Monday, December 30, 2013

Pearls of Wisdom

By Keith N Fisher

Do you sit in classrooms, chapels, and lecture halls and spout sarcastic humor? It’s usually something smart allecky in regard to what is being taught? I do. Sometimes I can’t control myself.

I’m not trying to disrupt. Really I’m not. I take everything seriously, but sometimes being serious is too . . . well . . . serious. Levity is like sugar and we all know what a spoonful of sugar does.

Sometimes when my pearls of wisdom come out funny, I get a laugh from people next to me, sometimes not. Other times, it’s a dirty look. I wonder if people think I do it for the attention.

Every week here on the blog, I try to write something wise for you to read. Most times, my words hit the mark. They’re pearls of wisdom. Other times, not s
o much. Today, I have no wise cracks. I was late, so I’ll post later in the week.

I hope you’re enjoying the holidays. Hope your writing is going well. Good luck with it—see you next week.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Three Hundred Eighty-Four and Counting

By Keith N Fisher

Yes, I’m late, but I’ve been wondering if anybody really reads my posts anyway. I was trying to think of something to write and I opened my writing projects computer file. In the place where I keep my blog posts and realized it’s been a long time.

I began to post here in 2006, during the time we all started blogging to help our careers. By we, I mean all the writers I know. Blog posting and social media were deemed vital to our promotion efforts. In other words, we needed to do it if we wanted to be somebody.

For more than seven years, I’ve been posting once a week minus a few times I missed and plus a couple times I posted two blogs. I did the math and here’s the equation.

I wrote 44 posts in 2013 + 28 posts in 2006 + (52 weeks a year x 6 years) =

44 + 28 + (52 x 6) =

72 + 312 = 384 posts.

It’s been fun, sometimes wild, always educational. I usually write in retrospect, talking about something I learned during the week, using metaphors. I’ve learned that life reflects our occupation. The subject of writing correctly, lends itself to many object lessons.

I’ll keep posting here, I’ve been doing it too long to stop now. Hopefully, I can make a small contribution of writing help, or at least help someone realize they aren’t alone in this crazy avocation called writing.

Until next week then,



Saturday, December 14, 2013

Places

By Keith N Fisher

Over the years, I’ve written about some of the places I’ve written while sitting behind the wheel of my vehicle. I talked about waiting for a sunrise on the roof of a parking garage. I’ve talked about writing in the parking lot, waiting for a coffee shop to open. What can I say? I get inspiration while propping my laptop between my chest and the steering wheel.

I’ve noticed my surroundings, sometimes, get written into the story, too. Once, I wrote a snowstorm into a scene, while watching it through windshield wipers. I can describe buildings and people while watching them in the comfort of my vehicle and it helps to have a first hand perspective.

I sat in a coffee shop once, watching two young lovers meet, greet, and interact. I opened a new document and wrote it as I saw it. I’ve used pieces of that scene in many of my books since. I’ve re-watched videos and written scenes from the inspiration. No, I’m not stealing scenes. I’m expanding other people’s work and making it better.

For a while now, since I work at night, I’ve had the pleasure of giving my daughter a ride home from school. I get up early, drive to the school, and write while waiting for the bell to ring. People come and go, cars are on display, humanity parades in front of me. Sometimes I’m too caught up in my story to notice, but other times I watch my new character walk past and get into a car.

I get several pages written while waiting, but I’ve got a complaint. There are many visitors parking spaces, why do they let students park their cars in them? Often, lately, I have to park on the outskirts of the lot, write for a while then drive over to pick up my daughter as she comes out of the building.

When I think of places to write and the advantages of observation with each, I think of reporters of the past. Have you ever listened to the narration of the Hindenburg disaster? That man was eyewitness to the horror, and he had the presence of mind to talk about it. Can you imagine a reporter with a laptop, covering Custer’s last stand? Can you see the benefit of writing in place?

If you are writing a mystery set in an old Victorian house, perhaps you could take your laptop and write it there. I write a lot of restaurant scenes because I write in restaurants and coffee shops.

I know, there are times when you can’t write in place. I passed an old house in a farmer’s field while traveling to Canada once. I had to stop and check it out because it was the house my characters were remodeling in my book. I couldn’t delay the family trip while I wrote, so I took several pictures. Later I used them to describe the house.

Take notes, live with your eyes open. Most importantly, write with your eyes open. Listen to your senses, and write it down.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

And, Here We Go Again

By Keith N Fisher

I caught a glimpse of one of those morning news shows the other day. They were going to commercial, and the host said, coming up, Our interview with the best selling author . . . The statement caught my attention, but I missed who the author was. I waited, wondering who it could be. Perhaps it was one of my local, writer friends. Maybe a famous, national market writer offering insights to me, and other writers.

The author turned out to be Ann Romney, wife of the formal presidential candidate. "Here we go again," I thought. Thousands of writers sweat blood every day, hoping for a contract, and another famous person gets published.

Yes, I know, I’ve bored you with this subject before. It’s sour grapes and I need to let it go, but as before, I wonder, would she be published if she wasn’t married to a politician? Her book was marketable or the publisher wouldn’t print it, but is it selling because it’s good, or because she’s famous?

I think I’ve missed the boat. You see, I thought the secret was to write the best book I can. Also, I know that branding myself and paying it forward is vital, but it’s actually easier than I thought. All I need is fame. I need to do something spectacular then, submit my writing.

Good luck with your hard work—See you next week.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Okay, I’ll give thanks

By Keith N Fisher

I’m really not as ungrateful as the title implies, but where did the year go? Even though I despise it, the cold weather is upon us, Christmas is around the corner. What happened to summer?

I used to love the changing seasons, but this year, I cursed the cold. I guess I’m getting older, but darn, do I have to? Yes, I’m grateful this year, but not for the usual things. This year my list is more basic. I’m thankful I wasn’t killed in the car accident that was my fault. I’m really glad my daughter wasn’t hurt in the one that wasn’t my fault.

I’m grateful we still have a home, even though it’s falling apart, along with me and my wife. I might sound discontented, but there really are myriad blessings for which I’m grateful. Sunrises and being vertical are high on the list. I’m glad I can still tie my shoes, and I’m extremely grateful for good days.

For so many things I give thanks, but I’d rather be enjoying July fourth. Still, I hope your holiday was filled with the recognition of bountiful blessings with family and friends who are perhaps, your greatest blessings.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Joy of Writing

By Keith N Fisher

I’m currently working on two novels and my cookbook. This is part of one of them:

Claire lit a scented candle and slipped into the tub. The water felt wonderful, like being enveloped in a warm protective shield. She closed her eyes and tried to clear her mind. The plot in her story had taken a different turn and she needed to decide whether to pursue the new path, or take it out.

She glanced out the window of her bath tub sanctuary. A herd of deer had come down the hill, heading for the rose beds below. Gary, in his kindness, hadn’t pruned that fall, so the deer would have something to eat. The good deed had brought disapproval from the neighbors since deer were just pests to them.

Claire was glad the deer had come through the hunting season in one piece. For a time, it seemed as though the whole countryside were hunters. Even Gary had gone out with a neighbor and Claire tried to protect the animals, by chasing them away, but now, she was glad they’d stayed.

Closing her eyes again, she thought of Penelope and her tirade. Claire had never figured the grandmother of Gary’s children would be so unyielding. Why did the woman have to be so controlling?

Claire slid further into the water and tried to concentrate. With a locked bathroom door, she could shut out the world in her sanctum. Suddenly, an idea came into her mind. Claire knew how to fix the plot and she had to write it down. Climbing out of the tub, she dried off and got dressed.

Her laptop sat on the nightstand with her manuscript still open. There wasn’t time to find a chair, so Claire sat on the floor and began to type. Discovery writing had always been exciting for her. It was one of the reasons she’d started, and life was measured between spurts of inspiration.

When the writing went well, Claire usually lost track of time. All cares disappeared and even family, were forgotten while in the zone. She succumbed to the muse, and jumped when somebody rapped on the bedroom door.


My character is a best selling author. I decided to include this scene as contrast to what comes next when all Hades breaks loose. What do you think of my description? How often are you in the zone? Do you measure your life between spurts of inspiration?

