Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Holiday Catalog- My Latest Project

E-clectic Books, where old world values meets new age technology, a bi-annual e-catalog promoting the work of authors of faith.

Kristy Tate, managing editor, will distribute the catalog to participating authors. The responsibility of further distribution will depend and rely upon the efforts of the authors, thus eliminating the need of a master e-mail list and the fuzzy gray area of "selling" loved one's e-mail addresses. Also, when friends and family receive the e-mail they will be more likely to open it if they recognize the sender's name.

The quality and content of the works listed will be self-regulated. Be aware that the readers of this catalog will not be interested in titillation, excessive violence, profanity, sexism, or bigotry.

Catalog details:
The catalog will be distributed via email December 1st, reminding families to add uplifting books to their holiday wish list. Depending upon its success, there will also be a Beach Reads edition in the spring.

REQUIRED INFORMATION: (if you are missing any information below your work(s) will NOT be included in the catalog).
Book genre listing (i.e. fiction, nonfiction, memoir, thriller, fantasy, etc.).
A high-resolution (300dpi) .jpg cover photo.
Book title and author.
Up to 100 words of description (author's website optional).
Publisher, ISBN, and price.
Required information should be sent via email to kristyswords@ by October 31, 2011 (no exceptions.) Please be sure to include Holiday Catalog in the subject line.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Congrats to Kswederski who won my novel STEALING MERCY and the handcrafted journal! I visited Kswederski's blog to see if I could find her or his last name and discovered that we like the same authors, so I know we're kindred spirits, but I still don't know how to pronounce her/his name.

Thanks to everyone who visited my blog and a special thank you to those who shared their feelings about journaling. I enjoyed reading all the entries. I wish I had something for everyone who entered... something to consider for the future.

Kristy's InKredible Kindle Kontest update: the reformatting is finished! Tomorrow I'll upload the new and improved STEALING MERCY and as soon as it's live, the game will begin. (I'm excited!)

Friday, September 23, 2011

An Argument for Self Publishing

I have to share my latest Orange County Fictionaire’s adventure. I’m really lucky to belong to a writer’s group consisting of mostly published authors. (Google us, we’re an impressive group.) We have award winning, best-selling, movie making, teaching writers and then there’s me. And I’m the president. Bottom of the talent totem pole. Go figure. Sometimes I wonder how or why I got in the group let alone why I was made president. I think they voted me in because I had more time and attend regularly. (There’s a post about this railroading, I mean—election--on this blog. If I knew how to link it, I would, but all I can say is if you want to read it, you’ll have to look for it. It’s here somewhere.) In the past week there’s been some e-mails on the group's list flying fast and furiously for and against self publishing. The words schlock (which I've guessed is a Jewish derogatory term) and noble have both been used. I’ve posted my response. I wish I could share the all the e-mails, but I can’t. Respect for privacy and all that. Let me make it perfectly clear--I have enormous respect and admiration for my fellow Fictionaires and applaud their successes. I'm their biggest, noisiest fan. Now, my letter...

I know I’m slow to respond. It generally takes me days to formulate the perfect retort. I’d make a terrible attorney and I generally avoid arguments because, as I said, I usually think of a comeback days later.

I’m going to try to formulate an argument for self publishing, if you’re not interested, feel free to return to whatever it was that you were doing.

Why self-publishing works for me:
1. What’s happening in my family is much more interesting than anything else, including a writing career. I have a great big life. I have six children, two grandchildren, a husband, five siblings, 20 in-laws, and about 60 nieces and nephews. And elderly parents (age 90 and 88.) And a dog. And friends. It would be horrible to attend a wedding or a funeral with a writing deadline hanging over my head. By self publishing, I keep (somewhat tenuous) control of my time.
2. I’m not interested in meeting people I don’t know. I'm not out going. I don’t want to go to book signings. I don’t want to speak at conferences. I do not want to be on TV or on the radio. Crowds make me nervous and as much as l love children, I’m not interested in visiting schools (unless a loved one happens to be attending it.)
3. I’m not motivated by money. Really. I know I’m incredibly lucky and blessed that I don't have to support a family, or even myself and I've lived long enough to see that money has it's challenges, whether you have a little or a lot. (A lot, of course, would be much nicer than too little.)
4. I want to write what I want to write. I don’t want to bend my stories to a formula. I don’t want to toss in sex scenes or write about throbbing loins. I don’t want to sell a political agenda. I like telling the stories I feel like sharing at a particular moment and time.

