Writing Prompt Friday: Photo Prompt

They say "a picture is worth a thousand words," but it can also inspire a thousand words.

That's your prompt for today.

Write up to 1,000 words inspired by this photo.

If you post your story on your blog, feel free to leave a link in the comments section.


How to Set Up an Aspiring Author Website by Jordan McCollum

Jordan posted a comment on this post with links to her articles on setting up a website. Since not everyone reads the comments, I asked to re-post her original article here. The following is reposted with permission.

If you’ve been following our website review series, you’ve learned some great things to do (and not to do) when setting up your website. Maybe you’re ready for a “real” website, but not sure how to get it. It’s okay; I’ve worked with websites and Internet marketing for the better part of my life and I still didn’t know exactly how to set up a website until I did my own. And it’s easy.

There are three basic things you need for a functioning website:

  1. a domain (you get this from a domain registrar, like GoDaddy)

  2. a host to store your website’s pages and files (from a hosting company)

  3. (technically, you don’t need this, but unless you’re going to be doing all your coding by hand, you’ll want it) software to work the back end—and hopefully generate the HTML code (usually provided by the hosting company, too)

blogger logoSometimes you can get these things together. Blogger, for example, will give you everything—your domain is whatever.blogspot.com, Blogger stores your pages and files, and Blogger software generates your HTML code and provides the software that lets you maintain your site.

In fact, you can make Blogger into your “real” website, which can be especially useful if you’re going to be the one maintaining it. You can also use Blogger Custom Domain to put your Blogger blog at YourDomain.com, and Camy Tang has a useful guide on how to make a a basic free blog more like a website.

Getting more advanced

If you feel like you’re ready for a more “real” website, but still apprehensive about setting one up, here’s my advice: use WordPress. This is especially great if you’re already comfortable with blogging software, because you get the ease of blogging software and the features of a “real” website.

wplogoYou can use WordPress.com (and you can get a WordPress.com blog to show up at YourDomain.com, too, but it’s not free like it is on Blogger)—or you can use WordPress.org. It’s the same software, but with WordPress.org you can customize your blog however you want.

However, for WordPress.org, you also have to get hosting—space on a server to store your website’s files for others to access them. I’ve been with BlueHost for over two years, and they’ve done really well for me. I chose them because they were inexpensive ($7/month), and one of WordPress’s recommended hosts.

WordPress has some advantages over Blogger that make it more like a “real” website. Camy Tang’s guide above will help you create static pages like an about page or a contact page on Blogger. That’s great—but they’re still going to look and act like posts on your blog.

With WordPress, however, you can keep blog posts and pages separate. Don’t want a blog? That’s okay—you can do that with WordPress, too, and just use the page features to easily create a static website instead. Check out the menu bar at the top of my site. See how it says “About” and “Projects,” etc.? Those link to WordPress pages—timeless, static webpages that aren’t posts on the blog.

Also neat: WordPress made that menu bar all by itself. I didn’t have to do a thing. It updates the menu bar whenever I update a page. WordPress is highly customizable, in both the site design and software—and for free.

If you want to create a WordPress website on BlueHost, sign up for BlueHost using my affiliate link and I’ll send you a free PDF guide to setting up WordPress with BlueHost*—with info on installation, set up, importing blogs, add-ons and more! (If you’re planning to import another blog, also check out my search-engine friendly guide to migrating from Blogger to WordPress to make your switch safe and easy.)

What do you think? Are you ready for a real website?

* To get the guide, be sure to email me at guide at jordanmccollum.com once you’ve completed the sign up.


YA Word Count

I'm confused on the acceptable maximum word count for Young Adult manuscripts. Different publishers seem to want different things and word count is all over the place. Covenant says they want the word count to be no more than 70,000 (or so I've been told), but Deseret Book has specifically told me they have no set word count. Twilight was definitely way over the 70,000 as are the Harry Potter books. Can you give me a good figure for this? Or is it different depending on each genre?

The size of a Middle Grade or Young Adult novel used to be under 40,000 to 70,000 because publishers didn't believe children and teens would read "big" books. Twilight and Harry Potter sort of blew that theory out of the water. Now, publishers are willing to look at longer books for a young audience.

Write your book. Make it as long as it needs to be to tell the story well. Then start looking for a publisher or agent who will take a YA book at your word count.

That said, if you're a brand new author, the closer your YA manuscript is to 70-90,000 word count range, the better.


