Monday, March 31, 2014

Highlights of the Write Here in Ephraim Conference

For those of you who missed out on the Write Here in Ephraim Conference, you really missed out!

Some great classes were presented, some great prizes given out; we even had a terrific bookstore!

Here are just a few of the insights I gleaned:

From Chas Hathaway:

Be true to your life instead of working so hard.
Have the courage to express your feelings.
Stay in touch with friends.
Let yourself be happier.

Do you crave chocolate? Well, craving ANYTHING is a choice. Choose not to crave and you will be living in God's grace, His enabling power to move you forward.

From Dene Lowe:

Do you have to print your picture book? Consider apps on your phone or tablet that tells the story. Offer a book with a game.

I am going to check out the option of Sheridan Press; I currently use CreateSpace for my printing needs.

Set up a writer's retreat.

Consider sending one chapter a week to your online readers if they subscribe. If you get enough subscriptions, you will be able to publish your book in hardback.

I am also checking out Project Gutenberg. They offer FREE classic eBooks.


I will be speaking at the League of Utah Writer's Conference in September. Check back to learn more about this conference!

Friday, March 28, 2014

What Google Will Tell You About Book Exposure

I had a moment before taking off to the Write Here in Ephraim Conference, and wanted to talk to you a bit more about marketing and how important it is in getting your book seen and ultimately purchased.

As I have been studying what has been working for me when it comes to social networking, I have discovered the following (using the Google search engine).

Last year I searched at about this time:

"Marketing Your Book on a Budget" and

"Kathryn Elizabeth Jones"

and discovered the following:

1. Amazon
2. Goodreads
3. YouTube
4. Barnes & Noble
5. As a guest post on another site

are great places for me to focus my social media with my marketing book.

1. Amazon
2. Goodreads
3. Facebook
4. Interview
5. Business listing

are what people see when they look up my full name.

Then I compared these search results with those I did yesterday:

1. Amazon
2. Goodreads
3. Facebook
4. Review

1. Amazon
2. Goodreads
3. Facebook
4. Interview
5. Review given to someone else

I also did a Google search

"book marketing Kathryn" and "book marketing Jones"

and discovered this bit of insight:

1. Amazon
2. Goodreads
3. Books Direct
4. Profile on another site
5. Interview
6. Review

1. Amazon

When doing key searches, my first name brought up more links than my last name in which I had only two, so that tells me something about what people remember when they may be at a book signing and can only remember what type of book I have written and my first name.

I also learned about the power of the top five; in my case, Amazon, Goodreads, Facebook, Interviews and Reviews.

Do a Google search today and see how often you are listed in the first 10 slots of the front page and then focus your social media attention in these areas. If there are some gaps (other sites are in-between yours or are fluid throughout) go to these sites and see what they are doing to be in the top 10.

You'll be glad you did.

Thursday, March 27, 2014



Find out about the exciting things Dene does besides writing books. Why does Dene feel that writing needs to be consistent and when does she get her best ideas?

Find out in today's interview!

Tell me a about yourself. What got you started in writing? 

I started writing in elementary school and by the sixth grade exit appointment with the principal, I announced that I was going to be an author, which surprised him. He said I’d need to go to college and I said, of course, although my grades were not that great. I never lost that focus and have earned a master’s in creative writing and a PhD in rhetoric and composition (academic writing). I also have six children, a husband, a pilot’s license, a motorcycle, and several books, because through everything, I keep writing. My first novel was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and it was a finalist for the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award and it was given other awards as well.

How and where do you write? Do you prefer a lap top or do you prefer writing freehand? 

Computers have become my friends when I write. I used to write long hand, but over the past fifteen years, I've learned a lot about working with computers and they make writing easier. I write on a desk top computer some of the time and on a laptop/tablet the rest of the time. I email versions of documents to myself so I can keep them up to date on both computers, because I don’t quite trust the cloud. I feel that writing time needs to be consistent so the brain recognizes that time as settling into writing.

What's your favorite part about writing? Your least favorite part about writing? 

My favorite parts are getting ideas, being in the zone so writing just comes, seeing my books in print, getting awards, book signings when I actually meet people who want to or have read my books. My least favorite parts are rejections and marketing.

