Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

by Stephanie Black

I'm excited to go trick-or-treating tonight. My husband and I take turns each year--one of us hands out the candy at the door and the other takes the younger child/children trick or treating. This year is my turn to trick or treat. Wahoo! I love trick or treating. I love the glowing jack-o-lanterns and the ghostly decorations. I love the candy. It's true that at my age, I could buy a bag of candy if I'm so all-fired desperate for sugar, but that's not the point. Candy is much more fun if you get it by trick-or-treating. I love the scent of trick-or-treating candy, that mixture of chocolate and fruity candies and Twizzlers and Tootsie Pops, etc. That's a once-a-year smell. Mmm!

This year, my oldest daughter and her friend are taking my youngest daughter trick-or-treating. My middle daughter and son are going with a friend. That leaves my youngest son to come trick-or-treating with me. He didn't seem thrilled with this arrangement when we talked about it at Family Home Evening. "I want someone fast!" He was afraid I'd be too slow and wouldn't keep up with his frenzied pace. Oh my heck. In the words of the villainess Yzma from The Emperor's New Groove, "Does he have any IDEA who he's dealing with?" Son, I could trick-or-treat your little seven-year-old costumed self into the ground. Just try to keep up. Eat my dust. I am a champion trick-or-treater. We have a great neighborhood for trick-or-treating. It's very family friendly, and the houses are close together.

I'd better go put on my running shoes and do some stretches to get ready for tonight.

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Lovers, Haters, and Swingers

by Robison Wells
(This is one of those posts directed almost entirely toward published authors, so, uh, if you're not one of those... sorry.)

In General Conference this month, Elder Oaks said "We should begin by recognizing the reality that just because something is good is not a sufficient reason for doing it. The number of good things we can do far exceeds the time available to accomplish them. Some things are better than good, and these are the things that should command priority attention in our lives."

I have absolutely no intention to have a churchy blog today. Instead, I'm going to take that quote out of context and use it for something else entirely: to talk about selling books.

Authors, in general, are marketing buffoons. We try--we really try--but generally, we have no idea what we're doing. This isn't surprising, of course. We rarely have any training in marketing. And so we guess at what we should be doing, and we read little books about marketing on a shoestring, and we try hard. This is the Good Method. It gets our name out there, and it's better than sitting around doing nothing.

While I don't claim to know the best way, I'd like to propose a better way to market than we have done in the past. More than anything, we ought to refocus our efforts--I think we've been targeting the wrong people.

(By the way, when I say "we" I'm referring to myself and whoever else wants to be included in my group. I personally think that most new authors fit in here, but I certainly am not speaking for anyone other than myself. I'll also probably use me and my books as examples.)

Okay, enough rambling. Here's the thesis: imagine all novel readers falling somewhere along a spectrum. In fact, don't bother imagining it because I just made a diagram:

On one side, you have the Love Group. These are the people who go crazy for our books--they're the people who visit our websites and buy our new novels within weeks of release. They're the people who recommend our books to others and who buy them as gifts for their family.

Way over on the other side is the Hate Group. This could be people who don't like our writing style, or who only like non-fiction, or who think our jokes aren't funny. These are people who think that LDS fiction is tripe--or, at the very least, that the kind of LDS fiction Covenant sells is tripe.

In the middle is the Swing group. These people like to read, but maybe they haven't read much LDS fiction, or they've always tended to read romances or mysteries or historicals, or they just haven't had the time to read for enjoyment lately. Essentially, the Swing Group is Everyone Else.

Now here's the key: I think that most of us--myself in particular--spend an inordinate amount of time marketing to (1) the Love Group, or (2) the Hate Group. Let me mention a few things about each of these groups:

While the Love Group shouldn't be ignored--they are, after all, your bread and butter--they also will probably read your books even if you don't target them with promotions. As I've talked to other authors--even right here on this very blog--we've noted that our online marketing campaigns tend to reach the same people every time. That's okay. Our loyal readers need to know that they're valued. But we also shouldn't expect marketing efforts aimed at them to significantly increase our sales. We're preaching to the choir here: yes, they need to be preached to, but preaching to them will only maintain the size of the choir, not increase it.

As for the Hate Group. My brother hates LDS fiction (and LDS art generally). He can't stand it. A few years ago I posted on my website (with his permission) an email debate he and I had. After using all of my best arguments on him, he finally declared "My experience is limited compared to yours, I’ll admit, but it is experience nonetheless. The point is, I’m not saying that 100% of Mormon art is crap, I’m saying that almost 100% of what I’ve experienced is crap, and that’s really not something you can argue with... Surely, eventually, you must grant me some measure of peace: at what point am I allowed to say “enough, I’ve tried your [books] and they’re all terrible, just leave me alone?”

Dan is, as you can guess, a fine example Hate Group. No disrespect to him, but I think it can very easily be seen that he doesn't like LDS fiction, he's not interested in trying LDS fiction, and why don't I just knock it off?

And yet, how often do we authors beat our heads against a wall trying to force our books into these people's hands? If someone dislikes what we offer, then we focus all of our efforts into showing that they're wrong, that our book is awesome, and that they're the idiot for not liking it. How many marketing dollars (and hours of our lives) are spent trying to convince the Hate Group? I can't begin to count the number of discussions that we've had on this very website trying to persuade people that LDS fiction is "legitimate". We're marketing to the Hate Group right there. It's tempting--I've engaged in it myself countless times. But I hereby declare a truce (except with my brother).

What's the solution? It's amazingly simple. We should sell to the Swing Group through the eyes of the Love Group. Essentially, we should find out why the Love Group loves our books. We should talk to them, and pry information out of them, and write it down and compare notes with other authors. And then we should take those results and use them to market to the Swing Group.

As an example, I'll use my most recent book, The Counterfeit. As I've talked to the Love Group, these are some of the things that they've told me they like: the unexpected humor, the romance which is strong but not sappy, the facts/historical base, the everyman nature of the protagonist, the well-crafted settings, etc. Some people have told me that they like it because it's clean but not preachy. Other said they like the themes of courage and doing what's right regardless of the consequences.

Now that I know these are some of the reasons the Love Group loves the book, I can now use them when I talk to the Swing Group. These things are my brand. They're what differentiate my book, and they're the things that I need to emphasize. One review of my first book said it was "a rollickingly funny, bitterly satiric Mormon novel." I've used that line dozens of times on the Swing Group--and it quite often results in a sale. Perhaps they think "Bitterly satiric? And it's Mormon? Maybe I will give it a try, even though it's LDS fiction."

The point of this all is that we spend way too much time, effort and money marketing in unneccessary ways. There's a vast audience out there, and we can use better techniques to reach them.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Have a Spooktacular Halloween, Everyone! (Even Rob Who Hates Halloween)

The winner of the Pumpkin Patch/Pumpkin Carol contest is:

Marlene Austen,

author of Grave Secrets!

Marlene wins a signed copy of Ghost of a Chance and bragging rights on this blog for years to come!

Here she is in the pumpkin patch. If you want to sing the carol, you'll have to check out the comments on the original blog. (No matter how I try to cut-and-paste it, the format comes out all goofy.)

Congrats, Marlene!

And a toad-ally big shout out to everybody who entered!

What Dreams May Come

Jeff is out of town most of this week, but I, his faithful and lovely wife, am posting this for him. If any of it is messed up though, it is still his fault. J

Stephanie’s most recent blog made me think about a scene from Shadowlands, one of my favorite books. In this scene, a teacher at a private boys’ school talks to the students about a bad dream he had recently. Soon the boys begin to put their own nightmares up on the bulletin board. “I dreamed I was being eaten by a giant black snake with no eyes.” “I dreamed I was falling into a black pit filled with knives.” That kind of thing.

The narrator who is recounting the story, suggests that a darkness that was pervading the school was showing itself through these dreams. I believe that often our nightmares give a clearer glimpse into our personal lives than our normal dreams. (At least I believe that during Halloween week.) So I thought it might be fun to share our bad dreams and see what we learn about each other.

I know I had a lot of nightmares as a kid. I think it’s that everything seemed so amazing and yet so overwhelming at the same time. The most consistent one I can remember is where I would go into a big empty church. I would walk up the darkened aisle to the front of the chapel and see a marble on the podium. For some reason this single marble filled me with all kinds of dread. All at once scary organ music began playing and the marble began rolling across the top of the podium. This was the signal for a really bad witch to appear and send me screaming into the night. That witch scared the crap out of me.

I had this dream dozens of times and always woke up shaking. Finally one day in first grade we saw a movie about dreams at school. The movie said that sometimes you can be aware that you are dreaming and take control of your dreams. Desperate to try anything that might keep the witch away, I tried saying “It’s just a dream. It’s just a dream,” to myself over and over in a kind of mantra as a fell asleep.

Sure enough I had the nightmare again. Just like always the witch made her appearance. Only this time, just as she came for me, I heard a voice say, “It’s just a dream.” All at once that I had a club in my hand. The witch took one look at my club and tried to fly away. Unfortunately for her, her broom went on the fritz and I beat her with my club until she was covered in casts from head to foot. That was pretty cool and she never returned. Ironically, several years later I dreamed I was flying on a broom while I soared above my older sister and her friend and kicked them in the head. Unfortunately I suddenly became aware I was dreaming and my broom too went on the fritz until I dropped within reach of my angry sister who beat me mercilessly.