Writing Tip Tuesday: Read Aloud


Read your manuscript aloud from start to finish. You will hear mistakes. You will find awkward sentence structure, names that are more difficult to pronounce than they are to read, unclear references, holes in scenes, etc.

Read aloud. Fix it. Repeat.

Reading your manuscript aloud is the second best self-editing technique.

The first best self-editing technique is to read your manuscript aloud to someone else.

When you read aloud to just yourself, you tend to tune yourself out. But when you read to someone else, you notice every single word.

This is why a good critique group, where you read your pages in front of the group, can be so powerful.



In the LDS market, are blurbs on a book cover from established authors an effective marketing tool? Especially in the case of a release from a first time author?

Personally, as a reader, I never look at the blurbs. Since I don't know the blurbers personally, I can't determine whether their blurb is an honest eval or something they've done to please their publisher. Therefore, I assume all of them to be hype and ignore them accordingly.

However, the powers that be must feel that blurbs accomplish something because they're all over every book. Since that is the case, I say go ahead and jump on the blurb-o-wagon. Get them. Give them. Whatever.

Readers: Have you ever purchased a book based on a blurb from someone you didn't know personally? How and why did it influence you?


Writing Prompt Friday: Let's Practice Swearing

Since swearing, or rather, not swearing was a hot topic recently (see HERE and HERE), let's practice creating a sense of swearing without actually doing it.

Here are the specs:
  • Set up a scene/situation, with a character(s) who would swear.

  • Do not use actual swear words.

  • It must be believable.

  • Keep it short, 250 words or less.

If you're brave, post your scene on your blog (leave a link in the comments section) or in the comments below. (If you're not brave, you can comment anonymously.)

Anon has volunteered to give free feedback.


Will Editing Break the Bank?

A question from the comments on this post:
Considering the low profits made on LDS books, can you ever break even in royalties to make up for the cost of paying an editor?

Good question. Depends on the book and how well it sells. If you're with a small press, maybe not. If you're with one of the larger publishers, then yes, you can make back your editing costs, plus some.

A friend of mine edits for a mid-list LDS author who has her edit every book before she submits it to her publisher. The author's books are usually around 200-250 pages. My friend charges her by the hour, rather than the page and it's usually around $150. I don't know what the author's book sales average, but she keeps coming back to my friend so I assume it's worth it to her.


Finding a Good Pre-Submission Editor is Not Easy

I'm thinking about hiring an editor for my current manuscript. Would you recommend that? How would I find a reputable editor? What are the price ranges?

Do you need an editor?
Some writers need pre-submission editors, others only need readers to help with content flow and to catch a few typos here and there. To determine if you need one, ask yourself these questions:
  • Am I getting rejected a lot? Have any of the rejections mentioned that your book needs editing?

  • If accepted, does my publisher require many rewrites? (This isn't always accurate as some publishers should require rewrites, but don't.)

  • How are you on grammar skills? Do you laugh when you read Annette Lyon's Word Nerd posts because you "get it"? Or do you think, "Gee, I didn't know that?"

  • Do your readers send back lots of comments and questions about your story line?
If you're thinking you need an edit, it might be something you'd want to try. (Although, many writers who could benefit from it the most don't realize they need it.)

Finding a good editor.
Finding a reputable editor can be difficult. It's sort of like buying your first computer—you don't know what you don't know, so you take a lot on faith. Sometimes that faith is misplaced, skills are misrepresented, and prices are inflated.

I rejected a book once because it needed soooo many edits. (Incomplete sentences, mis-matched subject/verb, story line jumped all over the place, misspelled words, wrong words.) The author was quite upset because they'd paid $2,000 for a professional edit.

I'd recommend talking to people you know who've had editing done and see who they recommend as good. (Again though, if they really need editing, they may not know a good edit from a bad edit.)

Look at their experience and portfolio.
You're looking for someone who edits books like yours—not newspapers or magazines or scholarly papers. You want someone who is current with the trends, who reads a lot, and who loves words and stories. High school English teachers are not necessarily your best bet, even if they are very strong in grammar.

Find someone who has a few years of experience and who has happy, successful repeat customers. Many editors will have their clients posted on their website. If not, ask for their client list and contact the people who they've edited.

Ask to see a sample of what they'd do with your book.
Many editors will give new clients a free edit of their first chapter or first few pages. If they don't tell you right off, ask them what their sample edit would have cost you, so you can see what you'll get for your money.

