Thursday, April 29, 2010

What the...?

How would you fill in that blank? There're several options available. Personally, I'm a 'heck' girl. And 'dang', 'shoot', and 'crap' work for me too.

Natalie Whipple wrote about the two camps of writing- realism and idealism. Please go read this because it totally removes the typical "I am right and you are wrong and evil for writing things I don't approve of" from the equation.

Here's what I would love to happen with ebooks:
Let us pick which level of profanity we're exposed to.

Why not?

I'm all about having options. To recap, my nine-year-old finished reading Harry Potter 7 a few months ago, and I would have liked to change one word. (Mrs. Weasley says a Bad Word when she's fighting Bellatrix.)

I still let him read it and here's how I addressed it: I reread HP 7 before I gave it to him, so I knew what was coming. We talked about it. He knows that I've said a Bad Word before because here was this one time where we were driving to school in the rain, and there was a really close call in a very dangerous intersection and I said My Favorite Bad Word, the one that always comes out in such situations, not listed above. So he knows I'm not perfect, but I want to be. This will not happen anytime soon, but we STRIVE to be the nicest, most pleasant, unoffensive people we can be, right?

We had a great discussion that has led to Isaac coming to me with things that he's unsure of and him putting down books that he doesn't think fit the standards that we have set. So this has been really really good as far as him learning to make good decisions. I don't want to lose that kind of growth.

My position may be confusing to some, because, hey, I'm confused, too. Should 'Diary of Anne Frank' have been edited for content? Not exactly. But Anne has some confusing, typical adolescent feelings, and I would rather be the one talking to my kids about those, not a teacher at school. I would prefer my kids to get a sanitized version at school.

Wouldn't it be cool if the book people would be more understanding about this than the movie people?

I have romance in my book. There is kissing and it is more than just a peck kiss! I expect that the very particular might even skip a scene. That's fine with me. I'd love to sell more books because people could set the digital bar a little higher to let more sensitive/younger readers enjoy it.

Same with language. One of my characters uses 'medium' bad words, ones found in the Bible. (That's my justification, for those of you more sensitive than myself! It's in the Bible!) It's fine with me if you don't want to read that. Set it at G, then.

Is anyone at Amazon or Apple or Sony listening? No? I'll have use my rainbow words to shout it: I would buy an ereader for this app. I really would. I would also suggest books that I don't now if I could say, "Read this book on PG-13. It's awesome." 

Any thoughts?
Glutton for Punishment?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

You did WHAT? Mormon Writer Blogfest: Restoration of the Gospel

One evening in February of 1998, my stomach was churning with these strange convulsions even though I'd been too nervous to eat. Or maybe I'd been so nervous I'd eaten a whole bowl of ice cream. I don't remember the exact details, just that my stomach was in flip-out mode. My mom answered the phone and our conversation went something like this:

"Hey Mom."
"Kelly! Is everything okay?" Mom might have asked. I never called home as  much as she wanted. I'd met this guy the second day I was at college and had skipped the homesickness that she hoped would have me on the phone at least a few times a week.
"Um, yeah. Can I talk to you? There's something..."
"Just tell me."
"I'm getting baptised. Not right away. In six weeks." She hates me. It's official. My mother hates me.
Choking silence.
"When did you decide?"
"Last week. I've wanted to tell you, but I..." knew you would say something, do something to try to change my mind.

I have no idea what else was said, just that this enormous weight lifted off of me. My mom was much less upset than I expected, given that she was sure at the time (she has since rescinded this surety) that me joining the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints meant I would be going to hell.

Which doctrine, ironically, was the reason that I was joining the Mormon church. I couldn't believe that someone could do their best to follow God and end up burning...for eternity. It seemed a tad harsh. The church I grew up in was pretty easy-going on doctrine- I could believe pretty much anything except as long as I confessed that Jesus was my savior. But that wasn't enough for me.

