Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Sunday, May 15, 2011

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen...

It just wouldn't be official unless my last blog was a day late and a dollar short, right? (And at least I posted, Wells.)

My oldest son received the Aaronic priesthood today. Exactly 182 years after Joseph Smith received it (May 15, 1829). It wasn't planned that way - his birthday was on Friday and today was simply the Sunday following his 12th birthday. But the coincidence seemed sort of profound to me, as I thought about how those two events were connected. How one couldn't have happened without the other. How a beginning for Joseph Smith made this beginning possible for my son.

So here we Frog Bloggers stand at a new beginning. A door is closing, but another door stands wide open, and I'm excited at the possibilities. But that excitement is tempered by the sadness and loss I'm also feeling.

Looking back to when the blog started, it was unique. Now there are many multi-author blogs, but back in the day, in the LDS market at least, it was just us. I had belonged to a message board where I had gotten to know Rob and Julie, both of whom were already published. Julie kindly read my first chapter and then gave me some pointers, and Rob gave me advice on where to submit (he strongly encouraged me to submit to Covenant. And I don't know if those two know this, but I included them both in my acknowledgments of my first book). Jeff and Stephanie also posted on the board, but I hadn't interacted as much with them. I got to know Jeff better when my manuscript was accepted, and we shared the same amazing editor, and Jeff had lots of advice and recommendations when it came to the LDS industry.

I approached Jeff, Julie and Rob with the idea for a group blog. They all seemed interested, and I thought we should get a couple more authors to give us each one day to blog. Rob immediately recommended Stephanie, because he was a fan and thought she was awesome, and Jeff thought we should add Candace Salima because of, among many other things, her marketing know-how. Candace stayed with us for a while until she had to leave (darn real life!), and fortunately it wasn't too difficult to choose her replacement - it seemed like just about everyone wanted to nab the amazing Kerry.

I'm so grateful to Jeff for his knowledge, his willingness to share it, his words of encouragement and his example. I've been the beneficiary of his compassion, kindness and wisdom. He rocks.

I'm thankful for Rob, for his humor, for his advice, for his dedication to LDS writers (Whitney Awards, anyone?), for his success. On my writing path, he's probably the person I've most related to. He also rocks.

I'm grateful to Stephanie, for her talent, for her sweetness and peacemaking abilities, for her wit, for not making me too jealous over the adventures she's had and awards she's won, and for thinking of me during one of my hardest trials. She is another who rocks.

I'm thankful for Julie, for her writing ability, dependability (the only one of us to blog every single week on her day!), for her ability to do it all and do it well, for her putting up with me when Hotmail wouldn't let her emails through, and for being such an incredibly nice and helpful person. She similarly also rocks.

I'm grateful for Kerry, who even while she was MIA, was still with us in spirit. Who has so much love for her fellow man, and has been such an incredible example to me. I'm thankful for her self-deprecating humor, for being so humble, for her strength in adversity. When I grow up, I would like to be Kerry Blair. She rocks hard, as well.

I love this eclectic bunch. Which feels a little strange, considering that I've never even met any of them in real life. I'm grateful that I met them online, that I got to work with them, and through them got to know so many of you. I'm thankful to all of you, who put up with my complaining, who posted words of encouragement when the light got dark, who said prayers for me and mine, who bought my books (yay!), who reviewed them (double yay!), who have followed our ups and downs and have stayed with us through it all. Gah, I actually just got teary. I never do that.

It's not good-bye. I will see you all in cyberspace, and this is probably going to force me to go to the next Storymakers conference, although I will no longer be cool as I won't have the Frog Blog to back me up. You can find me on Twitter (@sariahwilson) and sometimes I post on Facebook ("sometimes" being a lot less often than I blogged).

I'm going to start a personal blog, that I will probably post to sporadically (although my intentions will be to post regularly), but I have to pick a name. Something clever. Any suggestions?

On a final note, we're not taking the blog down. So I leave you with this wealth of their knowledge (and my complaints) and thank you again for traveling this road with us.

Thank you.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Final Friday Frog Fblog (Of Course it's the 13th)

by Kerry Blair

Just for the record, I would like to state unequivocally that I had no part in the heartrending scheme to drain the frog blog and/or discontinue the Frog’s Blogging.

Lower those skeptical eyebrows, please. It is true! Sure, I admit I quit blogging before everybody else . . . except maybe Rob. (We’re probably tied for Blog Shirker of the Last Half Decade.) I was, however, honestly and truly in the midst of a family crisis at the time of the aforementioned fateful plot. By the time I returned home and got around to turning on a computer the vote was cast. The deed was done. The blog was done-for.

But I was not involved! (Nor is The Frog dead; last I heard he was touring the country doing Mystery Dinner Theatre.)

