Friday Funnies: No More Talking (plus two winners)

(laughing)


AND THE WINNERS OF THE AUTOGRAPHED COPIES OF SADIE ARE . . .

(…drum roll…)

Irina from New Jersey (goodreads) and ColleenandKendra from Texas (blog)!!! 


Yahoo!!! Thanks to everyone interested in my book. Somewhere around 580 people (combined) entered to win Sadie which totally made my day. If I have another giveaway, I’ll be sure to post it here on the blog. 


Okay. Onto Friday funnies. 

Friday Funnies is something I made up (I’ve been doing a lot of that lately) to recap things that made me laugh during the week. It’s been a great reminder that–no matter how bad the week–something always made me laugh. True, some days it takes awhile to remember, but other times I have to limit myself to a few. Sometimes I laugh at myself, but usually I’m laughing at/with my kids because . . . well . . . they’re kids and kids are funny even when they don’t mean to be. (If you want to read previous Friday funnies, you can check them out here.) 

Today is a combo.

I lost my voice this week. 

Can I just say that mothers shouldn’t lose their voices. Never. Ever. Battles raged this week in the Belliston household and all I could do was stomp and clamp. Yeah. Like that’ll work. The first hour everyone thought it was kind of funny. The next 71, not so much. 

I never realized before how often I order people around until I suddenly couldn’t. “Hey, no food on the couch!” “Stop pulling the cat’s tail!” “Don’t touch that possum–they’re mean!” (I’m not really sure if possums are mean, but I wasn’t about to let the 4yo find out.) Yet as I tried to yell out warnings, I was rendered useless. My arms waved like mad, trying to communicate both words and tenor, but apparently my kids don’t speak Arm. 

At the same time I couldn’t talk, my youngest had the Croup (I think the illnesses are related). Which meant that he was barking and I was squeaking. Great fun. He described our predicament perfectly. He said, “Mom, I sound like a seal and you sound like an ostrich.”  I don’t know what an ostrich sounds like, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t either, but I laughed–or at least, tried to.

Then again, I’m not really sure my kids are the brightest ones on the block. On the third day of this no-voice thing, my 7yo daughter stood at the top of the stairs and called, “Mom, do I need a jacket today?”

“No,” I squeaked back.

“Mom?”

“No!” I tried a little louder in the best ostrich impression I could give. 

“Mom?”

That time I didn’t bother. In my mind I was thinking that she’d remember my little predicament and run downstairs to ask her question. It was the third day after all.

“Mom?” she asked louder. 

Apparently not. 

“Do I have to wear a jacket today?!” she yelled at the top of her lungs.

When there was still no audible response, she asked my other kids, “Is Mom home?” 

That pretty much sums up my week.

The funny thing is that my children didn’t take advantage of my momentary weakness. I mean, come on. Mom can’t tell you not to do something–or if she does, you can always play innocent and say you never heard. But they never clued into this. Not one of the five. I’m really starting to worry about them. 

When I mentioned my little predicament on facebook, my friends were so supportive, some even going so far as to give me ideas of how to communicate without a voice. One suggested I use a whistle, which if I memorized The Sound of Music might work. Another–which was my favorite–told me I should try this thing. 

The Tempo Air Horn 8 Ounce “Ridiculously Loud Horn.”


When I saw the picture, I burst out laughing–quite a feat considering I was part ostrich–but I really enjoyed the thought. 

“Mom, do I need–“

Brrrrr – Rrrrrr!!! 

One horn for yes. Two horns for no. Or according to google, if I did five short blares it would indicate DANGER. Oh what fun that could have been! Can you picture the look on that possum’s face when it went off?  

But it was not to be. 

I got better (mostly).

Last night when my husband sat down to dinner, the middle child blurted, “Dad, guess what! Mom yelled at me today!” This son was so excited, he was literally bouncing in his seat.

My hubby shot me a look. 

I rolled my eyes. My kids are so weird. 

“No seriously,” my son continued, “She yelled, ‘Get your homework done!’ and I could totally hear her. It was awesome!”

:) 

It’s a sad day when your children rejoice that you can yell at them. Something really is wrong with them. (Okay, not really, but sometimes I wonder. I think all mothers do. And by the way, if one of my kids reads this, just know that your mommy loves you and thinks you’re the smartest kid in the world. Sometimes.) 

