Saturday, November 28, 2009

What Day Did You Say It Is?

By Keith Fisher

It’s two days after Thanksgiving? So, that’s why we went to Grandma’s for dinner. Unless you live in a vacuum, I’m sure you knew about the day and Black Friday.

I hope you find joy in retrospect. For some people, the day when we pause to thank the source of all our blessings is not always a day of rejoicing. Whatever the reasons, some folks are left with feelings of neglect and abandonment. May we remember those left out, and help bring them into the warmth of blessings unending.

This play on words serves to remind us of the higher purpose in the holiday. Showing thanks by giving makes me happy. Happy Thanks and Giving. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season.

Along with the start of interminably repeating Christmas music, comes the day we call Black Friday. I’ve been known to make a few disparaging remarks about that chaotic madhouse of scrambling shoppers. But in this year of economic upheaval, and loss of hope, I ask the question. What if, after all the hype and preparations. What if nobody showed up? What if people read the door buster announcements, but decided they couldn’t afford anything extra, and stayed home?

I didn’t want go to the store yesterday, but I had to pick up some pictures. Rather than feeling stress, I felt strangely cheered to see people buying things. The checkout line seemed tolerable because, those folks demonstrated their faith in the economy, by purchasing things they hope to be able to afford.

The experience didn’t increase my desire for new toys, I still can’t afford it, but the Christmas tradition brought hope. I’ll try to ignore my claustrophobic feelings, (and no, that’s not a fear of Santa Claus). Who knows, I might even make it through the season without getting sick of the music.

Good Luck with your writing—see you next week.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


By Keith Fisher

note: when you finish, check out the link at the bottom

Did you ever find yourself relearning things you should’ve remembered? As I get older, it becomes a ritual. I think it’s the reason lessons and sermons at church tend to repeat. Eventually we’ll get it, and incorporate those principles into our lives.

I realized the implication one day, when I read a repeated blog, here on this site. I knew it was repeated, because I wrote it the first time. Never mind, that it was better than mine. At first, I felt miffed. Then, I realized I repeat myself, all the time, in this blog.

As I said above, its good to repeat lessons, and review notes from classes, workshops, and conferences. Today I'm going to repeat. But I have a new twist.

While going over edits from my critique group, I remembered the comments made about a particular part. I wrote.

The razor blade was new and cut well. Brady could hardly tell he was shaving.

The comments directed me to remove it because it’s not important to the story. I listened, considered the counsel, and agreed with them.

Later I reflected on why I’d written it. Let me try and explain. To a man who shaves with a blade, the statement indicates it’s a good day. It says life is good and I feel great.

Considering my critique group are all women, They wouldn’t get it. Although they shave their legs, they’ve probably never faced a new day by staring in a bathroom mirror, lathering their beards, and dragging a dull razor over a tender chin.

Then, I thought about those men who’ve never used anything but electric razors. They wouldn’t get the point either. Of course there are children, and men who never shaved. Many people could read my book, and never get the point.

The image is powerful to me, because I know how it feels to have a good, clean, shave. It’s even more powerful, when I consider how hard it is to shave a full beard without cutting myself. It can be done, but it’s not a great way to start a day.

So I realized imagery is subject to interpretation, and an individual perspective. If I want you to know that Brady was having a terrific morning, I need to find a universally understandable way of writing it. It’s all about life’s simple pleasures. The feel of warm water on your skin while taking a bath, the taste and feel of sugar as it melts on your tongue, and sitting back on a soft recliner after a hard day of strenuous work. Your muscles begin to relax, and your whole body feels like it would drift away.

If your reader has never experienced these things, he/she won’t relate. Considering perspective is vital in our work of showing, instead of telling.

Good luck in your writing—see you next week.

PS check out my review of An Angel on Main Street by Kathi Oram Petersen at A Writer’s Eyes

An Angel on Main Street

A book review by Keith Fisher

When you buy your short stories and novelettes to give as Christmas gifts, this year, I suggest you take a look at Kathi Oram Petersen’s new book, An Angel on Main Street.

This blurb from the back cover says it all.

