Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Traditional Thanksgiving

By Keith N Fisher

When I served a mission in the Maritimes of Canada, I celebrated four Thanksgiving Days. Two, on the third Thursday of November and the other two, were celebrated in October. Canadian Thanksgiving was a great day to get together with members and investigators and have a great traditional dinner. The US traditional holidays lost something in the translation.

On one of those US holidays, I invited my district for a picnic in Victoria Park. I’m sure the natives wondered what the crazy Americans were doing in the park in November, but we enjoyed the privacy.

On one occasion, I asked my friend what Canadians celebrate on Thanksgiving. He stated, “The same thing you celebrate in the States, I guess.”

“Oh? You had a group of pilgrims eat dinner with a bunch of Indians, Too?” Of course I was being facetious, but the truth is it’s always a good idea to take a moment and remember your blessings. Especially in light of who gave them to you.

This year, I sat in the restaurant buffet surrounded by three hundred of my closest family and friends and pondered the eating part of the holiday. My mother had decided to have Thanksgiving at Chuck-A-Rama. My brothers, in turn, complained about it for different reasons. With the exception of the long lines, I didn’t care one way or the other.

I had roast beef and mashed potatoes, (one of my favorite meals), and considered our traditions. Then I noticed the characters who paraded in front of me, on the way to the food tables. I’ve mentioned my inclination toward watching people and writing a story to match their actions. That is what I did, then it was time to go. My wife took me and my daughter to a movie and that was Thanksgiving.

What do you do with your non-writing time? Take a look around you. Is there something happening in front of you? Can you use it in your current work in progress?

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

How Was Your Week?

By Keith N Fisher

I’ve been feeling selfish and self-centered this week. Those are feelings, not conducive to my writing. If I were participating in NanoWriMo, I would be failing my goals. As it is, I’ve fallen behind on my blogging projects and my novels.

Normally, locking myself away would be good for writing, but I’ve started a new work schedule. I’m back working the graveyard shift, and I’m having trouble keeping my days straight. I missed a dental appointment because I assumed it was Wednesday when it was really Thursday and I went to bed thinking my appointment wasn’t until the next day.

Okay, enough about me and the onset of old age. Seriously, though, When you work nights, it’s hard to feel a part of the rest of the world. Schedules get out of kilter, and you spend a lot of time with your self. Time to consider what you want to be when I grow up.

So, It’s Saturday, and I thought I had more time to write this blog. I’m trying to penetrate the fog of writer’s block and think of a topic that will delight and inspire you . . .

I attended the Utah County, League of Utah Writers meeting the other day. Tristi Pinkston taught about self-editing and explained some of the reasons why humans write like we do. I’ve been blessed to be in a critique group with her. She can see the humor in ever split infinitive or dangling modifier.

Also, this week, I’m grateful for our new bloggers, Cheri and Karen, they are breathing new life into this venue and helping writers overcome the struggle. Take a moment to thank them for their efforts.

Well it’s almost the time to rejoin the realm of the night creatures. I have to get ready for work. When you hear that bump in the night, don’t worry. It’s only me trying to navigate the unfamiliar surroundings of a new job.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Wayfarer

By Keith N Fisher

I grew up during a time when nobody locked doors. Well, we sometimes locked the house, before leaving on a trip or extended visit elsewhere. We didn’t worry about picking up hitchhikers, and beggars were truly needy.

Whatever the cause, the world has changed. We lock everything, even if we’re only going to be gone for a second. We lock the door in traffic to prevent carjacking. We’ve learned that I’ll work for food isn’t always true, and hitchhikers can be a threat. There is one, however, who beckons.

When I think back, trying to analyze how we got to this point, I come up with many factors. Not the least of which, is our media addiction.

I know many people will take exception, but when we were kids, we looked to the media for direction. Hairstyles, dress, and even our taste in music was influenced by those we watched, read about, and listened to.

The funny thing is the fact that it’s always been that way. In the late nineteenth century, Brigham Young addressed the problem of young women following the trends from back east. In answer to it, he and his peers created the Young Women’s Retrenchment Association. It was the forerunner of the Mutual Improvement Association in the LDS Church, and is now simply Young Women’s and Young Men’s.

The point here is that even in the isolation of Utah in the eighteen hundreds, media influence was prominent in shaping our society.

Now, before you start thinking I’m condemning the media, you should know I’m a writer. I want to be one of those influences.

Today, we take our cues from myriad sources. Each one adds another piece to how we think, feel, and act. No, I’m not suggesting we’re sheep following every would be trendsetter, I’m suggesting it has an effect. Even if it only influences our reaction to a man holding a sign asking for a ride. But, there is One, Who beckons.

We live in a scary world because we made it that way. We watch a scenario played out on a TV crime show, and lock our doors against that ever happening to us. We see plenty in real life, too. How many of you have seen a person holding a sign saying, I’ll work for food and noticed the food donations, hidden away so the person can pursue the real purpose of panhandling money from sympathetic souls. After all, there is one, who beckons.

