Thursday, April 30, 2009

LDStorymakers' Writers Conference

Last weekend I spent time in Provo, Utah, attending the LDStorymakers' 6th Annual Writers Conference. One of the highlights for me was using a newly-acquired account with Twitter to tweet my impressions on the classes and panels for the benefit of several Storymakers and others who could not attend this year's conference.

To pick up my tweets and those of others who were tweeting the
conference, go to and open a 1 x 1 grid pane. Type ldstory in the gray bar that says twitter (take that off, first), hit search, and soon, you will have a representation of the last tweets on the subject. You can increase them by clicking on the drop down box that controls the number of tweets in the grid.

On Saturday I participated in a self-publishers' panel, and then attended the Whitney Awards Gala Banquet after the end of the conference. As part of the Whitney Awards, I had the distinct honor of presenting a Lifetime Achievement Award to author and cheerleader extraordinaire Kerry Blair.

Photo by Michele Holmes

I didn't tweet during the Whitneys, so go over to and check out the proceedings via the liveblogging archive there.*

Lest you think participating in writers conferences via Twitter is a substitute for attending in person, forgetaboutit. There is no substitute for being there live and feeding on the creative energy of conferences. You'll come home invigorated to try new things and
ready to write.

While you're at the Whitney site, you can nominate Trail of Storms for a 2009 Whitney, if you feel it deserves notice.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Ok, So I Haven't Gone Back to Bed

This is too good to wait.

I got home about 10:15 on Sunday night after driving most of the day. (all right, I did take a lunch break where I could check my email.)

I gassed up for the final time in Payson before the last half-hour stretch to home. However, I neglected to take heed of the primary rule for older folks: Never pass up the opportunity to use the restroom. I figured, "I'll be home soon," and left it at that.

So. I drive up to my trailer. I park, note my mileage and time, and gather a few thing to take into the house, since I decided to not haul it all in tonight. I climb the steps to the deck, then the stoop, then put my key in the lock.

The key won't turn.

I need to note that before I left home, I had a Great Idea: Take all the excess keys off the keyring I carry in my purse and rearrange them.

A tangential note here: I changed my front lock a few months ago. At the time, I checked both the two packaged keys plus two I had WalMart make, and they all seemed to work fine.* Since then, I've been hauling around the old key in its blue colored plastic key-topper, plus the two new originals on their little ring, which I slipped onto my main ring.

So. I took the excess keys off the ring, including the old blue-topped key. I extracted one of the new keys and put a red topper on it. This I put on my key ring, and put the blue topper on the other new key, which I put on the auxiliary key ring I grab when I go to get the mail. All the other keys went on the key hook hanging in my kitchen.

Back to "the key won't turn." Really, it won't turn at all, even though it will slip into the lock. This is one of the originals for the new lock, the manufacturer-provided key. And. It. Doesn't. Work!

Remember the rule in Paragraph Three? I have to get into the house!

Okay, Marsha. Don't panic, I tell myself. People get into locked houses all the time. They break a window and open the door from the inside.


It looks so easy on TV.

I get my huge MagLight flashlight from the car. I wrap it in a towel. I put on my sunglasses to protect my eyes. I grit my teeth. I take a swing.

There is a terrific noise that echoes both through my house and into the night. Wow! Who knew B&E was so noisy?

I examine the window. Whole and strong. Not even cracked.

I swing again, really hard this time.

POW! That noise again. The MagLight bounces off the glass. The glass is still intact.

I go in search of a rock. I stand back, throw the rock with all my might and main. I hit the door, but not the window. Sheesh! I retrieve the rock and try again. It hits the glass and bounces back.

I try again. This time it bounces off the glass and into the tree well where I will not follow.

The glass remains intact. I begin to wonder if double-pane windows are made of a special steel-reinforced glass.

I try the MagLight again. Over and Over, and the noise is horrific.

The glass doesn't crack.

Do I have a signal on my cell? Yes, out in the street! Can I call a locksmith to make the 40-mile-round-trip-from-town-after-hours? No! The phone book is inside the house.

