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"Dedicated to helping you create strong, vibrant, and beautiful fiction"
- David Farland, award-winning author, international bestseller

 

Building Characters

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Today, I am over at the Fictorians as a guest! You can read my kick over there by clicking here.

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I have a short story in the recently-released anthologyThe Fiction River: Pulse Pounders, alongside several other authors. Be sure to check it out if interested.

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Earlier we mentioned that Shawna Reppert's Ravensblood would be up for free this week. We have since gotten this email from the author:

Wednesday, 1/21: I screwed up!!! Due to my misunderstanding of a technical detail, the free program on Ravensblood dropped off for one day. I have added 2 days on the end to make up for this, with my humblest apologies, and have also created a five-day free promotion on my short story "The Three Tunes." Please share this apology far and wide!!

Ten Easy Ways to Get Rejected

I’ve often said that there are ten thousand right ways to write a story. Unfortunately, there are a million wrong ways to do so. That’s why I’ve found when editing stories for anthologies or judging contests, about 90% of them don’t make the first cut. Here are some easy ways to avoid getting rejected.

1) Use proper proper English. If I see that you have a large number of typos, poor grammar, or incorrect punctuation on the first page of a manuscript, I will reject the story. (I lump all such errors into the category of “boogers.” This also includes things like coffee or cat pee stains on manuscripts.) I may forgive one mistake on a first page, or even two, but not three. Small errors suggest sloppy work throughout the tale.

2) Beware of starting your story with profanity, sex, or extreme violence. As an editor and writer, I want my books to appear in national markets. So I want librarians and school teachers to pick up the books and recommend them wholeheartedly. With rare exceptions, books that sell well tend to have something of a PG rating.

Recently I received a story that had a picture of the author attached. She was young. She was gorgeous. She had only three marijuana leaves covering her body. Don’t send me such pictures.

3) Do not write query letters that insult the editor. Letters that suggest that “My property is so much better than anything else you fools have published” will guarantee a rejection.

4) Don’t start off by telling your editor that you are planning a book/movie/videogame empire. Some editors will reject a work specifically because it looks “too much like a movie.” I’ve received submissions that contain photos of every star that the author plans to use in his first movie, along with a breakdown of the 400-million dollar budget. I often get such packages with release forms attached, so that I have to promise not to steal the author’s ideas before I open it. I understand that the author is excited, but it really does look silly.

5) In your query letters, do not offer bribes to editors. I once had an editor friend who got a letter with a penny, an aspirin, and a condom in it. The young writer said, “There, I’ve offered you sex, drugs, and money—now will you accept my proposal?” The editor was not amused. On one or two occasions, I have heard of editors who actually were offered bribes, but the editors didn’t take them. However, that makes me wonder. If an editor did take a bribe, would he ever tell anyone? And how much do you need to offer an editor? They get paid less than church mice. Hmmm . . . maybe that explains some of those poor books I’ve seen. . .

6) Never put a cover illustration in with your manuscript. If you’re writing a fantasy, it is all right to put in a map, but make it a good one.

Now, you might say, “But what if I’m an illustrator too?” The truth is, even if you’re a professional illustrator, you don’t want to put on a cover. The book’s prose needs to stand on its own. When it is time to get artwork done, you can submit your artwork separately, but recognize that the art director for the publishing house will normally be very leery of using your art. I have seen only a couple of illustrator/writers who have ever pulled this off.

7) Format your manuscript properly. A lot of authors don’t bother to format their manuscripts properly. Years ago, I used to think: “Okay, so these writers are novices. They don’t know the rules. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.” But over time I learned that people who hadn’t learned to write in manuscript format usually had fatal flaws in their story. They hadn’t practiced the craft enough to become publishable. So when I see a manuscript that isn’t formatted properly, it raises a red flag.

8) Never start a book with a list of twenty or thirty characters, or a list of every place in the book, or a dictionary of special terms. Your tale should instruct the reader well enough so that it can be enjoyed without those things.

9) Never try to sell a story based upon copyrighted material. For example, publishers must reject song lyrics every time, so don’t insert lyrics to recent songs. I’ve seen some great fan fiction. For example, in Writers of The Future a few years ago, I got a touching story about Gomer Pyle coming back from the war in Vietnam, but it can never be published in a major magazine. The same is true if you write a Star Trek, Star Wars, or Twilight story. Writing such stories is a waste of your time. Write your own fiction.

