Mar 18, 2016

Writing Update and Request for Input

A few people have asked me how the novel writing's going. Those on facebook are aware of my querying and slew of rejections, seasoned by an occasional personal note from an editor telling me they enjoyed my pages but it's not from them, and also the very occasional request for pages.

I had a pretty big-time agent request my full, and then come back with, "I really enjoyed it. But it's too sweet and too YA for me and those I work with." In other words, (and in the words of a friend) "not enough sex or violence." I think. I think that's what she was saying.

At this point, I've finished (counting the current project) 5 manuscripts since Mile 21's publication. Two are LDS fiction novels that my current publisher, Cedar Fort, hasn't been able to find a place for. Two are fantasy novels that General agents haven't been willing to risk their resources on. So what I'm doing right now--I'm taking one of the fantasies (The "too sweet" one) back to LDS publishers, because I realized after that feedback, that an audience looking for fun fantasy but with a preference for clean literature is probably my best bet for that manuscript.

So, last week, I submitted it to Shadow Mountain. We'll see what comes of that.

Also, a few months ago I was contacted by Covenant Communications (another LDS publisher, not the one I worked with on Lightning Tree and Mile 21) that my manuscript Butterfly Years made it past a couple of tiers of evaluation and they'd sent it to their outside readers, and I ought to hear back in a few months. It's been a few months, so I anticipate I'll be hearing from them soon. If they want to publish it, I'll be ecstatic. I love that story. And while I'd like to take my writing outside of the niche of LDS fiction, I still love writing LDS fiction as well.

This is the life of a writer. You publish, you don't publish. You write something nobody wants, you write something else nobody wants, you keep trying until you hit a sweet spot of Market and Trends and Audience and someone is willing to take a chance on what you've written.

Anyway. I've written a few different types of fantasy stories. I started with my behemoth--the epic fantasy I've played with and written several versions of from the time I was fifteen or so. It ended up being 200,000 words, and I know it needs some editing, and I think I know how I can fix it. It got a couple requests for pages, and ultimately was passed on by my list of agents to submit to (about 120 long). Then I wrote something shorter, something fun and funnier and more commercial, and got the almost-break of that big agent as well as a couple requests and a lot of encouraging rejections. I had fun writing it, but ultimately, struggled. It was so silly and fluffy and honestly, while I love reading stuff like that, and I enjoyed writing it, I felt a bit sugared-out after finishing, if you know what I mean.

So the next thing I wrote (my current project) I decided to do something more serious. Knowing fully it probably wouldn't easily be marketable, I decided to write a literary fantasy story along the lines of Madeline L'Engle. And I really enjoyed writing it. A lot. Man. This is the genre of my heart--fantasy that explores the human experience. But anyway, I doubt a lot of people will be requesting pages because it doesn't easily slide into any genre. IT's got 17 year old characters, it's basically a hero's journey, and it's pretty introspective and kind of unusual. Most of the story is two characters on a boat fighting their way through an Alice-In-Wonderland type scenario. SO while I enjoyed writing it, I'm pretty sure not many people will be reading it. I'll still submit, of course, and try. But not a lot of high hopes there.

And that's OK.

I needed it. It was palate-clarifying, if that makes any sense. After trying so hard to write stuff that appeals to an audience, I needed to write something for myself to remind myself I love to write and why I'm a writer.

But now it's time to try something commercial again. I need to find exactly the right sort of story. Something that will appeal immediately to editors and agents and strikes the right chord in the market right now. I'm just not sure what that is. SO I'll be doing a bit of research before I choose my next story.

To that end, I'm going to ask. Those of you who love reading fantasy. What do you think is missing in the market right now? What do you wish you could read, or read more of, that isn't out there? What do you like most about what *is* out there right now? Let me know. The thing about writing is, writing itself is just a joy. So whatever I end up writing, sugary or spicy or serious or fluff, I might as well be writing what people want to be reading.

Mar 5, 2016


This weekend, my last baby was blessed, and my first son was baptized.

We were given a paper to write on, to put in books for baptism memories.