School brought the usual can’t find my locker and didn’t study for my test dreams. Unfortunately that was often the case in real life as well. Once I skipped two entire weeks of Spanish and the teacher never noticed. Unfortunately the test I returned just in time for was total gobbledygook to me. Being in lots of plays I often dreamed I was onstage and didn’t have a clue what to say. Actually I still have that dream when I am stressed out. I have a major part in the play and I’m madly trying to read the script backstage, but it’s my turn to go on.

After I got married I had a long spate of dreams where I was back on my mission. It was never the end of my mission either. I always realized that I’d inadvertently signed up for another two years, conveniently forgetting I was married. But no one would let me go home. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be on a mission again. In fact it was cool being the most experienced guy. But I knew I couldn’t leave my marriage for two years. I had another version of this where I was back in the army, but it wasn’t even cool to be there again. I also had dreams where I suddenly remembered I had been unfaithful to my wife. It was like, “Oh my gosh! How could I have forgotten that? Is my temple marriage valid? How will I tell my wife?” (Note from Jennifer: he didn’t dare tell me about those dreams)

Another dream that still freaks me out is where I am in a car and the road is going straight uphill—so steep I know I’m going to flip over and crash or loose control any minute. A funny thing about that dream is that once my wife and I were with friends in San Francisco. We were going up a very steep hill in a taxi with the bay right behind us. Suddenly the taxi’s transmission started to go out. It went slower and slower as my heart beat faster and faster. Finally the driver stopped and told us we better get out. I’d like to say I checked on my wife first, but the truth is I flew out the door like a cannon ball.

I also have elevator dreams. I think this may be due to all of the creaky old elevators I take in my travels. In my dream the elevator not only drops suddenly and opens at the wrong floors, but it swings left and right, goes sideways and diagonally. I try to hang on, but there is nothing to hold. Not sure what that says about me.

I never have the standing in front of everyone naked dream. But I do have a variation where I am at a big church event—like general conference. With top church officials and people I know. Only I suddenly realize I am not wearing a shirt. I check closets and storage rooms where invariably I can only find clothes that are too small or inappropriate. Halloween costumes, women’s clothes etc. Let me tell you, there are few things worse than walking through general conference in a women’s blouse. (At least when you are a guy.)

I seldom dream of monsters or bad people these days. (Although I did recently dream I was kicking a bad guy, only to wake up to my wife saying, “Stop that. Stop that.”) But Jen often has dreams about bad guys. When she does, she makes this kind of squeaking noise which always wakes me up. I shake her and say, “It’s okay. It’s just a dream.” until she comes out of it. I used to ask her what she dreamed about, but all too often she would give me this angry look and tell me the bad thing I was doing in her dream. I don’t ask anymore. Now I just wake her up and go back to sleep.

So what does this say about me? That I’m worried about being unfaithful and or underdressed. I really don’t like heights. I like to be the star but I’m scared of screwing it up. And that I really would prefer not to go back into the army. Either that or I’m just a head case.

So what do you dream about that makes you shake? And what does that say about you?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Off to the Coffin Races

by Kerry Blair

Before I had kids I spent an hour every morning – sometimes longer – reading the newspaper. When the kids were young and time was more valuable than even Pampers, I settled for switching on the radio. Listening to the morning newscast was the best I could hope for while getting one husband, four children, and an ark’s worth of animals fed, dressed, and ready for the day. (To clarify, it was primarily my daughter who dressed the animals. Repeatedly, I’m sorry to say. Ever seen a gerbil in a Barbie dress, carrying a handbag? I have.)

These days I read the headlines from the newspaper as I carry it into my mother’s room, and listen in when my daughter turns on “Good Morning Arizona” before she leaves for work. (No, she’s not a zoo-keeper; she's missed her calling. Or maybe not. A rhino in sequins is something I shudder to contemplate.) A little later in the day I usually sit down at my computer to scan the top stories from AOL.

In other words, I haven’t been exposed to any news in months.

I don’t want to alarm anybody, but it seems to me that we should worry less about spotted owls and more about journalists. If the latter is not already extinct, for sure they’re endangered. Or possibly they have all been abducted by aliens and replaced with cheap imitations of Robison Wells.

I suspect this last thing because of a “hard news” story I read just this morning:

AP – The same percent of people who say they believe in ghosts also claim to believe in unidentified flying objects. (I know. I’m surprised, too.) Additionally, 48% of the population believes in ESP. (Does this mean that almost half of you knew what I would write about this morning before I did?) Interestingly, you’re most likely to believe in ghosts, little green men, and/or Sylvia Browne if you are single, Catholic, non-religious, and/or politically liberal. (I’m none of those things, by the way.)

I don’t make these stories up, but I wonder if somebody does.

That wasn’t the only news story I read today, of course. AOL’s top piece was on the annual Emma Crawford Festival, held in downtown Manitou Springs, Colorado. At the turn of the century (the 20th century, I believe, though the article wasn’t specific) a lovely young woman named Emma Crawford moved to Manitou Springs seeking a cure for tuberculosis. She fell in love with Red Mountain and asked to be buried at its summit when she died. Her family obliged, and Emma rested peacefully for many years. But Red Mountain is granite and granite eventually gives way. When it did, what remained of Emma and her coffin washed down the side of the mountain and back into town. Believe it or not, Manitou Springs still celebrates this “event” with a parade in which dozens of young women dress up as Emma to compete in a coffin race. Tomorrow’s the big day. Sorry I’ll miss it.

If there’s any place more fun this time of year than Manitou Springs it must be Conneaut Lake, Pennsylvania. Once again they’ve dropped a thousand-pound pumpkin on a truck – to the wild delight of all onlookers. The roots of the Emma Crawford Festival are frankly a little clearer. I mean, how in the world did a half-ton pumpkin-drop originate? Who grew the pumpkin? Whose car did they demolish? Why? Maybe it went something like this:

  • PA: Grew me a thousand-pound pumpkin this year, Ma. Can't for the life of me think what to do with 'er, though.
  • MA: Hear tell Peters has 'er rough ever since them revenooers busted up his still. How 'bout you give it to him? He could ut that new little wife of his in it and --
  • BILL BOB (Peters' 2nd-best customer): Hold on there, Ma! I got an idear. Let's drop it on Bill Boyd's truck!
  • BILL BOYD (Peters' best customer): Yeah, let's!

In any event, we’ve already missed that one. Probably that’s the reason it was only the second headline story on AOL this morning.

So, as you can see, all the news that's fit to print (and then some) pops up on the welcome screen every time I turn on my computer. I'm not a big fan of my primary source, except when I consider the alternative. MSNBC's morning headlines are:

  • Six Dead in Devastating California Fires
  • Putin Compares US Missile Plan to Cuban Missile Crisis
  • 14-yr-old Admits to Stockpiling Guns

You know what? Let’s save the spotted-owls, after all. Who needs journalists? Considering that we're all engaged in a sort of grand coffin-race anyway, I'll stick with human interest.

And aren't some of us just endlessly interesting?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

So You Think You Can Dance?

by Julie Coulter Bellon

When I was a student at BYU I had to take a dance class for PE credit. One of the tests was performing a cha-cha in front of the teacher, so I asked a guy in my student ward if he would be my cha-cha partner. Of course, he was a really good looking guy, who was an amazing dancer, and, yeah, he had some great hip action. *sigh*

Of course he later became my husband. And we can still do a mean cha-cha.

Which is part of the reason why I love to watch the reality television show, "Dancing With the Stars." I like watching celebrities learn new dances, compete, and be judged. Most of the time you can really see the improvement. Even those that don’t improve (hello, Master P!) you can at least applaud them for trying something totally out of their comfort zone.

I was really excited for this season, not only because of the celebrities, but because I knew there would be three LDS people competing on the show. Marie Osmond, of course, and the professional dancers, Julianne Hough, and Derek Hough. I think Julianne is incredibly talented, evidenced by the fact that she was the champion last season, and I was anxious to see how her brother would be as well. I was also interested to see what kind of ballroom dancer Marie Osmond would be and if her personality would come out.

So far this season has been chock-full of mishaps and missteps, but it’s been entertaining to watch in a rubbernecking-a-traffic-accident sort of way. First we had Derek Hough, (who is partnered with Jennie Garth this season), stepping on Jennie's dress during a performance which caused a fall that was replayed in slo-mo several times and brought Jennie to tears. I thought Derek handled it well, though, and was compassionate toward his partner and professional in the aftermath.

Then, at the results show two weeks ago, right before they announced the first "safe" couple of the night, you can clearly hear someone whispering something that sounds like a swear word into a mike that is on but not shown. It’s true! I rewound it a few times to make sure. Although my daughter thought it could be someone saying, "Mitch!" as if they were calling a cameraman or something. But I didn’t think so.

Last Monday was the most shocking of all when Marie Osmond fainted after she performed her dance number. She was all happy and smiling, then suddenly dropped like a rock. Her partner who was standing right behind her with his arms around her, didn’t even catch her! It was a scary moment, though, as they went to commercial so medical personnel could help Marie. Thankfully she was fine and is continuing in the contest.

It’s generally not like that. There hasn’t been a whole lot of drama since the first season when John O’Hurley acted like a sore loser and insisted on a dance-off because Kelly Monaco won and he didn’t. But the show did get better from there and I’ve enjoyed it. Oh, I know, some of the "costumes" aren’t modest, but other than that, it’s been a fun show to watch. I like the charm of Helio with Julianne, seeing them work together on the dances behind the scenes and how happy of a person he seems to be. I like Marie’s little jokes about how she’s going to win because there’s 25 million people watching and 22 million of them are Osmonds. I also like seeing LDS people getting out there and sharing their talents, helping others, and having a great time doing it.

