Friday, March 30, 2012

Accomplishing Your Goals As a Writer

Me and Brandon Mull (author of Fable Haven Book, Candy Shop Wars, Beyonders) at LTUE:

Here are a few tidbits from Brandon's presentation:

Editor's Dream—your book fits neatly into a category but it's a little different in a cool way.

Discovery writing—think about, see story like a movie in your head.

Why do I write fantasy stories? I can break the rules of reality and make up new ones.

Either your writing is just a hobby or you really have to love it. All you can do is write what you're most passionate about and hope an editor and other people like it.

Mission statement—write a book the whole family can read and not get bored.

  • Eg. . . Harry Potter—young character, story really smart, twisty, cool. Kids and adults like it. 

Writing comes from daydreaming.

As writers, one of the most powerful tools we can have is "evocative details."

  • Scents
  • Painting a picture
Characters are everything—I love getting my characters into situations they can't get out of and finding legitimate ways to get them out

The hard stuff—get the book written
Time—squeeze in wherever you can
Rejection—if you can, hang in there through the rejection and find the time to write so you can succeed

Connect with editors

That's it!

Monday, March 26, 2012

You’ve Written a Book, Now What?

Here are more of my notes from LTUE. I hope you can glean something out of them like I did. No matter how many conferences I go to I always seem to mine some new gem of information from each one. 

Here are the amazing panelists and some of their awesome books:

Laura Bingham—Author of The False Prince, Alvor, and Wings of Light 

Jennifer A. Nielsen—Author of Elliot and the Goblin War and writing new series called Infinity Rings with James Dashner for Scholastic. 

J. Scott SavageFarworld Series and new series The Shallow Grave Case Files,  an MG mystery about monsters beginning with Zombie Kid coming out in spring 2013 

Chris Shoebinger—Publishing Director at Deseret Book and Shadow Mountain

Kirk Shaw—Senior Editor for Covenant Communications

Lisa Mangum—Editor for Deseret Book and Shadow Mountain and author of The Hour Glass Door

  • Revise! Revise! Revise!
  • Does 10 full revisions before anyone sets eyes on it
  • Does an additional 20 revisions
  • Prints off your day’s pages and read and correct them  on paper
  • When you finish a book, CELEBRATE! It’s a great way to recharge 
  • Has his family come in and help him on the last sentence.
  • Then he thinks about his next novel
  • Write 1 page a day (250 words) for 10-30 min
  • Skip 1 sitcom
  • Keep track of how much time you spend to unwind (watch TV etc…)
  • Listen to audio books
  • You don’t have to both read and write everyday. Read one day and write the next.
  • Get others to read your books. Find people with different personalities:
    • Some plot driven
    • Some emotional
    • Some grammar
  • Have a pool of people with different strengths:
    • Writer’s group
    • Email people
    • Find author friends to read stuff
    • Have people you can trust to give you honest feedback, the good, the bad
You have two chances with an editor
  • When you submit and when you do a rewrite 
  • You need readers and need to read and see flaws
  • Hire an editor
  • Traditional publishing
  • Keep your eye on the summit
  • Don’t get sidetracked
  • Everything you do should be to that goal whether you want to:
    • Self publish
    • Publish with a smaller publisher Shadow Mountain
    • Or 1 of big six 
  • If you want to find an agent know who your top choices are  
  • Read widely
  • Make a list of ten agents
  • Check websites for submission guidelines
  • Keep good records on a spreadsheet of when you send stuff out and the responses you get
  • As soon as send out queries start on next project. 
  • Switch to business mindset after you finish your book
  • There’s not just 1 way to get to summit
  • There are different paths you can take 
  • Just keep writing because you don’t know which book will make it
  • Give yourself time to get a book out
  • If you don’t get an acceptance move to the next book.
  • From the completion of a book to publication takes 2 years
  • It takes 1+ years from acceptance at Deseret Book/Shadow Mountain
  • Expect lag on the front end
  • Covenant takes about 5 mos. from submission to acceptance
  • 1-1/2 years from acceptance to publication
  • Revise, rewrite, marketing plan, contact info
  • From contract to arcs takes 2yrs
  • Build a website, relationships, reputation, and contacts with bookstores
Reasons for rejections:
  • The book is poorly written
  • It’s not the right market
  • The writing isn’t up to the idea’s quality
  • Bad timing. We may have already accepted something similar
Research publishers:
  • The “Big Six” require agents
  • If a publisher requires an agent (most don’t take unsolicited mss) find an agent first.
Jennifer wrote in her query that her book could stand alone, but if they wanted more it could be series. That’s how she sold her book

Saturday, March 17, 2012

"Wherever you go and whatever you do, May the luck of the Irish be there with you." 

