Friday, February 27, 2009

Learning from Jason Wright

I reviewed Recovering Charles by Jason Wright on my blog yesterday. I was pleasantly surprised, and impressed, to see that Jason Wright left a comment.

He's a busy man. A NY Times bestselling author. A husband. A dad. He has plenty to do, but he took the time to read a review by some unknown blogger and then went a step further and left a comment.

What does that say to me? He cares about his readers. He's willing to take the time to contact readers even though he's a popular author. He's putting forth an effort to connect with his audience.

As we seek to build a readership for our books, we can learn from Jason Wright. We can put forth the effort to connect with readers. We should be diligent in supporting those who read and review our books. We should listen to what our readers say and apply what we learn from them to our works in progress. And, even when we're on the NY Times bestselling list, we should always be humble enough to realize that it's our readers who put us there.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Poll: favorite place to move...or not favorite

PLEASE COMMENT!! IT'S A MATTER OF LIFE OR DEATH! (Well, not really, but I feel like being melodramatic. The threat of a move to Wisconsin will do that to you, you know...)

I’m taking a poll. (Editors: remember how we used to do that all the time for random things? Ah, the memories…)

Here are the questions: If you had to move to one of the following cities, which one would you pick and why? Which one would you avoid at all costs and why?

Las Vegas, NV
Phoenix, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Denver, CO
Tulsa, OK
Atlanta, GA
Bradenton, FL
Miami, FL
Philadelphia, PA
Portland, ME
Milwaukee, WI
Lawrence, KS
Columbus, OH

…yep, I think that covers it.

In case you’re wondering, I dislike snow, big cities, and flat terrain, in that order. I realize that at least one of those applies to each city on the list, but I’d appreciate any info on how bad those or other conditions might be in the above locations.

Any input would be appreciated. Thanks!

(Oh, and for those of you who are wondering, no, there are no cannibal neighbors in my near future. Tornados? Maybe. Hurricanes? Possibly. Snow in the winters and giant mosquitoes in the summers? Unfortunately, quite likely. But no cannibals.)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

How Did You Celebrate?

by Rebecca Talley

It was wonderful having a long weekend. A break from school, seminary, fixing sack lunches, and trying to beat the school bus to the end of my driveway is always a welcome relief.

Since it was the end of the trimester (yes, we have trimesters. Why? Couldn't tell you, but it makes for much confusion when transferring credits from college-level classes at the high school over to a college on the semester system) on Thursday, we also had Friday off. After doing chores, of course, some of my kids went to their cousin's to celebrate birthdays. My husband and I went to the temple (which is in another state) and attended an endowment session. The cool thing (well, it's always great to go to the temple) is that we had family names. The person for whom I was a proxy was not a direct ancestor, but I knew her and I could see her face throughout the session. This is when genealogy work really feels personal. Afterwards, my honey and I had a nice dinner for our Valentine's date.

Saturday involved basketball games and a Valentine's celebration. My younger girls and I put on facials. I think the boys all wondered why green-faced women were walking around the house. We then all made pizza and watched a family movie. My son wanted to watch a "boy" movie, but I insisted we watch something Valentineish so it was, "Sabrina," with Harrison Ford. A very romantic movie.

Yesterday I tossed my pride aside, donned a bathing suit, and we all went swimming at our public pool. We had a a great time. Though I wished I looked better in a swimsuit, sometimes it's just more important to please the kids than myself.

All in all, a fun weekend. The only downside? We all had to go back to work, seminary, school, fixing sack lunches, laundry, and cleaning today. How long until spring break?

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Manic Monday on Tuesday

by Rebecca Talley

I always liked the song, "Manic Monday," probably because that's how I feel every Monday. Actually, I don't even know most of the words, I just feel like Mondays are always nuts.

When we were leaving for church my kids all said, "Hey, we can see the dirt in the field now. The snow has finally all melted." Wrong thing to say. When we got out of church it was snowing and by late Sunday afternoon we couldn't see any brown in the fields. Yesterday it snowed so much my daughter stayed in town with a friend so she didn't have to traverse the dangerous roads. It snowed again during the night and we have about 6-7 inches on the ground now. The roads seem to be clear, but my driveway (1/8 mile long) is treacherous at best. The cleared roads don't so us much good if we can't even get out of the driveway.

