Sunday, April 26, 2009

With a Little Help From my Friends

By Keith Fisher

I Joined Facebook back in November in order to promote my writing career. I started making writer friends. Most of those friends were friends already, but I began to make new friends and my circle increased in size.

Now, I have 217 friends (not all writers) but I have a small army of a network. That means if I happen to be having a book signing in almost any town, I can announce it on Facebook and some of my friends will come and support me.

At the recent LDStorymakers conference, I attended a publisher’s panel discussion, and listened to Lyle Mortimer, President of Cedar Fort, suggest writers join Facebook and make friends with him. I smiled because I already had. I’d been commenting on his wall, and he’d commented on mine.

Lyle is right. Now I have a friend who is a publisher. That friendship won’t nescisarily get me published, but it will get me looked at. My manuscripts will have a better chance of being printed.

This type of networking, however, is not new to the internet. I also, belong to other groups like Author’s Incognito. It’s an online support network exclusively for those who attended an LDStorymakers conference. The membership is growing, and those friends offer support and expertise. Often times, if I have a plotting question or problem, I can post it to the group and almost always, someone, who is an expert in one way or the other, will offer professional help. I can get first hand advice from medical people, police officers, even high school English teachers.

It's like Nichole said on Thursday, "We need a support system in which we feel a special kinship, one that gives us the ability to share knowledge with, and encourage each other."

Writing, and getting published, is easier because of my increasing circles of friends. In 1967 The Beatles recorded a song on the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. The lyrics were, and can be, interpreted in many ways, but the relevant part for us is the first verse:

What would you think if I sang out of tune,
would you stand up and walk out on me.
Lend me your ears and I'll sing you a song,
and I'll try not to sing out of key.
Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends,
I get high with a little help from my friends,
oh, I'm gonna try with a little help from my friends.

By changing the words slightly, we can relate this to writing instead of singing and then it becomes a theme song to sing when we need help with our writing. If you just launched your writing career, I suggest you start now, to build your network. Even if you never need their help, a person can always use a friend.

Good luck in your writing---see you next week.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


By Keith Fisher

Fair warning! I’m going to talk about romance again. "Oh no!" you say. "When is he going to give it a rest?" I promise I won’t make fun of the genre, because well, if you’ve followed my blog recently, you know, my new work in progress, although I intended it to be general fiction, has turned into romance.

I’m sure no one is more surprised than me about that. While looking at the Deseret Book catalogue, I saw the new books by Anita Stansfield, Rachel Ann Nunes, and Josi S Kilpack. I suddenly realized if I pull this off, if my book does well and I follow it with another and another, I could someday be counted as one of their contemporaries.

Is that a scary thought for you? Considering, I set out to become the next Dean Hughes, it definitely gives me cause to think. But then again, have you read his new book, Promises To Keep? It's a romance.

In the course of plotting my book, I discovered hidden talents. I think it surprises my critique group as much as it does me. They point out my usual bad writing mistakes, and show me places where I must learn to think more like a woman. The ladies continue to tell me to get into my character’s heads, because I’m writing for women, and the audience would like to experience the feelings. It’s a difficult balance to write like a man but make it intriguing to a woman.

It’s frustrating sometimes, but they’re right. I know it, and I’m grateful for those four ladies who have unending patience with me, especially, when my natural inclination is to argue. To be truthful, however, I am getting better, and they deserve a medal, but let me get to the point.

Back when I was more righteous, I served a mission in the Maritime Provinces of Canada. The schools up there had a program called French Immersion. For a period of time the student had to speak, read, and do everything in French. The other day, I noticed the marquee at a local elementary school referred to a Spanish Immersion program.

Like the programs above, I think my mind is immersing me in romance. I’ve noticed a change lately in the things I read, and the movies I watch. This was not a conscious effort, I assure you. I have been revisiting movies I watched years ago like; You’ve Got Mail, Casablanca, Sleepless in Seattle, Key Largo, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Charade, and Murphy’s Romance to name only a few. I’ve even been reading Nicholas Sparks. I catch myself analyzing character motives and feelings.

