Quote of the Day -5/5/09

"I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity."
— Edgar Allan Poe

Sunday, December 21, 2008

2009 Workshop

Is anyone going to the workshop again next year?

Here's the flyer: http://ce.byu.edu/cw/writing/

I won't be attending this year but I hope to be back in 2010 or 2011.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

God bless us, everyone!

Merry Christmas dear friends! What a wonderful time of year it is. I love Christmas with all of it's great traditions. Drinking hot cocoa, decorating a tree, singing carols, and throwing gummy bears at all my brothers and sisters Christmas eve night when none of us can sleep. I look forward to it and it never disappoints.
I just wanted to tell you all that I have had a spiritual revival this year. My faith in Christmas has been restored from the cynical view point I had in the summer. Maybe it was doing Christmas Carol over and over again, maybe it was reading the Christmas story in the bible, I'm not sure. But I think I can safely say I know what Christmas is all about again. Sharing, giving, and love are all nice and good, but they are not what Christmas is about. Christmas is about hope and joy. Hope for our salvation. Christ was born to save us from our sins. Isn't that cause for, not only hope, but incredible joy? Here we have another chance! No matter what we've done, no matter bad decisions we've made, here we have a second chance! It came in the form of a baby. Sweet, pure, and innocent, just like how we can be. We can go back to the purity we had as children, clean of sin and ready to start anew. Christmas is a celebration of this and a chance to start over for the coming year. Doesn't that make you brim with hope and joy? Doesn't it make you want to run through the streets compulsively hugging people and shouting 'Merry Christmas' at the top of your lungs? No matter how old you are, no matter how many mistakes you have made, here is your hope and joy! Seize it! Make the most of this opportunity. In the coming year, try harder to prepare and prevent rather than having to repair and repent.
I may be preaching to the choir, but I was just aching to get this out. I make no apologies to any who don't believe in Christmas, or maybe those who feel I'm being self-righteous, This is for me as much as it is for the world. Joy to the world! God Bless you! I love you all and hope you have a very merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Query Holiday


With details on a query holiday... ie, a group that wants to see gleaming first chapters without a query letter for a limited time. Go look!

Monday, December 1, 2008

NaNo 2

Who all that participated in NaNo finished?

I finally did today! WOO! A finished novel, 50,225 words long. :)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Bad Action Scenes

When people talk about books they've read I often hear the remark, "It had really good action scenes," as if the rest of the book were so-so, but the action really rocked.

Have you ever read a book that was the other way around, where the slow scenes were good but the action scenes were terrible?

I can't think of any. Maybe action scenes are easier to write well. What do you think?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I Sent it

I sent my manuscript to the editor today.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

NaNoWriMo update

Hey everyone! Who all is participating in NaNoWriMo? Or, rather, who hasn't dropped out, and how is it going? :)

I'm writing a story about a girl struggling with nightmares and depression. It's actually the one that Carol told me to write back when I was taking a class from her at BYU. It's really fun so far, but I'm behind... only 3,500 words in so far or so.

I really want to succeed this year (finally). Anyone else?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Keeping your balance

So I was thinking about balance. Balance of the universe, balance of nature, balance of life. Most importantly, the balance of comedy and drama. It is incredibly hard to find good balance. Most stories are either one or the other, and when people are unsuccessful in mixing the two, the story comes out looking fake or too much of one or the other.
So how do you find a good balance? I know you can't have a blow for blow account of funny and dramatic scenes just to make sure you have an even amount, because it depends on the story. Some stories need more of one or the other, but how can you tell? Too much drama can make a book drag and too much comedy can ruin mood. I suppose it just depends, but I've noticed something about myself. A while ago I was reading over some old chapters trying to be unbiased (yeah. right) and I noticed that because of all the silly jokes in my story, I couldn't take myself seriously during my dramatic parts. It could be the type of humor I chose, (sarcasm and dry humor work a lot better with drama, I've noticed) but at the same time, it could be just an imbalance.
Don't get me wrong, I would rather have my story be way unbalanced in the comedic direction, than to take out my jokes just to compliment the few dramatic scenes, but I'm afraid my other stories (you know, the ones I'll probably never write) might be suffering in this way. tell me what you think and what you would do to fix it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It Works for Me!