Perhaps it will inspire me to break out my cha-cha again. I know I will never be a great dancer like the ones I see on the show (have you SEEN Jane Seymour? She’s 56 and looks incredible! She’s a good dancer, too.) And I know I will NEVER fit into any one of those costumes they’ve had on the show, but I do have a secret weapon.

I still have the greatest partner at my disposal—my good looking husband, who’s an amazing dancer, with great hip action. :)

1-2-3 cha cha cha . . .

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Invasion of the Marshmallow Shadows

by Stephanie Black

My three-year-old daughter has discovered monsters. She’s sometimes leery of going into rooms by herself. She wants me to sit outside her room in the hall while she’s going to sleep. She gets upset if she wakes in the middle of the night and sees that someone has closed her door. Sometimes she wants the light on during her nap. It’s daylight, but that’s not good enough.

For a while she was terrified of “marshmallow shadows”. She watched a PBS kids’ show where the characters were roasting marshmallows around a campfire and a monster showed up, or something like that—I didn’t see the show, but my older kids reported on it. I don’t think it was supposed to be particularly terrifying—it’s a preschooler’s show, after all—but for days after that she was scared of marshmallow shadows. Then there’s that popular monster hangout—bad dreams. Thankfully, she hasn’t seemed to have many bad dreams, but she did have one with a green and black monster.

Poor kid. I keep trying to tell her monsters aren’t real, but she probably thinks I’m a kook. What do you mean they aren’t real? I saw one on TV. And it probably doesn’t help that it’s Halloween time, with spooky monster decorations all over the place. She doesn’t like her brothers’ Halloween costumes, both of which represent spooky, black-robed skeletal creatures.

Imagination is a marvelous thing, but it can be overwhelming when you haven’t yet figured out what’s real and what’s not. I hope that soon—before she drives her sister/roommate bonkers—my preschooler will outgrow her monster fears. But I also hope her imagination will remain active enough to allow her to enjoy a good story.

Without imagination there wouldn’t be any fiction. We novelists are doing our best to engage the emotions of reader in stories that never happened to people no more real than marshmallow shadows. How many of you out there avoid reading horror novels because they creep you out too much? Why do they creep you out? Whatever paranormal menace is menacing the populace doesn’t exist outside the writer’s imagination. You’re a logical person. You know that. But if the story is well done, you get the creeps because it feels real. And you can blame Jeff Savage for your nightmares.

Imagination keeps people glued to a book. I’m always thrilled when I hear someone was up until three o’clock in the morning reading my book. Why was the reader willing to lose sleep to find out what happens to people who don’t exist who are threatened by villains who come from the same Never-Never Land as the monsters lurking in my daughter’s bedroom? Imagination.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Big News For the Whitney Awards

Almost six weeks ago, I promised that there was big news coming for the Whitney Awards. Well, it took longer than I expected to get everything set, but I think it was definitely worth the wait.

I'm very happy to announce that the Whitneys have received the sponsorship of the LDS online Specifically, ExclusivelyLDS has agreed to sponsor cash awards for to accompany the Whitney trophies. These cash prizes are in the following amounts:

Genre Prizes:
Best Romance/Women's Fiction -- $500
Best Mystery/Suspense -- $500
Best YA/Children's -- $500
Best Speculative Fiction -- $500
Best Historical -- $500

Overal Prizes:
Best Novel by a New Author -- $1000
Best Novel of the Year -- $1000

As you can guess, it's been hard for me to keep quiet about this news--it's eight kinds of awesome. As the goal of these awards has been to recognize the amazing talent among LDS authors, and to raise awareness and draw in new readers, I can think of nothing better than this sponsorship from ExclusivelyLDS. The quality produced by LDS authors is deserving of this large prize--one of the highest cash prizes for a literary award.

In related news, I've really been overwhelmed by the support that the Whitney's have received. There has been a large outpouring of donations (we're completely non-profit, so that's essential), and readers have been flooding our inboxes with nominations. At last count, we've received somewhere in the neighborhood of three hundred nominations.

Let me thank one more time. In my conversations with Gaylen Rust, the owner, he's demonstrated a great committment not just to the success of LDS art but also to the philosophies it espouses. This is all a labor of love.

Anyway, go spread the news! Tell your friends! And go to the Whitney site to nominate your favorite books!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Mark Your Calendars

First of all, I’d just like to comment on how very sincere Kerry looks in that pumpkin patch. I can’t imagine the Great Pumpkin would ever pass her by.

Second, I got my actual contract from Shadow Mountain today. Whoo hoo! I am really, really, excited about my first YA novel. Especially considering how successful SM has been in promoting their other books. And what great books they have been. Talk about having big shoes to fill.

Third, if you haven't already entered LDSPublishers Halloween story contest, you need to huury over and do so before the 29th.

Fourth, I got a glimpse of the annual LDStorymakers conference. (I think this is the fifth year?) Anyway, it is going to be awesome. If you have never attended a Storymaker writers conference you have a great treat waiting for you. If you have, you already know how cool they are. You get to meet one on one some of the best LDS authors, the best LDS publishers, national authors, publishers, and agents.

Some of the highlights from previous years include: a panel where you can ask questions directly of publishers, contests, a two-day early morning boot camp, tons of great classes broken out into beginner and advanced, great key note speakers, a hilarious MC, an endearing gift fairy, and lots and lots of fun.

This year features Rob Wells (He who must not be named) as MC, Timothy Travaglini—Senior Editor at G.P. Putnam's Sons, the incredible national fantasy/SF writer Brandon Sanderson, entertainment by David Nibley, and last but not least, the first annual Whitney Awards for 2007. Oh, and quite possibly least, a class taught by James Dashner and myself. You never quite know what you’ll get when Dashner and I team up, but we promise it will be entertaining. Once it included a pretty cool knife fight. But by then his Shadow Mountain novel, The Thirteenth Reality, will be out, so his head might not fit through the door.

Anyway, here is all the info. You can begin registering at in December, but mark your calendars now!

2008 LDStorymakers Writers Conference
March 21-22, 2008

CottonTree Inn
10695 S. Auto Mall Drive
Sandy, Utah

**Official registration will begin DECEMBER 2007**

This year there is a CAP on the number of Conference Attendees. Please register early.


Timothy Travaglini—Senior Editor at G.P. Putnam's Sons
(a division of Penguin Group, USA)

Tim Travaglini has worked at Walker & Company; Henry Holt; Scholastic; and Books of Wonder, an all-children's bookstore in Manhattan. He is the editor of HOW TO TAKE THE EX OUT OF EX-BOYFRIEND by Janette Rallison; the MONSTER BLOOD TATTOO trilogy by D. M. Cornish; BLACKBRINGER (FAERIES OF DREAMDARK, book one) by Laini Taylor; BEAN THIRTEEN by Matthew McElligott, and YELLOWBELLY AND PLUM GO TO SCHOOL by Nathan Hale.

We are looking forward to a wonderful conference with exciting presenters. Please check http://www.ldstorymakers/ often for updated information.

We are pleased to offer:
One-to-one pitch sessions with DESERET BOOK & COVENANT Editors
Manuscript reviews by TIMOTHY TRAVAGLINI, Senior Editor, Putnam
Panel: Finding an agent
Panel: LDS Publishers
Writing Contest
Boot Camp
Exclusive Book Store
Friday Night Entertainer: David Nibley
Saturday Night: The Whitney Awards Gala
Recognizing excellence in fiction by LDS authors
Please visit to cast your nomination

Our Workshop Lineup Includes:

Synopsis Writing--Advanced
Creating your Inner Writer
Deseret Book Editor: Making the Leap-- Learn to stop worrying & love the slush pile
The Middle Grade Writer: Character, Voice, Audience
Internet Promotion: Blogging/Podcasts/Reviews
Critique Groups (In Action)
Magazine Writing--Advanced
Transitioning from LDS to National Market
Writing about Real World issues for Children & Youth
Writing a hook that will get you published (Hands-on workshop)
Historical Series Writing: From Start to Finish
Self-publishing: from writing to distribution
Motivation/Writer's Block
Non-Fiction: Finding a Niche
Deseret Book Public Relations--self promotion--Advanced
Fantasy: How to Create a New World
Improve Your Writing: Tips by Senior Editor at Putnam
Your First Novel: Step-by-step basics (Beginning)
Research is not just for historicals: Behind the Scenes of the Contemporary Novel
Covenant Editor--Getting your manuscript noticed

Introducing our 2008 Writers Conference Directors: Annette Lyon & Heather Moore

Annette Lyon—Contemporary and Historical Romance author of five books. Her latest release is Spires of Stone (2007 Covenant Communications). As Utah’s 2007 Best of State winner, her bestselling books bring to life the challenges and triumphs of the 19th century settlers, including characters from California, Utah and Arizona. Annette has also published numerous magazine articles and writes the Weekly Chocolate Fix e-letter for the Utah Chocolate Show.

Heather Moore—Historical Fiction author of four books. Her latest release is Land of Inheritance (2007 Covenant Communications), of the Out of Jerusalem series, is a four-volume saga that follows the journey of Lehi and Sariah from Jerusalem to Mesoamerica in 600 B.C. Heather also manages Precision Editing Group—a full-service editing company.

