Friday, October 28, 2011


Any writer has probably heard, “show, don’t tell,” a million times. But what, exactly, does it mean? Should we always show, and never tell? The old adage, “too much of a good thing,” can fit easily into the answer.

A little telling once in a while is good, especially when trying to get quickly from one place to another. In a similar fashion walking is good. It’s really great exercise, and the best way to get from room to room in our house. We’d never think of taking the car to get from our bedroom to the kitchen. However, when we need to get to work or to just about any other place, the car is necessary.

Is that totally confusing?

To make it less confusing, I’ll share my pet peeve in telling—“and they kissed. Passionately.” What a let down! Scenes like this need a little more showing. But then, in other instances in our characters’ lives, all we need is a little word or two, especially if it has nothing to do with the plot of the story. For instance, the shower scene in Psycho. It serves a very real purpose in that movie, but if we put our character in the shower and spend a whole scene on it, there had better be a good and compelling reason. If there’s not, but you still want everyone to know that your character showers, then, “he/she showered and dressed,” is perfectly and wonderfully acceptable.

Here are two tips from the book, Self-editing for Fiction Writers, by Renni Browne and Dave King:

1.      Flip through your manuscript without even reading it—just notice the white space. How much of it is there? Do you have any super long paragraphs?

2.      If one of your scenes seem to drag, try making the paragraphs shorter.

Of course the perfect blend of show/tell is something you’ll just have to get a feel for with practice. In my novel, Farewell, My Denmark, I had a scene where the MC had wandered away from her parents and other immigrants. The ship’s whistle blew, and she ran back. That’s about as much thought as I gave it in the first draft. But then, after many edits, I stretched the scene out to this:

“How long had I been gone? How could I be so foolish? My parents were probably stricken with grief over my absence. Panic seized my breast. I ran toward our harbor hoping I was not too late to join them.

Unable to get there fast enough while wearing my wooden clogs, I pulled them off knowing I’d have to repair my stockings later, and grabbed them and my skirts up to hasten my arrival.

The horn blasted again. I’d gone too far. I would never make it in time. My lungs burned and my legs threatened to give way, but I ran all the harder. It seemed like an eternity. Had I really passed all these shops or was I lost? I kept running. This had to be the way.

I spotted the Saints ahead and a tear fell from my eye. I wiped it off with the back of my hand and nearly tripped, but I didn’t stop running until I came upon the edge of the crowd. The group was visibly smaller. Here I stopped and bent to catch my breath—it came in large pants and gulps. Sweat dropped from my forehead. My vision blurred, darkening temporarily, and my knees ached.”

I know some folks don’t care for questions in novels, but I ask myself questions all the time, so I feel that they add a touch of realism to novels.

As you can see, my paragraphs are fairly short, and this scene is more interesting than merely saying she ran back to the ship. It adds a little character to my character.
Do you have any tips on show/tell that you'd like to share?

Friday, October 21, 2011


Welcome to the Author Inquisition. This is when I get to interview authors and kinda pick their author-brains for all the good stuff. Author Margaret Turley is in the hot seat today. Hello Margaret. Go ahead and make yourself comfortable.

Margaret: Hello Tina 
So, what good stuff do you have for us? (Drums fingers on table.) How about writing advice—do you have advice for all of us aspiring authors out there?
Margaret: Write Everyday

Well Margaret, I can see that you’re a woman of few words. You must save them for your novels eh? What, then, is your favorite activity when you’re not writing?
Margaret: Reading

I like reading too. I take books to work and read during my lunch break. Of course I’m also eating at the same time.

If you write every day—do the words always flow smoothly? Or, are you like me and occasionally get stumped?

Margaret: When I’m experiencing writer’s block, I do something called, Four Sentence Exercises. It helps me every time.

Wow, that sounds interesting. You should share your tips on that sometime. How about snacks? Do you snack when you write?
Margaret: I snack on anything I don't have to cook.


Margaret: No.

Margaret: No.
How about green eggs and ham?

Margaret: You have to cook the eggs.
Oh, that’s right. So, Cheetos, granola, chips and things like that?

Margaret: What I really like is fruit with granola, or sliced apples or celery sticks with peanut butter. Instead of soda, I drink about a gallon of water a day.
I like to drink water too, but I don’t get near a gallon a day. How many books do you have published?