Writing for me has sometimes been pure joy. Other times it’s the hardest work I’ve ever done. I can’t wait to see how Claire’s story turns out.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Technolo Trash



By Keith N Fisher

Oh, technology, used by humans . . .

He was lucky his phone didn’t end up in the toilet, but I’m ahead of myself.

When I arrived for work the other day, I was told a customer left their phone, and it was in the lost and found basket. I made a mental note and went to work. After a while, I heard a ring tone and wondered where the source was.

That’s when I remembered the lost phone and pulled it out, hoping to answer the call and tell the person where the phone was. It was a smart phone, with a portable charger attached, and I tried to figure out how to answer. It was locked.

Now, I can understand the need to lock your phone, and the need to call the number of your lost phone, but the situation was hopeless. I consider myself techno-savy. Given enough time, I can usually figure out most anything. I really wanted to help, but I just don’t have time in my busy workday, to chase down the owner of a lost phone. I couldn’t answer the call, so I set it aside.

Later, still, I noticed a car in the parking lot, but the occupants didn’t come into the store. I kept working and the car remained. During the middle of a task, I heard the short whoop of a police car siren. You know the short blast a cop uses to let you know he’s trying to pull you over. I wondered what the police were doing?

Then, just like the cops do, the siren went off in three bursts. I figured the cops were in the parking lot, playing with their siren. By the time I figured out the noise was coming from the phone, it had grown loud and annoying. I pulled the plug on the charger. Then I tried again, to unlock the phone. I was looking into ways of removing the battery, when a guy walked into the store.

He said something that I didn’t understand, but something told me he was the owner of the phone. "Is this your phone?" I asked. He nodded, and I shoved the whole thing, charger and all, with two hands, at him. He left, and I noticed the car left with him.

In my rant, during the next few minutes, I lamented how rude he was. If he was sitting outside, why couldn’t he just walk in and ask if he’d left his phone? In my workplace, I cannot control the music that plays. It’s never something I would choose and it’s always too loud. When that siren went off, I had visions of having to deal all night, with that too.

He’s lucky I didn’t shove his smart phone in the toilet to make it stop. Still, the whole experience made me reflect on technology, and how it has wormed it’s way into our society. I’m typing this on a computer, while sitting in my car, waiting to take my daughter home from school. She’ll likely text me in a few minutes to see if I’m here.

I’m going to post this on the blog and set it to appear on Saturday morning, all by itself. I’m getting ready to submit two manuscripts via email. This afternoon, I’m going to do a video interview for a job I applied for over the Internet. Yes, technology is prevalent in my life, but as a writer, it’s a wonderful tool.

When did walking into a store to ask about your lost article, become so adverse? As a kid, when I lost something, I’d retrace my steps, asking everyone if they had seen the missing item. It’s the way it was. Then, again, we didn’t have color television either. People actually interacted with each other. Manuscripts were written by hand or typed onto paper.

I wonder. Are we better off with all our technology?

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

And, the Contest Winner

By Keith N Fisher

I know you were making yourself sick with anticipation. Who won the drawing? As you might remember, I posted a series of quotes from books and movies. You were supposed to guess where it was from, but I said I would enter any person who commented.

Some of you used Google, but others surprised me. Finally, because this blog doesn’t allow comments from people without a profile, I decided to include the comments on Facebook. To all who guessed and commented, Thanks. Some of you commented on more than one post, so I entered you twice.

Here is the list I put through the randomizer:

Donna K Weaver

Cheri Chesley

Valerie Ipson

Kurt Kammeyer

Heather Justesen

Nicole Marie White

Nissa Annakindt

John Foster

Sharyl Bean Wren

Sharyl Bean Wren

Anne Fisher

Sharyl Bean Wren

Debbie Duncan Hair

Nicole Giles

Cheri Chesley

I had fun with this contest. I hope you did too. And the winner is . . . Did I ever tell you the one about the game show host that . . . Okay, the winner is.

I used to get a kick out of a local celebrity, Doug Miller, each time he dragged out the announcement of the winners of the World Championship Dutch Oven Cook off, but that was another time. I still miss him.

Okay, the winner of the gift card is Debbie Duncan Hair. Send me a private e-mail with your address, Debbie.

So, until next time, who said, Ladies and Gentlemen, take my advice, pull down your pants and slide on the ice. Who said it, and in which book, movie, or TV show?

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Out of Sync

By Keith N Fisher

It’s been a few weeks since I posted anything here. Up until now, I’ve managed to write something every week and I feel terrible about missing. I know I’ve flaked out on you and like Weston in her post, I don’t want to offer excuses, but car wrecks, court dates, and other issues, have put me out of sync.

I’ve been writing national market stuff lately, getting rejections from the LDS market, and trying to find a day to meet with my critique group. My cookbook is finished, waiting for editors, but I just couldn’t think of anything to write here. Also, I need to finish the drawing and announce the winner.

Last week, I’d planned to go hunting with my brothers and extended family. I was going to get off work on Thursday morning, hitch up the trailer, and head up the canyon. According to plan, I’d get a lot of writing done in the wee hours, and come home on Sunday evening.

When the specified day approached, however, I didn’t think I would be able to make it. I didn’t have a way of getting my trailer up the canyon, since, as you might know, my truck got totaled a couple of weeks ago. Finally, my brother offered to help with his truck, but he wanted use my facilities. So much, for my writing into the wee hours, but I accepted.

When I tried to pack, I found busted pipes, dead batteries, and other problems with the trailer. A plumbing glitch in the house put water all over the floor. Then, I had to interrupt getting ready to take my wife to the doctor. I left my cell phone in the waiting room and had to race back to get it. Everything seemed to conspire against me. I almost gave up a second time, but my brother was willing to postpone. I rigged up the trailer, charged the batteries, and worked all night.

Morning dawned, and my brother had the flu. I almost gave up a third time. Then, my other brother came and got the trailer. I could’ve ridden with him, but I was gun shy. Karma or somebody didn’t want me to go. I waited for my wife to take me, feeling uncertain.

Not that long ago, I would never have canceled my annual hunting trip. The family camping, while communing with nature was always a huge deal for me. I planned my year around birthdays, Christmas, and the hunts. I used to chuckle when family members showed up each year with stories about throwing everything together at the last minute. When did I become like them?

I finally gave into the inevitable. It was time to face whatever danger lay in wait for me. I went to camp and found my trailer. My uncle showed up later with a couple of his kids, and I made a great Dutch oven dinner. It was good to hang with my older brother and his wife, but hunting wasn’t the same as in years past. We’re older, less active, and I missed my dad.

The madness continued. My trailer batteries went dead and since they power the furnace, I froze. If I’d had my truck to recharge the batteries, things would’ve been different, but it’s hard to plot a story when you’re shivering. In an effort to get warm during the day, I sat in the sun and got sunburned lips. All in all, not the best trip.

I feel like my life is out of sync lately, and I need to reset. The trouble is, the things I used to do are different. There are too many hunters and not enough deer. Fishing and working in the garden aren’t the same since my father died. You might say I’m growing up, but at fifty-five, it’s too late in life for that.

By now, you’re probably wondering if I’m going to offer cheese & crackers with my whine, but I do have a point to make with my object lesson.

How is your writing? Are you achieving your goals? While thinking about sync, a question came to mind. Do you write in sequence or do you write unattached scenes to drop into the story later? Writing out of sync with the story line can sometimes cure writer’s block. It also gives you a clear idea of where your story is headed.

Normally, I have a vague outline in mind, then I write in sequence. In my book, The Hillside, however, I wrote the entire story out of sequence. With so many character’s and point of views, it was necessary to write each story separate, and compile everything, according to a timeline, later.

Of the two methods, I can’t recommend either as the best way. As I said, you might try writing out of sync to alleviate blocks

I hope your life stays in sync, but if not, may you find peace in your adjustment. Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Pen Names

By Keith N Fisher

Yes, It was Shakespeare and the play was Romeo and Juliet. I originally planned to do the drawing contest for a month and that is over. I need to gather the names of everyone who commented and put them in the randomizer. Thank you all, who answered the questions. I even received comments on Facebook, so to be fair, I’m going to include those names as well. I’ll let you know who wins.