Maybe my neighbor has an idea. There is a light on, although they haven't come to investigate the noise.

I go knock. Timidly, at first, then with the force of desperation. (See Paragraph Three.) After a long while J comes to the door. I explain my predicament, and he says he'll get dressed and come help. (He is really good to me.)

He takes a look at the lock and deadbolt on the front door. "Nobody's going to get in there," he declares. (It's so nice to know I'm safe from burglars.)

To make this short(er), and to preserve my security, I'll just say that J was able to get me into the house in a way that involved my Scary Room full of cobwebs and traps made of boxes, both empty and full. But I did get into the house in time to take care of the problem caused by my not observing the rule in Paragraph Three.


*Make sure the doorknob is locked when you test keys. That is my only explanation for not knowing one manufacturer key was defective after I tested them. I can't believe I used the same key on the small ring time and time again in the months since I put them on my ring, but evidently I chose one over the other identical key on every occasion.

Now I'm going back to bed!

I'm home safely!

Arrived about 10:15 p.m. local time (11:15 Utah time). I'm going back to bed before I recount the adventure that awaited me when I arrived. I haven't yet recovered from it.


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Heading Home

I've had a marvelous time in Utah at the LDStorymakers' Writers Conference, and it was a thrill to present a Lifetime Achievement Award to Kerry Blair at the Whitney Awards Gala. Despite her humility and grace and physical limitations, Kerry is a powerhouse of a woman, and has been appointed the new president of the Whitney Awards Committee. The creator of the Awards, Robinson Wells, is stepping down from the post to devote his time to his family and career.

Soon I'll be heading home. See you later!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I'm in Utah

I arrived safely in Provo, Utah, for the LDStorymakers Writers Conference. I'm tired from the drive, but happy to be here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Review of Trail of Storms and Interview of Moi

Shirley Bahlmann interviewed me and did a nice review of Trail of Storms on her blog today:

Trail of Storms is sold all over the Internet. Don't miss this followup to The Man from Shenandoah and Ride to Raton.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Author Interview: Ann Shorey

Ann Shorey is my guest today. Besides being an author of Christian historical fiction, Ann is noted for her culinary skills and love for family history research. Her first novel in the "At Home in Beldon Grove" series, The Edge of Light, was published in January by Revell. Ann has an interesting brand: Yesterday's women--Today's issues.

Welcome, Ann. Tell us who you are and what you do.
I'm a grateful author who is seeing her dream come true. My husband and I are empty-nesters who live in a rural area of southwestern Oregon. It's a perfect place for writing, and when I'm not at the keyboard we like to take day trips to the coast or explore back roads all over the state. Usually once a year we camp in the eastern Oregon desert (yes, Oregon has a desert as well as lush greenery). One of my favorite things to do there is explore abandoned homesteads and imagine the stories of the people who once had the dream of settling in that spot.

What type of writer are you? Do you plan ahead/plot or do you simply fly by the seat of your pants?
I do a general story arc before I begin, and have my main characters pretty well figured out. On the book I'm working on now I've had to do a chapter by chapter outline just to keep myself on track. There are so many things to do besides write a book that the outline is a great reminder of where I am when I come back after an interruption. Having said that, though, I find myself way off the track when a scene happens that I didn't plan. Hopefully, it will all come together in the end!

Do you write best at a certain time of the day?
Yes, afternoons and evenings work best for me. But when necessary I'll plant myself in the chair and write at any time.

What food or snack keeps the words flowing?
Every now and then I take a break for some medicinal chocolate.

What sparks a story?
Mine are based on incidents in the lives of my female ancestors. The men in my family wrote the memoirs, so I write fiction to answer my questions as to what the women's lives were like. Of course, my books are heavily fiction, so some of the sparks are the "what if" questions I ask myself.

What was it about your genre that interested you enough to choose to write in it and not in another genre?
I've always loved historical fiction. I read Gone With The Wind at an impressionable age! For me, historicals are a great way to learn how people lived long before I was born. Often a novel will bring to light little tidbits that we never learned in school.

