LTUE Followup

Okay, so maybe the photographer cut off half my face. It’s still proof that I was there. This was one of my favorite panels, with a couple other great authors, a NYT bestselling author and a literary agent. Oh, and they proved that they cannot only write well, but speak well too. I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard in a long time.

In addition to panels on topics from Young Adult literature to avoiding mistakes first-time authors make, I interviewed with several podcasts and shows, including Residual Hauntings, talking about “The Last Archangel”.  You can listen here:

I even won a free shirt from Epic Puzzles and Games in Lehi, UT because I correctly answered a question about zombies. I surprised even myself when I came up with the name “revanant”.

I’ve also taken up the cause of the Author’s Think Tank and their awesome new podcast “by authors, for authors” called Forever Writers. I wrote the lyrics at the beginning of the podcast, and will hopefully be a host on future installments. They will be posted soon here:

If you didn’t go this year, I would definitely check it out next year. Visit for more information. It usually happens in February and is a wonderful value for your money. If you are an author and present, you can even get in for free.

I will appear next at Write Here in Ephraim on March 4th at Snow College in Utah, and then at the LDStorymaker’s Conference in mid May. See you there!

Young Adult Blog Hop

Welcome to the Young Adult giveaway hop! Every entry you see below will give you a chance to win a great young adult book. Also, don’t miss my audio series through (click on Audio Series above) or the submissions I have for upcoming anthologies. (See Current Projects.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

New Year, New Goals

Happy New Year, everyone! 
I’m feeling very blessed and glad to have a fresh start at life. The end of 2012 was not the brightest point in recent memory. However, in 2013, things are already looking up.
 In 2012, I achieved my goal of writing 600,000 words in a year. This was a growing experience. This year, I do want to focus on revision. I produced a lot of content, and I want to make sure that all that effort gets seen by actual people sometime. So most of 2013 will be dedicated to both revising current projects, and mapping out future projects. But that’s not to say that I won’t be producing some new material.
Last year, I experimented with the idea of putting together a self-published anthology. This was a wonderful experience in which I got to interact with a host of wonderful authors, editors, and artists. We are all very pleased with the finished product and so I’ve decided that we need to create other such projects. Our first anthology has already raised over $1000 for charity alone. I think that is an excellent first step. I foresee doing two other anthologies in the series to make it a trilogy. All of the stories will be based on Christmas carols, and hopefully some that are new and interesting to all of you.
I’ve also come up with two additional ideas for anthologies for which I would like to collect over the long run.
The first of these will be called “Silver Linings”. This is an anthology that collects true stories of people who experienced trials that turned out to be blessings. Hence the name.  I’ve already had some submissions and they have been excellent. Please keep them coming!
The other anthology for which I would like to collect is a collection of modern fairy tales similar to the style of the Brothers Grimm. If the brothers went out today and asked people for their stories , what would they tell them? I am coming up with a few stories of my own for this anthology, but I would love to hear what the rest of you have in mind!
If you would like information on any of these projects, simply click on “current projects” above.
As I will be doing a lot of revising this year, I’m also interested in people who would like to be beta readers for my manuscripts. Many of my manuscripts are either fantasy or science fiction, so I would like you to be well-versed in that genre if you would like to become one of my beta readers. If you are interested, please just send me an e-mail. I could use quite a few. I have a lot of projects on various stages of completion and really would like to see some of them out on the shelves.
For those of you who are fans of The Canticle Kingdom or The Last Archangel, I have good news for you. Not only will I be continuing my audio series with Big World Network that links to both of these franchises, but I have developed two more books for each of the series, full-length novels that bring the stories started in the first books to a satisfying conclusion. I’m working on revising them now, and hope to get them out soon, possibly through Big World Network. I will post more information as it becomes available.
I’m also hoping this coming holiday season to put together a concert for charity in conjunction with my two anthology releases. I am still looking for people with which to collaborate on this. I’m hoping to partner with at least one high school choir or any other musical group out of the community. They will perform carols based on the carols that are highlighted in the anthologies.
Please contact me if you know anyone who might be interested.
That’s all I have for now, folks! I’d love to hear from you now. What are your writing goals this year? What do you hope to accomplish? All the best in all your endeavors, and please let me know if there is anything that I can do.

