Happy New Year

Comments: 8

It's time for New Year's goal setting. I'm a bit delayed in my FINAL revision of Sweet Revenge, but it should be finished by next week, assuming all goes well. Then I will resume looking for an agent.

I submitted my first chapter to Firebrand Literary Agency, but they haven't responded yet, but then I don't expect them to ever respond. I heard they've gotten several thousand submissions during their query free submission fiasco, and they still have all of January to go with their offer. I think they're crazy, but it's what they want to do, and I'm not complaining. I hope I do hear from them, but I'm not holding my breath.

So, for my New Year's writing goals:
  1. Finish revising SWEET REVENGE
  2. Find an agent for SWEET REVENGE
  3. Finish writing GERTA!
  4. Begin searching for an agent for GERTA!
  5. Start new novel
This year may prove to be a busy one. I wish everyone who reads this good luck and prosperity in the coming year.

Author (wannabe)

About Paul West

Paul West is a freelance writer and novelist. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Paul claims to be a "Prune Picker," though he now makes his home in Taylorsville, Utah.

You can follower him on Twitter: @PaulWWest

Published: Wednesday, December 31, 2008

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to all of my faithful (all 1 or 2 of you) followers. I pray the spirit and love of Jesus Christ will abide in you and in your homes.

(By the way, if you haven't read Basic Guy lately, I think he's made some wise comments that we need to listen to)

And remember, wise men seek Him (Jesus Christ) still.

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I thought today, I would deviate from some of my usual posting subjects and talk a little about Christmas.

How many of you (all 1 or 2 of you can raise your hands) know where the "12 Days of Christmas" idea came from?

Most of us think the 12 Days of Christmas begins on December 13 and goes through the 25th. I know I've participated in "12 Days of Christmas" activities by bringing gifts to the less fortunate. It's fun and exciting to see the smiles of unsuspecting children as they open their front doors on a frosty evening to see a box of gifts and goodies and food from some anonymous giver. It's also fun to find ways to be deceptive as we ring the door bell and run to some pre-determined hiding place before we get caught. I love it all - giving. It's a great tradition.

But that isn't how the "12 Days of Christmas" began. Historically, the 12 Days of Christmas actually began on December 25 and ended on January 6. Huh? I know you all (all 1 or 2 of you) are thinking, where did that idea come from?

In the Catholic tradition, January 6th is the Day of Epiphany. So, what is that, you might ask. Again, according to Catholic tradition, it is the day the Wise Men had an epiphany, or that "Ah, hah!" moment, when they realized Jesus was the Christ, and brought him gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. It's supposedly the day they visited, and worshiped, the Christ Child, again, supposedly, in the stable.

Realistically, however, we as Latter Day Saints, don't necessarily believe the Wise Men visited Jesus in the stable. I think Joseph and Mary would have moved him by then, even if it were only 12 days later. More realistically however, is that the Wise Men probably visited him nearly two years later. The scriptures tell us of Herod, King of the Jews, killing all children in Nazareth (not Bethlehem, two years of age and younger in an attempt to destroy his competition -- Jesus. When the Wise Men visited Jesus, the scriptures tell us they entered the house, Jesus' house, where he was living as a child with his mother Mary and step father Joseph, and it says he was a child, not a baby.

Still, the story is basically true. Wise Men did come to the realization that Jesus is the Christ and brought Him gifts. Today, wise men still have an epiphany and come to the realization that Jesus is the Christ, and they still bring him gifts: "broken heart and contrite spirit." We also give him gifts when we help the less fortunate.

Let's hope at this Christmas season we all remember who we are, sons and daughters of deity, brothers and sisters in Christ, and we're all in this mess, called mortality, together. We need to help each other, we're expected, even commanded to help each other, and come before our Savior with a broken heart and contrite spirit so we can inherit ALL He has -- the Celestial Kingdom of God.

I pray you all will have a wonderful Christmas.

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A few weeks ago, I mentioned to all my faithful readers (all 1 or 2 of you) that I have decided to revise Sweet Revenge again (for the last time - I hope). I had decided to add back in some of the story elements that I'd deleted some time ago in order to get the word count down something agents and editors would consider reasonable (around 70,000 words) - not an easy task.

I originally had a lot more of a secondary characters' (Gary's and Kathy's) story, and had a word count of somewhere around 130,000 words. I toyed with the idea of putting some of that back in but now have decided against that idea as it really takes away from the main story. I did put back in a lot of what I'd cut of my main characters' (Mark's and Genie's) story and after doing that, the total word count is now hovering around 81,100 words. I hope that's not too far out of line.

The upshot of this is that I thought this would take me months to do, but thanks to WordPerfect's side-by-side window comparison feature, I was able to simply compare the old with the new and add what I felt was needed to make the story richer. Now, I just need to read through the story, using a hard copy and a red pen, to make sure the story flows and tracks, then I'll be ready to market it again.

Wish me luck with that one.

Another idea came to me, and I've been playing with it for some time now. As I've been going through this story and editing it, I've come to realize it's not only a coming of age story, but it may also be literary since it's totally character driven. I don't mean to say there is no plot, there's a strong plot, but the plot is driven by the characters, not the other way around. I'm not sure where mainstream, young adult, coming of age ends and literary begins, but it's something to consider.
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Recently, someone posed a question regarding a first-person look inside the head of an evil main character. I think her problem was with how to make it seem real.

Often, antagonists are portrayed at a distance, and we don’t really know much about them, other than some superfluous idea given by the protagonist or his/her friends. What is the antagonist’s real motivation? Why is he/she doing what he/she does? Why does he/she seem to hate the protagonist? We don’t usually get a very good idea. Seldom does a writer delve deeply into the antagonist’s head to learn his/her motivations.

In my recently finished novel, SWEET REVENGE, I’ve done just that, delved into my antagonist’s head. In this novel, Jeff Marino is the antagonist. He wants the main love interest, Genie Lombardi, to love him back, but she can’t. She’s in love with the main character, Mark Wilkerson. Throughout the novel, Jeff causes extreme grief for Mark, and by association, for Genie as well. But, it doesn’t just stop there, a simple case of jealousy. Jeff has issues. By writing this novel is third-person, we learn through getting into his head what Genie really means to him. We learn he comes from a broken, abusive home on the proverbial wrong side of the tracks. He needs someone like Genie to bolster his self image. He smokes and drinks alcohol to bolster his courage and to unwind from his stresses. Near the end of the book, his only true friend, Bobby Baker, is killed in a tragic automobile accident. They’d both been doing Meth combined with alcohol and Bobby jumps out of the car on the freeway and is hit by an on-coming car. Jeff doesn’t blame himself, or Bobby for what happened, instead, he diverts the blame to nearly everyone else: Genie for going off with Mark Wilkerson, Mark for stealing his chick, Alan Bennaducci for supplying the drugs that killed his best friend.

Through Jeff’s eyes, grief and rationalization become real, especially when he obtains a handgun.

You’ll just have to read the rest of the book to find out how it ends.

Some day I’m considering writing a short story (I doubt I’ll have enough for a novel) in first person about a psychopath who stalks a girl and murders her. I’m not a psychologist so it may be tricky. But to make his motivations realistic will be a challenge.

The point is, if a writer can get into the head of his/her antagonist, I believe he/she can make the story much richer, with deeper meaning and understanding of what makes him/her tick.

Try it.
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I know, this doesn't have much to do with writing, more musings.

No one has ever accused me of being lazy, but I can remember a time as a kid, carrying in groceries from the car, when my dad said I was carrying a lazy man's load. I wondered what he meant by that. He explained that I was carrying in two bags to his one. And because of that, I was being lazy, not wanting to do more work (i.e. trips to the car) than necessary.

Now, that has stuck with me over the years. What exactly makes a person a lazy person?