Call 800-662-6886
Group: LDS Storymakers
Block: 901558

We have reserved non-smoking rooms for March 20, 21, and 22nd under our group. You can select one night or multiple nights. You are responsible for all charges. The 2008 group rate is $89.00/night plus 12.85% tax rate. If you’re sharing a room, calling sooner than later will ensure securing a two-queen bed room.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Waitin' in a Pumpkin Wonderland

by Kerry Blair

There's a very good reason I didn't blog on Friday. I was in fact with The Frog, touring pumpkin fields far and wide in search of the most sincere pumpkin patch in the country. (This information will be all kinds of valuable come All Hallow's Eve, you know.) While we think we've found it -- Collier's Farm in Chino Valley, Arizona! -- we're still open to other possibilities. So that is our first contest:

If you think you can top this picture, send your digital snapshot to I'll post all the pictures as we receive them during the week, and we'll vote for the winner next Sunday.

But since you probably CAN'T top Collier's, we'll give you another chance to win a free book:


I've been collecting pumpkin carols since many of you were toddling around in the pre-existence, but I'd love to have more. Take any Christmas carol melody, write Halloween- and/or autumn-related words to go with the tune, and send them in! Here's one of my favorites to get you started:

Pumpkin Wonderland
Screech owls hoot, are you list'nin'?/'Neath the moon, ghouls are glist'nin'--/A real scary sight, we're happy tonight/Waitin' in a pumpkin wonderland!
In the patch we're watching for Great Pumpkin/We've been waiting for this night all year/For we've tried to be nice to everybody/
And to grow a pumpkin patch that is sincere!
Later on, while we're eating/What we got trick-or-treating/We'll share all our sacks/Of Halloween snacks/Waitin' in a pumpkin wonderland!
(Author Unknown)
Okay, you wonderfully creative, competitive people you, those are the contests. Winners will receive a copy of "Ghost of a Chance" -- which is appropriate since it's set on Halloween!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Asking Myself Questions

by Sariah S. Wilson

Just had to change the topic of this blog because it would have taken way too long to type up. Remind me someday to do my blog about meeting celebrities. I'm too tired for a long blog as I spent the day at the pumpkin patch and then the evening cleaning up our downstairs playroom. We had this great idea that we wouldn't let our kids keep toys in their rooms because of how messy that can get so we finished off half our basement to make this playroom. But my kids are apparently physically incapable of keeping this room even semi-organized. It's like they open up boxes of toys and just throw them everywhere. So it takes hours to clean. Especially for someone like me who despises all cleaning (I'm not opposed to the concept in general. I would like my house to be clean, I just don't want to have to be the one to do it).

Getting back on topic, I have this assignment and I have to interview myself about my new release, "Desire of Our Hearts," (in a Seagull or Deseret near you). I am so bad at that sort of thing.

So I'm turning to the blog readers for help. What sorts of things do you want to know about books? What would you find interesting? And if anyone's read "Desires," did you have any questions that you wanted to ask me?

Because all I can think of are Rob Wells type questions:

Q: Is this the best book ever written?

A: Yes. Yes, it is.

Q: Will people come down with the bubonic plague if they don't buy it?

A: Yes. Yes, they will.

Should I ask myself what cultural things I researched? The inspiration for the book? Why I didn't make Alma more evil? Did the dog used to have a much cooler name(the answer to that one is yes)?

Any suggestions or questions would be most welcome and appreciated.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I Am a Vampire

by Julie Coulter Bellon

I feel cold.

I haven’t slept in days.

I am a vampire.

Several months back I started hearing more and more about some books by Stephenie Meyer that everyone seemed to have read. But the second I heard it was a vampire story, I wrote it off. I don’t really enjoy fantasy stuff (there are a few exceptions) but generally, it’s not a genre I read often. Yet, everywhere I went people seemed to be talking about it. Some people absolutely loved Edward, some thought Bella was immature, some thought the second book was sad, others thought the third book in the series was too sensual and I listened with interest to all the discussion, but didn’t feel compelled to read the books themselves.

But that changed.

A few weeks ago I received a gift card to Barnes and Noble so I went to look around and see what they had. After looking for a while, I honestly didn’t see anything that I really wanted to buy. I kept turning the gift card around and around in my hand, waiting for something, some title or cover, to jump out at me. Nothing did. Until I turned a corner and there it was. A very large display of Stephenie Meyer’s vampire series. It was cleverly shaped with all three books, Twilight, New Moon and Eclipse in a large pyramid.

I walked over and picked up Twilight, flipping it over to read the back. All the discussion I’d heard about it rushed through my mind and I thought to myself, I should probably read it so I can join in the discussion next time. Walking to the front with my gift card in hand, I bought it.

It sat on my dresser for two weeks, the hands on the cover holding an apple, as if it were trying to tempt me into reading it.

Then, last Sunday, I was getting ready to lie down for a while and saw the book on my dresser. I’ll just read a bit of Twilight to relax, get sleepy, and have a great Sunday nap, I thought to myself. I opened the book and so began my sojourn. I ended up reading the over 500 page book in one sitting, staying up until 2:30 a.m.

You know what drew me in? It’s silly, but I related to Bella. I know some people thought she wasn't a great character, but we’re introduced to Bella when she is the new girl at school, coming to live with her father after a mother’s remarriage, she’s a little shy, and accident prone. It almost described me to a T. The thing that really drew me in, though, was how Edward reacted to her. The complex emotions were captivating for me. The characterization was compelling, the setting was easy to imagine, the plot was tight and intricate---I loved the book. It surprised me how much I really did love a vampire story. When I got up the next morning, I even went back and re-read my favorite moments. Then I rushed out to buy the sequel, New Moon.

On the way home from purchasing New Moon, my daughter reminded me that New Moon was supposed to be sad and I should just rush through it to get to Eclipse, the third book in the series. I nodded my head. "I’ll keep that in mind," I said, having heard so many different opinions that I was anxious to form my own.

After the children were in bed Monday night, I cracked open the book. I’ll only read a few chapters, I told myself. We have to get up early tomorrow.

I stayed up until 1:30 a.m. and finished the 561 page book. I honestly couldn’t put it down. The author had provided another compelling plot that just seemed to be seamless. I loved the character development in Jake, the relationships that Bella cultivated, and the setting again, was just as good as the plot and characters. I didn’t find it sad, per se, it was balanced and kept me turning pages far past the time I should have closed the book and gone to sleep. Which I didn’t regret until 5 hours later when I staggered down the stairs to join my family for family scripture study. "You look really tired, Mom," the kids said. "Thanks," I mumbled, wishing at that moment that I didn’t need sleep so I could be a happy mom. (Yeah, I think I already mentioned on a blog I’m not a morning person.)

I am apparently a glutton for punishment, though, because I anxiously started the third book in the series, Eclipse, Tuesday afternoon. I ignored my laundry pile, however, I did still make meals for the family. After everyone was in bed, I got uninterrupted reading time and finished that one by 1:00 a.m. I guess after reading the other two books and really enjoying them, I was surprised by my disappointment in the third. In my opinion, the writing wasn’t as tight, there were three long info-dumps on character backgrounds that killed the pacing, and there were some minor curse words introduced as well as some suggestive scenes where Bella does try to initiate physical intimacy with the vampire. The plot felt rushed and wasn’t as well thought out as the other two had been, although I did enjoy the love triangle and the interaction with the werewolves vs. the vampires. I thought the action scenes were well done in all three books, but particularly well done in Eclipse. The one thing that really bothered me, though, and I know it’s nitpicky, but the third book just had more editorial errors that jumped out to an old editor like me and it surprised me that it wasn’t caught before printing. For instance, the misuse of the words vice/vise (as in he had a vice grip, when it should be vise) and the word reign/rein (he reigned in his emotions, when it should be rein). She also used "whiney" and the "ey" threw me, but you can actually spell it that way. Although it looked wrong to me, I learned something new. But still, this book just seemed a little less than the other two had been. I enjoyed it, and am glad to have read it, but it wasn’t on par with the other two. It was just as long, though, and when I looked at the clock, I realized that it was way past my bedtime.

When I again staggered down the steps for family scripture study early the next morning my children rolled their eyes. "Are you done with those books yet, Mom?" they asked.

I nodded and wrapped a blanket around me to guard against the cold I was feeling.

I was cold.

I hadn’t slept. (Hardly)

I’m not a vampire, but I certainly felt a little obsessed by a vampire series. (I read over 1500 pages in two days!) I even went out to Stephenie Meyer’s website and read the chapters that had been cut out and a chapter from Edward’s point of view. Her writing fascinates me. I am anxiously waiting for the next book in the series to come out.

Maybe now I can get some sleep!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Portrait of the Artist as . . . Not How You Imagined Him

by Stephanie Black

Wow. Trust hard-bitten reporter Robison E-stands-for-Enquirer Wells to dig right to the heart of Jeff Savage, a man who heretofore was nothing but a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma with a side order of fries.

Personally, I’m relieved to find out there’s more to Jeff than POV mania, prologue obsessions and a deep-seated desire to make his readers suffer, as manifested in The Cliffhanger. Readers always like to find out more about the authors they admire.

Okay, maybe not always. My sister doesn’t like seeing pictures of authors because it irritates her when they don’t look like she imagined them. Sometimes they do—we agree that Mary Higgins Clark looks exactly like she should. With her upswept dark hair, classic suits and elegant jewelry, she looks perfect for the role of the Queen of Suspense. But too often authors don’t match my sister’s mental picture.

I’ve experienced the same phenomenon myself. I read a writing technique book and was surprised when I saw that the author looked like a big bushy-bearded biker. There’s nothing wrong with a biker dude writing a technique book, of course, but it just surprised me. Not that I would have claimed to know what the author looked like, but I must have had some kind of subconscious mental image of him or the picture wouldn’t have seemed jarring. Let’s see—technique book . . . teaching . . . school—maybe a college professor-type? Clean-cut guy in a tie and tweed jacket? Heck, I don’t know how the subconscious works.