It seems my mind is determined to turn me into a romance author. It’s taking me into a new realm. I guess if it has its way, and if the ladies in my critique group keep having patience, I might end up as a contemporary of those ladies above . . . well, maybe someday.

We all know, one of the rules of good writing is to read, read, read. Especially the genre we write in. I never really read a lot of romance before, and you might laugh, considering what I’ve said in the past about romance, but this story has a desire to be told, and I’m learning as I go.

Good luck with your writing---see you next week.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Don't Overlook an Idea

By Keith Fisher

One day, during a recent hospital vigil, I went looking for a private place. I needed to get away, shed a few tears, and try to put my life in perspective. Going down in the elevator, I remembered the chapel.

Sitting in the back, in the comfortable chairs I removed my glasses and rubbed my face. Everyone has those moments, and I had one of mine. After a while, I began to notice the cut glass mosaic behind the pulpit. I saw the rose depicted in colored glass. I followed the sweeping lines of the leaves and traced the layers of the rosebud.

I finished my moment, and squared my shoulders, willing myself to go on. I put my glasses on and glanced at the mosaic again. It had changed---the rose had turned into pieces of cut glass arranged in uncertain patterns. I visualized where the rose had been, but my mind could not focus on it.

I alternated between glasses on and glasses off for a few minutes, and marveled at the contradiction. My glasses might be the wrong prescription, but they usually provide clarity of vision.

I don’t know why I couldn’t see the rose with my glasses on, but the experience provided distraction from my troubles, and I am grateful for it.

As a writer, I search my mind and experiences with life to find plot direction. I tend to overlook the silly or unbelievable, thinking the reader would never believe it, or it would change the whole direction the book is supposed to go. So, I ignore those thoughts trying to bring my mind into sharper focus.

I wonder what would happen if I took off my glasses and ran with the unusual? It might take my book in refreshing and publishable directions. I have a friend in my critique group who did that. She writes historical fiction with serious subjects. One night, she and her husband got silly, joking around with what if scenarios. The result of that laugh fest will be a wonderful light-hearted series of books everyone will love, and they are not historical.

Maybe sometimes we should take off our writer’s glasses and enjoy the view. If nothing else we could have a wonderful time exploring the silly. Perhaps we should stop taking ourselves so seriously. It’s true, we can’t all write humor but like the time I spent in the chapel, sometimes we all need a little distraction.

Good luck with your writing---see you next week.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Extension of Light

By Keith Fisher

Have you ever seen morning sunlight through the fuzzy tips of a pussy willow? The soft aura-like glow makes each pod appear to have an inner source of light extending out to the world. I want to be like a pussy willow.

Like every writer, I have moments when the world goes away. I am left with characters and scenes in worlds of my imagination. At times like these, the gratification of my chosen craft can be overwhelming. The pure expression of creativity provides joy and brings tears to the eye.

There is another expression that sometimes happens. Like the moment above, The gratification brings tears, and I rejoice in my chosen craft. Being a writer of LDS fiction, I have a unique opportunity. While writing faith-building experiences into the lives of my characters, I often feel a sweet spirit. Tears come to my eyes and I feel the scene can touch the heart of a reader.

There are times, however, when both moments come together and I am left with a sense of awe. I cannot believe what I wrote, and I’m convinced that somebody needs to read it. Often, when this happens, I discover a need in my own life, to adjust my actions to be closer to my Heavenly Father.

As writers, we can have influence. Unfortunately, many of us use that influence, and direct readers down convoluted paths. Not always voluntarily, and I hope not intentionally. Others lead people to a place in their heart where God can help them know they are loved, and they are of eternal great worth. This too is not always voluntarily, but sometimes it is intentional.

I regret to admit that I often find myself on the convoluted paths, but I hope to someday be like the pussy willow. To radiate the light from within, to intentionally influence others to do good, to build lives of joy and happiness. This, I believe is one of the reasons I exist. Until I get there, I’ll keep trying to touch lives as best I can.

Good luck in your writing---see you next week.