Friday, May 25, 2012

Winner of My Fair Godmother

It's been officially summer vacation for less than an hour and already the tears and drama have started. Probably because it's been one of those weeks. We've had enough field trips, programs, and graduations to drive anyone to tears.

But on to happier things.

According to the random.org, the winner is:

Krista Van Dolzer!!!


Sadly, I can't grant any wishes--my fairy godmother's wand has been mysteriously missing for my entire life--but I do have a signed copy of My Fair Godmother for you.

Have a happy weekend!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Book Giveaway! My Fair Godmother by Janette Rallison

****Sorry, but this contest is now closed.****





If you haven't noticed, Janette Rallison is one of my favorite authors and this is one of my favorite of her books. So I'm going to give away:

1 signed paperback copy of My Fair Godmother

Summary: Finding your one true love can be a Grimm experience!
After her boyfriend dumps her for her older sister, sophomore Savannah Delano wishes she could find a true prince to take her to the prom. Enter Chrissy (Chrysanthemum) Everstar: Savannah’s gum-chewing, cell phone–carrying, high heel-wearing Fair Godmother. Showing why she’s only Fair—because she’s not a very good fairy student—Chrissy mistakenly sends Savannah back in time to the Middle Ages, first as Cinderella, then as Snow White. Finally she sends Tristan, a boy in Savannah’s class, back instead to turn him into her prom-worthy prince. When Savannah returns to the Middle Ages to save Tristan, they must team up to defeat a troll, a dragon, and the mysterious and undeniably sexy Black Knight. Laughs abound in this clever fairy tale twist from a master of romantic comedy.

To enter the contest, just leave a comment telling me what you would do if you had a fairy godmother grant you a wish. The contest will close on Friday, May 25th, at 12 p.m. MST and I'll announce the winner soon after that.

And, sorry, I can only mail to the US, so no international entries, please.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Most Important Things I Heard at Storymakers

I attended the LDStorymakers 2012 conference a couple weeks ago and had a wonderful time. A lot of the things I heard before, but I love getting the inspiration and enthusiasm to keep going.

My favorite class was How to Practice: an Exercise in Rendering Talent Irrelevant by Howard Tayler, who has awesome boots. Apparently I'm not the only one who was blown away, because I've seen other posts about this breakout session and if you get the chance to listen to him give this presentation, DO IT!

There were lots and lots of things said that made me think, but two things stood out more than anything:

1. No one has the right to look at your work and tell you that you aren't talented.

2. Don't practice the wrong thing.

In his presentation, he related "talent" to having a five foot head start on a mile long race. In the end, it doesn't mean anything. The ability doesn't matter nearly as much as the practicing and the hard work.

But when it comes to practicing, make sure to practice the good things. Don't practice looking at your writing and telling yourself how bad it is. That's the wrong thing to practice and isn't going to get you anywhere. Practice instead looking for what's good and how to make the rest better.

Did any of you attend this class? What did you think?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Details

As some of you may know, my husband is going to be gone for the summer for work. We decided to squeeze in a family trip to Disneyland before he had to leave, which is where we were last week. Otherwise I would have been posting about the awesomeness that was LDStorymakers, but hopefully that will come soon. I make no promises, though. My summer has the potential to be extremely unpredictable.

Anyway, Disneyland. So I decided it would be fun to surprise the kids, so I packed for them, picked up their homework, and we didn't say a thing until we woke them up early Monday morning. It was so much fun watching my youngest running around and yelling, "Are you serious? We're going to Disneyland? We're going to Disneyland!"

Excitement waned over the course of the drive, despite stopping at my sister's house and the amazing Krista Van Dolzer's. She and I have been exchanging stuff for the last couple of years, but we'd never had the chance to meet until then.

Disneyland was awesome. But I think Disneyland is always awesome, and not just for the rides. Honestly, one of my favorite things about it is the atmosphere. Not the hot, sweaty, tired-of-waiting-in-line atmosphere (although there is that), but the escaped-from-the-real-world. Maybe it was because I was there right after going to a writer's conference, but I couldn't help noticing during this visit that so much of the escaped-from-the-real-world feeling comes from the details. The details are everywhere. Things like the line dividers on The Little Mermaid ride in California Adventure have sea urchins on top of them. The employees have to wear uniforms to fit into the areas theme. Even the garbage cans are painted to fit in with those themes!

Of course, in writing you wouldn't want to point out all the little tiny details, just like at Disneyland they don't have signs saying, "Look! We put in sea urchins so you would know this is a sea story!" But you want to include enough details to evoke the sense of being somewhere else--just enough details to let the kids think they're really pirates exploring caves on a secret island.*

The trick is to figure out how to do it naturally so that no one notices what you're doing. And if you know the secret to this, please let me know.