Advertisements

Taking a Little Leap

(leaping)

Happy LEAP Day!!! I have a friend whose birthday is today and for that reason alone, I think she is the coolest person (although she’s pretty great without the awesome birthday). What a fun day today is, an extra day, and I hope you do something extra fun, extra happy, and/or extra special. I probably won’t because I’m a very dull, boring person, but I’ll feel better if you do. :) Oh, and if you have any fun Leap Day traditions, let me know. I’m sure I could check Pinterest (couldn’t I?), but I’d rather just stick around here and ask you guys. 

I might add that writing has been a huge LEAP in my life. In fact, the last leap year, I hadn’t even considered the possibility that I would be an author some day. Or that I’d have a website, or a blog, or twitter, or any of the other new leaps I’ve taken. Kind of makes me curious what the next four years will bring. Even now when old friends find out I’ve written a book they look at me a long minute and say as politely as possible, “Really? You? The music lady?” Big leap. That’s probably also why it’s been so fun. 

(Reminder: it’s not too late to get a free, autographed copy of SADIE. There are over 160 entries on goodreads, but not that many on my blog. So if you want to up your chances, hop over to this blog post and drop me a note that you want to be considered.) 

Today I’m going to take a little leap and talk about myself. Christine Tyler tagged me recently and asked me to answer 11 questions. I’m only now getting around to answering. Sorry Christine. I’m slow.

1. What do you eat when you write? 


Anything and everything (okay, not everything. See #11). I’m a snacker, meaning I eat every hour or two, all day long. Bad habit I know, but it’s my body, not yours. :)

2. What do you do when you experience despair and crippling doubt? 

Curl up in the fetal position and cry. Just kidding. I don’t know. I usually take a break, do something different like read a book, play the piano, or goof around with my kids. Sometimes I’ll read the nice notes people have sent me the last few months (big thank you, by the way!). When those feelings have lost their intensity, I get back to work. They always do–thankfully. One of the few benefits to having a short attention span.

3. How did you find your first critique partner, or what are you looking for in a future CP? 
My family. Best place, right? I lucked out in that my sister-in-law Sarah was the first person to read SADIE and she’s encouraged me ever since. We swap manuscripts and bounce ideas off each other all the time. My dad has also been great in giving me writing tips and such. As far as what I look for in a CP, I appreciate someone who can tell me the brutal honest truth in a less-than-brutal way. I suppose we all do.

4. What is your biggest distraction when you write? 

Kids. I should probably state that the other way around, though. Writing is the biggest distraction to my parenting. Sometimes I have to remind myself which is the hobby and which is the life-long dream (writing is the hobby in case you didn’t catch that). I’ve set time limits on when I write and blog because of the tunnel vision I acquire when I’m in the mode. In a year and a half they’ll all be in school full time and then I will write more.

5. What character in your writing are you most proud of development-wise? Why? 

I would say the character I’m working on right now, Greg. He’s a real jerk to the main character and it was hard to let him be. Knowing the why behind him and seeing him pull out of that jerkiness has been very rewarding. He still can be a jerk at times and I struggle to rein him in (so does the MC), but if he was perfect, he wouldn’t be fun. Or real. Hopefully future readers will forgive him. I have.   

6. What is the worst thing you have ever written?

Worst? No idea. I’m sure there’s plenty to choose from, but referencing question #2, I’d rather not search my memories for an example.

7. Do you talk to yourself, get up and act things out, or make faces when you’re writing? Tell us about one of these times :D

I definitely talk to myself. I don’t get up and act things out though. Hmmm, maybe I should. Nope. Too weird for me. Sorry. The first year when I was writing, one of the kids or my hubby would walk into the room and give me a “Who are you talking to?” look. Now they don’t bother. They know I’m crazy. It’s great!

8. Where do you go for inspiration?

Life. 

9. What is the hardest part about writing for you?

Letting go of a good idea in pursuit of a better idea (I posted once about this dilemma here). I tend to hoard words. I need to work on letting go. It’s not like I’m writing in stone. Things can change and that’s okay. It’s okay. I can let go now. Let go…Take a deep breath. It’s fine. 

10. If you were a world-famous author, what advice would you give aspiring authors?


World famous? Really? Wow. Ummmm…work hard and edit like crazy. Just when you think it’s done, it probably isn’t, so go back and tweak some more. And then some more. And then a little more.