To those who care, and follow my private life, yes, I was in another traffic accident last week. This time it wasn’t my fault. I was rear ended, pushing my truck into the car in front of me. That car was then, pushed into the car in front of it. I still have back pain and a knot on the back of my neck. I’ll be fine, but isn’t it interesting how quickly things can change?

The insurance company totaled my truck even though it still works and I’m not getting enough money to replace it. I don’t know how I’ll get my trailer into the mountains for the deer hunt now.

Anyway, so it goes. I was thinking about pen names this week. I decided it would be better for me to separate my national market stuff from my LDS fiction. What do you think a good pen name would be? Should it be based on my real name? Tell me your thoughts in the comment trail and maybe I’ll use your suggestion.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

PS. I’m sorry I’m a day late posting this. See above, for an explanation.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Oh Wow

By Keith N Fisher

I've been burning the candle at both ends lately, (so to speak). I came home from work this mornng and crashed. not your usual plane crash, but an all inclusive massive fireball. Antway I just woke up and I wanted to tell you, before I go back to sleep, I need to get back you.

I'll post a blog, but let me sleep first. Goodnight.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

They never go Away

By Keith N Fisher

Okay, I know, the last quote wasn’t exactly on everybody’s list of favorite cultural clichés, but I wanted to include it, because it reminds me of the old days. It was from a phone conversation Bob Woodward had during his investigation of the Watergate burglaries. He hoped to prove President Nixon was involved in the cover-up.

The book is called All the President’s Men. Written by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. While working for the Washington Post, those two invented what we call investigative journalism. Since I included the quote, I’ve been contemplating their role in our society.

Richard Nixon said it best when he said, "People have got to know whether or not their presidents a crook."

That’s true, but there are some things we might be better off not knowing. I don’t know. Maybe we’ve taken the investigative journalism thing too far. But that’s a subject for a different blog. We try to stay out of politics here.

So, let’s move on, to another quote. You should remember Parting is such sweet sorrow.

I’ve heard writers talk about characters as if they say goodbye to them at the end of a book. Some authors wait until the book is published. If the story won’t carry through a sequel, they say goodbye to their characters and move on.

I can’t seem to do that. I don’t necessarily love them, and I’ve killed some, but my characters live in my mind like real people do. They are my friends and I know more about them then my real life friends.

I guess there are other writers who feel that way, or we wouldn’t have the Stephanie Plum series written by Janet Evanovich. There’s Alex Cross written by James Patterson. Jimmy Fincher, Samantha Shade, and Shandra Covington. Written by James Dashner, Kerry Blair, and Jeffery Savage.

Now, J K Rowling is writing another Harry Potter book. My friend, Heather Justesen has written several books about the family and friends she created for one of her books. It’s not a series, just different stories about those characters. I wrote several different characters with their own stories into one book, called The Hillside. It occurred to me that I could write several books based on those stories. I would keep the characters alive and I wouldn’t have to say goodbye.

Alas, parting is such sweet sorrow, but not in this case. I think it’s interesting that given any situation, I can tell you how each one of my characters would react. Each reaction would be different and individual. I hope that means I’m becoming a better writer.

Have fun making friends and enemies with your characters. I hope you don’t have to kill any of them.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Hero Worship

By Keith N Fisher

Yes, the quote from last week was from A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. The idea of the ultimate self-sacrifice has always touched our hearts in literature and reality. The concept of the needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few goes back several generations. It is the premise of the sacrifice made by Aslan the lion in The Chronicles of Narnia. Of course, all the examples point to the real sacrifice made by Jesus.

I’ll provide this week’s quote below, but first, what would you do if you met a famous person in an elevator? What if they moved into your neighborhood? What if that person is a personal hero of yours?

I have very few heroes in my life. They are people who reached a high station in my estimation, through their actions. I often wonder how I would react to meeting those people. I’ve sent letters to some of my heroes, and sometimes regretted saying some of the things I wrote. It’s funny what being in their presence can do to us regular people.

Recently, Comic Con was held in Salt Lake City, and although I couldn’t go, I heard many reports. There was high praise for the experience. In some of those reports, however, I heard about the fees several of the, would be heroes charged for the privilege of having your picture taken with them.

One of my good friends from Dutch oven competition days wrote about that and was criticized for his opinion. He, himself, makes his living in the public eye. He mentioned the fallacy of charging large amounts of money. I believe he said, we, the fans, purchased their work. We watched and made them what they are. Now, rather than pay back, the famous people take more.

Let me say, I agree with my friend. Although he is not a personal hero of mine, I wouldn’t mind meeting William Shatner and even posing for a picture with him. Paying seventy-five dollars for the privilege, however, is bogus. Especially when I would’ve had to purchase tickets for the event.

With that being said, let me point out something. Famous people, and even our heroes, are just people. They deal with some of the same issues we deal with. Many of them have personal lives we shouldn’t emulate. Why do we get flustered? I once had the privilege of shaking the hand of an elected official. I didn’t vote for him. In fact, I disagreed with most of his policies. When I met him, I wanted to point out his errors, but I didn’t.

If I were to meet one of my heroes, Why should I feel any different? Not about my personal opinions, but why shouldn’t I meet them like the human being they are?

As writers, many of us have opportunities to meet and associate with famous people. We hold many of them in high esteem. How we react to meeting them determines how they feel about us. Do you want them to say, "Oh no, here comes that crazy lady who can’t keep herself under control"? Or "Quick let me duck under your table, her comes that guy with his manuscript again."

Just a little food for thought before you attend that major event, and meet some of those famous people. Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

. . . . . . . .

Oh yeah, the quote for this week is, Hi, I'm _______ of the Washington Post . . . and . . . what's that? You've never heard of me? I can't help that—you don't believe I'm with the Post? What do you want me to do, Madam, shout extra—extra?

This quote might be a little harder. It’s from a memoir written by two people during a very trying time in our nation’s history. Now, that ought to help. Good luck and don’t forget to comment, (whether you know the answer or not). I can’t put you in the drawing if you don’t comment.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Escaping

By Keith N Fisher

First, the contest and the quote: I was hoping for more comments last week, but yes, Kurt Kammeyer it was, Chevy Chase in the movie, Funny Farm. I made reference to it in my post a while back. The film was adapted from a 1985 comedic novel of the same name by Jay Cronley.

It’s about a sportswriter who buys a house in the country to write the book he’s been given an advance for. As you might imagine with all Chevy Chase movies, It’s hilarious.

Kurt, and Heather Justesen will be entered into the drawing.

And this is our quote for today:

It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.
This quote from a book was also used in a Star Trek movie. That ought to be enough of a hint that anyone can figure it out.


---------------------
Have you ever been discouraged? I’m not talking about normal setbacks. Some people suffer through calamity. How does a person keep going through all that? I used to write.

I actually began in the nineteen-seventies, using the medium to explore my imagination. In the nineties, I used it as a stress reliever, a way to escape discouragement. I didn’t get serious about it until my first rejection, which happened to coincide with getting fired from my job of fifteen years.

To be honest, when I considered the future and what I should do for a living, I felt I should finish the rewrites. Perhaps that was a way of escaping my obligations, but it was something I needed to do. That was, eight books ago. I now have nineteen project files, including one for many other new ideas.

Writing was for me, more recreational than occupational. Now, I can’t put it down, but I want that publishing credit to my name. I used writing before, to escape discouragement, now it’s a major part of my life. What should I do with discouragement about writing? What do you do?

Many writers have wondered why they ever got involved in this crazy occupation. It’s normal. Between family obligations and starvation prevention, it seems like there’s always something getting in the way. Watching people launch ebook careers, and reading about, yet another, publisher calling it quits, doesn’t help. How do you keep going?

Reading this blog, and others like it, can help. Seeking the company of other writers is also a good way. Flooding the market with ebooks of your own is another way. Escaping to a remote location will help give you clarity. It does for me. Taking my laptop into the mountains to write helps me remember why I started writing.

How did you decide to write? Good Luck with your writing—see you next week.