I'd read 'The Chronicles of Narnia' by C.S. Lewis and in 'The Last Battle' there's this young man from a heathen nation who'd diligently served Tash instead of the true God, Aslan. When he meets Aslan after his death, he asks Aslan why he didn't get sent to Tash, and Aslan said that all true devotion and sacrifice belong to Aslan by rights. No goodness or kindness or bravery can belong to Tash because they are against his nature. I understood that in my heart and knew it was true. I asked my leaders at church camp what they thought of that, and no one had answers for me. They either didn't know, or told me that "Unless a man be born of water and the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven." I could not reconcile the two.

What happened next was either an act of faith or an act of apostasy. I went with the feelings of my heart. I knew that a loving God would not condemn the thousands of people who die every day who have not even heard the name of Jesus Christ. The things that C.S. Lewis had written were of such comfort and beauty to my mind and my heart that I chose to believe C.S. Lewis over what I was told the Bible meant.

Skip ahead a year or so. I met my now-husband Nathan. We dated our freshman year and I avoided churches because, besides my doctrinal concerns, the church I'd grown up in had very nasty politics. He attended the Mormon church, but talked very little about it (Can you believe that? Have you ever known a Mormon who didn't like to go on and on about it? *wink*). I remember one conversation we had about the nature of our spirits- he had this strange idea that we were eternally male or female, and I disagreed. And he'd said that he wouldn't marry anybody who wasn't Mormon, but I hoped to change his mind. That was our entire religious conversation in an entire year.

I went home for the summer after my freshman year and my mom got the missionaries' phone number from a secretary at her school who was Mormon. Mom expected that I would learn about the religion and take Nathan out of the church. They taught my sister and I the discussions, but I was basically trying to convince them and myself that I knew everything and there was no need to be baptised again. Except I'd always had this nagging feeling that I should be baptised again, but I'm stubborn and I don't like people to tell me what to do. So the Summer ended and I was relieved to say goodbye to the missionaries.

Classes started, I went with Nathan to church a few times. I went on a young single adult canoe trip. Besides a giant alligator that killed a wildlife photographer a few weeks later, all I remember of that trip was that Bishop McNeal told me that I seemed to be a very unhappy person. Wow. Sign me up!

But I started really reading the scriptures. I prayed daily, for the first prolonged period in my life. The missionaries taught me that if you die without learning about the entire gospel, you will have a chance after death to be taught. That Jesus himself had gone to 'preach to the spirits that were in prison' after he was crucified and before his resurrection. I thought about it. For months I thought and prayed to know if what they were telling me was true, I watched the movies and hung out with Mormons, and read the entire Book of Mormon, but nothing had changed inside me.

Then one February day I was walking back from Russian class and the sun was shining so bright- February is beautiful in Gainesville, FL- and I knew. It was like shaking a box of puzzle pieces and throwing them on the floor, and instead of a pile, they just I knew that God loved me, personally, as His actual daughter. I knew that Jesus was really my Savior and not just some man who taught people to be kind. I knew that the Book of Mormon was true and that Joseph Smith really had been visited by Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father. I knew that prayers are still answered in unbelievable, writing-on-the-wall clarity. I knew it in the same way that I know that I am alive and that life is good.

All of us can talk with Heavenly Father, regardless of the church that we go to. He is the perfect judge that we can never be, so I'm not telling you what you should believe, but I wanted to share with you that my life has been changed. I don't look up at stained glass windows as I did as a girl, wishing that I could have been there when Jesus healed the man who was lowered through the roof, because I know that He is here as much as he was then. We are not forgotten.

There's a lot to the restoration of the gospel- God and angels and golden plates from a lost civilization, a new promised land, and prophets leading the people across the desert in a modern exodus, but those things happened to other people. This has been the story of how the Gospel was restored to me, and in my view it is no less miraculous.

I'd like to thank Krista V. for inviting me to be part of the Mormon Writer Blogfest.

Temples with Krista V.

The Book of Mormon and missionary work with Kayeleen Hamblin

Faith in Jesus Christ with Myrna Foster

Families with Charity Bradford

Family history with Laura D

Joseph Smith with Annette Lyon

Stories from the Book of Mormon with Kathi Oram Peterson
Thanks for reading! Any questions? Comments? Fire away!
Glutton for Punishment?

Friday, April 23, 2010

I don't want to talk about it, okay?