I've been trying hard to figure out what to do to improve the pacing in my book. Yesterday when I got in my car, the "Writing Excuses" podcast CD had just gotten to the episode on pacing and tension. The podcast emphasized planning, outlining, and making sure each scene had more than one objective.

I must admit my outline was a sheet of notebook paper in my spiral from the workshop with ten vague plot points scribbled on it. I decided that before I tackle draft four I had better make a real scene by scene outline.

My, that was revealing!

Chapter by chapter, I titled each scene, wrote a one or two sentence synopsis, and then made note of the objectives. I discovered several scenes that had no reason to exist, other than that they had popped up in my imagination and so I wrote them down. That's great for draft one, but by draft three?

I was wondering why no one under the age of 13 had been able to finish the book. The first four chapters are fine, but then comes a great morass of world-building and wandering about with no apparent progress. The plot doesn't pick up again until chapter 8! Something must be done!

So, fellow writers, I highly recommend this exercise. Especially on a day when you don't feel like drafting anything new. You may learn things about your manuscript that you never suspected.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Fun at the Book Signing

We went to Brandon Sanderson's book signing and Q&A at the Las Vegas Barnes and Noble last Tuesday. It was fun to see him again. He told me that he's not planning to do the BYU conference next year due to the immense pressure he's under to finish the Wheel of Time book, but he hopes to be back the year after that.

His new Alcatraz book isn't due out until Nov 1, but happily he's not so famous that there's a strict release date. My husband spotted one sitting on the wrong shelf so we snatched it up and took it to the register before it was too late. My 9-year-old son just finished reading it so I've got to go now and finish it myself because my son is just bursting to spoil it for me.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Filling the Well

When you feel drained as a writer, what do you do to fill up your well?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

All Done! (Sigh)

I finished the third draft of Earthcrosser on Friday morning. Nothing left to do now but a little proof-reading. Today I took down all my reference maps and research materials and put them away. It surprised me how sad I felt, almost like packing up to move out of an apartment where I enjoyed living.

On Tuesday, Brandon Sanderson is doing a book signing here in Las Vegas! I get to go and tell him I'm almost ready to go to the post office.

Agh! Argh! Eeek! Now I get to find out if the editor wants it! Urp! Igh! Gasp! For the next three months, every time I go to the mail box I will be on the verge of a heart attack.


Hooray! It's finally time to start thinking about that time of the year! The frenzied preparations, the hurried working behind closed doors. Secrecy and the anticipation before revelation. that's right! It's Coming! National Novel Writing Month! I think it's fantastic and am sending a link so that you can all sign up too!
It'll be great fun, and I hope you all will let us read what you write.
Until then!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Writing Excuses Podcast

Did you guys know that Brandon Sanderson (along with two other awesome guys) do a weekly podcast about writing?

Did you know that they just released a CD with the first season of it? 35 episodes!

I heard about it from Brandon's blog and purchased a copy, and have been listening to it all week long at work. It's fantastic! All sorts of great tips and information. It's kind of like being at the writing conference again, only much cheaper and without as much hard work. :) I recommend it to all of you!!!

Go here for more info: http://www.writingexcuses.com/

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Ready for a Break!

After three months of intense writing, I am taking a week off while I hand Earthcrosser over to my test readers.
Finding good test readers can be a challenge. Most people don't think about what they read. On the other hand, there are people (like me) who always think they know just what the writer should have done to make the book better. That can be even more frustrating.

What sort of feedback have you had from test readers, and was it helpful or not?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Roll Call!

Please post a comment if you see this! I want to know who is still checking the blog.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

'Tis the season

Ho ho ho! I hope you are all getting ready for Christmas! what a wonderful time of the year! Snowflakes, carols, highly overpriced toys...
I looove Christmas and think it's a great time for family traditions. For example: secret santa, mistletoe, and going to see A Christmas Carol at Hale Center Theater in West Valley.
I only mention the last one because if you come on the right night and squint at the soprano in the octet, you might recognize her as yours truly!
Being in plays has been an enormous boost for my character development, on and off stage. I've noticed that there is nothing better for a character than pinning her down and figuring out where she came from, where she's going, and how she's going to get there, then putting on her skin and doing it. It is also grueling. Rehearsals last well into the night, and with an early morning day job, I find myself taxed. But I wouldn't trade it for the world.
For anyone struggling with their character development, I suggest turning to theater. Because, although I am not brilliant (feel free to contradict that), I do think that I am better because of it.
And any of you wanting to see Christmas Carol, please do, but the tickets are twenty bucks a person, sooooo I completely understand if you don't.
Merry Christmas!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Any good characters?