Look at what they've done. Does it make sense? Does it make your book better? You may want to share their edits with other authors or people who read a lot. Get their feedback. Again, be careful because some readers will be emotionally attached to you and will tell you they like the unedited version best. Make sure those you get advice from are more concerned with helping you create a good book than with sparing your feelings.

As to price, it's all over the place. Some editors charge by the hour, others list their prices by page. A per page price is going to give you a better idea of how much it will cost you.

This isn't always a get-what-you-pay-for industry. I've seen really good editors who only charge $1 per page, and really bad editors who charge $10 a page.

The cost also depends on the level of edit they do—whether they're doing a basic proof-reading or a complete, in-depth content edit. Don't be surprised if they ask to see your mss before giving you a quote.

When you do decide on an editor, ask for a price guarantee on the job so you won't be caught off guard by the final bill.

As I read through this, I realize it may not be very helpful. It only gives you a ballpark and cautions about what to look out for. I'm sorry about that. Ethically, I can't really recommend specific people or companies here. (Although, readers, you're welcome to do that in the comments.)

Good luck.


Writing Tip Tuesday: Dialog Tags

I have been taking a writing course where the teacher criticizes the use of "he said" or "she said" and prefers the use of character action to tell who is talking. I find that at times adhering strictly to action (as my teacher demands) over an occasional "said" tag line can create a cumbersome experience for the reader. Do we really need to show the reader every body movement the character makes? Isn't it possible to tell you who is talking without weakening the story?

Dialog tags are used to remind the reader of who is speaking. Unless you have extremely individualized and unique character voices, you have to use something to differentiate speakers.

There are two types of tags:

The standard dialog tag, which attributes the dialog to a particular character using the "he said/she said" (or a variation thereof). The word "said" is nearly invisible to the reader and is therefore preferred over things like, "he shouted" or "she squeaked."

  • "Get out of my way before I knock you down," she said.

  • John said, "I'd like to see you try." [a little less invisible when the tag comes before the dialog, but still okay when used sparingly.]
This type of dialog tag does not weaken the story, but neither does it move it forward or provide the necessary beats to keep your conversations from bouncing like a ping pong ball in play.

The action tag, which shows action by a character before, after or in the middle of speaking, allows the reader to assume that the acting character is the one speaking. This is a great way to add a beat, deepen characterization, and to disrupt the repetition of the bouncing he said/she said pattern.

  • LDS Publisher tossed her head and laughed. "That Anon is such a smarty pants!"

  • "I just don't know what to think." Kara brushed her bangs out of her eyes. "Is it possible? Could he really like me?"

I find that action tags are often underused—and I personally like them. Many books would do well to use them more often. I do agree with you that if used exclusively, they can become annoying and cumbersome, but perhaps not as much as you think.

Pay attention to dialog tags as you read your favorite books. When do they use one over the other? Ask yourself if it adds to the story or detracts. But bottom line—do what your teacher (or agent, editor, publisher) tell you to do.


Revisiting Swearing

This question was in the comments for this post:

I do have a question, though, about swearing in LDS fiction. Maybe it's because I now live in Australia where many members use the "milder" swear words, or maybe it's that I've seen some of those words in a few books I bought from or seen sold in Deseret. But I'm curious as what words (if any) would pass the LDS censor?

I'm about 85% finished with my first novel and am hoping to market it to the LDS market as well, so I'd love to figure this one out.

I can't really answer that because there is no "LDS censor"—at least, no single individual or committee or even guidelines. It will vary from publisher to publisher, and some publishers have different standards depending on the type or genre of book, or the imprint the book is published under.

I can live with the words used in the Bible (d—, h—) used judiciously and sparingly. If you have a few of those in your novel, and the publisher doesn't approve, they'll strike them out. (As I did with one of the stories in Stolen Christmas—it wasn't really a swear word, but use of the name of deity in a way I felt would offend our target reader.)

My advice is do your research and read through what your publisher of choice is currently putting out. Are there any swear words in their latest releases? If so, feel free to use those words in your book. If not, clean it up. Or follow the adage, "when in doubt, leave it out."

Personally and professionally, I like the suggestion of having your character "curse under his breath" or even something like, "she threw a string of curse words at me that would have made a sailor blush" or whatever. You get the idea.