 

 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Running on Fumes

By Keith N Fisher


Alegripphotos.com
I’ve been fighting sleeplessness and injuries for a couple of weeks. Life is tough right? I was lying on my stomach, changing a couple of bad valves in my sprinkler system. Suddenly, (useless adverb) a pain hit me in my side, kind of like somebody slapping my bare skin with the palm of their hand, or a rubber band. It laid me out on the grass and took a while for me to recover well enough to continue the job.
That night I couldn’t find a comfortable position to sleep, and that continued for a while. It was hard to write, and I couldn’t concentrate on editing. I was like a car with an empty gas tank, running on fumes. Then, after a few days, it seemed better, I thought the pain would go away. Indeed, when I started writing this post, I had the intention of saying, I was back to work now, and boy did it feel good.

I should’ve knocked on wood, because it came back with a vengeance. Never the less I must write. I did the edits from my proofreader, and I’m trying to catch up.

On the LDS Writer’s Blogck, I started a quote contest, so I’ve been searching old books and movies. Make sure you g there and leave a comment on my blog posts. I’m running the contest for a month before I take all the names of those commenting and put them in the drawing. Yes, you can enter more than once.

I’ve sent emails to the publisher and still haven’t heard anything about The Hillside after a year and half. I guess I’ll submit it to somebody else, but I might rewrite it for the national market first. Maybe I’ll self publish. I’ve got several books ready, but I was hoping for the publishing credit first.

Well, there’s the gas station—time to refill the tank.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

It's All in the Words

By Keith N Fisher

How many of you remember or have heard the words, Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die. This dialogue spoken by a character in a movie seems to be part of our culture. What if I quoted, Damn the torpedoes, Full speed ahead? Would you know where it’s from? The quote is attributed to Rear Admiral David Glasgow Farragut, a union officer in the civil war, and the eponym of a federation starship in Star Trek.

Since Farragut’s story wasn’t written until years later, many doubt he actually said those words. Also, if he could’ve even been heard over the roar of the cannons. Still, it’s a good quote, and the navy used it for recruitment purposes for years.

From, frankly Scarlett, I don’t give a damn, to I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore, sentences and colloquialisms from the media have wriggled into our culture.

I was thinking about clichés and how they influence our society. Also, I wondered how many of them became so familiar. When I talk about, the whole nine yards, most of you would admit to using the expression, but how many know where it came from? Using Google to answer the question isn’t fair.

Some of you might know that dump trucks hold nine yards, and if I were to use the expression it would be in reference to receiving the whole load, or being dumped on, take your pick. Our expressions are interesting. So are the phrases we remember from literature and movies.

Wouldn’t you like to be the guy who gave Sergeant Shulz the words, I know nothing, nothing. Or the writer of Land Before Time who gave Petrie the phrase, Yup, yup, yup? Then there’s the old, One of these days, Alice . . . pow! right in the kisser.

I’m sure you can think of dozens of quotes like these, but I think it would be fun to have a contest. Here’s how it works. I’ll post a quote. You comment and tell us where the quote came from. Everyone who comments will be entered into the drawing for a Walmart gift card. I’ll post a new quote each week for a month. Comment each time for more chances to win. Good luck and let’s have some fun.

This week’s quote is from a movie: As a novelist, I turned out to be a pretty good sportswriter.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Kick in the Behind

By Keith N Fisher

When I started this blog, I intended to use it to promote my writing career. It got derailed somewhere and I’ve neglected it, and you. With the excitement and promise of getting my cookbook published I resurrected my camp cooking blog. Now it’s time to get this one back on track.

I am a writer, and I want to be successful. Like everyone, I get discouraged. So, I gave myself a kick, with goals to move on. I’m waiting to hear from a publisher about The Hillside. If it gets rejected, I’m going to rewrite certain parts and make it national market. I will be shopping that book, along with others.

I’ll still write in the LDS market, but most of my effort will be National. I need to start socializing with agents at conferences and get my name out there. I need to change my business cards that say, (Writer of LDS Fiction) because that is limiting. I’m making a list to help me move forward.

I just received my Star Crossed manuscript back from a proofreader and I think I’ll make it national. Anybody interested in a book about a woman who gets driven apart from her lover as a teenager, struggles with alcoholism, divorce, abandonment, Goes through detoxification. Then, she meets her former boyfriend and discovers that, unbeknownst to her, his daughter plans to marry her son. He’s a minister and he’s married. Sparks fly when her feelings flare up, and she tries to seduce him.

How about a book about a man who, after suffering devastating losses on his farm, leaves his family and goes West during the California gold rush? The relationship he never intended to happen leads him into unusual places, and he ends up broke, homeless, and unloved. That’s when he runs into an old adversary who wants revenge. All that Glitters is one of the only books I’m writing with a male main character.

There are many books in my project file and they will delight every reader. There are even more bouncing in my head.

 

Oh, Yeah, that Writing Thing

By Keith N Fisher

Garrison Keiler, on the Prairie Home Companion, usually starts his monologue with,

"Well, it's been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon, Minnesota, my hometown, out there on the edge of the prairie."

I like his writing and I especially like the feel of the radio show. Keiler tells it like it is, so be careful when you read some of his writing. Still, he is a national treasure.

When I started writing this post, I thought of Keiler’s signature start of the monologue and this post began, Well, it’s been a quiet week in the cyberspace of writing. I took a break from the world and began to analyze my life. I’m making needed changes and setting goals.

One of those decisions was to write for the national market. I will continue to write LDS fiction. At least until I exhaust all of the story outlines (and there are many) in my project file. I got my manuscript back from my cousin, (one of my beta readers). She knows who she is, and she did a wonderful job with Star Crossed. No, I won’t give you her name, because I don’t want you to steal her. It’s hard enough, to find proofreaders who have time these days and I need all the help I can get. She’s mine. J

I talked about this in a recent post, but have you ever contemplated the amount of time it takes to get a book published these days? It probably takes longer for me than most, because I just can’t get it perfect in the first draft. I was thinking how nice it would be to write well enough that I could submit my work as soon as I write the words, The end.

Better yet, wouldn’t it be great to have a publisher anticipating my next work? The old stop the presses Keith just sent his next book, cliché comes to mind. If I could just write, without taking time to edit, I could get through my project’s file in no time. If I didn’t have to work a day job, I could write all the time.

Of course if I were a best seller, I could hire an editor. I could write everything with the discovery method, turn it over to the editor, make the changes, and leave it with my secretary to shop the agents and publishers.

Writing is getting easier for me all the time. Waiting for Critique group edits takes time, but I wouldn’t make a move without them. Then, even after I make those recommended changes, I still need proofreaders. I need other eyes looking over the manuscript. Besides, hearing positive comments about the plot is good for my ego.

Like I said, I wrote about this process a couple of weeks ago, but I’m grateful to my cousin, even though I wish I could just write and not worry about the quality. I was writing posts for other blogs and thought; oh, yeah, I need to write the writing blog. That's how the name of this post came to be.

As Garrison Keiler says at the end of his monologue, "Well, that's the news from Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average."

Good Luck with your writing—see you next week.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

I can be Anything, Go Anywhere

By Keith N Fisher

As a writer, I’m sure the possibilities have occurred to you. Yes, Characters really talk to you and try to enforce their wills over the story, They also live through you. Moreover, you live through them.

Just like parents relive their past through the antics of their children, writers live the lives of their characters. "What?" you ask. But I’ve written some really bad characters and I don't want to be like them."

I agree, I write women’s fiction and I have no desire to be the women I write, but those women teach me valuable lessons.

These were my thoughts the other day during our critique group meeting. I brought a chapter from my cookbook and graciously distributed it as homework. I also brought chapter ten of The Trophy to read. I wrote Christy into that story several years ago, and I like her. What’s more my critique group likes her.

I live parts of her life every time I read or edit one of her chapters and I admit, her life is more exciting than mine. I guess you could say she is written well, but then, I’ve had a lot of practice with her.

Writers are a crazy bunch, we travel to far off lands, do dangerous, and romantic things. Our characters take us there. Sometimes they take us to places we don’t want to go, "But," you say. "Don’t the characters we write come out of our head, or from people we’ve known?" Aha. I guess we really are crazy, but most of us were very good at playing make believe as children and writing a just an extension of that.