This is just a suggestion, but if you really want to see some great character work, I suggest you read The Thin Man, by Dashell Hammett. It is neither fantasy nor a children's book, but the characters are really well done. If you have ever seen the Thin Man movies with William Powell and Myrna Loy, those are really good too. It makes me wonder why more books don't use already married couples for their protagonists. The banter between Nick and Nora are really fantastic, and the language used makes me laugh. You might not understand it without a basic knowledge of forties slang. The book is a lot of fun, and I highly recommend it.

Another really great book is The Crocodile in the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters. This is one of my favorite books. The prose is fun and the characters are really strong. Again, not a children's book or a fantasy, but a good read. This is one of those books where the lady who reads it on the audio book is really great. If you can, I suggest listening to the book, I think she adds a lot to the book.

Anyway, I am looking for strong characters in books, if you have any suggestions, I would appreciate them. I contribute the afore mentioned books. I'm sort of looking for more whimsical characters, since I am a firm believer in humor. I don't think characters can be very strong without it. Any recommendations?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thoughts on being a reader

Shannon Hale has some terrific posts on her blog (http://oinks.squeetus.com/) about being a reader. I think she posted them to assuage some of the anger stemming from a recently published book by a friend of hers. While it doesn't make me like the book any better, it did make me more forgiving towards the author. (Except for dissing Gilbert Blythe, of course.)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Long Term Relationship?

So how long have each of you been working on your current Work In Progress?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Dark Knut

So I saw the new batman last night. My sister found me this morning still rocking back and forth clutching my teddy bear. It was intense! It took me until now to decide that I liked it. But it was disturbing. The very thought of having a villain who has not only no moral code, but no conscience was a scary thing. He was truly evil.
I don't know if any of you have read anything by Mette Ivie Harrison, but if you look on her website, she gives 20 universal rules to bad writing. It's all a load of corn, don't read it. Lots of her rules are true in some cases, but not true in a lot of others. Anyway, as a demonstration, she states that it's bad writing to have villains who are evil and mysterious.
Isn't that what villains are? I mean, sure you can have a disagreement between good people, and that can be your conflict, but isn't it better a lot of times to just have a bad guy for your bad guy? It creates sympathy, right?

I think some of the best stories are due to villains. Good conquering evil is classic, and will remained loved by all through out the ages! Viva la Villains!
But, what makes the best villain? I guess all types of villains are good, but what kind do you guys like? Funny villains, scary villains, villains who climb on rocks? Or maybe villains in the form of authors who publish a couple books, think they're all that, and then tell everyone else that they suck because they're villains are villainous?
Sorry, I guess that was harsh.
I digress. I've wandered from my original point. But do please tell me your opinions on villains.
Anyway, I wanted to ask about anti-heroes, which is why I brought up Batman. He is the ultimate anti-hero! Everyone loves them! But they are so hard to pull off. The original was The Shadow, who Batman was based off of. He lasted for over thirty years, being very popular, until they turned him all nice, and took out his anti. Han Solo was a great Anti-hero who no one did enough with. Howl, from Howls Moving Castle, was another good one. House, from the tv show, he's an anti too, but in a different way. What is it about anti-heroes that make them so great? Is it that they're not perfect, they're loners, or that they seem to just need someone to hug? How does one write a good anti-hero and what kind of situations are best for them? What kind of characteristics are good for them? ANY WHY ARE THEY SO HARD TO PULL OFF???? If you don't do them right, they end up too harsh, or else wishy washy.
Until I find an answer I have put my epic on hold. I suppose I could study Batman, but I'm afraid I'd just get caught up in Christian Bale and forget what I'm doing. Oh well. I ask for help and opinions.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

So What Are You Reading?

What are some books that you read over the summer?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


I finished my first draft. I read my first draft. It needs a lot of work. It is a first draft.

I have never faced an entire FIRST DRAFT of a novel before. As a chronic multi-drafter, by the time I write the last word of a book, the first chapter has been re-written about thirty times already.

