My incredibly brilliant daughter came home from school yesterday bawling. She got a b on a test and, since this has never happened to her before, was not emotionally prepared to deal with what she deems to be failure. I tried to explain that it was one test. Certainly NOT a big deal, but to her–the world just fell apart. “I don’t get B’s!” she blubbered, her shoulders shaking and tears streaming down her face.
She’s right. She doesn’t. She has never had anything less than an A, not even an A-. She never fails at anything she sets her hand to. I tried to explain that little failures in life were inevitable, using my own rejection letters as an example. Apparently getting rejected by ones publisher is small potatoes next to getting a B on a test. Silly me.
But I have to admit that even though she was in the throes of emotional turmoil, it felt good that she crawled into my lap, even though she’s nearly twelve and certainly too cool to be doing that. She let me hold her while she cried and didn’t mind when I rested my chin on the top of her warm head and just held her.Â In a mere six years, she will be leaving my home for college and her future. This little failure (in her eyes, I mean c’mon it’s just a B!! It’s not like I’m going to ground her or anything for it, even if I did get grounded once in high school for three months because I came home with a C. My parents deny this, but I am not creative enough to make that up) is actually a good thing for her. We can’t win everything and life doesn’t always go the way we think it will. A good lesson for me too . . .
I know I know . . . I keep mentioning this guy who does art, but by hang if he isn’t just great at what he does. I consider myself fortunate to have made such an acquaintance and work with him on this new series we’re doing. He has a wicked cool blog where you give him a suggestion in the comment section and if he likes the idea, he’ll draw it for you. I love it and am intrigued each day as to what will be posted next. Fun stuff . .Â . go check it out: Kevin WasdenÂ The half naked mummy is my suggestion. I am so proud.
This weekend at the conference, I had the chance to just chill out for a few minutes with my good friend Jeff Savage. He gave me a little pep talk sinceÂ I am consistently down on myself as a writer and obsessing over whether or notÂ I am any good. He said that it is no longer a question of whether or not I am any good . . . he said based on my track record, my reviews, my sales, my being published with Deseret Book–the fact that I am a good writer goes without saying.Â
He said now it is getting my manuscripts into the hands of the people who will relate to them and love them like I love them. It’s a matter of what story I decide to tell.
Jeff is one of those incredible people who bring enlightenment to everyone around him. For the first time in a long time I feel okay about myself as a writer.
Thanks Jeff. You’ve saved me hours of obsessing, ranting, and tears . . . my husband (who thinks I’m schizophrenic, and is very likely right) thanks you too.
Well the conference was a raging success! As co-queen I am feeling pretty darn proud right now. Not that I can take all the credit, Josi was a fabulous co-queen and our conference committee simply rocked. I taught the fantasy class with James Dashner where he informed everyone once and for all–we are NOT married! It was pretty fun to teach fantasy with James even though we have such different styles and approaches to our writing.
I spent friday evening with my good friend Karen Hoover, who promised me she’d send me a poem she wrote on writing so I could post it on my website, but she has flaked so I am going to have to spam her email box. It was funny that I hung out with her and her friends because the next day it was announced that three of the four girls I spent the evening with were winners in our annual writing contest.Â I have such good taste in friends, but I swear it wasn’t contrived! I had no idea who’d won since that was one of the tasks delegated to a member of our committee.
The conference really was fabulous and to share some highlights:
It began with bootcamp which is for the serious writers. Bootcamp is where you get up early and have your peers and one published author at every table critiquing your work. This is NOT for the faint at heart.
We had an incredible cast of presenters, consisting of people like Janette Rallison, Brandon Sanderson, Jeff Savage, Rob wells, Josi Kilpack, Annette Lyon, Heather Moore, Tristi Pinkston, Bill Gardner,Â Rachel Nunes, James Dashner, and me Â There were a lot of other presenters but I am past my bedtime already and seriously mushy in my mental ability.
John Bytheway gave a fabulous presentation which gave meÂ the kick in the pants thatÂ I needed.
The energy of the presenters and attendees filled my own well of writing.
