon asked for wisdom. I would ask for either time, or stamina to be able to get more done with less sleep. :)

      This is one of those things we've learned: nearly everything run by a computer is powered/operated by Linux. If you don't see the Windows icon, chances are it's Linux. Again, a "Go Tux!" is needed. :-)

      Thank you for doing this interview. And readers, don't forget to check out his interview of ME over at his blog!

      Also, let me know if you'd be interested in swapping interviews. :-)

      Thursday, May 27, 2010

      Author Interview: Krista Lynne Jensen

      Okay, Krista is a seriously cool person. Especially after finishing her interview of me, I've decided she's one of the best in the world. I hope you enjoy getting to know her!

      Her contact information:
      @KristaLJensen -Twitter
      Krista Anglesey Jensen -Facebook
      Krista Lynne Jensen -Author Blog

      And now, the woman herself! (applause):

      (I seriously love this picture of her)

      Hi, Krista! I'm so excited to be interviewing you! First off, under what name are you publishing?

      I couldn't be more excited to be publishing with Covenant Communications, Inc. Is that what you meant? Because I'll be using my given name, thank you. Krista Lynne Jensen. Unless they tell me to change it. They have that power. Did I mention I was thrilled to be with Covenant? I wonder what pen name I would use...

      I'd suggest something like Luna Moon. :-) Rolls right off the tongue, that one. :-)

      It's lovely, but maybe too redundant. And too Twilighty. I'll keep thinking...

      Tell us about the books you have written. Which was the first, and why did you write it?

      My first book was a small personal history, centered around a couple of tragic events in my life. I couldn't shake the almost physical need to write the story down, and at first it was just for my family, but then my writing group urged me to submit it to several places. After a couple rewrites, I received some very encouraging rejection letters (no, really) and decided to let it rest while I learned more about the writing process. It was only after that (and because of the feedback, and encouragement from my writing group) that I tried writing fiction. After the idea for my first novel took root, I fell in love with writing fiction, and while I waited 9 months to hear from Covenant about that first novel, I wrote 5 more, and then a 6th after Covenant accepted THE ORCHARD. I finally understood what my husband feels every football season. I had found my passion! Only mine lasts all year long!

      Wow--five books in nine months? That's amazing! How did you manage it without leaving the computer? :-)

      Umm... I would have night writing sessions, from the time the kids were in bed until about 3 or 4 am. I would be running the kids around and have an idea and get it down as soon as I got home. We ate a lot of cereal and popcorn and hotdogs. I was a perfectionist in keeping the house clean, and that kind of went out the window. I think it made a huge difference that the prehistoric laptop I was using didn't have internet. It was easy to go and go without being lured away by something shiny flashy.

      Tell us about the book you're publishing and when it comes out.

      THE ORCHARD (the title is still tentative) is a modern telling of Jane Austen's PERSUASION, my favorite novel of hers, set in the beautiful Flathead Valley of Montana. I asked myself how Austen's characters got where they were when her story begins, and came up with the answers for the first half of my book. The second half of the book is actually where the elements from Austen's story are woven in. It was so exciting to write and have the characters come to life! I hope they do for the readers.

      After her mother's sudden death and her father's unexpected estrangement, Alisen Embry finds comfort and purpose working the cherry orchard adjoining her family's Montana home on Flathead Lake. When she meets Derick, a boy with dreams and spirit, she realizes his answers fill the empty spaces in her life. No two souls fit better, and no place could be closer to heaven than the orchard in Summer.

      Their connection, however, is threatened by the intolerance and secrets of her father, and just when Alisen thinks she has found everything that could make her happy, she is given choices testing her love, and loyalty.

      Derick Whitney is a compulsive returned missionary with his future mapped out, and beautiful Alisen quickly seals her place in those plans, and his heart, with her endless questions and obvious desire for the truth. But when his plans are both realized and ripped apart, he buries the whispers of wisdom and direction in bitterness and blame, leaving heaven, vowing never to return.

      The magic of the valley and one letter brings these two lost spirits to face the choices they have made and learn that losing themselves may be the only way they find home.

