Sunday, July 31, 2011

Tristi Pinkston's New Book is Out

Author Tristi Pinkston is excited to announce the release of the third novel in her Secret Sisters Mysteries series.

Titled Hang ‘em High, this novel takes place on a dude ranch in Montana. When Ida Mae’s son invites her to come for a visit, of course she brings Arlette and Tansy along with her. They are expecting to spend the week looking at horses, avoiding the cows, and making amends in Ida Mae’s relationship with her son. What they don’t expect is to be stuck on the ranch in the middle of a blizzard and to be thrust headlong into the middle of a mystery.


Help Tristi celebrate her new novel in two ways. First, come participate in the two-week-long blog contest, where you can win a book nearly every single day! All the details are up on Tristi’s blog.

Second, come to the book launch!
You are invited to an
August Authorama!
Saturday, August 13th
Pioneer Book, 858 S. State, Orem
12 – 4 pm
Games, prizes, balloons, face painting,
and Dutch oven cobbler
prepared by world champion cook
will all be there to sign books.
This is one book launch event
you will not want to miss!

Saturday, July 30, 2011


What am I reading now?  Uncommon Criminals (Ally Carter)

Annnd. . . what do I think so far?  Oh--I love this series. I want to be a thief, who steals to return lost items. The only down side I can see is that this book (#2 in the series) just came out in June--does that mean the next one will be 11 months away?

Wednesday night at the LUW (League of Utah Writers) meeting, we had three mini-lessons on different aspects of writing. One of them was on using incongruity to grab and hold your readers' attention. So here's the activity. Get a blank paper and a pencil.  (No really, get up and get them.  I'm waiting. . . kinda sorta.)

Okay now make a grid with 10 spaces. It will look like this:

Now, we brainstorm! The top box is reality (maybe even cliche' ideas), the bottom box is craziness on crack. These are the surprises you can work into your story. Don't hold back 'cause you only have 30 seconds per box.

We brainstormed "Execution". You can do any word you want, to match your plot or scenes.

Set the timer on your phone for 30 seconds. Ready. Set. Go.

Did you come up with anything wild and funny? Please share!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Why do you write?

What am I reading now?  Identity (Betsy Love)

Annnd. . . what do I think so far? They say everyone has a twin in the world. Amelia and Savannah meet each other while vacationing in Mexico. One is a wealthy heiress with business secrets. The other is preparing to serve a mission. Even the best friend and fiance' can't tell them apart.
--Neither can the murderer.

Genre: LDS fiction; romance and suspense

Click HERE to get it from Amazon for your Kindle. Oh, you don't have a Kindle? Go to the right sidebar on my blog, scroll a bit, and download it for your computer for free.

Why Writing?
Of all the things to do that could cause more angst, overwhelm and disappointment, why choose writing as a hobby/interest/profession?

I've written for a very long time, *%-&# years! I entered a poem in a contest in fourth grade (won second place) and had a poem read on the radio in fifth grade. And I was hooked! Found out is wasn't cool to be a writer in high school, so it went underground, but I kept writing.

But I'd never considered writing a novel. Putting lots of words to a page scared me. I preferred poetry.
Few, powerful,
Curling as smoke
Stabbing at shadows

I've tackled the novel lately, and I'm learning so much! Okay, I write because it's creation. Writing gives me a way to spill my emotions through my characters. Through writing I carve myself up and let each piece grow independent of my whole, sprouting new could-bes.

So--What do you write and why do you write?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Update on Queries

What am I reading now? Forever (Maggie Stiefvater)

Annnd. . . what do I think so far? At the end of the first book (Shiver) I was so happy for Grace and Sam. At the end of book 2 (Linger) I wanted to scream--Oh wait--I did! Just finished book 3 (Forever), great ending. It had a couple of ways I thought it might go. Either way would have been satisfying. The author went one way then the other, and I kept wondering which way it would end. Yup--I recommend this series. Especially now that all three books are out and you wouldn't have to wait a year between each to find out what happens next.

Update on Queries and What I've Learned

The results of querying for Wish Thief so far are:
Send the full manuscript, no, no, not for me, no, doesn't fit my list, no thanks, no, no, no, please send a full manuscript, no, not interested, no, no, not the one for you, please send 50 pages and a synopsis, no, no, and no.