In high school, my algebra teacher said lazy people make the best algebra students, because algebra has shortcuts to getting to the answer of the math problem. Now, I'm not sure I totally agree, but I can see what she meant. And I loved the short cuts algebra provided, but I still didn't do very well, grade-wise. Math wasn't my best subject. But then again, English wasn't either, LOL (but I loved writing).

Then, when I was learning to play the French horn and the saxophone the band director taught me alternate fingerings to help my technique. Alternate fingerings helped me to change notes more quickly than if I just used the normal fingerings. I guess I was lazy about that too, because I learned the alternate fingerings quickly and became pretty good at them.

So, my question remains, am I lazy? Or! Is being lazy necessarily a bad thing?

You decide and let me know.
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I don't usually post about political things, just moral issues. But this one, I think, can be classified as another moral issue - that of telling the truth even if it hurts.

As many of you may know Orson Scott Card is a Mormon and a card-carrying Democrat. He is also a well-known journalist, as well as a best-selling novelist. I hope everyone will read his article. It's very informative.

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I just found this letter regarding California's Proposition 8 on Anne Bradshaw's blog site and thought I'd share it with all my faithful readers (all 1 or 2 of you).

Dear Friend,
The top issue that has emerged in the Proposition 8 campaign is whether same-sex marriage will be taught in California public schools if the initiative is not enacted. Opponents of Proposition 8 are spending millions of dollars on television commercials telling voters that the Yes on 8 campaign’s claim that gay marriage will be taught in public schools is a lie. Yet a review of public records filed with the First District Court of Appeal in Boston shows these same organizations who claim our statement is a lie fought to make it true in Massachusetts. Specifically, they fought to ensure that gay marriage be taught in Massachusetts public schools, even over the objection of parents who sought an “opt out” for their children. Gay marriage was legalized by Massachusetts courts in 2003.

Further, their assurance that parents can always “opt-out” of such instruction when it is taught is belied by the fact that in Massachusetts, they argued successfully that Massachusetts’ parental opt-out provision should not be permitted.

“These damning public records show that it is in fact the organizations leading and financing the No on 8 campaign who are lying to California voters,” said Yes on 8 campaign manager Frank Schubert. “On one coast of the country they tell judges that gay marriage should be taught to children in school at the youngest possible age. But, on the opposite coast, here in California, they have the audacity to tell voters that gay marriage has nothing to do with public schools.”

Lying…who’s really lying?

The Yes on 8 campaign has been airing television and radio commercials factually presenting what happened in Massachusetts where second graders were taught in class about gay marriage using the book, “King and King.” This book is about a prince who married another prince, and includes an illustrated scene of the two men kissing. In response, the No on 8 campaign has purchased at least $1.25 million in television time to run an ad that says, “They’re using lies to persuade you…[Prop. 8] will not affect teaching in schools. Another lie.” (Source: No on Prop. 8 Ad available at www.noonprop8.com)

In the greatest irony, of course, just two days after the No on 8 “Lies” television commercial began airing, a first grade public school class in San Francisco was taken on a field trip to a lesbian wedding at City Hall, officiated by Mayor Gavin Newsom. School officials said they wished to provide their five and six year old students a “teachable moment.”

It should also be noted that the day after the first Yes on 8 ads began running, the Los Angeles Times reported that "Newsom called the (Yes on 8) ad 'classic distraction' and misleading." Ten days later, he officiated at the above-mentioned and now infamous field trip.

“Not only do the organizations leading the No on 8 campaign want gay marriage, under the guise of ‘diversity,’ taught in public schools, they believe it is important to teach it at the earliest possible age,” Schubert said. Massachusetts begins its “diversity education” to five year old children in kindergarten.

According to legal records on file with the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston, Massachusetts in the case Parker v. Hurley (514 F.3d 87 (1st Cir.2008)), some of the very organizations who are funding and driving the No on 8 campaign have argued vociferously that gay marriage should be taught in the public schools under the guise of “diversity,” and any attempt to prohibit such instruction – or to permit parents to opt their children out of it – must be stopped.

The following are statements filed in amicus curiae briefs in Parker v. Hurley. The statements show how organizations leading the No on 8 campaign are lying to California voters when they say gay marriage will not be taught in California public schools.

From the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Amicus Curiae Brief:

“In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, where the right of same-sex couples to marry is protected under the state constitution, it is particularly important to teach children about families with gay parents.” [p 5]

“Diversity education is most effective when it begins during the students’ formative years. The earlier diversity education occurs, the more likely it is that students will be able to educate their peers, thereby compounding the benefits of this instruction.” [p 3]

(Note: The ADL is a leading member of the No on 8 campaign, and publicly announced they had joined the campaign opposing Proposition 8 on September 9, 2008.)

From the Human Rights Campaign Amicus Curiae Brief:

“There is no constitutional principle grounded in either the First Amendment’s free exercise clause or the right to direct the upbringing of one’s children, which requires defendants to either remove the books now in issue – or to treat them as suspect by imposing an opt-out system.” [pp1-2]

“In short, there can be no serious dispute that the books in issue are both age-appropriate and reflect the growing diversity of American families.” [p 9]

“Lexington’s selection of the [three] books…for inclusion in its curriculum is firmly rooted in the long-recognized tradition of public schools as a place for disseminating the knowledge and information that helps to foster understanding between diverse groups and individuals for the overall benefit of society.” [p 13]

(Note: The Human Rights Campaign has organized one of the largest recipient committees to oppose Proposition 8. The committee, Human Rights Campaign CA Marriage PAC (ID# 1307246) has received more than $2.2 million in contributions (as of 10/8/08), including over $100,000 from the Human Rights Campaign itself in non-monetary contributions. The committee has funneled over $2 million of its funds to No on 8, Equality for All (ID# 1259396), the main No on Proposition 8 campaign committee.)

From the ACLU Amicus Curiae Brief:

“Specifically, the parents in this case do not have a constitutional right to override the professional pedagogical judgment of the school with respect to the inclusion within the curriculum of the age-appropriate children’s book…King and King.” [p 9]

“This court has astutely recognized that a broad right of a parent to opt a child out of a lesson would fatally compromise the ability of a school to provide a meaningful education, a conclusion that holds true regardless of the age of the child or the nature of the belief.” [p 18]

“First, a broad right of a parent to opt a child out of a lesson would subject a school to a staggering administrative burden…Second, in contravention of the axiom that ‘the classroom is peculiarly the ‘marketplace of ideas’’ [citations], a broad right of a parent to opt a child out of a lesson would chill discussion in the classroom…Third, the coming and goings of those children who have been opted out of lessons would be highly disruptive to the learning environment. Moreover, such comings and goings would fatally undermine the lessons that schools teach the other students.” [pp 22-23]

(Note: The Northern California Chapter of the ACLU has also formed a Proposition 8 opposition committee: No on Prop 8, Campaign for Marriage Equality, a project of the ACLU of Northern California (ID# 1308178). This committee has collected $1.6 million in contributions (as of 10/8/08), including more than $70,000 from the ACLU of northern California, as well as $8,000 from the ACLU Foundation. This committee has contributed $1,250,000 to No on 8, Equality for All (ID# 1259396), the main No on Proposition 8 campaign committee.)

These are the facts. This is the truth about the calculated efforts to deliver gay marriage into our public school classrooms, against the wishes of the people of our state. Voters may differ about how they feel about gay marriage, but there is no disputing that the organizations funding and leading the No on Proposition 8 campaign have already revealed, in their own words, their desire to impose this subject on children in the public schools – ‘whether you like it or not.’

To make sure Californians know the truth, we need you to do three things right now:

Forward this email to your friends and family right now, and ask them to forward it to their friends. Every California voter needs to know about this.

Watch the truthful ads the No on 8 campaign doesn't want you to see, and donate to keep them on the air.

Please volunteer today, and we'll put you out in the field talking to voters directly -- as thousands are already doing.

Thank you for all that you do. Please spread the word and make sure your neighbors know the truth before they vote!