How do you come up with your characters? Why would readers want to get to know them? 
Most of the time, my characters introduce themselves to me with a cool phrase or a quirky scene as I doze just before waking. I think they are interesting and fun characters, so I think readers would like them, too.

What types of marketing do you do to promote your writing? 

Facebook, Twitter, my own web page and blog, book signings and conferences. My son, Lance Card, is a professional designer and web site developer and he manages my site and my publicity in addition to my publishers’ marketing.

How do you schedule your writing time? When do you write? 

My best writing time is very early in the morning when nothing intrudes, like 5:00 a.m. If I start right, I can write for several hours, unless I am interrupted. No one else in the family wants to get up then, so that writing time is usually undisturbed. Then I take naps during the day.
What are you currently working on? Do you have a new book out? 

This spring I have a book coming out from Covenant called RScue. The premise is a middle-aged Mormon mother takes out an international car theft ring using things she learned in Relief Society with the help of her visiting teachers. Next fall a book I am collaborating on with Emily Campbell and Jessica Lewis will be coming out from Familius. It is called Our Children in Sickness and Death. All three of us are dealing with the death or chronic illness of our children and we are sharing with our readers what we have learned from these experiences. I also have at least six other books in the works, mostly YA fantasy, which is my first love.

Do you have a project on the back burner? Tell me about it.

My back burner is weird. I operate on the Isaac Asimov method. He used to have several typewriters around the room with different books going in each and when he got tired of one, he moved to another to keep himself and his interest fresh. With computers, we can just keep multiple files for our stories and work on them as we are interested, unless there is a contract signed, and then I focus. Right now my projects include YA fantasy that is a Regency romance with a fantasy twist, a WWII Japanese American fantasy, a story about a family of ghosts whose job is to shepherd souls to the other side, a YA fantasy of a karate champion who gets pulled back into medieval Europe, a story that is essentially contemporary Korean drama fan fiction, and some others. I keep getting story ideas.

What would you tell a beginning writer who wants to publish but doesn't believe he/she has enough talent? 

Gaining confidence comes with experience: experience with formal classes, experience with writing conferences, experience with writers groups, experience sharing writing, experience writing journals, blogs, short stories, novels, and submitting, even if it’s years before actually being published. Go and do.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

I Would Like to Interview Your Main Character

The other day, (it may have even been yesterday; some days meld together) I discovered a fun, new idea. Rather than interviewing the author, interview the main character of a novel.

I thought the idea was fantastic, so I'd like to try it here.

If you've published a fiction title (or are soon to publish a fiction title) and would like me to interview YOUR main character, let me know. I'll send you a list of questions, and you can get me the answers from your character along with a picture of your book cover.

Please remember I am a family friendly site, and so I look to interview main characters whom your family, as a rule, would want to get to know. That doesn't mean I can't interview a romance character, for example, only that he/she needs to sits nicely within the G to PG-13 rating system. If you have any questions about that or would like your main character to be interviewed, please email me at:

As a side note: If you've already been interviewed by me and would like to have your main character interviewed, please let me know. I would like to connect the two interviews so that readers can read one and then read the other.

Happy Writing!


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Keeping Up With New Book Signing Trends

I don't know about you, but I'm always discovering new ways to do book signings that haven't even entered my head before; others I have heard about before and am always happy to hear about again.


We authors need to stick together, and it's always good to hear from authors about what has worked for them. Because, quite frankly, what works for them may just work for me.

Here is a list in no particular order of successful book signings I have had. (Notice that not one of these signings was held in a book store).

1. Beauty Salon
2. Craft Show/Boutique

3. Book Release Party at My Home
4. Writer's Conference
5. Book Club
6. Hallmark Store
7. Hospital*
8. Boutique Store*

First off, allow me to focus on the starred items above. Sometimes, you will plan a book signing, and the success you have will not consist of multiple book sales but an opportunity to learn something you wouldn't have learned otherwise.

