Thursday, July 30, 2015

Write within our Circumference

A few months ago my sweet mother-in-law sent this quote to me and I found great comfort in these words. Harold B. Lee, the eleventh president and our prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints said these words back some time in the 70’s. As we experience trial and tribulation in our country, his message gives me great hope.

"Men may fail in this country, earthquakes may come, seas may heave beyond their bounds, there may be great drought, disaster, and hardship, but this nation, founded on principles laid down by men whom God raised up, will never fail. This is the cradle of humanity, where life on this earth began in the Garden of Eden. This is the place of the New Jerusalem. This is the place that the Lord said is favored above all other nations in all the world.  This is the place where the Savior will come to His temple.  This is the favored land in all the world. Yes, I repeat, men may fail, but this nation won't fail.  I have faith in America; you and I must have faith in America, if we understand the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are living in a day when we must pay heed to these challenges. I plead with you not to preach pessimism. Preach that this is the greatest country in all the world.  This is the favored land.  This is the land of our forefathers.  It is the nation that will stand despite whatever trials or crises it may yet have to pass through. (Harold B. Lee, "Ye Are the Light of the World", pp. 350-51)

Through all the trials we see as a country, natural disasters: floods, blizzards, and earthquakes, political unrest with corruption, and over the top crime tragedies, we bang our heads against the wall and think to ourselves: when will it stop!

The frustration of not able to do what we can to help others is frustrating but we must learn to just let it go. All we can do, all that we have the power to do is in our own corner of the woods, our own community of people and happiness. As much as we want to, we cannot fix everything.

This is the same rule with our writing. All we can do is promote the positive and warn others from the dangers of the negative. We can only write within the parameters of our own circumference; in our own little world.

So paraphrasing what President Harold B. Lee said from  a writer's point of view: Preach goodness. Take the high moral stand in our writing and don’t drag ourselves down to the gutter.  We can do a lot in our writing to promote peaces.  Take the high road and don't get sucked into what everyone else is writing. We are better than that.

Monday, July 27, 2015

To cry or not to Thor

by Suzanne Warr

Pretty sure I've mentioned on here that my son is serving a mission for the LDS church in S. Korea right now.  And having an awesome time serving the Lord and growing, as he does!  I'm really proud of him, and often miss him...but haven't really cried about it.  At all.  Recently this subject, of whether and why some moms of missionaries cry and others don't, came up in a FB group I'm a part of.  And it got me thinking about--you guessed it--my characters.  Do they cry?  Why, or why not?  And how do I know?

For me, the best character research/history includes a flash piece from the character's life prior to to the novel's starting.  Usually this moment is pivotal, and may constitute any 'baggage' of the emotional kind that the character will need to explore during the duration of the novel.  But, it's also a slice of life, meaning it's a moment that was unplanned and shows them embedded in their regular life.  For example, if someone were to write a flash piece focused on Thor (from the Marvel movies) they might show a moment when he and Loki were doing something together that brought them closer, and this flash back would constitute the moment in the writer's mind which explained Thor's patience with his younger brother and his desire to see the good in Loki no matter how misplaced that faith.  Then again, maybe it would be a moment when the two brothers were doing something routine with their mother, and she talked with them both about how important they were to her, and asked them to always stand by each other and have each other's backs.  Thor, being the noble type, would try to hold true to that no matter what came.

*Que gratuitous pic of Thor*

However the scene or flashback is written, I think it's a pretty good indicator of whether or not a character will be the kind to cry in the 'present' novel.  When I picture certain characters having their pivotal moment...say, Mary Stuart, eldest daughter of King Henry the Eighth, it's impossible to separate tears from the moment.  Whether shed or not, the tears are there.  But, on the other hand, many characters are difficult to imagine crying, and I get the feeling any tears that would be shed would be at an odd moment and appear unprovoked.  This is true of the two main characters I'm working with in my present wip.  Since it's a scifi middle grade with plenty of adventure, perhaps that's not surprising.  But, sometimes adventure types could also shed tears.  After all, while it would take just the right set of circumstances, I could see Thor crying.  A bit, anyway.  And perhaps I can see that for him because I can also visualize a flashback in which he shed tears.

What do you think?  Can a character's tendency to cry--or not--in past events tell you anything about their reactions now, or who they are as a person?  Which type of character would you rather write about?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Blank Page

It seems I only get writer's block when I try to add something worthwhile to this blog. 


Novels. Can do. 

Newspaper article to promote the musical I am in. Taken care of lickety-split. 

Book review. If I can make it to my computer without getting distracted by half a million other things I have to do on the Internet. Done. (Speaking of which, I need a new pest control company.)

