Progress Update

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Now you see what I’m up against.

It’s hard to get any writing done when you’d rather be spending it with these guys. But despite my addiction to my wife and kids, I do have a little progress to report.

Composition

Just finished an arrangement of COME THOU FOUNT for my aunt. If you’re into religious music you should check it out here. Or click on the BORED PRIMARY PIANIST tab at the top of this page.

Writing

The number one question I get is when the sequel to BLUE is coming out. Short answer: It’s written and waiting for book 1 to sell a thousand more copies before the publisher takes on book 2. So the fastest way to see the sequel is to share how much you enjoyed book 1. (And then guilt your friends into buy a copy….or twelve.)

Once my new book “GROOMED: book one in the HUSBAND TRIALS” is finished editing I plan to use it as bait to lure in a new agent. Here’s a taste if you’re curious.

35 word pitch:

In 2987 women are scarce and dating is complicated. To win his childhood crush, 
teenage Travis enters the deadly Husband Trials and unwittingly befriends the boys he's supposed to kill.

First 250 words:

Mr. Candace was three hundred years older than his wife but he certainly didn't act it. When he learned he'd be required to attend his son's childhood graduation he made such a fuss that all of Travis's younger brothers came into the kitchen to watch.
        "I don't have time for this!" he shouted. "I'll miss my shows."
        Eventually the tantrum wound down and Mr. Candace retired to his room to change into his tuxedo. The nine younger boys wandered back to their telegame and Travis, 
who'd been dressed and hairsprayed since three o'clock, followed his mother into the 
entryway.
        After a few minutes, Travis asked, "How do you tell a clone from an original?"
        Candace furrowed her eyebrows at the strange question. "Your father is no 
different that you or I. First or second body, the mind is the same."
        "But I'm only fifteen and I'm more mature than him. Does he even have a belly 
button?"
        Candace smiled. "He has a very handsome navel. Which you see every summer at 
the lakehouse."
        "Could be fake. Wendy thinks she saw her da's come off once when-"
         Travis fell silent as Mr. Candace emerged. "If this thing lasts more than an 
hour, I can't promise I won't hit anyone."
        There was a time when Travis might have laughed at such a statement.  Now he 
knew his father was completely serious.
        Despite their late start, Candace insisted they take the triple bicycle. "It's our last ride with my number two," she said, turning misty eyes on her son.

My WIP (work in progress) is called THE TIME TRAVELER’S SEWING KIT. I’m about 7 chapters in. Here’s the first couple paragraphs:

The library basement reeked of blood. When patrons complained to the head librarian, 
she blamed the rusting pre-civil war shelves. 
 When they mentioned the smell to Od, he told them the truth. That Al Capone's victims were rotting inside the walls. 
 Some patrons laughed. These were the ones who knew corpses rarely smelled of blood and that the crime boss had done most of his murdering in Chicago. "But he did time in 
Philly," Od would insist. "Nine months in Eastern State Penitentiary." 
 With the addition of a few grisly details, Od could usually elicit an uneasy smile, or even a shiver. Once a patron headed straight back to the elevator without any books.
 It was the small things that made Od love his job.

I’ve also been busy helping my CPs (critique partner’s) hone their masterpieces. In fact I just connected with one who lives in NY that I’m super excited about. You’ll be seeing her name on the NYT Bestseller list one day.

I’ll be attending LDS storymakers in Utah this May. Super excited. I’m going to pitch GROOMED to one of the lucky agents there. 🙂

Business Ventures

Still working with the guys from PureMedia. I’ve been slacking in my social media job, but to tell you the truth I think they’re having the same problem I am. Our priorities are way out of wack. We put stuff like our family and careers before our side hobbies. Still. One day, I hope to see the eREader become a reality.

My card game COMMUNIST BARNYARD is pretty much ready to be processed. Just waiting on an extra couple thousand bucks I find sitting around my house.

Happy B-day BLUE! (99 cents & 10 book giveaway!)

Contest is now closed. Congrats to Grand Prize Winner:

Letty McKemey-Rosendale

open book
A year ago today, I gave birth to a rectangular, 275 page baby. Here are two ways you can help me celebrate it’s first birthday:

  1. Download the digital version FOR 99 CENTS at AmazonBooks & Things, and Nook . That’s right, for a limited time, it’s LESS THAN A DOLLAR! (It’s also on sale at the itunes store and Google Play.)
  2. Share, like, and comment on my FB celebration video for up to three chances to win a book package. (That will be up as soon as Amazon gets it’s act together.)

The Grand Prize Winner will receive a total of TEN different books, ALL SIGNED BY THE AUTHOR. In addition I will NAME a character in BOOK 2 after you.