Happy Saint Patricks Day! I hope you have a fun one. What traditions you do? In my family we eat Lucky Charms for breakfast, scatter trails of chocolate candies around the house for the kids, drink root beer, and dance a jig to Irish music.

Last year we made up silly limerics about each member of the family—including the dog! When my kids were younger, my husband used to make a trap for the leprecon and bait it with gold candy. He'd make little foot prints around the trap and the candy would be gone and there would be a note from the leprecaun saying, "better luck next year! or that he wouldn't bring candy next year if we tried to trap him."

Friday, March 16, 2012

Newport Ladies Book Club Book Review

I've been invited by author Heather Moore to review the Newport Ladies Bookclub series, which she cowrote with these lovely authors: 
Heather Moore, Julie Wright,  Annette Lyon, and Josie Kilpack
This is the First Book in the series
The first book in the series is Olivia. This one is written by my friend Julie Wright, who I adore. I'll try not to be too biased in my review.  

Here's the book blurb:

The Robbins household looks perfect from the outside: no dust, no stains, no wrinkles. Yet a glimpse into its heart reveals no laughter, no closeness, no joy. Olivia thinks that if she keeps everything tidy and serves delicious meals on time, family life is bound to get better. But when her husband, Nick, misses their anniversary, she realizes no amount of domestic success will compensate for failure in their marriage, or for her own failure to develop her identity, always busy as a mother, wife, and neighbor, she has forgotten how to be a unique and vibrant individual. Determined to make a change, Olivia joins a local book club, where she nurtures new friendships and explores new ideas. But her growing confidence falters when Nick declares his independence, and while her new friends lovingly encircle her with support, only Olivia can reach into the depths of her fledgling self to find the faith, hope, and love her troubled family needs.

Now for my review!

Olivia is a delightful book that made me teary-eyed at times. I was immediately drawn into the story by the main character and her plight and could sympathize with her, though at times I wanted to shake her and wished she'd stand up and do more to help herself like she did for everyone else around her. I was glad when she joined the book club and started doing something for herself to better her situation. I wasn't sure how the author would pull off a realistic and satisfying ending. I had to keep reading to find out how it turned out. And I wasn't disappointed. Things were resolved in a way that felt believable. If you want to read a heart-wrenching, but uplifting story, I recommend reading this book. 

Go to for my writer's group's podcast interviews this month with Heather Moore, one of the authors of Newport Ladies Bookclub, and for a chance to win one of her books. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Build a Bare Story

Do you ever have trouble understanding your own notes that you take? Well, here are some more conference LTUE Symposium notes, and I hope they make sense, cuz I wasn't exactly sure what I wrote, but there's some really interesting stuff in there that's well worth sharing and reading, I swear. I think maybe I was daydreaming about a story or something while I wrote them becuase they weren't complete and I sorta had to fill in the blanks. Sometimes my brain gets too full of info at conferences and I can't organize it all in my mind! Anyway, the class was given by E.J. Patten, author of The Hunter Chronicles:

E.J. Patten

3-Act Structure

Three aspects of a story:
1. Plot—what happens
2. Millieu—where, why, when it happens, setting, idea/concept, philosophy, time period, eeapons, place, things, etc . . . 
3. Character—who it happens to

More book examples: 
Enders Game
Garden of the Moon
Davinchi Code

For the beginning of a story:
  • Start in the middle of the story
  • Begin with a plot (inciting?) incident 
  • Come up with a character to use as a placeholder

Plot driven stories:
  • Thrillers are plot driven
  • Include lots of action/adventure 
  • Many MG books are plot driven
  • Sci-fi and high fantasy have a lot of world-building and setting in them
  • YA books use cool settings and time periods

Character driven stories:
  • Comedy
  • Romance
  • Literary fiction
The Hero's Journey:
The reason people read fantasy is because they want to be taken to a new place

Good examples of the hero’s journey:

A simple concept statement about a story includes all the elements of plot, character, and millieu

A character driven approach:
Ask 4 questions about your characters:
  1. Who are they?
  2. What do they want?
  3. How are they going to get it?
  4. What’s keeping them from getting it?
The antagonist is directly opposed to protagonists goal and vice versa

Character interactions need to have these three aspects:

Ask the above questions for all main characters and support characters

Act 1—inciting incident

Next top down approach (gives you depth)
Primary plot, subplot

My notes were incomplete and sort of tapered off at this point. I hope some of that was helpful!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Fallen Review

The first book in an intensely addictive series about fallen angels and forbidden love, ideal for fans of Stephenie Meyer.

