Saturday, April 19, 2008

Scary Good News

After my win at the LDStorymakers Confererence last month, my winning chapter was requested for review and as of yesterday they want to see the rest of the book. There's only one problem.

It's not written.

I am ecstatic they want to see it and feeling a bit overwhelmed at the idea of writing a book as quickly as I want to. At least I can honestly say the first draft is my favorite to write. Editing is the hard part for me, as I'm sure I've mentioned on several occasions. I'll continue to post my progress here in the hopes of holding myself accountable to somebody. I don't want to lose an opportunity to laziness!

So, to help myself along this journey, I've made a list of ten things that have helped me in the past. I needed the reminder to kick start this insane book writing I am about to attempt. I thought I'd share my list with all of you in the hopes that maybe it can be of use to someone other than myself.

1-Go walking every day, out in nature or just around the block. Take the time and get in tune with your creative self.

2-Write your author/morning pages (3 pages of freehand stream-of-conscious writing) and let all the garbage flow onto the page.

3-Do something to fill your creative well each and every day.

4-Remember who the true author is and be sure to check in with Him and ask for advice daily.

5-The spiritual well needs to be filled as often as the creative one.

6-Remember that life does not revolve around writing-writing is about life-and thus you need to remember to live it!

7- Coordinate with family on your needs and let them help you to succeed. Talk to them about what you are doing and where you are at and they might help you move past fears, blocks, and speed bumps. (I'm blessed to have such a supportive family)

8-Have faith. The Lord put you on this path for a purpose. Believe He will help you succeed.

9-Write with a purpose. Make goals and follow through. Use a timer and don't stop until it dings. Remember, B.I.C.F.O.K.T.A.M. (Butt In Chair, Fingers On Keyboard Typing Away Madly).

10-Feed your artist self with love and she will shower you with inspiration. Starve her with criticism and she will wilt and prick. In other words, keep the inner dialogue positive. Love yourself. Love what you write.

Quote of the day: "Ink on paper is as beautiful to me as flowers on the mountains; God composes, why shouldn't we?"

~Audra Foveo-Alba

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Spring Dragon

Last Saturday I went to a luncheon / party with the Beautiful Bodacious Babbling Blogging Babes, which was basically a potluck lunch combined with an Urban Botanic fragrance party. Holy cow, am I hooked! I've been hearing about Urban Botanic for about a year, but had no idea how wonderful it would be. Not only was the food great and the company wonderful, but immersing myself in scent and creating a fragrance that said something about me was very . . . empowering.

Now, something you should know about me-I am not a party person by any stretch of the imagination. I don't like crowds, and hate feeling pressured to buy anything, so I usually avoid "sales" parties at all costs. This was different. Not only was I surrounded by a small group of people who quickly became friends, but there was no pressure. It was more of a "Here, let's play chemist with all this yummy smelling stuff and see if we can make it smell even better." It worked. I created a scent that I just can't get enough of. Seriously-I spray perfume on before I go to bed! I'm constantly saying "do you like this?" to anyone who will hold still long enough to sniff. This stuff smells amazing!

If you're not familiar with Urban Botanic, check out their website, and if you get the chance to go to or host a party, do it. You won't regret it. It's like playing in a perfume factory, only better-no headache from overwhelming smells. I started by sniffing each of the 66 different oils to see what appealed to me. I loved a lot of them, but there were a few that just made me melt. I ended up with a fruity/leafy/herby mix I call "Spring Dragon".

I guess I'd better schedule my own party soon, because at the rate I'm going I'll be out of perfume in no time! I'm going to wear out my nose with all the sniffing. Thank you, Karlene, for your hospitality and the chance to finally check out Urban Botanic. You've got another loyal customer!

Quote of the Day: What no wife (or husband!) of a writer can ever understand is that a writer is working when he's staring out of the window.

~Burton Rascoe

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Power of Encouragement

Yesterday I found myself getting discouraged with my inability to find direction in my book. I felt like a failure and began to question this whole quest to write. What if I couldn't do it? What if I'd written all I was going to write? Whatif it wasn't any good? It was bringing me down big time, so I took a break and checked my e-mail.

There, I found a beautiful message from a dear friend who had just read my winning chapter from the LDStorymakers contest. She said: "Finally read your winning chapter -- What a hoot! I loved it! Loved the grandpa especially, and how you make the story come alive with details. I am right there as Claire and the fairy interact. You've got me checking my cursor and all. Great job and Good Luck with the story!"

I hope she doesn't mind me sharing this, because it made a huge difference in my attitude yesterday. Suddenly I wasn't worried anymore. I was rejoicing. I said to myself, "well, if Jewel thinks I can write, then maybe I really can!" Recognizing the power in this thought, I began to collect as many of the positive things I could find that had been said about my writing. I pulled them from blog comments, e-mail, and even comments authors wrote in the front of their books when they autographed them for me. I ended up with about thirty bits of encouragement from a wide variety of individuals I have met at LTUE, LDStorymakers conferences, Authors Incognito, and the blogosphere.