I know that I won’t win awards. (Although shortly after I wrote this James sent me a link to the Indie awards.)I’m confident that I won’t be included in a literature anthology. No one is going to make movies out of my stories or talk about my work in a lit class. Would my writing improve with the guidance of a good editor? Absolutely. Would I reach a larger audience if I had a marketing team and a publishing house backing me? Undoubtedly. Am I willing to give up my autonomy for those added benefits? No. Sorry. For other’s traditional publishing is the best path, but it’s not for me.

I’m not snubbing my nose at the publishing industry. I admire their talents and their work. I really do. They provide a tremendous service to our country’s culture. But, just like there is more than one way to travel to the library, (car, bike, skate board, scooter) there is more than one way to have a writing career.

I’m extraordinarily grateful for the rise of indie-publishing. It’s allowed me to create a balance between my love of storytelling and a life full of people that I adore. After only two months I already have a small, growing readership of people who tell me that they love my work, and for me that’s icing on a cake of life that was pretty delicious even before I tried indie publishing.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

September's Spectacular Blog Hop

Welcome to the September Blog Hop! Celebrate the beginning of fall with me and my blogger friends by hopping around, visiting our sites, and entering our contests! There are no limits - you can enter the contest on every blog. With over 40 blogs participating, that's over 40 prizes you could win. Just click on the links below to move on to the next blog.

In STEALING MERCY, modern day genealogist, Bette Michaels, steals the 1889 journal of Mercy Faye. Here’s an excerpt describing the theft:

I’ve never stolen anything. Ever. Not even by accident. I always return extra change if a cashier makes a mistake. I’m meticulous about my taxes, generous with charitable donations, scrupulously honest. And that’s why an unfamiliar guilt worm wiggles in my belly.

I lift my fingers off the piano and glance back into the deserted living room and then at the library’s double doors. Through the windows I see rain dripping from the eaves of the porch. I hear wind rattling the doors and windows and after the crush of mourners filling Dot’s home, the plink of rain seems amplified. As does my beating heart.

I gather up my music and after a quick glance at the casket in the center of the room, I have a silent conversation with Dot. Do you mind? If I find it, I’ll just borrow it. I’ll return it. I won’t keep it. Dot, of course, still and silent nestled against all the silk in her casket, doesn’t respond, but I imagine her smiling, nudging me forward.

If I find the diary, that missing part that would hopefully explain so much, maybe I could just read it, quickly, before leaving. I pause in the entry hall, my feet rooted to the tapestry carpet. To my left, Dot’s library. I see my reflection in the beveled glass doors. I look tiny and fractured in the reflection. My pearls cast a small glow. I tuck a strand of dark hair behind my ear, debating. If I stand stock still in the entry much longer, perhaps the caterers will come and carry me out along with the empty boxes and trays of partially eaten food.

I’m not driven by impulse. I’d been waiting the opportunity to slip into the library all evening. I’d waited for the guests to leave so that I could look for the missing diary, the one that began in New York. My gaze flits around the room and I see the framed genealogy fan chart hanging on the wall, a stack of library books sitting on the desk, a mishmash of books marching across the shelves. I scan the collection, marveling at the eclectic choices. Standing on my toes, I find the tiny leather bound book on the top shelf.

I flip it open and my heart picks up speed when I recognize the copperplate handwriting. After another glance at the wet world outside the window, I lean against the solid walnut desk and begin to read.

