Writing Prompt Friday

[If you hate writing prompts, don't come visit me on Fridays.]

I'm done with Fatuous Friday. Bored, now.

Here's a new feature that I will continue until I get bored with it—Writing Prompt Friday.

Each Friday, I'll post a writing prompt. Why? To help encourage writing. Writing prompts can be very useful for the following reasons:
  • Prime the Pump—to get you warmed up for a writing session or to help break through writer's block.
  • Practice—like any skill, it's important to practice writing creatively. Prompts can help your brain stretch a bit.
  • Drills—like practicing the piano, but you're writing instead
  • Habit—to get you in the habit of writing regularly. Even if you're not working on a current project, it helps to write a bit every day.
  • New Skills—sometimes a prompt causes you to develop a new skill or to look at a different style of writing. That's always good.
  • Fun—do I really need to define this?
  • Low Stress—because no one cares, a prompt is low stress writing.
  • Promise—sometimes a prompt will start you on the road to a new novel. It's like heaven when that happens.
Okay, so enough justification. Here's today's prompt, stolen from Writer's Digest.com (Stolen because after wasting so much time on yesterday's post, I now have to hurry to get to my "day job".)

You're a pizza delivery driver and it's your last stop of the night. The house is on an unlit, unfamiliar street. As you ring the doorbell, you're greeted by an unusual character who invites you in while he gets cash—and abruptly knocks you out cold. When you wake up, you're tied to a chair. What happens next?

Limit your response to 500 words or fewer.

If you participate in this prompt, leave a comment and let us know how it went. If you post your response to this prompt on your blog, leave the link in your comment.


Christmas Story Contest Reminder

LDSP's 2009 Christmas Story Contest

Prize: Publication in a Christmas collection that will be published and ready for sale in October.

Submission deadline: August 15th.

Details HERE.

I will start posting stories next week.

Right now it's slim pickins. Only 5 entries. Get those stories finished and send them out to me ASAP.

Writing Conferences—The Lazy Way

(I'm sitting here pre-writing this week's posts because I've got a horrendous schedule this week. And honestly, I've been looking at this screen for over an hour with no idea what to write about! I do so much better answering your questions. Please, SEND QUESTIONS.)

For today, I'm linking to a post by Chip MacGregor, literary agent, who is discussing writing conferences and how important they are to those who want to publish.

A Dozen Questions about Writing Conferences


1st or 3rd POV?

I know you've discussed POV before, but how do I know whether I should use first-person or third-person in my novel?

First-person limits your writing in many ways. Because the story is being told by the main character (usually), you can only disclose what they experience. So if you need a scene that does not involve your main character, you have to have someone tell them what happened. Also, your secondary and supporting characters are a little harder to develop because you don't get inside their heads. We learn about them as they interact with your narrator. Some readers really hate first-person. (The woman who gives me pedicures refuses to read anything in first-person.)

The advantages of first-person is it often brings the reader in closer to the main character, letting them identify with them more. First-person goes in and out of style, but it is currently the favored POV for middle grade and YA novels. A very popular example of first person is the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer.

Third-person omniscient allows you to share the experience of a variety of characters. You can look at events from various viewpoints and listen in on the inner thoughts of almost anyone in the book—including the antagonist. This often makes it easier to show motivation and add dimension to all your characters. The difficulty with third person, however, is that it can distance the reader from the main character. It also lends itself to "telling" rather than showing. A popular example of third person done well is the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling.

How do you know which is right for your book? Depends on the mood you're trying to create. Read several popular books in your genre that use different POVs and analyze how it makes you, as the reader, feel. Then use the POV that does best what you want to accompolish in your book.

Another option is to write the first chapter in both first and third POVs. Which one do you like best? Share the chapters with a few friends or in your critique group. Which did they like best and why? That should give you the answer to your question.


Writing Tip Tuesday: Regular Doses of Inspiration

I am sure that there are writers out there who can write in a vacuum. They don't need a how-to book or a critique group. They don't need support or encouragement or inspiration. And they certainly don't need to be spending their money on anything that might give them a leg up in the publishing industry.

I'm not one of them.

If you're not one of them either, I suggest subscribing to a writing magazine or newsletter. You can get one that specializes in your area of writing or a generic one.