11. Have you ever had Ketchup Chips? 

Sadly yes. I was introduced to Ketchup chips by my Canadian brother-in-law. He also gave me Vinegar and Pickle chips. I think there was another heinous kind in there but my mind has mercifully wiped that night from my memory. Bleh. Nasty stuff. Does anybody really like Ketchup Chips? I mean really really? 

So that’s a little bit about me. If you’d like to answer these same 11 questions, leave a comment for me and I’ll come check out your answers. However, if you say that you like Ketchup Chips, we just might have to chat.

Take a LEAP on something new today. Make it count because today only happens every four years.


related post: Rebecca Belliston interview

Deseret News Book Review

I normally don’t post on weekends, but this week hasn’t been normal by any standards. So…I just had to share a great review of SADIE that was posted in Salt Lake City’s main newspaper today, the Deseret News. (I think it will technically go in Sunday’s paper.)

Here’s the full article. http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865550361/Book-review-Sadie-intriguing-mystery-adventure-romance.html. I thought she did a great job describing the characters and feel of the book. A very nice review.

And if you want to enter to win a copy of SADIE, check out my previous post here.


Have a great weekend!

My Top Ten Writing Tips

(writing)

First off—and totally off topic—I just had to share my exciting news this morning: SADIE is #5 on Deseret Book’s fiction list. Yay! And the ebook is third. I’m just a little excited. Okay, a lot excited. :)

Now to the other stuff.

As I’ve been talking to people about SADIE, it’s surprised me how many have said, “You know, I’ve always wanted to write a book.”

Before I started writing, I had no idea how many people would love to write a book.

And usually their next question is, “Was it hard?”

So let me ask: Are you one of those who has always wanted to write a book but never tried? Or have you started but are feeling overwhelmed? If so, I hope this post helps you out a little bit.

*disclaimer: I’m fully aware that I’m still new to this writing and publishing thing. No one knows better than me that I still have a lot to learn. But here is my list of the top ten things I’ve learned about writing in case you’re one of those people who has “always wanted to write a book.”

Writing Tip #1: Writing. Is. Hard.

Yeah. Sorry, but that’s the truth. SADIE took 3 ½ years from start to bookshelf. Sigh. But don’t get discouraged. Writing is also fun. It’s extremely fun. Like lose-five-hours-in-front-of-the-computer fun. And it’s well worth it. I talk more about this below (see #10).

Writing Tip #2: The first draft is the hardest.

Hey, that kinda sounds like a song title. ”The First Draft is the Hardest.” I can already hear the melody. :)  Anyway, it’s true—at least for me.

Maybe other writers enjoy the first draft and dread the next 20, but I think getting it down is the most exhausting part. It’s also the most fluid and therefore the coolest part because once it’s there it’s hard to change. But my advise is to push through the first draft knowing that there can be second drafts. Or thirds. Or hundredths as needed.

To quote from an earlier post, “Great books aren’t written. They’re rewritten.

Writing Tip #3: Fictional people canand will—talk to you. And that’s a good thing.

This one still kind of freaks me out. I’ll be lying in bed either right before sleep or right before completely waking, and these people—who don’t exist in real life, mind you—will start talking to me. Freaky! And what’s even freakier is that I start talking back. This can happen at any time of day, but I find it happens most late at night or early in the morning when I’m really tired. While I have mentioned this phenomenon before, I have to quote Shannon Hale again because I love how she put it:

“Becoming a writer sounds more like a mental illness than a professional choice.”

So true.

There have been times I have wanted to say to my kids or hubby, “Wait. Don’t interrupt. Somebody’s talking to me.” They know me well enough now to give me the  Mom’s-losing-it! look. But these characters seem so real sometimes.

Actually, most the time the characters don’t talk to me, but rather they talk to each other and I’m just eavesdropping. Like with the four guys at the cabin. I felt like a fly on the wall and all of a sudden I’d think, “Hey, this is kind of funny. I should write this stuff down.”

Crazy, right? I know. Shannon nailed it.

 

Writing Tip #4: Read!

A lot!Everything and anything. And take notes.

Try to figure out what about your favorite novel makes it so enjoyable. Is it chapter length? Character quirks? Paragraphing? Cool words? When I first started writing, I took my favorite novel—which at the time was THE HOST by Stephenie Meyer—and went page by page with a paper and pencil, tracking what happened, when, why and how. Then I did this for another great novel, THE HUNGER GAMES. And another. And another. I wrote down ways to say a person was angry without actually saying, “Now Sadie is angry.” Did they throw something? Punch someone? Pull their hair out?

