Monday, October 19, 2009

Review of Alma by H.B. Moore

Just to let you know, I purposely chose to read Alma cold--meaning I have never read any of H.B. Moore's books before and did not read Abinadi before reading Alma. I also haven't looked at any of the other blog reviews of Alma so I wouldn't have anyone else's opinions to mix with my own.

Having said that, I'll tell you I picked up the book Saturday evening and had it read by Sunday night. I've actually never read any historical novels based on the events of the Book of Mormon before, so this was a new experience for me as a reader. I found Alma to be an engaging read without being overly complex. The characters had me rooting for them right away, and even though the author gives the reader insight into four different character's thoughts and feelings, I didn't find this confusing.

I'm not a scriptorian by any means, but in reading Alma I did recall things I had read in the Book of Mormon and I personally liked being able to link the two. It's clear the author did extensive research of the time period and what resources were available to people back then. That kind of attention to detail may seem less significant, but if a weapon or type of food is out of place in the story, it would jump out at the reader and distract them from the point of the book.

I would recommend Alma to anyone who likes historical fiction or wants to know more about life in ancient times. It's really a great book and I'm anxious to read my copy of Abinadi now, as well as Alma the Younger when it's released next year. 5 stars.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Hey, I'm cool!!!

I just adore talking at schools! Seriously. Not only do the kids listen--sometimes adults don't--but they're nice. And they have teachers to prod them into showing gratitude. :)

I got a bunch of letters in the mail from the group I spoke to at career day last week. Of course, kids have no idea how much a lonely, frustrated author takes their flippant praise to heart. Guess what? I'm cool. And awesome. And I may have inspired someone to pursue their writing talents.

And, really, who can ask for more than that?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Supporting Each Other

I've been thinking about this a lot today, and here's where I express myself.

This year I connected with an awesome group of authors. I know this because they are snatching up publishing contracts left and right. They're suddenly living their dreams; my dreams. And that's okay.

I learn more about myself every day. While I won't lie and say there's not even a tiny part of me wondering when my turn will come, I'm pleased to say that I'm happy for my friends. I rejoice in their successes. My words are backed by genuine feeling--they aren't empty praise. I really am happy their dreams are coming true.

It's like this--I just met these ladies this year. Without asking them, there's no way for me to know how long they've struggled, waited, been rejected, submitted and submitted and submitted. And I've learned this year that writing--being an author--is a journey. Some of us start young. Some of us don't hear their call to write for years. And some of us, like me, fight it tooth and nail until finally accepting it. I've always known I love to write, but making a career out of it is impractical. A few are able to do it. Some have spouses who can help balance the family budget. In my case, I'm the "balancer" and in this economy nothing balances.

But writing does not come without challenge. Like most artists, what we do is tied into who we are. Setbacks are easy to see and hard to fight. Someone criticizes our work; we are completely overlooked in contest after contest. And, of course, we're our harshest critics. I applaud published authors who can go through this over and over again.

For me, writing is a walk of faith. I know it's the right thing for me. I know it's my calling. I do the conventions and workshops, I write when I can, I read whatever I can get my hands on to hone my craft.

I get how the publishing world can be competitive. There are hundreds, thousands of authors with books and only so many can go into print. But, as a reader, I also know nobody reads just one type of book, or just one author. If you love books, if you love to read, then you will read a variety of things. You might prefer one genre over another, but you're still going to read a variety of books. There's room for all of us. It doesn't detract from my course or path to be happy for my friends.

I just think it's awesome. I'm so happy for these ladies. It's the coolest.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Man, I feel like a writer

It's hard to feel like an author when one isn't writing much. It's harder still when one lets opportunities to publish waltz right by without a word. Well, that's the end of that.

I dove in this week. I submitted online to two local publishers, and tomorrow I will submit by mail to two more. After the nerve shredding process was done I sought some comfort from my husband. His words chilled me. "And you're not done. You'll find 4 more to submit to, and then 4 more, and then 4 more until your book is accepted." Sigh. I know he's right. Dontcha hate that?

So, one of the ways we truly feel like authors is to submit our work for publication. We take something we've slaved over, loved, hated, shared, changed, stretched and smoothed and send it off for consideration. We wait those agonizing weeks, and months, to hear back from said publisher (or agent--I was turned down by 5 of them this summer alone). The worst news is they don't want it. Our ego takes a ding (sometimes a big one, no lie) and we're out some time and expense (especially if you mailed it), but we press on. They could want it, but only if we are willing to make some changes. The artist in us screams "No! This is my baby, perfect as is!" but our stomach says, "Ya, I'll take a look at your suggestions." After all, some of us have kids to feed.

The best answer is, of course, that the publisher wants us. They love the story, they know they can move forward with it. Hurrah! This kind of acceptance, and the memory of it, can buoy us up in harder times to remind us that we are contributing something worthwhile.

This particular book, my current submission, is a labor of love. My characters are so real to me the villain demanded an alternate ending and I WROTE IT!!! He's quiet now, which is nice--but a little lonely. I have worked, off and on admittedly, at perfecting this piece for twenty years. This current incarnation is nothing like the original, but I'm truly hoping that's a good thing.

Here's the irony: I know the publisher will want to make changes. Editor, really; I can't blame it all on the publisher. And, even after all this book and I have been through, I will seriously consider these changes. This is a labor of love, true. I have loved (and at times hated) this book, but I'm smart enough to know what I don't know. And I'm willing to at least hear suggestions on how to make it better. Because, after all, don't we all want to put something out there that's the very best it can be?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Author Mom

I found it difficult to decide whether to post this in my Mommy blog or my Author blog, since it has to do with both writing and my family—so you win. Lucky you.

My kids impress me. I don’t take any credit for this. It would be awkward, and snooty, and I just don’t feel up to it. But they’re impressive.

For instance, two years ago I decided to start taking myself seriously as an author and work toward publication. You know, I stopped fighting the inevitable and accepted something that nearly consumed every waking thought needed attention. This had a profound effect on my kids, and in ways I never considered.

When I got my first publishing contract (that has since dissolved, don’t worry about why) in 2007 one of the first things we did was tell the kids. The next morning, my oldest looks at me and says, “Mommy, what if you become famous?” My stomach did a little flip but I calmly responded, “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”

A few months later, one of the twins abruptly asked, “Mommy, are you an author?” I said yes, and the smile that lit up his face brought tears to my eyes.

My daughter, Kylie, tells everyone she’s going to be an author like me. But it’s not the gratuitous adoration that I’m talking about here.

When I chose to pursue my dream, my kids noticed. And they’ve been taking notes.
Currently, my oldest is working on a time machine. The twins are doing their normal things—drawing, writing, creating in general, exploring, taking care of bugs, obsessing over nature in its most minute form.

My fledgling author is still at it, plugging away weekly at her craft and coming up with some pretty interesting ideas. She even has her mother’s author insecurities. Sigh. Didn’t mean to pass that on.

The youngest is continuing her love of words. Now she’s started writing, sounding out words and spelling most of them herself.

Because they’re my kids, they’re convinced my book will be known all over the world and likely be made into a movie. But what happens with the book isn’t important. The fact that my kids consider pursuing their dreams to be cool is worth every bump in the road and setback I face.