Bette obviously believed that journals are important enough to steal. Fortunately, for one of you, stealing won’t be necessary. You have the chance to win not only a beautiful, handcrafted journal from India but also a signed copy of STEALING MERCY. All you have to do is:
1. Become a follower of my blog.
2. Leave a comment telling me why you think journaling is important. Or not.
3. Provide contact information so that I can notify you of my upcoming InKredible Kindle Kontest, where one lucky winner will take home a kindle e-reader.

That's it! You are now entered. The contest ends on Saturday night, September 24th, at midnight MST, and the winner will be contacted shortly thereafter. Please either leave your e-mail address in the comment trail or make sure it's visible through your profile so I can contact you to tell you that you're the lucky winner.
Now go visit my other friends ...
September Blog Hop Participants

1. Tristi Pinkston, LDS Author
2. Joyce DiPastena
3. I Am A Reader, Not A Writer
4. Mandi Slack
5. Michael D. Young
6. Six Mixed Reviews
7. Pam Williams
8. Laurie Lewis
9. Kristy Tate
10. Marilyn Yarbrough
11. Stacy Coles
12. Kristie Ballard
13. Lynn Parsons
14. Pushing Past the Pounds
15. Sheila Staley
16. cindy Hogan
17. Jamie Thompson
18. Jaclyn Weist
19. Cathy Witbeck
20. Secret Sisters Mysteries
21. Tamera Westhoff
22. Tina Scott
23. Lynnea Mortensen
24. Danyelle Ferguson aka Queen of the Clan
25. Jeanette A. Fratto
26. Bonnie Harris
27. Melissa Lemon
28. Mary Ann Dennis
29. Stephanie Black
30. Jane Still
31. Janice
32. Laura Bastian
33. Tamara Bordon
34. Betsy Love
35. Maria Hoagland
36. Amber Robertson
37. Debbie Davis
39. Christy Monson
40. Carolyn Frank
41. Rebecca Birkin
42. Melissa Cunningham
43. Emily L. Moir
44. Ronda Hinrichsen
45. Lisa Asanuma
46. Joan Sowards
47. Jordan McCollum
48. Diane Stringam Tolley

Monday, September 19, 2011

Word Choice or the Difference Between Flakey and Scatterbraininess.

Mark Twain once said the difference between words could be the difference between a bee and a bee sting. The Chinese know this because the word Ma in Chinese can mean mom or horse, depending on the inflection. Inflection, or intent, alters everything.

The same is true for flakiness and scatterbraininess. I completely understand why both are annoying, but the intent is different, not making one more acceptable than the other, but, perhaps, more forgivable.

I’ve heard it said that one of the differences between a female brain and a male’s brain is the connection between the right and left hemispheres. The male’s hemisphere connector is like a one lane bridge—only one thing can pass at a time, meaning that they think about one thing at a time. Think of the male brain as an office filled with cubicles and in each cubicle there’s a guy—a husband guy, a work guy, a dad guy, a church guy, and handyman guy, a golf guy--and when one of the guys has the floor, it’s like all the other guys are deaf and dumb.

In contrast, the female connector is like a six lane highway—we’re able to wash the dishes, talk to Aunt Lindy, watch the babies and mentally compose a grocery list all at once.

I’m not being sexist, but according to current biological studies, men are not simultaneous thinkers. They have higher levels of concentration and focus. Girls’ thoughts are all over the place. But what about Mark Twain, or Shakespeare, or any of the other literary greats? Writers are unique creatures. Male or female, we get ideas at any place and at any time, even when we’re doing other things—even important things.

For example, once when I was Relief Society president I was mentally in the thick of a story, but, as it often happened, people were hungry and needed food, meaning that I had to go to the bishop’s storehouse—a forty-five minute drive from my house. (A trip to the bishop’s storehouse, depending on traffic, usually took me about three hours.) One morning after doing the scores of things busy mothers do, I got in the car and headed for the bishop’s storehouse. Physically, I was in the car on Santa Margarita parkway, but mentally I was in an art gallery in Laguna contemplating a murder (my novel, Shell Charms.) I drove about two miles before I remembered that I’d forgotten to pick up the food order form from the bishop. When I arrived at his house, I stepped out of the car and onto the pavement and realized I wasn’t wearing shoes.

