Saturday, December 27, 2008

Writing Once Again

Well, I've survived Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas and am finally moving from writing short stories back to starting a new book. Wrote 41 pages yesterday. If I can keep up that pace I'll have a very rough exploratory draft done by the end of the year. Of course if I'm writing in this blog, it means I've hit a spot in the book that I don't quite know what happens next. I guess that means it's time for some kind of battle. LOL. I feel really good starting a new book.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Brass Dragon Codex cover

Good news. I finally got the cover for Brass Dragon Codex which is due to come out January 2009. It's kind of the comical adventure for the series. In this picture the young brass dragon, Kyani, sits on a valuable painting, trying to decide if he's going to eat it or not. But what he's really hungry for is companionship.

Kyani's search for friendship leads him to the gnome, Hector, who ventures across the desert to complete an invention that will fulfill his life quest. But Hector's new invention is far more valuable and dangerous than he realizes, and many forces plan to take it out of his hands--dwarves, knights, a clever thief, and a colossal blue dragon. Hector and Kyani must work together to complete the invention before they lose everything, including their lives.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Surprise Packages

Hey all, I got to read a review copy of the newest book in the Company of Good Woman series. It was quite a read. The authors have done a great job of showing the challenges and triumphs in the lives of three everyday women. Of course I'd like to give them each a sword and magic powers and see how they fare against a horde of invading fairy monsters, but all books can't be fantasy, I guess. And I have a feeling that the three women in Surprise Packages would probably make out heroically in whatever setting they end up in. Sometimes just living a good life is more heroic than anything else.

Here's some more info about the book and an interview with the authors.

In an unusual approach to novel-writing, Nancy Anderson, Lael Littke and Carroll Morris each wrote from a single character’s point of view. Seamlessly knit together, their characters’ compelling stories have made the first two novels in the series Deseret Book bestsellers.

Surprise Packages (Deseret Book, $17.95, Softcover) begins fifteen years after Deenie, Juneau and Erin meet at Education Week at BYU. Deenie, now living in Gainesville, Florida, wonders if "a new where calls for a new who.". Juneau's feelings of guilt come to a head when a secret from her childhood resurfaces. And Erin takes a risk when she has a second chance for love—with surprising results.

Surprise Packages is the best book of the series! —Erma Carrier

I’m inspired by the character's spiritual strength and real-ness. —Vicki Wright

The Company of Good Women series is an endearing tribute to women and every kind of love they experience—times three. —Ginger Franz

Interview Questions forAnderson, Littke, Morris

Surprise Packages is the last in your trilogy, The Company of Good Women. Tell me what makes your trilogy unique.

It’s the story of three women in three different parts of the country and their quest to become Crusty Old Broads—written by three women from three different parts of the country who are self-professed Crusty Old Broads! Readers praise it for offering a realistic—but hopeful—view of the issues faced by LDS families.

Where are you from?

Lael is from Pasadena, CA; Nancy is from Sandy, UT; and Carroll lives in Green Valley, AZ.

How did you come up with the idea of writing together?

We were vacationing together in Moab, Utah, when Nancy said, “Why don’t we write a book together?” We sat down right then and brainstormed about what we wanted the themes of our novel to be. We still have the notes that Carroll wrote in aqua ink!

What experience did you have that made a novel a feasible project?

Carroll is the author of several fiction and non-fiction books published by Deseret Book. Lael as over forty YA books (Deseret Book and national publishers) to her credit. Nancy, though at the time unpublished, had been working on some book ideas.

How long did it take until the first book came out?

We got the idea in 1998 while on vacation in Moab. We wrote “at it” for several years—we finally got serious when Deseret Book expressed interest in what we were doing. The first book in the series, Almost Sisters, was released in July of 2006, about eight years after we first got the idea.

What were the biggest challenges you faced as co-authors?

1. Merging files and making corrections. On the first book, Lael was the manuscript master. For the last two, Carroll took on that job.
2. Literary liposuction. The story of each character—told completely—would have filled its own book. So cutting the text without gutting the story was a challenge.
3. Writing the third book of the series. We knew where we were going in the first two books, but none of us had written ahead in book three. We had only general ideas about where it would go. 4. Making the series add up to something. We wanted our readers to finish the series feeling that they’d been changed by the time spent with Deenie, Juneau and Erin. We hope they will periodically read the series over, like visiting old friends.