And, I ended up having the flu and am finally now feeling better. I hate being sick. I'd much rather take care of sick kids than be sick myself. And, just when I was feeling totally barfy, my youngest decided to have an exploda-diaper all over the place. As if I weren't sick enough, cleaning that up about did me in. Good thing I love him so much.

Yes, I realize it isn't Monday today, but I feel like it is because all that I usually do on Monday to make up for a wild and crazy movie-watching, popcorn-eating, game-playing, kids-chasing weekend was put on hold while I was sick and I did all that make-up work today.

I'm looking forward to a Wonderful Wednesday!

Friday, February 6, 2009

AML Meeting

Saturday, February 28, 2009
Association for Mormon Letters Annual Meeting
Utah Valley University
Orem, Utah
For more information visit the AML website:

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Naming Characters

by Rebecca Talley

I was asked in an interview, "Where do you come up with the names of your characters?" I answered that I usually choose names I wanted to use with my kids but my husband blacklisted.

It's interesting to read almost the same response from other women. Perhaps, our writing is a way to use those baby names after all?

In order to come up with contemporary names, I've looked through my children's yearbooks, asked them to name off kids in their classes, and I've even looked through the phone book to find last names. For me, once I name a character, it's hard to rename him/her. It's almost like trying to change the name of one of my kids.

I'm not very good at naming characters. And, I'm always afraid to use a name of someone I know just in case it offends that person. I'm working on a middle grade novel that has a bully in it and I so want to use the name of the girl who bullied me all through school, but I'm thinking I better not, even though it's a perfect name for an ugly bully.

I've also found that certain names conjure up certain images in my mind. Some names seem pretty while others seem ugly. Some names just seem to shout "nerdy" or "cool" or "ultra-intelligent." It's hard to imagine a rocket scientist with the name of Bambi or a beauty queen named Agnes or Gladys (no offense, but those are just "old lady" names to me).

So, I'm curious--how do you choose names for your characters?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Jessica Simpson and Mom Jeans

by Rebecca Talley

Have you seen all the criticism of Jessica Simpson since she's gained some weight? It's ridiculous. Our society is so obsessed with weight and physical looks. Jessica Simpson is a beautiful woman, yet all the media can do is focus on her weight gain. It's especially ridiculous because even with her weight gain, she's still thinner than the majority of women in the US. What message does that send? Are those of us who wear more than a size 6 not worthy to live in our society?

Where's the emphasis on healthy eating or a healthy lifestyle? Why does thin equal healthy? The message the media sends to our teenage girls is that if they aren't skinny they're basically worthless (yes, I have teenage daughters and this does affect them even though I try really hard to counteract it). That couldn't be further from the truth.

All of us have gifts and talents to share no matter what size we are. We are all children of Heavenly Father and he loves each of us. Why can't we focus on what's inside of us instead of what's outside? Let's concentrate on developing compassion, unconditional love, faith, obedience, and those things that will lead us back to Heavenly Father. I really don't think he'll pull out a scale and ask us to stand on it on judgment day.

Yes, it's important to exercise and eat healthy just like we've been counseled. It's important to maintain a healthy weight--not an unrealistic weight--and to take care of our bodies. But, it's something completely different when we're consumed with our weight and/or physical appearance. We should do our best to get and stay in shape and eat good foods, but then we need to find joy in who we are and love ourselves no matter what the scale says.

And the mom jeans? Yep, I wear mom jeans and proud of it. Here's a little heads up on the whole mom jeans vs. hip huggers. Hip huggers don't look good on women and, in fact, look good on very few girls. Hip huggers create love handles and encourage belly fat to hang over the top of the pants. Not very attractive in my opinion. Give me mom jeans any day and let me keep my extra flesh inside my jeans instead of rolling over the top of them. I am more than my weight and more than my mom jeans. I am a daughter of God.

Jessica Simpson--you go, girl. You sing and perform and find joy in who you are. You look great. Don't let the media tell you any different.

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