Flakiness would be not going to the bishop’s storehouse because something more interesting came along. Scatterbraininess is going improperly shod (or, in my case, having to return home for my shoes). Flakiness verses scatterbraininess—it’s all in the intent.

That being said, my decision to postpone my Inkredible Kindle Kontest is not a matter of flakiness or even scatterbraininess, it’s a matter of intent. I fully intend to have a contest and give away a kindle, although since this is the second delay, it may not seem like it. I postponed the kindle contest in August because I had the opportunity to participate in Tristi Pinkston’s Awesome August Blog Hop and I didn’t want to give away a kindle when the other bloggers were giving away smaller ticket items. I also had a host of personal things that needed my attention--a trip to Portland, my book launch and a dinner to prepare for a visiting general authority and stake leaders.

I’m postponing again because Tristi’s hosting another blog hop and because of Dr. Debra Holland. Debra belongs to my writer’s group and has made thousands of dollars self publishing her sweet romance novels. (In fact, she gives a dollar for dollar accounting on her blog—check her out. Not that she needs my advertising.) I compared Debra’s success and my own middling sales in the same niche market. There are actually many differences between my career and Debra’s, like her winning the Golden Heart competition, but only one that I can easily and quickly duplicate. Debra has four books out and she chapter swaps with other writers. This means that at the end of each of her western romances, she has a first chapter from another author’s western romance. The fellow romance writer reciprocates. This means that there are four other authors with the first chapter of one of her books in the back of their books.

I hope to chapter swap with another writer on my next book. (In fact, I’ve been reading other romaction authors looking for a good fit.) But, with STEALING MERCY I want to chapter swap with myself, meaning that I’ve included the first chapter of my new book A GHOST OF A CHANCE at the end of STEALING MERCY. This means revising. Revising takes time, but not too much time, because that would be flakey.

So, in this case, it’s not a matter of flakiness verses scatterbraininess, but of trying to maximize the marketing potential of the InKredible Kindle Kontest. A contest that will be Koming as soon as I Kan get STEALING MERCY reformatted with A GHOST OF A CHANCE at the end.

I know that in this post I’ve made up words and misspelled words, which brings me back to my original point of the importance of word choice. Sometimes you just have to go with what works, even if you have to delay, postpone, go barefoot or make it up as you go.

Friday, September 16, 2011

10 Steps to a Successful Book Launch

I wasn’t going to have a book launch, after all, book launches are for the glittery literati, right? My friends talk about their kid’s and the crazy Spanish teacher, the soccer coach who spits when he yells, husbands and disappearing golf clubs. They don’t talk about Sylvia Plath and they don’t recite TS Elliot. And they don’t do book launches. In fact, when I was telling a friend about my book launch plans, she said, but how can you do lunch in the evening? Launch, not lunch. My friends have lunch down to an art—they’re less familiar with book launches.

But, friends are the critical ingredient in a successful launch.

Step 1. You need a friend like Melanie. Melanie is my writing partner. We hash out our stories every Thursday with a fellow writer, Brittany. Melanie writes Mormon Chic Lit (yes, there is such a niche) and her second book, NOT MY TYPE, came out last week. Our combo book launch at Nothing Bundt Cakes was Melanie’s brain child. She found the shop, made the arrangements with the owner, tested the bundtinis and sent out the invitations. (She admits that she bit her nails, worrying that I’d bail, but I came up with the tag buy a book, bag a bundtini.)

Step 2. You need books, possibly more books than you think you’ll need. (I ran out of books.)

Step 3. You need a friend like Molly. Molly has more table cloths than anyone I know and she let me borrow six. (She also has an impressive collection of linen napkins, but you won’t need linen napkins for a book launch, unless you’re doing lunch, but remember, launch, not lunch.

Step 4. You need a friend like Nancy to contribute two candelabras, two candle sticks, 32 tea lights and seven pillar candles.

Step 5. You need Ginger’s 17 folding black chairs, Jen’s two folding tables, and six bistro tables.

