Friday, September 25, 2015

Finally - A Writing Group!

Back in May, I carpooled to the LDStorymakers conference with these guys. After four days in the car plus three days sharing a room at the conference, we got to know each other pretty well. 

And we decided to start a writing group when we got back to Texas. 

It took us four months, but we finally had our first official group meeting yesterday. We read about firing squads and un-killable prisoners, farts that smell like flowers and flowers that smell like farts, and how cybernetic mermaids are always the worst. 

I think this is going to be a very entertaining group!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Art of Into The Wind

With Into The Wind, I will have much more control over the entire publication process. That includes decisions on the book's cover.

It became clear very early on that putting together a book cover to represent the mood and spirit of Into The Wind using existing clip art would be difficult if not impossible.

Fortunately, I know a talented young artist named Laynie. Even though she is still in high school, Laynie teaches painting classes at a local craft store and has her own custom painting business called  Laynie's Custom Paints.

I felt like my vision for a cover image matched well with Laynie's abilities, and I was right!

Last week, newsletter readers got a look at the original painting I commissioned from the lovely and talented Laynie. Today I am excited to share the picture with everyone.

Readers will recognize the Waipio Valley Lookout, which played a significant role in both Bumpy Landings and does so again in Into The Wind. Although the image doesn't come from an actual scene in either book, I think it perfectly captures the feeling of the story.

I have this painting in my office. It's also the wallpaper on my phone, and I smile every time I see it!

There is still a lot of work to go from raw artwork - no matter how great - to an actual book cover. But the mock-ups I have seen give me the chills. I can't wait to reveal the final cover design in the December edition of The Delusion Tree news. If you aren't on the mailing list, sign up now.

And thanks again, Laynie!

Friday, September 4, 2015

That Social Media Platform Thing

This past week, in addition to keeping up with the home front, the day job, and my aggressive writing schedule, I put together the premier issue of The Delusion Tree News. (Click here to read a copy!)

And all the time I'm like, What the heck are you thinking?

This is all a part of the whole Building an Author Platform on Social Media thing. As is this blog.

I have a very strong love/hate relationship with this whole process. I think it's because it's easy to lose focus and let things spiral out of control.

For me, the hardest part of this process is Defining My Author Brand. This is because presenting myself to an audience in a consistent, understandable way would mean that I have to at least appear consistent and understandable.

Okay, let's get this out there right now - consistency is not my strongest point. It's not my fatal flaw, by any means. And I know people who are worse. Much worse.

But still, trying to be consistent, or even trying to appear consistent is hard. It's exhausting.

And for the moment I'll ignore the whole thing about being understandable. Yeah, good luck with that.

This is not to say I don't enjoy interacting with my friends and fans on social media. In fact, I love it. Most of the time.

As long as I am able to keep everything in proper perspective and not lose focus on what it is I'm trying to do. Again, not my strongest point.

For example, working on my newsletter this past weekend triggered a mild panic attack. I don't think it was the actual cause of the attack, but certainly the trigger. Not fun.

I'm constantly reminding myself that social media - Twitter, Facebook, this blog, and now The Delusion Tree News - these are not games that I'm playing. Which is good, because I would lose at every single one of them.

Rather, these are ways for me to reach out to my fans; my friends. What's the worst that can happen? That I'll reach out and find nobody there. And that already happens. A lot. Because this whole Author Platform thing is still in the building phase.

But I've also reached people, and had people answer back.

It's easy to be frustrated. It's easy to be weighed down by a feeling of futility. I have to forget these things. Ignore them. Because it doesn't matter if I reach anyone or not. The important thing is that I reach. That I build the platform and generate the content.

I'm deluded enough to believe that one day these efforts will no longer be frustrating and futile. One day I will have a consistent and understandable Author Brand. And the platform must be built long before then.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Bumpy Landings Book Signings

Ah, Bumpy Landings book signings. What a mixed bag.

I had some great book signings. 

Look: My name on a book store marquee!

Mass signings at conferences.

Signings with awesome fellow authors. 

Not every signing was worth the time and effort - especially the ones where nobody showed up. I didn't take any pictures of those.

But I have noticed that most of my book sales - especially now that we’re in the “long tail” - all come when I have made a personal connection with a reader.

And that really is what book signings are all about - making that personal connection.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Hawaii Trip!

Since Bumpy Landings is set in my hometown of La’ie, Hawai’i, I wanted to do a release there as well. Any excuse to go home, after all.

I spoke to English classes at my alma matters, Kahuku High School and BYU-Hawaii. I also met up with fellow Cedar Fort author and Big Island resident Susan Corpany Curtis. We did a signing at the BYU-Hawaii Bookstore and the Kahuku Library.

Some friends of mine formed the musical group Vaihi, and I used their song Ananahi as the background music for my book trailers. I had a great time going to their performance down in Waikiki.

And while I was there, I did a ton of research for my next book, Into The Wind. I especially enjoyed seeing back stage at the Polynesian Cultural Center, and several pivotal scenes are set there.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Bumpy Landings - Launch!

