Two-time 2013 ANWA BOB Contest Winner!

DDDDDDDDDDDDDrumroll, please!

American Night Writers Association (ANWA) holds a Beginning of Book (BOB) contest at its annual writers conference, “Time Out for Writers.” At the 2013 conference held February 21-23, 2013, both of my 500 word entries won awards.

My entry in the Children’s Book category, “Daniel’s Mixed-Up Sports,” won 2nd place!

My entry in the Young Adult category, “Michael 23,” tied for 3rd place with my friend, Heather Romito’s entry!

This makes two years in a row where one of my entries has won an BOB award.

Here’s the first 500 words of Michael 23:

Chapter 1 –Michael 22

Cyanosis. Fatigue. Dyspnea. Luna recognized the symptoms.

As she watched, the blue tinge of Michael’s pale lips grew more pronounced, and he clenched his teeth together to control the audible chattering.  Struggling against the weariness which seduced his eyelids to flutter shut, Michael blinked heavily once and then rubbed his eyes closed with his fingertips.  Luna always felt helpless at this moment, all her efforts to comfort him in vain.

“Bring Michael another blanket,” Luna ordered the young nurse who sat waiting across the room.  A tiny shake of the head and a narrowing of her eyes were the nurse’s only display of impatience, as she stood and walked toward the blanket warming machine built into the cabinets of the stark hospital examination room.  The machine door clicked open and then closed, while Luna pulled off the blanket covering both her and Michael with her one free hand.

“Lay the warm blanket next to his skin and then place the cool one back over it,” Luna instructed, and then helped the nurse to adjust the blankets.

With Luna’s movement, Michael’s eyes fluttered quickly open, the deep midnight of his pupils accentuating the purple circles lying under his dark lower lashes.  Even so near death, his face was full of colors—just the wrong colors—not the normal red of his lips, melting chocolate brown of his eyes, or the warm, natural tan of his skin.  The colors of his face were gone, washed with the purples and grays of an over-watered watercolor.

“I’m not going anywhere,” Luna answered the panic she recognized in his eyes.  With the warm blanket wrapped firmly around them, she readjusted her position more securely against him.  Luna leaned her forehead against his as she stroked his too cool cheek with her free hand.

A day’s worth of stubble scratched her hand comfortingly, despite the fact that she had shaved Michael only an hour earlier.  It was oddly comforting that Michael’s hair follicles didn’t realize he was dying either.  She didn’t think Michael understood.  Hopefully, he never would.  It was already too much that she knew.

“Luna,” Michael’s voice rasped, although his eyes never opened this time.

“Yes, Michael?”

“I … like … green.”  Each word was labored and a whisper.

“I know, Michael.  Don’t talk, dear one.  Save your energy.”

A barely perceptible shake of his head and a tightening around his eyes told her he wasn’t finished with his thought.

“What is … more than … like?”  Every phrase required its own labored, shallow breath.

“What is more than like?” Luna repeated.  “Do you mean what word means ‘more than like?’”

The sparse movement of Michael’s head was a nod, yet his eyes were a sealed tomb.  Luna hesitated.  She knew the answer, but the question surprised her.  In the previous five years, she had answered thousands of questions.

Never that one. 

But Michael was dying—why hold back now?

“Love.   Love means ‘more than like.’” Her voice cracked nervously.

Hope you enjoyed this glimpse into one of my future novels. Check out my progress on the Michael 23 page.

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Timing is Everything

By FASTILY (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
“Timing is everything.” I’m not sure who first made that statement, but it’s said enough now that it’s considered a universal truth.

An old episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation taught this lesson when the robot officer, Lieutenant Data, embarked on a study of comedy. Boldly going where no robot had gone before, Data attempted to conquer the very human characteristic of humor. He diligently studied every joke, pun, and gag in the ship’s computer data base. Although he knew every joke word for word and diligently tried to relay them to the ship’s crew, no one laughed. Every joke fell flat. His timing was wrong.
The problem was that timing was a subjective, fluid element that wasn’t the same with every joke or story. Timing of the punch line had to be felt, not calculated.

Timing is critical in writing, as well, but in a very different way. At some times in our lives, when to write is more important than what to write.

I turned 50, and looking back, I knew early that I liked to write, and being the managing editor of my high school newspaper, a winner of high school and college writing awards, and a student of inspiring, published creative writing teachers, convinced me that I had some talent. Yet when I married and embarked on the epic journey of raising eight children with the love of my life, while working part-time as a tax accountant, I stopped writing. In fact, because I’m an obsessive reader, I stopped reading as well. I have a hard time pausing when I’m reading a book—usually reading straight through, ignoring sleep, housework, and even my children. Since that characteristic is not conducive to a happy mother or a happy household when small children are involved, I chose to concentrate on my real family and not whatever fictional world a novel might introduce. I continued to read my scriptures, church books, and stories to my children. I could read those without them consuming my life.

“Life is about timing,” claimed the runner Carl Lewis. He ought to know; he spent a life time being timed. Ecclesiastes 3:1 teaches us that “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”

To my young friends who are struggling with the desire to read or write but feeling guilty for the effect that it can have on a family or frustrated with their inability to “do it all,” I offer the words of my high school Journalism teacher: “Don’t study writing. Study something else, and then write about it.” Make this time of life be your “Research Period.” Study relationships, study children and teenagers, study the universal truths taught by the scriptures, and most of all study life. Don’t resent what you can’t do now. Don’t just watch from afar. Dive in and enjoy every chaotic moment. Write notes to yourself about funny situations and story ideas. Make outlines for books. Write a scene or two. Research subjects you love.

When the time is right, God will give you the talent and opportunity to accomplish your righteous goals. Your “Research Period” will be over and your “Writing Period” will begin. For me, an ANWA sister and a flood of novel ideas jump-started my interest in writing again. And I haven’t stopped. Yet, I don’t resent even a second of my “research period;” my writing is better now because of my life experiences.

So when you’re introducing yourself at an writers group meeting, don’t ever say, “I probably shouldn’t be here. I haven’t written anything in a while.” Instead, raise your chin and with a knowing smile, simply state, “I’m researching my next great novel.”

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Writing Challenge

By youngthousands from usa (IMG_6638) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By youngthousands from usa (IMG_6638) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
It’s the holidays—that wonderful time of the year when you have too many things to do, too many places to go, and too few dollars and time to get there. With everything going on, it’s easy to ignore your writing. So my writing challenge comes from the words of ANWA’s illustrious founder, Marsha Ward, who has been blogging about her newly released fourth novel, Spinster’s Folly. She advises, “Write at least 25 words a day.” That sounds like great advice from someone who knows. But I only have one question—Does my 25 word shopping list count?

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The Next Best Thing

I’m in “Trying to Write while Life Happens” mode, so I haven’t posted in a long while. Maybe it’s because I need to exercise, but a game of tag sounded fun when I heard about the ten interview questions for The Next Big Thing. Here’s how the game works: I answer ten questions about my work in progress (WIP) and then give you links to other authors and their answers about their WIP’s.

 

Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:

What is your working title of your book?

Dictator of Disaster (I’m positive that won’t change. I really like it.)

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Dictator of Disaster is Book 3 in a four book series, following Master of Emotion (Book 1) and Supreme Chancellor of Stupidity (Book 2). The idea for the series came from my teenage daughters. They were complaining about Bella (Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series) and I asked them what they would want in a book or main character. They wanted an adventure/romance from a guy’s point of view, without any whiny women. “Oh,” a daughter added. “He needs to have some cool power … and be sensitive at the same time.”  So my mind started churning, and five months later I’d written my first novel.

What genre does your book fall under?

Young Adult Paranormal Romance – Although it’s set in the real world, the main character is trying to cope with an extra-sensory ability.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I’d want to find a young Enrique Iglesias to play Jonas –

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=enrique+iglesias&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&biw=1249&bih=569&wrapid=tlif134945594339110&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&ei=TxBvUMLfJsPnqgG-moCoDw

… playing alongside Victoria Justice as Gabriela –

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=victoria+justice&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&biw=1249&bih=569&wrapid=tlif134945562298310&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&ei=EA9vUNPdAcnUqgHVhICgBQ

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Sorry – I still need two sentences, and even those two sentences still need work:

Touch can be a sensitive tool or a lethal weapon. JONAS, a sensory enhanced kid with anger issues, tries to save his kidnapped sister by himself, rather than relying on the twins and the others like them.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Self-published. I’m loving the whole indie publishing thing which is leaps and bounds better than getting query rejection letters. It’s so much fun!

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? May we see an intro?

I’ve been writing this manuscript while self-publishing my other three, so it’s taking me too long. But here’s a glimpse at my first chapter (The whole first chapter is available at the end of Book 2: Supreme Chancellor of Stupidity):

I shook my head as I watched him go. He was such an idiot—suggesting a truce. And what was that insanity about shocking a tree? It wouldn’t work, and knowing Bryce, he probably knew something I didn’t. Maybe the shock would reflect off the tree and jump back to jolt me. Then he could get even without touching me.

That thought made me more curious, so I ducked under a branch of the mulberry tree and laid my hand against the rough bark of the trunk. I paused, wondering if Bryce was looking out the window, ready to laugh at me; but I decided he wasn’t smart enough to plan that kind of revenge. Maybe I’d try his suggestion so I could tell him, again, that his idea was stupid. But just in case, I sent only a tiny shock into the tree.

No ricochet. No jolt back to me. And although I didn’t feel the same surge of adrenalin as when I shocked a human, still, it felt good to drain a tiny bit of my pent-up energy. So I tried it again, sending the tree a stronger mental blow. The release of energy was much slower than if I’d had my hand on Bryce’s arm. It felt like pushing my power through thick tar.

Eager to release more energy, I gripped the trunk of the tree with both hands and laid my forehead against the coarse bark. I closed my eyes and concentrated with all my might on drawing memories of physical violence from all over my body. My hands shook from the effort by the time I discharged the most massive strike I had ever released.

I heard her voice and felt her hand on my arm a millisecond too late. “Jo—” But I didn’t understand the odd gurgling sound or the thud to the ground until I opened my eyes and saw a thin, pale hand lying in the dirt at my feet.

My sister’s hand.

I hadn’t heard Alia approach.

I spun around, throwing myself on the ground next to her. She lay in the dirt with her eyes closed and her normally fair skin ashen. Something was very wrong. She was too still.

I shook her thin shoulders. “Alia?”

No answer. No movement. Then I realized—no breathing.

My sister wasn’t breathing.

I shook her again harder.

Nothing.

“NO!” I punched the ground. She couldn’t be hurt. Not Alia.

I rolled her onto her back and laid my hand on her chest, hoping to feel her ribcage rise. Her head lolled helplessly to the side.

Nothing.

I dug my fingers into the soft, hollow space between her windpipe and her neck muscle and searched for a pulse.

Nothing.

My shock had stopped her heart.

I had killed her.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Good question. Normal kids, normal setting, unusual abilities. Any suggestions? Please reply and tell me.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

My oldest daughter called one day, asking for help with her “bucket list.” She’d been to a class that suggested they decide what they want to accomplish in life and then spend a few minutes each week toward that goal. She wanted to write a book. After talking with her, I realized I wanted to write a book too. Thanks, Auj.

What else about your book might piqué the reader’s interest?

Each of the books in the series is from a different male character’s point of view.

Master of Emotion is from Beau’s POV:

When a reclusive teen with the enhanced ability to read others’ emotions finds more teens with similar powers, he must confront his fears before a budding romance and his twin brother’s life fall into the hands of the devious doctor who created them all.

Supreme Chancellor of Stupidity (Book 2) is from Bryce’s POV:

With the threat of the demented doctor still looming, BRYCE, Beau’s twin, enlists a fake girlfriend to learn how to control his habit of touching everyone to read their thoughts in order to win the trust and affection of the girl he loves.

Dictator of Disaster (Book 3) is from Jonas’ (Bryce’s nemesis) POV:

Touch can be a sensitive tool or a lethal weapon. JONAS, a sensory enhanced kid with anger issues, tries to save his kidnapped sister by himself, rather than relying on the twins and the others like them.

Servant of Sense (Book 4) is from Sam’s POV:

Enhanced taste buds hardly qualifies as a super-power. But that’s all that SAM has to work with. He must face his insecurities and use his very normal, but nerdy, brain power to rescue his friends and capture the evil doctor.

I was tagged by Tamara Heiner at   http://tamarahartheiner.blogspot.com/                           . Thanks, Tamara! Go read about her Next Best Thing.

Then, I’ll have some friends posting about their Next Best Thing on Halloween Day! Stay tuned. If this sounds fun and you want to be tagged here, then answer these questions and send me your blog address.

 

Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:

What is your working title of your book?

Where did the idea come from for the book?

What genre does your book fall under?

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? May we see an intro?

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

What else about your book might piqué the reader’s interest?

 

Include the link of who tagged you and the people you have tagged.

I’m having fun! Are you? So … Tag, you’re it.

D. Ogden Huff

 

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The Official Announcement – Part 2!

Announcing the release of Supreme Chancellor of Stupidity, sequel to Master of Emotion, by D. Ogden Huff.

How do you get the girl you like to trust you more? Only Bryce would decide that pretending to kiss another girl was a good idea. You’d think a guy who could read thoughts would understand women better.

With the threat of the demented doctor who kidnapped him still looming, Bryce, suffers the consequences of an ill-timed kiss from his current crush, Amye. In an attempt to gain Amye’s trust and learn to control his habit of touching, he fakes a relationship with another girl, Emily.

But how long can he fake a relationship with Emily before Amye discovers his secret? Or before their fake relationship becomes a real one? And will these distractions put his faux girlfriend, his twin brother, and the rest of his sensory enhanced friends in harm’s way?

As Bryce uncovers their mysterious past, he’ll reveal his worst enemy—himself.

Purchase Supreme Chancellor of Stupidity at the following sites:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=d+ogden+huff

Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/146058

If you go to the Smashwords site at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/146058 you can read 20% of my book. I hope you enjoy the novel!

DeAnn Ogden Huff

Master of Emotion (Book 1), Supreme Chancellor of Stupidity (Book 2), Once Upon a Tour (release date May, 2012) http://www.dogdenhuff.com/

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“Award-winning” MASTER OF EMOTION!

MASTER OF EMOTION won 3rd Place in the ANWA Beginning of Book Contest (Young Adult Category)! Here is my entry if you want to read it.

Chapter 1 – “Sorry.”

It was the same feeling every time. My legs wouldn’t move.

He stood at the end of the crowded middle school hallway, his lifeless eyes boring a hole into me. Eyes of the walking dead. Body of any other pre-teenager. Everyone around us hurried and bustled, completely unaware of him.

He staggered toward me, his head hung low and the hood of his sweatshirt now shrouding his face. Methodically, his feet dragged with every step, as if he forced them on, using perpetual motion to push down the hall. He walked like a pallbearer carries the casket of his dead mother.

I wanted to run, to hide, to get as far away from the school as I could, but my feet had sunk down into the tiles of the hallway as if I wore cement shoes. They wouldn’t even budge. Not even a single crack.

He adjusted the strap of his backpack as we passed. I stood there, unable to move, as the boy’s exposed hand brushed against my bare shoulder. The touch only lasted a millisecond, but it hit me with the force of a collision that ripped through me and doubled me over.

My chest was imploding. Darkness filled my head and my limbs, the pit of my stomach, and choked down my throat.

“Sorry,” he mumbled as passed.

The hallway pushed in on me, squeezing me like a python suffocating its prey, but the world felt distant, like all its inhabitants had turned their back on me. The darkness consumed me, seeped through my skin like thick, cold tar. It filled me with uncontrollable grief and isolation that weighed down my whole frame and soul. I could feel my eyes drying, cracking, from the months of crying the boy had endured. My whole body wanted to escape itself.

I couldn’t live like this. There had to be a way out. I would do anything to make this feeling stop.

I clutched my chest, holding my insides in.

Anything.

 

I sat up in bed, panting, my shirt soaked with sweat. The nightmare seemed as real as that evening, six years ago, when my twin brother found me curled up in the corner of an abandoned classroom, still sobbing and wanting to die.

But I was alive. He had found me in time.

Unlike the boy from the hallway, who they found the next morning, sprawled on his bathroom floor with his stomach full of pills from his mother’s medicine cabinet.

Me? I’ve hardly touched anyone since.

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Can there ever be too much Romance in the world?

I love romance! I love it in my novels, my movies, my own writing, and especially in my marriage;) I’m a huge fan.

But as writers, it’s a fine line we walk between “appropriate” and “titillating.” We want our romantic scenes to be attention-getting. We want to emotionally engage our readers.

I’m often torn between pleasing a mother who wants me to “make the kissing scenes good” and keeping the scenes appropriate for my 12-year-old friends and 15-year-old daughter. So how much is too much?

Too much information can produce a physical response, a thrill that runs from your lips to your toes. At times, my temperature has significantly risen as I’ve finished reading a romantic scene from a “clean” novel. Although the feeling is pleasurable, do I want my young daughter to have the same response? And is it really appropriate for me either?

I’ve appreciated guidance lately from new guidelines from “For the Strength of Youth” on “Entertainment and Media,” “Sexual Purity,” and “Dating.”

https://www.lds.org/youth/for-the-strength-of-youth/entertainment-and-media?lang=eng

https://www.lds.org/youth/for-the-strength-of-youth/sexual-purity?lang=eng

https://www.lds.org/youth/for-the-strength-of-youth/dating?lang=eng

As I edited my new e-book “MASTER OF EMOTION” for final publishing, I actually cut a few scenes and moments that might have approached my line between”appropriate” and “titillating.” Better safe than sorry, I decided. But my line might be different from someone else’s. So what do you think? How did I do? If you haven’t read “MASTER OF EMOTION,” yet, you might want to take advantage of the $.99 price this month.

So, to you other “clean” writers out there: Where do you draw your line between “appropriate” and “titillating?” How do you balance creating an emotional response and a physical response?

I would love to hear your thoughts and comments.

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The Official Announcement

I did it!

I announced the release of my début novel, Master of Emotion. I think everyone who writes should e-publish at least one book, just for the learning experience. So here’s the press release:

Announcing the release of Master of Emotion, a YA paranormal romance by D. Ogden Huff.

Beau’s getting loads of attention lately. Whether he wants it or not. Even if it’s his worse nightmare.

When a reclusive teen with the enhanced ability to read others’ emotions finds more teens with similar powers, he must confront his fears before a budding romance and his twin brother’s life fall into the hands of the devious doctor who created them all.

For a longer summary of the novel, go to the following sites:

Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/111566

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Master-of-Emotion-ebook/dp/B006JNAX2M/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1323787380&sr=8-1

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13223883-master-of-emotion

All proceeds of this novel (after taxes and tithing) will be donated to a tax-deductible charity benefiting my nephew who has a severe, often life-threatening, form of Celiac Disease. See his story at http://prayformarky.blogspot.com/ . You can also go into any America First branch (in Utah) to make a Tax Free donation. The account is listed as, “Mark Jeanes Charitable Donations Account”.

This is the same novel that was a Quarterfinalist in the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards under the previous name of “Walls.”

Here’s another reason to read it—check out my experiment. Movies have soundtracks. Why not novels?

Within the text of the novel, when you find something that looks like this:

Listen to the unofficial Master of Emotion Soundtrack –
Song Title” from Secondhand Serenade’s “Album Title” album at http://www.myspace.com/secondhandserenade/music/songs/song title-#)”

I invite you to go follow the link and go to the internet and listen to one of Secondhand Serenade’s songs that fit the emotion of that moment in the novel. I’ve included a website address or two where you might be able to listen to the full song.

If you go to the Smashwords site at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/111566 you can read 20% of my book. I hope you enjoy the novel!

DeAnn Ogden Huff

Master of Emotion (Book 1)
Supreme Chancellor of Stupidity (Book 2)
Once Upon a Tour (expected release date May, 2012)
http://www.dogdenhuff.com/

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Obsession

ob·ses·sion
[uhb-sesh-uhn]
–noun
1. the domination of one’s thoughts or feelings by a persistent idea, image, desire, etc.
2. the idea, image, desire, feeling, etc., itself.
3. the state of being obsessed.

WRITING REQUIRES OBSESSION. LIFE REQUIRES OBSESSION.

The trade of authorship is a violent and indestructible obsession.
George Sand

The work is a calling. It demands that type of obsession.
John Pomfret

The creative habit is like a drug. The particular obsession changes, but the excitement, the thrill of your creation lasts.
Henry Moore

The obsession required to see a feature through from concept to release is not a rational thing to do with your brief time on this planet. Nor is it something to which an intelligent person should aspire.
Yahoo Serious

What moves those of genius, what inspires their work is not new ideas, but their obsession with the idea that what has already been said is still not enough.
Eugene Delacroix

Obsession led me to write. It’s been that way with every book I’ve ever written. I become completely consumed by a theme, by characters, by a desire to meet a challenge.
Anne Rice

The first four months of writing the book, my mental image is scratching with my hands through granite. My other image is pushing a train up the mountain, and it’s icy, and I’m in bare feet.
Mary Higgins Clark
People can get obsessed with romance, they can get obsessed with political paranoia, they can get obsessed with horror. It’s isn’t the fault of the subject matter that creates the obsession, I don’t think.
Adam Arkin

Without obsession, life is nothing.
John Waters

Cure for an obsession: get another one.
Mason Cooley

Obsession is an attractive thing. People who are really, really interested and good at one thing and smart are attractive, if they’re men.
Meryl Streep

Love is an obsession. It has that quality to it. But there are healthy obsessions, and mine is one of them.
Pamela Stephenson

Just make sure your obsession is the Write … Oops … I mean Right One.
DeAnn Ogden Huff

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Truth & Light in Whatever I Write