(And to whichever Anon out there who wants me to be perfect. . . I know my example of the blushing sailor is cliché and I should come up with something really clever and unique but, y'know, I'm in a hurry and I do this for free and I'm behind on a deadline. Sorry.)


Writing Prompt Friday:

Start your story with this:

She touched the blue and pink silk scarf in her pocket and smiled.

She cannot be thinking about her boyfriend/husband nor about a baby.

If you post your story on your blog, feel free to leave a link in the comments section.


Waiting on a Contract

Dear All Knowing One,

I am unsure of what to do here. Last August I was contacted by a publisher that I had submitted a manuscript to and they wanted to know if it was still available and told me that they want to print it and would be sending a contract. After a few weeks of not hearing from them, I checked and was told that they still wanted to publish me, but were just busy. Long story short, I'm still getting the same story, but have yet to see a contract. How long is a reasonable time between a verbal offer and actually having a contract in hand? Is this normal, or are they giving me the run around?

Thank you for your help and expertise.

Five months, huh? That's a long time.

Usually the long wait is between submission and acceptance. Most of the time, the contract follows within a few weeks—unless you're working through an agent. Then there can be some back and forth between agent and publisher to work out the details of the contract.

But for an unagented offer. . .that sounds long to me. I don't think they'd be giving you the run around so much as they're understaffed? Or disorganized? Or low on resources?

If they're a big company, it might just be a fluke. If they're a smaller company, I'd be worrying that they don't have the resources.

My advice: Contact them again and ask when you might expect the contract. Ask if this much time between acceptance and contract is normal for them. Then go with your gut feeling and either wait or give them a deadline before you start submitting it elsewhere.


Help a Sista Out

Before we get too far into the year, I want to request some help for the LDS Fiction site.

I try really hard to track down new fiction releases by LDS authors but at the end of each year I find I've missed quite a few. So. . . help, please.

If you are an LDS author and you have a novel scheduled for release in 2010—let me know.


I'll get you on the calendar on or near your release date.

Thanks so much!


Writing Tip Tuesday: How Do Mormons Swear?

Having recently seen several manuscripts where 'swearing without swearing' was not handled well (you can't make up fake swear words unless you're in a whole new world, like James Dashner's Maze Runner), today's Writing Tip Tuesday comes compliments of Day to Day with Valor Publishing. (Re-posted with permission from Valor Publishing.)

Are you writing for the LDS market? Mormons do swear differently from other people. If you want to write literature for Mormons, you have to tone it down. You will not get swear words past an LDS censor. And unless you're a cartoon character, or writing an e-mail, you won't get away with $%&#(@#*%&@!

But now you've got a problem. You're writing a tense scene where Marco, the assassin from New York, has flown into town ready to do the job he's been hired to do. Along with him he brings Fredo, his loyal sidekick. They've cornered their prey, a sniveling coward named Jones, and Marco brings out his gun. He puts the silencer in place, his movements slow, all the while watching the face of their hapless victim. He wants to prolong the agony as long as possible, and he knows by watching the beads of sweat roll off Jones' face that his methods are working. He brings the gun up and prepares to shoot. As he pulls the trigger, the gun jams.

"Jeepers," Marco says. "That's rotten. Hey, Fredo, hand me another gun."

"Rats. It sure is too bad your gun didn't fire," Fredo says, handing over another gun. "I bet you're really disappointed."

We sort of lost all the tension in that scene, didn't we. Unfortunate.

Let's try again.

As he pulls the trigger, the gun jams. Jones, eyes clenched tight, flinches, then slowly raises one eyelid. Marco flings the gun to the side, cursing under his breath.

"Give me another gun."

Fredo removes his own firearm and hands it to Marco, taking the safety off in the transfer. Only a moment has gone by, long enough for Jones to feel relieved but not long enough for Marco to forget why he's there.

"See you on the other side," Marco said, pulling the trigger.

Notice how we switched it out and said "cursing under his breath." We know he's cursing, but we don't know what he said. That is one way to interject a "swear word" into LDS fiction. Because Marco isn't LDS, it doesn't matter that he swears, as long as we don't know what he's saying.

You'll find plenty of examples of how this is done as you read LDS fiction. The trick is, finding a way to keep the tension high without breaking it by sounding silly. If you can't find a way to imply a swear word, evaluate if it really needs to be there. Use them only when the scene demands it. And, whatever you do, never use the term "yippee skippy" as an interjection. Please.