My Best Writing Year Ever: How I Did It

 600,000 words in 365 days. In December 2011, that was my goal. I honestly didn’t know if I could do it. That was like writing words equal to NaNoWriMo (50,000) every month for an entire year. As of Dec 20th, 2012, I hit 609,548 words for the year.

I had to set some ground rules for myself. I said that only writing that I intended to try to publish in some form would count, and the prewriting that I did for any novels or short stories. Anything I did for work, emails, etc would not count. 
I also thought that I needed to keep very good track so I could have exact word counts. My first step was to create an excel spreadsheet with 12 tabs, and label them for the months. I took a cell and set it up to display the total of the all numbers in the first column. Then, any time I wrote something, I put the word total in the next open cell in the first column. This kept an automatic running total with little hassle. I then set up a cell in each sheet that added up all of the total cells, so I could have a running total of everything I had done for the year. 
This sheet helped keep me motivated. I could always tell how much progress I had made and how much I had yet to do. 
I then evaluated my writing style. I know that I work best when I have a few projects going at a time, and so I mapped out the things I wanted to work on next and decided to work on each of these projects every day. I prioritized the projects to work on the ones I wanted to get done first early in the year. 
Then, there really wasn’t a big trick to it. I committed to writing every day and anytime I could. I tried to bring my laptop with me for times when I had a few minutes. If I didn’t have my laptop, I wrote using my iPod. If I didn’t have that, I kept a notebook handy to write, or prepare myself for writing so that I could move more quickly when I got to it.  
The biggest thing is to know when your best productive times of the day are and really use them for all they are worth. During these times, minimize distractions. Turn off Facebook, check your email once before you got to the writing zone, or whatever you need to do. Pinterest will still be there when you get back. There are even programs such as Cold Turkey, which will allow you to block these sites for a certain time limit while you write. Pretty useful. 
I experienced some major setbacks. I had some really busy weeks, such as the week before “The Secret Garden ” opened, in which I was an actor. Two LDS General Conferences and countless other events for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Looming deadlines for work, a complete hard drive meltdown, severe sickness and many other things inhibited my ability to write. There were times when I fell way behind and had to rush forward by writing 10,000 words on the last two days of the month. 
I’m here to tell you that persistence pays. Just like in running a marathon, it does not do you any good to spend all of your energy in one burst and then stop running. You must keep a steady pace, with occasional bursts of speed to catch up in order to do your best. I believe that goals help writers push themselves to accomplish more than they normally would. Here’s a glimpse into what I wrote this year: 
The Canticle Kingdom Book III
The Last Archangels, Books II and III
Elected (Partial) 
The Death Seer (Partial) 
The Ward Choir Survival Guide 
The Ultimate Morning Study Companion (German/English) 
Voices in My Blood (Partial, co-authored)
Personal History 2012 
Short Stories 
Many, including ones for two anthologies “Sing We Now of Christmas” and “Carol of the Tales”. 
When Death Comes (Musical) 
Christmas Spirits the Musical (Partial) 
Serial Stories
Canticle of Dawn
Canticle of Twilight
Age of Archangels Seasons I and II
Christmas Spirits 
Dozens of articles for 
This next year is going to be taken up in revision and getting these and works from past years polished up and better ready to submit. If anyone else is up to the challenge, I highly recommend it. I accomplished so much this year and it is great now to look back and see that it all worked out. I am committed and serious about writing and will continue to put in the long hours that it takes to realize my potential. 
What are your writing goals for the coming year? 
A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all! 

The Cast List

Whenever a book comes out, I always play the game of deciding whom I would cast in each role if the book ever became a movie. I thought it would be fun to try this with “The Last Archangel”, one character at a time. I’ll post a new one every week with the main characters and you can see if you agree or disagree with my picks.

For this first pick, I’m going to start with the most prominent character, Xandir. He is a powerful angel who broke heavenly law and was sentences to serve as a destroying angel until the End of Time. He is a powerful and quick-witted character, often seen brandishing swords and engaging in high-speed chances.

My first pick, for the role of Xandir would be: Gerard Butler.

