Saturday, July 13, 2013

My resolution for 2013 was to rewrite two novels and a number of children’s stories. My blogging came to a halt, but now I am determined to make a dent in the emptiness with the hope that something I share may be of benefit to someone.
This blog is dedicated to all would-be writers who could use some guidance. I had two books published and had won awards before I had to face the fact that I didn’t know much about writing. I have learned a great deal since last fall by attending several critique groups. This week, at the League of Utah Writer’s meeting, I read one of my short stories for children. I have shared this story with a number of women, but this was the first time I shared it with men. When one of the men commented the title sounded “erotic” I knew I had a problem. 
Words change with time—no news there, but a writer must keep that in mind. People perceive the written word from their own perspective, and unless writers go outside their family and friends to get critiques, they are most likely going to stay in their own box of understanding. 
I hope you will continue to write, write, and write. When you get the courage to share your thoughts, do so with a critique group that will give you honest input from outside your writing box.
 If you don’t know other writers (I have been there), search the web for groups that are open to newcomers. I found a number of groups in various states, groups for romance writers and groups for children’s writers within minutes.
A special thanks to all who have critiqued my work. My stories are much improved because of you.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Country Fiction
Reading a book of fiction is like traveling through time and space; writing a book of fiction is like traveling with the wings of an explorer. In my writing, those wings take me through fields of reality and into the lives of people who recognize we are all dependent upon the earth, water, and sunshine for our daily bread. My stories are about people who work hard, often starting before sun-up and ending after sundown to provide for their family. I write of people who reap the benefit of a valuable harvest from a garden, a field, or a life.
                In my book, Christmas Rose, a child named Rosie feels at home in a care center for the elderly. The life lessons she learns and teaches are basic, valuable glimpses into the human heart. After Christmas Rose became an award-winning book I submitted a young adult novel to my publisher. When my editor said the adult readers loved the story but their youth readers couldn’t relate to a farm girl, I was surprised but didn’t realize it was a symptom of a greater problem. Later, a friend recommended that in order to find a publisher in the children’s market, I needed to change my protagonist from a cow to a non-agricultural animal because we are no longer an “agrarian society.” She knew that most of the people who work for publishers have a very limited understanding or appreciation for a country way of life. Their genres are set and well defined according to certain standards. Now, several years and many manuscripts later, I realize that the stories I write based on hard working, country people and realistic situations are for those who love country living. 
It is clear from the number of farm magazines sent to our house each month there is a great deal of interest in publishing for the country/agricultural market. However, it is difficult to find fiction based on contemporary, country characters. Given my present understanding, I have decided to take advantage of publishing outside the mainstream market so that I may spread my wings to explore and share my stories. If you are interested in true-to-life country stories, I write Country Fiction for you. Perhaps, when there is a proven interest in Country Fiction, authors and readers will propel it into a recognized genre.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

State Fair and ?

Fall marks the winding down of warm summer days, consuming fieldwork, and late nights waiting for the sun to set so sleep will come. Along with the beginning of school and the harvest, my family looks forward to the State Fair. Showing our registered Holsteins is an annual event. We connect with 4-H and FFA youth who bring their animals, food, and crafts to prove their prowess at completing a project.
 We have become accustomed to the evening concerts, great food, and traveling acts. Often, we follow the crowd to stages featuring shows with lion tamers, high divers, and endangered animals. There is something for everyone at the fair.
This year, during the second week of the fair when the cattle barns were nearly empty, something happened that caught the attention of many visitors. Children, adults, and the State Fair Board made their way to the dairy barn. A  jersey cow, awaiting the dairy sale, had a heifer calf. The mother and calf rested in a large enclosure on a thick bedding of sawdust. People pointed, shared their amazement in hushed voices, and went away having experienced, for that tiny moment, nature at its best.
                    Since I live on a farm, the new calf was not a novelty to me. Still, I watched with pleasure as it took hesitant steps on wobbly legs. Watching the crowd was even more enjoyable. With exclamations of delight, children pushed against the gates to get a closer look. A timid smile played on the face of a father trying to explain, in proper terms, the feeding moment. There was more than one grossed out exclamation when the cow relieved herself.
Along with the calf’s birth, I had another unusual experience during my stay in Salt Lake City. While relaxing in a downtown park, I heard noise on State Street. I saw people, in what appeared to be their bathing suits, walking down the street and supposed they were youth going swimming. I was busy and didn’t pay much attention to what was happening until the increased noise caused me to look again. Curious, I wandered over to State Street. When I reached the sidewalk, it was obvious the people on the street were not children nor were they wearing bathing suits. I looked up the street that led to the State Capital then down toward the city. As far as I could see in both directions, the street was full of a moving mass of humanity. Taken aback, I asked a fully clothed passerby what was going on.
He shook his head and shrugged. “It’s an ‘undie run’.”
Bemused, I turned away and walked back into the park. My thoughts didn’t turn away so easily. What was the point, I wondered. Were they trying to prove something, following the crowd, or were they just bored? Surely, there was a solution to all three problems. Then I thought of what seemed like a perfect solution. A V-8 commercial helped me put my thoughts into words—They could’ve  gone to the fair.
View from my backyard