Monthly Archives: September 2013

There are a lot of birthdays. There is Carol’s birthday and today is my husband’s birthday. I made him look for a lego ninjago that the boys took from a neighbor’s house and then lost in our house which is a big black hole where nothing exists for more than five minutes.

It was a really fun birthday! 

So fun, in fact, that now he’s a Walgreens getting pictures for my son’s VIP poster which I forgot to make because I didn’t look in his backpack the whole weekend until five minutes before class and then I just sat on the floor and almost cried. 

Happy Birthday! Yay!

Here are some Birthday writing exercises:

1. Write about your worst birthday ever. Write every detail. Describe your house, your mom, the presents (or lack of), the food, the feelings, the weather, the hair.

2. Write about your best birthday ever. See instructions above.

3. Write about the birthday party you wish you were invited to. Mine was to a certain shallnotbenamed girl’s sleepover birthday party which she had every year and everyone got to go but me because she could only invite so many people and I would sit on my porch and close my eyes and imagine I was there and were they playing Nintendo? Eating Ding Dongs? Calling boys? I was so sad. And my mom sat with me and she said it wouldn’t matter in twenty years. It is now twenty years. Does it matter? Write about that.

4. Write about your character’s birthday. Does he/she care about it? What do they want? What don’t they want? How would they react to a surprise party? What about a water park party? Or Chuckee Cheese? 

I think Chuckee cheese is sort of gross. 

5. Write about the birthday of your MC’s enemy. Who goes? Does the MC? why or Why not? And who cares?


Take time every day to free write. Even in the constrains of your novel. It will make everything looser and fresher. 

The end. And happy birthday. 


by | September 30, 2013 · 9:58 pm

Monday, Monday

So last week my computer crashed.

That means we didn’t have two or three days of blog.


If I post today, it means I was able to make my laptop do its job.


So, I have been thinking about several things.

Yes, it was my birthday.

And I received two very nice cards. One card that brought tears to my eyes.

And that card made me think even harder.

About all kinds of things.


Like my family and my writing and my attitude.

Yes! I know it! No one has to tell me I have a bad attitude.

Plus the other crummy things about me (that I try to keep hidden but unfortunately my poor girls have to deal with).


So, the deal is I have just under a year before I have another birthday and I want to work like crazy to see if I can be a better person. Better on the inside and on the outside. Better in my health, and better in my thoughts. Better at the way I look at things.


I once went to a therapist. (Okay, I went more than once.) And I told her I have really bad luck. And she said, no, my bad luck was all in my head. Then she saw me on the news after a freak accident and said to me, I guess you do have bad luck.


But I have wondered if I bring that bad luck on me because of my stinky attitude.


So I want to work on that, too. I invite anyone to join me.

Because part of my change is looking at myself more professionally. If I do, maybe I’ll start making money as a writer. You know, enough to live on so I can quit worrying.


Here are my writing goals for October:

1. Write daily. Write 1000-2500 words per day.

2. Finish a rough draft of my funny ghost novel.

3. Try to write an outline for two other novels. Not a deep outline like J. Scott Savage does ( Just something loose that gives me ideas and direction.

4. Get all the conference stuff done in October so we can go live with the website on January 1, 2014.


Please share your goals or thoughts or dreams or whatever.

We still have to  think and plan for November and NaNoWriMo.

And after that, we have February when we will write our romance novels.

Then we’ll all be rolling with the homies.


PS I tried to send this and did it wrong so this post may be floating out there in WordPress land. 🙂


Filed under Ann Dee, CLW

Here are some things to consider: 

1. Write when you don’t want to.

2. Start with something you feel. If you are mad, write about it. And don’t stop. Keep writing and writing and writing and let your character take over and they will be so mad and scream and that will be good. If you are sad, write it down. Tell about why you’re sad. Put the exact words the person said to you that made you crumple in on yourself. Write the sad things you thought and the things you wanted to say. If you are overwhelmed, write about what it feels like, be specific, does it feel like boulder pressing down? Does it feel like a million people telling you what to do and when to do it? Does it feel like the you’re standing under a waterfall? Write it down. 

3. Have friends. That write. And who will talk you through your book. Carol has said this before. It’s true. We need support and love and someone who doesn’t mind discussing fake people. I think I’ve said this before too.

4. Don’t stop exercising. And walking around the block can count. Moving helps your brain. Your brain helps your book. Your book helps your life. 

5. They stopped selling my favorite popcorn at costco. This is just a fact. Not a thing. It has nothing to do with writing. 

The end. 


by | September 24, 2013 · 1:05 pm

Guest Blog: John Bennion

John has blogged for us before. He teaches at BYU and leads some amazing writing classes. He’s smart, kind and funny. He has a book of short stories and a novel published, both with Signature books. He’s also published a TON of short fiction.

Carol wants to know about my writing struggles and how I’m overcoming them. Am I overcoming them?  What a novel idea! I think she really just wants to pour alcohol in my wounds.

My struggles:

I feel so good when I write. I’m in my natural space when I’m wrestling with words and ideas, imagining characters or reimagining real people. It’s satisfying work. You can feel the “but” coming and here it is—but so much else gets in the way. My daughter’s divorce hearings, my mother’s heart problems, the psychological and moral struggles of my children that I want to fix. Then there is my teaching, the designing of questions and the reading of papers, both of which I love, but which take time. The peaches and tomatoes that need to be bottled before they rot.  The blog I need to write two weeks late for my friend. All these things that want my attention. I know that when I write for myself first that these things will still work out, my life will stumble on. But when I’m out of the habit of writing before I enter the fray of my life, it’s so difficult to get back to the computer.

Then there’s the trouble of the writing itself, which one of my teachers said is harder than wrestling alligators. I can avoid the work and have the appearance of writing, sitting at my desk, daydreaming or moving a word from here to there and back again, deciding whether to leave a comma in or not.  Or I can inflict the pain on myself and confront the difficult questions that the writing demands. I can face the conflict until I channel it. Oh, how good that feels afterward! It’s like running or lifting weights, so painful to think about doing, but so joyful when you look back at it.

I also struggle with the fact that editors and agents are blind to how brilliant I am.  Why don’t they snap up what I send them? Why aren’t they begging for the scraps of paper I write my ideas on?  Getting a rejection letter still hurts.

Voice. I struggle with voice, or with imagining a voice that isn’t my middle-aged WASP self.  I have an essay voice, or I do sometimes, but I worry about my fiction voice.

My overcoming (or the hope of it):

I’ve been in a writing slump for a few weeks. No, for at least a month. How will I get out of it? Writing this helps. (Thanks, Carol, for the stinging pain; I first typed the stinking pain, which is also right.) I can make sure that the first thing I do after I finish breakfast is to get my butt in the chair.  I can imagine the painful pleasure of having a story that that my brain is working over that I’m anxious to get back to.  I can learn again to say “no” or “later” to my family, friends, and my other, lesser job, the one that makes money.  Very difficult to do.

So, Medic Carol, I’ll get back to you with a report of my progress.


Filed under CLW, Revision, Voice, Writers Block, writing process