Do you picture the author when you read a book? I remember reading a book by an author I hadn’t tried before and thinking she was younger than she was. Why did I assume that? The age of her characters? The style of her writing? Her name? I’ll bet more than one reader has been surprised to find out how young Rob is, not because he writes geezer-style but because most successful authors are old enough to shave.

As an author, I’ve also been on the other side of the issue, with people being surprised that a “normal Mormon mother” would churn out an intense thriller. (“And she looked like such a nice girl”). I was amused when a friend saw my book and said, “I though you wrote a children’s book.” Why did she think that? Did someone tell her it was a children’s book or was she making an assumption since we were serving together in a Primary presidency at the time? Another friend asked me if I’d written a romance. Why a romance? I don’t know. Do I look romance-ish and what does romance-ish look like? Or was she making an assumption based on past LDS novels she’s read? Dunno.

Hmm. Now I have this urge to go check the “about the author” page on the book I’m reading to see how the author looks. I’m predicting that she’s in her fifties with short, somewhat curly hair. Of course I’m cheating because I know enough about her to know she’s not Rob’s age. If I’d been guessing purely on the book, I’d have guessed younger than fifties . . . Okay, I checked the picture . . . no, that's not how I imagined her.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Delving Deeper

by Robison Wells

This week I had the opportunity to sit down with Jeffrey Savage and pick his brain. Controversy swirls around Jeff wherever he goes, it was fascinating to get a glimpse inside the mind of this twisted genius. I caught up with Jeff on one of his many business trips, and we sat down to eat at a small street café in Rio de Janeiro. He was dining on feijoada while I sampled the quibe.

Rob: So Jeff, tell me about the prologues. You’ve caused quite a stir.

Jeff: Off the record?

Rob: Of course. This will always remain solely between you and I.

Jeff: I’m just messin’ with people. Heck, every single one of my books has a prologue in it. Dead on Arrival had two. I’m just laughing at everyone, wondering when they’ll figure it out.

Rob: People are so stupid.

Jeff: You’re preaching to the choir, my friend.

Rob: What about the thing with the SASE? Is that another joke?

Jeff: Oh my gracious, no. That’s completely serious.

Rob: But why? It seems kind of like you’re just stirring up controversy for the sake of it.

Jeff: I don’t care about the controversy—this has nothing to do with books. It has to do with me not wanting forty one of my hard earned pennies going to support the government. I tell you, the day I started weaving all my own clothes out of grass clippings—and thus stopped paying sales tax—was the greatest day of my life.

Rob: Really?

Jeff: Vote Ron Paul. It’s a Love Revolution.

Rob: Great. So, while we’re completely off the record, are there any other crazy…er…revolutionary ideas you have about writing?

Jeff: Oh sure. Lots. (Jeff takes a sip of his caipirinha and smiles.) For example, whenever I query an agent, I always sandwich my manuscript between the pages of a family photo album. I feel that, by looking at my life experiences, the agent can better understand me.

Rob: And how has this been received?

Jeff: I don’t know. I don’t hear much from them.

Rob: That probably has something to do with that SASE.

Jeff: (Throws his napkin on the table and jumps to his feet.) You want a piece of this? Huh?

Rob: Sit down and eat your beans.

Jeff: You better watch your words, fool, or I’ll go all Sariah Wilson on your butt.

Rob: I don’t even know what that means.

Jeff: (Sits back down and resumes drinking.)

Rob: I hear you have a horror novel coming out, and that it’s LDS? Tell me more.

Jeff: Have you ever heard about the Wooden Man Theory in the Journal of Discourses?

Rob: I have not. What’s in that drink of yours?

Jeff: Basically, one of the old apostates—I can’t remember who it was, maybe the guy who did the thing with the cream—anyway, he found some of the actual wood used to build the Tower of Babel. It was cursed, devil wood.

Rob: Devil wood?

Jeff: Well, the thing is, Brigham Young was a big fan of ventriloquism, as everyone knows. So this apostate made a ventriloquist dummy out of devil wood. And then, as you can imagine, the dummy came to life and started killing people.

Rob: So, it’s like a Mormon Chucky.

Jeff: Crudely, yes.

Rob: And what about your YA fantasy?

Jeff: There’s a castle in the mountains east of Provo, and kids with special powers go there for school.

Rob: Wizard kids?

Jeff: Are you kidding? That’d be a rip-off. These kids are vampires. It’s kind of a romance.

Rob: A romance? That’s kind of a departure for you.

Jeff: What can I say? I’m a love machine.

Rob: Eww.

So anyway, a big thanks to Jeff. I’d have loved to chat longer, but Carnivale started and you’ve never lived till you’ve seen Jeffrey Savage do the samba. Ai, que dor!

Prologues, Info Dumps, & A Great New Book By Julie

by Jeffrey S Savage

(Before starting this blog--I wanted to make a comment about Sariah's last blog on blurbs. Say that fast. I love getting asked to do blurbs for one reason. I get to read some of the most awesome books before anyone else. On that note can I just say that Julie Bellon is an incredible writer! She sent me her novel a couple of months ago to blurb when I was thigh deep in my latest Shandra book. I have to admit that while I did read it, I kind of skimmed to get something out quick.

Well somehow the blurb I sent disappeared into the ether along with about three dozen other messages. So I reread her book over the weekend, and let me just say, "Wow!" Talk about an exciting book. I stayed up way too late reading every last page. And now I'm sitting here going, "How the heck to I do that story justice in one or two lines?" Every one of you that hasn't read it yet should be way jealous. And I highly recommend you get in line to blurb her next book.)

Last Saturday was the final class of my six week creative writing course. First of all, let me give a shout out to any of you who attended the class. I honestly think it was one of the most talented groups I’ve ever taught—even if you were all a bunch of chickens who wouldn’t read at the Harvest Moon Hurrah. (Tell me that doesn’t sound like something out of a book.)

Today, as I was pondering what to blog about, I received a great question from one of my class members. Since he hasn’t yet responded to my request to use his question in my blog, I won’t tell you who he is—cough-Jon-cough, cough—in case he is shy. I will only say that he is the student with the cool hair who kept complaining about the early start of class.

Here is his question:

“Dear Mr. Savage,

First let me just say that it was an honor to learn at your knee, er white board. You are indeed the master of all things written. My question is, how does it feel to be so much better of a writer than all the other people on your blog, and worlds better than the guy who wrote that Jimmy Fincher series of books?

Sincerely a faithful admirer.”

Of course since I am such a humble individual, I couldn’t answer that question. So I’ll defer to his second inquiry.

“Since you've given us carte blanche to ask you writing questions, I'm going to take advantage of it! (Sucker!)So, I'm writing this fantasy book with dogs as the viewpoint characters. I have a lot of info regarding how this situation came to be. Since I know that I'm not supposed to do a big info dump in the first chapter, I thought perhaps I could do a prologue that sets things up. What's your opinion on the use of a prologue as info dump? Would it be better to do as Garth Nix and leave the reader wondering and just drop bits and pieces as I go?”

Dear anonymous seeker of truth,

First let me say that I am glad you recognize my obvious talent with the quill, unlike that shill of a charlatan, Dashner. May I also say that I admire your perfect use of the term info dump, as we discussed in class.

But seriously, this is why I hate prologues nearly as much as I hate Self Addressed Stamped Envelopes. (Which has nothing to do with the fact that I was once dumped by a girl named Sase.)

Usually people add prologues to their books for one of two reasons. Either the first chapter isn’t exciting enough and they want to start with something that will catch the reader. Or the first chapter is exciting, but they want to provide a whole bunch of back story which is not exciting. Either way, this is a cop out.

How many times have you read a book where after a couple of chapters—or even less—you get bored and turn to something else? The two most important parts of any novel are the beginning and the end. The beginning hooks the reader and the ending keeps them coming back.

If you put an info dump in the first chapter, you risk the reader getting bored and putting down the book. If you info dump in a prologue, you still risk boring the reader if they do read the prologue, and of they don’t they won’t learn the important information you hoped to provide. I know, I know.

At this point everyone reading this blog is screaming, “I always read the prologues! I never skip them!” Note the exclamation points which clearly show how loud this is being screamed.

Yes you do read the prologue and the epilogue. But remember, gentle reader, you are the cream of the reading crop. You also probably read the acknowledgements—and not just to find out who the author’s agent is. You read the first chapter of the upcoming novel. You probably stay until the credits finish rolling at movies so you can find out if there is a hidden extra at the end. Not all readers are so faithful.

With that said, let me make a couple of recommendations. Feel free to use them. Or—like Stephanie with my POV blog—throw them out the window with the bathwater. 1) Never, ever info dump. First of all, examine your background information and determine if it really is necessary. Many times, what you feel is vital really isn’t that important. If it is key that the reader knows it, consider ways in which you can provide this knowledge other than an info dump. As you suggested, have the character discover the information along with the reader. Mini discoveries along the path of the story keep the reader interested while not so anxious to learn the truth that they skip to the back of the book. Provide a wise mentor character who can fill in the blanks during the story. Write a prequel chapter that fills in some of blanks. Have Fido, the loveable, but unreliable mutt, get sloshed and spill just enough important info to whet our appetites. There are a dozen other ways to slip information in without putting the reader to sleep—and pulling them out of the story.

2) Other reasons for a prologue are that you want to jump into someone else’s POV, you want to begin in a style that may not fit within the rest of the book, as mentioned above, you want to provide a prequel scene, or any number of other scenarios whereby you need to separate the first chapter from the rest of the novel. Because many people do not read prologues, there is a simple solution. Call your prologue Chapter One.