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved by Valor Publishing Group, LLC.


Successful Author Websites

What do you look for in a successful author website?

While this question refers specifically to websites, everything I say also applies to blogs. Authors need an online presence—but it doesn't have to break the bank. A good free blog or website will do the trick.

First and foremost, it must be visually appealing, clean and professional—and it must have all the information a visitor needs to find your book.

Visually appealing and professional doesn't mean you have to hire someone and spend a lot of money. You can set up free blogs at Blogger or WordPress. You can use one of their templates or choose from the bazillion free template online. If a blog is all you can afford (because it's free), that will be perfectly adequate.

You can also create a free, or mostly free, website at Google, Yola, or Weebly. I haven't used any of these, so I can't recommend one over the other. I'm sure there are other good places out there. Google "free websites" and see what you find.

A "pretty" site will invite the visitor to actually read the information you have on your site.

You need the most important information easy to find—either on the front page, sidebar, or using a tab at the top of the page to click to. Generally, you want the important info no more than one click away from the home page.

Most important info to include:

  • Info about your books: Most prominent on the home page or high on the sidebar is your current release book cover, which clicks to a page or post with more info about the book. Include a larger image of the cover with a teaser, first chapter or excerpt, and all of the info that I include about books on the LDS Fiction site.

    Previously published books should be in a secondary position—smaller images or lower on the sidebar. Each of these should also click to a page or post with more information about the title.

    The book info page should ALWAYS include links to where the book can be purchased online.

  • Info about you: Clickable from a tab or image on the sidebar, a short bio page about you. I recommend including a photo. Make it light and friendly and short.

  • Contact: An email link where you can be contacted by your fans. Also links to other places you can be found online.

Your site needs to be easy to navigate, clean and professional. I'm including a few links to simple sites that do this well. (Simple, because I'm assuming this is for DIY-ers, who can't or don't want to hire help.)



Readers—If you:

  • used a free, or nearly free, website builder/hosting service

  • designed your site yourself or used a free template

  • and you think your site is a good example
PLEASE leave a link to your site AND tell us the free service you used to create your site in the comments section. Also, let us know how easy you felt it was to use and if you recommend it or not.


Book of Mormon Short Story Contest

The 2009 Christmas story contest and resulting book, Stolen Christmas and Other Stories of the Season, was a big success. We'll definitely be going for a volume 2, with a call for stories in July.

But in the meantime, we're doing a contest for a non-Christmas book. Remember how I've mentioned that I don't think there are enough books aimed at teens, especially teen boys, in the LDS market? Well, I'm putting my money where my mouth is, so to speak.

LDSP's 2010 YA Book of Mormon
Short Story Contest

Prize: Publication in an anthology that will be published and ready for sale in June-ish,2010.

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 story targeted to the young adult reader (male or female). Any genre is acceptable but the setting must be somewhere in the Book of Mormon time period. You may use characters from the Book of Mormon or make up fictional characters.

  • Stories should reinforce LDS values without being preachy or didactic. Avoid clichéd plot lines and predictable outcomes. I want something with an original and unique story line or twist to it.

  • Stories should be positive and family friendly. I reserve the right to refuse any story I deem inappropriate for this blog/book.
  • Word count: 2,000 to 5,000.
  • 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.
  • Paste entire story into an e-mail. NO ATTACHMENTS, please.

    —Put "Contest: Title of Your Story" in the subject line of your e-mail.
    (Example: Contest: The Broken Bow)

    —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 Friday, February 19, 2010.
  • I will post the stories beginning on February 17th, 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 February 22 – 27. I will post voting rules and polls on the 22nd. (We'll be using a VIZU poll.)
  • 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 as yet untitled Book of Mormon anthology
  • There will be four winners:
    Readers' Choice/Published Author
    Readers' Choice/Unpublished Author
    Publisher's Choice/Published Author
    Publisher's Choice/Unpublished Author

    These four winners are guaranteed a spot in the book.
  • As usual, I reserve the right to withhold Publisher's Choice awards if I feel none of the stories deserve it.
  • I, and a small anonymous committee, will determine the other stories to be included in the book.
  • All authors to be included in the book will be notified via e-mail by the end of March, 2010.

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 Book of Mormon 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 September 30, 2010.
  • 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 contributors. 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 in summer of 2010 (most likely, June).
  • 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

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)

Image of Teancum used with permission of Kris A. Cooper


Hardback or Paperback?