In the case of the hospital example I gathered multiple authors for this signing. What worked was that I got to know better those authors I had invited; I got to connect with them. None of us made many sales because of our location within the hospital. We were inside a room, rather than down a hall. Although signs were posted in elevators to make people aware of the signing, most of those we gathered in to the signing were employees of the hospital. If I could do it over, I would ask to be down a hall, perhaps right in front of the gift shop.

The boutique store seemed like a good idea. The boutique was new and so the price was low to have a booth there. What didn't work: Because the boutique was new and very little advertising had been done for it, there wasn't enough traffic to make my December showing a financial success. I did learn once again that LOCATION  is key to a successful moneymaker.

But so is ADVERTISING. Advertising doesn't have to cost a lot, but it does have to be thought out and worked on every day.

Successful signings need not only a great location and some good advertising, they also need to be CREATIVELY handled. By that I mean, you, as an author, need to do more than merely sit behind your table waiting for people to look interested in your books. For ideas on how to have fun at a book signing, click here.

Ideas 1-6 incorporate the creativity handle along with location and advertising. For book signings 2 and 3, I sent out postcard invitations; part of advertising. For the book club, readers purchased my book and read it before the presentation. For the beauty salon, I waited patiently as primarily women came in and waited their turn for a hair cut. Writers conferences are great places to sell your books, especially if you speak at the same conference, and the Hallmark store on a Saturday always brings in shoppers.

Keeping up with new book signing trends means getting online A LOT and checking out what other authors are doing. It's being willing to try something new, something that makes you nervous, something that (at first glance) seems off the beaten track.

It means more than sitting behind a table at your nearest Barnes & Noble.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Write Here In Ephraim Conference: Begins Today!

Another plug for the Write Here in Ephraim Conference.

Not sure who's speaking?

Below is a list of authors previously interviewed on this blog who will be at the conference. Just click on the link to learn more about them:

Sarah Beard

Mikey Brooks

David Belt

Chas Hathaway

Gregg Luke

And, of course, I will be there!

For interested fans, Dene Low will be interviewed on March 27, right before the conference.

There will be a GRAND DOOR PRIZE of  a Nook HD, so don't miss out!


Cost for this great conference is only $20! $15 if you pre-register

Plus, many of the authors are donating FREE books and other goodies for the lucky winners!

Friday, March 21, 2014



Tell me a about yourself. What got you started in writing?

I have written stories and scenes ever since I can remember. As a child I was forever coming up with little tales and such. The older I got, the more enthralled with storytelling I became.  I had parents that encouraged my creativity. My father was a man of science and loved reading just about anything. He taught me the more you know, the more you know you don’t know. My mother taught Theater and English for over 30 years. It was a rich environment in which to cultivate a love of storytelling.

How and where do you write?

Because I have a full-time job, I find my writing time is sporadic at best. That’s why I've developed
a knack for fleshing out scenes in my head while doing other tasks. I love creating scenes while jogging. At work when I get a flash of inspiration, I write it on a scrap of paper—quite often on a blank prescription pad. I usually write in the evenings. On my days off, I try to put in several hours of solid writing, but that too can be sporadic, depending on the size of my honey-do list. Perhaps that is why I only get a book out every 15 months or so.

What's your favorite part about writing? Your least favorite part about writing?

I have three basic stages in writing: one is creating a skeleton. I am mostly a discovery writer—I know how a scene must start and end, but I leave it up to my characters as to how to get from start to finish. It’s a very fun way to create but it can lead to a lot of extra writing when a character doesn't follow the path you need. This is typically the most difficult part of writing for me. 

The second stage is going back over the scene and fleshing it out; i.e. adding some meat and substance to the imagery. As I mentioned, I basically try to write the scene I see in my mind. Quite often, adding flesh to a scene reveals something hidden from the camera in my mind. That’s one of the things I really like about the process. 

The third stage is trimming fat and making the skin (prose) smooth. I love this part of the process. It’s when creativity and continuity really come together. If done correctly the prose and story become a living thing. If not, then it’s time for some reconstructive surgery.

How do you come up with your characters/ideas?