I'm avoidance all the way.  This is why, with my first conference and a book pitch with an amazing agent looming on May 17th, I have been gardening.

My thought process looks like this-

It has to be perfect. Absolutely perfect.
Alright! I can do this! I'll make a list of edits to make.
Wow. This is kinda long.
Hmmm. Some of these are hard.
I know. I'll do a paper edit and address everything on the list.
And get my query done. The sole purpose of a query is to interest someone in reading more. Easy peasy.
It's impossible to explain all about my book in 2-3 paragraghs.
This is really hard. This sucks.
Everything I write sucks.
I'm going outside to play in the dirt.

So, there you have it. The garden is coming along, btw. The gladiolas are pushing up, the azaleas are blooming, and the hundreds of seeds are either sprouted and doing well, or not. I have no one to blame but myself that my edits aren't done, but I feel so in touch with nature right now;)

I also haven't lost the weight I wanted to this spring, but maybe I'll get some highlights instead. It's just as good, right?

In a side note, today is my 11th wedding anniversary! Nathan and I met before classes started our freshman year at UF and got married right before graduating. He's still my best friend and the funniest person I know.

What? You want a story?
Let me think.
Okay. I got one.

When we were renovating our old house, which I still miss so much, there had been a leak, not really a leak, but some previous owners had let water drip over the side of the tub and the plaster  in the kitchen ceiling below had fallen. They'd put in a nasty drop ceiling to cover it, which I had cleverly torn out before we moved in since it cost us a foot of height in the room. (It took me five years to finish all of the projects I 'envisioned' with a pry bar in that first week of owning the house). A short two years later I was putting up embossed-faux-tin-ceiling tiles, but first I had to screw all these pieces of wood to the ceiling so I could cover the giant hole in the plaster. I heard something dripping onto the kitchen tiles and rushed in. There was a lot of water on the floor and the shower was on upstairs, so I yelled for Nathan to turn off the water. Then I climbed the ladder I'd been working on so I could see if it was a pipe leak or the same old tilted tub drip. I peered into the dark space between the floor joists and a hand shot out at me. I screamed, of course, and tried to be angry.
Nathan had opened the access panel to the pipes and I still think he's lucky I didn't jump off that ladder and break my arm.  

Have a great weekend!
Glutton for Punishment?

Friday, April 9, 2010


I finally wrote a query that I don't think totally stinks. We'll see if others agree!

And I'm reading two great books on writing- 'Writing The Breakout Novel' by Donald Maass and 'Don't Murder Your Mystery' by Chris Roerden.

'Writing the BO Novel', as I like to shorten it, is about broadening the scope of your writing. 'Breakout' doesn't mean to become literary, but to help midlisters or even the unpublished to write something that reaches a little deeper, that people will remember for weeks and recommend to their friends. Very good things to think about, and Maass is one of the best agents out there.

And 'Don't Murder Your Mystery' is overdue at the library and someone else has requested it, so I can't renew it, but I don't care. I'm willing to pay the extra $0.20 to have it. Sorry to whoever requested it. The tips in this book are very useful. For instance, I just finished reading about flashbacks and there is practical advice about how to change tenses to indicate a flashback, how to prepare reader for flashback so it isn't jarring, how to bring them back out of it, etc.. The chapter on opening lines and the many examples are great too. He gives made-up examples of the types of mistakes that people usually make, which I really like. I may have to get this one.

I'm plugging away at my hard copy and hope to finish this round of edits tomorrow. Then next week I'll rewrite Chapter 1 based on my latest reviews from OWW, then more edits, another pass on my query, and so on, ad naseum. Happy writing to you!
Glutton for Punishment?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

More than I can chew and 'The Mark' by M.R. Bunderson

I think I've over-reached. My goals this week keep getting loftier.

1. Finish hard copy line edits on ENTIRE manuscript- I'm about half way done.

2. Rewrite query and prepare to send it to editor for comments on ways to improve it by next week.

3. Write five three crits (two done!)

"Where's the fire?" you ask.

I have my first pitch with an agent on May 15th at the Atlanta Writer's Conference! I hope to have my first 50 pages polished to a high sheen, my outline, my query, and be able to quickly share what my book is about. I will be posting once a week until these goals are met, on Tuesdays.