Frank Schubert
Campaign Manager
ProtectMarriage.com - Yes on 8

© 2008 ProtectMarriage.com. All Rights Reserved. ProtectMarriage.com is a project of California Renewal (I.D. #1302592) | Contact Us
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Recently I was asked whether it was a good idea to include true life experiences in novel writing. I hope my answer helped. I answered this person with the following:

My novel, Sweet Revenge, is set in high school when I was a senior, way back in 1965. At first I wrote some of the story elements as they really happened. I borrowed ideas of things that happened back then, but as I worked on the manuscript, I altered them, built them up, added suspense, and overall changed them into new ideas of what could have happened, not really what happened. I think the "what could have happened" is far more compelling. You can use your imagination to go wherever you want with your story line. To use a Cliché the sky is the limit.

However, I wouldn't limit yourself to just what happened. Go beyond that to what could have happened.

In my novel, Sweet Revenge I depict a troubled teenage boy, trying to get a nice girl to like him. He does all the wrong things, even to the point of trying to force her to take drugs and threatening to rape her. In the end, this boy, with a couple of his friends, take this girl and one of her friends on a drug- and alcohol-induced joy-ride, where one of the boys is killed and they have to run from the cops. That didn't really happen, not to my knowledge, but it could have. And that's where reality and fiction can come together.
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Now that I'm back from Nebraska after seeing my new granddaughter (and she's a beauty), I'm going to get back to talking about writing.

My latest idea of how to help Sweet Revenge is that I've decided to keep it in the '60s. But it's not a romance, as some have tried to tell me. It's actually a coming of age novel with a love story embedded. To those of you who remember my earlier versions, it used to have two love stories -- Mark and Genie's and Gary and Kathy's. To get the novel down to a reasonable size (around 70,000 words), I had to cut most of Gary's story and a lot of other stuff including entire chapters, but now, after eliminating the first two chapters, I realized I probably have room to put some of Gary's story back in.

BUT!!! If you think cutting stuff out of your novel is hard, try adding that cut stuff back in after the novel has gone through a few revisions. It's tough!!! A lot of the old stuff I'd cut out doesn't fit any more.

I say tough, but not impossible. I need to revise those cut passages to fit with the revised story line. It will take some time and a lot of patience, but I think it's working, just slowly, especially since I only get a few short hours per week to work on it.

So wish me luck. Eventually it will work.

In the meantime, GERTA! is still simmering on the pot.
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A writer friend of mine, Kim Smith, pointed me to an interesting link on how to write effective and realistic dialog. Go to murderby4.blogspot.com and scroll down a bit. I found it very well done.
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Olivia Jane came into this world on Wednesday, September 24th. She was 6 lbs, 3 oz.

See pictures below.

I can't figure out how to edit the photos, so they're kind of out of order.

First are Andrew Jefferson and Emma Leigh my daughter's two eldest.

Second is My son David with his three boys, Matthew David, Nathan Michael, and their newest Joshua Wyndham.

Third picture is baby Olivia Jane

Fourth is my daughter Rebecca and Olivia

Fifth is baby Joshua Wyndham

Ain't they cute???
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My daughter, Becky's kids, Andrew and Emma Andreason

My son, David and his three boys Matthew, Nathan and baby Joshua

My daughter's new baby, Olivia Andreason

My daughter Becky just minutes after delivery. Doesn't she look fantastic!?

Baby Joshua not long after he entered this world.

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Welcome to this world! Little Joshua was born this afternoon at 1:15 Mountain Standard time. He was 8 lbs and I forgot how many ounces, and 19 inches long. I can't wait to see him!!! I'll post a picture as soon as I get one.
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Someone recently suggested that my novel, SWEET REVENGE, isn't really a story about revenge as much as it's a milieu romance. It took me some pondering, but eventually I came to the realization that she is right. But rather than calling it a "romance," I think it's more a love story. I think there's a distinct difference. To me, a young adult romance would fall under the "Sweet Valley High" genre. Kind of shallow, kiddish, with lots of jealousy and stuff like that.

SWEET REVENGE is not like that. Yes, there is jealousy, but it's deeper. There's a story beginning with tragedy. It has hatred, jealousy, and yes, revenge in its core. It's a love story between Mark Wilkerson and Genie Lombardi, a lot like Nicholas Sparks' A WALK TO REMEMBER. In the end, the mentally deranged villain creates another tragedy for Mark and Genie.

The milieu aspect comes in because of its setting. I originally chose to set this in the mid-1960s because that's the era I grew up in and could identify with. I've been told that a YA novel set in that time frame could be a tough sell. I could easily translate it to modern day. It would probably take me a couple of months to do that, but I don't want to do that. The Vietnam War is an integral part of the plot. It colors the characters' attitudes and motives.

With all this in mind, I've decided to revise my novel one more time. I'm going to minimize the revenge aspect and play up the love story aspect. Then, with the war as a background, and a new title, I still think it will sell.
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Hey everyone (all 1 or 2 of you), I just finished a GREAT new novel called THRIPZ, by Robert Farley. It was written by a good friend of mine and I have to admit I had a role in helping Bob write it. I, and other members of our critique group, critiqued every chapter as he wrote it. BUT, and this is the huge BUT, the final version is SOOOO much better than what we saw originally.

It's probably best described as a techno-thriller about a mad terrorist using genetically altered insects, thrips, to destroy the agriculture on the Island of Oahu, Hawaii, but the insects get out of hand and become a threat to human life as well. It starts out with a bang and doesn't let up until the last chapter. Even though I knew what the story was about, Farley's final version still held me glued to the book. It is a real page turner.

My only regret is that Farley didn't find a mainstream publisher for his novel. I truly think he could have sold it and made a lot of money from royalties. Instead, he chose to self-publish it.

If you would like to see more follow this link to Robert Farley's website where he has a trailer and more exciting information about his writing.
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After only 4 days I've probably gotten nearly 100 alerts from Google Alerts. I signed up for 4 different notifications. But none of them had anything to do with me or my writing, so I've stopped them since they were just cluttering my in-box.

Now, after listening to the critics (for a few years now), I've decided to try and bring Sweet Revenge up to modern day. Everything I hear is that novels set in the '60, unless they're about the Vietnam war or something like that, are a hard sell. So, now I've decided to turn it into a modern day novel and see if that helps.

Wish me luck.
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I just learned there's such a thing as Google Alerts. Evidently, it's a utility that can alert you whenever a key phrase, such as the title of your book, or your name, is used. I just signed up for three phrases, "Sweet Revenge," "GERTA," and "Paul West - writer."

Fascinating! In the 10 or so minutes I've been signed up I've gotten a whole bunch of responses. People are using my key phrases, but mostly for other things, not because they're discussing me or my work. In short, it's a good way to accumulate trash in your in-basket. I'll keep it up for a few days, but if it seems like it's more trash than help, I'll stop it.

We'll see.
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Have any of you (all 1 or 2 of you) ever noticed that many, if not most, agents who accept e-mail queries never respond? To me, that's plain rude. It's like not responding to a very legitimate business offer. Plus, it keeps the writer's hopes up unnecessarily. If an agent doesn't like what he/she sees, what is the problem of just hitting the reply key, instead of the delete key, and type in "not for me," then hit the send key, then they can hit the delete key. It's got to be a whole less work than the old snail mail method of slipping a reject slip into an envelope, licking the seal and sealing it, then carting it off to the mailbox.

Okay, enough for my rant of the day.

What do Mormons believe? I haven't broached this subject for a while.

When Jesus organized his church during his mortal ministry, he had a definite organization that included prophets, apostles, elders, priests, teachers, and deacons. It also included bishops and evangelists (or as we now call them patriarchs). So, what happened to that structure? It was evident from the original 12 Apostles actions that they needed to maintain that number of apostles (12). At first, they chose Barnabus to replace Judas Iscariot who had apostatized and committed suicide. Later, they called Paul to the holy apostleship.