Here are the SIGNED books the grand prize winner will receive in the mail:

18051172Water Keep (Farworld, #1)2194806022616883252189452040942523597398205600142365740421420065

 

A word about the giveaway books. A few of them are signed specifically to me (sorry). Naturally, I want to keep all these signed books to myself. (I’ve read them and they’re great, and I want to show off all my author friends when people visit.) But as a new author I know how much more good a book does when it’s passed around as opposed to gathering dust on a shelf. So as much as I’d like to hoard all these signed copies, I want to share them more, and I want you to write glowing reviews for them. (Especially mine.)

Concerning the naming: it may just be a passing mention, or it could be a main character. It depends how French sounding your name is and how much I like it. 2nd and 3rd place will receive only a signed copy of my book. (Don’t look so disapointed…Christmas is coming you can always regift it.) Grand Prize winner can give me the name of a friend or loved one in place of theirs, but I reserve the right to tweak, or reject names if they’re rediculous.  As long as you don’t tell me your name is Butts McFannypants, we probably won’t have a problem.

THE END: The digital version of my book will be $0.99 from Dec 9th to the 30th, then will go back to $6.99. The FB video contest will end when no one has liked, commented, or shared it for 48 hrs. (Or on Dec 31, 2015 whichever comes first.)

Discover New Authors!

smaller group

On of the funnest thing about being a writer is connecting with other equally insecure and quirky authors. Especially when we get together and publish short story anthologies! What this means:

  1. I now have TWO new books on Goodreads with my name on it.

  2. You have two new collections of short stories to read. (FOR FREE!)

  3. You have 9 chances to find a second favorite author. (Obviously I’m your first.)

Introducing….  my NEW BOOKS!

typeractive cover overcoming history cover

Typeractive Tales free PDF download

Overcoming History free PDF download

And now a little about the awesome authors that made it all possible.

TYPERACTIVE is a group of mostly AZ authors who write clean fiction. Here they are with some of their books.

Janette Rallison

(High Resolution Image)    

Brock Booher

Brock Booher     25218929

Randy Lindsay

Picture      25219039

Stephen J. Sterling

     20560014

Marilee Jackson

  22886443

Laura Walker

Laura_Walker_author     21948093

Adrienne Quintana (doesn’t appear in anthology)

     22616883

Shersta Chabot (doesn’t appear in anthology)

Shersta Chabot     21948184

 

The authors who contributed to OVERCOMING HISTORY are newer acquaintences, but still incredible writers. Here they are:

Greg Hickey

      22839622

Marleen Zwiker

     Unreliable: A novel of suspense

Barbara Pietron

About the Author     18687595

So, what are you waiting for? Download the books and get reading. And if you particularly enjoy one of the stories, click on the link to find other books by that author. (Then make sure to rate these anthologies on amazon and goodreads so others can find them.)

Now do it. Or suffer my wrath.

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What’s it like to be a nerd?

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Harry Potter Panel – That’s me on the end pretending to be Lucius Malfoy. Next to me is Frank L. Cole, Lynette White, September C. Fawkes, Cheree Alsop, and J. Scott Savage.

Join me on a journey to embrace your inner unicorn.

Visit a magical place called Comic Con, where nerds are applauded for their indiscretionary spending and celebrated for their refusal to get real jobs. By the end, you’ll desperately wish you were one of them.

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 The Journey to UT

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image Flying from Pennsylvania wasn’t too bad. As you can see we kept the kids occupied in the airport.

Then on to…. UNDILUTED NERDERY!!

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Here’s my wife and cousin (glasses). She was the angel that watched our kids while we played at the convention center.

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An old mission buddy served as my guide for my Comic Con baptism.

Awesome, amazing, photogenic authors

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Frank L. Cole wrote a bunch of books. I’m currently reading The Afterlife Academy to my kids and it’s awesome.

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Fellow Cedar Fort author, Tony Kibbie wrote that pretty green book about trolls. I can’t wait to read it.

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Richard Paul Evans, author of the Michael Vey novels was one of the nicest guys I’ve met. After I gave him a copy of my book, he offered to pay for it. When I refused, he bought ANOTHER copy! What a lovely bloke. Maybe I should read his books. haha

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Most of the authors at the Cedar Fort booth. From left to right: Cindy, Alysson, Emily, Tony, a mysterious stranger, Lauren.

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Andrienne, from the Typeractives (My AZ writing group) with Alyson Peterson. (Both their books are visible.)

CELEBS!!!

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Don’t be jealous of my photography skillz. There was security there making sure I didn’t get a picture of the Weasley twins. HA! I showed them. I think that second blob from the left is Fred.