How do publishers decide whether a book is hard cover or paper back?

It varies depending on the publisher.

Some publishers only publish hard cover.

Some only publish paperback.

For publishers who do both, it depends on the type of book, how many copies they think they'll sell, and how they think the end reader will use it (ex: read it once then give it away vs keep it and read it multiple times). Each publisher will have their own internal guidelines that they use to make this decision.

Covenant and Cedar Fort release all their fiction as trade paperback (trade = the 6x9 size). Shadow Mountain puts their fiction out in hardcover and often sells the paperback rights to other publishers. Deseret Book does a mix of both—The Undaunted got hard cover; Lemon Tart got trade paperback.


Brenda Novak Online Auction for Diabetes Research

CLICK HERE to see the LDS Publisher donation category!


I am excited to a sponsor of the 2010 Brenda Novak Online Auction for Diabetes Research. Brenda holds the auction every May at her Web site (http://brendanovak.com/). There, she offers trips, book collections, mentoring sessions, critiques, and more to an ever-expanding shopper base.

The auction has raised over $770,000 in five years. In 2009, the auction raised $270,611. Nora Roberts, Debbie Macomber, Lisa Jackson, Michael Connelly and Sherrilyn Kenyon are all involved, as well as hundreds of others. Corporate donors already signed on include Publishers Weekly, Writers Digest, Harlequin and Kensington publishers.

Diabetes runs rampant in both of my parents' family lines. I don't have it and and have taken steps not to get it, but I have aunts, uncles and cousins with it and it's a horrible disease. It's an issue that's close to my heart.

Not only am I supporting Brenda's auction by posting about it BUT I'll have my own LDS Publisher category, featuring books and other items for and/or by LDS authors.

And YOU, dear readers, may participate too by donating items for the auction!

Donation ideas:
  • Gift baskets themed around your book(s)

  • Handmade quilts, jewelry or other items

  • A stay in your vacation home

  • Lunch with you, your publisher and/or agent

  • A bunch of books and/or book-related items

  • Other cool but easy to ship items.
If you want to get an idea of what others are doing, CLICK HERE.

Reasons to donate to the 2010 auction include:
  • High traffic. The 2009 auction site had over 450,000 page hits, double 2008’s total, from over 20,000 unique users.

  • National media plan supporting the auction. Media plan includes Writer’s Digest, Publisher’s Weekly, RT Book Reviews magazine and many other print and online venues.

  • Highly efficient program. Your only expense is the donation item and the cost of shipping it to the auction winner (within the U.S.) by June 25, 2010 and you’ll receive months of national exposure. (The sooner your items are posted, the better your exposure.)

  • Dedicated web page to promote your organization and drive traffic to your website. One 2009 sponsor saw a 80% spike in website traffic.

  • Donations are tax deductible. All proceeds go directly to accelerate progress in diabetes research.

For each donation item, please send to me:
  • Item Title and picture of your book cover/item (you can attach a file or give me a URL to pull the photo from).

  • Item Description: The copy from the jacket flap or back of your book(s) or a description of the item. Each donation item or grouping has its own page on Brenda's auction website, so you have plenty of room for descriptions. You can find examples of items and descriptions at the auction site: http://brendanovak.auctionanything.com/

  • More about You: An author bio and a link to your web site or blog. You may included a photo of yourself, if you want.

More details:
  • Your item(s) will be posted to the auction under the category "LDS Publisher".

  • All items have a starting bid of $2.00.

  • Info submission deadline: April 10, 2010, but the sooner you send me your info, the more exposure you get on the auction site.

  • The auction goes from May 1-31, 2010. Remember to go bid on items. Lots of really cool stuff!

  • I will be notified of the auction winners by June 9, 2010.

  • I will forward the winner's shipping information on to you by June 12th.

  • You will need to ship the items to the winner by June 25, 2010.

  • By choosing to donate, you agree to ship the item(s) at your expense within the U.S. (Winners outside the U.S. will pay their own shipping costs.)

  • This is a binding agreement. If you agree to donate, I expect you to follow up and follow through. (If you flake, I will find some way to publicly humiliate you in front of your peers.)

Spread the Word:
  • I'd love for you to blog, twitter, facebook, whatever about this auction. For banners, CLICK HERE.

  • I've made a sidebar button for those who donate to the auction. Copy the code below and paste it into an html widget on your sidebar. (Don't copy the quote marks.)

