Showing posts with label Monday Mornings. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Monday Mornings. Show all posts

Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday Morning Motivation--My top 8 Whys

Why is it:

8) that good guys or bad guys think they can aim and shoot while running or riding horseback?

7) that no one seems to notice the guy sitting in the car on a stakeout, trying to look nonchalant?

6) that chasers don't follow at a discreet distance and chasees don't notice until it's too late?

5) that people don't carefully peek around corners before exposing their fully-extended gun arm, enabling the bad guy to karate chop the gun out of their hands?

4) that people run out in the open when being chased by cars, instead of off to the side where they can dodge at the last minute?

3) that gorgeous female cops and detectives always run in high heels?

2) that the person being chased always runs UP? Up stairs, Up mountains, Up everything. Where are you going to go when you run out of UP?

1) that the bad guy can't resist the urge to show everyone what a diabolical genius he is by divulging the entire plot?

There are some exceptions to these ponderings, but most TV crime dramas, and mysteries end up making the same mistakes. It didn't work out in the last movie, but wait, maybe it'll work out the next time.

Make it a good Monday!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Monday Morning Motivation

A friend of mine recently commented that her husband, a new writer, had a hard time with new ideas distracting him from his current work in progress.

How do you deal with that?

I am surrounded with notebooks and journals of ideas that creep up behind me seeking to thwart my concentration. My mind runs away with them from time to time.

My solution?

I keep a section in my planner called "The Bookshelf". In this section I keep a list of TBRs. I have quite a stack and I need to write reviews on most of them, so it's important to keep a list in order of when they are due.

But, the most important thing I keep in my bookshelf are my ideas. There are hundreds of them waiting in the pages for me to remember them and give them life. I write down the dreams I can still remember by morning. I write down every little nagging thought that begs to be heard.

If I don't, those little voices just about drive me crazy, all clamoring for my attention. I find that once I put them down on paper they seem willing to quiet themselves for now and patiently wait for another day. Then I can get back to my wip.

Voices in my head? Yep, don't be so surprised. I've heard it said that "writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia." ~E. L. Doctorow

How do you deal with the voices in your head?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday Morning Motivation--My Legacy

Charcoal by Leo Gestel 1937
not my 8th great grandfather's farm,
but what I imagine it might've been like.
My Legacy

Sometimes I wonder what I've done with my heritage. Have I squandered it on meaningless, time-consuming activities? Have I done anything to make life a little easier for the generations to follow? My sacrifices are so minute compared to those of my ancestors.

At this time of year, I usually think about my Mormon Pioneer ancestors, but today I'm going further back. My 8th great grandfather, Abraham. His family immigrated to America in 1636. He was the fifth generation to be born here.

Supplies were scarce during the winter. One of his sons would warm cow or ox chips and stand on them to keep his feet warm while he chopped wood. At one point, Abraham got word that the British were marching from Canada to Saratoga. Their route lay right through the settlement where Abraham lived. He had a pair of oxen and a sled (the other settlers called him "the rich Dutchman"). He loaded his wife and children and supplies into the sled and hid them in a place of safety. He went back to his house and took his gun and ammunition  and started out for the Battle of Bennington on foot. By the time he got there the battle was over. That was a blessing. If he had died in that battle, his family would have starved that winter.

Abraham must've enjoyed hard, physical labor. As soon as he cleared 100 acres, he'd sell it and clear another farm.

I can't even imagine suffering that kind of exposure. I sit back in a cozy home where my biggest sacrifice might be the lack of immediate gratification. Generations later, I have comfort, freedom, and opportunities my ancestors couldn't even conceive.

I feel I owe it to them not to waste the gifts they spent their whole lives working for. If Grandma gave me her best apple pie, I would never sneer at it or push it away. I would enjoy every mouth-watering piece. I would appreciate her efforts, and she would smile upon me.

I can never repay past generations, and I think they wouldn't want me to. I think they'd tell me to leave my own legacy for those who come after me. So what kind of Legacy will I leave my posterity?

How about things like the value of hard work, honesty, staying out of debt, serving others, doing what I can to further my education, and avoid complaining about minor inconveniences? I haven't any money, or a big fancy house to leave my family. All I can leave them are good memories and a good example. That's what I need to focus my time and energy on.