And finally, Making a fool of myself in public

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This was my first panel. HARRY POTTER IN YOUR HEAD: (IN THE BEST POSSIBLE WAY.)

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I took this selfie between questions, but then Frank Cole started to talk and I felt bad for distracting the audience

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The Lasting Power Of Potter Panel – From left to right, you can see September C. Fawke’s red coat, then Jonathan Kroupa, Sara B. Larson, and Tyson Huber (moderator.)

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Now you can see Renee Collins on the right.

Introducing my fellow panel members (Don’t ask me why the photos are wonky, I’m a beginning blogger!)

Lynette White – Fantasy Author

Renee Collins – Author

Jonathan Kroupa – Author, Comic Artist

   

September C Fawkes – Writer, Blogger

 

 

 

Tyson Huber – Journalist, blogger (http://www.bigshinyrobot.com/)

 

Still haven’t had enough? I also played with live animals.image image image image image image

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And met some old friends from AZ.

Congratulations on scrolling all the way to the end of this post! You must either really want to go to comic con yourself, or you find me strangely attractive…

Rowling Vs. Green

The literary world is constantly evolving. (Or devolving as the case may be.) PubCrawl recently posted an insightful article about the disturbing trends of sexual violence in books written for young adults. You can see from the comments that the public is split as to what teens really need and more importantly (sarcasm) what they’ll spend money on.

So I’ve pitted two best selling novels, comparing content and sales, in an effort to determine what teens really want in their books.

(Yes, they’re different genres and this is an oversimplification, but it’s my blog, so deal with it.)

  VS   

FAULT: 315 pgs – published 2012

POTTER: 870 pgs – published 2003

FAULT: Main Character’s age – 16

POTTER: Main Character’s age – 15

FAULT: Hazel and Augustus go to his hotel room and have sex. Mention of removing clothes being awkward because of her oxygen tank and his fake leg. Mention of “condomy problems” and that it wasn’t too painful or ecstatic. 1

POTTER: Harry and Ron try to enter Hermonie’s room. “A loud, wailing, claxonlike sound” starts and the stairs turn into a slide. “‘Er- I don’t think we’re allowed in the girls’ dormitories,’ said Harry, pulling Ron to his feet and trying not to laugh.”

FAULT: “Do you know what Dom Perignon said after inventing champagne? He called out to his fellow monks, ‘Come quickly: I am tasting the stars.’” (p. 163 Before the “cool” enabling adults facilitate underage drinking.)

POTTER: “You know what?” Ron murmured, looking over at the bar with enthusiasm. “We could order anything we like in here, I bet that bloke would sell us anything, he wouldn’t care. I’ve always wanted to try firewhisky–”      “You — are — a — prefect,” snarled Hermione.”     “Oh,” said Ron, the smile fading from his face. “Yeah…” (pg. 337 before they order non-alcoholic butterbeer.)

FAULT: 

  • 20 + sh**
  • 5 Hell
  • Bas**rd
  • 9 godda**
  • 1 bada**
  • 2 bit**
  • 2 a**hole
  • 1 a**clown
  • 2 a**
  • 1 fu**

POTTER: 

  • 2 damn

FAULT OF OUR STARS: Total books sold -10.7 million

ORDER OF THE PHOENIX: Total books sold – 55 million

 

How much is too much for kids?

One of the writing blogs I follow recently published an insightful article about how much ‘grit’ kids can handle in their literature.

I spent a good while composing and posting my thoughts on the subject, so I thought I’d share it here as well:

Many recent YA contemporary novels, if made into a movie (with dialogue and graphic content intact) would be rated NC-17 or even higher.

WIs it different to read through dozens of ‘F’ words? Why do we have the move rating system in the first place? (clue: it’s not because a bunch of outdated prudes want to keep kids from knowing the truth about life.)

It’s no secret that the bar for protecting children from “realistic” content has dropped and shows no sign of slowing. Many would rather congratulate themkselves on finally achieving free speech and liberating young minds than face what this “realistic” conditioning is actually doing to these liberated minds.

Until about their twenties, children’s brains are not fully developed. The last thing to develop is the frontal lobe (which helps with determining what it socially acceptable.) Funnily enough, a stroke in this area will release foul language.

So big deal, right? Teenage swearing and sex is a part of growing up.
What about bringing guns to school? What about murder? Now, I don’t believe that kids who read Forgive Me Mr. Peacock will set out to murder their father. And I don’t believe kids who read bad language in books will necessarily began to speak that way themselves.

The problem is that with their immature frontal lobes, they’re still trying to figure out what is right and wrong, healthy ways to deal with problems, and what is normal.