Nevertheless, I am taking this harder than anybody. (Possibly everybody.) I am even now huddled in my armchair, feeling exactly as one does when her best friends decide quite suddenly to move away—and all at once. I can assure you my rather extensive frog collection will never even come close to filling that gaping, you-shaped hole that is left behind.

Besides emotional baggage, I still have all this stuff. My goal for this weekend is to go through comments posted since the anniversary celebration, sleuthing for enough contact info to foist Froggie memorabilia off on as many innocent blog bystanders as I can possibly identify. (If you actually want a souvenir, please write to me asap; everything is going out Monday morning.) I also have an e-certificate for Pat for our last game, and a book of my own—you’ll have to brush off the cobwebs and separate the moldering pages—to send to whoever’s name Jeff drew after the Follow Us Contest. (I think I missed the announcement of winners.)

I can probably manage to clean up all that kind of stuff, but what in the heck will I do with all the rest of the blogging remnants I have left laying around? My drawers are stuffed full of ellipses, exclamation points, and em dashes. Parentheses and semi colons are forming punctuation drifts around my feet. And let’s not even think about the thousands of adverbs and adjectives I’ve stored up! Tell me, who can I get to take all these beloved italics off my hands? I’ve already flipped over my soapbox to use as a packing crate, but I ran out of room before the first metaphor! In fact, some of my similes and favorite trite phrases—like “in fact”—are already leaking out the bottom.


For what it is worth, I can almost guarantee that is the last time you will come upon “alas” in a blog.


Believe it or not, I have a blog of my own. No, really I do! I excavated it myself just a few minutes ago. It wasn’t buried all that deep. After all, I last posted in May. (Of 2009.) There are caves in France with writings older than that. The remarkable thing about this blog—at least to me—is that people have stumbled into it without me having to set traps. I have twelve followers. Who knew? I only know one of those poor people, but I have a compelling urge to write to each and all and say: “No! Wait! I spend my life traveling at light speed but mostly in concentric circles. Whatever you do, don’t follow me!”

That said, if any of you would ever possibly want to maybe even consider dropping by my new/old digs to say hello, I’ll leave the lights on and the door open. I’m at (How’s that for originality?) And don’t tell me you can’t find it. According to an arcane set of Blogger statoids I just perused I have had drop-ins from France, Armenia, Iran, and Sri Lanka. Possibly the hit from Iran came when my son was stationed there, but I don’t know precisely where Sri Lanka even is. But I do know the what the point is. It is: if you can get to my blog from Sri Lanka, you can get there from Utah. Or Idaho. Or California. Or . . . you get the idea. And if/when you do, please leave an address so I can visit you. I have never been much of a writer, but I am one of the world's great readers. There are great writers out there everywhere, but none greater than those who have stopped by here over the years.

This is where I would get all gloppy if I were to continue writing. I won't. I will only say I have come to love, admire, and rely on so many of you. I have no idea how I will cope now that you've all moved away. Nor do I have any idea how a reunion might be held at a cyberblog, but please let's do it someday if it is possible!

In the meantime, God be with you in all your many amazing endeavors. You have in many ways been the light on the hill in some of my darkest days. Thank you for reassuring me time and again that through it all, faith manages.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

No Goodbyes, Just See You Later

by Julie Coulter Bellon

At the conference last week I spoke to Stephanie about how sad I was that the Frog blog was ending. I’ve loved being associated with these five people for the last five years. It was such an eclectic group, I think it made our blog completely unique. We had Jeff the teacher, Rob the comedian, Stephanie who kept it all real, Kerry the inspiration, and Sariah the researcher (who knows a lot about everything.) I am still in awe of the authors in this group and how much I’ve learned from them. I’m just so sad that it’s all coming to a close.

I’ve been using my emotions, however, and working really hard for a week and a half on a “secret project,” just to see if I could really do it. You see, I’ve posted every Thursday for five years on this blog, and when next Thursday comes around, I don’t want to be sitting in my chair thinking, “oh yeah, I don’t have anywhere to post anymore.”

So I started my own blog,

I’ve been posting there since May 4th (May the fourth be with you, haha) and am excited at how well it’s gone. Mondays are my LDS Mommy Musing days, talking about organizing, taking care of kids, getting ready for FHE or prepping for my Sunday RS lesson, fitting writing time in between chores, anything Mom-related.

Tuesdays are my TV and books day where I’ll talk about my fave shows, Castle and Dancing With The Stars, and review books (or interview other authors).

Wednesday is What I’m Working On where I will have some accountability for what I’ve gotten done (or still need to do) on my work in progress for that week.

Thursdays are Thinking Thursday where I talk about writing and the things I’ve learned (and am still learning) as I go through the process of publishing.