What is your Legacy?

Monday, July 2, 2012

Monday Morning Motivation--A Call to Arms

A figurative call to arms--As our Constitution teeters on a precipice we wonder what we can do that will really make a difference.

For years I've heard co-workers lament that "one person doesn't make a difference," and "my vote doesn't count. Why bother?" Okay, so what can we do? Here are some of my thoughts:

First, STAND UP! When the flag passes by, don't just sit there. Show respect to the flag. Show (don't tell) your children how to respect the flag. Show our military respect and gratitude for their sacrifices. Show those watching from heaven that we remember them and what they did for all of us.

Second, STAND UP for truth and right wherever you find it. There is good all around us, but sometimes we're afraid to defend what we know to be right.

Third, STAND UP and be counted--go VOTE. There really aren't a lot of excuses anymore. Did you know that in Salt Lake County you can register to vote by mail? They send you your ballot in the mail a month ahead of time so you don't have to wait in lines. It's so easy to google candidates and issues and vote as you see fit. Many died to give you that right--and it's not just your right, it's your responsibility. Freedom isn't free.

Fourth, STAND UP and serve whenever possible. It doesn't have to be something big and mighty. You can help out a friend, take care of your neighbor, donate your time to something you feel passionately about. A lot of power is found in the little everyday things you already do. I know a lot of writers who find ways of donating to increase literacy here at home and around the world. A lot of power is found in good books.

Fifth, PRAY. Whatever your faith is, exercise it. Pray for the leaders of our country and our local leaders that they will make good choices for us, that they will have the strength to stand for the right, that they won't just look the other way when it comes to corruption.

Sixth, "You cannot help the world by focusing on the negative things. As you focus on the world's negative events, you not only add to them, you also bring more negative things into your own life. Instead of focusing on the world's problems give your attention and energy to love, abundance, education, and peace."
~Rhonda Byrne and The Secret 

Disclaimer--I've declared my political neutrality in the past. I consider myself a conservative Patriot. These are my opinions. That's all they are--opinions. It's okay to disagree with me. That's what is best about our country. But, I have experienced rather hateful and angry disagreements from people when I've dared to disagree with them in the past. We can agree to disagree. So feel free to leave me a respectful comment.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Monday Morning Motivation--Happy Memorial Day

Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day. It started from women of the South decorating the graves of fallen confederate soldiers. After the war, the North also decorated the graves of their fallen. Each region had their own date in late spring when they decorated. It was seen as more of a reconciliation than of harboring old wounds.

It became a time to remember our fallen heroes of each war by decorating their graves. To let them know we will never forget their sacrifice.

As a child, I remember my mother called it Decoration Day. She'd cut fresh flowers from all over our yard. She filled buckets of water to hold all of her clippings. We'd put them in the back of our car, hoping they wouldn't tip over. I liked going to the cemetery with my mom in the morning. If we went early it was quiet and peaceful. Later on, it would get busy. I learned respect for the dead as we cleaned around the headstones and decorated all of our family graves along with the military graves. I learned proper flag etiquette. I learned respect and gratitude for all who passed before me. They all sacrificed to make life better for me.

I loved Decoration Day. To a kid, it meant school was nearly over, and all my cousins would get together in the afternoon for a barbecue and volleyball. My chore was cleaning off the patio with the hose--my favorite chore because I could get wet.

I don't think I truly appreciated the sacrifices of those lost and fallen until I became an adult. Last year I had the opportunity of visiting the Washington Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Viet Nam memorial, and the WWII Memorial. I felt the sacredness of the area. I knew it was hallowed ground and that the Lord respected their sacrifices. This is where I truly gained reverence and awe for all the sacrifices made in my behalf.

May you enjoy the day with family, but also please take time to remember the cost and those who paid it.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Monday Morning Motivation

"Triumph is born out of struggle, faith is the alchemist." From Bruce Almighty

Considering the amount I continually struggle to learn how to write, my triumph will be spectacular!