Although most gritty books have some sort of moral lesson at the end that the kids may or may not pick up on or agree with, the more sure (conscious or subconsious) lesson they are getting through this deluge of realism is that it’s normal to sleep with your classmates, to use the F (or C) word in everyday conversation, to use violence to deal with your problems, to abuse others, to commit suicide, to shoot up your school as a revenge for the way you’ve been treated.

Adults reading this may think me absurd. Whether they believe underage drinking is the norm among teens (It’s not, only a small percentage do) or that no one actually graduates high school a virgin, adults understand that the other problems I mentioned are certainly not normal or even common.

But adults know this because they have a fully developed frontal lobe. They (most of them) understand how to seperate their morals and decision making from what they read in their free time.

It is scientifically documented that kids cannot. So before you call me a censoring prude, or a blue-nosed a**hole (as did Cory Doctorow) ask yourself if you want your teenage daughter to subconsiously think cutting herself is a common, legitimate way to deal with her emotional problems.

What adults read is of no concern to me. (Well, that’s not entirely true, pornographic content leads to violent sex crimes, and trafficking of children, but that’s a debate for another day.) But is it realistic for us to ask teens to keep their language and behavior clean at school, while we fill their books with deviant behavior? No wonder they’re confused.

Yes, kids can easily get their hands on adult novels, but when you package and market a book specifically for young minds, you’re sending them a very clear idea of what is acceptable. Children should learn about the problems of real life eventually (when they are emotionally mature), but from a parent or responsible adult and not glamorized as entertainment.

 

 

THE SOUND OF LIFE AND EVERYTHING by Krista Van Dolzer … new release!

THE SOUND OF LIFE AND EVERYTHING final cover

My blogger friend’s book is finally out and it’s got some rave reviews. You definitely need to check this one out. (Thanks, Krista for all your help with Blue!) And thanks to Brenda Lee Drake for this ready-made post. 🙂

Buy it at one of these reputable establishments:

AMAZON | B&N | BAM | INDIEBOUND | !NDIGO | POWELL’S | TKE (signed!) | GOODREADS

About the book …

Twelve-year-old Ella Mae Higbee is a sensible girl. She eats her vegetables and wants to be just like Sergeant Friday, her favorite character on Dragnet. So when her auntie Mildred starts spouting nonsense about a scientist who can bring her cousin Robby back to life, Ella Mae doesn’t believe her–until a boy steps out of the scientist’s pod and drips slime on the floor right before her eyes.
“But the boy is not Robby–he’s Japanese. And in California in the wake of World War II, the Japanese are still feared and mistreated. When Auntie Mildred refuses to take responsibility, Ella Mae convinces her mama to take the boy home with them. It’s clear that he’ll be kept like a prisoner in that lab, and she wants to help.

“Determined to do what’s right by her new friend, Ella Mae teaches him English and defends him from the reverend’s talk of H-E-double-toothpicks. But when the boy’s painful memories resurface, Ella Mae learns some surprising truths about her own family and, more importantly, what it means to love.”

Blurbs …

“Brimming with empathy, humor, forgiveness, and wisdom about what it means to be truly, fully human”
–Tricia Springstubb, author of MOONPENNY ISLAND

“Ella Mae is a scrapper in the tradition of Harper Lee’s Scout”

–Publishers Weekly

“A remarkable effort that explores stereotypes, family, and friendships that transcend the 1950s”

–Booklist

“Perfect for classrooms and book clubs, as it definitely offers a lot of material for discussion”

–VOYA

“Recommended to fans of historical fiction who enjoy a mix of history and ethics”

–School Library Journal

About the Author …

 

rectangular Krista

Krista Van Dolzer

Website | Twitter

Krista’s a stay-at-home mom by day and a children’s author by bedtime. She lives with her husband and three kids in Mesquite, Nevada, where she watches too much college football and looks for her dead people online. She’s the author of THE SOUND OF LIFE AND EVERYTHING (G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, May 2015) and DON’T VOTE FOR ME (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, August 2015).

Prank Texting

A few weeks ago I got a text from someone I didn’t recognize… well, what would you have done?

first part of evil rabbit

It was only a matter of time before they realized I wasn’t who they thought I was. (Wrong. They didn’t even get it when I tried to explain it!)

 

second part of evil rabbit

That was a lot of fun. Someone needs to start a non-profit organization to help the elderly use technology. Here’s another one that happened  a few weeks earlier with my wife. It’s shorter, but still engaging.