      THE ORCHARD is slated to come out Spring 2011! Keep it in mind, because that still seems like a really long time...
      You can sample Chapter 1 here.

      It sounds really good! Next question: how do you deal with writer's block?

      So far, I'm mostly dealing with how to fit writing into my life. There was a long stretch where I was always working on something, and now it seems I am always editing or revising. Right now I am revising the sequel to THE ORCHARD for Covenant, and they are looking at the 3rd in the trilogy as we speak, so I have plenty to do. I'll be getting the notes from my new editor, Samantha Van Walraven, on THE ORCHARD soon. The whole process is new to me. I have 11 pages of a new story, but I'm an outliner, and it doesn't have one, and sometimes I wonder if I'll be able to take it somewhere. I guess when I have time, it will come to me.

      How does your family participate in your writing?

      Ha ha, that's a funny question. My family's participation has... evolved. At first, they were excited, my oldest kids would read my first chapters and my husband would scratch his head, and my youngest kids would ask for a snack. Then, my oldest kids stopped reading and started scowling, my husband would scratch his head, and my youngest would ask for dinner. Now, my daughter proofreads (she doesn't pull any punches), my son and I discuss plot structure and character development in the books he is reading, my husband scratches his head with a smile because he loves my writing (It wasn't until after he read my first novel that he started using the phrase, "Leave your mom alone, she's writing.") and he reminds me often of the writing schedule I posted for myself on the fridge, and my youngest have memorized their activity schedule to keep me on track. Somedays I get "the look", or rather, my laptop gets "the look". But on the day my book was accepted, their was a lot of jumping up and down, dancing, and Rockband. It was awesome.

      Yeah, I can imagine! Your husband must be a head scratching kind of guy. :-) What are the ages of your children now?

      Actually, we both do a lot of that. If we acted like we knew it all we'd be insufferable. My kids are 17, almost 15, 12, and 8. They are a lot of the reason we scratch our heads. They astound. In mostly good ways!

      What was your first job? Which job has helped you the most where writing is concerned?

      My first job was working after school and Saturday's at my mom's craft shop. I was 14. Then I got a job at a donut shop/grill called "The Hole-n-One" in the mall. Then it was Sears, a flower shop, then a daycare center. Then I had my own family and was able to stay home. It wasn't easy, but I fought to make it an adventure. I think living life, surviving tough stuff, traveling, loving, reading, raising a family, and meeting all kinds of people have helped me the most in my writing. I wouldn't have been able to write what I do now at the age of 14, even if I'd had all the skills, because I was pretty sheltered at that point. Henry David Thoreau said, "How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live." I feel that every time I reach into my characters and they have to take what I throw at them.

      What an awesome quote! I'm sure he wouldn't mind if I used it elsewhere. :-) So, when did you decide to be a writer?

      I've always loved to write. It was a way to express myself through my shyness. But to write seriously? My writing group pushed me, challenged me, told me they wouldn't be surprised to see my books in the store someday. When I would read out loud to them, and then see their faces when I finished... I loved that. I wanted more of that. I hope I get more. It's a wonderful, terrifying thing when somebody tells me they can't wait to read my book, because then, they may read it. And they'll have an opinion about it. We are a brazen, foolish lot.

      What are your top three goals where writing is concerned?

      1) See all the novels I've written so far published.

      2) Revisit my personal story and see it published. I hope it might touch others who have struggled with similar trials.

      3) Do all I can to promote LDS literature while being the best mom, wife, sister, daughter I can be.

      What three pieces of advice would you give to aspiring authors?

      1) Make the time to write. Take it. Blast a hole in your schedule. If you feel the passion to get something down, follow an idea, make a character come to life, then DO IT.

      2) At the same time, figure out how to make your family a priority. It's so important that they know you are doing something you love, but that you still love them more, and they still come first.

      3) Learn everything you can about story structure, editing, character development, dialogue, all of it. Publishers LOVE a clean ms. There is so much to learn, and I've found that as I learn, critique isn't as hard to take.