Step 6. You need a Jenny. When I went to Jenny’s to borrow one of the six bistro tables, Jenny took me around her house and said, Do you want this bird? What about this three tiered cake holder? You need this bowl and this platter. I looked at the bowl and the platter and thought, I do not need this platter or bowl and I’m completely overwhelmed by all this stuff. But, on the night of the launch, the bowl held the names for the door prizes and the bundtinis sat on the platter, which just goes to show that everyone needs a Jenny.

Step 7. You need a husband, son and a daughter to help set up tables, chairs and stuff. You need brilliant twin daughters to count and collect money and pass out bundtinis.

Step 8. You need door prizes. Or not. Some people weren’t interested in taking their door prizes.

Step 9. You need money boxes. Melanie and I used wood boxes that had once held the ashes of Mary’s dogs. Years ago, Mary and I scattered the ashes of Babe and Watson in the canyon where we used to run. I kept the boxes. That’s a different story. What’s important to know is you need some place to keep the money. (The boxes had been cleaned.)

Step 10. Most importantly, you need friends. Friends to buy your book. Friends to ask you to sign your book. Friends who bring friends to buy your book. Friends who will pass your book to their friends and say, you’ve got to read this book.

Otherwise, it’s just you all alone in a cake shop and that can be a potentially dangerous situation.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Someone, Somewhere Touched a Button

Someone, somewhere touched a button and the world went dark. I’m sure the unknown Edison worker didn’t mean to send 5 million Californians into electronic paralysis. He probably didn’t know that such a small mistake could cause bedlam on the freeways, in the hospitals, at the gas pumps and ATMs. He doesn’t know that at our house my husband and son are watching a football game on TV. My daughters are doing the homework on computers and I’m playing solitaire on my I-pad. We have power when most of our neighbors don’t. Are we special? No. We just happen to be in a tiny pocket where the wires still sing with power.

So. No school tomorrow. The newsman tells us our electronic grid is very fragile. We don’t know what this means, except that we’re to use our electronics sparingly. (Thank heavens the temperature has dropped.)This is the perfect excuse not to do laundry. Vacuum? Wouldn’t want to upset the powerboard. We don’t know how the electronic grid works or who mans the powerboard or who was responsible for touching the wrong button and sending our neighbors into the dark, but it doesn’t really matter. We’re all connected, riding in the same boat and to some that means loss of power to a life saving device and to others (like the Tates) it means a day at the beach.

Is it fair? Is it right? No. It just is what it is.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

School Starts Tomorrow

School starts tomorrow. My girls are juniors in high school. I remember being a junior in high school. I was the editor of the feature page of The Arlington Eagle, our high school newspaper. The following year I would be the editor in chief. I divvied out assigned articles; I cut and slashed stories with a red pen. I won awards. I was a good writer and I knew it.

Skip ahead a few years and I’m at BYU, sitting in an English Lit. class. Every time I make a comment, the professor looks at the clock. I assume I bore him almost as much as he bores me. I try to be witty, insightful—it doesn’t matter. I’m doomed to mediocrity in his eyes. Then one day, the professor reads an excerpt from my paper and pronounces, “This is an excellent paper!” He hands it to the girl sitting behind me and she takes it with a sheepish smile.

I sit in the class, stunned. What now? Approach the professor? The girl? Stand up and proclaim the credit that is rightfully mine? No. In that take-my-breath-away moment, I realize something. The opinion of the professor, the girl, and my classmates really doesn’t matter. My thoughts and my ability to communicate them remain the same regardless of their thoughts. This is a hard lesson to learn. I have to remind myself of it often.

I was reminded of it today when I read this blog post by Bill Kenower, editor of Author Magazine. “Unfortunately, if you live by the sword of opinion, then you die by the sword of opinion. If I am a good writer one day because my professor says I am, then I am a bad writer the next because the college literary editor says I am not. I wish I could remember the exact day I stopped tethering my work’s value to someone else’s opinion as well as I can remember all that praise and criticism, but I cannot. I cannot, because there never was such a moment. I started out not caring, as do we all. That tethering had to be learned, a useless attempt to stave off the perceived loneliness born of asking yourself a question that only you can answer.”