I personally love Writer's Digest. Eight times a year I get a little dose of writing inspiration—personal stories of successful writers, how-tos, industry info and more. I don't just read the magazine, I actually try out their tips. If you don't have the $$ for a subscription, go browse their site. They've got all sorts of freebies there, from articles, to tips and writing prompts, to links to other great sites and blogs.

I also used to subscribe to The Writer (although when I had to make a choice due to my budget, I dropped this one and kept Writer's Digest). This mag also has tips and pointers and it comes monthly. The website has lots of free info, as well.

There's another one I just heard about called Writer's Journal. I haven't actually read this one but it looks like it may have some good information. (Anyone out there subscribe? Let us know what you think in the comments.)

So, what's the writing tip? If you need some regular inspiration and tips to keep you writing, subscribe to a good writing magazine and/or visit a writing website on a regular basis.

Are there other good magazines or newsletters you'd recommend? Let us know in the comments section.


LDSBA Less Than Two Weeks Away

The annual LDS Booksellers Association Convention is coming up very soon. Booth set-up starts on Monday, August 3rd, as well as Booksellers University, which is a training meeting for retailers.

The actual convention goes Wednesday through Friday, August 5-7th. And yes, I'll be there.

That's one of the reasons I've been so busy not posting here. Not that I'll have a booth, or a book signing this year. But deciding which of my many disguises to wear to the event is consuming my every waking moment!

Should I wear my turquoise business suit with faux peacock collar and matching hat, purse and pumps? (I had to make a little inset because it was too low cut for the LDSBA but I think it looks rather fetching.)

Or should I wear my super-spy undercover suit?

I think the flower makes the whole thing, don't you?

So. Who is going to the convention? Who has a book coming out or a signing there? When? Where?

Also, any questions about the convention?


Recommended by Moi—Does Anyone Care?

What are your favorite LDS novels? Which do you recommend?

Over the years that I've been doing this blog, I've gotten this question many, many, many times—at least a few times a month. Another variation on theme that I get several times a year is, would I consider creating an LDSP award for the best books?

I've mostly ignored these questions because I have a hard enough time finding and reading all the Whitney nominees. The task of finding and reading every novel by an LDS author would be outside my current resources—both in time and finances.

Then there's the possible backlash—accusations of favoritism to friends and genres; promoting books I've worked on, blah-blah-blah. If I give an award to one book, will people think I'm dissing all others? Also, there are a select few individuals who know my secret identity, and I might not give an award to them. Will they hate me forever?

Therefore, my answer has always been No.

But recently I've gotten a deluge of people asking me about this, which has caused me to do some rethinking. I want to be seen as a trusted source of general and unbiased information here on these sites—and I think I've accomplished that for the most part. Any LDS author can get their novel and author events listed for free, simply by letting me know about it. The networking is open to any LDS author, publisher or group (it is just taking me some time to get them posted). The only site that has judgment or opinion attached is the LDS Fiction Review site, and there are a variety of reviewers there.

So a few questions for you are:
  • Do you really care which books I'd recommend?
  • If I came out with an award for the best of the best (IMHO), would that skew the value of any other information I post on these sites?
  • Would you be willing to send me a copy of your book to read—knowing that it may not be chosen for the award, but that by sending a copy you were guaranteed to:

    —be considered for the award

    —have it passed along to one of the LDS Fiction Review reviewers for review

    —get its spot on LDS fiction

    —move you up on the "Add to LDS Author Network site" list?

    —get you listed on the LDSP Good Reads shelf (which does not yet exist but will be created if I decide to do this)

    —get you added as a friend on the LDSP Facebook account (which does not yet exist but will be created if I decide to do this)
What do you think? Great idea or one to be tossed in File 13? Ideas? Suggestions?


This has nothing to do with publishing. . .

. . . but rather with technology. Which I am currently hating.

Remember this?

The problem is just getting worse. And of course, it happens when I'm up against a huge deadline. I don't have it in me to think of post-worthy content until I get this resolved.

So sorry. Consider this week my summer vacation.


Writing Your Book Club Questions

I've seen some book websites (and sometimes published books) with kits for book clubs—everything from discussion questions to activities to refreshment ideas. What makes for a "good" book club kit?

Having book club questions as part of the printed book is becoming very popular. You're more likely to find/need to provide these questions for women's books and Middle Grade/YAs. Discussion questions depend on the type of book and should be more than just a book content trivia quiz.

Personally, I like questions that relate things that happen in the book to the reader's real life.

