Friday, May 27, 2016

Memorial Day Musings

Memorial Day celebrations are an awesome reminder of our freedoms and what our country represents to the rest of the world. A reminder of the amazing sacrifice many men and women gave for the life we have now.  When we sing the Star Spangled Banner, we are reminded by the very touching words of Francis Scott Key how precious are freedoms truly are to us. (Especially the last two verses which we rarely sing.)

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream:
Tis the star-spangled banner: O, long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!”

“O, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand,
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust"
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!”

We never hear those words sung at the ballpark and it is a great reminder of what the citizens of this great country should remember. As I read the news of what occurs in other countries, I have asked myself several questions: How can we help our nation stay free? How can the American people do their duty to help the cause of freedom?  One way is to vote!!  This coming election will be an interesting one and we have the opportunity of making our vote count. Our forefathers fought for the opportunity for us to make our voice heard. Remember the importance of the opportunity to vote.

Those living in other countries know what we have here and want to be a part of this freedom. Why else would hundreds of illegal immigrants risk their lives to get over the border? We have a duty to preserve our freedoms and a good way to start is in electing the best person for office in our community.  I’m sure Francis Scott Key would agree.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Follow Your Own Violin

People often try to tell you the “right” way to do things. Naturally when it comes to things like math and God’s commandments, you need to follow the rules. Other times, do what you feel you should/want to. A few examples:

I’ve been told the best way to write a book: Make a detailed outline before putting hands to computer, or so “they” say. That doesn’t work for me. I’m what’s called a “pantser.” In other words, I write by the seat of my pants, letting the story come out. Not always in order either. More like a patchwork. I start at the beginning. When a portion in the middle calls to me, I write that. It could be the end, even scenes that will go somewhere undefined. Part way through, I write an outline, which I then forget about, but it adds structure and points me in a less random direction. When I have the pieces mostly in place, I sew it together adding in patches that make the story flow together. It isn’t that I haven’t tried outlining. It simply doesn’t work for me.

When I was in school, I took French. Living in southern California “they” said I should take Spanish. I don’t know why I had the desire to learn French instead, but it came from within. Then I married a man of Mexican descent “they” cried, “Don’t you wish you had taken Spanish?” No. (My husband now speaks okay Spanish, but growing up his parents only spoke to him in English so although he understood it, he couldn’t speak Spanish.) The French I remember came in handy when we drove our RV through New Brunswick and Quebec, Canada.

Reading scriptures is another one: “They” tell me I must get up early and study scriptures. I’m a night person, not a morning person. When I had teenagers, early morning seminary started at 6:00 am. When I had pre-school children, I sat them in front of Sesame Street at 11:00 am for lunch then went into the living room to read scriptures while munching on my own lunch. Now, I read whenever I get the time, in the morning with or after breakfast, when I can’t write another word and need a break, at the latest right before bed. It isn’t a bad thing to have scriptures on my mind before going to bed.

I played the violin in 4th through 8th grade in spite of the fact that “they” told me I couldn’t march in the band, or that it was too hard. I wanted to play violin, so that’s what I did.

I wasn’t always a stubborn brat. As I sit here at the computer I’m grateful my mother insisted I take typing. So many people my age don’t know how to use a keyboard. There are times we need to listen to “they.”

The important thing is that nobody knows you as well as you do yourself. Follow your own violin. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Write for One Person—Yourself

by Lisa Rector
Smiley, Sorry, Excuse Me, Sad, Funny

Some of the comments I received for my first novel.

“Sadly unoriginal.”

Did these bother me? At first . . . Of course!
But now I own them. I embrace them. I find pleasure in those demeaning words.

And I’ll admit—it was my first novel. It’s not perfect.

From the beginning, I have always written for myself. Always.
And let me tell you, that is my greatest secret. It sounds self-centered, but it’s true. I would never lie.
I get so much joy and fulfillment when I write. I would never let someone else’s words stop me.

As I first put pen to paper, my greatest fear was that I wouldn’t be able to write on an intellectual level. I’m not well educated in the ways of the world—I live under a rock. Which is why I write fantasy. I also feared my limited vocabulary would be a hindrance. Even today, I work to expand my knowledge. My one thought—if I could write something as well as my idol, Brandon Mull, who writes for young adults, that would be satisfactory enough for me.

I’m still working on that.

As for the comments. "Sadly unoriginal." My fantasy world has the typical elements. Dragons, magic, little people, fey, themes of light vs dark, good vs evil. I can see how these are the usual tropes. But I invented a new race—beings who harness light from their Creator. That’s huge for me.

"Childish?" Well, that’s a matter of perspective. I can see how my characters’ desires of the heart could be childish or even trivial. But love is a basic human need, and we all struggle to understand it. I can’t tell a story without romance. It’s what I love. If you want an intellectual read, you know where to find them.

This world is full of opinions. The only two that matter are yours and God’s. If you’re writing true to yourself, stand tall, stand proud.

And keep putting that pen to paper.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Shamless Self Promotion for RONE VOTING!!!

Vocal Crush is a prestigious RONE nominee! 