I have a huge advantage in that, because I mostly write medical thrillers, I get a lot of my ideas from working as a clinical pharmacist. When coming up with story lines I always try to fit the best character with each participant in the story. Of course, you always want to throw in a red herring or two. And I like to add some comic relief every now and then. But overall, I try to make my characters as three-dimensional as possible. To do that, I use characteristics from people I've met, character traits I've really liked in movies or novels, and real people from history.

What types of marketing do you do to promote your writing?

Luckily, my publisher (Covenant Communications) does a pretty good job with promoting my new releases. I try to attend as many book signings as I can, and I love to do talks, interviews, and presentations at writing conferences. I wish I had more time to do all those authoresque things, but my life is too full for blogging, book tours, launch parties, and most other promotional events. I have nothing against them; I just rarely have the time.

What are you currently working on? Do you have a new book out?

I have a fun novella coming out this June. It’s an anthology with three of Covenant’s best suspense writers, Traci Abramson, Stephanie Black, and yours truly. My story is a bit different from my other novels in that it’s written in first person from a YA point of view. It’s about a young teen who feels compelled to solve a one-hundred year old mystery surrounding a haunted house in his isolated Nevada town. It’s called The Death House. It’s got some creepy thrills, a lot of humor, and some neat science and local legends.

Also, I just finished a cool thriller that ties two legends—the Lamed Vovniks and the Physicians of Myddfai—with an event in the Old Testament that has a profound impact on the life of a young historian visiting modern-day Wales. Yes, there is medicine involved, but this one has some religious undertones that allow my protagonist some serious introspection and growth. It’s written in the style and tone of a Dan Brown thriller. It’s titled, The Dial of Ahaz. I hope to see it published by the end of the year or perhaps the first of next.

Do you have a project on the back burner?

I have several projects on the back burner. Too many, in fact. I am working on a screenplay adaptation to my best-seller, Do No Harm. I’m also well into my next thriller titled, Infected. It has to do with a parasitic fungus that exhibits mind control over its victims with devastating effects. (No, I don’t have trouble sleeping at night. My goal is to instill my readers with those troubles.)

What would you tell a beginning writer who wants to publish but doesn't believe he/she has enough talent?

All good writers are voracious readers. There is no shame in copying the style of your favorite author, just don’t plagiarize. Then write. Write every day—even if it’s not working on your novel. The hardest skill a new author must cultivate when creating a story is the ability to step back from being a writer to being a reader. You have to be able to see your work through someone else’s eyes. Only then will you find issues with character, conflict, pacing, prose, climax, denouement, etc. And don’t fall in love with your words; be willing to rewrite entire chapters if necessary. If you’re serious about being an author, attend writer’s conferences and workshops. Leaning from others is a great way to hone your craft. Above all, believe in yourself. Even if you don’t initially have the skill, if you have a great story that needs to be told, then tell it!


Thanks, Gregg!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

SHOUT IT OUT! What you can do to promote your writing without being obnoxious

There's no reason to be quiet about the book you've recently published, though many authors are afraid to toot their own horn.

For many years I had my husband do it for me, but I think, in reality, he was preparing me for the future and the time when I could toot my own horn.

The day has come.

And although I readily admit that not everyone is comfortable with my new-found courage, most are happy for me and are eager to listen and to share with others what they like about my work.

Hear me now. It doesn't have to be a vain thing to talk about your work; just watch the body language of the person you are speaking to, sense that feeling you get when you are speaking with someone and they are with you (or not) and speak accordingly. It does you no good to speak against a brick wall. Just find another topic of conversation.

Here are some things I do to shout about my book in a pleasant way, keeping in mind that most people are anxious to hear about what I do; as anxious as I am to hear about what they do:

Never Leave Home Without It. Postcards. Carry them in your purse or briefcase, but carry them! You never know when you'll have an opportunity to speak about your book to someone else. Why not leave them with a fond memory of your discussion?

Be Open, Always Open. Have you ever been so busy in your life that you've entirely forgotten the people around you? I know I have, and this is usually when I've packed my day so tightly it's all I can do to breathe! If you're open to conversation, if you slow down enough to make room for it, amazing things will happen!

Take a Friend to Lunch. Is there someone you easily connect with? Do you want to get to know a fan or potential fan better? Take them out to eat. No sales pressure, please. There are always opportunities that spring up during a lunch conversation to talk more about your work without getting pushy.

Visit the Library. Tell others to visit the library if they're wanting your book. Especially if your book is self-published, in order for your book to be on library shelves, readers have to want it to be there. If enough readers suggest your book as a title for library shelves it will be ordered and placed there. While you're in the library offer a free writing class. You may or may not be able to sell your books on site, but you will be able to pass out your postcards and get readers talking about your books.

Shouting it out doesn't mean you turn into an obnoxious beast; what it does mean is that you let fear out the window, and instead, develop the courage to speak up when it would be easier to remain silent.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Another great interview! Find out what "wows" Cindy, and how she comes up with her characters!

    Tell me a about yourself. What got you started in writing?

It’s sounds so cliché, but it’s true: I had a dream. LOL. I was minding my own business as a teacher when I had this incredible dream that was so vivid and heart pounding. I thought it should be made into a movie.  Since I knew no movie producers, I wrote the scene down in hopes of one day passing it on to someone. But, the story didn't stop there. It kept coming to me and I kept writing. Once Watched became a bestseller, there was no stopping the train and I had to choose between being a rocking author or an amazing teacher. After much debate and many tears, I left teaching, but I still get my fix with author visits and assemblies.

How and where do you write? Do you prefer a lap top or do you prefer writing freehand?  

I write with my laptop. I did write Watched free-hand first, though. I wouldn't suggest it. It doubles your work. I write in my dining room that is surrounded with windows. I see the mountains out one window, the blue sky out of another, the lake through the third and Salt Lake City out of the fourth. I need space to write for sure. In the Springtime, I sit out back on my deck  or on my front porch. I love the outdoors. Occasionally, I try to write in bed, but that never lasts long…

What's your favorite part about writing? Your least favorite part about writing? 

I love it when a scene comes to life. It’s crazy when you write something one day only to go back to it the next day and be wowed by what you are reading.

I’m not a fan of editing. It’s such tedious work. It drives me nuts. I wish I had a magic wand. I also don’t like marketing very much. It’s time to get an assistant for sure. I just can’t keep up.

How do you come up with your characters? Why would readers want to get to know them?

Good question. It’s funny because I’m not an outliner. I write by the seat of my pants not knowing what is coming next. In that same vein, my characters just pop right out and glom themselves into the story. They come with personalities attached and I love it when they bust into the story. Most people say they totally relate to my characters and either wish they could become any number of them or have a friend who is just like one of them. Hopefully, readers will fall in love with the hot guys that are in each of them.

What types of marketing do you do to promote your writing? 

I advertise with sites that send out alerts through email like Bookbub, Bargain Booksy, etc. I also have my own newsletter that I use. And, of course, I use FB, Twitter and I blog.

How do you schedule your writing time? When do you write?

I write mostly in the morning. I’m an early riser-at 5 am I pop awake. It’s nice and peaceful.

What are you currently working on? Do you have a new book out?

Adrenaline Rush and Gravediggers came out at the end of October and I just released Confessions of a 16-Year-Old Virgin Lips in February. I just gave my editor a book set in Paris-(It’s nameless still) and I’m almost done with Hotwire. A Christy spy novel set in Brooklyn, NY. I can’t wait for everyone to get to read them.

Do you have a project on the back burner? Tell me about it.

I do have a book I've been brainstorming for a while now about a girl who discovers her superpower…but, I've never written anything supernatural or fantasy-like and I’m nervous about pursuing it. One day…

What would you tell a beginning writer who wants to publish but doesn't believe he/she has enough talent? 

#1 keep writing. #2 Keep reading #3 Go to writer’s conferences. #4 get with a good critique group and learn to take criticism #5 keep writing J


Thank you, Cindy! Learn more about Cindy at the following sites:

Book links:

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

I Can See Clearly Now...

Remember the song?

I was a teenager when the song by Johnny Nash (not to be confused with Johnny Cash) was popular. But this morning it struck me that editing is a bit like the song...