As I looked at all these beautiful cheerleading words, I decided it wasn't enough to just collect them in one place--these words needed to be somewhere I could see them daily, hourly if needed. This was my cheering section when no one was around, and so I created . . . The Wall of Champions. It is filled with comments like "HA! I told you you were great!" and "I was very impressed with your writing at the conference and the judges obviously were too. Believe in yourself, because we all believe in you!"

The one comment that makes me laugh every time I read it comes from another dear friend. "I read it. LOVED IT!! and I hate you. Call me." The comment that reminds me writing is something I'm supposed to do, says, "We need your gift of writing in our lives. The world needs your stories. Only you can write them." And the comment that humbles me to the very earth says simply "You are my hero."

All of these individuals have empowered me, supported and lifted me when I couldn't pull myself forward anymore. Knowing they believe in me, even when I couldn't believe in myself, has made me sit down one more time, write one more word, try one more time-and they do it time after time after time.

So, thank you, my friends. Thank you for the encouragement and the pick-me-up. Thank you for caring enough to leave a comment or send a note. Thank you for believing in me when I forgot to believe in myself. Thank you for lifting me up and helping me to write again -and the next time you leave an encouraging comment on somebody's blog, know that it's not dropping into cyberspace. Those comments are very meaningful and you just never know when some small thing you say might just make a difference.

Quote of the Day: "The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say."
~Anaïs Nin

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Tag again

Gaynelle tagged me for a qurky little meme. The rules are:

1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

I'm usually pretty good at posting random things about me, but rarely do I post the weird ones, so I thought I'd take that and run with it today. It shouldn't be hard to come up with 7 off-the-wall things about me, because frankly, I'm an oddball. I'm okay with that though. I have learned to embrace my weirdness.

1-I like to sing songs in what I call "The Bobby Voice". It's high, squeaky, sounds a bit like Mr. Bill, and makes the kids laugh quicker than anything. I once had a roommate who was talking to someone on the phone and unbeknownst to me left it off the hook while she went to the restroom. Being by myself, I began to sing "Jingle bells" in a rather loud Bobby voice. My friend came back in the room after a bit, looking at me rather strangely, and when she picked up the phone the guy on the other end was laughing his head off. Needless to say, I was a little embarrassed. I usually hide my weirdness better than that.

2-While we are on the Bobby Voice concept, my husband and I used to converse as Bobby and Yoda. It was pretty hilarious.

3-On a particulary strange day in high school and with the intent of cheering up a friend, I began to search the garbage cans for my missing brain. I'd open it up, lean inside and say, "Here brainy, brainy!" It worked in part. She laughed the rest of the day, though I never did find my brain.

4-I love miracle whip, especially on broccoli, cauliflower, or spinach. Seriously. Once, when I was a kid, Mom sent me to Grandma's to borrow some miracle whip for dinner. I'd eaten it all by the time I got home and had to go back for more. Yes, I ate it plain. Who needs veggies when you've got the sauce???

5-I love to find better ways to do things, especially if they save me from overexertion. About ten years ago, my husband and I were moving from the third floor of an apartment complex. We lived in the middle of the building and the parking lot could be seen from our back patio. Rather than go down three flights of stairs and all the way around the building while carrying heavy boxes full of books and videos-A LOT of books and videos-I invented a little pully system that consisted of a rope strung from the balcony to the parking lot. I took a laundry basket, strung it up with ropes from each corner, and put a clasp on the end. I'd pop a box in the laundry basket, shove it over the balcony and lower it down the slide-rope with a line in my hand. It worked GREAT. Clothes were the most fun though. Just grab a bundle, tie the hangers to together and let them fly down the line. My sister-in-law insists I should have been engineer, but that's not nearly as much fun as writing.

6-I'm a collector. I can't help myself. If I have the first book in a series, I have to have them all. I can't own two and read the rest from the library. I just can't! Needless to say, I now own over 1,200 books, 600 CD's, and 700 plus DVD's and Videos. Eeek, even I am cringing at reading that. But, hey, we share with the neighbors, so that's got to count for something, doesn't it? They call us the Hoover family library/video store. What's the point in having if you can't share?

7-Sometimes my characters become so alive that I have a hard time drawing the line between the imaginary and real world. Once my family and I got in the car to go somewhere and I turned around in a panic and said "Where's JJ?" Everybody looked at me like I was crazy and my youngest son said, "Mom, who's JJ?" That's when I realized he was fictional. A little scary, I know. It makes me feel like Sandra Bullock in "Premonition". Sometimes you wonder which world is the real one. You never know . . . .

So, now you've entered the strange world of Karen Hoover. As for who to tag next? Well, I'm tempted to pick on my writing group because they are easy targets, :p but since not all of them have blogs, I can only pick on the ones who do. Shanna, Wendy, Michelle, and Paulette-you're up! And as for the rest, how about Emily, Melinda, and Julie.

Have fun, guys!

Quote of the Day: "And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt."
~Sylvia Plath

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

LDStorymakers Conference and New Goals

When I was at the LDStorymakers conference, I set a goal for myself.