What if the person you were meant to be with could never be yours?
17-year-old Lucinda falls in love with a gorgeous, intelligent boy, Daniel, at her new school, the grim, foreboding Sword & Cross . . . only to find out that Daniel is a fallen angel, and that they have spent lifetimes finding and losing one another as good & evil forces plot to keep them apart.

Get ready to fall...


What I liked:
  • I read this book because I'd seen good reviews of it on other blogs and the beauty of the cover and the premise of the book drew me in. 
  • From the start I found the sense of mystery, edgy characters, and foreboding setting mesmerizing. 
  • The writing was clever and well-done. I loved the descriptions, dialogue, and action. 
What I didn't like:
  • Near the latter half of the book I wished the main character would do something more proactive to change her circumstances though. She seems to be helpless and in need of rescuing by other characters frequently. And she stands by as horrible things happen to her friends and others fight to save her. 
  • I didn't see a lot of growth in her from the beginning to end, but it's hinted that she has some special powers that will probably come out in the other books in the series. 
  • I wasn't exactly sure why she and her love interest were eternally bound to each other, other than the fact that they were both physically attractive and inherently good, even if they were misunderstood and mistaken for delinquents.  For me there needs to be more than just physical attraction in a romance to make it interesting. Something stronger and more emotional that binds them.
  • I also didn't get why the destiny of the world rests on their shoulders.  There needs to be something special or important they've done. Maybe in the past that happened and it's explained in the other books, but I only see bits and pieces of it in this first book. 

All in all, it's definitely worth reading and I'm sure the other books will resolve some of these issues. Have you read this book? If so, what did you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts on it. Disney is making the series into movies. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Secret Mind of a Serial Killer

Here are some more notes from the LTUE symposium. The first is a quote I love from he keynote speaker, James A. Owen, whose presentation I only caught the end of:

“Never ever sacrifice what you want the most for what you want the most that moment.” 

After that I attended the class on serial killers. It was fascinating and terrifying to get into their minds. 
A serial killer named Kenneth Bianchi either lived in or guarded a house where he killed two women in a neighborhood where I grew up. He was known as the Hillside Strangler, because he'd kill women and leave their bodies on hillsides. We used to hang out in a friend's yard who lived across the street from him and run through his yard in the dark while playing night games. One day his house was all taped off by the police and we found out later who he was and what he'd done. Scary! 

Kenneth Bianchi
The Hillside Strangler

Anyway, the class was given by Dr. Al Carlisle. Here's what he had to say, if you dare to know:

Serial Killers

Serial killers start out by wanting someone they can’t have. The First time they kill is usually an accident. The killer considers the woman a slut and thinks she’s no good, that she’s daring him. After the first time he kills, he feels horrible and like he’s falling apart. He goes back to the scene of the crime and checks the evidence to make sure didn’t leave anything incriminating. He typically takes a souvenir to remember and relive it.

One of the main problems is that it’s not enough. He can’t stop. He kills a third and fourth victim and starts getting sloppy. He becomes depressed and suicidal. Then he tells two or three people about the killings. The murders become more frequent. The killer might go to church in an effort to try to comfort himself.

Multiple Vs. Split Personalities

It’s not a multiple personality serial killers suffer from. One part of them argues with the other part and says, “You can’t do this.” But another part sees a girl and starts the cycle all over again.

Hannibal Lector
Silence of the Lambs

Hannibal Lector, the serial killer in “Silence of the Lambs,” was a psychologist. The main character in the movie was warned not to tell him anything personal about herself or let him get inside her head.  When the killer finds a worthy opponent, he exerts control. This is called social engineering.

The more isolated one becomes the more they need to exercise power over others. It’s more of a split personality, not a true multiple personality. A trigger fumes the feeling and it doesn’t go away until something happens and they act on it. One good example is: Red Dragon. With multiple personalities the person has time loss periods of very severe dissociation that they block in with walls.

Sociopaths have front lobe damage. They become a psychopath by shutting down guilt. They don’t hold down jobs very often. People become objects to them. That’s how they justify what they do. Bundy would never say he felt guilty about killing. There you have it. Now you know a little more about how a serial killer's mind works just in case you want to write about one or you discover one in your neighborhood!

Ted Bundy

Monday, March 5, 2012

100 Followers Contest Winner

Congratulations to Aubrey on winning my 100 followers contest.

Please email me at alicebeesley at hotmail dot com with your address so I can send you your prize.

Thank you all for participating!