From a book club perspective, get some ideas HERE and HERE and HERE. You'll want to customize them for your book.

As far as a book club kit, the more you provide, the better. You could do themed party ideas and provide suggestions for anything from decorations and invitations, to games and other activities, to refreshments and door prize ideas—your imagination is the limit.

Is this necessary? No. But as someone who attends a couple of book clubs and often finds them tedious, it is lots of fun to turn it into a party. (Which I do when it's my turn to host.)


Fatuous Friday: What I Do All Day

You say you've gone into semi-retirement. What exactly does that mean? What is your basic day like now?

I wake up around noon. Watch TV all day. Eat bon bons. Around 7:00 p.m., I eat some fast food, then get all spiffied up and hit the local dance bars until 2:00 a.m. Wash, rinse and repeat.

Oh, wait. That was college.

I basically do the same thing as I did before, but freelance and on a project by project basis. A publisher will call me up and ask if I'm interested in managing a project. If I have the time and the interest, I take it on. If I hate the book or need a break, I pass.

I take the project from manuscript submission to press ready—sometimes doing the work myself, sometimes outsourcing it to other contacts. I do the same thing for self-publishers.

I mostly work from home, rather than at an office, although sometimes I'll go onsite for a project. Just depends on the needs of the project.

I don't really have a basic day. It changes depending on the project. If I'm not too busy, I get caught up here on these LDSP sites. If I miss posting here, or post late in the day, it's usually because I've got a deadline I'm rushing to meet.


Publishing Artwork—Beats Me

Do you have any suggestions on getting artwork "published" or to a distributor? Do you recommend any sites with this info?

Uhmmm, I have no idea. Here are some places that I've seen at LDSBA. I don't know if they all publish or if some just distribute.

Altus Fine Art

Foundation Arts


Sounds of Zion

Readers, if you know anything about this, please chime in.


I'm Not Ignoring You. Promise.

If I sent you the info for my book but it never appeared on LDSF, to what should I attribute that? Will you be offended if I resend?

You should attribute it to the probability that I didn't get it. PLEASE DO resend.

I get a LOT of junk mail at the ldsp hotmail account. So much, in fact, that I'm considering closing down that email and opening a new one. Just haven't gotten around to it.

The first thing I do when I check my email is to weed out the obvious junk mail—you know the ones, where I've won the lottery or someone wants to pay me a million dollars to help them sneak their money into the U.S. If there's a question in my mind, I usually open it, but if you've put something really odd in your subject line, I might have accidentally deleted your email without opening it.

The best way to make sure I know it's a legit email is to think about that subject line. Good ones are:
  • Question for LDSP
  • Book for LDSF
  • Contest for LDSP
  • Author Event (or Book Signing or Workshop or. . .)
  • From an LDS Author
  • Will you review my book
  • or anything else that makes it obvious you're a legit blog reader and not a mail-order-bride from Uzbekistan.

Sorry, Th. Yes, resend.

And about that Christmas Story Contest. Good suggestions everyone. I'm going to update the rules right now.


Christmas Story Contest

Updated 07/08/09 (see bolded purple info below)

Writing Tip Tuesday: Enter contests. Like this one. . .

Remember that Christmas Story Contest I mentioned last month? Well, here it is.

LDSP's 2009 Christmas Story Contest

Prize: Publication in a Christmas collection that will be published and ready for sale in October.

Submission Rules:
  • FOLLOW rules carefully! In the past, I've let some of you slide a little. But since this is for a publication, I'm going to be as sticky-picky as I am when receiving real submissions. Why? Because this is a REAL submission!
  • Write a short Christmas story in any genre. Stories should be positive and family friendly. I reserve the right to refuse any story I deem inappropriate for this blog/book.
  • Maximum word count: 2,000; no minimum.
  • Story must be previously unpublished. Stories published anywhere other than your personal website or blog are ineligible. (That includes books, magazines, e-zines or other contests.)
  • Stories submitted for previous years' contests are also ineligible for this contest. (But may be selected for publication in the book.)
  • Paste entire story into an e-mail. NO ATTACHMENTS, please.
    —Put "Contest: Title of Story" in the subject line of your e-mail. (Example: Contest: A Christmas Gift for Mary)

    —At the top of the body of your e-mail, type your name, mailing address, phone number, e-mail address, word count and whether you are a published or unpublished author (defined below). (Example:

    LDS Publisher
    123 My Street
    My Town, ST 00000

    word count: 1990
    published author

    —Skip a line, then put the title of your story

    —Skip a line, then paste in your story.