This is, by far, the hardest thing I've ever attempted. I know that I won't progress unless I struggle, and I know that I have to put my characters through this as well. I'm always amazed by the things I learn about gospel principles because of my struggles in writing. I learn the same principles I've always known about through a whole different perspective.

Enjoy the struggle!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Monday Morning Motivation

"Life is all about Plan B."  ~Anonymous

Life is Plan B. I can't think of anyone whose life is what they imagined as a child, or even as a college student.

For better or worse, we learn to be flexible and 'go with the flow'. It's okay if life takes a detour, it's just a bend in the road. Maybe it's not of your choosing, maybe you don't like where this detour has taken you.

Learn what things you can change and change it. The things you can't change can always be modified by a positive outlook. Sometimes Plan B turns out better than Plan A. Enjoy the journey!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

How to Make a Book Trailer by Rebecca H. Jamison

I'm so excited to have Rebecca Jamison, author of Persuasion: A Latter-day Tale, as a guest post today. I hope you enjoy this post as much as I do. I can't wait to try it out.
Take it away Rebecca--

How to Make a Simple Video Book Trailer

When I signed a contract to publish my book, I didn’t think I’d have to do much, other than attend a few signings. Since that time, I’ve done a lot of things I never thought I’d have to do as an author. One of those was to create a video book trailer and post it on This is a link to the trailer I created:

Here’s how I eased my way through the process:

I searched for book trailers on YouTube and watched for what I liked.

Collect Pictures
I started collecting pictures in a folder on my computer. I asked friends and relatives to send me pictures of places I mention in my book. I also looked online for royalty-free photos. You can do a google search for “free royalty free photos.” Here are the two websites I used:

The first website lets you use photos for free if you place the photographer’s name on the photo when you use it. (You can do this by placing a small title at the bottom of each photo.) The second website requires you to pay a small fee for using their photos. (I only spent $1.99.)

Import Pictures to Windows Movie Maker
I imported my pictures to Windows Movie Maker. If you have Windows on your computer, chances are you also have Windows Movie Maker. (If you have a Mac, iMovies works similarly.) Once you get your pictures imported, you can drag and drop them into the Movie Maker timeline.

Here’s a tutorial about using Movie Maker to create a book trailer:

Experiment with Windows Movie Maker
After I put my pictures into the Movie Maker timeline, I clicked on each picture and added a title for each one. Each title was part of a sentence that explained, in as few words as possible, what the book was about. Once I had the titles roughed out, I tried out different fonts, colors, and effects.

This process was a lot of fun for me. I played around with the length of time my pictures stayed on screen. I rearranged my pictures, imported more pictures, experimented with overlapping pictures, and revised my titles. I added a picture of my book cover to the beginning and a few endorsement quotes to the end, along with my website address.

Find Music
Next, it was time to find a soundtrack. One online source suggested using the Windows sample music as a soundtrack, so that’s what I did. I dragged and dropped a song to the bottom of the timeline. I had to listen to the music many times to figure out where to clip it for the best effect.

After posting my video to YouTube, I found out that using the Windows sample music wasn’t a great idea since its owner now has the right to place advertising on my YouTube video. So far, this hasn’t been a problem, but I’d recommend a different strategy. A lot of authors get their music from Kevin MacLeod’s website:

You can also try getting permission from musicians to use their songs or do a google search for “royalty-free music.”

Publish the Video
When I was finished editing, I selected “publish my video” on Movie Maker. It’s important to keep track of the address where you save your published video, and make sure there’s plenty of space there.

Upload to

Finally, I went to At the top of the home page, I clicked on “upload” and followed the directions. Within twenty minutes, my video was online. I wrote down the address for my video and later posted it to Facebook and my blog.

Rebecca H. Jamison Biography
Rebecca Jamison met her husband on a blind date. His first words to her were, "Do you want to get together and play spin the bottle?"(He was trying to avoid another bad blind date, but she went out with him anyway.) Rebecca grew up in Vienna, Virginia. She attended Brigham Young University, earning a BA and MA in English. In between college and grad school, she served a mission to Portugal and the Cape Verde islands. Rebecca and her husband have six children. She enjoys running, dancing, making jewelry, reading, and watching chick flicks. You can learn more about her at

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tuesday Tips--Show your "Tells"

Writers are supposed to "show, don't tell." This post is about showing your "Tells".