Talk to me in person, I've got lots to say. In fact, you might have a hard time getting me to stop. I've got the gift of gab thanks to the Blarney stone. 

Come up with a topic you want to read about and will add value to your lives. Zilch. I got nothing. 


Too much pressure? Nothing of interest happening in my life? (I'm having a super busy summer so how is that possible?) Do I not have anything of worth to add to the world? I hope that's not true. 

So, why do I blank out when it's my turn to post? Will anyone even see it? Will anyone even care if I don't write on my day or say anything that makes the world a better place? Honestly, I wonder if that last part is it. Does anyone even read blogs now that don't have a mass following of thousands? Or a billion hit YouTube video attached? Do readers really want to know what authors are like in their "real" lives? 

I think I'll step down now from writing my nothing post and resist taking up anymore of your precious time and using up this corner of cyberspace. 

What do you do when nothing comes to mind when it's your turn to write? 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Life is Amazing

Wanna know what's amazing to me?


Life is amazing. The ability to choose is amazing. The ability we have to make something incredible out of nothing. If I choose to, I can wake up tomorrow morning and start a new chapter in a brand-new book and create a world where there wasn't one before. With a few keystrokes, I can invent a character and give him dialogue, and soon he's conversing with everyone around him and either making their lives easier or more difficult. And with another few keystrokes, I can tell the world about this character and invite everyone to come and meet him.

On another day, I could wake up and decide to rearrange all the furniture in my house. Or get a new job. Or sell my car and get a different one. I could choose to exercise - or not. I could choose to eat that cookie, wear that shirt, watch that TV show, take that nap, plant that garden - it's all up to me. I can choose.

I can also choose to be grumpy and miserable, or to look for the joys that come in the middle of trials. My life isn't decided for me. I get to decide my life. If I find myself in a rut, I can choose to climb out of it.

Sometimes it's hard and scary - okay, it's almost always hard and scary. But it's possible. Anything is possible. Everything is possible. Every so often, something might happen that's entirely out of my hands, but then I can choose how I react to it. No one can make me be happy, just as no one can make me be bitter. It's up to me.

Life is amazing. Life is incredible.And my life is mine, to do whatever I want to with it.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Self Publishing- Don't be Cheap

Okay, I just have to offer some advice to authors thinking of going the self publishing route- don't be cheap! What I mean is, there are some things you HAVE to pay for, so don't skip them or think your best friend will do an amazing job.

1. Editing- You need to hire a copy editor. This will probably cost you around $1200 plus. Put it in your budget and don't think a friend is the better option. A good self published book needs to be just as clean and sharp as a book published by a New York Publishing House. I see way too many errors in self published books and it makes me put them right down.

For example, I just worked with someone on a developmental edit (something I totally recommend). They even had a professional artist do the cover, but when it came time for the edits, they didn't want to spend the money so a friend said they'd do it for free. When this book appeared on Amazon I was so excited. I ordered a copy immediately and was thrilled that I had worked on the book. I was shocked when I opened it. Within the first 10 pages there were 3 errors! Obvious, huge errors that involved both spelling and grammar. I was so upset. Not just because I'd put my name out there recommending the book (the story is fab), but because errors are just not acceptable. One maybe in a whole book, but 3 within the first few pages. Ugh! if you want a professional book, pay for the edit! and when that's done, read through it one more time.

2. Cover Art- You need to hire a professional cover artist. Covers are what cause a reader to pick up your book or click on the Amazon link. Do not try to do it yourself. Those types of covers do stand out, but in the wrong way. I will completely skip over and avoid those books. They are so obvious and stock art only gives your cover one dimension.

You need to be picky too, On my second book I used Createspace to design the cover. It cost me $500, so you'd think it would have been amazing. Nope, it was horrible. They even make me pay for any changes. This was my first experience, so I didn't know what to do. On my next book, a friend sent me the links to several professional cover artists. I was able to look at their online portfolio's and see their talent for myself. I had a wonderful experience and the cover was amazing. I even rehired the artist to redo the cover of my Createspace book. It is 100% better. Let me show you- the first cover is the original and the second is from the cover artist. Remember, it costs to publish a book, don't let anyone tell you different.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy Fourth of July! :) by Monique Bucheger

Today is July 4th, 2015: Independence Day in the United States of America!

I find I am very grateful for many things today: God, Family, Country, Friends, Freedom to worship as I choose, Opportunities to make my  family’s life better, and the Technology and ability to offer my gratitude through this post.

