Author Archives: CLW

Happy Fourth of July!

Did you have a restful June?

I had so many plans, writing plans, cleaning and organizing plans, family plans–and nothing got finished or taken care of.

So Ann Dee and I are going to start a July contest.

We haven’t discussed it all the way but we will and she’ll announce tomorrow.

It might be to tell us what our book is about.

It might be to pull weeds in my yard.

It might be to babysit for us.

Who knows?

Until tomorrow, have a beautiful, safe Independence Day.

Gosh, I love this country!


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Three Thing Thursday


No more posts from (or Kyra or Lisa or Cheryl or LoriAnne) for the rest of June! Ann Dee? What about you?

Getting ready for Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers!


EVERYONE: Please read Emily Wing Smith’s book ALL BETTER NOW.



One of the biggest issues with trying to implement “show don’t tell” into our writing is defining relationships between characters. But sometimes we make it harder than it needs to be. After all, we do this in real life all the time.
Go people watching sometime. See that couple, where the man is just a couple of years older than the woman? What’s their relationship? Are they brother and sister? Acquaintances? Husband and wife? On a first date?
Without even thinking about it, we put together tiny clues that let us know what’s going on between other people. The way they touch, they way they laugh, the things they say. It’s second nature to us. Granted, we’re not always right, but we are good at coming to conclusions.
Trust your readers to have the ability to come to a conclusion. When the man slides his arm around the waist of a woman and she smiles up at him, we’re going to assume they’re in a relationship. If he punches her shoulder playfully and she threatens to “tell Mom,” we’re not afraid to assume they’re brother and sister. And if they both seem awkward and unsure of what to say but can’t stop slipping each other flirty glances, it might be a budding relationship.
Learn to apply the behaviors you see in real life to your writing, then trust your reader to follow along.



Writing against a deadline is nerve-wracking, and being late on a deadline can have dire consequences. Why do some of us put ourselves in that situation again and again?

Like me today.

Some people say it’s exhilarating and they write better under pressure.

I know I do not.


One thing I struggle with is not protecting my writing time enough because I don’t want to appear selfish. It’s too easy to let small demands from family, work, church,  creep in and before you know it, that hour you set aside is swallowed up in bathing the baby, talking with that neighbor across the street who is having a hard time etc. All worthy and selfless things, but you didn’t keep your promise to yourself that day. Did you let these things become excuses for why you didn’t write?

How do you find a balance on how to be available to help others who depend on you, but also be a reliable and consistent writer? I am finding  I write more and better if I  leave my house where  family can’t find me. I can focus for a couple hours on writing.

What are your tips for how to do this? Writing late at night or early in the morning? Writing in 15-minute moments? What is your balance?

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Fridays with Lisa

“You have to open your mind but not so much that your brain falls out.” The professor at the front of the room perched at the podium.

There wasn’t much I agreed with him on, but that point struck me.
The statement was directed to politics and social issues, but what about writing?
Having an open mind as a writer is pretty vital, but is there a point when it’s too much? Should we try to protect our brains to some extent?
Rain 27 out of 30 days.
That’s a lot of water and a lot of time inside with a seven-month old.
When it finally cleared just a couple days ago, I went outside and sat there. No phone or laptop, no ipad, no music playing or Netflix blaring. I breathed and kept breathing. Exposing ourselves to cultures and trends, news and social sites–all the crazy things the world has to offer isn’t a bad thing, but when do we step back? When do we take moments to protect our greatest writing asset, the brain. So it doesn’t fall out.
That’d be messy.

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Three Thing Thursday!


How’s the 15 minutes here, 15 minutes there coming?

What success stories do we have?

Were you able to come up with a new character? Kill off a villain? Figure out a plot point?

Are you still grabbing for writing time?

Keep going!



I attended LDS Storymakers and learned something about the writing process that’s helping me get over a hump. I’m trying to finish a complete draft of a YA novel before WIFYR (two more weeks!), and I realize that I have been subconsciously sabotaging my own efforts to make consistent progress.  In Chris Crowe’s class “Sweating the Small Stuff,” he quoted Norma Fox Mazer as she described her writing process: “My method is to write a first draft in which I spill out everything. The inner censor is banished.” She didn’t allow herself to stop and ponder for just the right word or phrase. It was more important to just get the clay on the wheel first, then worry about shaping and forming later.

           This is where I get  stuck. That doesn’t mean that a writer doesn’t use a rough outline, a map that points in the direction your story is headed. But at this point, the beginning, revisions are nothing but distractions. John Steinbeck called rewriting during the first draft nothing but an excuse for not going on.

            So how is your pottery? Do you spend so much time working on one part of a story, perfecting and polishing it, that you don’t even get enough clay on the wheel to make a complete and useful work of art? And now this part is almost dry but not part of anything whole? Let’s give ourselves permission to get completely messy when we are first creating. You can always clean up later.