The first chapter of any novel is a free chapter. By this I mean it is a chapter in which you are free to cheat. All of the Harry Potter books are written in tight third person. If Harry doesn’t see it, we don’t see it. Except that in the beginning of several HP books, JK Rowling cheats. She shows us scenes which Harry Potter does not see. This is usually done to raise the tension by giving the reader information Harry does not possess. “Snape said what?!”

Rowling can get away with these scenes because they are the beginning of each book. They are the free cheat chapters

3) Finally, if you really must have a prologue, because you always loved prologues, and Robert Jordan uses prologues, and you think prologues are just the coolest things since Kerry Blair chasing ghosts in a cemetery, at least make them exciting. And make Chapter One exciting as well. Make the first sentence of each of these sections so dang cool everybody just has to read them. That way you know the reader is with you all the while. And if for some reason they still skip the prologue, their friends will mock them like James Dashner at a Christmas party. (Not sure what this means but I’ll take any chance to take a poke at the man.)
Hopefully that answered your question.

If not, Rob will write a marketing paper about it tomorrow, and call it his blog.

PS Please pray for me that I will be forgiven for all the bad words that I used when this delightful piece of software deleted my blog three straight times and then removed all the paragraph breaks when I finally was smart enough to copy before trying to post.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

I Am Quoteless

by Sariah S. Wilson

There are many things I dislike about writing, with the actual writing being chief among them. I'm one of those sit down at the computer, cut open some veins and bleed all over the keyboard kinds of writers. Of course, it is fabulous when it just pours out of you and the scenes practically write themselves, but this does not happen very often. Especially with deadlines (it used to happen a lot more when I just wrote for myself).

But I really, really hate getting quotes for my books from other authors.

Other authors are amazing. But they are, surprisingly enough, busy. Much as you'd like them to have nothing else to do but read your manuscript and tell you how brilliant you are, they have actual lives and families and writing deadlines of their own and they're also running around trying to get quotes for their upcoming release.

Getting quotes for my first book was not an easy task. I did manage to somehow convince Betsy Brannon Green and Heather (H.B.) Moore to read "Secrets in Zarahemla" and give me some quotes. Which was even more impressive given the fact that neither one of them had any idea who I was. (I also got my friend Heather Grothaus to do a review for me just before she gave birth, but that one was easier because we belong to the same local romance writers group.)

The quote thing worries me because I know it has to be reciprocal. You can't just gather up quotes from everyone and never return the favor.

But the problem is...usually when I read a book if I liked it I say, "I liked it." If I didn't like it I say, "I didn't like it." I think it would take me a really long time to come up with all those great catch phrases and exciting verbiage that other authors come up with. I could never do Jennie Hansen's job because my Meridian column would be a bunch of covers with "I did/didn't like it" next to it. I also don't think that would work so well on a cover. "I like it." -- Sariah Wilson

I've discussed this whole quote thing at length here before, and with my editor. Honestly, I don't get it. I have never, ever bought a book because of a quote. I've bought from word of mouth, I've bought because of a good cover, a clever title, great back copy, but never because of a quote. And because outside of the LDS market, I don't even know who half the authors are that are giving quotes.

Plus they usually seem so generic to me, and I understand this better now because of hearing a NYT bestselling author who does said quotes on a regular basis admit that she doesn't have time to read the manuscripts and asks the author/agent/editor (whoever had contacted her), "What do you want me to say?" I would so take advantage of that. "I like it." -- NYT Bestselling Author

So I was asked with "Desire of Our Hearts" whether or not I wanted to get quotes. I said no very quickly. It was such a relief to not have to stress over it. Of course, part of this means that outside of my family and my editor and a few other people at the publisher, I have no idea what anyone else thinks of this book. I told people at signings to hurry up and read it and tell me what they think because a) I'm an attention sponge and think nothing's better than hearing that someone liked my book and b) I'm curious as to what people who aren't emotionally or financially invested in its outcome think of it.

I've heard there are some LDS authors who are just refusing to give out quotes at all now. I understand - it's hard coming up with those small sound bites (read bites?).

Plus, Betsy and Heather now have me over a barrel and can demand a huge favor any time, any place, which I will deliver on because 1) I'm nice and 2) I owe them big time. I just don't have the energy to have that many favors out.

So "Desire" is quote-free, which gives us more room for the very pretty cover (and have you bought your copy yet? I don't think so, seeing as how I'm currently #112 on Deseret's list, which is Mariah Carey in "Glitter" depressing. But maybe that's the punishment for being quoteless).


The exercise and diet thing has just been totally kaput the last two weeks since my trip to Utah. I've actually become pretty sick this last week which has given me even more incentive to laze around. I think I need to feel better before I start up again. Yes, feel better first. This seems like a great plan to me.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Ten Good Reasons "Y" Not

by Kerry Blair

Julie Bellon used to be my hero. I still envy her incredible talent, admire her class, and appreciate the fact that she is one of the nicest people on the planet, but when she proposed a “Lovin’ the Pigskin Day” yesterday . . . well . . . her pedestal cracked. About the time she waxed poetic about a quarterback it crumbled.

Don’t get me wrong. I think football’s a great game – compared with, say, bullfighting, seal-clubbing, and that “sport” played by gladiators in ancient Rome. But as author John Fowles observed: “The various forms of football in the world don’t begin to compare with the two great Ango-Saxon ball games for sophisticated elegance and symbolism. Baseball and cricket are beautiful and highly stylized, chess made with flesh, a mixture of proud chivalry and base greed. With football we are back to the monotonous clashing armor of the brontosaurus.”

In case anybody wonders why baseball is so much better than football, let me count the ways:

1) In baseball you have more to be fanatic about. Watching 162 games a year is 10.125 times better than watching sixteen. If you miss your favorite football team, you have to wait a week for another game. In baseball you only have to wait a day.

2) You know when to cheer. A home run is a home run. In football you think you’re watching an amazing play then refs start throwing flags around and everything starts over. Don’t even get me started on the instant replays. A baseball ump’s call – right, wrong or ridiculous – stands forever. Maybe longer. (Arizona saw this sad fact illustrated on second base just last night.)

3) Baseball has double headers. A football player saying, “It’s such a nice day, let’s play two!” (Ernie Banks) will never happen.

4) There’s more to get excited about. An average baseball game has about 250 pitches, nine runs, and at least 80 completed plays (hits, walks, outs) in 2 ½ to 3 hours. An average football game lasts approximately six days yet has an average of only five touchdowns, a couple of field goals, and maybe twenty-five gains or losses of more than ten yards. (Thomas Boswell) The rest of the time you sit with your eyes on the scoreboard, amazed at the fact that any clock outside the Twilight Zone could possibly move so slow.

5) Baseball heralds spring while football ushers in winter. Which is more appealing: Sunning on the bleachers in a short-sleeved shirt and a thin layer of sunscreen or huddled on an icy bench under six layers of clothing and two lap blankets?

6) Baseball’s terminology is nicer. In football they blitz, bomb, spear, shiver, march, and score. In baseball they wait for a walk, take a stretch, toe the rubber, play ball, and run home. (George Carlin)

7) Baseball gives more chances to players and fans alike. “In baseball you can’t sit on a lead and run a few plays into the line and just kill the clock. You’ve got to throw the ball over the *%@# plate and give the other man his chance.” (Earl Weaver) From the fan’s perspective, nine innings of baseball mean nine chances at a stall in the restroom. Two halves in a football game means you’d better not drink anything before, during, or immediately after.

8) Baseball is tradition at its finest. Let’s face it, the game hasn’t changed much since Walt Whitman wrote, “I see great things in baseball. It’s the American game” or Robert Frost penned, “Poets are like baseball pitchers. Both have their moments. The intervals are the tough things.” In baseball a scruffy bullpen coach blows bubble gum with his cap turned backward while leaning against the outfield fence watching the game. In football a defensive coordinator in a satin jacket with a headset and a clipboard paces the sidelines while gazing up at glass stadium boxes and jabbering into a microphone. Maybe that’s why the baseball Hall of Fame is in Cooperstown, beside James Fenimore Cooper’s Lake Glimmerglass while the football Hall of Fame is in Canton, Ohio, beside the freeway.

9) Baseball has better philosophy. Or at least better philosophers. Vince Lombardi said: “Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.” Tommy Lasorda said: “No matter how good you are you’re going to lose one-third of your games. No matter how bad you are you’re going to win one-third of your games. It’s the other third that makes the difference.” Frankly, football has no sense of humor, whereas baseball is self-deprecating and often funny. Casey Stengal to his barber: “Don’t cut my throat. I may want to do that myself later.” Harry Carrey to Chicago fans: “What do grizzlies on birth control and the World Series have in common? No Cubs.”

10) “Who’s on First?” (Scroll down and click on the radio.)

I enthusiastically concur with Art Hill: “With those who don’t give a (darn) about baseball, I can only sympathize. I do not resent them. I am even willing to concede that many of them are physically clean, good to their mothers, and in favor of world peace. But while the series is on, I can’t think of anything to say to them.”

So, Julie, while I still love you to pieces, you keep watching those blue brontosauruses clash and I’ll keep watching baseball. We can talk again in November.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

"Y" Not?

by Julie Coulter Bellon

In my opinion, for any BYU football fan, Oct. 11 should be a holiday. I don’t know what we’d call it though. Footballers Day? Lovin’ the Pigskin Day? BYU Lover’s Appreciation Day? How in the Heck Did the Zoobies Do That Day?

