A Knight of the Cosmic Table (AKA Interviewed by DPK!)

May 29, 2013

Hey all! I am honored to announce that the inimitable David Powers King has officially dubbed me to knighthood.

Check out the conversation between David and me, and see if I pass the test to join the other awesome writers as a Knight of the Cosmic Table!

What the Reader Sees-- and Why it's All That Really Matters

May 22, 2013

It's now been a few weeks since I attended the amazing LDStorymakers writing conference. In addition to all the wonderful classes and awesome people, there was the most moving and powerful keynote address I've ever heard. Author Anne Perry stood up and reminded us who we are.

We are storytellers. We are members of one of the oldest and most honored traditions on the planet.

Stories, she reminded us, are how we find and attempt to understand the truths we seek about life-- who we are, where we're from, and where we're going. What should we do that is wise? What is good and stupid and what will happen when we make mistakes? They remind us that when you act less than you could've been, you make yourself less.

In this age of instant communication and distraction, I've found that sometimes I let the story itself take a backseat. I let other things matter: how long has it been since I blogged, and how many comments are on my recent post, and who should I tweet, and she has more followers, and he got more offers of agent representation, and her book is coming out next year and why isn't mine yet.

And I forget that these things don't matter. I am a storyteller. A conveyor of truths through the medium of lying we call fiction. A shaper of people's lives-- even if the only life my stories shape is my own. That is what matters. The reader is what matters. They don't see how many rejections I got, and how many months it took me to revise, and the review on Goodreads from someone who hated my book, and how many stories I wrote before I managed to communicate the things I meant to. The reader sees the story-- and not necessarily the story I wrote. They see in the story what means something to them.

Great writing, Anne Perry said, is relatively simple. It uses simple words. The basic words of ordinary people hold the meanings dearest
to them. Put your heart on the page. Write the thing that is most beautiful to you. What's in your heart is precious-- it enriches you. Let it enrich others. Your book may be the companion some reader has been seeking.

So, my friends, remember the power you have. You are a storyteller. You have the ability to communicate to readers the truths they are seeking through your stories. All the reader sees is your final words on the page, and the meaning in those words that is precious to them. And that is all that really matters.

Healthy Writers Club-- Eat Well to Write Well

May 17, 2013

Yeah, I live here. Be jealous.
I'm back with a Healthy Writers Club post! And I must say, I'm pretty proud of my healthiness lately. This week, I went on a gorgeous 4 mile hike and did a short run. The hike kinda killed me-- I'm not used to that many miles at that altitude at that grade. So my legs are pleasantly sore.

I talk a lot about exercise in HWC, because it's very important. But just as important is FOOD. Food--especially yummy, comforting food-- is a staple of every writer's day. Bacon and chocolate covered raisins and diet Coke and chocolate covered cinnamon bears and who knows what else; these are the things that fuel our creative fire.

Or do they?

I recently made some major diet changes at the recommendation of my doctor. Notice I didn't say I "went on a diet." These are permanent, healthy changes. Essentially, I ditched all dairy and processed foods, pulled back on my meat intake, and am eating tons of fruits and veggies. And OH MY GOSH, you guys.

First of all, I lost 9 pounds in two weeks. Yeah. Nine. And the tiredness and fatigue I'd been dealing with for who knows how long? GONE. Like, within 72 hours. All of a sudden I felt like a teenager again, bouncing with energy. Added to that, the mental fog I didn't even realize I'd been struggling to see through cleared up.

I'm not kidding, you all. It has been a night and day difference for me. Other people around me have even commented on how energetic I am and how good I look. It has made a huge difference for my writing. Instead of forcing through tiredness and fog to slap out some ideas and get words on the page, my mind is sharp. My creativity has increased. Ideas flow faster and more easily. I recently figured out a major story problem in less than 10 minutes while putting my daughter to bed.

