Saturday, August 28, 2010

Posting Something

By Keith N Fisher

It’s been a tough week, but I’m not complaining. I know that everybody experiences opposition. Life was never supposed to easy.

When I sat down to write, my mind went blank. I drifted away into parts unknown, places where I could have everything I wanted. Places where nobody imposed anything on me.

Fortunately my current novel is in a place where the characters have taken control and I can write in that direction. Anything new is good right? Even if I have to delete it later? I do, however, like the stuff I wrote this week, but it’s in the place where we find out who done it. I have so much information to impart, I’m trying to decide the best way to tell it. Should I have the guilty party explain in monologue? Or perhaps an explanation from the agent in charge will suffice?

Well, as I said at the outset, I’m not complaining. I’m just explaining why my blog sucks this week. I felt it was important to be consistent, just to post something. Thank you for reading and commenting. I’ll do better next week. I hope your work is going well. Keep writing no matter what happens. Here is a picture to help you reach your happy place. Maybe you could write about it.Good luck with your writing—see you next week

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Believe in a Bright Future

By Keith N Fisher

It has been a knock down-drag out fight in our country lately. Contenders on both sides have strong opinions. Some of those opinions are in error, some are justified, all, are felt deeply and those feelings are approaching the boiling point.

It’s really surprising that so many married couples are still together, because compromise and working together for the common good, seems to have disappeared in the world.

I overheard a conversation just before church last week. Well, I had no choice but overhear, because the person was standing right next to me, and talking to another person behind me. The whole while, a member of the bishoprick stood at the pulpit waiting to begin the meeting.

People. Please remember there is a time and a place for your opinions. Also, those within listening distance might not agree with you.

Now, I realize this article might be incendiary to some, and it probably won’t even be read by most, but I plead with all of us. No issue or belief is important enough to alienate another human being.

Yes, the gloom and doom that has been predicted will happen. But only as a result of the My way or the highway attitude. The constitution is strong and has survived hundreds of years of compromise. The only way it will be brought down is by the claims of unfaithful zealots who are unwilling to allow for the happiness of all the people. The intent of the framers of that document clearly expressed compromise, because every single member of that congress made compromises on the original content.

Going back to my friend and her comments about socialism and communist regimes, Please keep in mind there were some who believe that’s exactly what happened in our country when the previous president forced the patriot act down our throats. Because of that move, The National Security Administration now listens in on every phone conversation and reads every email sent to, from, or in the United States.

If you haven’t grasped how important that is, let me explain. You’re privacy no longer exists. Some people are okay with that, stating the end justifies the means. You see it’s a matter of prospective. Depending on who the president is, and your opinion of him, the executive order can be good or bad depending on whether you like having your personal conversations monitored, a government health care program, or the building of the Panama Cannel.

It’s not socialism, communism, fascism, or monarchy. It’s an example of our president working to get something done in the face of disagreement on both sides.

The beauty of our country has always been in the way we can utterly disagree during an election, but then put it behind us and agree to work together after the election. Even if we hated the policies of an administration, we could look forward to the next election.

Which brings us to the plight of my good friend. As I understand it, he’s been working on a project with an investor. When the economy went bad, the investor pulled the funding. Who can blame them? Hard times make you want to convert all your assets to gold and wait for the storm to subside.

Now, I could go on and on about what caused our current financial state in our country, but suffice it to say, greed unchecked, feeds on itself. The greedy develop a sort of tunnel vision, shutting out any other needs but their own.

When I asked my friend if there was anything I could do to help him, his answer was. “Convince my investors that it’s safe to invest.”

What a monumental task that would be. Our government is trying to do that very thing. The previous administration gave tax rebates in an effort to boost the economy. Historically, government spending has always been the policy for economic recovery. Reagan did it, Nixon, Carter, Ford, even George Bush Senior.

The Roosevelt administration fought to increase confidence. The president faced the problem with an optimistic attitude and he persuaded investors to believe in recovery. Abraham Lincoln was faced with the task of rebuilding our country after deep divisions and economic upheaval tore it apart. But he convinced the people it could be done.

Whether you agree with, or hate our current president, should not affect whether you believe in our country or not. If you’ve given up on that belief, that sense of patriotism, then there are no battles to fight. If you believe the constitution will fail, it will. If you believe our economy cannot recover, it won’t.

But on the other hand, if you believe in our country and the fact we are all in this together, we will succeed. If you are willing to put your greed aside and follow the golden rule. Work with politicians instead of threatening them, then we will recover. There really is a bright spot on the horizon, but if we refuse to focus on that goal, worrying about the needs of the one instead of the needs of all, then the light will go out and we will receive exactly what we have been expecting.