I will not lie - launching a book is exciting. It was a heady experience to have family and friends come to show their support. It was especially meaningful that everyone had to brave a near-blizzard to find their way to the Hawaiian Cultural Center in Midvale, Utah.

Back home in Texas, some friends of ours also threw a book launch party for me.

Yes, launching a book really is a celebration.

And then the work begins.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Bumpy Landings - Path to Publication

I don’t even remember the year, but I know it was a cold Utah winter when I started the story that would eventually become Bumpy Landings. Probably 2003 or 2004. It was a long time ago, that’s for sure.

The story evolved as I picked at it through the years. While there are a few autobiographical elements in the final version, Jordan MacDonald and his story were much closer to my own personal reality in earlier drafts. Letting Jordan have his own life and adventure was an important shift in my writing, as I had to develop ever increasing empathy in order to look outside myself for character motivation and understanding.

Finally, in 2007 I decided to get serious about my writing. I began following following a number of author blogs, and shared my writing for the first time while attending my first LDStorymakers conference in 2008.

I pitched the story to Covenant at the 2009 Storymakers Conference. They didn’t take it, but gave me valuable feedback that I used to strengthen the story.

That fall, I submitted the re-worked manuscript to Cedar Fort. They accepted the book in the spring of 2010, for publication in January of 2011.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Bumpy Landings - A Recap

My debut novel, Bumpy Landings, was published by Cedar Fort in January 2011.

While becoming a published author was an exciting, amazing experience, it wasn’t quite the blue skies and tailwinds I had imagined.

However, I’ll save those challenges for next week. This week, the posts are all about the good stuff. And there’s a lot of good stuff. Stay tuned.

When Jordan MacDonald goes behind his mother's back to get his pilot's license, he soon finds out that a life full of dishonesty attracts more turbulence than he's ever faced in the air. Set against the majestic backdrop of the Hawaiian islands, this heartwarming story of romance and self-discovery will take you to new heights with each turn of the page.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The College Girl

You know those mid-life transitions I mentioned? Yeah, this is one of the biggies.

This past week, we took my oldest daughter and best friend to start her freshman year of college. And no, we didn't fill that trailer. Not hardly. But since the whole family spent the week in a hotel, we had stuff.

I am so proud of my girl. She's following in my footsteps, majoring in Computer Science. And by specializing in Computer Game Development, she's following a dream I didn't . No, I didn't push her into it as a way to relive my youth. Although I must admit that, as we learn about this program she is doing, I am just a wee bit jealous.

I think I was born thirty years too early.

This has already been a major change in all our lives, and we won't know the full impact for several months. Fortunately, our college girl is off to a great start, with a super roommate and a fantastic support network in the Honors College and LDS Institute. 

It's going to be interesting to see how those of us left at home adjust to her absence. I'm optimistic we will see some positive changes in our younger daughter as she becomes an only child, and that we as a family will all grow closer.

Hopefully that optimism will prove to be more than just some of my delusion.

Saturday, August 8, 2015


I feel like this is the right time to do a reboot; to make some changes in my life that have needed to be made for a long time. Call it a midlife transition.

These changes are large and small. A few are private, but many I’m willing to share, and this is where I'll be reporting my progress.

Some of the most significant changes are coming to my writing career. No, I'm not going full time. I happen to love my day job, and it will be many, many years before I have the experience and income needed to make writing my sole profession.

But I am making the changes that will help me get there eventually.

First step: I have parted ways with my publisher. This means my next book will be self-published. It also means I am free to pursue an agent and the national market for the book after that. I'll write future posts about those books, as well as the impact of these decisions and how I made them.

For now, I am drawing from the Delusion Tree to give me the courage I need to move forward into a fairly daunting future.

Hang on. It's going to be an amazing ride!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Welcome to The Delusion Tree

Delusion might seem like an odd choice for a defining character trait, but it has served me well over the last decade.

You see, I have such strong internal critics, and they are impossible to ignore. They point out my many faults and weaknesses as proof that I have no business trying to succeed as a writer, as a speaker, as a person. They tell me I am crazy to even try.

And of course, they are right. For me to believe that I can succeed, despite their overwhelming evidence to the contrary, is nothing short of delusion.

I tried to fight that delusion at first; to prove to myself and the world that I really do have what it takes. But I ended up spending far too much time fighting, and nothing ever got done.

Better, it seemed, to accept the delusion; to concede that I really do have no business trying to be a writer or a speaker. To admit that I am nothing more than a pretender; a wannabe; a fake.

Once I embraced my delusion and accepted myself as a fraud, an interesting thing happened: The negative voices no longer mattered.

When they said I was a hack, I agreed. And then I kept on writing.

“Fake it ‘til you make it.” That is delusion in action.

And you know what? In some ways I have made it. Little by little I’ve been proving those voices wrong. Proving that maybe, just maybe, I do have the right and talent to succeed after all. And whatever abilities I lack, I can develop.

I’m by no means where I want to be, in life or my writing career. But I’m determined to keep going. There are so very many books to be written, after all.

Sooner or later, I’ll get there. And I'll do it with courage, hard work, and patience.

And, of course, a little bit of delusion.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

What is Delusion?

Delusion is accepting that success is impossible, and then proceeding as though success is inevitable.