Saturday, January 26, 2008

Crossing Over

By Keith Fisher

I was challenged by a friend this week, to read a book by a certain LDS fiction author. I won’t mention the writer’s name to save myself the anger of the fans that love her work. Suffice it to say you would know who it is.

I was reluctant to read the book because it’s Romantic fiction, but it’s also Chick Lit. What is Chick Lit you ask? Its literature written for woman, about women, with situations only a woman can appreciate.

Don’t get me wrong, I like to think I’m a sensitive guy, but I’m a man, and I often think like one. My friend wanted a legitimate reason that I had never cracked open one of her favorite author’s books and I couldn’t think of an answer that wouldn’t insult the entire female population of the planet. (Well that’s probably not true. I’m sure the monkeys in Africa haven’t heard of the author.) I was between books anyway, so I said I’d read.

My friend not only lent me the book she brought the sequel. I guess she figured I needed some intense training, at any rate, I opened the book. After about fifty pages I began to worry about my testosterone levels. After a hundred, I decided it was a good story. I overlooked the exclusively feminine undertones and discovered a story with a moral that teaches people to never take anyone for granted.

Of course the story is like a big soap opera, but so is the bulk of what I’ve been reading lately, not to mention my life. The only difference is the emphasis placed on love and human relationships. With all the sappy, gooey, pathetic tear jerking prose I read this week, I discovered a couple of interesting things. I liked the story and I found a new genre.

As I mentioned before in this blog, the majority of readers who buy LDS fiction are female and for some reason, women love sappy romances. At this point a light bulb appears over my head and I decide it might be profitable to become a romance writer.

Can you see it now? Me at the Super Bowl party in a room full of manly men, someone says, "I didn’t know you were an author, what kind of books do you write?"
I look him in the eye, and with a straight face, say, "Romance novels."

You laugh, but the last time I visited the bookstore I noticed the number of romance novels exceeded most other genres. Closely followed by mysteries and suspense. So I might rethink my genre. Maybe I’ll add horror and re-write an old television show. I could call it Love Transylvanian Style.

Thanks to my friend--I really did like the book. And to all the rest of you, Good luck with your writing, I’ll see you next week.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Reading, Writing, and Visiting an Old Friend

By Keith Fisher

Reading is life’s blood for a writer. There are a few who claim reading other people’s work stifles their own creativity, but most writers will agree that reading is one of the best ways to become a better writer.

To this end, I have an ever-growing list of books to read; books I’ve heard about, books written by people I know personally, books written in my chosen genre. There are reference books, non-fiction books, and research, not to mention the magazines.

With so many things to read, and limited time to do it, I’m selective. I read the first lines, perhaps the first chapter of something and if it doesn’t grab my attention, I move on, vowing to come back and finish reading the rejected work, but somehow I never get back.

The pile of rejected books in my library caught my attention the other day. In the pile, there were great books, some by neglected writer friends. Some were manuscripts I promised to edit, others were books that should be thrown out (I can never bring myself to destroy the printed word). Anyway, I think I need to follow the example of Bill Gates. I’ve heard that he makes a stack of things he wants to read then he takes a couple weeks in retreat and does nothing but read from the stack.

Since I don’t have a retreat in Seattle, or the time to take off, I better stop adding to the pile. I need to read everything and help edit the works of those who have helped me by reading my stuff. I can’t take time to savor anymore—I need to read faster.

Okay, you caught me, I know I’ll never catch up, but maybe I can prioritize. I’ll just make more stacks and stop adding to them . . . you see the problem don’t you?

When I looked at my stack again I found an old friend. It was my missionary copy of the scriptures, dog-eared and used with torn pages, some pages with holes, all with hand written notes on them. I once called those scriptures my most valued possession.

I use new scriptures now, but they don’t fall open at the slightest touch of my hand like the others. Passages don’t seem to be in the same places, and I fight the pages trying to find what I’m looking for.

Perhaps there’s a metaphor here, but I’ll let you decide what it is. Tonight, I’m going to visit an old friend. Good luck with your writing and I’ll see you next week.

Friday, January 11, 2008

One Big Crazy Family

By Keith Fisher

I registered for the LDStorymakers conference the other day. As with everything else the price went up, but that’s not what I want to write about today.