10) Don’t waste an editor’s time. Don’t send “true” stories to fiction markets. Don’t send your doctor’s thesis, or private letters telling the editor about your rough childhood. If my guidelines say that I want science fiction, don’t send me a mainstream story. If I tell you that my length limit is 7,000 words, don’t send me your novel. With Witers of the Future, we can’t have the author’s name on the manuscript. If you put them on, I must reject the manuscript, even if I love it.

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A past student, Shawna Reppert, has her award-winning novel Ravensblood, up for free this week. It won the 2014 Global Ebook Awards for contemporary fiction.

In a life of impossible choices when sometimes death magic is the lesser of the evils, can a dark mage save the world and his own soul?

Corwyn Ravenscroft. Raven. The last heir of an ancient family of dark mages, he holds the secret to recreating the Ravensblood, a legendary magical artifact of immense power.

Cassandra Greensdowne is a Guardian. Magical law enforcement for the elected council— and Raven’s former apprentice and lover. She is trying to live down her past. And then her past comes to the door, asking for her help.

As a youth, Raven wanted to be a Guardian but was rejected because of his ancestry. In his pride and his anger, he had turned to William, the darkest and most powerful mage of their time. William wants a return to the old ways, where the most powerful mage was ruler absolute. But William would not be a True King from the fairy tales. He would reign in blood and terror and darkest magic.

Raven discovers that he does have a conscience. It’s rather inconvenient.

He becomes a spy for the council that William wants to overthrow, with Cassandra as his contact.

Cass and Raven have a plan to trap William outside his warded sanctuary. But William is one step ahead of the game, with Raven’s life, his soul, and the Ravensblood all in danger.

 

On Editing Your Novel

booksondesksmaller

Over twenty-five years ago I began editing professionally. I began by doing volunteer work as an editor for literary magazines, but my first job was for Brigham Young University, where I helped professors raise their work to publishable levels. Many of the people I worked with were scholars with tremendous expertise in their field of study but often they were not practiced writers. Some of them weren’t even native English speakers. So I helped edit articles, textbooks, history books, self-help books, novels, short stories, pamphlets and funding proposals.

Later I went on to editing technical manuals, and from there moved into fiction editing—both short stories and novels. Even when I'm not editing professionally, a day doesn’t go by that I don’t exercise my skills in one way or another.

The past few years, I’ve taught workshops on “Novel Editing.” In the workshop, I edit the first 100 pages of one's work, then teach novelists who are seriously trying to break into the market.

Here are some key points that I wanted my writers to take away:

In most writing groups, authors get a lot of feedback on the errors in their work, but don’t get much feedback on how to actually improve it. As a result, new authors focus on eradicating errors. So what they end up with is a novel that is pretty much unobjectionable. But that’s rather damning. You don’t want to be “okay,” you want your work to be great.

So in your rewrites, take the opportunity to add as many virtues to your work as possible.

Does your novel suffer from weak descriptions? In your first pass, put those descriptions in.

Would your work benefit by having stronger hooks at the opening to each chapter? Make a pass and put in some great hooks.

Could your novel be better if your character had a more distinctive voice, or if you showed more internal dialog? You can make your novel better in each pass.

Do you need to make your characters more decisive, or show their internal pain? Those can be handled in editing passes.

The truth is that there is so much to do to write a good novel, that many novelists find that it is better to focus on it in several passes, in just the same way that a painter creates a masterpiece by laying down the paint in a dozen layers, letting each one dry before working on it again.

Sure, you might find some weaknesses when you’re editing, but you should be more concerned with adding virtues.

Some authors naturally do one or two things really well. For example, Shannon Hale has a gift for creating gorgeous metaphors, and her use of language is lyrical and beautiful. Tolkien had a gift for world creation that was pretty much unequaled at his time. Orson Scott Card is fantastic at creating gripping arguments, showing penetrating insights into his characters’ conflicts. I love George R. R. Martin’s excellence at creating resonance, or Patrick Rothfus’s command of voice, or Dan Well’s control of tone and his gift for finding fascinating ideas.

But in order to become a bestseller, you normally have to develop a number of skills. On a scale of one to ten, you might look at yourself and ask, where am I? Am I at a five when it comes to creating character voices? Am I only at a one when it comes to world creation? Does my work completely lack hooks or foreshadowing?

If you’re average in most ways but manage to excel in two or three, editors will find you to be publishable. In fact, if you’re excellent at three things, it creates a pattern of excellence, and you’ll probably become a bestseller. That’s all that it takes.

Given that, when I’m editing, I try to work on developing new talents. For example, I might decide that I want to be at least a nine when it comes to creating hooks. Or maybe I’ll try to develop my themes to the point that I can honestly say, “I’ve never seen anyone handle this theme as well as I just did.”

