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?