Something I've had to learn is how to write a short synopsis--they're tough. How do you tell your story in 2 pages when it took you 200 pages to tell your story?

At first, I went through each chapter and summarized it. Then I went back and removed the subplots from the summaries. Still about 9 pages long!

Then I completely switched gears and decided to use story structure to write the summary. I'm not saying I'm there and this is the only way to do it, but I wrote a short 3-5 sentence paragraph for each of these:

          1.  Hook
          2.  Status Quo and Conflict Introduced

          3.  Main Character Decision and first attempts
          4.  MidPoint and actions/failures
          5.  Main Character Loss
          6.  The Final Piece needed to triumph
          7.  Final Confrontation and resolution
          8.  Wrap up

The finished product made more sense when I was done, and it cut out the parts that make the story interesting but would have cluttered the synopsis. 
Um, just checked my email--add another no.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What am I reading now? Watched by Cindy Hogan

What am I reading now?  Watched (Cindy Hogan, genre: YA Suspense)
Annnd. . . what do I think so far?  What if you took a summer trip to DC with other students who are aspiring Senators? What if you didn't what to be a politician, just change your life? What if you witness a gruesome murder? What if you know you're being watched now? Yeah, it'd change your life.

 Click HERE to visit Cindy's blog to learn more about the author and this book. I got the eBook from Amazon for only $2.99, more value than a movie, and I could read it in my jammies.

What matters in a character?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Dancing with the Pen

What am I reading now? 
Heist Society (Ally Carter)

Annd. . . what do I think of it so far? 
Read it--read it.
I really enjoyed this book! Kat is easy to love. She's smart (smart-aleck). She's talented (a gifted thief). She's committed to family (except they live apart, have a falling out and she hates her cousin). See why I love this book--she's just like the rest of us--kinda sorta.

Dancing with the Pen
Comparing Dance and Writing

     • Body (form, strength, line) -----> plot
     • Action (streams of movement) -----> scenes
     • Space -----> Setting
     • Time -----> Pacing
     • Energy (tension, force) -----> character relationships
I'm going to add social. I know you can dance by yourself, but much of dance is about how dancers interact with each other.
     •Social -----> Author/Reader Connection

Friday, July 15, 2011

It Isn't Art

Ali Cross is sponsoring a Blog-Fest.
The theme is "Independence Day...And something unexpected happens" in 250 words. To see the other entries click on Ali's BLOG.
Here's my entry:

It Isn't Art

            A couple steps into the gallery, pausing just behind me to the left. “The composition is off, isn’t it? Too heavy on this side,” she asks.
            “The buildings and rubble spreading into the road make it feel as if the whole world is tipping,” he says.
            “Like the photo was taken before the artist had decided the focal point.”
            “Yes, you’d think so, but perhaps that’s the very thing the photographer wanted. How he made that man, there, seem isolated and alone.”
            Drawn to the framed, black and white image again, my eyes find my own. Yes, isolated. Alone. The war was over. We were celebrating victory, but I felt the weight of loss. This war is sealed in black and white.
Framed in smooth wood.
Hung on chalky walls.
            We were supposed to think in black and white. How many friends died? Don’t think about it—celebrate. Who will rebuild the nations? Don’t question—kiss your girl.
            My home, my wife, my children were purchased with Doug and Kurt and thousands more face down in mud and shattered glass. Shut down those memories. Lock them away. I can’t. I’m pressed behind that glass. Preserved. That moment suspended to live eternally.
            “That’s the balance the artist wants. One man on this side, full of sorrow. A crumbling world on the other side." The man steps around me and reaches a finger to point.
            Don’t touch my memory calls. It isn’t art.
My heart slams shut.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Writing Is Like Music

What am I reading now? Vampire Crush (A.M. Robinson)
Annnd. . . what do I think of it so far? Just finished. Kinda standard issue, high school vamp story. Fun, mindless read.

