Saturday, July 31, 2010
I and a number of other writers, who also blog, were recently wondering if our blogs are worth the time invested in them; time we could be spending writing, reading, cleaning our houses, weeding the garden, going to the temple, or doing hundreds of other tasks we sometimes let slide in order to blog. On one hand blogs are a great way to interact with people who share our interests, family, fans, or others with whom we wish to stay in touch. Blogs are more personal than social sites such as Facebook and provide greater options for interaction such as contests, instruction or explanations, previews, or reviews. Then there's the matter of are they being read?.
I decided to make blogs the focus of the next contest. Just answer a few questions.
1. How many blogs do you read a day? a week?
2. Do you blog?
3. Do you like behnd-the-scenes details about the writing and production of books?
4. Are you interested in the various blogs that run contests (such as mine)?
5. Have you ever bought a book because of a friend's blog review?
6. Just comment on any aspect of blogging pro or con.
Commenters names will be entered twice in the next drawing. Each follower's name is automatically entered. The winner will send me a wish list of LDS novels and I will send one of the books from the list to him/her. Occasionally the books on a winner's list are all already spoken for, likely to be Whitney winners and therefore aren't available until after the next Whitney Awards, or for some other reason aren't available. In that case I'll ask for a second list--or you can just give me a longer list to choose from to begin with.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Second, my sister has been moved from the Bone Marrow transplant unit to an acute rehabilitation center. It's not a nursing home and only has nine patients who are given intense physical therapy to help them regain mobility after a debilitating illness. Her transplant is going well and she's gone through one serious HVG (host versus graft) setback and is extremely weak. This is a big step for her and essential to regaining mobility.
I've been writing reviews of LDS novels for Meridian Magaine, an online LDS magazine for many years. This month the magazine has changed it's format and I think it has become better than ever. Instead of reviewing a whole bunch of books once a month, I now review one novel each week (Thursdays), but an archive is attached to my column so that readers can go back and read previous reviews and it is easier to follow a particular writer or topic. The magazine is bolder, brighter, has room for comments, etc. Take a look and tell me what you think www.ldsmag.com
The July contest ends Saturday. Remember each comment is a chance to win and each person who becomes a follower also has a chance to win. Anyone who comments on each blog during the contest period and is a follower could have a lot of chances.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
There's more than one kind of pioneer and though I have strong feelings of love and admiration for the men, women, and children who pushed, pulled, and walked two thousand miles from the banks of the Mississippi to the Salt Lake Valley, they weren't the only pioneers. A lot of my ancestors were among those people who made that hazardous journey, both by handcart and wagon train. Most of them actually started their journey in Europe with a dangerous sea voyage preceding their long trek. One ancestor and her husband made it from England to Pennsylvania then lacked the funds to even build a handcart so they left their group and signed on as indentured servants. My ancestor came on to Salt Lake when her indentured time was finished, but her husband disappeared. It was rumored he died in the Civil War, but no research has confirmed that and he may have disappeared into slavery as many indentured servants did at that time, or he may have died and no one bothered to notify his wife. One ancestor lost his mother at sea and his father was buried along the Sweetwater in Wyoming. He and his little sisters came on to the valley alone. Still one other was thrown out of her home by her wealthy husband for joining the Church. She sneaked back one night, kidnapped her children, and fled to America with them. Standing on the deck of the ship that was to carry them to America and eventually to Utah, she hid a runaway chimney sweep under her petticoats while officers searched the ship for him.
But what about those other pioneers? My younger brother and sister have certificates that proclaim them polio pioneers. They were among the group of children who first were given the Salk vaccine to prevent polio. Philo Farnsworth is widely referred to as the pioneer inventor of television. We frequently refer to John Glenn and Neil Armstrong as space pioneers. I think pioneers can be anyone who, at great risk, is first to do something new, to lead the way to something better.
As Utah celebrates Pioneer Day, we tend to place the emphasis on those early Mormon Pioneers who first settled the valley and perhaps this is right in Utah, but members of the Church living elsewhere may feel a little left out on this holiday that within the Church is given prominent importance. I've never thought those pioneers who came to Utah, then were promptly uprooted to settle in surrounding states have been given proper credit for their double duty as pioneers. I also think the many converts to the Church who were first in their family to be baptized are another type of pioneers who should count Pioneer Day as their special day too. Another group of pioneers I deeply admire are the ones who joined the Church, but remained in their homelands or states, consequently suffering at the hands of those who ridiculed their faith or thought them fools.
There are more pioneers to come. Some of the strongest and best pioneers will be those who face the onslaught of temptations and fears that will precede the final days of this millennium and usher in the long prophesied thousand years of peace and the reign of our Lord.