Doesn’t that make you wonder about some writer’s childhood? Is there a place you always wanted to go? Did you always wish you were more . . . Then Write it.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Nothing to Write


By Keith N Fisher

I’ve been so busy trying to finish my cookbook, cooking new dishes, and doing research, that I couldn’t think of a topic for today. I spent all day bouncing ideas off myself but I couldn’t come up with anything. I cleaned out a shed, cleaned the truck, (Which was a huge deal), and made chili.

Still, I couldn’t think of anything to write that would bolster your resolve to keep writing. I thought about a political situation that ticks me off, but I promised to leave politics off this blog. I considered writing about writer’s block itself, but that would be copping out. (Just like this post).

I will say, I’ve been having formatting problems with the cookbook. I put all the recipes in two columns, single spaced. All the other stuff was one column, double spaced when I tried to insert the recipes the formatting went crazy. I think I’ve got it under control now though, at least I have a system and it seems to be working.

Hopefully, things will go better this week and I’ll have something worthwhile to say. Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

It Takes a Village

By Keith N Fisher

If it takes a village to raise a child, How many people do you need to publish a book? Many of us are enamoured with the idea of being a solitary writer. He/she spends months in seclusion, knocking out that book. Then, after the publisher takes it to market, the writer spends a couple of months doing other things, like plotting the demise of the mailman (See the movie Funny Farm).

Perhaps that reality once existed, but not today. When Hillary Clinton published her book, It Takes a Village, I Liked the concept the title implies. It does take many influences to raise a child. Publishing your book does too.

It starts with whoever provides the inspiration. What made you want to write a book? As with all artistic expression, writing is driven by passion. Something must’ve lit that fire.

Next, there are the teachers and conference presenters who help with your presentation. I know things I learn at writer’s conferences have immensely boosted me.

The cooperation and support of those you love must be listed. I used to write into the night while my wife went to bed. She never complained, but it goes deeper than that. I know many women who write while their family qtakes up the slack.

One can not leave this subject without mentioning the opposite. When a trusted and treasured friend, or family member, expresses their disdain about your choice to be a writer, it can be overwhelming. The influence of those who provide support by keeping quiet makes all the difference. If those people express support, the writer is lifted.

The help of an honest critique is invaluable. A good critique group is essential. Writers need group partners who will build, but still tell you when something stinks. I can’t begin to express how much my group has helped me become a better writer.

Next in our village, is the willing beta, or proofreaders. Another set of eyes can find typos and plot mistakes the writer just never saw. They can also tell you if the story works or not. If they don’t like what you wrote, book buyers probably won’t either. A writer needs many beta readers to get an accurate picture of what changes are needed.

We could list mail carriers, agents, editors, and slush pile readers. Then come typesetters, printers, and distributors. Bookstore owners and managers, come in there next. Not to mention, the good recommendations of bookstore employees. Suffice it to say a best seller is not born in a vacuum.

I want to thank all the people in my village. I might be somebody someday because of your support. More than that, My children (books) will go into the world and be successful.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Life In the Fast Lane

By Keith N Fisher

Are you old enough to remember life before the microcomputer? I remember a time when a computer filled whole rooms. (Many rooms.) In those days, socializing was done in person. Facebook hadn’t been invented. The guy who started Facebook hadn’t been invented either.

Writing in those days was done on a ribbon typewriter. I had access to an electric one, then I got a manual. Pushing the keys down gave me strong fingers, but mistakes usually meant starting over.

My typewriter sat on my desk. It was too cumbersome to lug around. Now I can write anywhere. I take my computer with me. I’m writing this post from my front porch on an 11 X 9 netbook. I just finished my Dutch oven blog and tried to log onto the Internet, but there was a problem.

Something is wrong with my router, it keeps flaking out. My computer can’t find it, until I shut it off and turn it back on. It could be some kind of conflict. Perhaps somebody is stealing my bandwidth. I’m not sure, but it’s such a simple temporary fix. All I need to do is go back in the house and reset the router.

How many of you remember when watching television meant getting up to change the channels? Lately, I’ve been known to sit quietly in front of a blank screen, because I can’t bring myself to get the remote from the kitchen.

Still, a writer can use those moments to plot his story. Writers can write anything, anywhere, but how did I become so dependent on technology? I don’t answer the house phone anymore. There’s a phone is in my pocket if I need to make a call. I can go for a ride on a hot day and crank up the air conditioning. What did we do when I was a kid?



Writers have it easier these days. I know, they didn’t have to market back then, but I can submit a book in seconds and never see my words on paper. Then I can build a following by posting something witty on Facebook. I can correspond with my writing peers and make appointments for book signings. I can do all these things in the bathroom, before I take my morning shower.

When I think of how we got from then to now, I’m reminded of my pile of computer parts. Most of that stuff was cutting edge back in the day. Now it gathers dust, because I can’t seem to throw it away. I think about the old Commodore 64, the XT and the AT I had. I remember needing a math co-processor to do graphics. At one point, I went from and two-foot tower to one half the size, then my first laptop. Oh, baby we were stylin.

Occasionally, I fire up my old 486 with the co-processor, and play with Windows 3.1. It was leaps and bounds ahead of what came before. Typing on a manual typewriter, pushing lead around a sheet of paper to make a blueprint, and playing solitaire with a real deck of cards.

Well, enough of my blabbering. It’s time to bite the bullet and go reset the router.

Good Luck with your writing—see you next week.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Change is a Two-Edged Sword

image found at http://www.theignorantfishermen.com
By Keith N Fisher

First the news . . . No, I didn’t get a new publishing contract. Although, I wish it were true. I just want to let you in on the changes to the blogck. As you know, G. Parker is taking a break. She promised to be back after things cool down a bit. Michele, is also taking a slight break. Life gets in the way sometimes. Send them an email and let them know how much you appreciate them.

After a Long deserved break, Weston Elliott (Wendy) came back to the Blogk. She took the spot left vacant by Donna. She’s been posting on Sunday, but Michele is going to trade with her. That leaves Michele on Sundays, Wendy on Tuesday, and Connie said she’s coming back, so she’ll be posting on Wednesdays. Gaynell, (G. Parker) will post Fridays, and I’m here on Saturdays.

Tell your friends, The LDS Writer’s Blogck is back. Not that it ever went away, but I’m looking forward to having more minds posting again. Make it a point to stop by often, and get a boost from those who understand your struggles as a writer. Leave a comment if you can, and let us know what you’d like us to write about.

The Blogck has always been a place you can go to validate your decision to be a writer. Stop by often and we’ll join hands.

Change is good, but a lot can be said for sameness. I’ve been a member of the Blogck for a long time. I’ve seen writer’s come and go. I’ve read a lot of great comments and heard people tell me how much we’ve helped them. I’ve seen many visitors stop by, a few stayed, became better writers, and started their own blogs.

For me, it has been a blessing to have a weekly deadline. I’ve posted a few thought-provoking posts. Some of them were just thrown together at the last minute and you can tell. I post on other blogs too, but the Blogck is where it all began.

From the title of this post, you might think I’m leaving, but don’t worry, not yet. There will come a time when I’ll give up my spot and move on. For now, however, I’ll try to keep offering sound advice and insight.

Since I first posted here, I’ve suffered many changes in my life that left my head spinning. I’m still trying to recover from some of them and I’ve recently discovered answers to questions that revealed more questions. Change is hard, but it forces us to grow.

My writing has also changed. I started out writing general fiction, best described as Dean Hughes type novels. I now write women’s fiction. It was a natural change, since I was the only male member of an all women critique group.

Even my critique group has changed. It started when I recognized my need for help with my writing. I sought out my close friends at a Storymakers conference to propose the group and the Super Edits group began.

We started on a Saturday with six members. Two, were published authors, one was a beginner, Me and two others had been writing for a while. We lost one member after the first meeting. I cooked a Dutch oven dinner for the next meeting. (I figured I’d keep them by cooking for them).

Many publishing contracts came. Other books were self-published and life’s demands began to take members away. One lady with six kids got married and inherited four more. Another member got a national market contract and moved to another state. (Those two things were unrelated.)

Demands on our time have been hard to overcome, but we are, (and always will be) family. We’ve had a few writers come and go since then, recently adding more members, including another man. I’m no longer the only male influence. I’ve bonded with the new members now, and I hope I’m helping them as they help me.

