Saturday, October 30, 2010

Answers, The Fourth (Blogging)

In case you've missed my other posts this month, I've been blogging for a little over a year now. 10/10/10 was my first blogoversary. This post wraps up my Q&A, and then I'll be taking break to get some serious writing done in honor of National Novel Writing Month (November), though I'm not planning on actually taking the NaNoWriMo challenge. I tried it last year, and I haven't even looked at the unfinished mess that I poured so many hours into last November. If you are taking the challenge, then good luck to you! GO! WRITE! WIN! No, I am NOT a cheerleader, but NaNoWriMo is HARD. 

So, questions, we have questions and answers.

Jude asked, "Hmm how many hours a day do you spend blogging and/or tweeting? Has it grown or waned as you're approaching the one-year mark?"

I'd say that over the year, I probably averaged one a day, but I don't tweet, and I don't blog everyday. It grew and then waned. I'm so busy with school and kids right now that it isn't a big priority. I blog because I enjoy the interaction.

Susan Kaye Quinn asked, "Any regrets of the year-of-the-blog? Will you do it for another year?"

My only regret is that I think I could have spent more time writing this year. I only have so much time to blog/read/write, and I think a greater portion of that time needs to go to writing. I don't intend to quit, just cut back.

Medeia Sharif asked, "How have your bloggie friends stretched you/enlightened you/assisted you in your writing endeavors?"

The best part of this last year of blogging has been finding great critique partners. I have three that I've traded with and three more that I'm excited to trade with when my manuscript is ready. But really, all of my "bloggie friends" have been encouraging and supportive, and it helps just to have people say they like my writing or even my blog. It counters the rejection.

Niki asked, "Do you get worried about what to post on your blog?"

Yes, I worry about posting information about my children or experiences that are personal, and then I go with what feels right. I prefer reading blogs where the writer lets their readers get to know them. I worry about sounding negative, but I like it when other bloggers share their problems. And I worry about voice. Do I have voice? I don't know. It's something that's easy for me to hear in other blogs, but it's hard to tell if I have it. I'm not trying to be someone I'm not or writing a character. It's just me.

And that wraps up our Q&A. Thank you for your questions, your comments, and your friendships. I look forward to getting to know you better over the next year, but please don't be offended if you see less of me on your blogs and here for the rest of 2010. I'm writing a rough draft (as soon as I finish the partial revision of Star Swans I'm working on), and I've learned over the last year that blogging interferes with my creative process. That doesn't mean I won't be blogging or commenting at all the next two months, just less (if I have any self-discipline) ;)

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Answers, The Third (Writing)

Adam Heine (who happens to have a great contest going this week) asked, "What's your publishing career goal (even if "career" is in quotes :-)?"

I'd like it to be a career. I can't think of any career that would be as much fun as writing and talking to kids about writing and books. I have a lot of little goals, but they're pretty scattered. I like to write poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, mostly for children. Whether or not I'm successful in getting my fiction published, it's fun to find my poetry in my favorite magazine in the children's section at our library.

Sharon K. Mayhew asked, "What was your first publication? and when?"

My first publication was a newspaper article when I was in high school, but I couldn't tell you the title or when it was published. I was too busy to keep track of them. My first children's poem "The Letter S," was published in September of 2007. It was Highlights High Five's first year, and I've had a poem in there every year since.

Catherine Denton asked, "Could you share one of your children's poems with us? (tips would be nice too)"

I shared my most recent publication, "A Place on My Bed," in this post.

My tip would be to anchor your poetry in concrete images and let your readers supply the emotion. One of the things I like about this poem is that while the O shape is concrete, readers are going to come up with their own interpretations of what it's opening into and what kind of treasure is inside. I loved the illustration for this one in Highlights.

Sue asked, "When did you first start writing...and what form did your early efforts take?"

I remember receiving and writing notes in class as early as first grade. Some of those notes, especially in second grade, may or may not have been written to a certain boy. I also used to make up games that were ongoing stories and play them with my friends. It wasn't writing, but it stretched my mind in the same direction.

Thank you for your questions! I'll wrap up the Q & A with my answers to your blogging questions in a few days. Have a great week!

*I took down "The Letter O" and the bit about my professor. Thanks for your positive comments!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Answers, The Second (random stuff)

Flowering Plum Pictures, Images and Photos

Sarah asked, "I've always wondered why no one (at least that I know of)--and especially a movie villain--has planted dark maples and other purple leaved trees all around their house. Why not surround a home with purple foliage?"

Actually, the first house we bought, I fell in love with the dark purple flowing plum that it had in the front yard. The pink flowers in the spring were just a bonus. The yard was tiny, so that was the only tree we had. Now you know someone who had purple leaves around their house. I think maples are beautiful too, but they don't grow well where I live.