Character you wish you had created?
Mma Ramotswe in the "#1 Ladies Detective Agency" series. I love those books

What authors do you look to as a role model and inspiration?
Jane Kirkpatrick is one. She manages her writing career along with a full life. Another author I greatly admire is Barbara Kingsolver. She's a magician with words.

Those are good choices. What's the best advice you ever received?
Pray first. If God isn't in what I'm doing, I'm wasting my time.

I believe good writers read a lot. What do you use to mark your page when reading?
Love this question! I thought you were going to ask me what books I'm reading--this is a fun spin on that topic. I am a traditionalist and use bookmarks. Many of my friends are authors, so I have a pretty good supply. Then, too, bookstores tend to throw one in the bag when I check out. If I don't have a bookmark handy, I'll tear off a scrap of newspaper or magazine. My mother would've had my hide if I dog-eared a page!

What one thing do you like most about writing? Least?
I love creating stories and writing scenes. It is fun! Having to work at the computer when I'd rather be outside in the spring sunshine is something I like least.

Your book is called The Edge of Light, published by Revell. Tell us what the book is about and why you wrote it.
The Edge of Light takes place in 1838 in Missouri and Illinois. Molly McGarvie's life is about to change forever. When her beloved Samuel succumbs to cholera, Molly is heartbroken but resolves to take care of herself and her children. When Samuel's brother takes over the family business and leaves Molly to fend for herself, she knows she must head out on her own. It's a dangerous journey, and along the way she must face the loss of another family member. Somehow she must find a way to make a living, restore her family, and fend off some overeager suitors.
The story was inspired by the life of one of my female ancestors. The events in the first chapter pretty much happened as they are written, but much of the rest of the story is fiction. I wrote it because I always wondered what happened to her following her husband's death.

That sound so intriguing that I'm almost ashamed to ask this next question. Why should anyone part with their hard-earned cash and precious time to read your book? Sell it to us.
One of the remarks I hear over and over from readers is how the story transported them to Molly's time. "I stayed up half the night to finish your book. I couldn't put it down!" is a frequent comment. "I loved this story!" is another one. So, read the book and see what everyone's talking about!

Where can readers buy your book?
It's available at all online booksellers, such as,, Barnes and Noble, etc. Any bookstore should have it in stock. If they don't, they'll be happy to order it for you.

What's your next project?
The second book in the "At Home in Beldon Grove" series is titled The Promise of Morning, and is scheduled to be released in January 2010. The Promise of Morning tells the story of Ellie and Matthew Craig, secondary characters in The Edge of Light. But since it's set in Beldon Grove, the reader will still be able to follow Molly and her family. BTW, the characters of Ellie and Matthew Craig were inspired by my great-great grandparents.

What advice would you pass along at this point in your career?
Don't quit writing just because you've received rejections. Continue to hone your craft by taking classes and attending conferences and workshops. Be flexible enough to learn from critique rather than thinking your words are gold and can't be improved upon.

Thank you, Ann, for a great interview.
Thank you for the opportunity to be on your blog, Marsha. I invite your readers to visit my website:, sign up for my newsletter, and visit my book review blog.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Susan Boyle

Those two words will henceforth, always and forever, mean excellence, grace under pressure, and poise in the face of mockery.

(on 4-16-09: more than 12.3 million views! Go SUSAN!!!)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Embracing New Things

It's been a busy week since my local UPS driver brought me a ton of cartons of books. Unlike some, I neglected to take a picture of myself opening that first carton and holding up my baby book, Trail of Storms, but I've achieved other significant things.

The most significant thing I've done, besides sending out books to fulfill orders, is to dive deeper into new aspects of communications technology. No, I didn't get an iPhone or upgrade to broadband Internet service (I wish!). Using what I have available, I've joined Goodreads, a book readers' and authors' heaven; and Twitter, a micro-blogging outlet.

I probably shouldn't have heaped on myself the learning curves to participate in Goodreads and Twitter in the same week as receiving the books, but sometimes life is like that: you get lulls or you get slammed by life's happenings.