One of the members keeps coming, I’m sure, because she knows I need the help. Her friendship is invaluable because she cares more about improving my writing than she does her hectic schedule. She helps others, too, but I’m sure she welcomes the friendship and the chance to get away for awhile.

Now, another member is threatening to leave and move to another state. I’m resisting the change. Actually, I’m trying to block it out of my mind. Before long, I’ll be one of the last original members, and like this blog, I’ll keep going. Did I mention I hate changes?

I’ve learned something in the past seven years, though. Change is like a two-edged sword. One edge is sharp and cuts deeply, but the other edge brings growth. The Super Edits critique group has helped me become a better writer. I’m also a less argumentative person because of the ladies. I’ve learned more about women, too.

I guess that someday, something will come up in my life, also. Something, that will force me to move on. That seems to be the way of things, but for now, I hope I can help others on the blogck and in my group.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

What Do You Say?

By Keith N Fisher

When you greet another writer, what do you say? When a person says they’re a potter how do you respond? What about sculpting, or writing music? When your friend tells you he quit his job to have more time to develop a computer program, how do you answer?

On the other side, Are you impressed when you’re daughter introduces her boyfriend and says he’s a doctor? Do lawyers have your respect? What are your feelings about physicists and stockbrokers?

I’m reminded of these questions after I tell people I’m a writer and hear the initial response. Often, it’s, "Oh . . . what have you written?" They expect to hear about all the books, from which, I’m collecting royalties. What they really want to know is how can you waist your time doing something that doesn’t pay the bills? Why didn’t you grow up and go to work, like the rest of us?

A writer’s first response is to defend their choice. We list all the books we’ve written and how close they are to being published. We seek acceptance from a closed minded, judgmental, person.

Recently, I’ve noticed a different response when I mention that I’m currently working on my cookbook. For some reason they approve. I leave out the part about my activities of trying to sell my fiction. I could list all the books I’ve written and where each one is in the process, but they don’t care.

I got a response the other day that surprised me. He asked if I’m still writing. I said that yes I am and I’m working on my cookbook. He asked how I plan to market it. I stuttered and joked about letting the publisher take care of that.

The truth is he was being critical. Of course I plan to market it, but I’m chin deep in getting it written. Let me do that well, then I’ll sell it. Yes, I know, times have changed and every writer should continually sell their brand, but I have problems with the concept of using every sales scheme you can think of to sell a poorly written book.

I’ve listened to writers preach about doing that very thing, but perhaps that’s the subject of another blog post. Let me just say, I fumbled my response. Then I read an article in Writer’s Digest about those who would criticize the choice. According to the article, one of the main responses is, you’ll never make a living as a writer. Do you know how many people have tried and failed?

I like the suggested reply, Most of the classical musicians had patrons. Would you like to support my efforts? I think every writer who ever lived, doubted his/her choices. I’ve heard successful authors express fear and frustration. It doesn’t help to hear negatives from those you care about.

How did our society become so slanted, that we pay sports players million’s of dollars yet creative artisans get a pittance if they get paid at all? Heartless CEO’s and hatchet men make fortunes cutting the life’s blood of those who do all the work in their company.

I love the concept of the future as expressed in Star Trek. They eliminated greed from their society and everyone is free to pursue a career they love. Be it poet, painter, or Indian chief.

According to the article I mentioned, there are many reasons some people rain on your writing parade. One is they wish they could write but they don’t have the guts to try. It’s hard to be a writer, especially, an unpublished one. To borrow a phrase from the seventies, Just keep on, keeping on. Oh, and the proper response, is how is your writing going? Then, let them tell you.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

I Have a Suggestion

By Keith N Fisher

When I was a kid, we had to save money for the fireworks store. They didn’t have stands on every corner like we do now, and when we got our booty we put it away for the big event, Independence Day.

It was hard to wait. Those fuses mocked us in our struggle to control the urge to strike a match. We knew, however, we wouldn’t get anymore, so we controlled our desires.

We live better these days. Even poor people seem to have enough money for fireworks. The selection is more sophisticated, too. There are laws in Utah limiting the number of days on which fireworks can be displayed, but people still succumb. A couple of my close friends make a good profit from selling fireworks, so I make my suggestion tongue-in-cheek.

Still, if I could think of another way for them to pay the mortgage . . .

I admit, this year is not as bad as last, but I work at night and continually get woken by the pop-pop, bangs, and whistles of other people’s fun. Where does all that money come from anyway?

After loosing sleep for the third day this year, I devised a plan. I suggest that everyone save the money spent in home displays (except on the actual holiday). I believe if everyone gave that money to the poor, we would have full food banks. We could pay the debts of many struggling families with what we save on emergency services alone.

If you add the cost of everything over two holidays, (the 4th and the 24th in Utah) the totals are staggering. How much do you think we could add to the pot by eliminating private fireworks displays entirely? We could all get our fix by watching the municipal shows.

Wow, just think about the medical bills we could pay, but then, there is the thrill of striking the match . . .

As I said above, I’m being facetious. I mentioned this plan to a customer the other night and his rebuttal floored me. I suggested the money saved, would eliminate the poor entirely and he said "No it wouldn’t. People choose to be poor."

I’ll leave you to debate that issue on your own. Meanwhile, writing has been good to me this week. I went to a family party and listened to more criticism about my choice to be a writer. I’ll talk about that next time.

Good Luck with your writing—see you next week.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

A Good Distraction

By Keith N Fisher

I know, I know. My cookbook is overdue, but a new character actually woke me up the other day. Do you know how long it takes to format a new document while a thirty-eight year old woman taps on your head telling you to hurry?

I woke up after having an unusual dream. It had nothing to do with the new character, but as soon as I woke, her story popped into my head. I typed the first pages as they came. You’re going to love this character.

After that, I felt guilty about not working on the cookbook and went on to revise the first pages of the new story. Hee hee. Okay I created a new breakfast dish, cooked it and wrote the recipe. I think you’ll like it, too.

During my writing time lately, I switch back and forth between the cookbook, Rebecca’s story, Christy’s story, Denise’s story, and the new girl is Claire. Have I ever told you I write women’s fiction? I also write camp cooking cookbooks.

I combined the two mediums once. It was in the sequel to Denise’s story. She attended the tail end of a Dutch oven cook off I cooked in, once. We did very well with our bread in that cook off, but Denise got soaked in the cloudburst that hit just as the presentations ended.

At the risk of sounding crazy, do you remember Robert Duvall’s character in Apocalypse Now? He said, "I love the smell of napalm in the morning."

To paraphrase that quote I’d say, I love the smell of a new story in the morning. I love starting a new book. My senses come alive, and excitement grows. I hope you can feel the same way.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Networking in the Park

breakfast stack
By Keith N Fisher

Because of difficult circumstances for the past few years, I came up short when it came time to register for the LDStorymakers Writer’s Conference this year. I planned to cook a Dutch oven dinner to pay my way, but somebody beat me to the punch. They announced a get together pizza party on Thursday night before the conference.

After retracting my intention on Facebook, J Scott Savage suggested I cook breakfast on one of the days. I chose Thursday morning.

I planned to make three new dishes, along with one I’ve made for years, but settled for one. Everything turned out great and tasted delicious. As the time came and went, nobody came. I wondered what to do with the food when people began to arrive. I was relieved.

Those who came enjoyed Dutch toast, breakfast stacks, and fruit salad. I also made five gallons of TangÒ. Although, nobody left hungry, the food wasn’t the big story. Networking with my fellow writers was priceless. Even the kids had fun, and some of the writers set up a printer to make copies for the boot camp.

Everyone was pleased and I promised to do it again next year. Hopefully, I’ll be in a better financial position and offer breakfast for free. I hope the attached pictures will inspire you for next year.

Good Luck with your writing—see you next week.
Dutch Toast

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Intellectual Property Rights. Are We Milking the Lightbulb?

By Keith N Fisher

Do you remember last week when I told you about the cookbook I’m writing? I talked about the memories associated with each recipe. In recollection, A great debate came up so I’m going to ask your opinion.

Part of Dutch oven cooking has always been about sharing. Recipes get passed around and techniques get shared at every event. Ethics, however, have prevented us from taking credit for another person’s work. We passed other people’s recipes around but always gave credit to the creator. In competitions we always put the source on each recipe.