In the past week I have celebrated my third daughter’s birthday, helped my third son make final preparations to serve in the Honduras, Tegucigalpa, mission for our church, prayed that my mother-in-law would pass peacefully into the next life after bravely fighting several illnesses for years, and worried when my father-in-law had a mild heart attack because I am sure his heart literally broke knowing the love of his life was leaving. 

I feel gratitude knowing that their separation can be just a temporary one, (and that an operation helped heal his heart physically—and that he is recovering well). I am grateful for the technology that allowed my husband and his 5 siblings to fly and drive to be with their parents before their mother passed. I have felt joy and happiness while cuddling all five of my grandchildren in the last week and spent time with each of my remaining 11 children and my parents.

My friend’s daughter was missing for several days and was found alive today. Social media put the call out to look for her. Prayers offered in her behalf were answered in the best possible way with her safe return. Having recently lost my second son in a car accident, I couldn’t stop grateful and relieved tears for her family.

So today I am especially grateful to live in a country where I can enjoy the simple blessings of having enough food for my family, worship as I choose, welcome opportunities to learn and grow, and have the ability to count my blessings even when adversity and sadness strike. 

I come from a military family--and I married into one. Both my father and father-in-law retired from the Air Force. Two of my brothers-in-law retired as well: one from the Army and one from the Air Force. My husband, brother, three other brothers-in-law, and a sister-in-law also served their country well. I am grateful for their honorable service and what it means to our family and our country.

Different versions of The American Flag have been revered and criticized over the years as our country has grown. I am truly grateful that, for me, the Flag represents differing opinions with one purpose: to rally our country toward the common good of all its citizens. 

While it is true that every citizen may not agree 100% on what is the best for our country, I am grateful that--for the most part--being an American means that each citizen will at  least try to listen to other points of view. Sometimes people may need to "agree to disagree," but most Americans understand that no one wins if the right to be heard is snuffed out. 

To this end, I want to share Robin Williams' tribute to Old Glory. And to say with great affection that I love my Heavenly Father, my family, and my country. Happy 4th of July! :) 

Laugh lots ... love much ... write on! 

It's a Small World After All

I've always known it's a small world, and not just because of the Disneyland song. I'm from a tiny town called Oakley, Idaho—and by small, I mean 600 people. And yet, everywhere I've gone, I meet people who knows someone from Oakley. Half the time I find out I'm related to them somehow. Insane, right? Here are a few examples.

  • Freshman year of college, one guy and I become friends. We'd hang out, and he even illustrated a picture book of mine (which I've lost and I'm very sad). One day, he mentioned he has relatives in Oakley. We figured out that we're third cousins. Awesome. 
  • Sophomore year of college, I got set up on a blind date, along with the rest of my roommates. We had a barbecue, hung out, and then I went home for the summer. When I got back, the guy was excited to tell me that his parents had attended a family reunion in Idaho. I laughed, because I'd dressed up for a pioneer for that very reunion. We're related. Not closely, but still.
  • While in Australia, I met a guy who was an exchange student in Rupert, Idaho. That's about 20 minutes from my hometown. Blew my mind.
  • I recently moved to a new neighborhood and found out that a girl I'd hung out with as a child (our parents were good friends and played sports together) had moved into our ward just before we did. Her sons and my sons are best friends now.
  • I was at a writing retreat earlier this year, and found out a I'm related to a good friend through my dad's side

Crazy, right? It happens all the time. But this week the world got even smaller.

We headed to St. George to visit my husband's family, and had a great time while we were there. Swimming, eating, playing games, all kinds of awesome. 

Thursday night, we went swimming and saw a guy who had coached with Steve once or twice, and coached my kids a few other times. Random, but cool.

But then, Friday morning, we headed over to the Visitor's Center at the St. George Temple. If you haven't been there, you should. It had such a sweet spirit there, and the sister missionaries did a wonderful job as they showed us around.

And one of those sister missionaries happen to be the daughter of the bishop we had in Australia!! Now, we were pretty sure she'd be there. We'd seen a Facebook post from her dad just a few days before, but we were hoping we'd get to say hi. She was excited that we talked to her and it was fun sharing that experience.

While we were there, Steve's brother showed up with his family and we went through a couple of the tours together. 

The sister missionary taking this picture was from Frankfurt, Germany, which was part of Steve's mission!

Afterward, we parted ways, and my family headed off to the Children's Museum. The kids scattered once they got there and at one point, two sons came running up to tell us that our friends were downstairs. Heidi soon joined her best friend as they played at the various places, and I talked with her mom. Four hours away from where we both live.

So what crazy experiences have you had that made the world just a little smaller?