What is your personal favorite part of Surprise Packages?

Lael: Gradually bringing Juneau and her husband, Greg, closer so that eventually they “speak the same language.”
Carroll: The romance between Erin and Vince Gerlach. Much of the Erin material is quite serious and dramatic, but the romance was fun to write.
Nancy: Deenie discovering that being a Mormon woman raised in Utah doesn’t make her better than other people. She learns a lot about herself and other as she sees life with this new self-awareness.

How did you come up with the title Surprise Packages?

That comes from a talk the three of us heard when we were vacationing in Sedona. The speaker said that when we make a decision, we’re wrapping up a package that we open in our future. In book three of the series, the three women open the packages created by the decisions they—and others—made in books one and two.

Are the characters and events in the novel based on someone you know or events in your own life?

Lael: Many incidents are loosely based on my own or a friend's experiences, but I changed them to suit my purposes.
Carroll: As authors, we throw everything we’ve experienced, heard about, read about, wondered about, and imagined, into the great stew pot in the back of our minds. As it bubbles away, all those elements emerge in a new form—fiction that’s as real as life itself.
Nancy: It’s true that we start with what we know or know about, but then the characters take over. Some plot lines are the result of our characters refusing to go where we want them to!

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

That no matter what situation a person is in any moment, the story isn’t over yet. Never, never, never give up—on others or on yourself!

Are there any similarities between you three and the three characters in the novel?

There are some superficial similarities. For instance, Carroll and Nancy (actual sisters) met Lael (their virtual sister) at a Women’s Conference. Deenie, Juneau, and Erin meet at Education Week. The three authors have vacationed together every year since then; they drew on their experiences to describe the vacations the characters go on together. Nancy actually appliqued denim jackets for herself and the other authors. They wore the jackets when they were on vacation in Moab—and they did stop traffic, just like the characters in the book!

It sounds like you three have vacationed togeter a lot. What’s your favorite vacation spot?

Our favorite place is Carlsbad, CA, but Moab, Utah, and Sedona, Arizona, are right behind.

Do you three have a new project in the works?

We have an idea for a book that will have the same format as the series—we’ll each write from the viewpoint of a character. It’s a stand-alone novel set in Powell, Wyoming, during World War II. But it is on the back burner while we’re working individual projects.

For more information visit and

Blog Tour Hosts:
August 1st: Candace Salima
August 1st: Tristi Pinkston
August 1st: Shirley Bahlmann
August 2nd: Traci Abramson
August 2nd: Keith Fisher
August 4th: Don Carey
August 4th: Alison Palmer
August 4th: Jewel Adams
August 5th: Lynda Bennett
August 7th: Nichole Giles
August 8th: Karen Hoover
August 8th: Karlene Browning
August 15th: Stephanie Humphries
August 18th: Jen Lords
August 20th: Kim Thompson
August 21st: Heather Moore
August 22nd: Alison Palmer
August 23rd: Heather Justesen
August 26th: Marsha Ward
August 27th: Stephanie Black
August 28th: Rebecca Shelley
August 28th: Anne Bradshaw
August 29th: Carole Warburton
August 30th: LuAnn Staheli
August 30th: Tristi Pinkston

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Breaking Dawn

Of course I read it. Actually, I read it out loud with my 12 year old daughter. We finished up Sunday night. Didn't do anything but read Saturday and Sunday except attend church. My daughter is very bright and figured out much of what would happen early on, so she didn't have too many surprises. That just made her happy of course, because things turned out the way she wanted them, with one exception at the end, which I'm not going to mention at this time so as not to spoil the story for anyone who hasn't finished it yet (I know there must be a few people in the world who haven't, because my sister was still reading last night and not even half way through).

As for me, I thought it was brilliantly done especially the tasteful way the more mature content was handled. I very much enjoyed the book, and probably will read it again on my very next day off.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

What Have I Been Reading?

Well, I signed up for a short story workshop, coming this September 2008.

The pre-work for the workshop is to read all the Asimov's magazines for this year. Alas, it has taken me three weeks to get through seven magazines. Not my usual reading speed since since I devour books like Twilight in one evening. But that's fantasy, and I'm very comfortable with fantasy. Science Fiction on the other hand . . .