File:Gerard Butler (Berlin Film Festival 2011).jpgPhoto by Siebbi

Not only can this guy pull of intense roles, but he’s got the muscles to be convincing as an angel who’s job it is to destroy things. Just think of him as a Spartan…with wings. He doesn’t have to sing for this role (think Phantom of the Opera) and overall, I think he’d knock it out of the park.

What do you think? If not, who do you think would do better?

Have a great weekend! 

Angel Thursday: Interview with Eden

Happy March everyone! Two weeks until my birthday, and Spring is on the way. What could be better? 
I’m happy to announce that I once again reached my word count goal last month. Though February had only 29 days, I still managed to write over 50,000 words, to bring me to over 100,000. I’ve got not intention of stopping now!
Here’s a flashback interview today with one of the characters from “The Last Archangel”. I’m currently writing the third installment and she figures pretty importantly there too.  Enjoy! 

Interviewer:  Today we have Mrs. Eden Fortuna with us, with a segment you won’t want to miss.  She recently experienced a rather…traumatic episode in her marriage.  I’ll let her explain.
Eden: Traumatic is one word for it. I recently found out that my husband Daren is possessed by a demon. 
Interviewer: That’s awful.  I’m sure many of our readers have suspected the same thing in moments of frustration.  Tell us, what were the warning signs?
Eden:  Well there are the more obvious signs.  My mild-mannered husband suddenly took a violent turn. I prepared this really nice dinner and got all dressed up and instead of a romantic evening, I ended up with bruises and a nearly shattered windshield.
Interviewer: I’m sorry to hear that, but there are many reasons a man could turn violent.  What were some of the other signs that tipped you off?
Eden: Now here’s a weird one: demons have an affinity for spicy food.  My husband hates spicy food, but then I found out that he started going to lunch several times a week at this Indian curry house—Taste of Bombay.  For a guy that can’t stand a green pepper in a sauce, that was a serious change of character.
Interviewer: What did you attribute all this to before you found the truth?
Eden: I thought he might be having an affair.  He was spending much longer hours at the office, and seemed less interested in spending time with me.  He even started telling me that he couldn’t even discuss what he was doing at work.  Eventually, he even claimed that there was another woman, but something still didn’t add up.
Interviewer: What finally tipped you off that something extra strange was going on?
Eden: The night after he stormed out, I found his cell phone that he had left behind and his day planner.  On the day he stormed out, he had written, THE END, and when his cell phone rang and it started smoking.  Before I dropped it, I saw the number…with a 666 area code.  Then when I picked it up again, I thought it would be a lump of ashes, but it didn’t even feel hot after it stopped ringing. 
Interview: Creepy!  Did the caller leave a message?
Eden: Yes, but I couldn’t make out a word of it and neither could my friend, who is a professor of Linguistics.  That really awakened my inner conspiracy theorist.
Interviewer:  There you have it, everyone.  The surefire ways to tell if your loved one is possessed by a demon: violence, strange phone calls, disinterest in normal activities, long hours away, and…spicy food.  I guess the only question is what will you do now? I’m guessing traditional marriage counseling is out.  Perhaps if your therapist were also an exorcist.
Eden: I’m not exactly sure.  All of this pretty new to me. But one thing is certain: I haven’t been alone through all of this.  I mean, how many people get to meet their guardian angels? I don’t know how this is going to play out, but I know that the man I love is still there somewhere.  I’ll do anything to get him back.
Interviewer:  Thanks for answering my questions today, Eden.  We wish you the best of luck in getting this sorted out. 

Interview with Jarom and Giveaway

This week I’ve got a another character interview, this time from Xandir’s sidekick, Jarom the Cherub. 

Speaking of interviews, I have one up here on Booksnatch that includes a giveaway of “The Canticle Kingdom”. Hop on over for more details. 

Interviewer: Today with us we have Jarom the cherub. He’s looking a little shell shocked. What’s the matter, kid? Never seen a city before?

Jarom: Actually, no, not an earthly one. It’s a little…dingy.

Interviewer: What did you expect? You mean they don’t let you look down here with your little heavenly periscopes or something?