Not this time. This time I closed my eyes and jumped over the cliff. All 50,000 words are rough and raw.

So what do I do now? I have two options. I could take one chapter at a time, mark it up, think it over, and then revise that one chapter before marking up the next one. On the other hand, I could mark up the entire manuscript and then start back at chapter one. Which is better? Anyone have experience in this sort of thing? HELP! I'M LOST!

Monday, August 18, 2008


I used to think this was a vain and foolish thing to do, but after a visit to Pixar Animation Studios I realized the importance of visualization. The people at Pixar decorate their whole studio with art and promotional materials from their movies, and everyone knows they're the best in the business. So, go ahead and design your book cover! Create posters! Write book blurbs! Paste promotional material for your book up all over your room. It isn't vanity, it's visualization.

In this vein, I drove down to Tucson over the weekend (6 hours) just to get this great shot for my mock book cover. While I was there I toured the Titan Missile Museum and hung out with my rocket-science friends who work at Raytheon. Research trips rock.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Still Writing

Hello everyone! I have been quiet... perhaps too quiet... but anyway. I am now writing chapter three of the new novel that I started since the conference. Yes, I took my 'precious' novel that I had been working on for years and years, and PUT IT AWAY...

It has been so hard, but already I can see the benefits. I'm not so attached to this new story, so it's a lot easier to just sit down and write it. I've gotten great reactions from the people who've read it so far, too, which always helps. I think that, since I only have a loose storyline to work from, it's coming so much more naturally and easily. I have a deadline with myself of October before I turn it over to Carol for review, and hopefully send it off to an agent or something. Gotta get it finished! But for once, I actually feel that it's possible. It's totally doable.

And you know, even though I'm working on this other story (actually writing almost every day - gasp!), I'm still getting new and better ideas for the story that I put away. I'm getting very excited to work on it again later. I think it will be so much better this time.

What about you guys? Did any of you put your multi-draft novels away and started something new? How is that going for you?

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Half-Way There!

I can't believe it. I wrote the 25,000th word of Earthcrosser some time during the last hour. I'm half finished with the first draft!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Title Mostly Chosen

So, I gave my editor a long list of possible titles, including the ones you folks came up with and she picked--Petronella Saves Nearly Everyone, or Petronella Saves Everyone. We're trying to see if the longer title will fit on the cover. Thanks for all your good ideas and your efforts. If you want, we could get together for lunch sometime and I'll buy dessert.

Monday, July 28, 2008

No Advance? Retreat!

So what's everyone's opinion on "royalties only" contracts? My sister signed one to do illustrations for a book, slaved for hours creating beautiful paintings, and only earned $100.

Of course she did get in print. She can now put that on her bio.

But what about for us authors? What if it is a respectable, reputable publishing house and not just a vanity press, and they offer you a "royalties only" contract? Is it an automatic "no way?"

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hey Everyone! Link to your Website or Blog!

I know lots of you have your own blog, more of you than have linked your blog to your name on the roll call.

If you click on the little tool icon at the bottom right corner of the Writer Roll Call thing on the side bar you can create a link to your website or blog. You have to "add new list item," type in your name, and click the little green link button by the field. Then a window will pop up asking you what web address you want to link to. Type in your blog or website address, save it, and your linked name will be added to the top of the list! After you've done this, you may go ahead and delete the old, boring, un-linked version of your name on the list.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Tor is offering free book downloads right now

Go to the Tor web site and see over 20 of their most popular books available for free download plus some of their most famous cover art.


I've realized that I have a problem. I have a tendency to get so caught up in the fun I'm having creating secondary characters, that I end up with a passive main character, even if that main character has some interesting traits about them. Does anyone have any suggestions about how to fix that?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

To Join or Not to Join?

So what's everyone's opinion on joining SCBWI? Is that $75 worth it? Do we have any members here? Testimonials? Opinions?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Creating A Good Book - Creating A Good Writer

WIFYR brought about a major phase shift in my thinking. For so long I had focused on creating the one perfect book. I thought if I just kept at it long enough, I would get it right. It would be great. It would be publishable.

What I didn't see was that I needed to make myself into a writer. New concept! Instead of struggling and straining over the same tired old idea for years and years, I could toss off a new book in six months or less. So what if it wasn't perfect? I would write another one, and another one! I wouldn't just be writing, I would be creating a writer.