Margaret: Four

Do you have any others coming out soon?

Margaret: I have two different manuscripts being evaluated by agents, and a revision of my novel, Save the Child, will be out with new cover the beginning of 2012.

That is so exciting!  Can you please share a short blurb about them?

Margaret: The first one is called, Legend of Circle Stone. It’s a Middle-Grade Fantasy set in the Superstition Mountains. The second manuscript is, The Light, and it’s a compilation of several short stories based on New Testament Scripture. Then in February I'll be pitching a middle-grade historical fiction series based on the Book of Mormon at the ANWA conference. First in the series is about the Stripling Warriors.
Historical fiction and fantasy are my two favorite genres—along with romance. Blend a little romance with the historical or the fantasy, and I’m in heaven—literarily-speaking, of course.
I just had an idea … you don’t need to cook ice cream. Do you like ice cream?

Margaret: My all-time favorite is vanilla with toppings!
Mmmmm! My favorite vanilla with toppings is Dairy Queen’s waffle bowl with strawberries drizzled with chocolate-shell sauce and topped with whipped cream … (eyes closing, picturing that yummy waffle bowl and dreaming of the last time I ate one.)

Margaret: Tina? Tina! Are you still there???
Oh, right. Back to the inquisition. Do you have a favorite writer’s memory?

Margaret: I love having someone tell me that what I wrote made a difference to them.

Yes, that is especially nice. I see you online a lot. Do you have a favorite way to get the word out about your books?
Margaret: I like to use social media. This includes blogs, twitter, Facebook, Linked-In and others.

When I was a kid, I used to watch that cartoon, Twitter and Sylvesty. It was about a canary and a cat, and as I remember, it was pretty funny.
Margaret: You mean Tweety and Sylvester.

Oh, yeah, that’s right. Well, Margaret, it’s been nice talking to you, but I have a DQ strawberry waffle bowl calling my name.

Margaret: Thanks for having me. I think an ice cream sounds good right about now. I think I’ll have one too.

Before we head out the door to DQ, can you please give us your blogs and other ways to get a hold of you?
Margaret: Sure thing. I'm involved in several things as you can tell.
I - author interviews, book reviews and articles on writing and writing events. - cancer, alternative healthcare, children's welfare and health, and occasional book reviews on related topics.

I have two twitter accounts: @WritersCanFight and @MargaretLarsenT

Friday, October 14, 2011


is the theme of the February 2012 ANWA-sponsored writer’s conference. With me today is one of the presenters scheduled for the event; multi-published author (and one of my personal favorite’s) Joyce DiPastena.

Hello, Joyce. Thanks for coming on my blog. I’m so excited! I’ve read Loyalty’s Web probably five times, and Illuminations of the Heart nearly that many. If any of my readers aren’t familiar with Joyce’s books, let me just mention that they are full of adventure, danger, and romance. If you like Robin Hood or King Arthur, you will love Joyce’s books. 
Joyce: Wow! Thank you, Tina, and thanks for inviting me on your blog.
I understand that you have another book coming out?

Joyce: Yes. It’s called Dangerous Favor, and I should have copies to sell at the conference.

So, give us the elevator pitch.

Joyce: Mathilde de Riavelle has one chance to find and marry a man with the wealth and connections to help her prove her father innocent of an accusation of theft. Etienne de Brielle, the younger son of a disgraced family, has neither wealth nor connections, but he is smitten with Mathilde at a glance. Alas, when he tricks her into granting him her favor, a sleek white ribbon, for a tournament, she becomes convinced that he is only out to seduce her. Can Etienne convince Mathilde that he is the true hero of her dreams in time to save her from a nightmare from her past?

Ooo, I’ll be one of the first ones standing in line. Let’s talk now about your class at the writer’s conference. What is the name of your class?

Joyce: It’s called, Breathing Life Into Historical Research.
I don’t write medieval stories. Will this class work for me?

Joyce: Yes. Knowing how to research, and how much of it to put in your novel can be useful in any genre. Whether you are working on a historical romance, mystery, YA, grade fiction, or straight adult historical fiction, my class on Breathing Life into Historical Research will help you do just that. Here’s a little blurb to describe what we’re going to do.