First of all, Oct. 11 is LaVell Edward’s birthday and he is arguably the greatest football coach BYU ever had. He was head coach from 1972-2000 and in that time coached quarterbacks like Gifford Nielsen, Steve Young, Jim McMahon, Ty Detmer, Robbie Bosco, and Brandon Doman. In 1984 he was named National Coach of the Year after BYU won the National Championship and finished the season 13-0. And who could forget that game when BYU was down 45-39 with mere seconds to go and Jim McMahon completed that long, miraculous pass to Clay Brown to tie it up and then Kurt Gunther made the extra point for the win. I think we heard the cheers up in Canada that day!

Oct. 11 is also Steve Young’s birthday, one of the greatest quarterbacks to come out of BYU. He succeeded Jim McMahon as starting quarterback at the Y, but initially is said to have struggled with passing. Coaches actually thought about switching him to defensive back because of it, but Steve worked hard to improve. With Steve Young as the quarterback, BYU set an NCAA record by averaging 584.2 yards of total offense per game, and because of Steve’s passing and rushing, 370.5 of those yards came from him! Steve was also named to the First Team All-American and finished second in voting for the Heisman Trophy. One of the highlights of his BYU career, however, was scoring the game-winning touchdown in the 1983 Holiday Bowl and defeating Missouri 21-17. Steve eventually ended his three seasons with BYU with 592 pass completions that resulted in 7,733 yards gained and 56 touchdowns, pretty good for a lefty! He went on to a successful pro career with the San Francisco 49ers and was the first left-handed quarterback to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. One little known fact is that Steve was supposed to be the secret love for Mary in the movie There’s Something About Mary, but Steve ended up having to decline.

Henry Heinz was also born on Oct. 11 (1844) and what would a BYU football game be without ketchup on your hamburger or hot dog? It is an American staple and part of the secret recipe for Utah’s famous fry sauce. Young Henry was one of eight children and at the age of eight, he helped his mother in her garden and sold vegetables door to door, but by the age of nine he was blending his own brand of horseradish sauce and selling that. At age ten he was given a 3/4 acre garden of his own and sold vegetables to grocery stores, and by seventeen he was grossing $2700/year which was a large sum at the time. He eventually started his own company and the famous slogan "57 varieties" was chosen at random because he liked the sound of 57 and thought that the number seven would have a positive psychological influence on people. Heinz was a pioneer for safe and sanitary food preparation and always loved working in a garden. I, for one, am grateful for his efforts! I love ketchup, especially since it goes with almost everything.

All three of these men showed the qualities of tenacity, endurance and hard work and frankly are inspiring to me---deserving of a holiday. None of them had it easy, and they all faced difficulties, but overcame them. It's like a BYU football season—fraught with ups and downs, wins and losses, but at the end of the day, we’re all just true blue, through and through, standing with pride in our school and our team, trying to keep our clown wig on and our blue makeup from running down our face and making the "Y" on our forehead more of an "M." We'd make them proud I'm sure.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Acting on Impulse

by Stephanie Black

Last week’s question was about the library—do you ever purchase the books of an author whose work you first sampled through the library? This week’s question is about bookstore impulse buys. Do you ever buy novels totally on impulse?

I don’t tend to buy a lot of national fiction, period, unless I’m so passionate about the book (or series) that I want to own my own copy (e.g. Harry Potter) or I’m going on a trip and don’t want to take a library book. If I’m browsing in an airport bookstore, the first books I’ll look for are novels by authors I know and love (Mary Higgins Clark or Diane Mott Davidson, for instance). If I don’t see any new books by favorite authors, I might choose something I’ve heard great things about—my last purchase of this type was the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, by Alexander McCall Smith. I didn’t end up reading it on that trip, but I’ve heard it’s a great book and intend to read it someday (maybe on my next trip!). A couple of times in airport bookstores, I’ve bought a book I didn’t know anything about because it looked interesting or looked more interesting than the other books in a limited selection.

My LDS fiction-buying pattern is very different from my national-market habits. Because I live in an area where the library doesn’t stock LDS fiction--okay, I think they have a Gerald Lund novel--I buy a lot more than I would if I lived in Utah and could easily sample new authors for free (yes, I know about interlibrary loan, but do I ever think of that when I’m at the library? I really should try it out). I like to have an idea of what’s happening in the LDS suspense market, so I’m much more willing to buy an LDS novel by an author I haven’t read before than I would be to pay money for the work of an unfamiliar national author. I used to sometimes buy books I’d never heard of and knew nothing about, beyond the description on the backliner, but now that I’m much more involved in the market, I’m likely to have already read about the book in a Seagull or Deseret Book catalog or I’ve heard other people talking about the book online, or I’m cyber-acquainted with the author.

And here’s a confession: sometimes I’ve bought books because I wanted to go into the bookstore and gaze fondly at my book on the shelf and chat with bookstore staff—but do I want the staff to know that I’m there mainly on an ego trip? Of course not. So I buy a book. Have any of you authors out there ever done this or am I the only one?

I’ve also bought books on staff recommendation. If my heart isn’t set on a particular book but I do want to purchase one, the enthusiastic endorsement of bookstore staff will carry some weight. I once bought a book I hadn’t intended to buy--bypassing a book that I’d thought looked interesting--because the bookstore employee spoke so highly of book B (but not of book A).

Do you ever buy books on impulse? If you walked into a bookstore with no plans to buy a particular book, what would impel you to shell out cash for it? What draws you to a book? The cover? The backliner? A recommendation by bookstore staff? How much are you influenced by endorsement blurbs on the back of a book? Have you ever purchased a book because an author you admire endorsed it? I hope so, because I've got blurbs from some fantastic authors for my next book . . .

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Books and Things

by Robison Wells

I started off writing one of those blogs that begins "This blog isn't going to be funny, and it might make a few people upset." And then I thought "No blog that ever starts that way EVER makes anyone upset." Why? Because no one ever says "This blog is going to make a few people upset. Achtung: The Holocaust never happened." No, those blogs usually say things that everyone agrees with, and the comments are usually filled with "You go, girl!"

Consequently, I'm not going to write one of those blogs. I'm sure you're relieved.

Instead, I'm going to tell you about all the awesome (and awesomeness-impaired) media which I have consumed in the last little while--books, movies, new Fall TV shows, old Fall TV shows, etc.

First, books:

I have a new favorite book. And I don't mean I have added a book to my list of favorites; I mean that a book has reached the very tippety top of my favorite list, finally edging out Huckleberry Finn. Move over Mr. Clemens! You're great, but what have you done for me lately?

This new favorite is Millions, by Frank Cottrell Boyce. The book is related to the movie by the same name which came out in 2005 and hit almost every single critic's best movies list. (The book is not based on the movie, nor is the movie based on the book--they were both written by Boyce simultaneously.)

Millions tells the story of two young brothers, Damien and Anthony, whose mother recently passed away. Their father moves them to the suburbs. Damien, the younger of the two, is enthralled with Catholic saints and frequently recites their stories--and talks to them. Shortly after arriving at their new home, a bag of money--roughly 230,000 British pounds--mysteriously appears in the field behind their home. Damien believes it's a miracle.

I won't get too much into the story, other than to say that this is one of the most endearing, heartwarming books I've ever read. Damien sees everything through innocent and pure eyes. When his teacher sends a letter to Damien's dad, referring Damien to a "Special Assesment" with a psychologist, he can't help but be pleased with himself--he's always tried to be special.

In the movie, Millions is mostly about the money--Damien trying to be saintly and help the poor while Anthony tries to spend it--and it's a great movie. But the book takes that framework and adds so much more depth and character. Half the time you don't know whether you should be laughing or crying. (I actually first listened to the book on audio while I was taking a long road trip by myself. All alone in the middle of nowhere, I found myself sobbing.)

If you're expecting a Christmas present from me this year, then you can expect this book.

(Incidentally, some Mormon missionaries live on Damien's street, and they play a minor role in the story. The author gets some of the details of missionaries wrong--such as seeing them without their companions fairly regularly--and they're not necessarily portrayed as the most honest group of people in the world. But I forgive that. This book is amazing.)

Mistborn 2: The Well of Ascension

This book was written by Brandon Sanderson, who was a member of my very first writing group--it was there that I learned how to write.

The book is a sequel (obviously) to last year's Mistborn, a quirky blend of high fantasy and Ocean's Eleven--a group of specialists trying to pull of an insanely improbable heist with the aid of some very specialized magic.

The book is wildly good fun, with great characters and fantastic action scenes. All three of Brandon's Tor novels have been a little too philosophically modern for my tastes: I have a hard time buying much of the political theory the characters are tossing around--it seems quite anachronistic to the setting. However, that can be overlooked in favor of the story, which is excellent.

The Omnivore's Dilemma

I first heard about this book through an interview with the author on NPR. He was interesting enough that when I saw the book in an airport giftshop this weekend I picked it up.

It's non-fiction--I read way more non-fiction than fiction--and the basic concept is the author, Michael Pollan, is trying to trace the roots of his food. Food today is processed so much that it's often near impossible to find its origins. But what he can find is fascinating.

He begins with a McDonald's value meal, and shows how the entire thing is made out of corn. There's the obvious stuff: corn fed the cows that make the hamburger, but then there's the less obvious: the oil used in bun comes from corn. The soda is almost entirely corn, in the form of High Fructose Corn Syrup. The fries are fried in corn (oil again). The ketchup is corn, the mustard is corn, the Big Mac's special sauce is corn. In fact, the cardboard packaging that encloses the Big Mac is partly made from corn. The bag, also, contains processed corn.