A few years ago, one of our Dutch oven associates called, asking for permission to include one of our recipes in his cookbook. Two things crossed my mind. During that time, we were all making staple bound, recipe sheets (not cookbooks) to pass out. I thought he was talking about one of those. The other thing I thought about, was the ethical code I spoke of. I expected to get credit.

When the bound and published, cookbook came out, there was no credit. We didn’t even get a mention.

Because of that experience, I quit handing out recipes. I’d always planned on doing a cookbook sometime, and I didn’t need any more friends stealing my recipes. Recently, I received an email from a good friend asking for permission to use one of my breakfast recipes in something he was doing. I’m grateful he asked, but I told him no, since I’m going to include it in my own cookbook.

The breakfast recipe I spoke of, as with most of my cookbook are my creations. I want credit and the chance to sell my cookbook.

With that being said, you should know, many of our competition recipes were created from bits and pieces we found in other, non-Dutch oven sources. We adapted and changed each recipe. Now they are ours. I once heard a comment from a famous rock musician, who said: "Every rock and roll song has already been written. Anything new is just a variation of what came before." Such is the case with a lot of recipes and most software, poetry, and even movies.

Which brings us to the point. In the news the other day, a story about litigation over rights to use a certain technology caught my eye. It seems two gaming companies use the Internet to control the use of the games users play. Although users purchase the games and the equipment, one of the companies will not allow users to sell games or equipment to others . . .

Now, wait a minute. I admit I haven’t researched the whole story, but that’s like Ford or Chrysler saying, you can’t resell one of our cars because it will cut into our new car sales. The game developers want to force every user to buy their software.

I agree. Every creator, whether they paint, write, make music, or software, deserves high praise and much more money than they will ever get. I know it takes a lot of time and energy to develop software. It takes years, and a lot of sweat, to write a book. Writing music can be hard, but the creators of all of those media, chose their occupation. Holding readers, listeners, viewers, and users hostage, is not the way to get compensation.

After several years of writing fiction and hoping to make a lot of money, (someday) I learned the facts. I learned that writing, especially in the LDS market will probably never make me a millionaire. Making a living might not happen either. Intellectually, that sucks, but I still choose to write.

How would you feel if while I signed your copy of my book I said, "Now, you can’t lend this out for others to read. They must purchase their own."?

Yes, there are copyright problems in all the creative industries. As a writer, I worry about piracy. I don’t want others stealing my creation and making a profit from that theft. I could sell each book for double the price to make up for the theft. I could keep selling my first book for the same price after my fourth and fifth books are released, or I could be grateful that somebody still wants to buy my first book, and offer to sell it to them for a discount. Piracy will always be a problem and holding honest customers over a barrel will not solve it.

As a writer, I’d like everyone to buy a copy of my book. As a consumer, I bristle when I’m told what I can and cannot do with a product I have purchased. I resent a license that tells me the new software I purchased can only be installed on one computer, even though I own five computers. I wonder about the greed of a company who wants to make a profit on an obsolete operating system that has been superseded at least four times. Shouldn’t some things be relegated to public domain?

Maybe I can make a living on the sell of one book or maybe, I can touch a heart. Microcomputers and the software we use on them have made the world a better place. Recorded music can inspire souls to reach great heights. How can you nit pick and put a price on that? I remember an era when musicians got a thrill out of hearing their song on the radio for the first time. I don’t care if my Dutch oven associate makes a bundle on my recipe, but I do want credit.

What do you think?

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Who is that Old Guy, Anyway?

By Keith N Fisher

I keep thinking about my life before the "old guy", kidnapped my body. In those days, I maintained my garden with ease, and didn’t grunt when I moved. I had hair. I see that "old guy" in my mirror a lot and I wonder who invited him into the room.

One of these days I’m going to grab him by the throat and force that old guy to give back what he stole from me.

I was thinking of posting this on Facebook and realized there’s a blog post in there. Life is grand. There is sadness in seeing others face the trials you once had, but there is joy in seeing them overcome.

This has been the season of reinvention in my life. I’m forced to analyze and find a new path to follow. I remember doing the same thing at eighteen, when I realized it was time to grow up. High school was behind me and I would have to go to work every day, for the rest of my life.

It’s also been a time of great celebration for my friends who’ve gotten books published. There is a lot of joy in seeing them overcome adversity and achieve their goals. I’m finishing my cookbook at a publisher’s request.

Speaking of which, It’s been both a pain, and a joy. During all those years of Dutch oven competition, I thought I’d written my recipes in the same format. I discovered I was wrong. Also, I’ve lost copies and just never got around to writing some of them down.

My writing time these days is spent reformatting and remembering recipes. I’m also inventing new dishes, but I’ve come to realize, there’s a story behind each recipe. Both good and bad stories and I’ve been reliving both.

Through it all, I stare at that "old man" and curse him for stealing some of the good things in my life. Then, after I admit the "old man" is me, I think of all the blessings I’ve enjoyed. I’m grateful for the journey, and I’m excited to be on the road. I also notice that "old man" looks kind of wise. Well, at least he looks that way.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Jack of All Trades

By Keith N Fisher

There is a saying I remember from childhood. I’m not sure where I heard it, or what the context was, but it’s Jack of All Trades, Master of None. I’ve always interpreted it as a man who can do many things, but nothing to perfection. I look at my long work career and figure I took the saying to heart.

As a writer, I’m still trying to master the craft, but my experience in life helps me plot stories. A thought occurred to me the other day as I watched two of my friends. One taught, and the other learned, while they went through an aspect of a certain computer program.

I thought about the saying and all the bits of knowledge a writer collects while applying their craft. Also, the hands on experiences they have while trying to describe something, are invaluable. I have another friend who probably wouldn’t have learned about computers and the Internet, if it hadn’t been for her writing career. Some writers do ride alongs trying to learn about police procedure.

We interview people who’ve had the experience in an effort to describe it. We research historical events in order to give our characters an accurate plot. Some people sit in courtrooms, some in hospitals. Others make notes at baseball games. During the course of our research, writers become Jack of all trades, but never master any of them. Some know all the procedures of heart surgery without ever getting near a patient.

For these reasons, I think writers would make great quiz show contestants. More than that, however. Writers who research can weave a tale of intrigue that rings true to those who read. Those writers become a Jack of all trades, masters of writing.

Good luck mastering your craft—see you next week.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Time to Open the Store

By Keith N Fisher

Have I mentioned I’m at a point in my writing career when I have several books in different stages of submission? I feel like a merchant who’s been building an inventory, getting ready to open the store.

In my writing, rather than concentrating on one book at time, I’ve kept a project file. Whenever I got bored with a plot, or it just wasn’t working, I’d turn to another plot and write it for a while. It’s a good way of avoiding writer’s block, but it also allowed me the freedom to follow the muse. Like when I submit a manuscript, and forget it while I move on to something else.

Now, a lot of those projects are drawing near to publication. I’m waiting to hear from a publisher on one. Another, is with beta readers, another is going to critique, and so on. Part of the reason for all the books, is the length of time publishers are taking in the submission process. Time is valuable and it’s difficult to get through the stack.

Still, I wish it went quicker. It’s been a year since I submitted, The Hillside, to the current publisher. It was two years at another one before that. (Long story.) I’ve almost forgotten what I wrote about.

With that kind of track record, and the number of manuscripts I have ready, I could be submitting for the next several years. Not to mention my Dutch oven cookbook.

"What do you do for a living?"

"I submit manuscripts to publishers."

However, there are many plots in my project file. Some are half-written. I will be writing into my nineties and beyond. Nice to have your career all laid out for you. I just hope I get published soon.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Writing on the Roof

By Keith N Fisher

As many of you know, because I work at night, it’s hard to make daytime connections. I have to adjust my schedule and sleep at odd hours. When I woke at five a.m. for the LDStorymakers Writer’s conference this year, I decided to get ready anyway.

I figured I could stop somewhere along the way and get some writing time in at a restaurant or something. On the way, I realized that I intended to park in the garage at the hotel anyway, and many of you also know, I like to write while sitting behind the wheel of my parked truck. So, I headed to the conference.