“Just the facts, ma’am”, may work for Dragnet, but not for your historical novel. No matter how fascinating those facts may be to you, the author, stopping your story cold to share them in loving detail with your reader is a sure fire formula for triggering reader skimming at best, page skipping at worst. How much detail is too much? And how can you persuade a reader to stick around to love those details with you?

This is not a class on how to do historical research, although we will touch upon that subject. Our goal will be how to take historical facts once you have discovered them and weave them into a story in such a way that they live and breathe for the reader. This will be a hands-on class, so bring pen and paper or laptop or your favorite mode of transcription at writers’ conferences. Class members will be given sets of facts from which to write an in-class scene with the techniques discussed. Already working on a historical novel? Bring your own set of research facts to practice with. Just want to listen and learn from others? Lurkers welcome, too!
This sounds great! I know I’ll be there. Thank you so much for coming.

Joyce: I’ll see you there, and thanks for letting me come.
If any of my cyber-friends want to improve their writing skills as well as mingle with agents, publishers, and authors like Joyce, Time Out For Writers will have something for both novices and seasoned authors. Follow the link below to learn more about the conference or to sign up. I hope to see you there!

Monday, October 10, 2011


Can you remember the sweet smell of cotton candy--does it take you back to the State Fair as a kid?
Smells are like that. We can be going along, doing fine, and then with one familiar smell, we're taking a trip down memory lane. Our other senses can do the same thing.

The sound of a train's whistle takes me back to my childhood. (I wanted to be a hobo as a kid.)

The taste of a good ice cream reminds me of my dad--he used to make ice cream regularly. He made fudge at Christmastime, and now that he's gone, these are precious memories for me.

So, how can we use our senses in our writing? Try to heighten our senses with exercize. (It's not as bad as it sounds.)

My husband loves to people-watch--airports, restaurants--anywhere there's people--and this is a good exercize. Close your eyes and listen. (See how easy this is?) Pay attention to what you hear. Open your eyes--what do you see? Pretend to be on one of those reality chef shows and eat something blindfolded. Savor it. Can you pick out several of the ingredients? The salty, the sweet, the textures? Pay attention to it all.

Write down your impressions; the things you see; the flavors you pick out of a recipe. The more often we exercize our senses, the better able we'll be able to access them when we're writing.

Friday, October 7, 2011


If you're having a bad day, this should cheer you up. Sit down for a moment and enjoy a good bit of comedy. It's rated G.

Now on to dinner. This is one of my favorites. Notice that the lasagna noodles are not pre-cooked. This concept also works with traditional lasanga. Just remember to add the boiling water.
Chicken Lasagna
1C. cottage cheese
3 oz. cream cheese, softened and cut up
1 (103/4 oz) can cream of mushroom soup
1C. loose pack frozen cut broccoli
1/3 C. sliced celery
¼ C. milk
1 tsp minced dried onion
¼ tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp ground sage
6 lasagna noodles
1 C. cooked ground turkey
½ C. shredded cheddar cheese
2/3 C. boiling water

In mixing bowl, stir together cottage cheese and cream cheese; set aside. In another mixing bowl, combine soup, broccoli, celery, milk, dried onion, oregano, sage and cooked turkey; set aside. Spoon a small amount of soup mixture into the bottom of a greased 10x6x2-inch baking dish, then place in 2 uncooked lasagna noodles. Layer with half the cottage cheese mixture and 1/3 soup mix. Repeat layers of noodles, cottage cheese, and soup/turkey. Top with remaining noodles, and remaining soup/turkey mix. Sprinkle with cheese. Slowly pour boiling water into dish around entire inside edge. Cover tightly with foil. Bake at 350 for 60 – 65 minutes or until noodles are soft. Let stand, covered for 10 minutes. Serves 6.

**This can also be cooked in the microwave. Use microwave-safe plastic covering. Cook approximately 20 minutes--or until noodles are soft.

Monday, October 3, 2011

THE OUTER EDGE OF HEAVEN, A Love Story written by Jaclyn M. Hawkes

Charlie Evans agrees to spend the summer in Montana with her best friend Fo at his uncle’s ranch in order to strategically avoid her parents and their insistence that she attend law school and marry a man they handpicked—divorce attorney Christopher Elroy. Who marries a divorce attorney?
THE OUTER EDGE OF HEAVEN, A Love Story written by Jaclyn M. Hawkes caught my attention from the very first paragraph. It’s full of fun, friendship, family drama, romance, and even a dash of suspense.