Then there is the person in need, whose car breaks down but we don’t dare stop and help because we’ve heard stories of people being carjacked, or worse. One day, I figured I could use all the good karma I could get, so I helped a couple of guys and was struck by their gratitude. The inference in that is clear. Very few of us will stop and help. Now, if the truth were known, I had second thoughts. What if they pulled a gun and stole my truck?

As writers, we must be careful. The proverbial Pandora’s Box was opened long ago and can’t be closed. What we choose to write, however, can be a haven from the storm. In a world with highly dramatic TV programs and books that offer more of the same, we can’t ignore all of it in our writing. Much of what we write will echo the media or we won’t be read, but we can control where the emphasis is placed, and to what extent we pursue the negative.

You see there is a Man, a Wayfarer, who beckons us to take him in. He struggles to strengthen our hearts. He will provide shelter from the storm, peace in a trouble world. He can use our help. Every writer, actor, and newspaperman has been given a talent. We can use that talent to follow the crowd, or we can do our part to enrich our brothers and sisters.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Switching to Common References

By Keith N Fisher

Did you see The Wizard of Oz? When I was a kid, I watched two or three times and didn’t know it was in color. It was big entertainment on television for Thanksgiving, but we didn’t have color TV.

When that movie came out, color was expensive and it was an untried medium. The producers made the decision to show the Land of Oz scenes in color, I assume, because it was a fantasy world. The effect was marvelous but there was a downside, too.

One problem was in the translation. In my case, I didn’t get to see it in a theater, so I didn’t see the color effect. Another downside was the transition back to the real world. It went from a brilliantly beautiful land of color back to a drab, colorless world. It makes you think that Oz is a much better place than real life.

The latter downside isn’t really a problem. It’s normal in fiction. As readers, we want to visit fantastic worlds and meet heroic characters. The first downside, however, is a big problem.

How many times have you watched a movie or read a book and been lost? I admit, there have been many times for me. I’ve found if I don’t watch or read carefully, I miss the premise and the plot gets lost in the translation. There are other books that never explain the premise, though. In those cases, I shake my head and feel cheated out of the time it took to read.

Writers can be strange. We live in a world of our creation. Real life is often interrupted by a thought that leads to a plot twist or character quirk. Then we make mental notes to use it in our next writing session. With all the consideration that goes into drafting, writing, and editing a book, we have the premise down pat. Nobody knows more about our creation than we do, but the reader hasn’t been there before.

When The Wizard of Oz switched from black & white to color and back again, it was an innovative and magical effect. But it was lost on a generation of the television watching audience. When a kid living on a farm in Nebraska reads your book about the mean streets of New York, he’s going to need some reference that helps him relate. Especially if he’s never seen a television.

I know the odds of that are slim, but the point is valid. Your audience can’t enjoy your book if they can’t relate.

I’ve enjoyed a few obscure books lately. I say obscure, because I loved them, but others didn’t. When I analyzed the reasons, I discovered a common reference I shared with the author. I could relate in a personal way, but others couldn’t.

Don’t let your book go on the obscure list. Get help from proofreaders and try to imagine all the potential readers. Ask yourself, will they understand?

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


By Keith N Fisher

Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things that a man needs to believe in the most: that people are basically good; that honor, courage, and virtue mean everything; that power and money, money and power mean nothing; that good always triumphs over evil; and I want you to remember this, that love, true love, never dies... No matter if they're true or not, a man should believe in those things because those are the things worth believing in. -Hub McCann in Second Hand Lions-

I’m Hub McCann. I’ve fought in two world wars, and countless smaller ones on three continents. I’ve led thousands of men into battle with everything from horses and swords to artillery and tanks. I’ve seen the headwaters of the Nile and tribes of natives no white men had ever seen before. I’ve won and lost a dozen fortunes, killed many men, and loved only one woman with a passion a flea like you could never begin to understand. That’s who I am.

As you know, I've been writing women's fiction. Part of getting it right, means I must write a love story that moves another human. Lately, I've been admiring love stories. These two quotes written by Tim McCanlies, the author and director of, Second Hand Lions, are admirable. When you consider the fact they were delivered by Robert Duvall, the effect is priceless.

Consider what Hub said above, that true love never dies. Why is that? Love is love, right? Either you're in it, or you’re not. Do people fall in, and out of love?

Now consider the opposite. Is hate so strong that it cannot be conquered? If we concede that love is good and hate is evil then we can overcome hate. To quote Hub McCann, above, . . .good always triumphs over evil . . .

In our dealings in life and with our fellowman, Perhaps we would do well to remember which is the more powerful emotion. In movies and all fiction, there are two constants that must exist. Love and hate, if they are written well, the story will move the masses.

But to answer my own question above, There is love, so powerful it cannot be overcome. Time anger, and hate cannot change it. Foster that love and you will conquer all evil.

Consider these two scenes from Murphy’s Romance with James Garner & Sally Field. I’d rather go with the Love, rather than the hate. What do you think?