Thursday, August 25, 2011

Kansas City Temple- Construction Update

These are some of my favorite pictures for the Kansas City Missouri Temple Construction Blog.

Construction is on schedule and while we still don't have a firm completion date, we expect open houses and the dedication to take place in early spring 2012.

John W. Hardy has been announced as the President of the Kasnsas City Area Temple.

Temple presidents are called to oversee all activities performed at the temple. They serve voluntarily, usually for a period of several years.

The new Liberty Missouri Stake Center is being costructed next to the temple. We expect to have Stake Conference in the new building in October 2011.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I Did The Unthinkable...

Yes, it pains me to admit it, but I actually went to see Cowboys and Aliens last weekend. My gut told me not to do it, but I didn’t listen. I am ashamed of myself. You have my confession and now I will attempt to make amends, to warn others of the pitfalls of this movie, and on a larger level, of failing to follow your own gut feelings. I have learned my lesson, now I hope to share it with you…

When I first saw the trailer for Cowboys and Aliens in the theater months ago, I laughed out loud. I was embarrassed by the volume of my laugh so I looked around, hoping no one noticed. But I was confused. I thought it was a joke because it sounded so absurd and the trailer was pure corn, but I was the only one laughing. (Click here to see my blog post about bad titles) Woops. Lesson learned. But I tucked away in my little brain the thought that I would NEVER see that movie because it would be a pure waste of time and an utter humiliation if anyone knew I had seen it. My trusty gut told me not to do it, but I didn’t listen.

Over time I read a couple of interesting reviews and saw some new trailers that made the premise of the movie seem more appealing. I was gradually being boiled in a pot of water and I wasn’t smart enough to jump out and eventually I succumbed to the pressure.
Here are a couple of my problems with the movie…

1) It was stupid (My first impression was correct- the title was lame, the action cheesy, the writing was weak and the acting questionable at best)
2) The movie was one giant cliché
a. Aliens invade earth to steal our resources (Wow, never heard that one before)
b. A band of mismatched heroes try to save the day (We’ve got the tough guy, the preacher, the ethically challenged tycoon, a kid, a dog and a good looking chick)
c. They made a half-baked attempt to answer deep philosophical questions about redemption and race relations (Seriously? It’s Cowboys and Aliens)
3) The movie was too long. In its defense, I would probably say the movie was too long if it were only 1 ½ hours. I just wanted it to end. As is, it ran a full 2 hours. (Literally, as the very last frame faded to black I found myself wishing it would fade more quickly)
4) There were too many distracting inconsistencies (I was about to share some examples but found it too frustrating)

In short (I know…too late) the only thing redeeming about this movie was the large pile of candy wrappers at my feet when it concluded. Mmm Candy!

So why mention this on a writing blog? Because from a storytelling point of view, these problems I had with the movie can also be problems in our writing.

1) Does our concept pass the smell test?
2) Is our action and dialogue realistic?
3) Do we write using clichés?
4) Are our characters original?
5) Is the length appropriate for the genre?
6) Is the story consistent within the framework we’ve established?

At the end of the day, we have to love what we’ve written. If we find inconsistencies that cause confusion we must assume that others will have an even bigger problem with it. Go with your gut. If you like it, write it. If you write it and it doesn’t turn out as you envisioned, rewrite it or maybe even scrap it.

When you are satisfied with your work, let test readers have a go. What are their honest feelings about the chapter, scene or book? Then ultimately you make the decision about what remains. Go with your gut. It’s your decision and you are the one to live with it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The $50,000 Honesty Lesson

Nate Smith made the shot of a lifetime. During a half time competition at a hockey game, the 11 year shot a 3 inch puck through a 3 1/2 inch hole 90 feet away. WOW! The reward for making the impossible shot is $50,000. As you might imagine, Nate and his family were extatic. There is just one problem.

The raffle ticket chosen to name the participant was for Nick Smith, Nate's twin brother. Unfortunately, when Nick's name was called, Nick was out of the building and unable to take his shot, so his twin stepped into his place. For fun, Nate donned the helmut, held the puck, and shot. The amazing thing is, he actually made it.

Here's where the story gets REALLY interesting. The next day, the boys father called the contest sponsors to let them know that Nate took the shot, not Nick, thus putting the $50,000 reward in jeopardy. The sponsor stated that legally, the person on the ticket is the only person permitted to take the shot and therefore, the Smith's may forfeit the reward. The insurance company responsible for the payout is reviewing the case.

Pat Smith, the boys father, said telling the truth was "the right thing to do." WOW! WOW! Pat Smith and his boys are willing to risk $50,000 because the wrong twin took the shot. That, my friends, exemplifies true strength of character in a situation that would be easy to rationalize.

Click here to view the video.

So here are the questions.
Would you tell the truth if it would cost you $50,000.
Should the Smith's be awarded the $50,000 prize?

This father is teaching his children a fantastic lesson. I applaud him for it.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Defensive Tactics- Anniversary

One year ago today my first novel, Defensive Tactics, was released by Cedar Fort Publishing. In the past year I have learned a lot and accomplished a number of things.

1- Since then I have written a mid-grade fantasy called Crater Lake: Battle for Wizard Island that is set to be released in March 2012. Crater Lake is an adventure set at pristine Crater Lake in the Oregon Cascades. When an evil spirit chief causes all the adults at Crater Lake to be sucked into the ground, Ethan must race to free them before their fate is sealed permanently.

2- I am almost finished with the sequel to Defensive Tactics. I hope to be ready to submit for approval and publication within the next month or two. The working title is Mormon Gold. This story follows Jimmy, Paul and Emily on another FBI investigation when kids from a youth group go missing on a church history trek.

There have certainly been some ups and downs. My patience has been tested as I have worked to become a better writer and I learn about the publishing business.

Overall it has been a great year. Everyone always asks how Defensive Tactics is selling and I usually reply "Eh..." Numbers haven't been great but for a first time author with no following, publishing contacts or knowledge of the industry, whose book was accepted and printed within 4 months with no time for advertising or marketing from the publisher, for an author with no understanding of marketing or his role in helping to sell the book, I am very satisfied. I've learned a lot from mistakes I've made that I hopefully will not repeat. I've met TONS of great new authors online who are supportive and have excellent knowledge to share.

I am excited for my next release in March and hope to have a quick release on Mormon Gold shortly after that. This has been a great year and I look forward to increased future sales.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

2 Cool Things- Library & Catalog

Caldwell County is a rural Missouri county rich in LDS Church History. In fact, in 1836 the county was created by the MO State Legislature for the sole purpose of LDS settlement. In late 1838 the LDS population was forced from the State by the infamous Extermination Order issued by Governor Lilburn Boggs.

Since then, the County Seat has moved from Far West to Kingston Missouri. The entire county boasts a population of less than 9000 people. Caldwell County is a small, rural, economically challenged county.

Last year, an initiative sprung up to create the first Caldwell County Library.I sent notice via blog posts and email to various writing friends and LdStorymakers requesting book donations for this library. I have been shocked by the positive response. To date I have received @200 LDS authored fiction and non-fiction titles as well as nearly 2000 other books and movies collected and donated by LDS authors. The Library officially opened in July with a large contingent of LDS literature. Very appropriate for a special county like Caldwell County.

Thank you all for your support.

2- Books and Things Catalog: Cedar Fort announced last night at the LDS BA dinner that they are taking over the Books and Things Catalog. The Books and Things catalog is the Independent LDS Bookstore equivalent of the Deseret Book and Seagull Book Catalogs. Over time, Cedar Fort will make adjustments to the catalog as they explore ways to add articles, author profiles and entertainment news to the listings of releases.

This is great news for Cedar Fort authors. I am excited about this new direction for Cedar Fort Marketing and I think Cedar Fort should be commended for the effort. Instead of begging and pleading for Cedar Fort Books to be accepted into the Seagull and Deseret catalogs, Cedar Fort has their own medium for advertising to bookstores. Fantastic!

Way to go Cedar Fort!