Under the big skies of Montana, Charlie finds a home with the Langston family. Working as their nanny, Charlie is able to do things with the younger Langston children that she always wished her mother would have done with her—plant and tend a garden, watch Charlotte’s Web etc. Even though she also teaches them to clean up after themselves and be respectful, the children adore her.
Not only does Charlie love the children, she develops a special relationship with Luke, the second oldest son. He loves her too, but that doesn’t mean they’ll end up together. Luke is used to sacrificing what he wants for what he feels is best for others. And he is sure that Charlie wants to go to Utah and attend law school. He is also sure that his asking her to stay is another form of manipulation and he knows that Charlie is tired of people (her parents) trying to manipulate her.

Charlie’s parents are always on the fight trying to get their daughter to do what they feel is best for her. All through the book, I wondered if Charlie would go to law school for her parents, or if she would finally be firm with them. (She’s a return missionary, and has a bachelor’s degree.)
It’s here in Montana where the locals seldom think to lock a door that Charlie is attacked and barely escapes with her virtue. The man is caught and sent to jail, but as is often the case, he makes bail the next day and is released. Charlie gets a restraining order, but her stalker doesn’t back off.

Hawkes portrays beautifully dysfunctional families—first with Charlie and her parents—and again with the Langstons. That’s one of the endearing qualities of this story. Although the characters are all members of the Mormon Church, their lives are far from perfect.
This is one story that I’d highly recommend if you want a fun and relaxing getaway.
Go here to get your copy:

Saturday, October 1, 2011


                       20th Annual ANWA
                        Writers Conference

                     February 23 - 25, 2012
Registration opens October 1, for the 20th annual ANWA Writers Conference Time Out for Writers, February 23-25, 2012 at the Mesa Hilton Hotel. Space is limited -register early.

The first 20 people to register for the full conference AND book their Mesa, Hilton Hotel room will be eligible to have breakfast Saturday morning with an agent, editor or author on the faculty.

Also, Thursday night's workshops on Query Letters and Pitches or the Critique Camp are FREE if you register for the full conference AND book your Mesa, Hilton Hotel room. (Hotel discount available for Conference attendees.)

A variety of classes for beginning to advanced writers are available, including Writing Basics, Dialog, Characters , Plot, Family History, Romance, Fantasy, Non-Fiction, Adult, YA, and Middle Grade.

 ~ Anita Mumm of Nelson Literary Agency                  
 ~ Lisa Mangum of Deseret Book
 ~Joshua Perkey of the Ensign                                    
 ~Linda Radke, President of Five Star Publications
 ~Million-book selling author, Janette Rallison                         
 ~Award winning authors, Donna Hatch and Joyce DiPastena.
 ~Well known children's author, Conrad Storad                                                                         ~ Sara Fujimura covers essays and magazine writing  
 ~Journalist, Brent Whiting                                                                                                   ~Music Writer, Sandra Hendrickson
 ~ Illustrator/author Deirdra Coppel                                                                                         ~Copy Writing with Matt Peterson.
 ~More faculty members listed soon.
 Pitch opportunities with editors and agents available.

FIRST TIME EVER, ANWA is hosting the BOB Writing Contest. BOB stands for "Beginning of Book", for all attendees. Rules: First 500 words, manuscripts must be non-published and not under contract at time of submission. "Clean" submissions only. Enter as many manuscripts as you wish. Winners announced at lunch on Saturday. All entrants receive comments and feedback from the judges. See details on registration page as of October 1st.

Another new opportunity this conference: The Meet & Greet Friday Evening with the editors, agents and authors will ALSO include bookstore owners and managers scheduling book events for their stores with authors who attend the conference.

Wait! Yet another new first:  "Story Time" During Friday's lunch, attendees will have the unique opportunity to listen to authors read 10 minutes of their story. Authors will be newly published ANWA authors, faculty authors and other ANWA authors. Books will be signed then too.

Questions about the Conference, contact ANWA Event Co-Chairs, Cindy or Patti at            
Hilton Hotel Discounts: 1-800-544-5866 CODE: ANWA or American Night Writers

                1011 W. Holmes Ave. Mesa, AZ 85210           

To register beginning October 1, go to:
Questions about ANWA go to: