Three Things Thursday


I owe you an apology. I’ve let my life get int he way of posting. I will try and do better, but know if I don’t, this should change next semester. So, since I owe you a TTT or two, let me see what I can find and add it here!



Sometimes, I just need to “get away from it all.” Don’t you? At home, there are so many things to distract: the laundry pile which is growing, the plants wilting, the burgeoning email list that seems never to end — and often needs replies. The TV which blasts in the next room, the interruptions of taking out garbage (or at least gathering it), picking up the mail, the newspaper on the sidewalk. The noise of the community’s gardeners with their mowers, blowers, and electric trimmers. The growing list of items “to do” which grows longer daily, no matter how much I accomplished yesterday. The “to be read . . . later . . . list” which haunts my every waking hour . . . and far too many of my sleeping hours, as well.
How about if, even once a week, I just drive away: Drive to a park. Drive to a river or stream — I even have a couple almost within walking distance. If I haven’t “made time” to write, take my computer and only the most necessary of notes, papers or research materials. If there’s been no time to read, confine my take-along to one book that I’m really anxious to read/finish. If I haven’t stolen the time to “smell the roses,” drive to a walk along the Jordan Canal, or a garden area like Thanksgiving Point or a local park — preferably of the “botanical” ilk. Once a week. Julia Cameron, in The Artist’s Way, calls that an Artist Date. And you’re only allowed to take yourself. Not your kids. Not your hubby. Not your neighbor.
Take yourself on an Artist’s Date, and feed the part of you that’s starving for want of attention!
Children seem to love stories. That’s one of the reasons we adults bother to write. Books can excite, intrigue; elicit laughing, crying or a sudden catch in the breath of surprise.
While we’re writing all those varying emotional responses, I believe we should also be teaching. (Of course I do! I’ve been a teacher for over 50 years!)
As your MC conquers his fears — or even his foes — how does he do it? Does he push the bully off the swing? Or go make friends with him? As s teen, does your MC try to find out what is troubling his now-distant, one-time friend? Or does he take his father’s gun to the school?
How does your MC treat his “enemies” after the battle is won? Does it reflect what we see in today’s headlines or on the local news? Or does it reflect the lessons s/he’s learned through reading, through the example of his parents, or other responsible adults? Maybe even a Sunday School teacher.
I hate heavy-handed “lessons” brought to fiction. Fiction should be intriguing, helpful, fun. It should not always end with “The moral is . . . ” But that doesn’t mean we can’t contribute to another way of dealing with our friends, and even our “enemies.” Who does your MC rely on? Who does s/he emulate? How does s/he solve a problem peaceably? How do you want your daughter or your son to behave in “polite company” — and especially in not such “polite” company?
Giving examples of alternate ways to handle problems should not sound like a lecture, but it could certainly employ fun — and even funny — ways to “win” and still be inclusive, kind, careful, giving, intriguing, and occasionally uproariously funny and likeable!
Lately my daughter has been requesting Pixar movies non-stop. I don’t really mind (okay, maybe I could do without the 100th viewing of Toy Story 3) because I love the Pixar version of storytelling. 

I’m always clear on the motivation of each character. Every choice the characters make are the best they can make under the circumstances, and the complexity of the plot develops because of how extraordinary those circumstances become. And the dialogue is brilliant.
Basically, when I grow up I want to be as good as the writers for Pixar. I want my characters to come alive for my readers. I want them to be loved and remembered. I want to write the kind of novel that will be passed around and read again and again until it’s worn down and torn up. Too much to hope for? Maybe. But we all need something to strive for, and that’s mine. What are your goals in writing?


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Welcome back from the Manic Pixel Scav . . . ug, I’m tired of typing all that.

You searched long and wide and far through that crazy pixelated city. Let’s see what you found . . .

  1. Spaceships!
  2. Talking chairs!
  3. A drug deal!
  4. A nipple!

And, of course, they can all by seen now, by you, in full, on the cover of CURE FOR THE COMMON UNIVERSE:


Add on Goodreads!

Preorder on Amazon.

But that’s not why you’re here.

You’re here to see if you won one of our five elite prizes, which, to remind you, look like this:


Ooh, look! The cover isn’t blacked out anymore!

Our five Manic Pixel Dream Reveal winners are . . .


The Cotton Floozy will get stitching and Simon & Schuster will get printing and we’ll have your stuff out to you by December.