And while you’re at it, try to figure out why you don’t like a particular book. What happened? What was missing?

Don’t just read in the your genre either. Branch out. Read for fun. Read to better yourself. Just read!

 
Writing Tip #5: (this one has two parts)

A: Have a writing reader.

(You might need to read that again.)

What I mean is that you should have a reader read your book (or article) who actually knows how to write. Call them your writing partner or buddy or whatever—preferably something nice so they’ll keep reading—but their experience will be invaluable to you. Plus, they’ll see things in your manuscript others won’t.

I’ve been blessed with some great writing buddies the past few years: my sister-in-law, Sarah, and my dad just to name a few. They’re insights and critiques have been invaluable to me. If you don’t know any writers, join a group. There are thousands of writer’s groups out there that meet in libraries and coffee shops all over the world. Most likely there’s one near you.

 

B: On the flip side, have some non-writer readers.

A lot of them if you can. Before I sent SADIEto a publisher, I had around 25 people read it. And then as I worked with the publisher and editor, I had several more follow behind to see if what I changed was working. That included friends, relatives, and people who didn’t know me from Adam. Many of them said, “I really liked your book.” And I said, “AWESOME!” But others saw things that didn’t make sense or were just plain stupid. I took their comments and tweaked the manuscript to clarify, tighten, and hopefully improve.

Now it’s impossible to please every reader so don’t do try. In fact, that is going to be #6. But if you start seeing a trend in what your readers are saying, then it’s time to get out the red pen.

Writing Tip #6: You can’t please everyone. 

If you don’t believe me, go read the nasty reviews of your favorite books on goodreads.com. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to please a few people. In order, you should A: Please yourself first. Sounds kind of selfish, but if you don’t like your own book, why would anyone else? Seriously. Put things in that you like, you love, you adore! Pretend nobody will ever read your book and then write.

Once you have that down, figure out B: Who is your target audience? Young adult? Middle graders? History buffs? Octogenarians? If you’re saying to yourself, “But I want everyone to like my book!” then I would say, “Me, too, but it’s never gonna happen.” So figure out realistically who is going to like your book the most. Once you know that, make sure you are meeting their expectations. If your target audience is romance readers, then you better make sure your two main characters end up together in an endearing, believable way. If it’s teens, then you probably shouldn’t have parents that are too perfect. You get the idea.

Knowing your target audience also helps you prioritize which person to listen to when two of your early readers disagree about something you’ve written. Whoever fits within your target audience should win. (And this means you should have early readers in your target audience, readers who are willing to give you the honest brutal truth).

Once you have yourself and your target audience happy—or as happy as they’ll ever be—then C: Branch outand see if you can tweak things to appease other readers. However, do this if and only if it won’t compromise and B. They come first.

 

 

Writing Tip #7: Research.

Read Self-editing for Fiction Writers, a great, must read. Read other books on writing or stuff on the internet.

Many writers are amateur bloggers (like myself) because we love to write and blogging is the quickest way to get published. :) So go looking for what other authors have said and done. Research like your life depends on it. And then…

Take it with a grain of salt. (Where does this idiom come from? What does it even mean? Hopefully you understand it.)

Everyone out there has THE ONE AND ONLY WAY to write a book. But honestly, each author has a completely different process of writing. For example, Sarah and I are polar opposites when it comes to how we write. Then again, so are my dad and I. So yes, research because there is a lot to learn and a lot of author’s (and agents and editors) are willing to share their knowledge. But then…find your own style, write your own way, and break a few rules now and then just for fun.

Writing Tip #8: Most authors don’t make a lot of money.

I probably should have listed this one earlier because if you’re writing a book to ‘get rich’ you need to know that you have been sorely misinformed. Sorely misinformed. I would guess that most authors make around minimum wage. To give you an idea, here’s something from someone who knows more than me:

 

(1) Tara K. Harper, when asked, answered this way:
“How Much Money Do You Really Make?”

“The Author’s Guild conducted a survey recently on author income. If I recall correctly, and including the stats from those incredibly high multi-multi-million dollar contracts, the average author earns about 10,000 a year.