In fact, corn has a very unique signature in spectroanalysis (I'm not a scientist, so forgive me if I'm using the wrong word), and that signature is now showing up in human hair. We really are what we eat.

New Fall TV:

Journeyman: A guy keeps jumping back in time to help people survive calamities and moral dilemmas. In other words, it's Quantum Leap, except he can go home sometimes. It was okay, I guess, but nothing special.

Bionic Woman: This show was a big mountain of blah. It's like Alias II, except less believable and she's got robot legs.

Life: Unlike the last two, this show is absolutely fantastic. It’s similar to House in many ways: a quirky savant solves cases through unconventional means. Also, the lead actor is British doing an American accent. Also, the show-to-show formulas are generally pretty similar, and the show exists mostly for the character interaction. Also, it’s hilarious.

The main character, Cruise, was in prison for a murder he didn’t commit, and has recently been let out. While in prison, he maintained his sanity through Zen techniques. Now, as a cop, he’ll resort to those techniques to help control his temper. One of my favorite scenes has Cruise being threatened by two burly guys, and Cruise breaks into a long litany of Zen teachings.

Burly Guy: Are you making fun of me?

Cruise: The universe makes fun of us all…

A few minutes later, as Cruise and his partner are walking away

Partner: Why does the universe make fun of us all?

Cruise: Maybe it’s insecure.

Chuck: I don’t get Chuck. A lot of people really dig it, but to me it seems to be too schizophrenic. Sometimes it’s all serious stuff, like Alias, and other times it’s bizarre fantasy jokes, like Scrubs. And they don’t blend well.

Anyway, I’m writing way too much here. Here are a few final thoughts: I haven’t seen a lot of movies lately, and certainly none that were worth mentioning. (Meaning; I can’t remember what they were, so they can’t have been that good, right?) There have been several returning shows that I’ve been eagerly watching, too. House is good, as usual. Heroes, which I love, is entertaining but so far it’s lacking the urgency (and therefore much of the quality storytelling) of last season. The Office is probably the best returning show that I’ve been watching—not because it’s really changed anything, but it’s stayed on top of its game.

That’s about it. I’m sure I’ll remember other things as soon as I’ve posted this. Maybe next week I’ll write something that will make all of you mad. Probably something about how Grey’s Anatomy is stupid.

P.S. I promise that I still sometimes do homework. But come on—I’m a marketing student. Isn’t watching TV research?

Monday, October 08, 2007

Back From the Dead

by Jeffrey S Savage

By now I’m sure you’ve all heard the big news. No, it’s not that Peter Jackson may yet film The Hobbit (although that is pretty cool too.) It’s not that author extraordinaire, Kerry Blair, may come out of her self-imposed retirement (which we are all fervently praying for.) It’s not even that Sariah made her Utah County book signing debut during the men’s session of General Conference so she wouldn’t have to deal with Rob and me harassing her with questions like, “So when Nephi cut off Laban’s head, how did he keep from getting blood all over Laban’s clothes, which he later wore?”

Nope. I’m talking about the BIG news. I heard about it last week on the radio. The teaser was this: NBC is bringing back a classic TV show from the past.

I’ll be the first to admit that while I don’t seem to have as much time for television now that I have four kids, a full-time job (which is suddenly yanking me all over the country in search of Q4 sales. A rainy shout-out from Boston’s very froggish weather.), and am always trying to finish one book or another, I was once a certified TV junkie. As a kid, I knew every show schedule and memorized even the commercials. (It’s slinky, it’s slinky, it’s fun, it’s a wonderful toy.)

So I was pretty dang jazzed when I heard one of my old favorites was coming back for another try. Who cares if the actors probably won’t be the same? Who cares if the story-lines now have to be politically correct? I could probably even live with the occasional sexual innuendo. (I mean I used to sneak out of bed after hours to watch Love American Style with a blanket over the TV, so my Mom wouldn’t catch me.)

Finally the radio station came back from commercial to tell me the long awaited news. The television show which network executives with minds vastly superior to mine (can any of you Utahans tell me who I swiped that line from?) chose to bring back from the dead is . . . drum-roll as you think about what the incredible news will be . . . is . . . calm your pulse, maybe even take a seat in case you pass out . . . is . . . Knight Rider!

What? Knight Rider?! Are you kidding me? Of all the cool old shows they could have brought back, they are resurrecting a show about a talking car—and it’s not even My Mother The Car? I mean how stupendously lame is that? Come on, nowadays we have cars that tell us where to turn (in Mr. T’s voice if you are Josi Kilpack), cars that parallel park themselves (which I don’t think even KITT could pull off), cars with DVD players in the dash, cell phones in the visor, and refrigerators in glove compartment? How impressive is Knight Rider going to be when he probably doesn’t even have a built-in microwave?

In honor of this less than overwhelming news, I decided to list my top ten shows I wish they would bring back.

10) Since we started with a car theme, I’m going to begin with the cartoon that taught every guy the way to get a hot babe (like say Julie Wright or Annette Lyon) was to have a vehicle with lots of buttons on the steering wheel. Of course I’m speaking of the one and only Speed Racer, featuring: The Mach 5 (now there was a car), the voluptuous Trixie, Spritle, Chim Chim, Pops Racer, the mysterious Racer X, and of course Speed himself. I mean is KITT going to be able to cut down rain forests, pollute the ocean from under the water, send out that cool little homing pigeon, and jump 100 foot chasms, all while hiding a kid and his monkey in the trunk? I rest my case.

9) Today’s TV seems to be either SITCOMs where people insult each other through the entire show and end up sleeping together at the end, or crime dramas with names like CSI SUV Special Unit Biloxi. But back in the day, there was a show with cutting edge humor, spine tingling drama, and gadgets that make today’s technology look like something out of the 1950s. Of course I’m referring to the all time classic, Get Smart. Where else could you find Agent 99, Shoe Phones, and The Cone of Silence? Comedy at its finest.

8) For my next choice I’m going to come forward a few years to a time when there was actually something worth watching on Saturday night. Okay, fellow TV junkies; It’s 10:00. You just finished laughing along with Gopher and Captain Stubing on The Love Boat. What comes on next? If you immediately started shouting, “Ze Plain! Ze Plain!” give yourself a gold star. That’s right, I’m talking about Fantasy Island. Where Tattoo and Mr. Roarke picked up guests every week in that cool orange station wagon and let them live out their fantasy while learning a valuable lesson. Where are shows that are that entertaining and actually teach you something now?

7 & 6) And speaking of weekend television, how about Sunday nights when you were a kid (at least if you are between about 40 and 50), remember the dynamic duo of Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom followed by The Wonderful World of Disney? I honestly can’t say whether it’s because the shows were so good or our choices were so limited, but we looked forward to that all through the 27 hours of church we used to attend before the block system.

I vaguely remember an episode of WWOD where a boy named Pablo snuck a ride underneath a semi filled with orange soda, along with his pet Chihuahua that could dance. I think he was coming to the U.S. It’s entirely possible that very show set off the whole illegal immigration thing. I know when I finished watching the show I wanted to get a ratty little dog and immigrate somewhere illegally—especially if I could drink bottles of orange soda the whole way.

5) Jumping back to more recent times again, you have to admire a TV show that still has commercials based on it fifteen years after it went off the air. And of course, I’m sure Julie would be the first the point out that it was produced and filmed in that lovely little offshoot of the US, called Canada. It was the show where a popsicle stick, a shoelace, two-paperclips, and a bottle of mouthwash could be combined to form a pocket-sized nuclear device that would not only blow the door off your prison cell, but also provide enough energy to power a scooter across the border and to safety (or at least to a place with real money.) Yes, I’m talking about The A Team, starring Mr. T.

Nope, just pulling your leg. I’m wishing for ten more seasons of MacGyver. That showed rocked.

4) Okay let’s go back to humor for a minute. And in particular, the variety hour. No, I’m not going to wax nostalgic about Donnie and Marie (who never really seemed to be a little bit country or rock and roll, but mostly turned everything they touched to teen pop.) Not Hee Haw (for which I was too young to get most of the jokes anyway.) I’m talking about the best variety show ever to hit television. The woman who I would watch in a New York minute if she started her own show again—the incomparable Carol Burnett. That woman could do everything. She was always funny, and yet every skit was something the whole family could watch. Where is anything like that today? Lots of family shows that are completely stupid and lots of funny shows that are not appropriate for most parents—let alone kids. But nothing that is funny AND family fare (Except for maybe The Simpsons—ducking and running.)

3, 2, & 1) My last three shows come wrapped together. Not that they played back to back to back, or even on the same day—or year. But they are the three shows that may have shaped my writing and reading preferences by scaring me so bad I often couldn’t sleep without the light on. These three shows terrified me almost every time I watched them, but I couldn’t wait to the next episodes, with my blanket pulled completely up to my chin, while my younger brother and I guessed what the next show might be about.

No Kerry, I’m not talking about Romper Room, which had no redeeming qualities whatsoever. The shows I list here almost always carried a message. And it was usually something like, “If you kill your grandmother to inherit her Victorian mansion, she will probably come back and behead you.” Words to live by my friend.

The last three shows I’d like to see return in order of overall quality and scariness are:
Kolchak: The Night Stalker.
Night Gallery.
And the possibly the greatest show of all time, The Twilight Zone.

And now, gentle readers I ask you to join me in a journey beyond the fifth dimension, beyond the deepest, darkest corner of your imagination. Come with me back in time and tell me what shows you would resurrect if you could travel back in time to . . . The TV Zone.