According to, a tell is any physical reaction or kind of behavior, or habit that "tells" the other players information about your hand.

So, if you have a character who's lying show us his tells. They might exhibit any one or combination of the following:

A change in pitch.
A change in the rate of speech.
A sudden increase in "ums" and "uhs".
A change in eye contact--he stares, eyes widen, or he looks away.
Turning his body away from the person he's speaking to.
A hand reaching, even if momentarily, to cover part of the face, especially the mouth.
Shaking hands.
A tug at his collar or loosening his tie.
A change in respirations from rapid breathing to holding his breath.
Face flushing.

When the average, good person lies they experience an increased heart rate, and a raise in blood pressure. As a result the character may perspire and feel his face flush. He may even feel palpitations depending on the strength of the conflict.

Describe mixed signals like the character who says she loves your MC but is not smiling, may even clench her fist or her eyes appear blank.

More experienced liars can lie with no emotion like holding a poker face. They may be past feeling, even sociopathic.

Have fun catching your characters in their lies.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tuesday Tips--Writing Metrics

The Triangle of Writing Metrics by Rachel Aaron (remember I'm paraphrasing here) aka "How to go from 2K to 10K words per day."

1. Knowledge--know what you're writing before you write it. Write a quick description of what you're going to write. If your scene starts to make a wrong turn, you can get it back on track without wasting a lot of time and words.

2. Time--keep good records. Record the date, start and stop times, how many words written or what you accomplished, and your location when you wrote. The author did this to see if location made a difference in her productivity. Here's what she found out: first, her productivity was higher in places without the internet. Second, her productivity increased if she could manage blocks of time of 4-5 hours. She was more productive than if she used small blocks of time. She got faster the longer she worked. She knew it was time to quit for the day when her brain fried. Third, she also found that she was more prolific in the afternoons rather than mornings or nights. Her main point here is to track your productivity and time spent to make sure you're not wasting your precious writing time on avoidable inefficiencies.

For myself, I have found that just by writing down my time spent and work completed makes me more accountable and I spend less time wasting away.

3. Enthusiasm--the days the author's word counts soared were the days she wrote scenes she was really excited about. By contrast, her slow days corresponded to the days she wrote scenes she wasn't crazy about. She realized that if she had scenes that were so boring she didn't want to write them, who would want to read them?

This not only had a profound effect on the quality of her writing, but her daily word count shot up again.

I like how all three of these elements are inter-related, maybe even co-dependent. Ms. Aaron's main point is that you can increase your word count by concentrating on any one of these elements, but you can soar if you corner all three.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Quote of the Day

"Laughter is the shortest distance between two people."
~Victor Borge (One of my favorite entertainers of all time)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Tuesday Tips--De-clutter

Yes, you've seen my messy desk before. This is how I work. I also, have several pages open on the Internet while I research. Sometimes clutter is the way, but sometimes I need to clean house.

Get rid of the clutter that is no longer relevant. Reduce and Simplify. Whatever is left, stack in priority piles. The 'have tos' then the 'want tos'.

A good desk calendar with big enough squares for me to list my obligations on is essential for me to establish my priorities.

The same holds true for my life. Sometimes I get too involved in 'clutter', and it's time to clean house. My priorities shift from time to time so I need to be flexible, take inventory, and re-prioritize. There's no need to stress over this. Sometimes I think I have to fix or change things right now and all by myself, when time alone will fix things.

I think the important thing is to do the best you can, not someone else's best. Never lose sight of the joy of your priorities. If your priorities don't bring you joy, then it's time to re-think them. I don't mean the fanciful type of joy that fades but the type of joy that comes from investing your time and energy, and working hard on something worthwhile--families, faith, and writing, of course :o)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year Everyone!!

Ah, that blessed time when we take inventory of our lives and goals.

I recently read a lot of negative comments on Facebook regarding goals. Making goals then falling short of them causes disappointment and discouragement. Many people stop making goals all together because they feel like failures.

I'm here to tell you that you only fail if you give up. I will continue to make goals and strive to achieve them because even if I don't accomplish those goals I am still further ahead than if I never set goals.