So, again, one might ask, what happened?

With the social pressures, persecution, logistical problems, and general apostasy within the church itself, one-by-one the apostles died off (all except for John the beloved). Ravening wolves entered the church as predicted by Paul, and the keys to the priesthood, held by the 12, were lost. Thus began the so-called "dark ages," or the "great apostasy." It lasted nearly 1800 years and didn't end until God reappeared to a boy named Joseph Smith. Through him, the keys to the priesthood were restored. The authority to organize the church in it's former structure was restored.

More later.
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I just sent out 10 more E-queries yesterday. One was a status query and I got a nice personal note of rejection about an hour later. The other 9 were to new agents. Then, I got one back within a few minutes of sending it out saying SWEET REVENGE was not what he's looking for. Oh, well. So, who is looking for something like SWEET REVENGE? That's the huge question.

Then, this morning, I got two more rejections.

Wish me luck with the remaining 6 queries, plus a ton of others I sent out earlier that the agents haven't responded to yet.

I'll probably need to do more status querying in a few weeks as many of my old queries have been out for nearly 3 months now.
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Did you miss me (all 1 or 2 of you)? I've been to California to see my family and tour San Francisco and lay on the beach at Santa Cruz. It was wonderful. But now I'm back.

I've made some interesting observations regarding asking for critiques of query letters and synopses. I've post mine on several different sites and got some great ideas from members of each. But, I found that no matter how good the query/synopsis is, these people will always find something wrong.

Just a word to the wise. It's up to the author (me in this case) to say "enough." Somewhere along the line, I have to say it's good enough to begin sending it out, or I will never send it out.

So, with that said, I've totally revised my query (again) and have written what I think is a pretty good synopsis, though it's still a tad too long. Most people say it should only be one page, single spaced, or two double spaced. Mine is 2 1/2 pages, double spaced. Not impossible to overcome, but I'm afraid if I cut any more, I'll either lose the story idea, or make the verbiage sound stilted. Anyway, I will keep working on it.
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Okay, so that last one was horrible. I agree. It turned me off too. I got the idea from a well-known agent/author who is trying to sell his books on novel writing by giving away his article on query writing. I followed his advice as closely as possible and you can see the result. It makes me wonder how wonderful his books on novel writing are.

The other day, as I was driving, I got this idea of how to do it. I think it was what you could call inspiration. I pulled over to the side of the road and wrote down everything I was thinking. Then, I came home and worked on it some more, tweaking it and making it more grammatical and readable. I've posted it to several writes forum sites and everyone who commented said, "Wow! A great improvement. Then they gave me some more pointers that I've tried to incorporate. Now, I have what I hope is close to being a final draft that I can start sending out to agents.

If you, my faithful readers, all 1 or 2 of you, have any comments, I'm still open.

Here it is:


Dear Agent:

I am seeking representation for my 70,000 word young adult novel, SWEET REVENGE.

Tears flow down Mark Wilkerson’s cheeks as he watches his mom, dad, and baby sister burn in a fiery automobile crash on the Carquinez Bridge, while rocking his injured remaining sister to the tune of local emergency whistles. Set in a small Bay Area town in Northern California during the spring of 1965, Mark vows revenge against the hit-and-run driver who caused the accident.

Mark and his sister move in with his grandmother, in the virtual shadow of the bridge. While dealing with grief, he soon finds himself hated for hoping to get out of the Vietnam War draft so he can continue his studies in college. To make matters worse, he gets caught in a love triangle with the boy who accuses him of draft-dodging. When he finds evidence that links the other boy to the killing of his family, he is filled with rage. Armed with hatred and his need for revenge, Mark heads on a dangerous course that could lead to a tragedy worse than the loss of his family – the murder of an innocent boy.

As an agent who represents young adult literature, I think SWEET REVENGE could be a good fit for you and your agency. It is written in a similar vein as S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, and That Was Then, This Is Now, while exploring the debilitating psychological effects of grief, jealousy, and hatred, plus the beauty of forgiveness.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.
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They say when writing queries, less is more, so I've pared my query WAY back. Any comments are appreciated.



Dear agent/Editor:

I am writing to you because you represented/published TITLE by AUTHOR, and I feel my book is similar.

SWEET REVENGE is about a seventeen year old boy who loses his family in a fiery car crash, and vows to get revenge, but in the end comes to realize his vow is leading him to a more serious tragedy – the murder on an innocent boy. Set in a small Bay Area town in Northern California, my novel takes place during the Spring of 1965 when the Vietnam War was threatening to change everyone’s lives. SWEET REVENGE is written in a similar vein as S.E. Hinton’s Pony Boy series, and Sharon Draper’s The Battle of Jerico, and Darkness Before Dawn, among others. I have received an endorsement from AUTHOR'S NAME, best selling author of the young adult novel TITLE.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.
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Aaarrrggghhh! Did I ever tell you I hate query writing? Thank goodness for query critique sites on the web. Here's my latest. Any of you (all 1 or 2 of you) care to comment? If so, please do. Following my query, I've written a bit more about today's so-called energy "crisis," so I hope you'll read on to the end.

Dear Agent:

If only Mark Wilkerson hadn’t made his father angry just before the fiery automobile crash that killed his family, be able to move on, but the grief and guilt he feels for his part in the accident is only exceeded by his need to find the reckless driver who caused it.

Struggling to be accepted in a new small town and school, he meets and falls for Genie, a beautiful, yet not very popular girl in his new school. When she asks him for a dance at the Junior Prom, even while knowing her jealous date, Jeff, is fuming, she puts Mark in danger of Jeff’s vengeance. For moving in on Jeff’s territory and stealing his “chick,” Jeff, with the help of his gang, puts Mark in the hospital. When Mark recovers, he finds evidence that makes him think Jeff could be the driver who killed his family. Now Mark’s need for revenge is heightened by his hatred of Jeff, and drives him blindly toward another tragedy that could prove as disastrous as the loss of his family, the loss of Genie’s life.

Set in the mid-1960s, SWEET REVENGE is a 70,000 word, young adult, coming of age novel that may appeal to adults as well as young adults who enjoy novels by S.E. Hinton as well as Sharon Draper and Ellen Hopkins. Having grown up in the community and era in which this story takes place, I have drawn on reports of drug abuse, suicides, and multi-car pile ups on the Carquinez Bridge to help inspire elements of this story.

I am including the first 5 pages. The completed manuscript is available upon request. Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Okay, now back to reality. I've been thinking about what is going to happen to this old world of ours if the cost of fuel keeps escalating. Right now it looks terrible. Liberals don't want us to have the abundant fuel resources we own. Conservatives say, "Drill here, drill now, save money."

Personally, as an environmental professional, I subscribe to the latter. I know we have enough oil and other energy resources under our very feet to keep us going for several decades, if not centuries (if you consider coal, oil shale, etc.). I agree, we need to develop alternative fuel sources, but the technology for that is years, if not decades, away. We aren't ready for that, but the liberals want to force us to do it anyway. Of course, they always want to force people to do things their way.

Isn't that kind of like Communism, or Satan's plan? In the pre-mortal councils in Heaven, before the world was created, God asked for volunteers to be the savior of our souls. Satan piped up first and said, "I'll do it. I'll save everyone by forcing them to obey the commandments. Just give me your glory." He wanted to take away our agency to act for ourselves and be responsible for our own actions. I personally prefer being able to think for myself.

However, Jesus, or Jehovah as he was known at that time, said in effect, "No, man needs to be free to act for himself. So, I will go down and pay for their sins, and the glory be thine forever.

Now, getting back to the energy crisis. The liberals would like for fuel costs to go so high that we won't be able to use our cars. They would like us to go to bicycles and horses and buggies. Al Gore almost said as much in his book (I can't recall the title of it) that the internal combustion engine is the greatest enemy to mankind, or something like that. I know that's not an exact quote, but it conveys his general idea. I've been in lectures given by liberals where they've claimed that the world only has 30 years of fuel left. I guess after that, we're all going to die, or something.