Krista asked, "What took you to Mexico, Holland, Switzerland, Germany, France, Spain, Portugal, and Canada?"

storks Pictures, Images and Photos

Having an airline pilot for a dad made traveling a lot less expensive (until I grew up). We went on a family vacation to Europe when I was 14, mostly to visit my cousin and his family who lived in Switzerland. My cousin and his wife talked my parents into leaving me with them for the rest of the summer, and they took me with them on their family vacation to Portugal. We drove through France, Spain (with their stork nests on churches and fields of sunflowers), and the barricades set up by revolutionaries in Portugal to stay at a beach house that belonged to some friends of theirs. That was the first summer I ever remember getting sunburned.

I went to Mexico on school related trips twice in high school and once while attending BYU. Spanish Education was one of my majors (though I dropped it later), and I lived in the Spanish House one spring term, and then a group of us went down to Obregon in Sonora and stayed there for a short while.

Carolina Valdez Miller asked,

"What is your number one goal in life?"                     To follow my Savior
"Where do you see yourself in five years?"               Writing and being a mom
"What is one thing you like to have while writing?"   Salt and Pepper Pistachios

Karen G asked, "Where do you live?"

I live in a small valley between Mesquite and Las Vegas, Nevada, in the desert. If you walked straight out my backdoor, you'd cross the railroad tracks into the desert, and you wouldn't run into any houses, not for days.

And Jackee asked, "What do you like/dislike about where you live?"

I love the people, and I love that I can garden year round here. I like that we get lizards crawling on our window screens, but I'm not so crazy about Arizona bark scorpions sneaking into our house. I love the weather in fall, winter and spring, but I want to move anywhere else in the summer. The temperatures get over 120 degrees F.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Answers: The First (Star Swans)

I'm sorry it's taken me so long to answer your questions. I've been unusually busy the last couple of weeks, but life ought to calm down after this week. Today, I'm going to answer the questions from Jackie, Krista, and Shellie about my YA Fantasy. The second two kind of echoed the first, so I'll just post Jackie's question.

Jackie asked, "When are we going to see a teaser/hook/pitch/tidbit of Star Swans?"

I'm going to share a couple of quotes from Star Swans' most recent critique--the first because it made me happy and the second because it's causing me stress.

"I am absolutely in love with what this book could be.  You have so many golden moments in here, so much that made me smile--and the story!  You have so much of it!  Furthermore, it's just classic enough to feel familiar when we slip into it, but it very much has its own flavor, which makes it fun and new.  I really don't think I've ever read a book with a style like yours."

"I really think this needs to be more than one book.  You have so much story, so much great story that I don't think you want to cram it into 90k words.  This overarching story could and should take 300k words or more, spread out in (I think) three books.  Yes, I just said three hundred thousand words.  Don't freak out--you have an advantage in that you have written a rough draft of much of the series.  That will help you."

So, now I'm deciding what to do with Q's advice, most of which was spot on. Star Swans has serious pacing issues that this would almost completely solve, but (much as I love this story) I didn't mean to spend the next five years of my life on it. I've known that I needed to write a prequel and a sequel since the second draft, but my CP wasn't referring to those. For fun, I wrote a teaser for each book that Star Swans would become if I split it into three.

The Star Swan: When Jaavan's mother becomes fatally ill, his best friend, Lani, suggests they seek healing from the Immortal Emperor's Star Swan, but even as they befriend the Star Swan, Jaavan learns how its master bound ghosts to become who he is and how the ancestors of the most important people in his life fought him.

The Mountain Shadows: Jaavan travels to Feoras where the Immortal Emperor holds Lani, but first, his mother and he have to cure the illness that the Immortal Emperor infected his mother's family with hundreds of years previously and find his father among the Mountain Shadows.    

The Sarki: In Feoras, Jaavan is betrayed to and protected from the Immortal Emperor by his sarki, and his hope that their master will take him and let Lani go are dashed from the beginning, but as Jaavan gets to know their master and his concerns, the Immortal Emperor's refusal to release Lani becomes the only major contention between them.

They're all a bit rough still, but it's not like I'm querying at the moment. I'll get to the rest of your questions over the next couple of weeks. Thanks for asking them!  

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


This Sunday, October 10th, will close my first year of blogging. Thank you for your comments, blog posts, friendships, book reviews, writing advice, interviews, e-mails, awards, contests, pictures, and comments. ;)

In honor of the occasion, I'll be answering any questions (but keep it PG) you might have (that don't involve Super Secret Info like passwords and SS#s). Also, in keeping with my other Q&A, I would love for you to share something about yourself, anything you like.

Thank you for reading my blog.