Thanks so much for hunting. Hope you enjoy the inside of the book as much as I enjoy the outside.

See you in June,

Christian McKay Heidicker


P.S. I would be remiss if I didn’t give one more shout out to eboy and Greg Stadnyk. Incredible work.

Also, thanks to Brooke Lark, for designing these incredible prize packages. I don’t know what I did to deserve you as a friend.

And finally, thanks to Christian Trimmer, my editor, and John Cusick, my agent. None of this would be possible without you, fellas.

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This is it, folks. This is your chance to easily win the CURE prize package:

An ARC of Cure for the Common Universe and an embroidery of ‘Nobody Puts Princess in a Castle’ from The Cotton Floozy [LINK:!

Oo. Aah.

All you have to do is participate in the Manic Pixel Scavenger Hunt for a chance to win.

Oh, look, here’s a pixel now!


What do you see?

Write down your findings from this and the other pixels at any or all of the other blogs (listed below) and email them to me at or message them to C.M. Heidicker on Facebook.

For every three things you send, I’ll put your name in the hat (or my jeans pocket) again and again and again, and then I’ll draw five names out of the hat (pocket) and send prize packages to those people.

Go! Get started! Win it! Win it all!

Valynne Maetani [LINK:]

Carol Lynch Williams [LINK:]

Elana Johnson [LINK:]

Christian Trimmer [LINK:]

John Cusick [LINK:]

Brooke Lark [LINK:]

Brooke Kelly [LINK:]

The Cotton Floosy [LINK:]

#cureforthecommonuniverse #manicpixel

(I hope you’ll take some time to explore the amazing blogs.)

(I also hope this means that more than just my mom will participate.)

Tune in tomorrow to find out if you’ve won!

Happy Scavenging!

Go check out the book on Goodreads!

Prepare to be cured June 2016.

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Hello, everyone. My name is Christian McKay Heidicker.


Whew. That’s a mouthful. Let’s try . . .


There. Better.

You may be asking yourself, where’s the cover? I came here to see a cover.

Okay, first, have I told you how nice your hair is looking today?

And second, the cover isn’t here.

CURE’s cover art is a little intense to take in all at once, so for everyone’s safety, I’ve divided it into nine pieces (er, pixels) and spread them across the internet.


To make a scavenger hunt, of course. What’s the use of a book about a kid going to video game rehab if there isn’t some gaming first?!

Also, this will be your chance to take in all of the juicy (potentially scandalous) details of the cover before it’s fully revealed.

The art is reminiscent of books like I Spy or Where’s Waldo, so this scavenger hunt will work just like that . . . except instead of finding a cats eye marble or some seemingly friendless chump in a red and white striped sweater, you’ll receive ACTUAL PRIZES.



Five lucky winners will receive a signed ARC (advanced reading copy) of CURE FOR THE COMMON UNIVERSE (cover obscured for obvious reasons) AND an embroidery of one of the phrases from the book, hand stitched by the extremely talented Cotton Floozy.


For every three things you discover hidden in the nine pixels and email to or message to C.M. Heidicker on Facebook, I’ll enter your name again . . . and again . . . and again. (There’s a lotta stuff on that cover.)



Subject: Manic Pixel Scavenger Hunt

Dearest Christian,

I found:

  1. A puppy made of garlic cloves
  2. A bottomless bowl of undercooked breadsticks
  3. A Christmas tree wearing lipstick
  4. Amelia Earheart’s monocle
  5. A bottomless bowl of overcooked breadsticks
  6. A Who*

*(Objects not actually on cover, but no less interesting than what’s really on there.)



So, no, the cover is not here. But fear not! Tomorrow, I’ll be posting their whereabouts on this blog and at (You can also follow them with #cureforthecommonuniverse and #manicpixel.)

Tomorrow, the Manic Pixel Scavenger Hunt begins!

In the meantime, go check out the book on Goodreads !

Again, the cover is exquisitely complex, and in my personal opinion, AMAZING. It was designed by Greg Stadnyk with art by eboy (that of Miley Cyrus fame).


Prepare to be cured, June 2016.



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Three Things Thursday

In literature, I’ve always been a fan of romances that are more of a “slow burn” than “love at first sight.” Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy rather than Cinderella and Prince Charming, if you will. 