I have a friend who wants to become a writer. She asked me where to start and I gave her a flippant answer I cannot recall, but then I went into detail about rough drafts, conflict, and characters, hooks, cliffhangers, and adverbs. I told her to start writing and read a lot. I told her to go to the writer’s conference.

In my attempt to teach her, my mind drifted over seventeen years, and hundreds of pages in books about writing. Magazine articles, writers clubs, and workshops. I realized I’ve come a long way. It hasn’t been easy, I’ve struggled with English and grammar, problems with plots, and time conflicts. But all in all it has been a good ride.

This will be my third LDStorymakers conference and I’m looking forward to it with all the wide-eyed optimism of a new writer. I can’t wait to see the antics of Tristi Pinkston, rub shoulders with the many talented people, meet new friends, and renew old acquaintances.

When I look at my many manuscripts in different phases of development, I realize I’m a much better writer than I used to be. Most of all, I can see the sweat and blood that I’ve put into them.

My friend, I know there is a chance you will be published on your first submission, but it may take more. Years will pile up, but you will be rewarded.

As I’ve written many times before, start writing and never quit—watch people and note how they do things. Let your imagination soar—it will take you to new ideas and plot twists that you never dreamed possible. Let your characters speak to you, don’t be afraid, because you’re not crazy . . . even if you are, you’re in good company. Go to a writer’s conference and you will see . . . we are all one big happy family of crazy people.

Good luck with your writing, and see you next week.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Another New Year/The Case of the Missing Hats

By Keith Fisher

I remember when I was kid, seeing discarded, fancy party hats and noisemakers at Grandma’s house on New Year’s Day. Us kids were allowed to play with them and it was fun, but I wondered what I was missing. What was the source of the noisemakers and joyful toys? I wanted to stay up late on New Year’s Eve and watch the reverie, just to be in on the goings on, but I wasn’t allowed.

"When you get older," Mom would always say, and I was left to my wild imagination about the rituals participated in, on that night of all nights. I don’t remember when I was finally allowed to stay up, but I do remember being disappointed. I wondered why I had cared so much. There were no party hats, noisemakers, or joyful toys. I think we played Monopoly and Grandpa won (as he always did on Sunday afternoons).

When I drifted away from the beliefs of my parents and began to experience another, non-LDS life I found a forum for the celebration, but I never saw any party hats. When I went on my mission, I still kept the ritual of sleeplessness (but with a somewhat more sedate form of entertainment). I remember my companion sticking his head out the window on a snowy night in Gander, NewFoundland, and shouting "Happy New Year" at the top of his lungs. All in all a very daring thing to do, but still no party hats.

When I got married and it was just the two of us, we wondered what the point was, and started watching Dick Clark in New York but still no party hats. Now that I’m older and sedate is a state of being, I wonder what all the shouting was about. A few years ago, my daughter was determined to stay up until midnight. She was fine until about ten, when she began to drift off. Through a series of pokes, jabs, and wrestling matches, we managed to keep her awake, but when it was finally time to sleep, she couldn't. She was too keyed up from wrestling. It was fun, but I think she wondered where the party hats were.

So now that I’m old—I don’t drink, I don’t have any fireworks to light off, and I normally stay up all night anyway, (I work the graveyard shift). I’m left to wonder two things: What is the point? And what was the ritualistic purpose of those party hats?

Good luck in your writing and remember it’s just a change of date on the calendar.

Friday, January 4, 2008

The Loss of Anonymity

You may have noticed the comments feature of our blog has the anti anonymous function turned on. When I discovered this, I was saddened. First, because some of us don’t have time to log into blogger before leaving comments and therefore we like to leave comments anonymously but sign our name at the bottom. It has been turned off because of a few foul-minded individuals who cannot control themselves.

Which brings me to the second reason for my sadness. There are those who feel the need to leave foul and abusive comments on our blog. Those MORONS who have nothing better to do with their time than to read a blog about the process of writing LDS fiction, then leave their disgusting mark on it like a male dog establishing new territory deserve our pity but not our attention.

So to those who would comment, but either don’t have a blogger account, or don’t have time to log in first, let me say, we at LDSWritersblogck wish to say we’re sorry. We want to thank you for reading and for your sage comments.