All I felt today, seeing my wonderful eight year old son who still impulsively gives me kisses on the cheek, who can't stop talking about MineCraft and electronics kits, who can't keep his hands off his baby sister because he loves her so much, who has theories about the way the world and all its parts work, who says the most hilarious things in all seriousness so I have to stifle chuckles, but who still smiles at me when I accidentally let one go... seeing my son be baptized...

I felt that feeling you get when you know you're experiencing that perfect moment and you wish there was a way to capture it--more than a picture or a movie, but a moment you can immerse yourself in and come back to any time you want.


Today little Fern was blessed. The men who blessed her were all people who loved her, who loved the priesthood.

I love the priesthood.

That's what I felt today, seeing my son get baptized and my daughter get blessed.

Part VI (two years later)--Cascading consequences and epiphanies.

So as y'all are aware who read this blog, about two years ago I wrote a multi-part post about something very difficult and sad that happened to me a while ago. If you haven't read it and are curious, the tag on this post will lead you to the others.

In a nutshell, I got married at a young age to a guy who was good but secretly addicted to pornography. He had other issue in his life that lead him to be abusive and unstable and unsafe for me and our daughter to be around. His actions lead to several different things: we ended up divorced, he ended up in Jail, Emma and I ended up on our own, and I ended up in the news. Nobody knew how to handle it, and everybody (including me) sometimes handled it horribly, and I was left with a lot of scars and sadness as a result; scars that left me hurting pretty badly for a really long time. THen about three years ago a miracle came into my life; a friend and bishop who helped me heal. And then as I was able to open up, others were able to help me heal. My husband. My kids. Friends. Family. These last three years have been the happiest of my life, in spite of the fact that there have still been significant challenges and things that have been heartbreaking even. Things I have not written about on this blog.

I'm going back to this today because the other day, I had an interaction with someone that left me hurting again, and questioning whether it was a good idea to write about it all. To come clean. And wondering why I did; why I exposed such a vulnerable part of myself for people to judge and comment on and be upset at me for.

This person told me that I am a liar, that I live in a fantasy land, and that I write about other peoples' lives without permission. This person was pretty upset with me. They said I'd offended several people by writing on my blog about stuff. Because no posts on my blog have really been about anything significant, other than this series of posts about my recovery process, I have to assume that these were the offending posts.

In a sense, I guess these posts did include others' lives. My ex husband being the most salient example. While Emma and I were pretty significantly affected by what happened, the real tragedy in this story is his. And the real vulnerability is his. This is why I have decided never to tell this story as an author. I could, and I'm sure I could sell a lot of copies of a book about what happened to me. But it's not my story, primarily. Not my tragedy. It's his. That means it's his to decide to tell or not.

So why did I write about it? Was it going back on my resolve to blog about this?

In addition to my ex husband, I also talked about the bishop's life--the one who handled it all. It was a signiifcant trauma for him, too. And the way things happened, and how I reacted, didn't exactly bring him off in a good light. But he is a good man. ANd he learned a lot. Like all of us.

IN addition to my bishop, I wrote about how some ward members struggled, how those struggles hurt me. Those were their tragedies, their traumas. And I wrote about my own family's struggle to help me, and in so doing, I told about their struggles and their traumas.

Also, as I described the recovery process, I wrote about the life of those who helped me recover. I revealed some vulnerable things about them.

I want to say, if this hurt any of the above people, I really am sorry.

I've been struggling the last few days with guilt and sadness, wondering if it was the right thing, to write this stuff at all, because it could potentially hurt so many people to be writing about what happened to me. I go back and forth--on the one hand, it is hard and sad to revisit that stuff. But on the other hand... it's a story of healing. My healing. It's a very real example of how you can be very hurt by those you are supposed to trust, and how you can still trust again in spite of that--trust husbands, trust preisthood leaders, trust friends. I want people who are struggling like I did, to feel hope that they will be able to trust again. I want to loan them a piece of my faith until they can find their own again. I want people to know that the church is still True in spite of imperfect vessels of priesthood and spousehood and freindship.

The church is true.

It will keep you sane.

It will keep you happy.

It will give you strenght.

It will give you joy, even in the face of complete despair.

Your Heavenly Father loves you. And he loves everybody that ever hurt you. And He is doing all He can to help you help yourself find happiness again.