I used to sneer at books that weren't perfectly thought out, that had discrepancies, characters that didn't work, or silly bits that I felt should have been omitted. Okay, I still do, but now I feel more generous towards writers. You have to try a lot of things, and not everything you try will work. I shouldn't sneer at people for trying!

And, once I've created a good writer in myself, then hopefully I can find the good in what I write, preserve it and polish it gently, and make with it a good book.

My new web site and blog

My son Ben (web design) and my daughter Miriam (graphics) put together a web site for their old mom. I'd love for you to check it out and give me some feedback.

I have over in LiveJournal called Author Dene Low. Unfortunately, I've been too busy writing and getting ready for my daughter's wedding in less than 3 weeks (AARGH!) to go out and get friends. I'd love to have any of you check it out.


Great writing advice from Dave Wolverton--free

Every few days, Dave Wolverton/Farland sends out what he calls his Daily Kick in the Pants with great insights about writing as a craft and as a career. I've found it both interesting and informative. The latest is about the power of words, that I thought was especially good. If you want to subscribe, here are the instructions.

Please feel free to share this email with friends. If you would like to be added to this list, just email dwolvert@xmission.com and say, "Kick me!"

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Writing for Charity

Amy and I attended the Writing for Charity event yesterday at the Salt Lake City Library. It was a great event---like a mini WIFYR! Apparently it's going to be a yearly event and I would recommend it to everyone. It's for charity after all!

We got some good advice on writing with children. We also got to hear Amy Jameson (she's Shannon Hale and Jessica Day George's agent) give some advice on dealing with agents. There was also a small workshop session where we read the first pages of people's novels. Amy and I lucked out and ended up in a group with Brandon Mull and his editor, Chris Schoebinger from Shadow Mountain. They had all of us give our pitches for our novels (and, gee, I wish that I hadn't been first and had some forewarning...) and then they critiqued our pitches and told us how to improve them, which was really, really helpful (and really, really stressful to be put on the spot like that). Anyway, Chris Schoebinger said that he loved my title before reading any of the piece and would have read my submission based on that alone, which was great to hear from an editor. He also told Amy and me when we asked him a question afterwards that we should feel free to submit our manuscripts to him. Too bad neither of them are finished yet!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Public or Private?

The RSS feed doesn't work because this blog is set so that only blog authors can read it. I could set it to public, but then everyone in the world wide web can read our posts. Not that any of those hacks out there would steal our ideas and publish them first, but maybe we want to keep things just among ourselves.

What's everyone's opinion?

On another note, I'm delighted to see that Chersti and Ashton have now signed in! Welcome!

RSS Feed Difficulties

I have been unable to access the RSS feed of this blog since the end of the first week which is odd since it used to work just fine. Imagine my surprise to find out the blog has been very active over the past month. The feed requires authentication now, which is puzzling since I'm obviously able to post to the blog, but my username and password are not accepted for the feed. I can't find any setting that affects this issue.

I was wondering if anybody else is having trouble accessing:


I am prompted for a username and password for both the Atom and RSS feed. I am using Safari on OS X 10.5.4. I will test the feed with Flock next, and wonder if others are experiencing the same problem.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I found the blog again!

Okay, so I didn't look all that hard for a while, but then Jeni from the writing group mentioned it several times and I knew I need to get back to it.

So, I've finally started a new story. Mid-grade Sci Fi. And I'm not just writing it because several editors mentioned they'd like to find a good mid-grade sci fi (though I must admit, that was a deciding factor of the age group I picked).

I've actually written 3 chapters! I'm at about 7000 words so far. That's a good chunk of a mid-grade book! Though I hope I've not made my idea too large for one book. I'm hoping it would be a good series, but definitely need it to stand alone so I can sell it.