The first story in the January 2008 issue, "The Perfect Wave" by Rudy Rucker and Marc Laidlaw is absolutely brilliant--setting, voice, characterization, all wonderful. I'm smart enough to know that, but the perfect wave drowned me. For the life of me I don't understand it. Some kids get on virtual surfboards and change the world. Don't know how. Some sciency stuff. Clearly I spent too much time in college studying Beowulf and not enough time studying science. Physics 101 just doesn't cut it. I could tell right then that it would take me a concerted effort to make my way from January all the way through July.

I'm glad to say that bit by bit I've come to understand the stories and articles better. You might be glad to know that I pretty much understood all of the stories in the July issue. I particularly enjoyed "26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss" by Kij Johnson and "Thought Experiments: When the Whole World Looked Up" by Kristine Kathryn Rush.

My other favorite stories were "Galaxy Blues" by Allen M. Steele, "The Room of Lost Souls" by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and "The Egg Man" by Mary Rosenblum.

"Galaxy Blues" is about a guy named Jules Truffaut who ends up taking on a black hole. Can't tell you if he survives or not, because I wouldn't want to ruin the story for anyone who hasn't already read it.

"The Room of Lost Souls" is a sequel to Kris's December 2005 Readers' Award winning novella, "Diving Into the Wreck." The story is about a woman who works with teams of space divers to find and explore/recover wrecked space ships much like undersea divers do sunken shipwrecks here on earth. In "The Room of Lost Souls" she must face the most ancient dangerous wreck of all, the wreck that killed her mother and she alone survived.

"The Egg Man" is the story of, Zipakna, a Mexican aid worker helping poor unfortunate Americans. That thought just makes me smile. But Zipakna has good reason to go into the dangerous American desert. His wife vanished out there, and he hopes his efforts will someday bring him in contact with her once again.

So, despite the slow difficulty of the read for me and often feeling completely non-intelligent, I'd say it's been a great assignment. I've sure learned a lot.

Of course the next assignment is to write a science fiction story. It's been a loooot of years since I've done that, and of course science has changed so much since I was in school, no doubt about it after reading all those magazines. I admit to feeling a bit (okay a lot) intimidated. But I have a deadline. The story must be done and sent off by the end of next week. And deadlines have a wonderful way of forcing my creativity into action. I still don't have a clue what I'm going to write. But when I sit down to work on it Monday morning, I'm sure something will pop out.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Peter Pan in Scarlet

I finally got a chance to read Peter Pan in Scarlet. I had high hopes for this book and wasn't disappointed. If anything, it was better than I thought it could be. Geraldine McCaughrean did a wonderful job portraying Never Land with all its wonder and imagination. The plot is superb. Characterization great. I loved it.

Emotion Check--Terrified, and excited. A publisher has asked to see the manuscript for a chapter book series I proposed. I've got it all outlined and just need to write it. But first I must polish up the proposal for the Blue Dragon Codex and send that off. My brain keeps bouncing back and forth between the two projects (which are on relatively opposite sides of the writing spectrum) and doesn't want to stay focused long enough on one or the other to get anything accomplished. This calls for CHOCOLATE. :)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Emotion Check

Okay, so I committed to sharing my emotions once in a while online.

So, in a breakthrough effort I actually let myself laugh out loud at my husband's ridiculous jokes Thursday night. He was delighted by that. Then yesterday I was feeling quite aggravated about something his mother said. She is a very nice and wonderful woman, and I know she didn't mean anything by it, and I started to just push the feeling aside. It wasn't a logical emotion, though it was very strong.

Then I remembered my commitment to feeling emotion (boy what an author will do to get better at her craft). So, I let myself cry (in front of my husband even) and get upset and refuse to go to the family gathering. My poor husband had a heart attack. Where was the nice, even-tempered woman he'd spent the last 16 years with? I reminded him that we had talked about my expressing my emotions, and that I was choosing to do so. He loosened up a bit, kissed me goodbye and went off to the family thing without me.