  • If someone clicks on the button, it will take them to the entire LDS Publisher category. If desired, you may replace the current URL in the code with the URL specific to your donation page.

Small Button (125px)

<div align="center">
<a href="http://brendanovak.auctionanything.com/auctionhelp.taf?S=N&R=2&C=2&m=3&sort=1&st=1&days=&category_id=11479&skipkw=1&_start=1"><img src="http://i236.photobucket.com/albums/ff111/LDSPublisher/NovakAuction_125.gif" /></a>
<br/><a href="http://ldspublisher.blogspot.com/2010/01/brenda-novak-online-auction-for.html ">Click HERE to donate!</a>

Large Button (220px)

<div align="center">
<a href="http://brendanovak.auctionanything.com/auctionhelp.taf?S=N&R=2&C=2&m=3&sort=1&st=1&days=&category_id=11479&skipkw=1&_start=1"><img src="http://i236.photobucket.com/albums/ff111/LDSPublisher/NovakAuction_220.gif" /></a>
<br/><a href="http://ldspublisher.blogspot.com/2010/01/brenda-novak-online-auction-for.html ">Click HERE to donate!</a>

P.S. — No, I'm not going to tell you who I am to get you to donate. This is totally legit and since YOU send the prize straight to the winner, you don't need to know anything about me to participate.


Why I Like LDS Fiction

I already tweeted this, but I think it bears repeating and elaborating. Over the weekend, I read a book that was chosen as the January read for a book club I'm in. (No, I'm not telling you the book club and no, you can't join. Start your own and maybe I'll join that one too. Or maybe I'll start the LDSP book club. . .)

Anyway, this was a national suspense. The author sells well. I was wary going in because I knew there'd be language and probably loose morals. I was right. Lots of language and a couple of pages I had to skip due to explicitness. I usually only give these books one chapter but it was chosen by a very close friend and I knew she'd ask me about it, so I read—or rather skimmed—the whole thing.

What a waste of my precious time!

First, it was completely predictable and LAME. There were none of the twists and turns that Stephanie Black is so good at.

The characterization was flat; no sassy and unique heroines like Josi Kilpack creates.

The plot was pretty straight forward—no loops and subplots like Betsy Brannon Green gives us.

We knew right up front who the good guys were, who the bad guys were, and pretty much how it was going to end. No red herrings like Gregg Luke throws in our path.

And unlike Traci Abramson, Lynn Gardner, Ronda Hinrichsen, Jennie Hansen, Tristi Pinkston, and most of the other LDS mystery/suspense writers, this woman kept me on edge—not in a good way—never knowing when I was going to have to skip a swear word or jump past a detailed sex scene. (Picture me shuddering over that.)

But the biggest outrage was when the hero says that he likes the heroine because she has morals—as proven by the fact that AFTER they were intimate (mere hours after they meet up), she is worried over the idea that he might be married or have a girlfriend.



So, a GREAT BIG THANK YOU to you LDS authors out there who write intriguing suspense without all the crud in it.


January 2010 Prize Sponsors

Last month's prize winners announced HERE.

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

Famous Family Nights by Anne Bradshaw

Famous Family Nights is unique in that it isn't simply pages of ideas for family home evenings. It peeks into the lives of 91 talented LDS people from the USA and other countries, and shares ideas, together with touching, inspiring, and often hilarious stories about their family nights.

The whole book encourages readers to begin, or continue, their own family home evenings, despite today's challenges. Famous Family Nights highlights home evening as a priceless tool for building strong, faith-centered families.

Anne Bradshaw, who was born in Wales, grew up in England, and now lives in the USA. She has authored four published books, the latest of which is Famous Family Nights. The Ardanea Pendant, a feature screenplay Anne co-authored, won first place (fantasy/sci-fi genre) in the 2008 International Family Film Festival. She has also written countless magazine and internet articles, and is a member of LDS Storymakers.

Anne's website: www.annebradshaw.com

Anne's blog: Anne's Place

Missing by Ronda Gibb Hinrichson

A BYU-Idaho choir tour in British Columbia turns out to be anything but ordinary when soloist Stacie Cox spots a kidnapped child from Rexburg during a performance. Before Stacie can alert the authorities, the little girl disappears. Stacie vows to find and rescue her, a choice that forces her to deal with her guilt-ridden past and another little girl that haunts her dreams.