It has already passed the 1st round of nomination by receiving a 4 star review from InD’Tale Magazine.

Now, I need your help to get it through the 2nd round, the Fan Vote, May 16-May 22. (You don’t need to have read the book to vote.)

You can vote in 4 easy steps.

1.      Go here to vote: 

2.      You must be a subscriber to vote. It’s free and quick, only a minute of your time and you can always unsubscribe later. It’s in a box on the right side of the page. 

3.      Vote for Vocal Crush by Lisa Swinton under the Contemporary Sweet category half way down the page. 

4.      Enter the Rafflecopter to win a signed-by-the-author printed copy via my blog or FB Author page. Links:

That’s it you’re done! 

Haven’t read Vocal Crush but want to? During voting week it’s on sale for $0.99 on Amazon! Be sure to leave an honest review after.J Get it here: 

With any luck, Vocal Crush will make it to the 3rd round, the professional judging. 

Thanks so much for your support!
Lisa Swinton

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, May 9, 2016

A race for time as my kids grow up

It's a little before seven in the morning, and I have this notion of running eight laps, or 3200 meters, on the local Grantsville High School track. Out of curiosity, you could say.

Just last week at a track meet, I cheered my 16 year old sophomore daughter on that blacktop, including the 3200 meter event. She’s trying to figure out how to beat her 12-minute time, and I suggested she improve her finish kick. “Mom,” she said, “you have no idea what it’s like.” She's right, of course. I only took up running as an adult. So today I am running the track to approximate her experience.

At lap two of eight, I’m thinking how hard it is to run this elliptical course, over and over, without relief from monotony. But the track is smooth, no pebbles to roll my ankles on, no vehicles to watch for. With my cell phone, I take a picture of the bleachers against a backdrop of snow-capped mountains.

At the sight of the bleachers, steeped with memories, my run becomes less of a race for time as it feels like a futile exercise – of trying to run back the clock on my kids growing up, graduating from high school, and moving on.

My 18 year old son will graduate from GHS in a few weeks. His main sports are soccer and cross country but he ran track, too, one season. He and his younger sister will have their own memories of this track. I have mine.

From these bleachers, I watched him run the 800 meter, straight from soccer practice like he had an endless supply of legs. I sat through rain and frigid wind, cheering on my children till I was hoarse. My husband held me back once to keep me from rushing the track when someone deliberately elbowed my daughter mid-race. I watched her fight back tears from taking second and, another time, beam from taking first.

Someday, my children will move on from high school, and I will only have those and other memories to hold on to.

I look up from the track. The parking lot is filling up fast. In a few minutes, school will be in full swing and I will feel even more of an interloper. I speed up to the final stretch of my eight laps, pretending like I have a killer finish kick. As I cross the line, it hurts and feels exhilarating all at the same time. Not just my legs, but in my heart.

My kids will continue to run laps around me – through graduation, missions, college, marriage. I can about stop them as one can avoid that visceral reaction to the gunshot at race start. As much as I say I want to stop time, I don’t really want to. They will have other races to run, with more to look forward to. And I will continue to watch them with hopeful heart and fierce pride, cheering them on until they cross the next finish line.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

LDStorymakers - My version

This last weekend was LDStorymakers, and while I have always enjoyed going, this year I hoped for just a little more inspiration. 

I wasn't disappointed. The classes were fantastic as always, but something made them just a little more special. Scriptures were used as quotes in one of my classes and in the keynote (both the same teacher). They were verses I needed to hear. 

Both keynote speeches were pretty much written for me. And the cool thing is, I think most, if not all the other writers felt exactly the same way. They were inspired, and for that I'm so thankful.

They focused on family and finding time to be both a writer and a parent. They shared funny insights from their lives and they were just ... perfect. I teared up during both because it helped me see what I did right and what I could do better to give both things the time they need and deserve.

And it wasn't just those speeches. It was meeting people and helping people with their first pages (I had so much fun!!) and seeing old friends. As I walked toward the registration desk the first day, I wanted to jump up and down because I felt at home. These are my people. This is my tribe. 

I also had the opportunity to go to the Whitneys for the first time this year. It was fantastic! Such a wonderful spirit. And how many awards shows do you get to hear people say how much they prayed for inspiration to write, or talk about miracles? Fantastic.  As I announced the winner's name for Speculative Fiction (Dan Wells for The Devil's Only Friend), I got to see his look of surprise and joy as he stood to accept his award. 

Every year, as I left the conference, I felt drained of energy, and I couldn't wait to get home and sleep for a month or so(that much awesomeness is exhausting!). This time, I felt peace. There was a determination to put my new skills to the test, but I was just ... happy. Maybe it was my super happy yellow dress that I wore that day, or the excitement of being able to say "And the winner is ..." at the Whitneys, but I think it was more than that.  

So I want to say thank you. To the committee for planning this conference, my friends (both new and old), and to Dr. Chris Crowe and Brandon Sanderson for their amazing speeches. 

And now, I get back to writing my book so I can wake up in time to get my kids to school. A mother/writer's work is never done! Until next time, LDStorymakers Conference!