Friday is First Page Friday. I was in a class last week where the agents said they pretty much only read the first page of a manuscript before they decide whether they’ll keep going or just reject it, so I thought that on Fridays I’d have readers submit the first page of their manuscript and I would critique it, in the hopes of making it stronger. I also have my editor friend who works for a national publishing house back East who said she would love to help critique as well. And we already have a doozy for tomorrow’s entry.

So there you have it. While I will miss the Frog blog, and everyone associated with it, I know this blog is the reason I’m interested in continuing at all. So, thank you. To the bloggers, to the commenters, and everyone associated with the frog blog. It has been a great run. I hope you’ll follow my new blog and keep in touch with me.

Housekeeping Item

I asked some opinions a few weeks ago on covers and my cover designer has decided to go with the map one, but add a shadowy figure in it for suspense purposes. So I drew a name from the hat of people who had chosen the map one, and the winner is


If you will send me your snail mail info at I will send you a copy of On the Edge. :)

Thank you Frog Blog people. From the bottom of my heart—thank you. I’m sort of looking around thinking there should be a little band playing as I finish this post. Maybe TAPS or a twelve gun salute or something. I can’t imagine not posting here anymore, but I have some really great memories and I’m very grateful for that.

I don‘t think I’m going to say goodbye to all of you, and it’s getting hard to type through the tears, (I know, I know, I’m a baby) so I think I’ll just say---see you later. And hope that I do.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Thank You, and Farewell, My Beloved Froggie Home

To Jeff’s beautiful comments, I want to add my personal thanks to everyone who has supported Six LDS Writers and a Frog over the past five years. Thank you for taking the time to read our posts; thank you for all the comments. I’m so grateful for the connections I’ve been able to make through the blog.

I love and admire my fellow frog bloggers—Jeff, Rob, Julie, Kerry, and Sariah—and I am so grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to get to know each of them through the blog. These are amazing, talented, wonderfully nice people, and it’s been an honor to rub shoulders with them. Thank you to Sariah for founding the blog, and thank you to her husband and to Jeff for taking care of technical matters. It’s been a huge privilege to be here in the Frog Pond.

Aww, man. It's sad to see it ending. We’ve had a great run (hop?) and it's strange to think of being frog-pond-less. But as Jeff said, we’ll still be around. I’m starting my own blog--yikes, my own blog! Right now, my blog is in a fairly primitive state. I never had a hand in any of the blog design here, so I’m a newbie. But it’s up and running with an introductory post that consists mainly of a picture that amuses me (involving James Dashner). Please please pretty please come follow my blog. It would be great to have some company as I leave the safety of the frog bog and step out in the big, wide world. The new blog is titled Black Ink (my sister suggested the title—thanks, Di).

Again, a huge thank you to all of you for being part of the Frog Blog. This has been a great blessing in my life and I’ll always be grateful for the opportunity I had to ribbet here on Wednesdays. And, um, I'm kind of sad at the thought of clicking "post" on my last post, after five years of blogging here. I kind of want to drag this out a little . . . um . . . okay . . . I'm sorta crying now. Didn't realize I'd cry while finishing up my last post. Love you, Frog Blog! Thanks for everything!

Monday, May 09, 2011

The Corner of Bitter & Sweet

This last weekend was absolutely amazing. Those of you who have not been to an LDStorymakers conference absolutely need to put it at the top of your must do list next year. It was an incredible time. So many great classes, wonderful teachers, and just plain good people. Both those who have published and those who soon will publish, rubbing shoulders, and talking everything from writing to families.

I have made so many good friends over the years through this conference. Then my wonderful wife and I had the chance to attend the Whitney Awards dinner. Again, just awesome people. Rick Walton is a stud, and I’d love to be able to say at some point in my career that I’ve helped a tenth of the writers he has. Susan Evans McCloud was so inspiring. In fact even before she came up to accept her award, I was in awe just from the incredible intro Michele Holmes gave.

I didn’t win any awards this year. But it was okay, because A) I had already told my wife I knew who would win in both of my categories and I was right. And B) The people who won were so deserving. It was such a thrill to see Annette Lyon, who I have known nearly as long as I have been writing, and who has been such an awesome friend win. Julie Wright, who is a pure sweetheart, and an awesome friend too, totally, totally, earned her award. And our very own Stephanie Black won for Cold as Ice, which is an absolutely incredible book. And she is the nicest person ever.

And in case anyone thought the Whitney Awards would only go to LDS publishers, or longtime Storymaker, or even only inspirational religious books, a 900 page epic fantasy published by TOR and a book about a serial killer tied for best novels of the year. Quote of the night goes to Dan Wells, who walked up to the podium after hearing his novel, Mr. Monster had tied for best novel of the year, and said, “What’s wrong with you people?!”

And that doesn’t even include my good friend Ally Condie’s novel Matched that won for best YA speculative. Or the many, many other incredible winners.