So...do you know the secret of including details in a story without bogging it down? Do you have any suggestions for it? And have you done anything fun lately? Do you have any fun plans for the summer?



*Of course, we really are pirates. The kids picked pirate names years ago. In order of age, they are: Crazy Sword, Little Giggles, and Barnacle Boy, and now that you know, they'll probably be referred to by those names from here on out. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

My Life as a Book

I stare out my back window and notice that there are waves on the pond out behind our house. It's blowing fairly hard right now, so the waves are no surprise. I love watching the pond. I love the way the pond reflects the weather, from the glassy mirror of calm summer days to the wild tossing waves (okay, they aren't THAT big--it's a pond after all) of the storms.

Almost all of the windows in our place face out onto the pond. Which means I'm watching it a lot. Which sounds vaguely familiar...

Living in a rural area...next to a pond...few neighbors...

My life has turned into a book. And not just any book. My life has turned into WALDEN, the book that we all rolled our eyes about when we had to do it for summer reading in high school. The one that was really long and we struggled to find five plot points in the entire thing. I think I finally settled for Thoreau watching ants as one of the main plot points. Don't knock it--that was a very exciting scene. 

You know, I used to imagine living inside the stories I read in books. I daydreamed about being a swordsman or a frontiersman or a princess. Things with adventure. Watching a pond does not exactly equal adventure, even if the book is a classic. 

But on the other hand, watching a pond also doesn't involve as much distress as some of the novels that I love. And really, I'm not all that brave and would rather not face the Dark Lord, if that's all right with you. Much as I like vicarious danger and pain, I'd really rather sit that one out. I've had pain before. It wasn't as fun as I thought it would be.

So maybe, when all is said and done, there are worse books that I could be living right now. 

What about you? Are there any parallels between your life and a book that you've read? Are there any books that you would really, honestly want to be a part of?

And now, if you'll excuse me, I have a pond to go watch. :)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Don't Pet the Bull

We've been having gorgeous weather lately and, to take advantage of it, we ate dinner on the back patio on Saturday. Our neighbors have a "barn" that they often rent out for receptions, church activities, reunions, etc. There were a couple wedding receptions there last week, including Saturday night. We were idly watching the comings and going and commenting on the clothing (matching teal button up shirts and skirts for the wedding party? Really?) when we noticed some of the guests, including two small children, probably not more than two years old, approach the pasture, climb over the fence, and head in the direction of the cows.

We were more than a little concerned when the man, while holding one of the kids, decided to pet one of them. And not just anyone of them, he decided to pet the bull. Now, the neighbor's bull is very, very nice...but it's still a bull. The bull moved closer. The guy moved back. The bull moved forward. The guy yelled at it. The bull changed direction and the guy turned away, completely missing the bull bucking.

Fortunately for everyone, the bull got distracted (Mmm, grass...) and didn't circle back on them, although he started to. The people left, apparently unaware of any danger.

This situation turned out well, but it might have gone very differently. It was a bit horrifying to watch--and not be able to look away--as the man blithely reached out to pet the bull. It made me think of a bit of advice I heard at my very first writing conference:

"Don't idiot plot."

By this, they meant that you should never have things happen because your main character is too stupid to live. You know, the girl in the horror movie who hears that the serial killer has escaped from prison, in her area no less, and she hears footsteps upstairs and decides to investigate, on her own and with the power out. That sort of thing.

If your plot only moves forward because your character is doing things that no rational human being would do, then you might have a problem.

Of course, that doesn't mean that your character doesn't make mistakes and never does anything wrong. We're all human and we all do things that we know are absolutely idiotic. Hopefully nothing as risky as petting a strange bull while holding a toddler, but things that we cringe at later.

I think the important thing in those situations is to look at the character's motivation. See if it's something the character would really do or if it's something that you as a writer want them to do to move your plot forward.

What do you think? Is idiot plotting even a problem? Have you seen anyone doing anything lately that you thought was completely crazy?

In any case, good luck and:

Don't pet the bull!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Throwing Books

I read a book last weekend. One that, for the most part, I enjoyed. But something happened in the end, something that annoyed me so much that I very nearly hurled the book across the room. In fact, the only reason I didn't was that the kids were in the room and it's hard to teach them not to throw things when they're mad if I throw things when I'm mad.

Which made me wonder just how many people have thrown a book. I admit, I have actually thrown a book before. It wasn't even mine. It was a school copy and I was usually very careful with them. A Separate Peace, though, made me so angry. Ironic, given the title. It didn't give me any peace, separate or shared. I also completely missed any and all symbolism in the book, which goes to show that I read to connect with the characters, not to look for symbolism and wisdom or anything like that. I'm shallow when it comes to reading and do it mostly for entertainment.

And now that I've confessed to my book throwing tendencies, what about you? Have you ever thrown a book? What book was it and why?