So.. enough rambling from me. I'll post snippets here and there when I need help, or want to amaze you all with my writing ability. ;)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Contest--Need a new title ASAP

I have good news and bad news. Good news--My editor at Houghton Mifflin has OK'd my series as a series, so the sequel that you folks read part of is really the second in the series. That means that the book you read the chapters of will most likely make it to print. Bad news: However, she does not like the title of my first book and it really does not go with the cover art, which is wickedly subtle. It looks like something sweet from Edwardian days until you see all the creepy crawlies hidden in the foliage. Go to Jen Corace's web site and you'll see the style. Anyway, I need a new title. The first book is about how Petronella and Uncle Augustus rescue a theatrical Dame, a Panamanian Generalissimo, and all of Petronella's relatives from a mad Colombian aristocrat who threatens to dump huge vats of mosquito larvae carrying yellow fever into the River Thames. It is also the book where Uncle Augustus accidentally swallows the Tou-eh-mah-mah beetle and is transformed into an insectivore. If anyone comes up with the title that ends up on the cover, I'll send you a gift card or take you out for ice cream or something.

Friday, July 11, 2008


So I was at my job, Thinking. (yes with a capital) I realize why I do better with characters than with setting. It's because I'm in theater. When I do a play, I deal almost exclusively with characters and plot, and almost never with setting. The stage crew takes care of that, while I take what a character does and says and create a past that makes her personality. I've noticed my characters are distinct, while I barely mention the setting. I just assume you can see it like I can. Stupid me. I thought it was interesting though. I suppose and artist would have a better time with setting.
I've also been thinking about style. This is my opinion and tell me if you agree. I think that in order to develop a really solid style, you have to study different types of writing and copy them in your own way. I think you need to write in all genres: fantasy, mystery, romance, comedy, drama, horror, and suspense for a few suggestions, before a style really comes together. I know you have to do it in music and theater too. I suppose dance, but all the arts really. I once read a short story by Roald Dahl about a wife killing her husband that was fantastic, but nothing at all like what he normally writes. He's now immortal! I figure he must have done a lot of different writing. What do you think? I know I do a lot of different types of writing (except romance, I know I will never master that) but I think it's essential to becoming a good writer.

Random Moments

Since most people are unable to come to the writer's group that we formed out of our class, I thought that we could share "special" moments from that group so that everyone could be part of it. Last night at our meeting, we were brainstorming about terrible things that could happen to a high school student. I told the story about how the guy I liked told me he'd come visit me that night at work (I worked at a small flower shop where I was the only person there most of the time). I was, needless to say, rather excited when Bob showed up . . . until he said he wanted to buy a dozen red roses for another girl. Argh! Anyway, the last time I saw Bob was at BYU when he chased me down in a snowstorm to tell me how great it was to see me. I told him I was engaged.

We all had a nice laugh about that and then went back to critiquing. A few minutes later, the doorbell rang. Kevin was surprised, saying that they rarely had visitors. He opened the door and Bob's father stood there (he's running for public office and was making door-to-door visits). I guess that's the nearest thing to Bob that fate could come up with for us to have a very random moment.

I hope you've enjoyed a little glimpse into our writer's group!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Query Letters

I came across this site for writing query letters that I thought was very useful. Not that we want to follow a formula, but . . .


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Get the news of the industry

The web site listed below is where you can get some interesting information about the publishing industry. Getting in the know is very helpful to your career and makes you more savvy when negotiating with agents and publishers and also knowing who to send your stuff to. This site is for free, however, for a fairly cheap price you can subscribe to the more in-depth stuff. Many of the authors I know subscribe to the more expanded version.


Monday, July 7, 2008

Chapter 2 Done!

I love the quotes! Great job everyone! Hooray! I'm keeping an archive of all the quotes, by the way, and some day I'll post a top ten list.

Chapter two is now complete! I now have 6000 words written, which means I am 10% - 12% finished! Maybe I shouldn't be counting, but it is something to "keep my editor distracted" as Jeanette Ingold said in her workshop presentation on when to write and when to edit.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Stupid Hollywood!

Okay, I need advice. What do you do when you come up with a really great story and you get really excited about it and then you watch or read something that happens to be really similar? Drive me nuts, it's happened three times. Once with a detective story, once with a romance and just recently with this really cute idea about a cyborg in high school. Then I went over to a friends house and we watched a movie about a android in high school!!!!! It even had some of my original jokes. Okay, they weren't exactly alike, but what do I do? I'll look dorky if someone connects them, and I really did think it was original. I don't want to make it too off course and have the cyborg going to school with aliens on a forbidden planet where all they eat is lima beans and lima beans happen to upset his hardware. (hey, that's not bad...)
So what do I do?