You see, I've got this problem. I write books, edit and edit and edit them, then park them on a shelf and don't send them anywhere.

I'm terrified of rejection. Stupid, I know. I was a missionary, for heavens sake, and you won't get much more rejection than that, but for some reason rejection of my manuscript scares the crap out of me. It's happened. I've sent it out a few places about three years back and even got some requests for partials out of it, but after a rather viscous rejection letter, I quit sending anything. Three years and I've sent out maybe four submissions, not counting the LDStorymakers first chapter contest.

I finally decided I have no right to be jealous of those passing me by and getting published if I'm not doing anything to make it happen for myself. Last year, Rebecca Shelly motivated a bunch of us to have a rejection contest to try and get 100 rejections within the year. I wanted to participate, but I just couldn't make myself do it. It felt like I was setting myself up for failure. So, I borrowed her idea and flipped it for something that works better for me.

As of December 31, 2008 I plan to have sent out 100 submissions, whether it be a query, a partial, or a complete manuscript. That's the plan, and thankfully I've got a sister-in-law who believes in me enough to shove me forward when I get scared. She's already been doing research-on her own, without being asked-on places that would be a good fit with my style of writing. She's not really giving me any choice, and maybe that's a good thing. It's nice to have somebody believe in me so passionately that they are willing to use much of the little time they have in helping my books to find a home.

I'm going to start adding some writing tips, things that have worked for me over the years. I love the writing quotes I always stick at the end of my posts, and I will continue them, but having experienced the joy of a successful tip just yesterday, I want to share the wealth around. So here it is.

Writing tip #1: Block Buster

Have you ever sat down to write and found yourself staring at a blank screen/page with no idea how to fill it? If so, maybe you should try Rebecca Shelly's advice and do some ramblings. Yes, you heard me right-ramblings. Open a blank word document or flip to a blank page and write whatever comes into your head as fast as you possibly can. You might even start with "I have no idea what to write about, I'm just so frustrated that I can't think of what to write so I'll do this for a while . . . ." Write anything that pops into your head and don't stop to edit. If you spell something wrong, that's okay. If it didn't come out quite right, don't worry about it. Two pages all one paragraph? No problem! Don't stop writing until you know what to do with the blank page of your manuscript-or you're so bored with ramblings that you move to your manuscript in desperation.

It works.

So, next time you're stuck with writer's block, write your way around it instead of trying to hammer through!

Quote of theDay: "I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo, and if an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight, to create a sense of hunger for life that gnaws in us all."

~Richard Wright, American Hunger, 1977

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

March Mish-Mash

March has been a rather full and interesting month. I had the opportunity to attend the LDStorymakers writing conference on march 21st and 22nd. My brain felt like it had been stuffed with packing peanuts after two days of writing euphoria and I have to admit I was flying high by the time I left late Saturday night. It was wonderful to see all my writing friends again and finally put faces to so many online names.

There were two highlights for me:
first, during the announcement of the short story contest winners, I was surprised to hear my name. For the second year I took first in the fantasy category. It blew me away. The validation has been invaluable, I must admit. After all the struggles of the past year, I guess I kind of forgot that I could write. Winning two years in a row has made me realize that this is something I can do. I'm not a faker. I can write-or so the judges say. My friend Jewel also took first place in the mystery/suspense category and last year she took first in historical fiction. It was pretty neat to see her up there.

The second highlight was having the privilege to attend the Whitney Awards and see so many of the authors I admire (and some of whom I know) attend and even win. There are too many to name, but every one of those authors in attendance deserved to be recognized.

I'm feeling some pressure in regards to writing right now, and it's a bit scary, I must admit. Last year when "The Sapphire Flute" took first, I had a finished manuscript, even if it did need some serious editing (Thanks Tristi!!!). This year I wrote "Gnomebody Gnows" specifically for the contest, never expecting to win. I'm embarrassed to admit it was submitted as a first draft with only punctuation and errors checked, and even then I missed some goofs. I have nothing else. One chapter and how can I submit that? I've never been in this position before, so I decided to do something about it.

I signed up for two BIAM's (Book In A Month) starting today. I'll duplicate the word count for both locations, but I needed as much support as I could get, so I signed up at Latter Day Authors and with Tristi's Challenges. My goal is for 2,000 to 3,000 words per day, six days a week. It's a lofty goal for me. I know I can do it if I can make myself actually type when I sit at the computer. I've got the ideas, now I just need some inspiration and courage to get it down. So, please, anyone, if you've got a kick in the pants, or some words of encouragement, or even a carrot to throw my way, please do! I need to do this-for me, more than anything-to remind myself that I can write when I want to bad enough. I'll put a thing up on the sidebar tracking my progress and hopefully it will rise some every day.

One last thing-a big thank you to all the LDStorymakers who made the conference such an amazing experience. It gets better every single year and is the one conference I can say without hesitation, I will NEVER miss. You guys are awesome!

Quote of the Day:

Let me walk through the fields of paper
touching with my wand
dry stems and stunted

~Denise Levertov, "A Walk through the Notebooks"