Since all these happenings have been positive experiences, I'll take them without complaint!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Trying Something New

At least, it's new for me. Probably my friend, author Joyce DiPastena, already does this, but then, she's my promotion idol.

On the bottom of product pages at Amazon, there's a place to start a "forum" for the product. Did you know that? I didn't until a couple of days ago. Shows what can happen when you scroll down.

I've started a forum for Trail of Storms, which is found here. The first question regards your favorite character in the novel. Please, if you have an Amazon account (and who doesn't these days) and you've finished reading Trail of Storms, go over and participate.

Thank you!

Friday, April 10, 2009


I've shipped out a ton of books this week, in a variety of containers. I hope they all get there safely. Let me know, folks, please?

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Promoting a Novel

Since I received 12 cartons/packages full of my novels--Trail of Storms, The Man from Shenandoah, and Ride to Raton--this week, I'm keenly interested in moving them out of my 740-square-foot trailer.

What am I doing to help that happen?

First of all, I've let the entire contents of my email address book know that autographed copies of my new book are now available. This includes numerous Yahoo groups.

I'm letting my social networks know, as well. Events kind of snuck up on me, so I didn't have all of those in place previously, but now I've joined Goodreads, and Twitter is in the works for later today.

I'm sending out review copies of Trail of Storms. Conventional wisdom says you have to get reviews out before your novel is published. Indeed, many review sites won't take a book that has already been published. However, ARCs don't come with the iUniverse process. There are sites that will do reviews on already-published books. Since my book doesn't depend on a limited bookstore shelflife, I can get reviews from here on out for continued sales.

I'm planning a blog tour to publicize my new novel. If you want to be involved, please contact me

I've posted a book trailer on I know of at least one book sale that will come from that.

I'm attending an obscene number of conferences and conventions this year, books in tow.

I hand out business cards to everyone I meet. These are specially prepared, with my novel's cover and information on how to obtain it. I print them from my computer.

I update my website and blog frequently.

I carry books with me wherever I go.

I hope it helps! =)

Monday, April 06, 2009

I Now Have Books

Lots and lots of books.

This afternoon the doorbell rang (Theme from "The Magnificent Seven"), and three boxes stood on my doorstep, while the UPS lady dug in the truck for the rest.

YES! I have plenty of copies of Trail of Storms, so if you're looking for an autographed edition of my latest novel, make haste over to my website and put in your order. There is a link below the cover photo that directs you to a catalog page for ordering whichever selection of my novels that you need. Payment is through PayPal. If you prefer to mail in an order with your payment, there's a page for that, too. It is linked from the catalog page.

If you prefer a direct link, here's the catalog page and here's the order form page.

Thank you!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

LDS General Conference: A Deep Well to Slake My Thirst

Welcome! Today is the second day of the 179th Annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Currently, the worldwide church is experiencing the 4th session from the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah: in person; via satellite hookup at thousands of stake centers; via radio; broadcast, cable and satellite TV; and Internet.

The LDS Church has Internet feeds at Many on the blogosphere are live blogging. Some of those sites are the Messenger and Advocate and By Common Consent. BCC also has a Twitter feed, and Temple Study is also liveblogging via Twitter. The Messenger and Advocate has several more links.

If you wonder what the Mormons believe, give it a listen. LDS General Conference is the twice-yearly deep well from which I drink to slake my thirst. It is the opportunity to listen at the feet of prophets and apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ. Come and drink of the waters of salvation.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Trail of Storms now on

Have you ever had a movie of a book running through your mind?

I don't mean remembrances of scenes from an actual movie, but the movie that plays when you read a novel.

There's an innovative website where you can CAST that movie with your favorite actors. It's called, and Trail of Storms is now ready to take your ideas and run with them.

What I mean is, Trail of Storms in now on, as are The Man from Shenandoah and Ride to Raton.

I've done an author's preferred cast for the first two novels, but haven't had a chance to do Trail of Storms yet. Of course, a few of the cast members will be the same as in past works, but not all! I have a whole new bunch of characters to play with.

Now go join Storycasting, for the movie in your mind.
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