Monday, June 30, 2008

Science Fiction and Science Fact

An interesting article in CNN about the super-collider in Switzerland:


What I find most interesting are viewpoints of the doubters, the 'what might go wrong,' and how that might spark ideas for stories.
Too...the what-might-be-discovered opens up all kinds of possibilities.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

One Week Later

One week after the workshop, and I've decided that I LIKE NOT KNOWING HOW THE BOOK I'M WORKING ON WILL END.

This way I don't have to worry about heavy-handed foreshadowing, or trying to manipulate events to make things go according to my plans. I put a collection of well drawn characters into an intriguing situation, and then watch as they figure it out for themselves, page by page, chapter by chapter.

I can see advantages to planning ahead, though. I admire those who can do it. So how many of you like to plan out everything beforehand, and how many just write as you go?

Friday, June 27, 2008

Writing Tip--sounds a little inelegant, but it's for real

Years ago my daughter introduced me to the concept of BUTT GLUE.

BUTT GLUE is what you need to keep you at your desk when your brain wants to fly away in lots of different directions--in other words, it wants to do anything but write what you are supposed to write and your rear end resists gravity to fly away from the comptuer desk chair as well.

Example: I turn on the computer. Today I intend to finish writing a chapter. I know what I want to say and where I want the plot to go, but there's something about what a certain character is supposed to say that I'm not sure about. Instead of tackling that knotty detail, I wander into the kitchen and make popcorn. Then I remember that I haven't watered the plants. By the time I water all the plants, I have to go to the bathroom and I notice that the toilet needs cleaning, so I clean the toilet. Then my friend calls and I talk to her for a while. I head back to the computer, but then I remember the popcorn and go back to the kitchen. I also need a drink, so I get that. In the meantime, I've forgotten pretty much what I wanted to do with the chapter. What I need is BUTT GLUE. If I had some BG, I would have already have the chapter pretty much written. Sigh.

I've also found out that the amount of BG a person has is in direct relation to how early or how late the person who is writing is awake. For some reason the very late night hours or very early morning hours tend to be when the most BG is present in a person's chemistry. The farther away from those hours PLUS the number of other people who are awake in the house (especially children), or in the same neighborhood for that matter, he more BG is diminished. Inversely, BG is increased as more people are asleep while you are awake.

Some types of music increase BG ratios when the number of people awake in my house also increase. For me, putting in ear buds and turning on my iPod to music without words keeps BG from diminishing as rapidly as it usually does. The busier the music or if it has words, the less BG I have. It may be different for different people.

Good luck finding your BG stimulator!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

How's the Writing Going?

So how many of you are working on a new book right now? How is it going?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Devious Plotting

I came up with a possible plot summary for Earthcrosser over the weekend. I thought I'd run it by all you wonderfully creative, perceptive, amazing people and see what you thought. I've put it in the comment section so as not to clog the blog.

SOME TIME LATER- Only twenty four hours and now I have a completely different story line in mind from the one I posted! As a chronic multi-drafter, I've never tried to come up with a plot beforehand before. I just build a setting, create some characters, then let them loose and see what they do. I'm trying something new by getting my story in mind before I take off. This is hard for me because I'm just itching to write chapter 2, but always in the past I've spent about 100 pages meandering around before I get to the story, and I want to see if I can skip that stage this time.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Good news

Whew! I've been working steadily since the conference and today I finished going over the line edits for the copyedited version of the first Entomological Tales book and will send them back to Houghton Mifflin tomorrow. Thanks for all of your comments on ET2, as my publisher calls it. I'll start back to work on it tomorrow as well. Now all of you have to finish what you've been writing so you can submit and we can all celebrate together as we're all successful. Laura (Dene)

So What Did You Learn?

I know what you mean, Chris, about not being able to sleep last week. As for me, I still can't sleep.

So what did everyone learn at the workshop? I think the most significant thing I discovered is that writers, agents, and editors are real people! Lots of them are really nice, too, especially the ones who come to BYU for WIFYR.