When do you see the clearest when it comes to your work? Is it right after you've written it, or later, after your manuscript has had a chance to sit for a bit?

When the clouds part what do you see?

The best pre-editing job I ever did was allowing a manuscript sit for over a year. No kidding. It was amazing! When I finally went back to it with fresh eyes I noticed so much!

Now, I'm not recommending letting every manuscript sit for that length of time, but I am suggesting that you let it sit. Not for just a week or two, but for at least a month, when you've had some time away from it and probably won't remember every carefully written phrase or scene.

Seeing clearly cannot happen so readily when we've just finished the first draft of our book (and everything appears beautiful). It can't happen when we're so glued in, that everything appears 'perfect.' Seeing clearly, really seeing often needs distance to take in the beauty that otherwise would be lost because we're standing too close to it.

Imagine the Grand Canyon without the distance needed to see the height and depth and breadth of it and you'll understand why taking some time away from your work before going back to it will help you see clearly. With the rain gone, and the clouds no longer blocking the view of the sun, you will truly have something to look at.  

Monday, March 17, 2014


Learn why Nancy prefers writing on her laptop over writing free hand and what follows "Memory Lake."

Also, she asks ME a question; the first in these author interviews. Check it out at the end of this interview to see the question and my answer! 

Tell me a about yourself. What got you started in writing?  

Putting my thoughts into words and being understood by others has always been important to me.  Writing is the best tool I know to sort through and organize complicated thoughts.  I've been doing this since I could write.  I never thought of writing a book until my early thirties upon the exhaustion of my self-imposed reading list of classics.  Suddenly, the works of others no longer held my interest.  A burning desire to create my own stories took hold and so far it hasn't let up.  I still read, but not with the same intensity.  That intensity is now reserved for writing.      

How and where do you write? Do you prefer a lap top or do you prefer writing freehand?

Kathryn, I am the complete opposite of you!  I do not prefer pen to paper.  I love the abstract quality of word processing and its inherently neat organization.  My laptop is an extension of me.  I have more than one comfy chair with a high back and a foot rest throughout my house and I move around with the sun.  My husband bought me a Levenger lap desk made of cherry.  It rests on the arms of these chairs so the laptop does not cut the circulation of my legs.

What's your favorite part about writing? Your least favorite part about writing?

I love all aspects, from creation to editing.  Making sure my files are regularly backed-up is probably my least favorite part, but it must be done.

How do you come up with your characters? Why would readers want to get to know them?

 Find this book at Amazon

In 'Memory Lake' all my characters are all based on real people.  I even used their real names, (with a few exceptions).  None of them objected, even the antagonists.   Currently, I'm immersed in a work of fiction and the characters seem to be writing themselves.  There's no getting away from them being composites of folks I know, but since they hold my interest, and I've spent years with them, I am confident they will hold the reader's interest as well. 

What types of marketing do you do to promote your writing?

I have some radio interviews coming up and will be the key speaker at a few non-profit events.  I've done pod-casts, book fairs, book signings at Books-a-Million, Barnes & Noble, and many independent book sellers. I have a blog and utilize all the social networks.  My publisher will be airing a book trailer on Dish network.  I love attending book groups who have chosen to read 'Memory Lake'.  And, of course, I am grateful to be one of your author guests!  

How do you schedule your writing time? When do you write? 

First thing every morning, writing gets me out of bed.  The earlier the better.  I make a pot of tea and dive in.  My whole day revolves around getting back to my laptop after life intervenes. 

What are you currently working on? Do you have a new book out?

"Memory Lake, Second Edition" was released last fall.   I am planning to release a series of Sci-fi fantasy novels in the next year or so.  I have been working on them for years.  I hope to  find an agent this time around.   Fingers crossed.

Do you have a project on the back burner? Tell me about it.

There is a sequel to 'Memory Lake' on the back burner.   It will continue to follow my daughter and her friends, my grandmother, a few of my camp friends, and it will highlight my relationship with my dad.  'Memory Lake' is about mothers and daughters.  'Memory Canyon' will be about fathers and daughters. 

What would you tell a beginning writer who wants to publish but doesn't believe he/she has enough talent?