      4) (I know, you said 3, but I have 4) Join a writing group, get people to read the story and not say, "Wow, that was amazing, I loved it." Get them to say, "I was confused here", "This was an awkward sentence", "I need more on this character", "Not enough conflict", "REWRITE!"... okay that last one is still tough to take. But when you finish a story, and have even self-edited, you are too close, too blinded by love. You need second and third+ opinions. As the author, it is so easy to see what's in your head as you write, but you may not be translating those ideas clearly enough for a reader to understand what you can see. Feedback from a reader helps with that. You don't need to completely give the story over to others. You have the power to compromise, to take the feedback and your vision, and meld the two. Solid, constructive feedback is necessary. TOUGH IT OUT.

      Okay, I have more, but you can go visit my blog, Lovelyn McCray, er, I mean Krista Lynne Jensen, every Tuesday, where I post the things I am learning along the way. You can visit it other days, too, because I post interviews like this one on Thursdays, and then share random writerly things the rest of the week, and I have information on my other books. I told myself I would start doing contests and giveaways after I reached 50 followers, and I'm VERY close, so visit and see what happens!

      Thank you, Andrea!

      It was so much fun to get to know you better! Can't wait to meet you in person!

      Krista is hosting a contest over on her blog with some sweet prizes! Read both of our interviews, then follow her instructions to enter the contest.

      And for those of you who are interested in swapping interviews, let me know!

      Wednesday, May 26, 2010

      Blog formats?

      Many of you know I'm relatively new to this whole world of blogging. I've only seriously blogged since January of this year, though I've had one for almost a year. I find myself needing help from time to time.

      What I need help with now are the following:

      Where can I go to find more blog background things? I've used hotbliggityblog. And that's it. I'd like a HUGE list of places to go--trusted places, and I'd like the links to be put into the comments sections of this post so I have them in one place.

      Also, I know that I have to have a template in place in order to use someone else's code for the background. At least that's what hotbliggityblog requires. Are there sites where I can get different templates? Blogger doesn't give many options to choose from, and I don't really like the ones there.

      Thanks ahead of time! And stay tuned for tomorrow's author interview with Krista Jensen, and Friday's with Daron Fraley. (And their interviews of me!)

      Writing Tips: Where Is My Story Going?

      I've been thinking about a question I was asked a while ago by a friend. How did I start my story? How did I know what was going to happen next? Well, at first I didn't. I knew I wanted Jacob to go into a different world, I knew who he'd meet, and I knew how the book would end, but I didn't know the biggest chunk: the middle.

      So, I sat down and drew a map of the land Jacob would enter. I filled it with forests, a couple of lakes, towns, and castles. Then I took each place, knowing something had to happen there and decided what it would be. I did it in a sort of "reverse" way, though, and those of you who've read The Key of Kilenya, will know what I'm talking about. I didn't have Jacob in mind when I put the obstacles down, but it worked out any way.

      It's important to make your characters suffer--the story would be boring otherwise. If you are having a hard time knowing what to have them experience, make a map. For fantasy, here is a website I used to learn how to draw maps. Robert's expertise saved me many hours of frustration from trees that looked like curly hair. (And I'm not kidding. :-) (and I call myself an artist... :-))) I used his advice and built on it until I had a map I liked.

      If the story isn't fantasy based, using a map would still help. If the character lives in a city, draw all the places s/he's likely to visit. Remember that each location needs to propel the story forward, and you'll figure out what should happen there.

      For other random tips on writing, go back to the Index.

      Monday, May 24, 2010

      Author Interview: Don Carey

      I've decided to start swapping author interviews, and I was really excited when others were actually interested in doing so!

      My first interview is of Don Carey, who's book Bumpy Landings, (Cedar Fort), comes out late 2010 or early 2011. I met Don through Twitter (go Twitter!), and am thrilled to present him to my readers.

      Don's website
      Don's twitter


      How long have you been a writer?
      I always enjoyed creative writing assignments in school, and got about 5 hand-written pages into an epic novel as a teen, but for the most part I let music scratch my creative itch.

      As a youth, I had a strong interest in film production, and almost changed colleges so I could get a film degree. In 2002 I started looking into making short movies, but the only part of the process I could actually manage was to write little screenplays. As I worked on those, it soon became clear that I would probably never be able to pull off even simple little films, but the stories themselves were actually pretty good, and so I decided to concentrate on writing.