Jarom: Oh, we could. I just never wanted to. It is heaven after all.

Interviewer: So, first I want to ask, are the streets there really paved with gold?

Jarom: Gold? For a garbage can maybe. We’ve got much better stuff than gold up there.

Interviewer: Interesting. Now tell me, what about St. Peter? Does he really sit up there at the gates and wait for everyone? Sounds like that could get a little boring.

Jarom: I think it would be more accurate to say the “Saints Peter” do that job.

 Interviewer: I don’t understand.

 Jarom: The St Peter you’re thinking about only does it once in a while. Basically, they recruit anyone who happens to be named Peter and split up the shifts among them. Most newcomers are too starry-eyed to notice the difference.

Interviewer: So what’s your job up there? Do you work for Cupid or something?

Jarom: Cupid? Heavens, no. He may look cuddly, but don’t get on his bad side, and don’t even think about using the word ‘cute’. Those heart-tipped arrows are plenty sharp. I actually work in the ambrosia business.

Interviewer: Ambrosia? Tell us about it.

Jarom: It’s only best food on heaven or earth. Manna comes in at a close second. Sometimes we even mix the too and have ambrosia filled manna. Literally, a match made in heaven.

Interviewer: So would you care to share the recipe? Sounds like I could win a few contests with that one. 

Jarom: I only wish I could. Sharing the secrets of Heaven with man is a banishable offense. If you a taste, I’d have to kill you.

Interviewer: A donut to die for. Now you’re just being cruel.

Jarom: I really am sorry. One angel who gave away secrets got made a destroying angel thousands of years. I can’t think of anything worse than that.

Interviewer: Do you have a pet peeve? Do angels have pet peeves?

Jarom: I assure you they do. And I know mine. It’s when people say ‘cherubs’. It’s not a word. More than one cherub and you say ‘cherubim’. Tell your friends.

Interviewer: I know you’re busy, but is there anything else you can tell us about heaven?

Jarom: Just that it’s worth it. I miss it like crazy already, and I’d do anything to get back. Something tells me that there’s a rocky road ahead before that happens.

Interview: Thank you, Jarom. We’ll let you get on to your assignment. There you have it folks, from the mouth of an actual cherub, proving that there actually are donuts in heaven.

Second Verse, Same as the First

Week Two went about as well as week one, even though we were in the middle of moving from our apartment into a beautiful brand new condo. We’re all settled in and loving it. Don’t write off writing just because you are busy!

My word count for the week: 14079
Running Total: 31645
Monthly Percentage: 63.3%
Yearly Percentage: 5.3%

Writing Tip of the Week:
Take rejections in stride.  I had a very disappointing rejection this week, and stuff like that just hits you where it hurts…metaphorically of course. I think it’s okay to be sad for a little bit, to mourn that lost opportunity, but then you have turn around and start making your next moves. If you are not careful, you might be tempted to let that project languish on the farther back of burners so that nothing happens.

Most of time, it is not that your project was bad, just that it didn’t fit what the publisher wants right now.  Send it off again as soon as possible. I’m already preparing to send it to two more publishers myself.

Writing Update:
I’m continuing to map out another web serial, and working on recording the audio version of “Canticle of Night”. Did you know it is available for free on iTunes? Good stuff.

I have been working hard this week on a non-fiction project for once that is a guide for LDS Ward Choir directors, but also can be helpful for any church choir directors. It is a topic about which I know quite a bit, having done it several times.

I’m also working hard on the third and final installments of “The Canticle Kingdom” and “The Last Archangel” series. Just getting these off the ground. In addition, I am preparing a novel called “Countdown” to enter in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award. Last year, my novel “Starspire” (as yet unpublished) was a quarter-finalist.  I’d love to get at least to the semi-finals this year!

If you want to listen to or read “Canticle of Night”, please visit my page at

I’d love to know what you think about it!

Interview with Xandir

Today as promised, an interview with Xandir, the main character of my novel, “The Last Archangel”.  