That was what I wanted to say. That was the thing that allowed me to press "publish" on all those posts--the possibility that others, who are where I have been, might be more able to continue knowing that life gets better and can even be more wonderful in the aftermath of tragedy, than it would have been if no tragedy had occurred. I have a wonderful relationship with my husband because he has seen me through heartache and struggle and paranoia and lack of trust and all sorts of things--he has been more than a best friend. ANd the others in my life have come to know me in a way they never would have, if I hadn't been so vulnerable when I met them. I treasure this, because I am not normally a very open person, and to have such good friends and family who know me so well is a miracle to me.

So for that reason, I am not ashamed I posted about my life (and others' lives.)

Today I realized another reason I am not ashamed. I've been turning this over and over in my mind, like I said, questioning my motivations and one thing I've realized lately is, I had to take my story back. My epiphany came after watching this video that my friend posted on facebook tonight. It's about rape. It's really sad. Don't watch it if you don't want. Here are some of the lyrics:

You tell me "it gets better, it gets better,
in time"
You say I'll pull myself together, pull it together,
"You'll be fine"
Tell me what the hell do you know,
What do you know,
Tell me how the hell could you know,
How! could you know

Till it happens to you, you don't know
How it feels,
How it feels.
Till it happens to you, you won't know
It won't be real
No It won't be real
Won't know how it feels.

The point that struck home for me is this. Rape is a horrible thing. What I went through was a horrible thing.
What I went through does not trump rape. Rape is awful. What I went through was awful. Both are awful.

But not very many people actually go through what I went through--survive three attempts on her life by someone she should have trusted, and then have personal details, vulnerable details, about her life--in every newspaper in the state, on the television, talked about behind her in every college class. Not very many people have complete strangers come up to her and ask her about the most horrific, vulnerable things she's ever gone through; is going through at that moment, as a matter of curiosity. Not very many people have these personal, terrible things that she is not even able to process or accept, commented on in the most vulgar and judgmental way--hundreds of comments on dozens of news articles; not very many people have cameras shoved in her face and very personal questions asked; not very many people have news vans following her around as she's trying to go to class and drop her child off at childcare and go to court to testify against the person she thought she knew and loved the most; not very many people have people who *still*, thirteen years later, remember these very personal details about her life.

NOt very many people go through this. So not very many people *can* know how it feels. Nobody knows. Nobody. I'm alone in this. Except for Heavenly Father, who knows exactly how i feel.

THe thing is, guys. I had to tell it.

It was part of my recovery.

I'm sorry to those I hurt. Deeply sorry.

But I had to do it. IT was taken away from me; these things. IT was told for me, and told wrong. Nobody heard my voice at all.

I had to tell it.

And until it happens to you,

.... you don't know how it feels.

I'm not a liar.

I'm not living in a fantasy land--these things REALLY happened. And the IdaDad of my posts is REALLY a great dad, to a lot of people. His own daughters, and lots of others who are not his daughters. Lots of people who aren't me. What a miracle some people can be in the lives of others. I am inspired by the example of those who have helped me. And by the way--Mile 21 was about my recovery process, and about an old acquaintance from my home stake who went through a significant tragedy right about the same time mine took place. It wasn't about you. At all. So you can stop thinking you're that special. Sorry.

And I don't tell about other peoples' lives on purpose--no, not at all. I told this story because I needed to. But there has been plenty that has happened... things that have broken my heart, that I have *not* talked about.

But I had to tell this story. ANd I had to talk about what happened with my young women calling. It was too close to what happened before... it was too much. I had to talk about it. If you have a problem with that, well, there are several lovely bridges in town that you can feel free to jump off of :)

Sorry. I'm just done.

I love a lot of people. Even people who have been awful. I love a lot of people and that's why it hurts so much. Please forgive me, people, for being broken, and for not being perfect as I try to fix myself. Maybe someday we can be friends. I make a good friend. I'm loyal. I'm kind. I'm a hard worker. I've got good intentions even when I accidentally do things that are awkward and offensive. So, please forgive me if I've made you sad. Let's move on. I'm ready to. IF you aren't, I'm leaving you behind. I'm kind of done. I'm not listening to you anymore. I've got to be a good mother and a good wife and a good friend and a good family member, and your words aren't relevant, and they're not true, and they're not healthy for me to listen to. I have to be done.