The acquisitions editor for Deseret Book and Shadow Mountain was quoted as saying this: “I have been to many writer’s conferences during my ten years as Acquisitions Editor for Deseret Book Company andÂ I can say without hesitation that the LDS Storymaker’s Conference is one of the best I’ve ever attended. I was impressed by so many things about the Conference: the classes were exceptional, the presenters were stellar, the speakers were inspirational, the attendees were enthusiastic. I left the Conference thinking to myself, “Here are the writers who are devoted to their craft, who are willing to work hard and be persistent, who understand the business of writing and of publishing. Here are the writers who are going to revolutionize the LDS writing world.” I was so happy to have met so many great people who are involved in such a thriving,Â active writer’s community. I look forward to reading the work that will come as a direct result of the Conference. It truly was a privilege to attend the 2007 LDS Storymaker’s Conference.” — Lisa Mangum, Acquisitions Editor, Deseret Book Company
If you didn’t attend the conference, you missed out and you better be saving your pennies for next year because it will totally rock the literary world!
If you did come to the conference, Thank-you for being a part of what made it great!
Since everything AI am doing right now is linked intrinsically with the writing conference, I figured I would explain why the conference is going to rock the world. Janette Rallison and Brandon Sanderson are our main speakers and they are some incredibly talented writers. Both have achieved national and local success and have so much to each and offer to newer writers that it would be positively criminal to miss this event.
In other news . . . oh wait, there is no other news. I am consumed with conference. Other news will have to come later.
Fortune of the day: Your happiness is intertwined with your outlook on life.
It’s that time of year again! Time for the annual LDStorymakers writing conference. This is a two-day intensive learning course to teach writers how to fine tune their craft. The dates are March 23-24. Sign up here:
If you’re serious about wanting to write a book, this is the place you need to be.
This is a little blog game where we admit that we aren’t so well read as we wish. I read a lotÂ . . . just not what everyone else is reading apparently. I am dismayed by having only read half of the 100 titles found here and even more dismayed by how many books I hadn’t heard of. Oh well . . .Â Here are the rules should you decide to play followed by my list:
Take a look at this list and see which ones you’ve read. Then, if you’re a blogger, post it on your blog. Here’s what you do:
* Bold the ones youâ€™ve read
* Italicize the ones you want to read
* Leave blank the ones that you arenâ€™t interested in
* Highlight those you haven’t heard of
* Put a couple of asterisks by the ones you recommend.
1. The DaVinci Code (Dan Brown) **
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)**
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee) **
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. A FINE BALANCE (Rohinton Mistry)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)**
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)**
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopherâ€™s Stone (Rowling)**
17. FALL ON YOUR KNEES (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)**
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)**
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)**
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhikerâ€™s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)**
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)**
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. 1984 (Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. THE PILLARS OF THE EARTH (Ken Follett)
37. THE POWER OF ONE(Bryce Courtenay)
38. I KNOW THIS MUCH IS TRUE (Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)**
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. The Bible **
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angelaâ€™s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. SHE’S COME UNDONE (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. Enderâ€™s Game (Orson Scott Card)**
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)**
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. THE HANDMAID’S TALE (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Travellerâ€™s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. THE FOUNTAINHEAD (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy) (started it but never could get into it)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)**
65. FIFTH BUSINESS (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo) **
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jonesâ€™ Diary (Fielding)
72. LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson)**(curtains
fountains of roses . . . I still love that image!)
Â 76. THE SUMMER TREE (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According to Garp (John Irving)
79. THE DIVINERS Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)**
81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)**
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. Wizardâ€™s First Rule (Terry Goodkind) (is it a bad thing to admit I am not a huge fan of terry goodkind?
85. Emma (Jane Austen)**
86. Watership Down(Richard Adams)**
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. THE STONE DIARIES (Carol Shields)
89. BLINDNESS (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)
Ok . . . Kevin wants to know what my theory on Harper Lee’s one and only book is, so here goes . . .
Let me start with my journey as a writer. I was fifteen years old and every day dreamed of the day that I would finish a book–if only . . .then I would be happy.
I was 22 years old and every day dreamed of the day my book would be published–if only . . .then I would be happy.
I wasÂ 29 and every day dreamed of the day when I would be on a best seller’s list–if only . . . then I would be happy.
I was 31 and dreamed every day of writing something meaningful and poignant where I would have physical evidence that a life was changed because I put pen to paper–if only . . . then I would be happy.
I was 32 and dreamed every day that I would be published with a highly esteemed publisher, one with respect in the marketplace–if only . . . then I would be happy.
I am 34 and dream every day of having a national novel accepted–if only . . . then I would be happy
I am 34 and dream every day that I will win a Newbery award–if only . . . then I would be happy
I am 34 and dream of having my books take up whole shelves in bookstores and having lines and lines of fans waiting at booksignings–if only . . . then I would be happy.