I stayed home, cleaned up my house, and read a book called Heaven Scent by Rebecca Talley, a deeply religious book for the Mormon audience about a girl whose mother and brother die in a car crash. The book was soothing, and I enjoyed it. I felt tons better after cleaning and reading and slept very well last night.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Interview With Candace E. Salima

Yesterday I promised I'd post this interview as soon as I could. Here it is. Thank you Candace for taking the time to answer my questions and share a bit of yourself with all of us.

Q: What gave you the idea to write Forged in the Refiner's Fire?

A: Elizabeth Cheever, my co-author, approached me while I was hard at work on “Dreams Die Hard,” the sequel to “Out of the Shadows . . . Into the Light.” Initially I resisted because I was so busy but there was something about what she wanted to do that tugged at me until I couldn't say no.

Q: Creating a book like this seems like a monumental task. How did you go about getting all the stories from such great authors, putting them together, and getting your publisher to publish the book?

A: We sent emails out to all our friends, family and peers asking for stories and then asked them to forward that same message to everyone they knew. Elizabeth wrote a series of questions which those who volunteered followed. In doing that, we were able to keep the message of the book fairly focused on the fact that trials can be overcome and there is One who always stands ready and waiting to walk with us through every step. Chad Daybell of Spring Creek Book Company immediately saw the power behind the message, published and released “Forged in the Refiner’s Fire” on February 1, 2006. The very same day my husband entered the hospital for a six-week nightmare stay in Utah Valley Regional Medical Center.

Elizabeth edited the stories for grammar, punctuation, sentence structure and flow, but left the voice and story of each writer up to the individual going through that trial or tragedy. All in all, as I read back over the book now, I am stunned at the power and motivation which literally leaps off the page.

Q: What is your greatest hope for the book?

A: My greatest hope is that “Forged in the Refiner’s Fire” will reach out to every trouble heart in the world and lift them up. We were never meant to walk the thorny path of mortality alone, for as I stated earlier, Jesus Christ is always waiting to lift us up. Truly, it may feel at times, although we are surrounded by loved ones, friends and co-workers, that we are at the loneliest point in our lives. It is my hope the stories in this book give others the strength to continue on, pushing through the ever growing darkness for the light which awaits on the other side. All of us go through trial and tragedy. All of us have weaknesses we need to overcome. Just like all of us are a son or daughter of God with untold gifts and talents to accomplish what we’ve been sent here to do. It is my hope this book reminds the reader of that.

Q: When did you start writing?

A: I really can’t remember. But I remember sitting in my bedroom after school one day looking out the window. I was in sixth grade, which made me eleven at the time, and we were living in Red Mesa, Colorado. Suddenly I decided I wanted to write a story, a real story with a beginning, middle and end. I’d been a voracious reader from the time my mother taught me and I knew it was what I wanted to do. I never really believed I’d ever be published, let alone in the position I am in now, co-authoring a book with one of my favorite entertainers and people in the world, Merrill Osmond. Sometimes what begins in a child’s room can grow to a dream so big it can scarcely be comprehended.

Q: What is your writing process?

A: Wow, every book or screenplay starts with a germ of an idea. I sit down and write a very basic, generic outline which I then break down into research tasks. Once the research is complete, then I write a detailed outline and get to work. Sometimes I’ve only got 15 minutes in a day to write, sometimes 14 hours. I really like the 14 hour days.

Every morning, when I pull up my document, I read over and edit what I’ve written the day before. That gets me back into the flow and ebb of the story and then I begin to write.

Once I’ve completed the manuscript, first and second drafts, I then send it out to 20 people of different sexes, faiths, cultures and backgrounds. I send a questionnaire with it and then adjust the story accordingly. Then I send it to my final editors, Tristi Pinkston and my mother, and then it gets popped into the mail to the publisher. Then I bite my nails like everyone else waiting for that acceptance or rejection.

Q: How has having a book(s) published changed your life?

A: It’s made me more confident in my writing skills. Not in my voice or storytelling ability, but in my ability to use proper grammar, punctuation and sentence structure. It’s given me the opportunity to travel the nation speaking on literacy, freedom and the gospel. It’s given me the opportunity to spend my days doing what I love instead of slogging away at a job I’d kill to quit. All in all, it’s been a wonderful thing.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Forged in the Refiner's Fire

I can't begin to express how Forged in the Refiner's Fire by Candace E. Salima and Elizabeth A. Cheever has impacted my life.