I believe negative words and emotions feed on themselves. I also believe positive feelings are contagious. It grows lighter and brighter until the perfect day.

For those of you of a religious vein, Bruce R McConkie, a leader from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, referred to the days of tribulation preceding the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. In a nutshell, he said that if there are enough righteous people in the world, the Lord will stay his hand. In other words, if we will forget our petty interest and follow The Savior, we can have a bright future.

With all my heart, I believe we can.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Secret Life of Cindy Brady

By Keith N Fisher

Who’s your favorite girl character on The Brady Bunch? I will admit, mine has always been Jan (Eve Plum). I don’t know why, maybe it was because we were the same age, but lately I’ve been watching the reruns, and paying particular attention to Cindy (Susan Olsen).

You might ask, why is Keith writing about Cindy Brady on the LDS Writer’s Blogck? In answer to that question, I might suggest that I’m doing character research, but I’m not.

I’ll get to the writing part in a second, but first I’ve got to ask, have you ever seen NCIS? With my schedule, I don’t get to watch much television, but I’ve discovered I like that show. Yes, it has flaws. Even some writing flaws, and much of the technology they use, is really in development stages. Some of it is science fiction. I like NCIS because of what I call the family dynamic. The characters mesh well together like a family and it keeps me coming back for more.

One of those characters, Abby, (Pauley Perrette), has me captivated. The first time I saw Abby I felt I knew her. “Where have I seen her before,” I’d ask myself. I watched several shows before it finally hit me.

It’s uncanny. If it wasn’t for the black hair and tattoos, Abby would be an older version of Cindy Brady. I mentioned it to my wife and now she can’t see past it either.

I did a superficial search on the Internet and found pictures of Susan and Pauley. I discovered they were born about eight years apart and I compared the pictures. Look for yourself. Can you see elements of Cindy in both actresses? With all the similarities, I’ve started writing my own scenario for NCIS. In my version, Cindy Brady grew up and rebelled. She died her hair black to stand out from her sisters. The tattoos are a sign of the rebellion. She changed her name and went back to college. Now, Cindy, uh Abby, runs the NCIS lab.

This is the beauty, and the curse, of being a writer. My mind tends to re-write plots I see in the movies and on TV. I wince because of the mangled sentences written for radio and TV news. Since I’m not an English major, or a grammar expert, if I notice, you’ll know it’s bad.

Lately though, my struggle has been in writing for women in the LDS market. As many of you know, I write women’s fiction, and if it weren’t for my, (all women) critique group I wouldn’t be able to do it.

This week, they reminded me of my need to be in my female character’s head. If for no other reason, than because female readers want to know those things. Also, my group loved the romantic scenes I’d written, but they all suggested it wouldn’t get published in our market. Not that it was too steamy or anything, I just need to change a few words and tone down the desire.

Such is the nature of writing in this market. I take encouragement in knowing my group loved the romance. Now to tone it down a bit and get into the heads of my character’s more. It seems I’m too subtle, how do you show motivation?

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Morning Breaks

By Keith N Fisher

Hymn number 1 in the LDS hymnbook has a very soothing first line.

The morning breaks, the shadows flee.

I was sitting on my front porch this morning, thinking about all the problems in the world. There is much to worry about, if you’re in a mind to worry. I have a friend who worries to the point of being fearful. Many of the extreme right wing talk show hosts are turning rabid in their hatred. People are losing their jobs and prices are going up.

But as I sat on my porch, I glanced at a blue pansy flower while the whole world waited in great expectation for the advent of the sun. As I gazed at the pansy, the sun came up and light beamed through the branches of the weeping birch tree. One of those beams hit my pansy and briefly illuminated it, and all its glory.

I thought of the first line of the hymn and realized there is hope. Seconds later, the sun shifted, and the beam faded. The flowerbed was plunged into shadows, but other elements of my garden were highlighted.

Most children live in a world of innocent bliss. Unless it’s pointed out to them, they really have no idea about the problems in the world. Current events consist of who’s it in hide-n-go seek. They talk about the great catch Billy made in the vacant lot football game.

For one brief moment, this morning, I watched the sunlight dance on one of God’s creations and the flower was beautiful. I felt like a child. I didn’t care what was happening outside of my front yard. Then I returned to my supposed adult world and went on my way.

I know things will work out in the end. Our problems could disappear if we could only look past our selfish need to be right. Battle lines have been drawn. Many good folks have given in to the, My way or the highway mantra. Remember the time when the only argument was whether Johnny tagged Jimmy at home plate or not? When Jane spilled the juice, but Mary got blamed for it?

I’m not suggesting we all stick our head in the sand. We can’t escape our problems in a game of kick the can. We can, however, stop taking ourselves so seriously that we can’t recognize the right of others to express their opinions, too. We could stop spreading our disconcerting propaganda and start believing in our ability to work together.

