Thursday, July 29, 2010

Using Experiences in Writing

I think that all novels are somewhat biographical because if you give 10 authors the same prompt, each will create a unique story because we write from our experiences.

I'm sure Stephenie Meyer never interacted with vampires. But, maybe she felt ordinary like Bella. Maybe she was attracted to a young man that seemed perfect in every way while she was in high school. Maybe she feared for her family's safety at some point. Dave Farland spoke at the LDStorymakers Conference in April and he commented that Stephenie, a student of his at one time, wanted to write a story that included her core belief of chastity before marriage. She successfully did that when she created Edward who refused to give in to his desire because it wasn't proper in "his" time. Meyer used her experience to shape her story.

In my life, I lost my mother when I was a young girl, I lived in an anti-Mormon home, I interacted with non-members on a regular basis, I've had to resolve issues concerning forgiveness, I attended BYU and met my husband there, I met my future mother-in-law while dressed as a clown, my husband is from the country and I grew up in the city, and I was dumped by someone I thought I'd marry (though it wasn't at the altar). If you've read Heaven Scent or Altared Plans, you'll recognize these elements.

In my newest novel, The Upside of Down, which will be released in January, the main character is a mom raising a large family. I included many true-life experiences in this book, things my kids have done to me (embarrassing things). I've also included a storyline about Down syndrome, which is very close to me. My main character also has to deal with a demanding calling and an anti-Mormon mother, both of which I've experienced, though I've fictionalized them for the book.

Our experiences shape us as writers. When we write from the heart, we shed light on things in our own unique way. We see the world differently from our neighbor, even from our own family. It's in the way that we've experienced our lives that flavors our writing. My story is different from yours because I've lived a different life.

When we take our experiences and tweak them to fit our story, we give it a depth and a fullness that resonates with readers.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Becoming Kate by Dixie Owens

Back Cover:

Elizabeth Lindsay, wife and mother of two, is in an auto accident. She awakens in a hospital with strangers calling her Kate. She learns that she perished in the accident and is the donor for the first successful brain transplant. Her mind and memories now reside in the body of eleven-year old Kate. She's not supposed to have a personal memory, but ... Elizabeth is faced with an overwhelming situation. How does she resolve her death and rebirth? How does she stop being Liz and start becoming Kate? It s a story about love and letting go, of redemption and second chances.

Cedar Fort sent me a review copy of Becoming Kate by Dixie Owens. The premise is very intriguing. It opens up some thought-provoking questions. Is the spirit, or soul, of someone in their mind or in their heart? Both? Are we, as a society, playing God when we do organ transplants? Is there a difference between a heart or liver transplant and a brain transplant? What would it be like to be "transferred" from one body to another?

I enjoyed this book, I'm not a big fan of multiple point-of-view characters and this one has several. I felt like it was trying to cover too many storylines at once and it would've felt more intimate if the author had chosen to stay in one or two points of view. I felt like the storyline with the brother wasn't fully developed and his relationship with his girlfriend felt forced. I cried at the end, but I did feel it was rushed.

However, I thought Owens weaved an interesting story and developed the main characters. I could really feel for Liz/Kate as well as for Marcy and the positions they were in. I think she has a great use of  language and I enjoyed the images she created with her word painting. I liked her original metaphors and similes. She has an easy-to-read writing style.

I recommend this book. It made me think about things. I don't think I'd want to be transferred to another body through a brain transplant because I'd want my family, not someone else's What makes my life beautiful is my family and mortality wouldn't hold its appeal for me without them.

Even though CFI sent me a copy of this book, it did not influence my review. My thoughts are my own.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Shoot Me Some Coyote

Beware: Rant in Progress

I am completely distraught. We have been trying and trying to raise goats. We started with a small herd and have spent a lot of time, energy, and money putting up fence and making our field safe for the goats. We even have a llama because we'd researched natural ways to protect our goats and decided we'd try a llama (donkeys are also recommended).

We finally had some baby goats survive a few weeks ago. They're absolutely darling. We've been watching them grow and love to see them frolic in the field, chasing each other. Baby animals are so adorable.

This morning, my son ran down the stairs yelling that there was a coyote in the field with the goats. I thought he was hallucinating, but sure enough, as I ran out of the house I watched the coyote jump over the fence. We quickly counted the goats and found that one of the babies was missing. The coyote had killed it. I was very upset. And, for the record, the llama did nothing.

Thinking we'd scared the coyote off, we started doing chores. About an hour or so later, we saw a truck stopped on the highway near our field and heard it honking. Yep, that despicable coyote was back and was dragging another baby goat to its death. The coyote ran off and I sprinted across the field to see if the baby was still alive. When I got close, he popped up and ran away. He'd used his only defense, playing dead. Fortunately, his life was spared.