I came at it a bit trepidatiously at first. I love fiction, especially fantasy, and Refiner's Fire is a book of true life experiences about people who have faced overwhelming challenges and how they overcame them. This isn't fiction. It's sobering reality. Despite that, the stories hooked me right from the start and wouldn't let me go. I read the book straight through. I laughed. I cried. I did a lot of soul searching and came out with a better understanding of myself and of God and how he works in people's lives.

The wide range of stories in this book give something for almost every reader to connect with. Seeing how other people have overcome their challenges has given me two wonderful things, and another surprising serendipity. First, I realize I am not alone in my own personal refiner's fire. Others have walked the same path I'm on and come out better in the end because of it. Second, I realize how good my life really is. All the little things that I think are so hard seem slight in comparison to some people's trials. I'm left with a profound sense of gratitude for my life.

The third thing was rather a surprising little shock, not something I'd really anticipated from reading Refiner's Fire. I'm also a writer, and for several years now have been getting the same feedback from editors, my agent, and other writers. I stopped even taking my stuff to critique groups, because I already knew what they were going to say. I needed better characterization, deeper characters, more character development. Okay sure, I get it. I know what I need, but the knowing and doing are two different things. So for a long time now I've been on a quest to study and learn and read and practice and try somehow to deepen my characters. Plot? I've got it, no problem. Deep meditative characters? Ack.

It was a day after reading Refiner's Fire that I had my little revelation. The book had made me feel things incredibly deeply, and I was still struggling to deal with those emotions. It was like a window opened up in my mind, and I realized I was repressing the whole thing. Discounting the emotions, numbing them out, pushing them down, whatever. And it was like a little voice said to me, "You're doing it again." And I realized that I have always, for as long as I can remember, been terrified of expressing my emotions.

I refuse to cry in front of people. I refuse to let myself get angry, or hate someone, or be jealous or irritated. Somewhere I figured out these were "bad" emotions, and so I wouldn't ever let myself express them. I read back through Refiner's Fire paying special attention to how people had not only felt and expressed these emotions, they'd even gone so far as to write about them in a book for others to read. For my part, I can't even bring myself to write about that kind of thing in my own journal where no one will probably ever see it. Just the thought of doing that brings me close to a panic attack.

Then another thought came very clearly to me. If I can't even allow myself to express my own emotions, how in the world do I expect to be able to give my character emotions?

Oh, there's a thought. The problem isn't my writing or my characters, it's me on a very deep level. Of course, the thought of expressing any really strong emotion negative or positive scares me to death, I've made a goal to admit that I have these emotions and try to find good productive ways to actually express them. So now I've shared my deepest confession online for everyone to read. Shudder. I'm making a public goal here, to try to express my emotions.

So right now today I am feeling . . . terrified that I'm actually going to post this. And extremely grateful to Candace and Elizabeth for writing such a wonderful book that has impacted my life so amazingly.

Here is a terrific interview with Candace about the book.

I've also sent her some of my own interview questions which I will post here as soon as I can.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Sisters Grimm

I just finished reading The Fairy Tale Detectives (The Sisters Grimm, Book 1) by Michael Buckley and Peter Ferguson. Now that was a fun book. I love reading twisted fairy tales where my favorite fairy tale characters come to life in our own time. very nice. Can't wait to read more of the books in this series.

Friday, June 6, 2008

A Really Funny Book

I just read a really funny book. The Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Boy by William Boniface.

Ordinary Boy lives in Superopolis where everyone has superpowers except him. He and his friends, Stench, Plasma Girl, Halogen Boy, and Tadpole take on the city's most dangerous supervillain as well as a crash course in supply and demand as they try to collect all 64 of the Amazing Indestructo Collector Card set.

I was reading the book out loud to my ten-year-old son, who thinks it's hilarious. Don't tell him I snuck off and finished it ahead of him. It was too funny to put down.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Dragons Can Blog Too

Hi all,

This is my attempt to create a blog. I'm not sure I have anything brilliant to share with the world, but sometimes I read a terrific book and feel like I need to shout out about how great it is.

I just finished reading The 13th Reality by James Dashner. I loved how the main character, a boy called Tick, goes from being the brunt of the school bully's attacks to a true hero. It's a page-turning adventure that I just couldn't put down. When's the next book coming out, James?