In life, there will always be beautiful moments. The morning does break and shadows do flee, but we must be ready and looking for it.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Getting Myself Out of the Corner

By Keith N Fisher

Did you ever hear the old story of a guy painting a floor with such intensity, he doesn’t notice he painted himself into a corner? He stands up. The door is on the other side of the room. The only window is too far away to reach. He looks at all that wet paint, knowing he will have to walk on it, in order to escape his predicament. Of course, he could wait for the paint to try.

This is a great metaphor that explains what happened to me this week.

I’m told there are two kinds of writers. There are outliners and there are by the seat of your pantsers. I suppose that’s true because many writers are variations of the two. I’ve been known to do both. Usually, I hold the outline in my head. I know the beginning and end. I plot the middle as I go.

Most of the time, I know the specific points I must write and the plot twists I will throw in, but for the most part I write by the seat of my pants letting my characters tell me what they want to do.

Such was the case this week. I started writing a transition chapter. (The chapter that brings the reader from point A to point B and gets them ready for the killer plot to follow). I was in the Zone, high on endorphins, or whatever they are, when my character said something I never intended for him to say.

I know you’ve all been there, and I’ve written about this before. Like the floor painter, I’ve learned if I keep writing, ignoring my escape to follow the new path, then I end up painted into the corner. At that point I must decide whether to rewrite the old parts, or discard the stuff my character wants.

Both choices will leave paint on my shoes and possibly spoil the story. “But,” I tell myself. “The new plot turn is so cool, I wish I’d thought of it before.”

Well, my writing must be improving, because this time I made a mental note and wrote down the alternate plot idea. Then, I started debating. If I had continued to write the plot, I would have gotten to a point of no return, where the agony of extracting any part of it would’ve killed me. It seems I’ve trained myself to stop and analyze which is the better way.

I used to be a true seat of my pantser, and there are some stories I never outline, but I’ve evolved into what I call a counselor style of writing. I sit and let my characters bounce ideas off me and together, we make the story work. There are still times, however, when I end up painting myself into a corner. In those times, I take it to my critique group.

Ultimately, it’s my decision, but its great to get input from someone who isn’t a figment of my imagination.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Finding Your Poker Face

By Keith N Fisher

Do you remember the episode of MASH when Winchester joined the poker game and won every hand and took all the money? It drove the other players crazy because of his skill in convincing them he had a better hand no matter what. Then someone figured out that Winchester whistled a classical tune, every time he bluffed. It was a nervous habit Winchester didn’t know he had, and the other players used it to defeat him.

In the world of draw poker, a card player quickly learns a valuable lesson about facial expressions and nervous ticks. Most learn to use the same facial expression no matter what cards they hold. It’s called keeping a good poker face.

The really great players learn to use different expressions to lead the other players into false belief in a facial tick that doesn’t exist.

I learned a valuable lesson about myself this week I’d like to share with my blog readers. Long ago, I discovered I feel better about myself if I can help others feel good about themselves, so I try to speak kind, building, words to my fellow beings. Some times it lifts my mood just to see the confused look on strangers faces.

I can imagine what goes through their head. Why is this person talking to me? Is he going to steal my wallet? He is going to beat me up? Why is this person talking to me? It’s truly joyful when I can succeed in getting them to say something nice in return.

Even with all the good feelings I get from the application of my campaign, I have truly bad days. There are times when life seems to cave in on me like the crumbling walls of a neglected adobe structure, left in the elements for hundreds of years.

We are entitled, aren’t we? To feel down occasionally is normal, isn’t it?” At times like those, how many of us realize our poker face needs improving? I found out the hard way that while internalizing my agony, I tend to alienate others. A co-worker came up to me and asked if I was okay. I thought the question was a bit odd. How did he know I was having a lousy time of it?

It seems another co-worker had said something to me and I was short with him. Truthfully, I don’t remember even being greeted, but my bad mood and personal issues had taken control. I can just imagine how my face looked.

I submit, and this is the lesson I learned, We need to develop a poker face in dealing with others. We are all going to have bad days now and then, but unless we’re having a crisis, perhaps we can show a face that is pleasing. Unless they are in our head, people we meet don’t know there is something bugging us.

I want my poker face to be something that supports and builds others. Then I can turn my day around through the joy of making them feel good about their lives.

I had a nice talk with my co-worker and I thanked him for being my friend. Life is grand, but I need to learn to let it be.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

I is a Righter

By Keith N Fisher

Boy, how do you follow all the excellent blogs we’ve had this week? It’s great to see a full line up, and the guest blogcker segment is always good. I stand in awe with fingers poised over my keyboard, waiting for something to come into my head.