Writing Is Like Music

My last post looked at how appreciation of art can inform writing or compare to the appreciation of literature. Here's a go for the same thing with music.
     Dynamics (volume) -----> scenes
     Harmony (notes to accent melody) -----> maybe subplot, maybe theme
     Melody (prominent string of notes) -----> main plot
     Pitch (high and low) -----> plot points, emotion
     Timbre (distinguishing sound of an instrument) -----> voice
     Rhythm (beats) -----> sentence structure
     Scale and Chord -----> parallelism and repetition

This is the way I see it (for now).

How do you see it differently?
How could meter (grouping strong and weak beats), dynamics (change in volume) or key (the central note) be related to the appreciation of a story?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Art of Writing

What am I reading now?  Fins are Forever (Tera Lynn Childs)

Annnd. . . what do I think of it so far?  This is a follow up to Forgive My Fins. Don't you love the blue and green on the cover. In the last book, Lily decided to give up Quince, the boy she was accidently bonded to. Who knew kissing could have such a permanent effect? Nope. No idea. Then she decided to give up the kingdom--did I mention she's the princess? She is, was. I wonder though if she will complete the abdication in this book. See she didn't actually sign, but she plans to, when she turns 18. Hmmm. . . but being a teenager in a paranormal romance is like living the inverse of doggie years. You can have five years of adventures in one school year, and still have a 300 page summer fling too.

Art of Writing 

A couple of weeks  ago, I was teaching a class about literacy and a teacher made a comment that we need to consider how integrating the arts into our reading and writing instruction would improve lesson engagement and motivation. True, reading and writing about the real world give kids strong connections to improve in academics.

The thought has twisted around in my brain a bit since then. I've been thinking not only about integrating the subjects but also about how appreciation of one art form feeds the appreciation of another, specifically how the appreciation of art can lead to a better understanding of how composition works.

I began making a comparison between some basic elements of each:

     •Line (movement) ----> Plot
     •Shape (balance and tension) -----> Scenes
     •Tone (contrasts) -----> Obstacles
     •Color (the pallet used and white space) -----> Voice
     •Pattern (relationships) -----> yup, Relationships
     •Texture (brush strokes) -----> salient Details

How do you look at composition? 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


What am I reading now?  Abandon (Meg Cabot)
Annd. . . what do I think of it so far?  Princess Diaries was fun and I'm a chick lit fan (Laughed all the way through Boy Meets Girl) and expected that type of voice in this book too. NOT! I'm curious if it will have funny moments or walk on the dark side. So far--dark side.

I love July. Here in Utah, we get to do them the whole month. And this year we can do the aerial ones. I know other states have always used them. We did in Colorado where I grew up. So it was fun last night to watch the guys at our house run out in the pouring rain and light fuses. Then we all looked up (yes, rain splashing in our faces) to watch the colorful explosions.

Deanna and I also started sending a few queries for Wish Thief. And it's kinda like fireworks. We light the fuse and look up. So far, we've been rejected a couple of times, and had one other agent request a full manuscript. We're hoping to have a blast. Wish us luck!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Focus on the Crunch

What am I reading now?  On the Edge (Iona Andrews)
Annnd. . .  what do I think so far? I'm only a couple of chapters in, and although I don't know what the main character wants yet, I've decided to keep going. Great voice will keep a reader engaged while the world building is going on. It's interesting how the author is describing the relationships between three dimensions (the Edge, the Broken and the Weird) that lay close together.

Regular Bloggy Schedule
The last books from the June blogk party have been mailed out, and we are well into July. Hm, I don't think I can go cold-turkey on the book give away though. I know--I'll give a way a book each month. Fun! Time to set up a regular blog schedule again. Should I blog on dates like the 5th, 10th, 15th...? Or maybe I should blog on special occasions--except that would not be a schedule or regular. Just pick already.

Okay. Tuesday and Saturday.

Great. GO.

How is a Brownie Like a Great Story?

It has some crunch (obstacles and challenges) and some gooeyness (the plot holds together).
Sweet (romance) to be sure!
With plenty of surprises (from great characters) inside.

Oh, this is the kind of brownie I was thinking of. . .

Yes. Those are Oreos baked inside with an ice cream sidecar!
Excuse me I have to go  eat  write now. Today's goal: focus on the crunch.

What do you think makes a good metaphor for storytelling?