I can't believe that.

When God created this world, do you think he made it so that we would run out of anything we need to live and grow, and even prosper? Certainly not! He provided sufficient resources for our needs and more.

The other day, my son made a comment that got me to thinking. God has a lot of work for us to do yet. We still need to spread the Gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. We're close, but not there yet. To spread the Gospel takes traveling. Traveling takes automobiles, trains, airplanes, ships, and whatever else we've come to use. And that takes fuel. My son said he can't believe fuel will become so costly that we won't be able to travel. The gospel will march forward until it fills the entire earth.

The other day, I was listening to Glenn Beck on his radio program. He made a good point by saying the United States is a sleeping giant. As in World War II, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, the giant awoke. Once again, I think the people of this nation are just beginning to wake up, but they will, and when it does, when we do, that's when America is at its best. That's when we will solve this energy problem (I hesitate to call a contrived situation as this a crisis). America is the greatest nation on earth. God made it that way for a divine purpose, for the establishment of His church and spreading it over the entire world. He won't let us fail. Have faith.
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Well, I probably ought to get back to talking about my writing career, rather than turn people off with my political views.

I'm back to sending out queries for SWEET REVENGE with my latest updated query letter. Actually, I think it's pretty good -- if I might say so myself. It's patterned after agent Kristen Nelson's "Perfect Pitch" exercises. I’ve sent out several new queries, plus I’ve decided to status-query some agents who haven’t responded after three months. I still haven’t gotten any bites, just a few more rejections, but I have to realize my novel is not like most young adult novels. It’s more involved, not cutesy like a lot of young adult novels. It’s what I call a romantic/suspense. It begins with a tragedy and ends with a tragedy, though happily. In a lot of ways, it might even be considered literary in that it is character driven more than plot driven, and the main character experiences an important change at the end.

One potentially good bit of news, however. I entered SWEET REVENGE in a contest sponsored by a small publishing company and as a result was asked to send in a short synopsis and two chapters. However, it may take this editor some time to respond. She says on her web site that she’s buried in her slush pile, in effect, and won’t be able to respond for a couple of months. So, I will learn patience.

Just so my faithful readers (all 1 or 2 of you) will have a better idea of what my book is about, here’s an abbreviated (I've cut some of the kiss-up language) copy of my latest query letter:

Dear Agent/Editor:

I am seeking representation for my 68,500 word young adult, romantic suspense novel, SWEET REVENGE.

Mark Wilkerson was popular in his old school. He sang, danced, and played several musical instruments, often with his family, until on Christmas Eve, on the fog-bound Carquinez Bridge, he loses his family in a fiery automobile crash. If only the last words they shared hadn't been spoken in anger he might be able to move on, but Mark's depression, guilt, and his need to be accepted in a new town and new school are only overshadowed by his building rage against the unknown driver who caused the accident. At the funeral, he vows revenge, if he ever discovers the driver’s identity.

Mark meets and falls in love with Genie Lombardi. But she has a jealous, low-life boyfriend, Jeff Marino, who vows vengeance of his own. When Mark finds evidence that Jeff might be the driver who caused his family’s accident, his need for revenge leads him toward a new tragedy that could prove even more disastrous than the loss of his family.

In a genre similar to novels by S.E. Hinton, Sharon Draper, and Ellen Hopkins, SWEET REVENGE, is set in a small northern California community during the mid-1960s when the Vietnam War was escalating. Having grown up in the community where this story takes place, I’ve drawn on reports of suicides and multi-car pile ups on the Carquinez Bridge to help inspire elements of this story.

I’m hoping this letter will eventually illicit a positive response. Here's to not holding my breath -- (takes in sharp, deep breath).
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... our politicians in Washington? I'm still shaking my head. After President Bush's great appeal for common sense, you'd have thought someone in the Democrat party would have had a prick of conscience. Oh, no. In the words of Maxene Waters, "We want to socializ... er, uh, uh, er ....." In effect she said, we want to take over the industry and run it ourselves.

Have you ever heard of the federal government running things more efficiently than the private, capitalist, free enterprise sector. The feds don’t have any incentive to be efficient. They only want the profits. They could care less about what it does to you and me - i.e. higher prices, shortages, dependence on foreign, unstable governments for our energy demands.

Personally, I’m darned angry, and I know I’m not alone. I hope my representatives and senators know that. I think they do, but what of those of other states?


As for my querying, I have gone over the query letter again and with the help of some great on-line friends, I think I’ve made some major improvements. So, yes. I’m sending it out again.

By-the-way, I got a request for a partial (synopsis and first 3 chapters) from a small publishing house. Here’s not holding my breath (takes in sharp breath, hold it and turns blue).
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Okay, back to a writing-related post.

I've been pondering the above question for some time now. Actually, I totally intend to keep querying. What I'm really asking is, should I keep querying using the same query letter or revise it - again?

Here's the background. So far, I've sent out 26 queries to agents, via email, using roughly the same query letter, tweaking it slightly at times. So far, I've gotten back 14 rejections, most form letters, but a few seemed like nice personal notes. All were polite, friendly, and encouraging. A couple even asked me to let them see my next project. I'm assuming by that, that they think I can at least write.

So, that leaves 12 unanswered email queries. Some of them are getting close to 3 months old. Most of the responses I have received came within a week.

So, to my question. Should I keep querying, using the same query letter, or consider revising it - again. This last go-round I followed Kristen Nelson's method for "Building the Pitch Paragraph," and think I have a pretty good query letter - not perfect, but I think it's the best I've come up with so far.

What does anyone suggest?
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Just as I've been maintaining all along, obstructionists, under the guize of environmentalists are holding this nation, and the world hostage. Listen to an interview with Senator Orrin Hatch at http://real.ksl.com/video/slc/2/239/23997.mp3. He tells it like it really is. Now, all we need is a president with some courage to tell the nation how it really is, but I know Obama won't do it, and I fear McCain won't either. I think the only hope we have is to elect senators and representatives who wills stand up to the so-called environmentalists and say "no!" to their obstructionist activities.

I'm open to address any disagreements.
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Hi, to all my faithful readers (all 2 or 3 of you).

I recently returned from a trip to Seattle where I attended a wildlife seminar up in the mountains about 45 minutes east of the city. It was beautiful out there, I have to admit, and I really miss being near the ocean. As expected, the weather was cool and it rained on the day of our field trip - who'd of guessed, but overall, I loved being in Washington. It was my first trip there.

On the last day of the seminar, we had this stupid state representative, or senator, or whatever he was, come talk to us about wildlife issues in the State of Washington. Up 'til then, the seminar had gone well and I loved all the talk of how we can help wildlife while improving our highways. However, when this guy started talking he blew me out of my seat, almost literally.

His first stupid idea was that he was for "choice." Being as he said he is a Republican, that already made him suspect in my mind. Can you spell R-I-N-O (Republican In Name Only)?

His second stupid idea is that we need higher gasoline prices. Yes, I said higher prices for gas. He thinks that's a great idea. To be fair, his rationale was that higher prices would stimulate research into alternative energy sources. While that may be true, those cost-efficient alternative energy sources are years if not decades away still. That doesn't help us in our current situation, but only stifles our economy. What we need is to develop the energy sources we already have, such as drill in Anwar, Alaska, develop oil shale, tar sands, drill off-shore, etc. We also need more refineries. We haven't built a new refinery in over 30 years. Can you spell petroleum S-H-O-R-T-A-G-E!