When the handsome Matt Brennan helps Stacie in the search, she tries to resist the attraction she feels for him. Yet as he gains her friendship and trust, her resolve to never fall in love begins to crumble. And after a series of harrowing events, Stacie must decide if she is willing to sacrifice her life—and a possible future with Matt—to save a stranger.

Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen received her Associates Degree in English from Ricks College and studied writing at Weber State University and Utah State University. Her numerous magazine and internet writing credits include fiction and nonfiction published by The Friend, New Era, Ensign, Guideposts for Kids, Class Act, and yourLDSneighborhood.com. She also enjoys teaching writing and speaking in various venues. Ronda first knew she wanted to be a writer when she was in the 6th grade. Her English teacher had been reading S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders to the class, and when she reached the section where Johnny urged Ponyboy to stay “gold,” Ronda realized she wanted to write "golden” words just as Hinton had. More than that, she wanted those words to encourage the "golden" in others. That remains one of her goals. Ronda's award-winning novel, Missing, is her first book. She loves to hear from readers and can be contacted at rondagibbhinrichsen@gmail.com.

CLICK HERE for details on how to win these books.

CLICK HERE for details on sponsoring the contest.


And the Winner Is. . .

Readers' Choice 2009 Best Cover Award
for books by LDS authors:

Just One Wish by Janette Rallison
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile

LDS Publisher's Choice 2009 Best Cover Award
for books by LDS authors:

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing

Readers' Choice Genre winners:

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
by Jamie Ford
Publisher: Ballantine Books

by Brenda Anderson
Publisher: Cedar Fort

Middle Grade:
Princess of the Midnight Ball
by Jessica Day George
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books

Murder by the Book
by Betsy Brannon Green
Publisher: Covenant

Altared Plans
by Rebecca Cornish Talley
Publisher: Cedar Fort

The Dragon War Relic
by Berin L. Stephens
Publisher: Bonneville Books (CFI)

Young Adult:
Just One Wish
by Janette Rallison
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile

LDS Publisher's Choice Genre winners:

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
by Jamie Ford
Publisher: Ballantine Books

Setting Sail
by Grace Elliot
Publisher: Covenant

Middle Grade:
Freaky Flyday
by David Farland
Publisher: Covenant

Murder by the Book
by Betsy Brannon Green
Publisher: Covenant

Altared Plans
by Rebecca Cornish Talley
Publisher: Cedar Fort

by Brandon Sanderson
Publisher: TOR Books

Young Adult:
Hush, Hush
by Becca Fitzpatrick
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing

I Made Book Cover Awards

It's time to announce the overall winner of the 2009 Best Cover Award for books by LDS authors. But first, a little commentary and explanation.

I designed some awards. Yes, I did! It took me most of one day over the holidays, so I hope the winners will display them on their blogs or websites with pride.

Genre Category Finalist Award

All the genre finalists—all 35 of the original five covers in each of the seven genre areas—will receive a Genre Category Finalist Award. (See left.)

This is a lovely silver medal that lists the year and the genre the cover was placed in.

After that, the awards break into two categories: Readers Choice (as voted on by you) and Publisher's Choice (as voted on by me).

Genre Category Winner Awards
Each genre will have two Best Genre Cover awards.

One will be the Readers' Choice Best Genre Cover, like the lovely award to the right. This award is for the winners from the VIZU polls. It is gold, because it's a gold winner, and it clearly says Readers' Choice at the top.

The other is the Publisher's Choice Best Genre Cover. It is also gold, but has LDS Publisher at the top — because LDS Publisher (me) picked these winners. Not that my taste is superior to that of the reader, but I love the covers that I love and want them to get something special, too. In some genres, the same book won both of these awards.

Best Cover Awards

Last, there is THE overall winner, Best Book Cover of 2009, where the winners of each genre category went head-to-head. Again, there are the two categories—Readers' Choice and Publisher's Choice. Once again they are gold and they have either Reader's Choice (picked by you) or LDS Publisher (picked by me) at the top of the award. The bottom of the award, of course, says BEST COVER.

I will be sending out emails to the authors, probably later today and will attach the awards for them. If you're a winner and don't get your award by Tuesday, it means I don't have your email address and you'll need to send it to me.

Also, one last note. I have posted my thoughts about each book cover in the comments of the Genre Finalists posts, so you can read why I picked the ones I did, as well as why the readers picked the ones they did.