Thursday, September 29, 2011

My October Challenge Goal

So I just signed up for Tristi Pinkston's October writing/editing challenge. She usually does these the first month of each quarter and has at least ten of us signed up for this one (there's still time to join in if you like). Unlike Nanowrimo, which requires you to write a 50K minimum novel in November to 'win,' with Tristi's challenge you can sign up for whatever goal you need to reach--need some encouragement to push through that last 10,000 words? Need to edit your draft, start submitting, or do your pre-writing and planning for Nano? Whatever the case, it's up to you. It's your goal, so go for it. There's still time to get on the bandwagon, so pop by Tristi's blog to sign up!

My goals this month are to finish drafting Sage's story and do my pre-writing for Nano--and if that isn't enough, I've got piles of editing to do, but that would just be gravy.

What are your goals for the month?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Book Review: "Hang 'em High" by Tristi Pinkston

If you aren't familiar with Tristi Pinkston's Secret Sisters cozy mystery series yet, you're in for a treat with this one. Here's the blurb:

When Ida Mae Babbitt receives an invitation to visit her son Keith's dude ranch in Montana, she's excited to mend their broken relationship, but not so excited about spending time with cows. Arlette and Tansy go along with her, ready to take a vacation that does not involve dead bodies or mysteries of any sort - one must have a break from time to time. But it seems a no-good scoundrel has moseyed into Dodge City and is bent on causing all sorts of trouble for the ranch. Unable to keep her curiosity in check - especially when it seems her own son is the most likely culprit - Ida Mae decides to investigate. Can she lasso the varmint and get him to the sheriff in time?

True to form, Tristi's third mystery is full of laughs, sneaky old ladies and a twisty plot that will keep you on your toes. Tansy still makes me laugh with her off-the-wall comments and Arlette is as crotchety as ever--and Ida Mae actually wears a pair of jeans!

You can learn more about Tristi and her books on her website or her blog. You can purchase her book from Deseret Book, or Amazon.

To celebrate the release of Tristi's eighth book, she's holding a contest! If you leave a comment on this review, you will be entered into a drawing for a free manuscript evaluation, done by Tristi Pinkston Editing In fact, you can leave comments on all the blogs participating in this virtual book tour! Go to Tristi Pinkston's blog at for a list. The deadline is October 5th at midnight MST. If you win and you're not a writer, you can give this evaluation to a friend.

Seriously folks, an edit by Tristi is a major prize--she's saved my hide more times than I can count.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Dream Big and Become Crazy Good

Last week I had the opportunity to attend a performance by Ryan Shupe and the RubberBand, a group based out of Ogden, Utah. I was bummed to miss the first half hour of the show due to circumstances WAAAY out of my control, but it was well worth showing up late.

I enjoy their unique sounds, sense of fun, and great songs--one in particular I haven't heard for a while really hit me right now as I'm trying to focus on specific projects and decide which road I want to take in my career. Here's their music video for their song Dream Big.

If that doesn't work (it isn't showing on my computer for some reason), you can find the video here.

The next day I was reading through my email and came across a recent one sent out by David Farland in his Daily Kick for writers (which you can sign up for here). He talks about how in order to compete in the rapidly-changing publishing market, writers are going to have to become "crazy good" at what they do. Here's a tiny snippet: "...They said that no one would make it in film once people got to watch television for free. I believe that people will still make it {in publishing}, and some authors will even become bigger superstars than ever before, but we may have to up our game in order to do so.

In order to build a name for ourselves, each one of us as authors will have to become Crazy Good.

So that’s the goal for today. Write beautifully from the depths of your soul. Go to extremes. Do something that no one else would consider doing."

The world is changing, the way we interact with it is different, the options available to us are expanding exponentially, and we have to be willing to change the way we work, the way we do business--regardless of who we are, what we do, and what our goals are.

Here's the thing: no matter what we want to do, there's no point in striving for mediocrity, for settling for less than what we can be. That doesn't mean we all have to be superstars or New York Times Bestsellers--there's nothing wrong with being the best piano teacher, the best seamstress, the best mom or gardener you can be without striving to compete against the best in the world--and no one can be the best at everything, so just pick whatever is most important to you. But in whatever venue you want to succeed, give it your all, be your best. All of us, regardless of our dreams, should dream big, and strive to be 'crazy good.'

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Write Campaign flash fiction challenge

I've never participated in flash fiction before, but since I was challenged to write something for the Writer's Platform challenge #1, I thought I'd explore a snippet of an idea that came from a dream a few nights back. It's YA and sci-fi? dystopian? AU? Not sure, exactly, but it's intriguing me more than I ever expected. I may have to actually write this book. (I only have three or four projects vying for immediate attention already, so why not toss one more in the mix?)

Challenge: Write a short story/flash fiction story in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, including a poem. Begin the story with the words, “The door swung open” These four words will be included in the word count.

If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional), use the same beginning words and end with the words: "the door swung shut."

For those who want an even greater challenge, make your story exactly 200 words--amd because I love a challenge, mine is 200 words!


The door swung open and a bright light flashed in her eyes. She shielded her face and turned her head toward the shelves behind her, trying to protect herself.

“Are you hurt?” a young man’s voice asked. The light moved from her face and he reached a hand to her as she uncovered her eyes. “Are you hurt? You don’t want to be found here.”

“Where am I?” All she remembered was the low chanting, the movement of feathers, then the swirling vortex that brought on a pounding headache and the desire to puke. A glance around her showed a supply closet full of plastic tubing, boxes of gauze and other things she didn’t recognize.

“Are you hurt?” He pulled on her hand and helped her up. “We need to get out of here before someone finds us." Gentle fingers touched her forehead. “You’re bleeding, but I don’t think it’s serious. Come on.”

She stood and stumbled after him when he tugged on her hand, too disoriented to do anything else. They entered the sterile white halls of a hospital. Footsteps clicked down a corridor and the boy’s eyes widened in fear. “Someone’s coming.” Behind them, the door swung shut.

Friday, September 2, 2011

It's all about customer service!

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to run a spa? I’ve been doing research on hotels, their departments and structure for a series of books I’m working on. Since it’s been over a decade since I worked at a hotel—and it wasn’t nearly the caliber of establishment that I wanted my fiction hotel to be, I’ve been reading. A lot. My favorite resource has been a text book called Hotel Management and Operations by Rutherfod and O’Fallon. The edition I bought is four years old—and yes, they have a new edition out, but I’m a cheapskate and the price difference between the fourth and fifth editions was like 400% (it is a text book, remember.).

Anyway, I’ve been studying spa management because the main character in the book I’m starting on runs the hotel spa and I found some fantastic advice *every* customer service business should implement. Seriously. So I’m going to share just a few paragraphs: