Tag Archives: Writing

Writing Challenge

By mishos from Georgia (Bus stop) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By mishos from Georgia (Bus stop) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The writer, T. S. Eliot, insisted that the most important element in writing is the “objective correlative” which evokes emotion by describing the objects in a setting in a way that the emotional state of the character seeing the scene is shown without telling the reader the motivation of the character.

To help teach the concept of the “objective correlative” to his students, a famous creative writing teacher, John Gardner, developed this exercise:

Write 250 words describing a bus stop from the point of view of a middle-age man who has just found out that his only son died. Don’t tell the reader what has happened. Instead, evoke emotion by describing the sights, sounds, odors, colors, and details that the man notices in his surroundings.

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Gifts and Goals

By ProjectManhattan (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
By ProjectManhattan (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
In this season of gifts and goals, I’ve been considering how the two things should be related. It’s natural to look at them together; after all, we’ve spent the Christmas season focusing on gifts, and now, a few weeks later, we’re thinking about our goals for the year.

We all recognize that our talents, including our ability to write, are gifts from our Heavenly Father. Just like a gift we receive at Christmas, where the giver hopes that we use his gift, God hopes that we will use the gifts and talents he has given us. However, I believe that  God expects more from us than only using our talent to write. President Spencer W. Kimball said: “God has endowed us with talents and time, with latent abilities and with opportunities to use and develop them in his service. He therefore expects much of us, his privileged children” (The Miracle of Forgiveness [1969], 100).

Three small words, “in his service,” change everything in that quote and prompt me to ask myself a question: When was the last time that I used my talent for writing “in His service?”

Some of you writers are amazing—writing scripts for church productions and beautiful religious music—but I’ve never been given that opportunity. Sure, I’ve used my talent for accounting to help ANWA by serving as Treasurer, but I haven’t used my writing talent “in His service.”

So, I’m hoping that some of you will join me in one of my 2014 writing goals. My goal is to find ways to use my gift for writing to serve God at least once a month. Blogging, writing emails, writing letters, writing family history stories, etc. will all count. Perhaps you’ve thought of others?

Then, when we are using our talents “in His service,” our Heavenly Father will magnify those talents and make us “sharper pencils” in His hands.

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Self-publishing Questions

A fellow ANWA member, Theresa Sneed, has recently decided to dive into indie publishing. She sent me a list of questions to interview me on her blog. Check out her adventure at http://theresasneed.com/. Here’s the interview:

1.  How many books do you have published, and are they all self-published? What are the titles and where can we purchase them? Please give link(s).

I’ve self-published all three of my completed novels:

Master of Emotion (Book 1 of my Young Adult Sci-Fi Romance series)

Supreme Chancellor of Stupidity (Book 2 of my Young Adult Sci-Fi Romance series)

Once Upon a Tour—An LDS Romance

All of my books are available as e-books and paperbacks on Amazon and as e-books on Smashwords. Here are the links:

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

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

2. How long have you been self-published?

Master of Emotion was published December, 2011, the other two in 2012.

3. Do you set goals or follow a schedule pertaining to writing, self-publishing, and marketing?

Well, when I self-published Master of Emotion, I intended to set goals and implement a marketing plan—but a very busy church job and a some other non-profit work got in the way. Since then, I’ve been able to self-publish my other two novels, first as e-books and then as paperbacks, but I’ve chosen to use any other free time I have available to write, rather than market my books. After all, writing is therapeutic and marketing is work. My goal now is to finish my Young Adult Sci-Fi Series and then market the whole series together.

4. If you’ve been self-published for a while, what changes have you seen in the self-publishing industry?

There are more resources and information available. Every day it gets easier.

5. If you’ve been traditionally published, what moved you to become self-published?

I haven’t been traditionally published, but a chapter meeting lesson on self-publishing convinced me to give it a try. I’ve never regretted that decision.

6. Simon and Shuster has jumped on the bandwagon with their self-publishing service called, Archways. Do you see self-publishing as the “wave of the future?”

Self-publishing is here to stay, but as more and more authors jump on the self-publishing bandwagon, the “supply” of books will go up. Laws of Economics dictate that when there is a high supply and demand doesn’t change, the price of books will be lower. Luckily, the profit margin to the self-published author is higher than to a traditionally published author so a lower price per book is acceptable. However, if the number of e-books continues to increase, it will make it more difficult to stand out in the crowd and get a share of the market.

Like the 1850’s Gold Rush, where the only people making money were the people selling stuff to the prospectors, in the 21st Century Book Rush, the only people making money may be a few authors who break-out from the crowd and those people selling products and services to the self-published authors. For the future, the only sure thing in publishing will be change.

7. Do you use a website and/or blog to market your book(s)? Please leave web addresses.

My website is www.dogdenhuff.com . Check it out!

8. What is your best tip for marketing self-published books?

I loved Lisa Mangum’s advice at the 2012 ANWA Writers Conference. She decided to do one marketing activity per week. That might include anything from blogging to facebooking to speaking. At the time, I thought I could do that—and I fully intend to. Once my life slows down.

9. Let’s talk money. How much more profitable has self-publishing been for you than traditional publishing? If you’ve never been traditionally published, have you found self-publishing to be worthwhile? Please give examples.

I didn’t self-publish for the money, so the few hundred dollars I’ve earned when someone has wandered over to one of my books is just icing on the cake. I never could have traditionally published during the last couple of years—I simply did not have the time. As a result, I wouldn’t have made any money at all. But now I’ve profited from my writing. How cool is that?

10. Do you support your family with your self-published earnings?

Heck, no. But I go on an occasional date with my husband with my self-published earnings. That’s cool too.

11. What has been the most difficult part of self-publishing for you?

Finding time for the work of marketing. Everything else is fun, not work.

12. What has been the most exciting or rewarding part of self-publishing for you?

I had no idea that self-publishing would be so much FUN. I’ve loved learning the process, seeing the results, getting feedback from readers. There’s nothing like reading my own words in a paperback novel. Friends actually believe I’m an author now.

13. There has been a stigma on self-published books making them seem of a lesser value than those traditionally published. Why do you believe this is so? With the advent of e-books and the saturation of easy-to-self-publish books, do you find this still to be true?

Back when self-publishing meant dumping a bunch of money into printing your books, there was a well-earned stigma that the authors that would do that were either naïve or arrogant.  But now that the quality of self-published books have gone up and the cost has gone down (to the point of being free) I think the table is turning. Traditionally published authors are looking at the high profit margins of self-published authors and getting a little jealous. In addition, it’s getting harder to tell the self-published book from a traditionally published book, and even more difficult with e-books. In the future, I think the stigma will be with unprofessionally edited books compared with professionally edited books. The successful self-published author will be one who is fanatical about the quality of his/her book.

14. What question have I not asked about self-publishing that you would like to pose and respond to?

Since you’re not self-publishing for the money, why do it?

1. To ensure my hard work isn’t wasted – What good does it accomplish having my novels sleeping in a folder on my computer?

2. To share with my friends and family – I want others to be able to read my novels now, not in three to five years.

3. To back up my documents – I don’t have to worry about losing my manuscripts if my computer crashes, my house burns down, or my two-year-old granddaughter helps me type.

4. To catch the wave (of self-publishing) – I didn’t want to be left watching others ride the wave to shore.

5.  To catch my mistakes – Reading from a paperback book makes it easier to see my errors, my misspellings, my repeated words that somehow don’t appear on my computer screen. I swear they weren’t there before!

6. To get real feedback from someone other than family and friends – Strangers will tell you the truth. You learn a lot from the truth.

7. To avoid sending queries and getting rejection letters – Self-publishing is my way of sending agents, editors, and publishing companies a rejection letter from ME. Feels good.

8. To learn tons – I have new mad editing skills, cover design skills, and website skills. I’m a self-publishing ninja.

9. To have FUN – I have giggled with glee repeatedly as I’ve self-published my novels. Writing is more fun when you can see the result.

10. To claim bragging rights – I’m a real author and have the books to prove it. Boo-Yah.

I’m having fun! Are you?

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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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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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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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