Then, he topped that with his third stupid idea. He said we need to raise taxes!!! That one totally blue me away. Somehow, by raising taxes and stifling economic growth, putting more strain on small as well as large businesses, putting people out of work, etc., will somehow magically materialize into more money in the governmental coffers. Well, just the opposite is true. Milton Freedman demonstrated it in theory that if you reduce taxes, thus stimulate the economy, it will result in more dollars in the governmental coffers. President John Kennedy proved it, President Ronald Reagan proved it, the Republican Congress during Bill Clinton's administration proved it, and our current President Bush proved it. Every time taxes have been lowered, it resulted in more, not less, money in the coffers, and just the opposite has happened whenever taxes have been raised. I just don't understand why politicians don't seem to get it.

Well, about this time, being the mild-mannered superhero, er, person that I am, I simply got up and walked out, not wanting to make a scene. But I was fuming and haven't calmed down yet. Maybe this blog entry will help.

I'm open to discussion.
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Just a quick note. I don't have time for a lengthy post this week.

I sent out 7 new e-queries this week. As of yesterday, I got 3 e-jections s far. That was pretty quick. Makes me wonder how those agents could have possibly evaluated my query, and with some, sample pages and synopsis. I guess they can tell right off if it's something that interests them.

Well, here's hoping the others will prove to be better news, assuming they respond at all.
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Yesterday I received a very nice rejection from an agent, but don't know what to do with her suggestions.

Here's what she said:

Thank you for sending the beginning of SWEET REVENGE and for your patience in waiting to hear back from me. You have an intense story line here, and I can see from your synopsis how the tension escalates throughout the story. However, I must be honest and say that I didn't make a strong enough connection with the story itself to pursue it further. I've found that setting a novel in the recent past, like the 1960s, can make the story a tough sell, unless the 1960s setting is absolutely crucial to the story. I'm not sure how crucial the time period is to your story, but I thought I'd mention it as food for thought.

As some of you know, this novel is set in the mid-1960s and I do mention important events happening at the time, including the Vietnam war -- I have Jeff calling Mark a draft dodger, among other names, etc. Aside from that, I don't know how to make this novel more salable. As you also know, I've considered rewriting it to make it contemporary, but I would have trouble mimicking today's teenage jargon to make it sound realistic, and that would probably mean a total rewrite and I don't have the patience for that much effort, not after several years of working on this version.

So, I'm wondering: should I just keep trying to sell it as a historic novel? Or should I just trash it? I guess I need to sleep on it some.


Now, for my gospel take for this week:

I heard in the news the other day that the Pope has issued a letter to all Bishops that they should not give genealogical information to members of the LDS Church. His reasoning is that we will take that information to our temples and perform baptisms for them.

While that is true, I can't help wondering why he should care? If you believe, as we do, and I'm sure the Pope does also, that the people on the other side are still individuals with free will to think for themselves, they can either accept the work or reject it, just as people here in mortality can do. So, what's the issue here? To my thinking, it's part of Satan's plan to frustrate the work God has given us to do. But, knowing the work is God's work, He will not let a little frustration to stop His work. We will eventually triumph over Satan and the work will be accomplished, with or without the help of Catholic Bishops and Priests.
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If you haven't read "Basic Guy" lately, I highly recommend it. He makes some great points - not to mention that I know him personally (he's my daughter's father-in-law, but don't tell him I told you that).

Also, for all you writers who read this blog (all 1 or 2 of you), Kristen Nelson has a great workshop on "Building The Pitch Paragraph" in your query letters.

I don't know how many times I've read the advice that proofreading is a lot better with a hard, paper copy than it is on the computer screen. I used to think, sure. Ha, ha. They just don't know what they're talking about. Maybe they don't know how to use the word processor. Like, what 's the dif.? Well, recently I've found out the dif. After all the critiquing I've gotten from my critique group, I began to realize they missed a lot. Not that they're bad writers, or anything like that. Some of the are published writers and I think their critiques are great. But not working from a hard, paper copy, only looking at my chapters on their computer screens, I realized they were missing a lot of stuff that needed fixing. So, I began printing out the chapters one at a time. As I went through them, I found even more stuff that needed fixing than I could see on the computer screen. I made comments and edits with a red pen and found the pages almost literally bleeding red. So, I highly recommend looking at your work on a paper copy before trying to submit it to agents or editors. You'll not be sorry - I promise.

And finally, now that everyone (all 1 of you) has weighed in on the question I posted a few days ago, I'll finally give you the answer to, who was the first person ever baptized?

The answer is -- Adam

He was the first person to have the fullness of the gospel. He held the Holy Priesthood of God. He had all the temple ordinances. In order to have all those things, he had to be baptized.

Okay, a new question that I would like to ask people who are not Latter Day Saints. My sister touched on it in her comment to my last post. The question is:

If Jesus said everyone MUST accept Him in order to be saved, what will happen to all the billions of people who never heard of Him? Does that automatically condemn them to hell?
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3 hours, 1 minute.

That's how fast my son ran the Boston Marathon. His goal was to get under 3 hours, so he's disappointed in his effort. I say he did wonderful. He came in 1336 out of nearly 25,000 runners. Not bad in my mind. When it comes to running, and all the nutrition and exercise that goes into it, I think he's amazing. His mother and I are rightly proud of him.

Now, to answer the question I posed just before we left for Boston. Who was the first person EVER to be baptized? My sister tried a guess, and it was a pretty good one. She guessed John the Baptist. However, that's not it. Where did John the Baptist get the idea for performing baptisms? And, another thing to consider, Jesus said, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born again. Born of the water and the spirit. So, does that mean just those who lived at the time of Christ and since, and have been baptized can enter? Or does it mean what he said, NO ONE can enter without baptism?

What about all those who have never heard of Jesus?

What about all those who lived before Jesus lived?

Instead of giving the answer, I think I'll post this question again and see if all my faithful followers (all one or two of you) can think of the answer with all the clues I just provided.
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My wife, son, and I are going back to Boston next week to see our son run the marathon. We're also going to visit a bunch of her relatives, and I do mean a bunch! Being Italian, she has close 2nd and 3rd cousins, aunts and uncles, and great aunts and great uncles - well not really, but you get the idea.

I'll be back the following week, so if anyone has any comments or needs me to get back to them, I will do so as soon as I return.

By the way, just to leave you with something. I just found another link that I think is great!!! It's how not to avoid making mistakes when writing and querying. Check it out.


Now, for my gospel question of the week:

When was baptism first instituted and who was the first person ever to be baptized? Yes, he is mentioned in the Bible.
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Here's another link to some great writing advice. Check this one out too.

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I was surfing through my writer book marks and found an interesting article on the BookEnds agency blog. I thought my fellow writers, and wannabe writers might find it interesting. Go check it out.

Book Ends Literary Agency Blogspot
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I guess Candace is the only one who’s going to respond to my last week’s question. That’s okay. I know religion is difficult for some to discuss calmly.

Candace has it right, however. Jesus does have a body of flesh and bones. Recall how He said to his disciples after His resurrection, “a spirit hath not flesh and bone as ye see me have” (again, I have to apologize that I don’t have my scriptures in front of me to give you the proper citation).

Joseph Smith confirmed that when praying in the Sacred Grove near his homestead, two glorious beings appeared to him, one pointing to the other, “This is my beloved son. Hear him.” Joseph saw the Father and the Son. They both had tangible bodies of flesh and bone, and we will too when we are resurrected someday.

Thank you Candace.


Okay, now for the fun stuff. I started writing this part earlier this morning, but a computer glitch wiped out my file. So here goes again.

G. Parker, I think her name is Gaynell, tagged me last week, and now I need to tag some other people. I hope they haven’t been tagged, already, but here’s my list:

1. Basic Guy - I know his name, but not sure he want’s it known, but he’s written a novel too.
2. Ann Bradshaw - I read her YA novel some time ago - can’t recall the name, but it was fun.
3. Bhaswati - she’s a writer living in India. You should see some of the art on her blog site
4. Candice E. Selima
5. Rebecca Talley
6. Tristi Pinkston - I just finished reading her first novel NOTHING TO REGRET (excellent I might add).
7. Cherie Chassaing - she’s my baby sister. She’s trying to sell real estate in Penn Valley, California.