I could have gotten through another 50 pages of line edits yesterday, but I picked up a copy of 'The Mark' by M.R. Bunderson from my local LDS bookstore and read all afternoon. It was a very intriguing YA mystery/light romance/fantasy and is available on Amazon. I paid for this book out of pocket and have no relationship with the author. I just liked it.

Isn't this a great cover? It matches the book perfectly.

Seventeen year old Tori discovers that a small mole isn't really a mole- it's a symbol, perhaps from an unknown language. A few other people that enter her life- seemingly by chance- also have the same mark and even stranger, Tori can sense their emotions with her touch. From the first time they meet, Tori and Eric share an especially deep connection. Their relationship is difficult because Eric's touch threatens to overwhelm her emotions, making it dangerous to even hold hands. As Tori and her new friends discover their similarities, they begin to wonder if they really belong in this world and what it will cost them to uncover the secrets of their origins.

It is the closest I've come to a comparable novel to my book, although my book has a much sharper edge. Don't laugh, those who've read my stuff. I know I don't write 'dark' fantasy, but I do use some medium bad words (like that really hot place you don't want to end up in and the action word for getting sent there) and my characters kiss (french, not peck!), and some people die 'on-screen'.

Bunderson's MC has an ability to read the emotions of the few people who are from the same mythical land she's been stolen from, and the author had to deal with some of the same things I do. It was very interesting to read how she handles the same issues with emotional powers- that you still can misunderstand what people mean, that motivations are different than emotions, etc. This was not a religious book, simply a clean book, and I really enjoyed it. Sometimes I've read specialized audience books and don't get the impression that the writing is quite there, but 'The Mark' was well done. I'm glad I bought it, but no more reading until after May 15th! (Except for 'Writing the Breakout Novel' by Donald Maass. I had to triple check the spelling of his name. Is it just me?)

Have a great week!
Glutton for Punishment?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Review of 'Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrel'

Sometimes you visit someone's house and they have gardens. Not landscaping, but gardens. And you know, if you've gardened, that it takes a lot of work to keep the weeds at bay. That you have to divide daylillies, and that narcissiums have to be grown from seed and can't be transplanted. You see the rocks all lined up on the borders, no grass growing up between them, and you know that your friends love their garden. It's a palpable feeling to be in such a beautiful place.

And I love the cover.
So simple, but eyecatching and matches the contents perfectly.

Reading 'Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrel' by Susanna Clarke was like that for me. She spent ten years writing this beautiful story, and it shows.

I won't lie. This is not a book you can skim. You have to pay attention to every single word, and it's 800 pages. It took me two renewals to make it through. But very worth it.

It took a while to find some lines that could stand on their own and give you a taste of the wit you will be treated to on every single page, but here's a few quotes.
-"A great magician has said of his profession that it's practitioners '...must pound and rack their brains to make the least learning go in, but quarreling always come very naturally to them,' and the York magicians had proved the truth of this for a number of years."
-"A gentleman in Mr. Norrel's position with a fine house and a large estate will always be of interest to his neighbors and, unless those neighbors are very stupid, they will always contrive to know a little of what he does."
-"But Drawlight, who had begun to believe that if anyone had dies of boredom then he was almost certain to expire within the next quarter of an hour, found that he had lost the will to speak and the best he could manage was a withering smile." (while listening to Mr Norrel go on about his magical theories.)
The story is about two 19th century English magicians, teacher and pupil, who have very different approaches to magic. Mr. Norrel is aware of the danger that faeries present to humans, and wants to write them- and the long-gone human-born faerie-raised ruler, the Raven King, out of history. His is a quest to limit knowledge and eventually this drives his pupil, Jonathan Strange, to practice magic independently. They are able to work together during the Napoleonic Wars, but not long enough to recognize the enchantments that their friends and associates are under. Will they look up from their books long enough to realize what magic is growing around them, endangering their accomplishments, their respectability, and their families?

If you like Jane Austen, this may be the fantasy for you. And I will add that the last page surprised me.
Anybody else read it? Any comments? No spoilers, please!
Glutton for Punishment?