I had the opportunity to be counseled the other day. It was in regard to my career direction, and was extremely helpful to bring my life into focus. My mentors, with their lack of understanding, pointed out that my writing career might never bring any returns.

Now, I’ve been paid for articles and blogs, but I’m aware, as you are, writing in the LDS market will never make me rich. Well its possible one of my books could cross over to the national market, but there just isn’t a lot of money in LDS fiction. So, I agreed with my mentors.

After the meeting, I felt I’d betrayed myself. Why did I agree with them? My writing means more to me than mere money. If I don’t believe in myself, who will? A man has obligations to his family, but he can still dream—can’t he?

My mind traveled back to the 2006 LDStorymakers Conference when Josi Killpack said. “Get used to the fact you are a writer.” She went on to tell a story about somebody she knows who wouldn’t take her authorship seriously. After getting a few books published they still tried to convince her it was just a hobby.

I believe, if you put words together in hopes they will find their way into another heart, you are a writer. If you wake up, and rewind your dream in order to edit it, you are a writer. I make mountains out of molehills, jungle landscapes from a patch of grass, I am a writer.

A few years ago, I listed freelance writer on my income tax form as my first occupation. Even though I made more money at my day job, I was proud of being a writer. I consider it a church calling.

Because of the wheels I’ve put in motion, my life might take strange turns from here. I might not have enough free time to write, but I will be a writer until I die. I look forward to signing one of my published books and handing it to my mentors.

“See,” I will say. “I might not make a lot of money, but it proves I am a writer, and if it helps God bring souls to Christ, my life is not a waste.”

Still, if I work my tail off it could sell 5,000 copies. Why not, since the world is my oyster. Remember you are a writer too.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Personal Time in Quiet Places

By Keith N Fisher

I don’t have a Dead Author’s Society review today. I don’t have a special new book to report on. After commenting on Facebook the other day I’m determined to keep my mouth shut, again. So today I’m sitting in the public library catching up on a little writing time.

I have a subject I’d like to talk about, but keep going to the end. You can read the update on my writing projects. I knew you were interested. Well, even if you weren’t, I’m going to tell you about it anyway.

Do you remember the words to the theme song of Cheers? If you missed the eighties, Cheers was a popular television sitcom about an alcoholic bar owner, along with the crazy antics perpetrated by his customers. Anyway, the song goes, Listen to it here

Making your way in the world today
Takes everything you've got
Taking a break from all your worries
Sure would help a lot
Wouldn't you like to get away?

Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name
And they're always glad you came
You want to be where you can see
Our troubles are all the same
You want to be where everybody knows your name

By Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo

Does it sound good? Would you be shocked to learn that most of us already have a place like this, it’s a place called the family. I know there are circumstances where home and family, are hostile environments. Unfortunately, church can be likewise, but for the most part, your family can be for you, what the customers of Cheers were to each other.

Besides church and family, I’ve known a few places like Cheers in my short life, but I’ve, also, learned that sometimes I need a quieter place. A place to be alone and think. We all need a place where there are no expectations, and no distractions. We need a place where clarity seeps into our psyche.

I had a deadline so I came to the library, but I remember a solo backpacking trip about thirty-one years ago. I spent all day off the beaten path, following deer trails and breaking the bush, so to speak. I climbed a peak in the middle of nowhere, communed with nature and enjoyed the beautiful view.

Something touched my heart that day, and I fell to my knees in gratitude for the opportunity to see such beauty. After my pounding heart settled down, I heard myself think. My thoughts were focused in honest reflection of my life’s direction. I was able to move forward with clarity.

Because of urban development, that place no longer exists, but I can go to a similar place. Not by backpacking, or climbing peaks. I can go there by leaving my electronic gizmos in the car, finding a quiet place, and turning my thoughts away from problems. Some people get there through fishing. Others whittle.

Before long, while focusing on nothing, clarity occurs and I realize the solution to my problem.

Try my solution and carve out a little quiet personal time for yourself. Let me know how you get to your quiet place.

Now, the update, I’m currently working on the sequel to The Hillside. With 40,725 words and 153 pages, I’m about half way done. I still don’t have a name for it, but I sat down with a white board the other day and listed all the things I still need to write in order to tell this story.

The Hillside is in the hands of the proofreaders. I think you’ll like the book. With nine different points of view, and several characters, it tells the story of the owner of the Hillside Bed and Breakfast and the quests who stay within the walls. It’s women’s fiction, but there are elements for all readers.

I’ve been drafting a new story called Star Crossed. It’s the story of high school sweethearts driven apart, then coming together later in life.

The other books on the list continue to sit on the back burner. I write this blog and two others each week and love to review new books.