Interviewer: We have here today a guest that wasn’t so easy to get ahold of.  He isn’t listed in the yellow pages, you can’t read his blog, and the guy never tweets. Xandir is a destroying angel by day, and by night…well, still a destroying angel.  In fact, he’s got the gig until the End of the World.  At least there’s job security, right?
Xandir: You’re awfully gutsy making fun of some with a sword in each hand. I’ll have you know, I once toasted two cities and turned a lady into a pillar of salt all before lunchtime. Don’t test me.
Interviewer:  Sorry, it’s just, I’ve never interviewed an angel before. From all the paintings and stained glass windows I’ve seen, you all seemed to be an easy-going lot.  I see I’ve been misled.
Xandir: Yeah, well, you wouldn’t be the first. I know we don’t exactly offer to pose for portraits, but greeting card companies really just need to try harder.
Interviewer:  Perhaps you would like to dispel some other common misconceptions for us, Xandir.
Xandir: Sure, where do I start? I could probably write a whole book about it.
Interviewer: What about music in heaven? Is harp strumming compulsory?
Xandir: Do you think I’d be caught dead with something as frilly as a harp? No, angels play all sorts of things, though I think a few instruments have been banned. The accordion, the bagpipes, and the kazoo have been relegated to Hell. 
Interviewer: Kazoo-wielding demons.  Now there’s one more reason to stay on the straight and narrow. I can’t help but notice that your wings don’t look quite like I had imagined. They look more like the surface of a bubble. Do all angels have them?
Xandir: Most do. But remember the wings are more substantial than they look, and we’re not birds. Not even little cherubs for all their sickly-sweetness.
Interviewer: That’s reminds me, there seem to be a lot of different types of angels.  How does that work?
Xandir: The little bite-sized ones are the cherubim. They are the younger ones in training, usually apprentices to more senior angels.  The suck-ups get made Seraphim, who take great pride in supervising the rest of us. I’ve got a High Seraph who acts as my glorified baby sitter. It’s his job to make sure I don’t just destroy stuff for fun.  Or boredom. I guess there are some Archangels even above them, but who cares about them?
Interviewer: Interesting. Now, I’ve got to ask, is there really a cloud nine? What makes it so great?
Xandir: Yeah, it exists, but it’s not really that much better than clouds one through eight.  I think there’s a pretty good ambrosia stand there, but, you know, it’s been a while.
Interviewer: So, I know you’ve probably got to get on to destroying some more things, but I’ve got to know.  What’s will halos? You don’t seem to have one.
Xandir: You’re pretty observant for a mortal.  The deal is, not all angels have them.  What you all see as a halo is actually a crown given to big wig angels.  Like most angelic clothing, the crowns glow and create that ‘halo’ effect around the angel’s face.  What I’d do to try on one of the Archangel’s crowns.  It would make a Rolex look like a Cracker Jack toy.
Interviewer: Where are you going? I have some other questions I’d like to ask.
Xandir: Too bad.  Duty calls.  Oh, and I’d stay off the interstate today if I were you.  I’m headed there now, and it might not be pretty.
Interviewer:Thanks for the tip.  I’ll…and he’s gone. You heard him folks, straight from the angel’s mouth: stay off the interstate, and, well, don’t take up the kazoo. 

Kicking Off Angel Thursdays

Hello everyone!

I’m off to a great start on my marathon writing year. I’d like to introduce a feature I’ll be doing on Thursdays, in which I highlight posts about “The Last Archangel”. I just finished writing the sequel and hope to get that out in the world soon one way or the other once I’m done with revisions. The number of followers has grown significantly since the initial blog tour and so I’m going to highlight things from the tour and some never-before-seen content as well.

Today, I’m just going to do an intro post with a little about my book. The publisher recently slashed the ebook price for all their ebooks in half and so it can now be yours for only $3.99. (was $9.99)

The story revolves around Xandir, who is a an angel who fell near the beginning to this world and as a punishment has been forced to work as a destroying angel throughout history. The story chronicles his quest in our time to either find redemption–a quest which determines whether he helps destroy the world or save it. You can read a great review of it here in the Deseret News:’The-Last-ArchAngel/’-full-of-warring-angels-and-demons.html

You can purchase the Kindle version here:
Next week, I will highlight a character interview with Xandir, so you can get to know him better. Hope the beginning of your New Year is going great!