The point is, my journeyÂ will never beÂ complete. there are too many if only’s left to me. Were it not for my husband and three incredible kids, I swear I’d never be happy!
Harper Lee missed all those steps. She achieved everything in one glorious sweep. She won the awards, the adoration, the bestseller’s lists, the fans, the philosophers whoÂ flayed her words apart to discover the truth at the core of each syllable. Why should she write another book . . . for her, there are no if only’s left. Her’s is an enviable and piteous position . . . to achieve all, but miss the journey. I would love to spend an hour with her and talk . . . if only.
I’ve managed to make it to chapter four inÂ my new series. It’s been fun to write and a lot exciting. I can’t wait to see how it all comes together!
I read a very interesting BLOG post today at Arthur Levine’s blog. It was interesting to me as a writer but also as a human. His thoughts on the human experience being intrinsically a part of the author experience, has me thinking about the many projects I take on as a writer. I am going to quote Arthur (I hope he doesn’t mind) he said this:
“people often ask me how I stay responsive to wonderful new manuscripts when I read so many every week, every day. The good news and the bad news is that the really special ones stand out as distinctly as real flowers in a shop full of plastic imitations. And itâ€™s just like that really. The actual, living flower, has a smell. It isnâ€™t perfect, itâ€™s colors can be off a bit. But itâ€™s REAL and you know it. On the other hand, those plastic flowers represent a syndrome that results in nine out ten of the rejections I write every week: letâ€™s call it channeling. Channeling is a common problem to writers of any sort of piece be it poetry, fiction, or journalism, but itâ€™s a particular hazard of the various literary forms that make up the broad category of childrenâ€™s books: picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, â€œYoung Adultâ€ novels and nonfiction of all levels. In most cases, I believe channeling is not done intentionally. A writer simply sits down at his or her computer and sets out to write, letâ€™s say, a picture book story. Suddenly, that person is possessed by the spirit of Dr. Seuss. Everything comes out in rhymed, metered verse, with a plethora of made-up words to help make the lines work.”
Upon reading this I wondered to myself do I channel? I think the answer, if given honestly, would be yes . . . yes I do. But I don’t think that is a bad thing for me. Not that I’m trying to jump up and down screaming, “Me, oh me! I’m the exception!”
I’m not the exception, but I find myself channeling ideas and from there I enter into myself. You’d have to read his whole blog for any of this to make sense, but what I am saying is that I think I do find myself in my own words. Janette Rallison once said she disguised herself in her books by making all her heroines blonde (she’s brunette) I hide myself by making all my heroines brunette. Pretty shaky disguise isn’t it?
What makes me feel I really achieve humanity in my books (rather than just me taking a moment to be arrogant)Â are my readers who send me emails and letters telling me that it was like I wrote straight from their journals.Â I think it’s interesting since I always feel like I’m writing straight from mine.Â Yet here we all are having the same experience. I spoke at the LTUE symposium a few weeks ago, and in one of the panels on children’s literature I commented that with writing for youth, the author is free to be honest.
One of my favorite books of all time is Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mocking Bird . . . honest in every beautifully turned word. Would that I could be that kind of writer.
Fortune of the day: Borrow from the pessimist. He never believes youâ€™ll pay him back anyway.Â
I mentioned a few weeks ago that I met an artist named Kevin Wasden and that we might get the chance to do a children’s book series together. Well today, we made it official.Â Kevin and I will collaborate on a YA science fiction series and it is going to be so cool!Â
I know it’s a little out of the ordinary for an artist and author to work together from the beginning, but I can’t help but think how much better the entire project is with both of us working on it. Most artists don’t even get the chance to read the book they are illustrating . . . they just get a basic synopsis from the publisher and are set loose.Â With the artist and author working together, the art will truly reflect the characters and the story. How many books do that???Â
This series is going to so absolutely rock. I can’t give much information since we’re still in developmental stages. But this weekend I will start book one. Kevin is an incredible artist and has a sound mind for characterization. Can IÂ admit that I am humbled to be asked to work on something that is going to be so dang cool? I already love my main character and I haven’t even started writing about him yet . . . this is a good sign.Â The picture is Kevin and I as we eat (Have I ever mentioned how much I love eating?) and create the beginning of a perfect partnership.Â