It suddenly dawned on me how cool it would be to park on the top of the parking garage and write while watching the sunrise. I drove up there, parked, pulled out my work in progress, and took a breath.

Writing is a good way to release tension but the early morning light and fresh air made it all the better. I caught movement in the corner of my eye and looked up. There were two birds standing on the hood of my truck talking to each other. It would’ve been a great picture but I reached into my bag and couldn’t find my camera. The birds flew away and I kept my eye on the impending moment when the sun would peek over the mountains. I went back to my writing and didn't get the camera out.

I had a specific moment in mind, but I got caught up in my story. Oh yeah, the words were flying off my fingertips and I wrote terrific paragraphs. While writing one of those thoughts, my perfect moment came. I finished the sentence, and reached into my bag. Yep, you guessed it. I couldn’t find my camera. I tore the bag apart looking. The moment passed, but I took pictures anyway.

The conference was terrific and I even got some writing done. I got reacquainted with old friends, made new ones, and passed the hugs around. (you’ve gotta give them to get them). The Authors Incognito mix and mingle was great. So many new faces, I want to apologize to the organizers, however. I really hate get acquainted games.

Next morning, I rose early. (Occupational hazard). I decided to try for that perfect picture again. Downtown Provo, Utah, on a Saturday morning, before sunrise, is a different world. I’ve been in other places where the hustle and bustle never quits, but the quiet on that morning, impressed me. I got some quality writing done and I was ready for the moment. What do you think of the pictures? Yeah, good thing I’m a writer and not a photog.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Getting Caught Up & Your Public You

By Keith N Fisher


In 2006, after accepting the invitation to post on this blog, I started writing my articles with a vengeance. I had a backlog. It was a matter of picking and choosing which one to post. I never missed a week. Over the years, I’ve gotten behind.

I’ve got a backlog again. I didn’t know why at the time, but I sat down one day and wrote one post after another. I have a backlog again and now I know why. There are big things in the works and I'll tell you about it later. This post was originally written May first.

Your Public You

How is your writing coming? I have a friend in the retail side of publishing. She lives down the street. She asks me how my writing is going. I tell her fine. I don’t tell her about the times when I get discouraged.

As a purveyor of writing wisdom, (I write for a blog about writing), I want to offer advice you can use. I want to put concepts in your head that will help you in your writing endeavor.

As such, let me suggest keeping it to yourself. Discouragement will come. Trust me, it will come. You can tell your close, writing friends because they care about you and will understand, but if it all possible try to present an image of yourself complete with living the dream.

Why? You ask.

In the nineteen seventies, when I first started to write, authors were a reclusive bunch. They were never expected to promote anything. Publishers did that. Those days have passed into the dark ages, along with the twentieth century. Now you must promote yourself and your work. If you don’t, there are many writers who will pass you by.

You must promote your brand, and discouragement is never part of that brand. Would you purchase a house from someone who told you about how hard it had been to pay the mortgage? Would you buy a car from someone who told you how they couldn’t make the payments. The answer to both these questions is no. You want to hear how cool it would be to drive that car up highway 101 on the California Coast.

You want to hear about the backyard parties, and Family barbecues you could have in your new house. You want to hear about how easy it would be to add a swimming pool, and how the snow practically removes itself.

I’m not talking about misrepresentation. I’m talking about presenting your brand in a positive light. How you see yourself is how agents and publishers will see you. Like when you ask the seller of that house, "Then why are you selling?" Agents will know you suffer from discouragement. It’s part of the job. Readers on the other hand, are drawn to writers who are positive and make people feel good about themselves.

I don’t want you think it will be easy. It’s excruciatingly difficult sometimes, but its easier if you remember there is a public you, and a private you. Make sure the public you is living the dream. In reality, that’s what you’re selling anyway. A bag full of beautiful dreams bound in a cool cover.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Reunions and Writer's conferences

Authors incognito group 2012
By Keith N Fisher

Several years ago, while camping out with my extended family, I heard my younger cousin say, "What I want to know is when do I start making the really big money?" He’d been talking to somebody else about his Engineering degree and the new job he had.

At the time I was lucky to be making about $30 per year including benefits. He was making $48 – 49 K plus benefits. I’d been in the workforce for over twenty years. I’d gone to college and my younger cousin outdid me right out of the box.

Reunions are like that. It’s hard to not compare yourself to your more successful peers or family members.

Although there is much to learn at writer’s conferences, they’re a lot like reunions. I get to reconnect with all the friends I’ve made over the years. I get to meet new friends and finally shake hands with those I’ve met online in social media or from blogs.

Also, like the family camping trip I mentioned, there are numerous opportunities for comparison. Especially when you’ve been working as long as I have. It seems there is always someone new who never attended a single conference, has only been writing for a year, and they announce their new publishing contract.

I admit, I’m jealous. I would’ve loved to have that happen to me. The truth, however, is I wasn’t good enough. I’ve gotten better as the years have passed, but my first manuscript just wasn’t what I wish it had been. My first submission was rejected with a note that suggested I attend some workshops and writer’s conferences.

If I had, already, been doing that, I might’ve gotten that book published. Then, again, I’m a much better writer now, and I might’ve regretted having a lower quality book in my list of accomplishments.

So, having said all that about jealousy. You should know that some of my best close friends were published with (what seemed to be) little effort, but I know the real stories. Before we make judgements, consider we all have different struggles. Some things are easier for some than for others. The things that come easy to us totally devastate others.

I’ve also considered the possibility that I might be doing more good through supporting others. Simply put, there are players and there are cheerleaders. Each role is necessary, and everybody plays a part, even the spectators.

I know my publishing goals will someday be realized. At that time, I will have more cheerleaders than I deserve. Simply because I’ve been a friend. The truth is I’ve gotten more from our friendship than I ever gave.

At this writing, I look forward to the 2013 LDStorymakers Writer’s Conference. I can’t wait to renew my friendships with my writing family. I hope there are many who realized their publishing goals over the past year. I applaud those who continue to work day after day. To be fair about my cousin, he felt insecure in spending so much time in college. He had a family to support and loans to pay off. He felt he was being judged.

See you at the reunion . . . uh conference. Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

A Joyful Refrain

By Keith N Fisher

One of my best friends is having a party. After suffering discouragement and going through extreme rewrites, Nichole Giles is launching her book, Descendant, today. It’s actually been available for a while, but it’s time for the big party at King’s English Bookstore 1511 South 1500 East Salt Lake City, Utah from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm.

The book, published by, Rhemalda, has gone through many changes since Nichole brought it to critique group. Nichole has, too.

This is not meant to be a book review. I do those on another blog. I want to tell you something about the author, and provide food for thought about your writing.

As I mentioned above, Nichole is one of the original members of the Super Edits critique group. We all came together when I realized my need for help in my writing and I sought out a few of my friends at an LDStorymakers Writer’s Conference, the rest is history.

Anyway, I hope my story doesn’t embarrass her, but there is a valuable object lesson. While waiting for the others to arrive at critique group one time, Nichole and I, chatted about her projects. I asked her why she didn’t pursue the LDS market and she looked thoughtful, and told me about her goals.

She is a very talented organizer and directed many of the activities of Author’s Incognito for years, but she gave it up to concentrate on her writing goals. Her writing talents are evident with publishing credits in the LDS market, including The Friend magazine. She even wrote on this blog for a while, but all those things were distracting. She wanted to get published in the national market.

Over the time I’ve known Nichole, rejections have piled up, but she kept rewriting and resubmitting. In 2012, she taught a class at Storymakers in which she presented:


The only way to truly find success as a writer is to finish what we start, believe in ourselves, our abilities, and our work, and to never, ever give up. In this industry, the path of persistence and perseverance is the only one that ends in publication. In the words of Master Yoda, "There is no try, only do, or do not.

Nichole taught that rejections will come. Someone asked her how many she’d had and wondered how she felt about that. She battled her emotions and answered the question. She continued to apply the principles she taught and landed the publishing contract she wanted, with others to follow.

Now the lesson here is obvious. Nichole believed in her dream and herself. She had obligations and family to take care of and she persisted. I’m looking forward to visiting with her and her family in one of the many beach houses she dreams of owning. Its part of the vision, and I’m sure she won’t rest until she achieves her goals.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.