All of their tags are listed on my sidebar.

If you are part of the above, and haven’t been tagged yet, then you need to follow up and tag 7 others.

Here’s the rules:

1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Now, to say something about myself no one ever knew (well I think my sister knows a lot of this):

1) Even though I’ve lived most of my life in Utah, I still consider myself a “prune-picker.” If you don’t know what that means, it’s a person born and raised in California. I was born in Oakland, and raised in a small bay area town called Port Costa. When I was a kid, Port Costa was a fun, kind of Huckle Berry Finn kind of place to grow up. We had a railroad yard, with a round house and railroad shanties where I’d spend a lot of time watching the steam and diesel switch engines push and pull cars around the yard. There were hills with eucalyptus and buckeye trees where it was rumored Black Bart had hidden his treasures. We also had this huge blackberry patch behind some of the houses in town where I used to pick buckets full and my grandmother would make the best blackberry cobbler in the world.

2) My mother attempted to teach me to play the piano, but I could never get past the one hand at a time part. I still can’t coordinate like that. I can type up to 60 words per minute, but that only requires one hand at a time, if you think about it.

3) I attended high school in Crockett, since Port Costa isn’t big enough. I made a lot of good friends there that I haven’t seen since graduation, and I miss. When I got there, I signed up for band. I figured I could play a wind instrument and still make good music but without having to use both hands at the same time. Mr. Wigell, our band director, started me out on the French horn. I grew to love it and played it through my junior college days, where I was first chair in the Diablo Valley College orchestra. I also played the trumpet and saxophone, because really, can you see someone carrying a (at that time) $2,000 instrument around on the football field during marching band or pep rallies?

4) I began writing when I was in highschool. Even though I didn’t get the best grades in English, my teacher saw some kind of a raw talent in me and encouraged me to write. One of my professors in college did the same, but it wasn’t until around 1986 that I seriously started writing fiction. My novel, now called SWEET REVENGE, has gone through tons of revisions since then, and is almost finished, looking nothing like the original story. I’ve also begun a mid-grade novel title GERTA!!! (capitalization and exclamation points are intended as part of the title).

5) I served in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam war. I was fortunate, however, that I was assigned to serve 3 years in Germany. I loved it there, and toured most of Europe. My wife and I hope to tour there next year.

6) My wife, Brenda, is from Rhode Island. We met at BYU (Brigham Young University) and were married in the Oakland Temple in 1975 (does that date me?). She is the greatest thing that ever happened to me – the love of my life.

7) We have four of the most wonderful kids anyone could hope for, and so far, two of them have given us four (soon to be six) of the most wonderful grandchildren ever.

Okay, that’s probably enough. Now, I just gotta notify everyone.
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I've begun again, sending out those devil queries for SWEET REVENGE. I hate writing them. I suck at it, actually. But, thanks to many fellow writer friends, I think my latest version of my query isn't too bad. So, I've sent it out to about 10 agents so far and I'm going to wait to see how they respond to this version before revising it again and sending to 10 more agents.

Here's hoping this one works. I really think my novel is top notch. While I've been classifying it as young adult, I think it's kind of literary as well. I say that, because it's totally character driven, not plot driven. Not to say it doesn't have a plot. It does, and it's a well developed plot, but the characters are the main focus. Will Mark get his revenge on the person who killed his family? Will Jeff get revenge on Mark for stealing his girl? And what about the two main girls, Charisse and Genie? Who will win Mark, or is he worth the fight? And what about Jeff? What kinds of wicked plans can he devise?

I'm hoping when it sells, it will sell big.

Now, to change the subject. I've run out of "What do Mormons Believe" statements. Over the past several weeks, I've quoted all 13 Articles of Faith. So now, I have a question for those of you who would like to know more about what Mormons believe:

Many Christian religions believe God is a spirit. Right? They quote a scripture in the New Testament that I can't recall right now because I don't have my scriptures with me at the moment that says in effect, "God is a spirit and we must worship him in spirit." I probably didn't quote that correctly, it's just from memory. Regardless, my question is, if God is a spirit, what happened to His body? Wasn't Jesus resurrected? When He visited His apostles following the resurrection, didn't He say to them to handle Him and feel Him? Didn't He say that a spirit doesn't have a body of flesh and bone as He had? If He is a spirit now, what happened to His body? Did He die again?

I'd like to get people's answers to that question before I weigh in on the subject.
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What do Mormons Believe:

We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

Articles of Faith
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints


There's been a lot of interest, pro and con, lately about global warming. As some of you know, I'm an environmental biologist. So, I've studied, well, read up on the subject of global warming, and have definitely come to an opinion. Note that it's an opinion, not a scientific fact. As far as I can tell, the science about this matter is still out.

Have you read Michael Crichton's book "State of Fear?" It’s a great novel. He did a lot of research and I think he put it right. Global warming may (note the operative "may") be happening, but it's not being caused by us puny humans.

Take for example the changing ocean currents. They are what influence the weather around the globe. So, what's been happening? Well, how about underwater volcanoes? Seismologists have detected more underwater volcanoes in the past several years than ever before. What happens when they erupt? Hot water. This hot water changes the ocean currents and warms the air, and “warms” the globe.

But! And I think this is interesting. Parts of the world are actually cooling. Hmm! Why is that? Well, if you look at the Antarctic ice shelf, part of it is melting, just as the global warming crowd claims. But on the far side of the continent, the ice is getting thicker. Horrors! How can that be happening? It’s called changing ocean currents caused by the underwater volcanoes.

It is my opinion, since the science is still out, that so-called global warming, if truly happening, is being caused by underwater volcanoes, not our puny efforts to pollute the atmosphere with our exhaust emissions.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m all in favor of clean air. But I don’t think we need to put our industry and out transportation systems out of business to accomplish that.
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(What do Mormons Believe:

We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.

Articles of Faith
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints)


I've resumed the query process again. I know, it seems like an exercise in futility, but like they (whoever "they" are) say, "nothing ventured, nothing gained."

Here's hoping this go-round works better. I think my query letter is better than before, and I've revised the novel to the point it's practically a new story.

Wish me luck.

(P.S. Can someone tell me how to turn this italics thing off. I keep selecting the text I want as normal type, and clicking the italics button and even the erase formatting button, but nothing seems to work.)
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(What do Mormons Believe:

We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

Articles of Faith
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints)


Well, after nearly 3 weeks, it looks like nobody likes my pitch for "GERTA!" Oh, well. Back to the drawing board.

I've been absent on my blog site due to some very sad reasons. One of my very best friends passed away last Saturday and we had to bury him on Sunday after church. For the previous two weeks, we'd worried about him. He seemed to be going down hill fast, getting weaker and weaker by the day. The doctor made some tests and told us it was liver failure. He put my friend on antibiotics but they didn't seem to help. I think the case was far too advanced for anything to help. I called all my kids to tell them to prepare for the worst. Two of my kids who live nearby came to visit him on Saturday afternoon just before he died, and gave him the love he always craved. I too gave him as much love as I could, then laying him in his bed, he quietly slipped away.

Tigger was a beautiful kitty. Yellow, with white boots and chest. He was the most loving cat I've ever owned. Loyal as any dog could ever be. He loved to follow me around the yard, watching me work, hoping to get a pat on the head or a stroke along his silky body. He would even follow us when my wife and I went for a walk down the street. He was deathly afraid of dogs, however. A German Shepard almost killed him a few years ago, and we had to nurse him back to health. We had two cats, actually. Our other one, called Sassy, is a lovey cat too, and purrs if you just look at her. But to me, that's not a sincere purr. Tigger, on the other hand, would purr, but only if you gave him love, and he would snuggle against me, wrapping his arms around my neck, and purr loudly. That to me was a sincere purr. I never thought I could love a cat as much as I loved this cat. I never thought a cat could be as loyal as a dog. But Tigger was an exceptional cat, and I miss him.