Shannon Hale's Charity

Shannon Hale is hosting a charity event on July 19---it was mentioned at the workshop last week a couple of times. In case anyone is interested, here is a link to her blog with the information:



I don't think I got any more sleep at night than Brandon did but I didn't have the luxury of an afternoon nap.  I think I slept all weekend.  Now I know who/what my character is so I'm jazzed about writing the rest of the story (no Paul Harvey intended).  Question:  Do Grimm's fairy tales count as high fantasy or low fantasy?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Pratchett Angry At Shoddy Journalism

Brandon referred to a controversy that involved J.K. Rowling and Terry Pratchett in July '05. What follows is more than you will probably ever want to know about that spat.

In essence, J.K. Rowling said she wasn't aware that she was writing fantasy, and that she wasn't a huge fan of fantasy. The interviewer used J.K. Rowling's comments to launch repeatedly into his own rants, putting down religion, putting down fantasy, elevating secularism, claiming that C. S. Lewis would have been a Death Eater had he been a character in Harry Potter, etc. Terry Pratchett took issue with the article in a letter to the Times, made a cheeky comment about J.K. Rowling's cluelessness, and journalists cherry picked his letter to sensationalize a bloody battle between two top selling English authors.

Original article: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1083935,00.html (Whether you are liberal or conservative, you will probably agree that this was not an interview as much as it was a polemic for the interviewer)

Here is Terry Pratchett's letter to the editor (or the most full excerpt available online):
'WHY IS it felt that the continued elevation of J K Rowling can only be achieved at the expense of other writers (Mistress of magic, News Review, last week)? Now we learn that prior to Harry Potter the world of fantasy was plagued with "knights and ladies morris-dancing to Greensleeves."

In fact the best of it has always been edgy and inventive, with "the dark heart of the real world" being exactly what, underneath the top dressing, it is all about. Ever since The Lord of the Rings revitalised the genre, writers have played with it, reinvented it, subverted it and bent it to the times. It has also contained some of the very best, most accessible writing for children, by writers who seldom get the acknowledgement they deserve.

Rowling says that she didn't realise that the first Potter book was fantasy until after it was published. I'm not the world's greatest expert, but I would have thought that the wizards, witches, trolls, unicorns, hidden worlds, jumping chocolate frogs, owl mail, magic food, ghosts, broomsticks and spells would have given her a clue?'

Here's the BBC article that sensationalized Terry Pratchett's response: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/4732385.stm

Here's Neil Gaiman's insightful take on the kerfuffle: http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2005/07/storms-and-teacups.asp

Here is Terry Pratchett's attempt to dowse the fire: http://groups.google.com/group/alt.fan.harry-potter/msg/c4d91c122d8d07f1

Another followup a month later: http://groups.google.com/group/alt.fan.harry-potter/msg/f13be03e7efd5070

Last Day!

What a wonderful week, everyone! I will miss all of you so much!

Yes, today's quote is an inside joke, but we're all inside so it's all the better.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

YAY! This will be fun. Lets all make sure that we remember each other when we are all rich and famous. This means you!

Quote Groundrules

Everyone please feel free to contribute quotes for "Quote of the Day." If the quote is more than a day old, then it is fair game for anyone to click on the little tool icon at the bottom right corner and type in a fresh new quote. Make sure you change the "date posted" too so that we can enjoy your new quote for a full day before someone else changes it.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Administrator Privileges

I'm going to make all contributors into administrators as well. That means you can edit the side-bars, add your last name to the writer roll call and link your name to a personal web site, etcetera, etcetera. PLEASE NO EDITING OTHER WRITER'S POSTS. I don't even need to say that, do I, because you are all very nice people, aren't you?

Hi, folks!

Hey! Lots of great writing going on. Isn't Brandon knowledgeable?
Laura (Dene)


Welcome, everyone, to the 2008 BYU Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Science Fiction and Fantasy Section blog! I owe our title to our illustrious teacher, Brandon Sanderson, who charmingly refers to one of the founding fathers of our genre as "Grandpa Tolkien." I don't want you science fiction writers to feel left out, so if anyone has a proposal for a more inclusive title, fire away!

I'll be working on the layout of the page more later, once I've caught up on my sleep. For now, I have the blog set to public but I'll be restricting it to contributors only once you've all signed in.

The image at top is some old artwork by my sister. I'd prefer to have something by one of you up there (yes, I saw you doodling in class) so any of you who are of the visual media persuasion, please submit sci-fi and fantasy related art to me via e-mail (beckbj@gmail.com).