FOOD, my friends. Food can be your enemy, or it can change your life. Am I saying you can't have your chocolate and bacon? No. Food can be used to comfort and make us happy. But think about your diet. Don't think about cutting, if you don't want. Think about adding, instead-- fruits, veggies, whole grains. Start simple, maybe with a fruit shake or green smoothie for breakfast. I promise, it will change your life. And your writing.

So, my friends, will you take the challenge and add more healthy things to your diet? Or are you way ahead of me and eating healthy already? And just curious, what's your favorite comfort food? (Mine's the chocolate raisins. Yum!)

In Which I Almost Cause the Untimely Death of My Agent

May 15, 2013

Last week was the LDStormakers conference right here in my home town! I'll be posting about some of the great things I learned over the next few weeks. I've been to this conference four years running, and it's always amazing. This year was no exception, and it had the added bonus that I got to meet my fabulous agent, Hannah Bowman.

We had dinner on Thursday night, during which I determined that she is basically my agent-y soulmate. Which I'd already kinda known, but it was made clear to me when we agreed on everything from Martin Freeman being more attractive than Benedict Cumberbatch (I know, so sue us-- but watch Sherlock, and tell me Martin isn't adorable), to the fall of the once-great Doctor Who.

But the kicker came on Saturday. We just so happen to have GORGEOUS mountains in Utah, and Hannah asked if I'd take her and Harlequin editor Victoria Curran up Provo Canyon. We had a lovely drive up to Sundance Ski Resort, enjoying the canyon. On the way back, I drove them to see a few sights around town. Then we had to turn around and head back to the conference.

I was on a side street. It was empty. I SWEAR there was no one behind me when I checked my mirrors. So I pulled a u-turn.

Brakes shrieked and a car swerved around me. It screeched to a stop in front of me and two teenage boys stared at me, wide-eyed, from the back seat.

AND THEN. The driver gets out of the car. He marches toward us. Hands are waving in the air as he shouts, "What the h*ll?!" My first thought: I almost killed my agent, an editor, and three people in the other car. Second thought: Drive away from scary man. Third thought: Someone would like to talk to you. Roll down the window and talk to nice, scary man.

I rolled down the window. (I KNOW.) And what did nice, scary man say to me? He leaned down and said, "I'm sorry for swearing at you."

I stared.

"I was just really upset," he continued.

"I'm sorry I almost hit you with my car," I choked out.

He got back in his car and drove away.

Hannah was incredulous. "Is that road rage in Utah? I was ready to go all New York on him, and you just APOLOGIZED to each other! All he said was 'h*ll!' I say worse things than that all the time!"

And I was very glad we could laugh about it, instead of having to call cops/an ambulance/etc. And I was very mortified that my bad driving was put on such public display.

So, my friends, take heart. When you're querying, or tweeting an agent, or pitching to an agent in person, know that whatever mistakes you make, it will never be as bad as the time I almost caused the untimely death of my agent.

The Author You've Always Wished You Were, AKA What I'd Look Like as Brandon Sanderson

May 6, 2013

I'm off to the LDStorymakers Conference this weekend! Not only is it a fab conference, but I get to meet my fab agent! Woot.

So in the meantime, I give you something to giggle about. I got a haircut today (because I can't leave my hair untouched for more than a few months). I always love getting a new look.

And then I began to daydream, and this daydream featured some of my favorite authors. What would it be like if I could be like one of them?

What if I could create complex worlds and gripping plots like Brandon Sanderson? Maybe I'd look more like this.

Or maybe I could craft rich, real, tortured characters like Dan Wells. I might resemble this picture.
What about beautiful themes? If I were like Brodi Ashton, maybe I could weave those in more deeply.

James Dashner is amazing at thrilling, page-turning adventures. I'd love to be a bit more like him.

I think it's safe to say we could all happily try to emulate our favorite authors' writerly strengths...but maybe not their writerly faces. We all have our own beautiful faces, and our own writing strengths, too. It's great to incorporate those traits we admire, but don't forget, we are all individuals. And we make better books that way. Be you in your writing, and be proud of it.

So, my friends, what author have you always admired and wished to be a bit more like?

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