One of my goals on my “writing bucket list” is to write a killer opening line. You know the type. The kind of line that makes you go, “Holy crap, I MUST read this book right this second!”

Opening lines should always have a mystery in them. There should be something that piques your interest, that makes you wonder what the rest of the page says. And the rest of the first page should make you wonder what the rest of the chapter says. And the rest of the chapter…well, you get the idea.
First lines are your gateway drug. You’re the dealer, and you need your reader to be hooked. You want them to give up sleep, food, and every spare moment they have to devour your words.
One of these days, I’ll manage it. Maybe the line will fall out of the sky and smack me on the head. Maybe it’ll be the result of 76 hours of revision on a 6 word sentence. But one way or another, I’m determined to make it happen.


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15 Minute Monday

Writing in little bits and pieces. Can you do it? Have you done it successfully, ever?

My dear friend, Laura Torres, wrote several VERY successful How-to books for Klutz Press. Her titles sold more than 6,000,000 copies. She is an amazing woman and an amazing writer, one of the most creative people I’ve ever met.

When Laura had two young children at home, she wrote a great deal of nonfiction. Her family ALWAYS came first. She wasn’t the kind of mom who locked herself away from her crying children. She was there every moment. And that meant she had to teach herself to write in the time given her.

I remember Laura telling me she wrote when she had the moments.

“I’ve taught myself to write in 15 minutes or less.” She told me this years ago and I still remember her words. And being in awe.

She wrote clean.

She wrote well.

She wrote quickly.

The results were amazing. She’s written A LOT of books.

(You may remember her work. Go here to see it.

Laura has since gotten another higher degree, is a grandmother (and expecting another grandbaby), and has made a name for herself in the world of writing for teachers.

She is, I think, the mother of making time, and making time work for her. Or she works with time.


Do you sit around waiting for lots of FREE time?

Or do you write in the moments at the doctor, at stoplights, while dinner simmers?

What can you do in 15 minutes a day?

I’d like to set up a challenge for us (those who want to play), for these last days of May. 15 minutes each day. That’s all we ask.

What can you do with that?

What does it grow into?

Does the 15 minutes become 30? The 30 minutes become an hour?

Are there hard scenes you work to, work through?

Can you tackle the scary stuff easier when it’s in chunks?

I’ll try to remember to chime in at the end of each day, ask a question or two (except on Sunday. I won’t check in then. That’s my day off from writing. Don’t tell Stephen King.).

There are nine days left.

405 minutes.

What will you accomplish?



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Friday by Lisa

As an introduction:

1. I write contemporary YA.
2. But I start grad school in the fall for an MFA in nonfiction.
3. I’m nannying for my nephew, six months old, in the DC area.
4. I thought I liked rain. I don’t.
5. Disneyland gives me migraines.
6. Life motto: I’d rather be at the beach.
7. Sometimes I pretend I’m British when no one is watching and say things like hi-ya and knickers.
8. Oh, and the name is Lisa.
Today I woke with a single thought–writing takes faith. Faith that something will happen when you sit at the computer. Faith that maybe a single word you write will be worth reading later even if it’s only by one person.
I forget this sometimes. I think if brilliant things aren’t already running around my mind then there will be nothing in me when I sit at my laptop.
Take the step of faith wherever you go, whatever clutters your lists with piles to do. Just sit even for a few moments and write something remarkable or rubbish. The thing with faith, you don’t know what’s over the cliff till you step to the edge.

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Three Thing Thursday


Ann Dee and I are teaching together on  Saturday at an event that’s raising money to buy bookshelves for the Rick Walton Library in St George. $99 buys you a small 2.5 hour class with two writing teachers, keynote addresses from Shannon Hale and Ally Condie plus other stuff.

There might be room left, if you are interested.



One thing that I love to do when I’m depressed is to make my characters miserable.

It’s important for characters to be miserable. Their lives should be filled with problems that seem like they can never be fixed. Readers need to be worried, terrified even, that we’re going to kill off (or at least seriously maim) someone they’ve grown to love.
The reason it makes me feel better is that I have the larger perspective. This misery that I’m putting my character through isn’t going to last forever. Maybe there will be some lasting damage, sure. But overall, it’s going to be okay. I know that the cavalry is riding in at breakneck speed. I know the misunderstandings that led to the problem sounding worse than it really is. And most importantly, I know that in the end the character will be at peace. I love my characters more than any reader ever will, and I won’t let them down. I will always make sure they get the ending they were always meant to have, even if it’s not the perfect one that they envisioned.
Doing this soothes me. My life isn’t perfect. Most of the time, it’s a mess. But that’s okay. Because like my characters, I’m not at the end of my story. And I trust that at the end of my story, there will be a resolution. Not a perfect one, to be sure, but a resolution nonetheless.

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