Now, on to a less depressing subject. Yesterday, as I tried to bring up some of my writing files from my jump drive, I accidently hit the delete key instead of the enter key and lost all three of them. Evidently, once files on a jump drive are deleted, it's permanent. Fortunately, I have back ups. But they're more than a week old, and I'd made some major changes in that time. I just hope I can remember the changes I made and redo everything.

Oh, what a week!!!
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(What do Mormons Believe:

We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.

Articles of Faith
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints)


(I don't know why I can't turn this italics off)

Because I have a new "faithful few follower" I thought it might be a good idea if I were to post a little about my next novel. "GERTA" that I intend to finish after "Sweet Revenge," to see what y'all think. Here's the pitch.

She stood five-foot-eleven and had to be all of 350 pounds. Her dull beady eyes, looked out from a mass of tangled, dirty blonde hair, her twisted and puffy face full of acne. “GERTA! run for your lives!” we’d scream in our best blood-curdling cries whenever we saw her. Everyone knew she had cooties of the worst kind, and we would probably die if she ever touched us. But I loved her.
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(What do Mormons Believe:

We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.

Articles of Faith
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints)

Okay, as I promised, I'm beginning to send out queries to agents. I think my book is close enough to being critiqued that by the time I actually get a response from an agent, I will have it ready.

Yesterday, I sent my query to a well-respected agency. I'm not holding my breath, but hoping for the best. Next week I'll send to a few more, then wait to see what kinds of responses I get.

Wish me luck.
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(What do Mormons Believe:

We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.
Articles of Faith
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints)


How many of my faithful readers (all two or three of you) remember the list of words I made a few weeks ago? You know, the list that we need to search for and eliminate from our prose, where applicable? Scroll down a few pages and you'll find them. I made two lists.

Well, I did it, and I have to testify that that exercise has improved my prose immensely. I've been able to tighten up some very awkward wordings simply by eliminating many of those words.

Now, the next big challenge is to proof read "Sweet Revenge" from a hard copy. I started doing that but felt the need to do the search and replace thing first. I think the book is finally ready to go to market. I figure by the time I find an agent, I'll be done with the proof-reading thing.

Wish me luck.
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(What do Mormons Believe:

We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.

Articles of Faith
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints)


Today, I'm going to deviate a bit from the art of writing and post something that came to me a couple of weeks ago.

In church we had a lesson about the principle of choosing. It was titled, “Good, Better, Best.” It was about how to make correct choices in our lives when we have several good alternatives, some alternatives being better than others, and some being the best options.

In his book, Spiritual Roots of Human Relations, Stephen R. Covey states, “By obedience to the principles and the ordinances of the eternal gospel of Jesus Christ, man will gradually become a ‘partaker of the divine nature’ and will feel comfort and confidence in the presence of his Eternal Father and his Elder Brother, the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the purpose of life. It all may be summarized in another way – growth toward Godhood.”

He goes on to say, “In life man is immersed in various kinds of values: physical, social, material, family, spiritual. Life can be seen as a series of alternative choices within these value systems. Many times man finds himself in conflicting situations where he must choose to accept one value, and, by so doing, he knowingly or unknowingly rejects another.

“This choosing process is the growth process. If a man loves God more than pleasures, he will grow to become like God. If he loves his worldly pleasures more than God, he will choose and grow in another direction.”

Good, better, or best. Sometimes we have to make choices within these values. How do we decide?

Later on, Covey says, “Through continued faithfulness, sin gradually loses its pull and attractiveness, and man loses all desire for anything but continued service to mankind and obedience to higher and higher laws of the gospel.”

In other words, as we obey God’s commands, we will learn to wisely choose the best.

I pray we will all learn to make correct choices in our lives.
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(What do Mormons Believe:

We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.

Articles of Faith
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints)



Here's my latest cut at the dreaded query. I know it ain't no gud yet, but I'm trying to get it guder so I c'n start sending out queries next month. I figger by the time agents respond, I'll have the book close to being dun with the critting stuff.

Thanks bunches,


Dear Agent/Editor

The Viet Nam war is looming and if Mark Wilkerson can’t get a student deferment from the draft, he at least wants to spend his last Christmas Eve at home with his friends and his girl. But when he narrowly escapes from a fiery crash that kills most of his family on the fog-bound Carquienz Bridge, his life changes forever. The unknown driver flees with only a dent, and Mark vows revenge. But how will he ever find that driver? And what will he do to get even when he does?

Following the tragedy, Mark finds himself in a new home, a new school, a new town, new friends, new loves – and new enemies. Mark is hoping for a student deferment and Jeff Marino hates him for that, calling him a draft dodger. But when Mark steals Jeff’s date, Genie Lombardi, Jeff nearly kills him. When Mark recovers, he discovers Jeff could be the one who killed his family and he plots how to claim his revenge. Before he can, however, Jeff loses his only true friend in a drug induced accident. In his grief he blames everyone but himself, especially Mark. To get even with Mark, he gets drunk and kidnaps Genie. When Mark tries to rescue her, the situation turns deadly, until he learns the truth that could destroy him and what's left of his family.

Sweet Revenge is an edgy 70,000-word coming of age story set in the small northern California community where I grew up. The Carquinez Bridge, known for dense fog and multi car pileups, helped to inspire elements of this story.

I would be happy to send you a synopsis, sample pages or the completed manuscript of Sweet Revenge upon your request. I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for your time and consideration.
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(What do Mormons Believe:

We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.

Articles of Faith
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints)

As most of you, my faithful readers (all 3 or 4 of you), know, my first novel "Sweet Revenge" is set in the mid-1960s. My second "GERTA!" is set in the early 1950s. Now, I'm a regular follower and sometimes poster on several writers message boards, and agent/publisher blog sites. One publisher in particular was asked about what constitutes historical fiction for young adults. Her answer got me to thinking. Do my novels qualify as historical. Certainly, "GERTA" is set more than 50 years ago (the so-called magic time-frame for a novel to be considered historical). Also, some publishers have considered anything about the Viet Nam War as being historical. Well, "Sweet Revenge" is set prior to the major conflicts of the war, so maybe it qualifies.


I asked several writers their opinion about whether or not my novels would qualify. They all pretty much agreed that my novels do not qualify. To be considered historical, the time-frame needs to be a part of the plot, almost as much as a character. The story needs to be set in the social/historical aspects of the time frame. My stories, can just as easily be set in modern times.

While I loved writing about the time frames I was using, I have to agree. So now what do I do? One more revision? It appears so. Poor "Sweet Revenge." It's been through so many revisions I've lost count. The biggest problem is the settings have changed from what I remember. I was writing what I know - that being the places I grew up in. Now, it looks like I'll need to do a lot of research to make sure everything "tracks" with how the settings look today. Not an easy task, living nearly 1000 miles away from there.

Oh, and by the way. Have you read BasicGuy's blog lately? Check it out. He's got some great comments for the basic person. A link to his blog is on my sidebar.

Okay, now it's back to the drawing board. Wish me luck.
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(What do Mormons Believe:

We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Articles of Faith
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints)


I found a few more over-used words that I'm adding to my list.

-ly words

I went through the previous list and did a global search for the words. Where I could, I either changed the word to something more descriptive, or in many cases simply eliminated it, or the phrase in which it was contained. I didn't eliminate all those words. Some were properly used.

I've found this to be a very rewarding experience. I had been relying on my critique group, The Writers Pen at the Authors by Design website, but by going through this, I think my books now read much smoother. It's tightened up my prose immensely.

Give it a try. It takes some time, but not as much as waiting for your critique group to catch them, and it's much more efficient, considering your critters are likely to miss most of them.
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