Jaida's Funny Wrong Number

How to Raise Daughters Without Eating Disorders

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I wasn’t always as smart as I am now. For instance, photoshopping my wife in our engagement photo was probably not the best thing for our budding relationship.

engagement photo exposed

I told myself it was so she’d feel confident sending them out to everyone we knew, but in reality it was for me. I wanted my friends to see how hot my fiancé was and be impressed with my fishing ability.

As it turned out, confidence was not to be a byproduct of my blunder. In fact it was not to be found in our house for a long while.

Nine years and four kids later, I’m just starting to learn how to help my wife have confidence in herself. (Hint: it doesn’t involve buying her beauty products.)

Over the weekend we saw Cinderella.

Although we enjoyed it, the experience was somewhat tainted by the recent controversy. While I don’t agree that the princess’s passivity sets the clock back (not every single female character has to be equally strong and independent) the other cry from the critics got my attention. (The emphasis on that waistline.) As a teenager I might have told all the wacko feminists they need to get over the fact that they’re fat and ugly and let us appreciate true beauty.

But for nearly a decade I’ve worked every day to help repair the self-esteem of the most important person in my life, and I’ve come to realize something. Images and attitudes that wash over us every day in the form of movies, TV, and pop culture DO change our perceptions. They affect how we view ourselves and others. This is especially true of women, who are so often portrayed as objects primarily to be gawked at.

My quarrel is not with Lilly James or the size of her waist.lily-james-1-800

Her body is her own, and it’s not my place to comment on it. My quarrel is not even with the producers of Cinderella. (They did make a half-hearted attempt to go deeper. The prince at one point says something like, “She’s pretty but there’s something else about her.” And near the end the narrator says, [paraphrasing] “The hardest thing you will ever do is let people see you how you truly are.” These noble sentiments lose their efficacy when you learn the filmmakers gave their lead actress a dress she couldn’t fit into without going on a liquid diet.) But as I said, I don’t blame them. Their job is to make money and give the public what they’re accustomed to: our increasingly warped idea of beauty.

Do I sound fanatic?

Check out these statistics.

• The body type portrayed in advertising as the ideal is possessed naturally by only 5% of American females.

• 47% of girls in 5th-12th grade reported wanting to lose weight because of magazine pictures.

• 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner.

• 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat.

Over one-half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives.

• The mortality rate associated with anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher than the death rate associated with all causes of death for females 15-24 years old.

So do we just start putting aside money for the day when our daughters need a therapist?

No! It’s not to late for our children. But there are things we can and should be doing to combat the destructive messages. Your greatest tool will be this non-profit organization:

BEAUTY REDEFINED

My wife discovered this website on her own, and since then has used it as a kind of antidote for the poison eating away at her self-esteem. Invariably, when she neglects reading her BR articles, the media steps in and fills the gap, resulting in depression and bad self-image.

Beauty Redefined has compiled 10 years worth of body image research in 5 manageable steps.

This is the real deal, people. Read their material. Hear them speak if you can. They aren’t trying to convert you to feminism, they want to help you avoid subtle dangers and give you tools to overcome your issues and raise healthy, confident kids.

Also, check out Intuitive Eating if you or someone you love are already caught in the dieting trap.

(It is a trap, 95% of all dieters will gain their lost weight back within 5 yrs. 35% of “normal dieters” progress to pathological dieting. Of those, 20-25% progress to partial or full-syndrome eating disorders).

So why rant about this on my author blog?

It’s remarkable how much my stories and characters have changed as I’ve progressed in my journey. In my very first story, THE EXITOR (never published) I wanted to do something “new.” So I created a thin “pretty” who was extra nice because she used to be fat. Later I changed it and kept her overweight, highlighting the prejudice she suffered. In An Uncommon Blue, the main character becomes infatuated with a girl solely because he finds her attractive. In a later rewrite, I tried to make up for it by having him help another (“less attractive”) girl feel better about herself. And finally, the main theme of the novel I just finished is DON’T TREAT PEOPLE AS OBJECTS, which also touches on the dangers of pornography. (Which incidentally if you have an addiction to, you should go here. If you want to support the anti-porn movement check out #FightTheNewDrug.)

It was never a conscious decision to try to reform society through my writing. It simply became increasingly important to me as I supported my wife through her trials.

However, in my effort to show the seriousness of the self-image problem, I’m afraid I may have IMG_5429painted my wife as a helpless basketcase who falls apart without her sensitive, brilliant husband to hold her together. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Jaida is amazing and despite her struggles, continues to be an example of strength and unconditional love. She is my superior in every way but one. (I love her more than she loves her.) But with a little hard work and a lot of help from Heavenly Father, I’m confident we can change that.

For more on what Heavenly Father thinks of all this see 1 Samuel 16:7.