Author Archives: CLW

Kyra Leigh, Queen Bee

Today I just thought id give three little *hints* on how to get your book ready to send to an editor/agent.

1. Print a hardcopy and scribble all over that baby. Right before I sent to my agent, I felt as if my novel was 98% where I wanted it, but no matter what I did, I couldn’t get it to %100. So I printed a hard copy {three, actually} and read and edited every little line. It was tedious work, but so worth it.

2. DON’T GIVE UP! When I was sending out Reaper to editors, I got numerous rejections. {most of which were extremely encouraging, but still, they hurt. And I cried often.} I kept emailing my agent asking what had I done wrong? What needed to be changed? And he kept reminding me “Don’t give up, the book is where it needs to be.” And so I didn’t. And someone found the novel and loved it as much as my agent did.

3. If someone turns you down, it doesn’t mean they hate your work. Sometimes it really isn’t “the right time.”
I sent my first novel to more than one agent. Steve was one of them.  He told me the book had promise, but that it just wasn’t the right time, and to keep working.
It took me a year and a half, but eventually I got there.

I don’t know if this helps or not. But thought I would share that for the day!

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Monday, Monday

We are just one week from NaNoWriMo.

Are you playing?

Every year I think I’m gonna do it. Then something comes up like, I’m in the middle of a novel already. Or I’m doing rewrites. Or I’m moving.

The couple of times I’ve tried NaNo, I was behind by day one and there was just no catching up for me.

This year?

Yes. I’ll try again.

I have a book idea I want to work on.

What about you?

I don’t think it’s a bad idea to go with an idea, fully formed, juicy and ready to be plucked off the tree and eaten. I mean, written.

So IF you were going to participate, what would you work on?
Would you take weekends off?

Do you know your character?

Have an idea for a plot?

Look into it.

See if you want to participate.

I didn’t tell you one year I nearly completed a novel. Almost met the 50,000 word goal even.

What do you think?

Join me?



Filed under CLW

Three Thing Thursday


Yesterday I visited with kids in New York. This morning I visited with readers in Arizona. What a crazy world we live in, where I can chat with someone in Australia AND in Malaysia and later meet with the people who have read my books. Speaking of books, we’ll have a new blogger join us. Some Fridays will be Book Review Day–at least every other week. Not sure if we’ll have something tomorrow as I just asked Hallie Miller to help us out and I’m excited to see what she does for us.



List 5 of the toughest challenges you’ve every had to face.
Give at least one of those challenges to a character you’re writing about.
How will s/he overcome in the struggle?
Or will s/he fail?
What are the consequences of that triumph or that failure?
How will they color the ending of your book/story?

What is the “take-away” for your reader?
I love Halloween, partly because I really love dressing up and it’s one of the only socially acceptable times to do it! 

I also love to think about what really scares us. For instance, I’m afraid of spiders. But am I afraid of their bites? Their eyes? Their legs? The way they move? Would I be more afraid of one giant spider or a thousand tiny spiders? Would it be worse to have one in my hair or in my mouth? Why?
Are you thoroughly disgusted yet? Good! What are you scared of? Why? What is the most terrifying aspect to you? Getting to the core of what scares you is the basis of good horror writing. When you deconstruct fear, you can pull out the best pieces and use them to scare your reader in a new, non-cliche way.

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Kyra Leigh, Queen Bee

People said when I turn 25, things are going to change, and that life is going to get better.
My life has been great. Really! But sometimes I feel sorry for myself. Partly because I’ve been so lonely, and my job has been horrible the last few months. I got screwed over by my boyfriend, and some of people I’ve dated haven’t been very nice to me.

But my friends kept telling me, don’t worry, turning 25 will be good for you.

I’m 25 now.

Last week I was offered a new job, with great pay, amazing benefits, and a fantastic schedule. A schedule that I allows me to write, workout, and be social.

Also,I sold my first book! I haven’t been allowed to say much about it, but I have never been more scared and excited in my whole life. Really.
Here’s what happened:

I got the phone call from my agent early in the morning. The night before I had gone to a heavy metal show where I partied, and danced, and sang, and blah blah. I came home feeling sorry for myself because the guy I’d gone with had spent the whole night with his ex-girlfriend.
I woke up feeling way tired, sore from dancing, and a bit hungover from the gin and tonics.

Then I saw that I had a missed call from a number from New York. And the rest is history!

As hard has things get, I haven’t given up on my dreams. It seems my hard work is starting to pay off.

All because I haven’t given up.

Even though I’ve wanted to.

This whole post has been a ramble.  I’m sorry. I guess I am just excited to share my happiness, and see what amazing things happen in the future.


Filed under Family, Kyra, Life, Publication, writing process

Three Thing Thursday



How does the time keep going so quickly? Wasn’t it just last Thursday? Last Halloween when Ann Dee was talking about Trick or Treating? Wasn’t it barely 2000 and something when so many were so sure the world was going to end?


Just as confusing as time in our lives is the time we write. How much time does your novel really need? Does it need to last 4 years? 4 months? Or will 4 days do?


The passage of time is important in a book. It means growth, change, a character learning something.  And the passage of time needs to be accounted for. If weeks go by and we hear nothing from the character, why? Do we hear nothing for a reason or can the book be shorter?