I wish that I could say that there are great editors who can help you reach your loftiest goals. Maybe there are, but they probably don’t work in major publishing houses. Too often, editors for the houses don’t have much real training. Some went into the field with the goal of working as an editor, but I’ve worked with a number who came in from the secretarial pool. I recall one editor who didn’t like reading. Another had never read anything in the field of science fiction when she started, and so asked me for a list of the classics.

An ideal editor, I think, would need to have a profound understanding of story. She or he would have studied with great writers, read widely in literature, and she’d prosper due to her ability to take good writers and help turn them into great ones.

Most of the editors that I’ve worked with aren’t writers. They may be good readers and even good critics, but they have no experience with actually creating stories, and I think that can be a weakness.

So what does a writer do? Just hoping that you’ll find a great editor isn’t quite enough. You’ll have to find your own wise readers and critics and learn from them. For example, if you find a writer that you admire, you might look on his or her web site and see if the author has any articles that might enlighten you as to how to better your own work. You might even take a class, if the author is teaching at a local convention, and arrange to take that writer out to lunch in order to glean some private advice.

Similarly, there are plenty of great books on writing, and for a small investment, you get hours worth of thoughtful instruction on the topic of your choice from an expert in that field.

Beyond that, look for people with expertise and invite them to join your writer’s group, or perhaps become a reader. If you look at Tolkien and Lewis, I have to wonder if either would have succeeded so well without the Inklings. Tolkien was a great world creator. Lewis was the pre-eminent master of theme. Each of them, I suspect, pushed the other to greater heights.

Look for people who can push you in the same way.

It is possible to hire editors, of course, and if you’re self-publishing, you should. Some professional fiction editors take on part-time work--after all, the field is notorious for its low pay. You can find people listed in the back of Writer’s Digest, or advertising online. You can also go to your local newspaper or to a magazine and find people. It isn’t usually enough to hire one editor—I often use three. Even after all of my years of practice (and in my performance reviews, I was told over and over again that I am a sensational editor), I still don’t capture my own typos. No one does.

Just as importantly, work on finding volunteer readers for your books. If you’re writing fantasy, see if you can find a few fans that would take a look at it and give an honest opinion. If you’re writing for children, check with an English teacher at a nearby school to see if you can find some volunteer readers. Don’t think that just because you haven’t published, people won’t be interested. The fact is, most people will be very enthusiastic in their response.

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My friend, Jacob Cooper, has a book that recently became a #1 Best-seller on Audible in the high fantasy category, ahead of The Hobbit and Game of Thrones! You can check out his book, Circle of Reign, on Audible here.

My short story, Sweetly the Dragon Dreams is available for free this week. The Book Circle is helping us promote it. Check them out on Facebook and Twitter

Six Tips to Increase Your Brain Power

Sequence 11, 6-30, Reading Aloud

Here are some ideas to help you increase your ability to write and to brainstorm.

1) Learn your own biorhythms. The right side of your brain, the creative side, wakens and falls asleep on a cycle that is separate from your conscious mind. One signal that it is awake is that during the night, when it wakens, a person will often attain REM sleep. In other words, you'll be having vivid dreams. It also tends to waken before your left-hemisphere, and then it will nap during mid-day.

In order to reach your creative potential, both hemispheres of your brain need to be active and working in conjunction. Thus, I find that I write my best in the morning. By two in the afternoon, I lose a great deal of creativity, and I find that I can often only edit later in the day.

2) Avoid dependence on alcohol or other drugs. I know some authors who like to have a little buzz going. They feel that after a few beers they are less inhibited and can lay down their daily words more easily. But often those same writers find themselves so drunk by noon that they can't find the keyboard. Other drugs, such as LSD and mescaline, cause far more problems than they resolve. I know writers who have written well while on speed, but too often it interferes with a writer's critical sensibilities. Once again, I wouldn't risk it. There are some good studies that show that people who smoke too much weed lose their desire to excel. Once again, it's a bad idea.

3) Learn what foods help you to be more creative. For example, I find that if I eat an egg for breakfast, I am able to concentrate more deeply (eggs are a brain food, rich in choline). Ginkgo biloba is also helpful, as are heavy doses of B-vitamins. Rather than taking anti-depressants, try eating almonds to raise your serotonin levels naturally. There are a number of herbal concoctions, such as Deep Thought, that combine both vitamins and herbs to help you reach a contemplative state.

4) I find that taking green tea instead of colas allows me to get a little energy boost while writing, without getting jittery.