  • "Published"—as in published author—is defined as someone paid you money or comp copies (in the case of magazines) for any story or book written by you. (So either a publisher paid you, or you self-published and people bought your book.)
  • If you are a published and/or agented author, check with your publisher and/or agent before submitting. They will want to know the information listed under "Book Details".
  • You may submit more than one story. Send each submission in a separate e-mail. Include all your info, as outlined above, with each e-mail/story.
  • SUBMIT your story any time between NOW and Saturday, August 15, 2009.
  • I will post the stories beginning on August 1st, in the order that they arrive.
  • We will have Reader Voting for the best stories, as we have done in previous contests. The winners are guaranteed a spot in the book. Voting will take place August 16–22nd. I will post voting rules then.
  • You may tell your friends that you've submitted a story and to please go vote, but DO NOT tell them which story is yours. We want the stories to win on merit, not personal popularity.

PRIZE: Publication in the Christmas Collection
  • There will be four winners:
    Readers' Choice/Published Author
    Readers' Choice/Unpublished Author
    Editor's Choice/Published Author
    Editor's Choice/Unpublished Author.

    These four winners are guaranteed a spot in the book.
  • As usual, I reserve the right to not award one of the Editor's Choice awards if I feel none of the stories deserve it.
  • Other stories in the book will include my choices from this and previous Christmas contests held on this blog, selected based on providing a variety of stories and book size.
  • All authors to be included in the book will be notified by the end of August, 2009.

Book Details (Read Carefully):
  • By submitting a story to this contest, you are agreeing to all the conditions below.
  • Authors shall give LDS Publisher One-Time Publishing Rights for inclusion of story in the as yet untitled Christmas story compilation. This is the non-exclusive right to publish your story in this compilation, in various formats, and to retain your story in the compilation until LDS Publisher takes the compilation out of print.
  • Authors shall retain all other rights and copyrights to their stories and may sell this story to any other party with a publication date after December 25, 2009.
  • Compensation for use of story in this compilation shall be: one free e-book copy of the published book sent to author upon publication; author's name listed in the Table of Contents and on the first page of the story; and rights to use this compilation as a publishing credit. No royalties, advances or other monetary compensation will be given to any author. Author may not print or sell the e-book files.
  • Compensation exception: If sales of the book exceed costs to produce it, LDS Publisher shall notify authors and arrange an equal royalty split between all authors. Conditions and terms of royalty and payment shall be determined at that time.
  • LDS Publisher shall assume no rights to any future works by author.
  • LDS Publisher shall have full editorial rights to the stories included in the compilation, including, but not limited to, title changes, editing for space and content, design and layout of book, title of book, and book cover.
  • The compilation will be available for purchase online in both print and e-book formats by October 31, 2009.
  • The compilation may or may not be made available to bookstores at discounted pricing, but in any case, no marketing will be done by LDS Publisher to guarantee placement in any bookstore.
  • Authors agree to help spread the word about the contest and the book by any or all of the following methods:

    —Word of mouth to friends and family

    —Website/blog buttons, links, posts, etc

    —Facebook, My Space, Twitter, or other networking sites or forums
I think I've covered everything. If I update any of the above, I'll post a notice and mark it in bolded purple. I'll have buttons created later this week that you can post on your blogs/websites.

Help spread the word! Post about the contest on your blog, in your forums, and e-mail all your friends.

Buttons for your blogs:

Standard Sidebar (220px)

Smaller Sidebar (125px)


Creating the Buzz

My first novel was just released and I'd like to get some buzz going (my publisher doesn't do much) but I don't know where to start? Any ideas? Can you give me some step-by-step suggestions?

If I had a new novel coming out, I'd start with the free/cheap stuff first. I also would have started a few months ago, but that's okay. You can still do all these things now.

  • Set up a blog or website with info about yourself and your book.
    (Good examples: Josi S. Kilpack [love the visually attractive details on her books; her site probably cost money, but you can do similar things with content for cheap] and the "Crusty Old Broads" who wrote The Company of Good Women series [good info on books, authors & upcoming events, visually attractive] )
  • Use the LDS Publisher sites to their full advantage. Take a look at what I do here and send me the needed info:

    —Send me info about your book, so I can post it HERE.