“However, because author incomes vary so wildly, you’ll get a better picture if you look at averages within categories. From the various stats I’ve seen, a beginning, low-end, or one-off (one or two books only) author makes $4k to $10k a year–before taxes, before agent commissions, and before the costs of doing business. Experienced, well-established midlist authors who write a book only once every year or two seem to fall into the $20k to $40k a year range–again, before taxes, agent commissions, and the costs of doing business. For prolific authors who publish several books a year, and who have been publishing for 15 years or more, the gross income is closer to $60k to $100k. The most popular authors working regularly in media fiction (Star Trek, Star Wars, Aliens, etc.) seem to earn in a higher range from $80k to $250k a year–note that I said the most popular. The authors who blow the curve — the Big Five — are, of course, Stephen King, Nora Roberts, John Grisham, Tom Clancy, and Danielle Steele. YA author J.K. Rowling doesn’t count. She’s richer than the queen. (This list is slightly outdated. I would add Stephenie Meyer in here.)

“Remember that most authors do not make writing a career, but a sideline.”

http://www.tarakharper.com/faq_auth.htm#money

So write because you love it. Oh…and don’t quit your day job. At least not yet. ;)

Writing Tip #9: Don’t give up.

Perseverance has to be at the top on the list of author ‘must-haves.’ Persevere through bad drafts, bad reviews, empty in-boxes, writer’s block, and everything else that falls in your path. “Great books aren’t written. They’re rewritten.” And rewritten. And rewritten. And then pitched and pitched and pitched. I don’t mean pitched in the garbage, because hopefully great books aren’t thrown away. That would be a cryin’ shame! I mean pitched to publishers, to agents, to editors or just friends.

Decide what your goal is, whether it’s writing or getting published—or both—then keep working towards it. Knowing where you want to be in a few years can change what you do today.

So if you want to write, love to write, or think you possibly might even love it, just try and don’t give up. You’ll get there.

I’m always looking for the next best book to read. Yours could be it!

 

 

Writing Tip #10: Writing is one of the most exciting, fulfilling things I’ve done.

It didn’t take long to realize how fun it can be to create and manipulate people. Heehee, that sounds so devilishly evil, but when you’re an author, it’s considered okay—even expected—to manipulate people and situations. If they bug you, kill them off. If you hate their hair color, change it. Or make them bald. Or make them fly. Whatever! You get to decorate rooms, throw parties, and try out hobbies you’ll never in a million years try out in real life. You even get to be the bad guy! How cool is that?

I remember doing some online research one day about how and where to get street drugs in Montana and I thought to myself, “If someone were to walk up to my computer right now, this could look pretty bad. Let’s hope the government isn’t spying on me.” Writing is such a blast!

So that’s my list. I’m sure in another year I’ll have ten more things. For now I hope it helps.

Tell me: What things do you still wonder about writing? Or if  you’re already an author, what things would you add to this list?

Want to Read an Excerpt of SADIE?

I just posted the first two chapters of SADIE on my website, but I thought I’d post them here as well. Just click  here to read.

Also, a reminder that I will be doing five book signings in the next two weeks, so if you’re in the Utah area for Christmas, come stop by and see me! All of my book signings are with other wonderful authors which I am very excited about. Click on the links below for more information.

Book Signings

 
 
 
 
 

One last bit of news. The ebook version of SADIE is #2 on Deseret Book’s bestselling fiction list, and the paperback version is #10. Yahoo!!! Thanks for all the positive response everyone. It’s been awesome.

Book Signing and Book Trailer

I just got two really exciting bits of news today.

First, I will be doing another book signing for SADIE at the downtown SLC DeseretBook store, only this book signing will be with my Dad (yay!) and my sister (double yay!). My dad has written more books than I can count (Gerald N. Lund) and my sister, Cynthia Dobson, recently wrote a beautiful children’s book entitled, “I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus.

This triple book signing will be on Thursday, December 22nd, at 6pm.

Family Book Signing
Cyndie Lund Dobson (sister), Gerald N. Lund (dad), Rebecca Lund Belliston (me)
Deseret Book – Salt Lake City

And my second bit of exciting news is that Deseret Book has created a book trailer for Sadie!!! I just watched it today and it is gorgeous. I can’t wait to share it with all of you. I think you’re going to love it. As soon as I get the link, I’ll put it here on my blog as well as my website.

Great day!

(My other book signings for SADIE are listed here.)