5) When you’re writing, take breaks every two hours or so in order to give your eyes a rest and perhaps eat a small snack so that your blood sugar doesn't drop too low. But when you take your breaks, keep a note pad handy, so that you can capture any stray thoughts that might occur to you about your writing.

6) Many people find that they are most creative after sustained, intense physical exercise. American Indians, for example, would often run for hours in order to initiate a "vision quest." I like to run or work out on a daily basis, and I strongly recommend it not only for the creative boost but also to help keep at an optimum weight.

In short, you need to get to know your body. You may find that certain drugs or illnesses limit you, while others seem to help deepen your focus. You need to recognize your own strengths and weaknesses, and begin to see your mind as a tool--one that needs to be renewed and honed until it is razor sharp. I'll leave it up to you to begin this voyage.

 

Getting into the Creative Mood

write every day, 1-58, frustrated writer

When I was 11, a friend of mine, Jim Smith, was talking excitedly about his Christmas gift. “My dad got me a book that shows stop-motion photography of different kinds of world-champion athletes.” His book showed how sprinters pushed off when they started a race, how high jumpers cleared a bar, how gymnasts performed various flips.

I, on the other hand, got a Thingmaker, in which I learned how to combine various colors of plastic goop in order to bake up rubbery insects and frogs.

Now, Jim wasn’t a huge kid, but he became an amazing athlete. Over the next few years, he began to make his mark in various fields. He eventually set state high-school records in the long jump, at hurdles, in the 100-yard dash, in the quarter mile, and he became the quarterback for our football team and the captain of our basketball team.

Simply by watching Jim, I learned the tremendous power of starting things out right, of learning the basics.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how authors can get into a relaxed creative mood that lets them write more, faster, and better. A couple of weeks ago, my friend Greg Vose sent me a couple of videos from one of my favorite comedians—John Cleese, who has also made a study on how to start out right.

It never ceases to amaze me at how many writers set unrealistic goals, stress themselves out so that they can’t reach a creative state, and then sit down to write. All that they get out of it is frustrated. Yet they make the same mistakes over and over, then hope to get better results.

Watching John’s videos takes about 40 minutes, but I think that if you pay close attention and do what John says, you’ll find that this may be the most rewarding 40 minutes you ever spend. These are certainly the best talks on creativity that I’ve seen. Coming from a genius like Cleese, it’s not surprising, though.

So, watch them and learn, but with one warning: take notes! For an aspiring artist, this material is invaluable.

Watch the videos here.

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We have some new live workshops up:

Professional Writers Workshop

Have you started to write a book and wondered “What do I do now?” Would you like help in editing the book to make it as good as it can be, or help finding an agent or publisher? Would you like to get a better grasp of how to make a living as a writer, or how to launch your new career? Then this workshop might be for you.

It’s designed to help teach you the kinds of things that you can’t learn in most colleges—the ins and outs of the writing business.

The Professional Writers’ Workshop is strictly limited to 18 participants, people who are serious about writing.
March 16-20, 2015

Orem, Utah

Learn more

Worldbuilding Masters Class

One key to creating a blockbuster tale is to learn to transport the reader to another time and another place. In this workshop, Dave takes you through world building in fantasy, historical fiction, and science fiction, including dystopias and utopias.

You will learn how to view the world as a character and source of conflict, how to create planets, new life forms, societies, and economic systems, magic systems, political systems and so on. You will watch popular films where the author did it right—and you’ll perform exercises where you brainstorm your own world, create your settings, write key descriptions and scenes, and have them critiqued by the rest of the group and by Dave himself.

July 7-11th

St. George, Utah

Learn more

Casting Your Novel Master's Class

A lot has been said about creating characters--things that don't really work, like filling 100 pages of information about him or her. If you did this while brainstorming every major character in a novel, you would have 1,000 pages of notes on characters alone.

That's too much.

In this workshop Dave will teach you how to direct your energy to building characters that are not only believable and complex, but are ready to spur conflict, explore themes, and complete an emotion-empowered character arc.

July 13th-17th

St. George, Utah

Learn more

 

Horse Racing

Writing Class, 2-23, at a computer

Last week I got a note from a student who just had a novel accepted by a major publisher. He seemed a little surprised at how easily it had happened, as if he’d happened to enter a horse race and had just taken first place by accident.

But it’s no accident. I’ve heard a lot of writers talk about publishing and making money in this business as having an element of chance, as if writers who succeed are just lucky. I’ll grant you, it does seem to me that at times there is an element of chance.

For example, my friend Richard Paul Evans started out as a self-published author. He took his little book out to the Book Expo America—a huge trade show—and tried to get a table so that he could display it. But the tables were sold out.