I'm a firm believer in sharing early versions with many readers before moving to publication.  Ask for feedback, have a thick skin, and consider all suggestions, (you don't have to use them).  You'll know you have something when the reader really reads your entire work, is enthusiastic to talk to you about it, and negative comments are minor, like typos.

Question for Kathryn:  What is your favorite children's book?

"Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak. I love everything about this book. The story, the illustrations, the pattern of the words. I had it completely memorized at one time and could share the book at elementary schools without even looking at the book. 

I was little when the book came out and my mother thought it would scare me; she said she almost hated reading it to me, but I loved it!

Thanks, Nancy!

Learn more about Nancy here: 


Friday, March 14, 2014



What is Chas' favorite part about writing? You just might be surprised. What's cool to know about Chas' characters? 

Find out in our next author interview!

Tell me about yourself. What got you started in writing?

Ever since I was a kid, I've enjoyed writing stories, but never took it very seriously
until I started writing Giraffe Tracks.
 Giraffe Tracks Cover

I served an LDS mission in South Africa, and I have to be honest, I was one of those annoying RMs who was always blabbing my mission stories at every possible occasion. One day, about four years after my mission, I thought it might be fun to write a book about my mission, using a sort of novel-like format (I'd not yet heard of the term, memoir). I started, and absolutely fell in love with the art of writing. I haven't been able to stop since.

How and where do you write? Do you prefer a lap top or do you prefer writing freehand?

I can't do freehand. It's too slow (I can only freehand at about 35-40 wpm, but I can type at 60), and I just end up having to transcribe it later anyway. Plus, for some reason, it always comes out sounding too technical—blegh. I'm all about the laptop. I have a desk at home, but I can write anywhere, as long as there's no spoken audio in the background (including people talking to me). Sometimes, if there's conversation or talk-radio in earshot, I'll pop on headphones and turn on instrumental music.

What's your favorite part about writing? Your least favorite part about writing?

There are so many things I love about writing! It's one of the most powerful forms of pondering I know. I love playing with words. I love writing banter. I love writing humor. I love shaping sentences into something beautiful. I love turning abstract thought into a concrete idea. I love plotting. I love mentally developing backstory. I love inventing species, histories, worlds, characters, and philosophies. I love, love, love, making a difference for good in people's lives.

I don't like marketing. I'm working on that...

How do you come up with your characters? Why would readers want to get to know them?

I'm one of those weirdos that feels more like characters are coming to me. They're constantly correcting me on what they did, said, and experienced, but I feel like my characters are real, just in a fictional universe. They are influenced by real people around me, to be sure. Ever met someone and thought, Man, he reminds me of my cousin Fred? Yeah, I kind of see my characters that way.

What types of marketing do you do to promote your writing?

Facebooking, blogging, Pinteresting, podcasting, videos, booksignings, and public speaking have probably been my most active marketing strategies. But, like I said, I think marketing is where I struggle the most.

How do you schedule your writing time? When do you write?

I write whenever I can. I wish I had a one-hour a day, or a so-many-words-per-week plan, but  don't. I get up early some days, stay up late others, write on breaks, at lunch time, and while waiting for stuff. I never write on Sunday or during family time.

What are you currently working on? Do you have a new book out?

I'm writing a book on making family history work awesome. If it goes well, it will be a “sequel” to my book that just came out called, “Scripture Study Made Awesome.”

Scripture Study Cover
Do you have a project on the back burner? Tell me about it.

My many fiction projects are on the back burner right now. I'm usually working on 2-5 projects at a given time, but I'm getting better at keeping that number low. My fiction is mostly middle-grade fantasy, about some kids that find out they're fictional characters in a middle-grade fantasy book. That's been fun to write, I can tell you.

What would you tell a beginning writer who wants to publish but doesn't believe he/she has enough talent?

Write, write, write, write, write. Any person who can put words on paper is, or can become, talented in some type of writing. Keep writing, and your talent and your sparkle will come out. On rough days, think like Dory, and “Just keep writing, just keep writing, just keep writing!”

Thank you, Chas! Learn more about Chas below, and see some great book trailers!

Dating Book