We don't have to be failures. Use The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, "At the end of every day, before you go to sleep, go back through the events of the day (good time to sort things out in a journal). The moments that didn't go the way you wanted, replay them in your mind the way you wanted them to go."

Here's my challenge to each of us for the coming year whether you set goals or not:
"You cannot help the world by focusing on the negative things. As you focus on the world's negative events, you not only add to them, but you also bring more negative things into your own life. Instead of focusing on the world's problems, give your attention and energy to trust, love, abundance, education, and peace."
                                                                           ~Rhonda Byrne The Secret

Friday, December 30, 2011

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tuesday Tips--Good Informational Blogs

Good informational blogs (sorry, I couldn't find just the right image for this). These are blogs I have found very helpful for the type of research I do. I know there are scads more out there. These are merely the tip of the iceberg:  He has good, practical information. I'm going to put up a Facebook timeline from an article he posted on his blog. Excellent for techno-challenged people like me. A very informative social network for writers.  This is the Community Writing Center run by Salt Lake Community College. They offer free and low-cost classes and workshops.  See her Query letter page. She is the Query Ninja!  A lot of good 'how-to' articles. You can download their free book The (Nearly) Ultimate Guide to Better Writing.  Several authors share their research on English History--Good resource!  She posts research articles related to everyday English life, from falconry to toys and games to economics and the Plague--a wonderful resource.

What are some of your favorite blogs? I could really use a good resource for Scottish history and accents.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Quote of the Day

"Happiness has one advantage over wealth--no one can borrow it!"--Unknown

Remember that for Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tuesday Tips--Organizational Tool

You wouldn't know it to look at my desk, but I crave organizational tools. I sometimes use them to distract me from writing. I begin researching at almost the same moment I begin thinking of ideas for a new book. I try to keep my notes organized in file folders and a filing cabinet, but I sometimes forget how or where I filed stuff. I also like to gather pictures, maps and floor plans.

This tip comes from a blogpost by Canda Mortensen on the website. The post is her notes on an interview with Nancy Allen about the notebook she puts together when she writes. I like this system because I can put all of my research in one spot, and I'm not confined to a certain number of pages--it can grow with my research. Here is Nancy Allen's notebook--each tab has a purpose:

Tab 1--Brainstorming: She puts all random thoughts, beautiful phrases, action, ideas, etc., in here.
Tab 2--General Outline: She writes a synopsis, no details or elaboration--just a half page of how the story  starts and ends. (For me, I prefer J.K. Rowling's method of outlining. If you'd like a copy of what my outline chart looks like, leave a comment with your email address.)
Tab 3--Individual Character Analysis: This includes physical characteristics, interests, strengths, weaknesses,
family history, motivation, goals, most prized possession, etc. (My character development comes from James N. Frey: physiological traits + sociological factors [family, background] = psychological [motivation, and what he really wants], pedigree and family group sheets with images from the Internet if possible, and the character's life story, including all of his secrets, written by that character.
Tab 4--Research: She keeps all of her notes in one place (historical details, dress, sayings, etc).
Tab 5--Running Edits: If you need to make changes you can jot down a note in this section about what needs to be fixed on what page without interrupting your writing. You can go back and fix items in your list later.
Tab 6--Next time notes: When you run out of time for writing jot down the ideas that are still in your head
or goals for your next session.
Tab 7--Scene Maps: First, she writes the goal of the scene. What's the point of this scene? Then she uses
sticky notes to write one event/action on each one. Then she can move those around to get the order she wants before writing. If she has 5 sticky notes and only uses 3 in that scene, she moves the other stickies to the next scene (this is the one I'm most anxious to try).
Tab 8--Sources: This is the place to document the books, movies, websites, documentaries, etc., that are
used in researching the story.

The best part of this system is that it is totally customizable. For my use, I combined Research and Sources together in the same tab, so that I could add another tab for maps, floor plans, architectural pictures, pictures of historical figures, and my own drawings. I also put my scene maps right behind my outline section.

This is so much nicer than having file folders all over the place. If I need my research on another project, its going to be a lot easier to find!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Quote of the Day

"If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing."  ~Benjamin Franklin