Micah Connors promised his mother he would be good in their new town. But with Christmas only three days away, being escorted home by the sheriff does not bode well. Can the towering officer be trusted not to tell what happened?

Perhaps the ramshackle stable that has appeared on Main Street will sidetrack him from spilling the day’s events—or maybe his interest in Micah’s widowed mother will do the trick. The last thing Dawn Connors needs is to hear her son is in trouble. She has enough to worry about with her husband gone and her daughter, Annie, ill.

Even though Micah has told his sister the rustic structure in the middle of town is simply part of the town’s holiday decorations, Annie is sure that unseen angels are building the crude stable—which means baby Jesus is coming, and he can make her better.

Terrified that his little sister might die, Micah vows to find the baby Jesus for Annie, even if it is only a plastic doll. But as Micah gets nearer to his goal he finds angels are closer than he ever would have believed.

Aren’t all miracles supposed to happen at Christmas? It’s that time of year again, and this book will help you get in the mood. As a reviewer, I’m obligated to give an honest opinion, and I found a few mistakes, but it’s a Christmas story and will help motivate you to give of yourself for the season.

You can find your copies at the fine bookstores. Also, at the Covenant website.

Softcover 6” X 9”
112 pages
ISBN 978-1-59811-721-9

God Bless, and happy holidays.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Blog Tour Stop and Other Stuff

By Keith Fisher

Good Morning Dear Readers! And that is not just a greeting, All my readers are dear to me. It has been an interesting week, and, I’m sure, you can say the same about yours.

I have a couple of things to write about today, but first, let me get the blog tour stuff out of the way. Oh, by the way, what do you think of the new portrait?

As many of you know, Heather Justesen, (who used to blog on this site), has a new book out. I reviewed it on my other site A Writer’s Eyes. Go and read what I said, BUT, wait until you finish reading this blog.

Heather is holding many contests and give-away events to kick of the launch of the book. Visit her website and blog for more info. She also has a cool trailer out. Her book, The Ball’s In Her Court, published by CFI, is now in Deseret Book, Seagull Book and Tape, Barnes and Noble, And many other fine book stores and websites. Go see my review, and pick up your copy today.

Now, let me thank you for reading. Let’s be honest, there are times in a struggling writer’s day when we get discouraged. It’s normal, part of the game, but knowing someone is reading makes it all worthwhile. Having those readers come back, is like putting frosting between two Graham crackers. (Did you notice the way I avoided a cliché there?)

I would be terribly ungrateful if I didn’t say thank you dear reader.

Recently, while posting my status on Facebook, I thought of a metaphor that helped me. I had grudgingly decided to take my novel apart and put it back together. I remembered the time I rebuilt the carburetor in my truck. I was in high school, and took it apart, more out of curiosity, than anything.

I put all the pieces in a parts washer, and made them shine. I needed new gaskets, so I bought a kit. When I attempted to put it back together, I found I couldn’t remember where everything went. I panicked when I found the kit instructions weren’t clear enough to understand. To make matters worse, I found new pieces in the kit that didn’t match anything I’d taken off the part.

It took a full day to figure it out, and it helped to realize the kit was universal for many different carburetors and the extra pieces weren’t needed. I learned many other lessons that day. Perhaps the most important was, the order in which the pieces go back together makes all the difference.

My current work in progress has some great elements. The concept is sound, the characters are growing, but but unlike the carburetor, there are problems and I need to take it apart. there are extra pieces I don’t need. Also, by writing important facts before establishing groundwork some of it needed explanation. In some places I tried to cheat the assembly, by leaving parts out. I also had problems with charactor motivation.

Now I have all the parts strung out in my head, and on my spreadsheet outline. I have the instructions I get from critique group, and books on writing to help me. I’m cleaning the parts by going scene by scene, character by character. Adding and subtracting. Hopefully, I’ll end up with a carburetor (book) that will function. Like the carburetor, my book will feed the fire of propulsion. My readers will be driven on a voyage of discovery. The plot and concept will change their lives.