Tomorrow my girls will go to school. Teachers, some indifferent and some engaged, will mark up their papers with red pens. I wish I could tell them that all that marking doesn’t matter, but it does. It will matter to them.

Just as it mattered to me until that moment when I realized that it no longer did. Bill Kenower didn’t have that moment. But I did. I didn’t recognize it at that loss of breath moment in the BYU classroom, but I realize now that I was (am) lucky.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Small and Simple Sundays

I’m a big believer in the power of small and simple things. By the yard it’s hard, but by the inch it’s a cinch. A thousand mile journey begins with a single step. (You probably know some proverbs of your own. I bet your mother taught them to you.)

I believe that small, simple goals are the steps to success and that great, big enormous goals are tools of Satan that we use to clobber out all the good feelings in our souls. Which may sound funny coming from a novelist and a marathon runner, but I didn’t sit down and write a novel in one breath and I didn’t run 26 miles the first time I put on my sneakers. I got an idea which I nursed and then wrote about a few hundred words at a time. Nearly every day. And I took A LOT of classes and workshops. Same thing with the marathon (which, by the way, was ten years ago) I ran six days a week and every week I went a little further than the week before. It wasn’t easy. There wasn’t a short cut. I had giant blisters on my feet and lost all of my toenails. (What was I thinking? I’m deviating, back to my point…)

In Melanie Jacobson’s new novel, NOT MY TYPE, Pepper desperately needs an attitude adjustment and her father challenges her to write a thank you note a week. Originally, the book was titled 52 Thank Yous. (I preferred that title, but since its Melanie’s book and not mine, I didn’t get a vote.) At first, Pepper’s notes are sarcastic and a little mean, but by the end, when love has softened all her rough edges, the note to her father is poignant and sweet.

A thank you note a week—how long would that take? Maybe ten minutes out of a week of 10,080. (My husband would be so proud of me for voluntarily doing math!) Can ten minutes a week change your life? Do you want to give it a try? Maybe you don’t need an attitude adjustment. Maybe you’re already plenty grateful. It doesn’t matter. Think of something small and simple and set a goal. (Remember, big, giant goals are Satan’s weapons used for beating yourself over the head and killing all your hope.

So, I’m calling this Small and Simple Sunday, or, if you’d rather wait until Thursdays—Throw-down Thursdays. I’m going to wait and set my goal on Thursday, not only because it’s the first day of school, but also because it gives me four more days to think of how I want to change…for good.

If you want to join in and make yourself accountable to 80 something fantastic, friendly followers, leave a comment announcing your goal. If you prefer anonymity, write it down and tuck it in between the pages of a journal. Either one works.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Good Things Happening

Congrats to Stacy Cole who won signed copies of Angela Morrison’s TAKEN BY STORM and my novel STEALING MERCY!

I had hoped to have my Incredible Kindle Kontest up and running today, but due to some new and unexpected upcoming events, I have decided to wait until after September 15th—the day of my Buy a Book, Bag a Bundt Bash, 6-8 pm, @ the Nothing Bundt Cakes bakery in Mission Viejo. I’m celebrating with Melanie Jacobson, author of THE LIST and NOT MY TYPE and if you buy one of our books you’ll get a bundtini. Unfamiliar with bundtinis? You’ll want to get to know them, trust me. We’re offering groovy give-aways and it’s going to be a book, bundt, blast.

Not that the Kindle Kontest isn’t going to be incredible. It will be. I’m giving away an e-reader, a must have for any reader. The contest will run for six weeks, beginning on September 19th and ending on Halloween, which is appropriate, because my next-to-be-released novel is a ghost story. (And I’ll want to talk about that work in progress along the way.) As well as the e-reader, I have some smaller, but still fabulous, gift-giveaways. So, mark your calendars, tell your friends, family and pets that good things will be happening here.