I am truly honored and inspired to see how many LDS authors are out there and all the great things they are doing. And to put icing on the cake, the very same Julie Wright who won for best romance talked up my horror novel so much, that an editor at the conference gave me her card and asked if I would send it to her. “UM, yeah.”

It was such a wonderful night that the next thing I have to say is so hard. If you haven’t noticed, the Frog Blog has become more and more hit and miss over time. Of course Stephanie and Julie have been total studettes, posting regularly and well. But we recently got together and decided that maybe after five years, we are starting to struggle for new things to say.

I personally have found myself searching old posts, sure I am repeating myself, or posting not because I have something exciting and new to say, but because I feel so guilty for not posting the previous week, or two, or three.

So after much discussion and soul-searching, we at the Frog Blog have decided to wish our readers goodbye. Oh we’ll still be around, twittering and posting on our personal blogs. But this week will be the last week of the Frog Blog.

I’ve loved being part of this, and I hope I’ve made you smile, or laugh, or think. I’m positive the others here have. And I’m proud to have joined them here. There are lots of other great LDS author blogs around, but this one will always be closest to my heart.

So farewell and ribbet. I hope all of your dreams, writing related or otherwise come true.    

Friday, May 06, 2011

Happy Cinco de Mayo!!

by Julie Coulter Bellon

Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone! I've spent today partying with all the LDStorymakers and boot camp attendees at the 8th annual LDStorymakers Conference. I was a boot camp instructor which means I had three people at my table and we critiqued fifteen pages of their writing. Of course, I had the most incredible ladies at my table and we had a great time tweaking and rewriting and generally just talking shop. Then I got to go to the Storymakers Meet and Greet and all my writer friends were there laughing and visiting and we had such a great time. I can't wait for the rest of the Conference this weekend. Tomorrow is going to be amazing. I can feel it! If you're not going to be there, you should totally make plans to come next year. If you are going to be there, come find me! I totally want to visit and talk with as many frog blog commenters as possible.

I also want to tell you about Carole Thayne Warburton's book, Just Shy of Paradise. It is a new release and I can hardly put it down. She has woven such a great story with flawed and lovable characters, I can't wait to see what happens. I want to do a full review of it soon, but not when I'm so crazy happy tired. I want to make sense so you can get the full effect.

Anyway, I hope you had a great day as well, and that you have something fun to look forward to this weekend.

Happy writing!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

I Need Your Opinion

by Julie Coulter Bellon

I have some wonderful news. Great news. Stupendous news. Well, okay, not stupendous, but still pretty good.

I have been working with Encore Editions to put my backlist on Kindle, Nook, etc. and my first book, Through Love’s Trials, is now available here (for Nook, Kindle, and any other ereader) and here (Amazon, Kindle readers). I love the new cover and I even still love the story. But that’s not the news.

My second book, On the Edge, is about to be available on both of those same sites, but here’s the thing, my cover designer (love her!) has designed two wonderful covers and I can’t decide which one I love the best. So, because I couldn't decide, I sent it out to ten of my most trusted author friends, and ten of my extended family members. And, you guessed it, ten people liked the first cover and ten liked the second. It was dead even!

So I still want some input.

If you are so inclined, I would like you read the backliner below, look at both covers, and tell me which one you like the best and why. After the final cover is chosen, wouldn’t it be fun to put everyone who voted for the chosen cover into a drawing for a copy of On the Edge? I think so.

So here’s the backliner:

Dylan Campbell, a Canadian Security Intelligence Service agent, is recovering from a gunshot wound and looking for a new direction in his life. Armed with his newly found testimony in the LDS Church, he soon embarks on a routine fact-finding mission to Africa.

While there he befriends Elizabeth Spencer, a beautiful American working to ease the suffering in Uganda. Their relationship is just beginning to deepen when Dylan discovers that a biological weapon has been manufactured in the private hospital where Elizabeth works. He realizes the terrorists plan to infect millions of innocent people across Canada and the United States.

Dylan must catch up with the terrorists in Greece to stop them from taking the weapon to North America. However, he is captured before he can act, and it takes every ounce of Dylan’s physical and spiritual strength to stay alive.

Can Dylan trust his heart and accept Elizabeth’s offer of help? Will he learn the true identities of his enemies in time to stop the biological weapon from being unleashed?

From the wilds of Africa to the ancient ruins of Greece, this book takes you to the edge of civilization and will keep you on the edge of your seat

Here’s cover #1

Here’s cover #2

I won’t say anything else about them because I don’t want to sway anyone’s opinion, so go ahead and comment and be sure to tell me which one you like best and why.

And if it's dead even again . . . well, maybe I'll just tell the designer to flip a coin. Or have her throw a dart and whatever one it lands on is the winner. Hmmm . . .