Good luck with your writing, and don’t be afraid to take it apart. The pieces were made to fit. Our job is to examine, experiment, and put it together the right way. Like my carburetor, long ago, it will function, but unlike my truck, your book will last forever. See you next week.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Ball's In Her Court

A book review by Keith Fisher

As a member of Heather Justesen’s critique group, I’ve battled with her over comma placement and the logistics of plot lines. She’s a good writer, and I’m pleased to offer my review.

Other’s have said how excited they are, and I too, have been looking forward to the release of her new book, The Ball’s in Her Court. Reading this first book in a saga of interconnecting characters reunited me with players I came to know in later books. Although, Heather has written stand alone, non-series books, I couldn’t wait to read about the characters of the saga, and find out where they came from.

In critique group, we’re currently reviewing another in the series and the characters remain true. I feel we have a history together.

The Ball’s in Her Court is a great beginning, and will leave you with a sense of peace. The reader is taken on a journey of sorrow, and through feelings of self-doubt. Bringing us, in the end, to the destination of a healed heart.

I’m proud to recommend The Ball’s in Her Court to everyone. If you don’t already have one, you will find it at a bookstore near you, or at
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Cedar Fort, Inc.; 1st edition (October 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1599552345
ISBN-13: 978-1599552347

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Selling Yourself

By Keith Fisher

I started a new book this morning. Since I’ve been bogged down with rewrites lately, it felt great to focus on different characters for a while.

As a wannabe published author of novels, I want my book to be perfect, and I keep finding plot holes. As I fix one problem, another manifests its ugly head. Most of my time is spent agonizing over how to fix it. In a book with several characters and plot lines, it means going back and changing every thread. Needless to say, I’ve been getting discouraged.

So, It was refreshing to start something new. Most of my friends have been bragging about their experience with NaNoWriMo this year, making me jealous. It’s like being a recovering alcoholic surrounded by people talking about a drinking binge. I love the feeling of getting lost in artistic expression.

Ali Cross told me she periodically drifts back and forth to her different projects. When one gets stale, she works on another for a while. I told her it’s a great idea, and it’s a method I used to employ. With all the projects on my hard drive, I should never get bogged down or discouraged, right? Well, I can think of a few reasons, but those thoughts serve as examples of things to avoid.

There is a lot to be said for focus. Many writers need to concentrate on one thing at a time in order to accomplish the task. Most of us wish for the days, not too long ago, when a writer worked in seclusion, perfecting a masterpiece. In those days writers wrote, agents sold, publishers promoted.

While attending my first writer’s conference, The stark reality of what it means to be a writer today, forcefully hit me. I’ve worked in sales many times in my life, and it’s not one of my favorite things to do. Self-promotion has always seemed prideful, like loud arrogant people.

In the publishing world today, things have changed. Writers write, sell, and promote their books. Some publishers have adopted cost-cutting policies that sound like subsidization. Because of the competitive nature of the business, writers are expected to rise to a level of perfection never achieved in earlier generations. To use a cliché, the bar has been raised.

Now I admit, writers need to be committed, and take a pro-active part in promoting their book. It is, after all, their baby. So, when your project gets stale, and you need a break, start promoting yourself.

There are myriad ways to promote your self, both active and benign. I learned a lesson while attending the book launch party for Am I Not A Man written by Mark L Shurtleff. Because I know his editor, I know being Attorney General for the State of Utah didn’t get him published. I’m sure it will help sell a few copies of the book, however.

Now, I know. I know you were also taught to be humble, and we all can’t run for office, but do you like making friends? There’s a difference between a network of business contacts, and a network of good friends who happen to be in publishing.

Go out of your way and attend book launch parties. Go to book signings, and writer’s conferences. I met a publishing executive at a workshop recently. I think we became friends. Our friendship probably won’t result in a book contact, but I made a friend.

The important thing to remember is motive. I’m sure you would be more willing to help a genuine friend, before helping the phony who gives you lip service. Be willing to provide sincere help to your friends and they will help you in return. I hope to sell several copies of my book because people know me, and I am their friend. The rest of them will sell, because the story is well written.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.