I spent the next few hours waiting for that coyote to reappear. I had my .22 rifle, bullets, and I was intent on killing me that coyote. He didn't show up again today, but I'm sure he'll be back tonight hoping to kill another baby.

I gave the Department of Wildlife an earful. The DOW is definitely on the scene shooting a dog harassing an elk, but a coyote killing baby goats doesn't garner even a visit for an officer. 

Yep, I'm steamed. I have no way to protect these little babies unless I can shoot that coyote, and trying to shoot a coyote is next to impossible. The wonderful city-dwellers in Boulder and Denver, those who've never witnessed a coyote killing a lamb or ripping a goat apart, decided in a vote a few years back that we in the rural areas can only shoot coyotes, we can't poison them and we can't trap them, unless it's a live trap. And, a coyote that's brazen enough to come into a herd in broad daylight also poses a threat to my kids.

So, I'm hoping to shoot me some coyote before the day is through.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

LDStorymakers Conference

I'm so excited about the LDStorymakers Conference next year. It will be May 6-7, 2011 at the Salt Lake City, UT Sheraton. It's going to be amazing. I'm thrilled to be on the 2011 Conference Committee as a co-chair with Tristi Pinkston for Bootcamp.

Tristi and I are both very excited about Bootcamp. We have made one major change. Here's the official announcement:

In response to the feedback from conference attendees, including our sister group Authors Incognito, the conference committee has decided to offer Bootcamp on Thursday afternoon in 2011. The majority of attendees expressed interest in having more repeat conference classes, more opportunities to meet one-on-one with the visiting agent(s) and editor(s), and more time to network with each other. Many also commented that having the early morning Bootcamp made for a long day. Moving Bootcamp to Thursday afternoon is a big change and may make it difficult for some to attend, but we believe that the benefit of more conference time outweighs the inconvenience and hope that making this announcement early will allow attendees enough time to plan for Bootcamp on Thursday afternoon.

For those interested in an intensive critique experience, we will be offering a master class in critiquing as part of the regular conference schedule. More details on that class as well as Bootcamp will be available soon on our website.

Thank you for your support and we look forward to an amazing conference in 2011.


The 2011 Conference Committee

More details will follow both about the conference and Bootcamp so be sure to check back here or the official website

Plan on attending because you won't want to miss it, I promise! And, please, tell all your friends!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Upside of Down Release Date

I've heard from my publisher that my next book, The Upside of Down (LDS Women's Fiction), will be released in January 2011. Woo hoo!

I'll be hosting some contests, a blog tour, and attempting some book signings (although the idea of doing a book signing and having no one show up makes me nauseous). I'll keep you updated on the progress.

This book is particularly important to me because of its message. What do you think of this tagline:
Every baby is a gift, even if its wrapping is a little different.

Does it make you want to read the book? Too boring? Too vague? Clever? Intriguing? I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.

And, if you have any marketing ideas, please, let me know!


Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Passionless Bella

My older kids talked me into going to the midnight showing of Eclipse. I may be one of only a handful of people in the universe who isn't a fan of the Twilight saga. Actually, I think the storyline is very interesting and I like the twists that Stephenie Meyer put on the vampire myth.

But, I simply cannot stand Bella. She's so boring. I think my main gripe is that she's so dispassionate. I'm extremely passionate about certain things like my family, the gospel, abortion, education, patriotism/America, moral decay in our society, and Sears. In fact, when anyone mentions a "hot topic" my kids will all say, "Uh, oh, here it comes." I do try to tame my passion sometimes, but not often. I'm the one that always has to share my opinion, especially in our local paper. And, I have a lot of opinions.

Here's one. At the premiere of Eclipse we had to wade through the coming attractions. One of which is a movie about a lesbian couple whose lives fall apart when the sperm donor of their son wants to be part of his life. Eeeww. Not a movie I want to watch at all. The idea of a kid having to grow up with lesbians gives me the heebie jeebies. I'm sorry, but two women, or two men, do not belong in that kind of relationship. And, what was the marketing department thinking when it decided to show a preview of this film to a theater filled with women who are hot and heavy over Edward and Jacob--not really the target market for a movie about lesbians.

Anyway, back to Bella. I think that's why I find it hard to buy that two men, whatever they are, would be so madly in love with her that they'd fight over her. Why? They could fight over a cardboard cut-out with more personality and more passion than Bella. She's so bland. So boring.

Now, give me Katniss from The Hunger Games.  There's a passionate character. There's a girl I can root for and get behind. That's a character I love. I can see two men fighting over her because she is awesome.

Bella just ain't that awesome. Sorry.