    —Send me info about yourself, so I can post it HERE.

    —Send me a review copy so one of my reviewers can post it HERE.

    —If you have book signings or other appearances set up, send me the info so I can post it HERE.

    —Offer to sponsor either the LDS Publisher blog or the LDS Fiction/Fiction Review blogs.

    —Start commenting on the blogs to get your name recognized (if you have a Blogger blog, your comments will auto link back to your profile, where you will have links to your website and/or blog about your book.)
  • Do the same things above at other sites and forums that allow it.
  • Offer to speak at schools, book clubs, libraries, etc. on a topic related to your book.
  • Tell everyone you know how excited you are about your new book.

Now for the things that cost a little more money.
  • Make business cards with the cover of your book on one side and your contact info on the other (including your website/blog URLs).
  • Make postcards with the same info and send them out to announce book signings and other events. Be sure to include URLs to where the book can be purchased online.
Readers, what am I forgetting? Feel free to share what you've done, with links to where you did it.


Fatuous Friday: Happy 4th!

I have a day off. I hope you do too.


My Favorite Blogs

Hi, LDSP--

Today's post made me say, Ooo! What other blogs are your "favs"? Or which ones do you think we ought to be reading?

I know I'm going to leave out some good ones because I don't have a list anywhere, but here are some of my favorites (in no specific order):

  • Miss Snark (her blog is inactive, but still available for browsing)

Readers, what are your favorites?


July 2009 Prize Sponsors

Last month's prize winners announced HERE.

Please take a moment to learn more about our wonderfully generous sponsors.

Altared Plans by Rebecca Talley

The perfect day. The perfect marriage. The perfect groom. What could go wrong?

Caitlyn has been preparing for her perfect wedding all her life. But when her fiancé abandons her at the altar, Caitlyn vows she ll never love again.

Going to BYU doesn't make that easy, however, and avoiding all social contact can only last so long. When her bishop calls her to be the mom of her family home evening group, Caitlyn is suddenly thrust into surprising circumstances that leave her flustered the attention of two unwanted suitors.

Travis, the FHE dad, has plans to woo Caitlyn by using his cowboy charms while Chase has his own ideas for dating her. Will Travis or Chase change her mind about love? Or will it be deja vu?

Rebecca Talley grew up in Santa Barbara, California and now lives on a ranch in Colorado with her amazing husband, 8 of her 10 creative children, horses, goats, and a llama named Tina. She is the author of a children's picture book, Grasshopper Pie. Her stories have been published in Story Friends, Our Little Friend, The Friend, and Stories for Children. Cedar Fort released her YA novel, Heaven Scent, in spring 2008.

Besides writing, Rebecca enjoys eating chocolate by the pound, dancing to disco music while she cleans all the messes that seem to multiply and replenish her house, and contemplating all the craft projects that still need to be completed. You can find Rebecca at www.rebeccatalley.com.

A Future for Tomorrow by Haley Hatch Freeman

A Future for Tomorrow is an extraordinary non-fiction account of the author’s actual battle against anorexia nervosa as well as a spiritual triumph against evil.

You will be brought into the anorexic mind, shown the fierce war against depression and self-depreciative thoughts and actions; and witness the gravity of the destruction this disease can do.

A deeply edifying experience will occur as you journey with the author to that eternal world. There, angels confirm to her gospel truths such as the intensity of Christ’s love, and the sacred and holy nature of our Father’s plan for his children here on Earth.

Haley Hatch Freeman was raised in a small Utah town on a cattle ranch. She led a generally happy childhood until life took a dramatic turn in her early teenage years. Her struggle with anorexia started and carried on for nearly a year.

She has always had a passion for the written word but it was surviving this extraordinary event which led her down the author path. She knew as a teenager she needed to share her story by writing a book one day.

Her newly released non-fiction book, A Future for Tomorrow, depicts her fierce war against anorexia as well as other spiritual triumphs.

In addition to being an author, Haley is a wife, mother of two, and sign language interpreter for the deaf. Haley hopes to publish more books in the future. She is now venturing in writing fiction novels for young adults.

Critique Groups

I have a novel I have written over the last year and a half and I have gone through it and gone through it pulled stuff out rearranged it put stuff in researched topics and I want to submit it to a marketable publisher but I have not gone through a critique group yet how do I do that?

I get this question a lot. It's sometimes difficult to start and/or find a good group.

Click HERE to read previous answers.