As for me, well, I opt for shorter times periods. They are more manageable. That said, I’ve had two books that take place over a year and one novel that takes place in less than 12 hours.  Remember, there must be a reason for everything you do in writing.




I don’t think I’m alone, these days, in thinking of scary figures, screeching owls; creepy, crawley things that may (or may NOT) go bump in the night. And I’m not talking about the Politics du jour. I’m talking about your favorite and mine: Halloween !
I’m going to miss my over-hanging balcony again this year. When I lived in Lehi, I used to dress up as a witch, turn off all my lights, and sit outside with my record of Monster Mash and other creepy noises, and a CAULDRON of goodies for the bazillion kids who lived in my neighborhood. It had gotten too hard for me to run up and down the 15 steps to my garage level, so I set up shop on the balcony. Some of the older kids (make that 8, 9 yrs old) knew about the crazy lady dressed in black up on her balcony in a witch hat and green makeup. They’d come to just below the east end of the balcony and call up:
“Do the Witch Laugh!”
 If a Daddy or Mommy was hold a much younger child, I would say, “Are you sure?” and wait for his or her “permission.” Didn’t want to REALLY scare the bejeebies out of the little ones.
Then I’d do the Witch Laugh. The kids would all run around my patch of front lawn, screaming. When they’d calm down, I’d throw down a handful or two of the goodies.
Good Times in Lehi ! ! !
Now, what I should do — and YOU could do it too — decide on my favorite “bad guy” types: MINE would be witches, of course; never been a fan of Dracula, the Undead, Zombies, etc.
What could I write — just for fun — about my “bad guys.” And how bad would they, could they, be? What would they do? How could they finally be vanquished? Or maybe it’s just a poem, or lyrics to a song, possibly set to a familiar tune?
Try some FUN writing just to interrupt for one evening and make yourself a Merry Little, Scary Little All Hallow’s Eve ! ! !
A few weeks ago, I turned on the local news and saw the mugshot of my beloved high school English teacher. He has been accused of having a two-year-long relationship with a student, beginning when she was just 15. 

Since then, I’ve alternated between feelings of shock, disbelief, and overwhelming sadness. This is the man who influenced my life more than all my other teachers put together. He pushed me, inspired me, taught me to love literature in a way I never had before.
Every time I read a book, I interpret it using the methods he taught me. Every time I write, I use the techniques he gave me. Every time I teach, I’m merely mimicking his style, his enthusiasm, and his pure love for the subject.
So how could a man who did so much good in my life and in so many others have done something so disgusting and despicable?
This is one of the reasons I think age benefits writing. When I was young, good people were good and bad people were bad. Period. The characters I wrote reflected that. One-dimensional, cliche, flat.
But the older I get, the more I realize how wrong that is. People have depth. They have secrets. They have entire lives that no one knows anything about. And the best characters are like that too.

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Filed under CLW, Life, Publication, three thing thursday, writing process

Ten Minute Monday–Family

This morning (it’s Sunday as I write this), after I stepped out of the shower, I heard singing. Sort of marching singing. Coming from outside.

It was Ann Dee. We live a couple of blocks from each other (I know! I can go and visit her, like, any time!). Sam was on her back and they were one person. A happy couple. A mom and son.

I couldn’t yell to Ann Dee as I was nekkid, but I watched them turn the corner and I thought, “Ann Dee is a terrific mother.”

And she is. So kind. So good. So always there for her sweet family.

Now that I’m grown I know lots of strong women who have raised, or are raising, their families well. They seem to do it all. But most important are the children they have decided to raise into competent, loving, smart, good, amazing people.

This makes me think of our characters.

Who has raised that character?
What was that history, that we may never see?
What did Momma love?
Who did Daddy tolerate?
Was Gramma a part of the child rearing?
And Granddaddy, how has he helped?

While we don’t need to know everything about the family our characters come from, knowing some family history gives us reasons for the way our characters may do things.

I almost always write my grandmother into my novels. She’s in nearly every one. Nana was a terrific grandmother. This is no lie, I was her favorite grandchild (Sorry, Kel.). Nanny told a story about how my mom and dad and I came back from Nebraska where I was born. I was tiny and scrawny and weak. My mother handed me to her mother to hold and I wouldn’t let lose. I had ahold around her neck and held so tight Nana actually changed my diapers while I hung from her neck. Don’t ask me how. I don’t know. Don’t ask me why. I don’t know that either. But I wonder if it’s because there was something in that baby who knew that for many, many years she would only be safe with her grandmother.

I miss Nana.

The novel due out next year from Simon and Schuster includes the names of my grandmother and all her siblings: Evie, Lucy, Pearl, Carol, Jimmey (this is Nana!), Buddy and Odie (who was a woman who’s real name was Horton. HORTON!). There was also a baby who lived only a few days (I want his name in the book) and another sister who died from throat cancer when she was older. I don’t know her name, but as soon as I do, she goes into the book, too.

For me, my writing is all about family. Always. The bad and the good. The ugly and the joyous. The icky and the sweet.

So think about the families in your characters’ lives, even if they never show up. I promise this information will answer a lot of questions you may have about your character. And as you dig into your own past you’ll find pieces of joy (or sorrow) to help support your work.

The. End.


Filed under CLW, Exercises, Family, Life

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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