Monthly Archives: January 2016

What Makes a Best Seller?

So I started Eleanor & Park for a moment on Saturday and went to bed last night early so I could read. I finished at 3 am (and was awakened by a daughter just a few minutes later. I slept in this morning.). I rarely do that. Read a book in one sitting (or, in this case, in one lying down). But three chapters in, Rainbow Powell  had me.

As I flopped over in bed, the book complete, I thought about what makes a best seller. (The copy of E&P I had was on it’s 27th printing. 27! That’s a best seller to me! Plus I remember being excited when I saw a book I’d written had gone to a third printing.)

Here are a list of questions I wondered. Was it . . .

The way the book looks on the page?

Two dead-on voices?

A romance?

The slow reveal of character development, problems, bullying, nicely contrasted families etc?

Heartbreak. Laughter. Kissing. But not-too-soon kissing? Stress? Aching?

Language? Could strong language grab readers?

Lots of accolades, including A Printz Honor?

No book is perfect, and I didn’t quite believe the ending (this is how I feel now, I may change my mind after I have a few more hours to think), however I love the possibilities that the book leaves the reader with. Was that it? The ending? The hope?

What makes a best seller for YOU?



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Three Things Thursday on Saturday

I have to be to school early on Thursdays, and I try to remember to post on time, but I always forget. ūüė¶

So here we go. A post on Saturday.



The gig at the Provo Library last night was a blast.

Christian McKay Heidicker did a terrific job AND got a tattoo.

There was food.



And writing prompts.

Make sure to mark your calendar for next year.




Re-reading a blog from Randy Ingermanson (“the Snowflake guy”) I came across his thoughts on breaking Big Projects into small Chunks.¬† I think we all do this — nevertheless, it’s a good reminder. We all feel pressured by time, or the lack thereof, for our writing.¬† Randy was suggesting taking YOUR OWN longest, PRODUCTIVE chunk of time.¬† Let’s say, you think you can write for an hour without losing momentum.¬† Set a timer for 50 minutes. Ban looking at Facebook, or emails, or answering phones, or whatever your daily interruptions are.¬† When the 50 minutes is up, STOP!¬† Take 10 minutes to walk around, get a drink, do anything BUT go back to the writing.¬† Feeling somewhat refreshed?¬† Good.
If you get one page done, swell.  A whole scene?  Even better.  A chapter?  WOW ! ! !
If you found you began to flag a bit before the timer went off, use even smaller chunks: 40 minutes of intensive work and a 7 minute break?¬† That works.¬† 30 intense minutes and a 5 minute break?¬† That’s OK too.¬† What can YOU do in a finite amount of time?¬† What is your OPTIMUM amount of time at such an intense level?¬† It will be different for everyone.¬† And that’s good, as well.¬† The problem is to find out what works for YOU, and under what circumstances. And part of the process is letting go when the timer goes off.
If one hour is all you can spend on the writing and you’ve made it productive, you’re done for the day.¬† If you can do a second hour, with the same kind of intensity, go for it.¬† The point here is to restrict that chunk of time to intense, concentrated writing.¬† And to take the break, so you’ll feel renewed, revitalized, ready to move to the next “chunk” of your day, whether that’s throwing in a load of laundry, or sitting back down to the computer.
I read a book this week. A good book. But I’ve been depressed ever since, because it could have been a GREAT book.¬†

It wasn’t the writing, or the pacing, or the characters. All of that was very well done. The problem was that the strongest aspect of the book was the backstory.
By the time the book started, the most important character development had already happened. It felt like starting the Harry Potter series with book 5. If we didn’t already love him, we’d never have put up with what a miserable little pill he was then.
That’s how this book was. The backstory was so well done that I could see what the first chapter would contain, what the climax would be, how the story would resolve. It was beautiful. Granted, it would have been a character-driven novel versus the plot-driven, action-packed summer blockbuster that it was, but it would have been so worth it.
Check your novel. Does it start in the right place?
Then check it again. Are you sure??



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I’m mostly a nightmare gal. Have far too many bad dreams. Several a night.

Wake up screaming at a man in the doorway, or by the window, a lot.

Elevator-with-no-sides dreams. An elevator that’s tilting.

Zombie dreams. My aunt’s head in a watermelon. My girls missing.

The dreams where I’m walking from room to room in house. Searching. Hurrying. Worrying.

Knowing something bad is behind a door.

Being lost.

Oh, and the cloven hoof dream that Kyra wants me to share on FB.

But last night. Last night was good.

I haven’t written now in a month. Not at all (except an editor rewrite).

And last night I dreamed of the books that are waiting for me.

Wanting to be written.

There was that feeling I have when I sit down to write and things are going well. A feeling of being content.

When there’s hope.

A new world coming to life.

Like the way I feel because there are a few moments when I am in control, ’cause I know what’s happening a few pages ahead.

This morning, I woke up smiling.

Woke up with an email almost fully formed to my agent.

Woke to a whole list of books that were calling for me.

With thoughts of really writing.

This morning, I’m ready.

To find a few new characters.

Clean up a few scenes.

Investigate a few possibilities.

This morning is full of promises.

Way better, I tell ya, than that man in the doorway.


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Three Thing Thursday


January 15, 2016. Provo Library.
7-8:45 pm
Cost–potluck dish and, if you’d like, a book donation.
Christian McKay Heidicker is our speaker.
Go to to register because seats are numbered.

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