What sets a pioneer apart from others is mainly courage. A favorite saying of mine is "Courage doesn't mean a lack of fear; it's saddling up anyway." I think that's the basic reason we celebrate pioneers. I feel certain that all of those who left homes, families, and all that was familiar to travel half way around the world were scared. But along with their fear was an even stronger belief that they were doing right, so they did it. Along with the excitement and thirst for knowledge, I suspect there was a good dose of fear in Armstrong's heart as he took that first step onto the moon, but he did it anyway. When my six-and-seven-year-old brother and sister received those polio shots we'd just learned that the first batch of serum had been mistakenly delivered with a live virus and those children who received it came down with the dreaded disease, but my siblings accepted it, though I suspect they were more scared of the needles than the possibility of contracting polio.
As this week of Days of 47 events winds down to Pioneer Day on Saturday, let's pay tribute to those pioneers we all owe our thanks, whether we are their descendants or not. They wrote a vital piece of our Church's history. Let's remember those other pioneers too, the ones who came to the Gospel one-by-one, those who remained behind to lay the cornerstones in other places, and the ones who will carry forth with courage to face the latter days. As we celebrate with picnics, rodeos, parades, and fireworks, we should pause to remember those whose courage made the 'desert blossom as a rose' and left a pattern of courage for us to follow.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
So let's go with a pioneer theme for the next contest. I just read and loved Escape to Zion by Mathews, Gerald Lund's Work and The Glory series changed a lot of lives and his more recent work concerning the Hole in the Rock expedition is a remarkable story of faith and endurance. In the Company of Angels by David Wolverton won a Whitney award a few months ago. Tristi Pinkston also wrote about the Hole in the Rock, Laurel Mouritsen has written a pioneer saga. My Bracelet series honors those who came from different countries or mindsets to the pioneer scene. I'm sure you can think of many more. I'd love to hear which pioneer stories have touched you and why.
Same rules as before.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
The current contest to win a book from your wish list ends tomorrow! Those who comment on any of my posts since July 1 will have their names entered twice for each comment made--three times if you're also a follower. Followers names are automatically entered for each contest.
Monday, July 12, 2010
We had a ball fishing and even the little kids caught some good-sized Rainbow trout. We went rafting on the river. The water is high this year and we had a few wild minutes, but it was great. There's a 200 feet water slide that was a constant major attraction for the kids. We saw lots of deer including a couple of fawns, herons, geese, ducks, and in a meadow across from our bedroom there was a big tree with an eagle nest in it. It was fun watching the huge babies learning to fly.
We started out watching the little town of Clayton's Fourth of July parade.
This is one of my grandsons on the waterslide.
We spent one day visiting ghost towns, a gold dredge, and the kids panned for gold with the help of a ranger at the old mining town of Custer. They each found a speck or two of gold. We were too busy to take pictures during our river float!
There are more pictures, better ones too, on our family blog
Thursday, July 8, 2010
It’s no secret that I’m an obsessive reader. I don’t like to stop reading until it’s done. So it takes a lot for me to put a book down and never pick it up again. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. So I’ve put together a list of things for the benefit of authors everywhere that will make me skim, put the book down, or will discourage me from getting the next book in the series.
1- Withhold useful information from your main character. Do you think that Sleeping Beauty would have touched that spindle had someone bothered to warn her about it? I doubt it. Internal dialogue where the character makes an intelligent (or not so intelligent) decision is much more interesting than stumbling into danger because it was fate.
2- Trust the wrong people. Your main character deserves to die or have a miserable life if they always ignore good advice and follow bad advice.
3- Betrayal. Don’t turn a good guy from book 1 into a villain in book 2 because it’s convenient for your plot. You are betraying your readers not your characters.
4- “Will they have sex?” is not a main plot line.
5- Put your supporting characters under a mass mind control spell so everyone will be mean to the main character. Mind control has been thoroughly explored through the Star Trek series. Come up with something new.
6- Make the girl mad at the guy for reasons beyond comprehension. She loves him…they can’t be together…he dedicates his life to keeping her safe…she’s mad at him. Huh?
7- Make the ending a let down. Do not set up a huge fight scene and have them talk things out. I want action, not peaceful resolutions.
8- Characters who insist instead of speak. It’s okay to say he said—even when he’s insisting. There are other words that fall into this category like laughed, exclaimed, and wondered out loud but insist annoys me the most. Said is like a period or a comma. It doesn’t matter how many times you use it.
9- Battle/sex scenes that drag on and on and on and on and on and on (skip a few pages) still going on and on and on. If your reader stops caring before they stop dying—delete. (If the scene takes place behind a closed door, the door is a great place to stop the scene. The reader is smart enough to fill in the gaps.) This is also true of internal dialogue during conversations. Delete some internal dialogue if your reader forgets the question before the character gets around to answering it.
10- If your characters have already kissed/slept together and you create a lame fight/misunderstanding to build sexual tension.
11- Scenes in YA books where the characters get drunk, sleep around, or break the law. Yes we’re aware that some teenagers choose to do these things. But there are reasons why they shouldn’t. They are harmful and can cause permanent damage. Putting stuff like that in a book condones the action and encourages teens to do them. I’d like to see a teenage character remain popular and say no. Allow your characters to make a few good choices.
12- Books that are so similar to everything else out there that I feel like I’ve read it before.