I think part of the reason is that the reason I love books is that they are the only medium in which you can truly understand a character, heart and soul. And because of that, I want to learn to love them as a person, not just as a pretty face. Don’t get me wrong, I love staring at Channing Tatum’s abs as much as the next girl, but it’s just not the same as longing for Mr. Rochester and wishing he’d stop flirting with that stupid Blanche Ingram.
What do you think? Are there brilliant literary romances that work as love at first sight?
UNwrite Your Way To Success ! ! !
Many years ago, as a great fan of Irving Stone (think The Agony and the Ecstasy, Lust for Life, Men to Match My Mountains, etc.) I found out that he, TOO, was an over-writer.  It’s one of my biggest problems.  I know this story is true, because I heard him tell it myself: he had a layover in Salt Lake and came to speak to the League of Utah Writers.  He said he’d offered The Agony . . . to a number of publishers but was always turned down.  Desperate for help, he gave it to a secretary he knew and asked her to take a look at it and tell him what the problem was.  She insisted she knew NOTHING about writing, but he insisted “fresh eyes” might help.
She read the manuscript and told him he’d said everything three times.  She went through it again, trying to see where he’d said it best.  After they UNwrote great segments of it, he sent it out again . . . and it SOLD!  (The sweetest part of his story: he took the advance and used it to marry her — and she edited all his books after that.)  How’s THAT for UNwriting?
So a check-list for me —maybe it will help you to UNwrite too:
CUT as much as possible in 
 1.  Redundancies
 2.  Deliberate repetitions for “special effect” if it’s NOT special
 3.  Over-explanations
 4.  Words/ideas/sections I wrote for the “literary effect”
 5.  Now look at the pacing to be sure it’s clean, crisp, quick
Thank you for coming to my signing last night. It was no where near as terrifying as the last one.
Thank goodness.


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I think it’s valuable for all writers to practice on a sentence level. It’s one thing to be good at plot and character. It’s another thing to write beauty words, beautiful sentences, etc.

My friend Brian has an excellent style website. It’s geared for students in college studying composition but I think it’s fabulous for fiction writers too. Try it and see what you think.

Another thing you can do to help your sentences is to read. And then read some more. And then keep reading. Sometimes you can even find something you love, a book, an author, and then rewrite one of their paragraphs. Maybe even a whole chapter. By doing this, you’ll feel the rhythm of their writing. You’ll start to understand how they construct their phrases, where they put modifiers, why they put modifiers where they put them. You’ll be surprised at what the actual act of rewriting, of copying for the purpose of learning will do for you. Now, beware, I’m not saying you should copy other writers. I’m saying you should STUDY. you should become a student of fiction. You should learn from those you admire, from the masters.

I’ve learned so much from copying down passages from Sylvia Plath, Ernest Hemingway, Sandra Cisneros, Flannery O’ Conner, Cormac McCarthy, and others. So many others.

love and style.

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Three Things Thursday


The last two books I’ve read have both had the same problem…they chopped the climax in half in order to make room for a sequel. 

Every novel should have a main conflict. The climax is the culmination of that conflict in which the problem is resolved. It doesn’t need to be happy, but it needs to be satisfying. But when you take the conflict and try to splinter it into small problems and then only solve half of them, it is not a resolution.
A true sequel occurs when the characters are so well-developed that we want to know what happens next in their lives, even if all of the problems we know about are finished. If you want to have sequels, focus on characters, not on splitting your plot.
What in the arts enriches your life?  Utah is becoming well known for its talents: dancing, for instance.  Many of our young people have been cast members in such shows as Dancing with the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance.  In fact, Nigel Lythgoe, one of the producers/judges in the latter, has been known to say if you need skilled and dedicated dancers, go to Utah.  Groups like the Ririe-Woodbury dance troupe have flourished here since I was in college (and THAT was a good, long time ago!).
David Archuletta did well in the singing department — and even that was years and years after the Osmond clan hit the musical circuit.  America’s Got Talent showed the wonderful talent of Alex Boye. We can hardly ignore the Tabernacle Choir and the Utah Symphony.  Additionally, a number of our municipalities have such musical groups of their own.
Artists from many venues have thrived in Utah: painting, sculpture, music, theatre, writing.  What arts do you depend on for solace?  For inspiration?  For fun?  For entertainment?.
Do your characters also lean on the arts for support?  Which types of art feed their souls?  Where do they turn for comfort, solace, sustenance?
3 Writing Exercises to Get to Know Your Character Better:
1. write her obituary.
2. Write a commercial starring YOUR character.
3. Have your MC love interest write a song about her.

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