      What kind of a writer do you believe yourself to be?
      I believe myself to be a totally awesome writer. And humble, too.

      Seriously, I'm still trying to figure that out. As for technique, I've always believed in being organized and having a solid foundation in place on which to build a story. I need to know where a scene is going before I can do much about writing it. Otherwise, the countless possibilities will paralyze me.

      Which authors do you look up to the most?
      I was afraid you'd ask a question like this. I realize this answer is going to sound like it's full of cheese, but I really haven't met a writer I DON'T look up to. There are so many great people working this gig, and I feel honored to be numbered among them. But, of course, you want me to name names. I will, but this is an extremely incomplete list.

      I have put Julie Wright, Josi Kilpack, Annette Lyon, James Dashner, The J.S. Savage boys, Tristi Pinkston and Robison Wells on the list. I wrote up a little bit about WHY I look up to these writers, but that made this answer way too long and I decided it would be a good post in and of itself, so I'll be putting that on my blog in the next few days. 

      In which genres do you want to write? Are there any you are particularly drawn to, but don't ever plan to use?
      I have always been a fan of science fiction and, to a lesser degree, fantasy. I have quite a few science fiction projects percolating in my mind, including a half-written novel and a short story I hope to submit for publication this year.

      My current story is a contemporary romantic coming of age, however. I grew up in Hawaii, and that's where this story is set. In Hawaii I had many friends from Polynesia and Asia, and came to know and love the strong spirits of these great people. I would love to tell the stories of pioneering Saints from the Pacific in much the same way that the stories of European pioneers have been told in recent popular LDS fiction.

      Where do you get your inspiration for writing?
      I have a hyperactive imagination, and it is constantly coming up with "what if" scenarios. These often come from news stories, historical accounts, and books or movies that didn't live up to their potential. I like to try and follow those scenarios in my mind and see where they end up. More than a few I think have promise. 

      Tell us about Bumpy Landings. Where did the idea come for this book?
      As I mentioned earlier, this a coming-of-age story set in Hawaii. At its heart, it's about Jordan MacDonald, a young returned missionary struggling to maintain the independence he gained on his mission once he returns home. I'm an aspiring pilot, so I use flying as the symbol of Jordan's independence. And since the book is set at BYU-Hawaii, there's a bit of romance thrown in, too.

      My pitch is probably too long to include here, but can be found at http://donaldjcarey.com/books.

      This book started out as a screenplay in 2002 and came from a "what-if" idea that has absolutely nothing to do with the current story. But it introduced me to many of the characters, and over the years I whittled away at different concepts until the current storyline finally emerged.

      How long did it take to write it?
      I picked at the story for five years before I stumbled upon Tristi Pinkston's Writing Challenge in October of 2007 , and decided to get serious about writing this book. I took pages to the 2008 LDStorymakers Bootcamp, and applied the things I learned as I wrote and rewrote through the rest of the year. At Storymakers 2009 I pitched the book to a publisher, and based on that feedback I polished and submitted to a handful of publishers later in the year. I got my contract with Cedar Fort this past February. 

      What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
      First, there are very few good writers. Most - if not all - published authors owe their success to being good RE-writers. Give yourself permission to write dreadful prose. Then, once you have a draft, revise and rewrite until it absolutely shines.

      Second, recognize that there is an awful lot involved in making a publishable story - character, dialog, plot, conflict, voice - and in order to become good, you need to learn and practice. That means reading and writing. A lot.

      Third, accept yourself as a writer. It took me a long time before I would tell anyone about my writing, and I felt guilty for taking time to write. But if you want to be successful, you need to allow yourself the time to write. Even if you don't aspire to writing as a full-time career, you need to treat your writing the way you would a part-time job. Schedule the time, and stick to that schedule. Doing so will require sacrifice, but the results will be worth the effort.

      Thank you!
      Thanks so much for suggesting this interview. Best of luck to you and your release of The Key of Kilenya!


      My own comment on his advice: follow it! He knows what he's talking about.
      For those of you who're interested in swapping interviews, let me know! My only requirement is that you have to have been accepted for publication. That way we can help each other get the word out about our books!