Yet as he was walking through the exhibition halls, he noticed that one table was open—the vendor that had reserved it was a no show—so he quietly set up a little display and talked to people about his book. No one was interested, it seemed, but he was invited to a small bookstore in the South to do a signing.

He went to the bookstore, and had signed in the midst of a snowstorm. No one came. He realized that he had wasted his time and thousands of dollars in self-publishing, but then a woman walked in late, just before the store was about to close for the night.

She brushed the snow off of her coat and got to talking to him. She told him that she was a television producer for a morning news show—Good Morning America. Due to the snow, their guest the next morning wasn’t going to be able to make it. She asked if he would be willing to stand in for the missing guest.

That national attention, a coincidence, soon led to a million-dollar publishing deal and became the foundation for Richard Paul Evan’s success.

Was it luck? Coincidence? Perseverance?

I think it was a combination of factors. Richard Paul Evans perseveres. He’s also smart. But eventually, when he most needed publicity, he met someone who happened to need a guest speaker, and it changed his life.

Yet time and time again I meet young would-be writers who say, “You know, those authors who make it big? It’s all a matter of luck.” This becomes their excuse for doing nothing at all.

There’s no such thing as luck. I like what Kevin J. Anderson says, “If you want to attract lightning, be a lightning rod.” In other words, work hard. Be in the right place at the right time. Be ready.

It may seem that there is an element of luck to this business. I won’t deny that. I often hear people compare it to a horse race. But I have never known an author who got a major contract without first writing a big novel. So if you want to win, get a horse into the race.

In fact, because it’s the new year, I like to set goals for the next few months. I’m going to put three horses into the race this year.

See you at the track!

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We have some new live workshops up:

Professional Writers Workshop

Have you started to write a book and wondered “What do I do now?” Would you like help in editing the book to make it as good as it can be, or help finding an agent or publisher? Would you like to get a better grasp of how to make a living as a writer, or how to launch your new career? Then this workshop might be for you.

It’s designed to help teach you the kinds of things that you can’t learn in most colleges—the ins and outs of the writing business.

The Professional Writers’ Workshop is strictly limited to 18 participants, people who are serious about writing.
March 16-20, 2015

Orem, Utah

Learn more

Worldbuilding Masters Class

One key to creating a blockbuster tale is to learn to transport the reader to another time and another place. In this workshop, Dave takes you through world building in fantasy, historical fiction, and science fiction, including dystopias and utopias.

You will learn how to view the world as a character and source of conflict, how to create planets, new life forms, societies, and economic systems, magic systems, political systems and so on. You will watch popular films where the author did it right—and you’ll perform exercises where you brainstorm your own world, create your settings, write key descriptions and scenes, and have them critiqued by the rest of the group and by Dave himself.

July 7-11th

St. George, Utah

Learn more

Casting Your Novel Master's Class

A lot has been said about creating characters--things that don't really work, like filling 100 pages of information about him or her. If you did this while brainstorming every major character in a novel, you would have 1,000 pages of notes on characters alone.

That's too much.

In this workshop Dave will teach you how to direct your energy to building characters that are not only believable and complex, but are ready to spur conflict, explore themes, and complete an emotion-empowered character arc.

July 13th-17th

St. George, Utah

Learn more

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One of my short stories, Hellfire on the High Frontier, got three stars (the highest possible rating) on Tangent Online's Recommended Reading List for 2014.

You can find the story in the Dead Man's Hand anthology.

Resolutions

shutterstock_109898864I hate the word “resolute.” Whenever I think of it, I think of soldiers circa 1800, marching resolutely into battle, knowing that they’re going to die. Yet every year I make resolutions anyway. Maybe if we had better attitudes about resolutions in the first place, it wouldn’t be so hard to keep them.

This year I have a number of resolutions.

It seems to me that if I approach my goals properly, then reaching them won’t be too hard.

For example, let’s look at writing goals. What if instead of saying, “I’m going to write twenty pages a day for at least three days per week,” I decided that, “I will approach each day of writing calmly, training myself to be excited about the task, and anticipating the rewards of a job well done”?

I think that I might get a lot accomplished, without feeling as though I’m marching into battle while the canons are exploding at my back and gunfire erupts all around me.

Or how about this as a New Year’s Resolution: I’m going to train myself to write by writing. Each morning, I am going to get up, and I will have my current novel/short story up and ready to go. I will begin typing on my manuscript before doing anything else, so that by the end of the week, I will have trained myself to think, Ah, there is the keyboard. I will go and work on my manuscript.

You see, many of your habits are subconscious. Some people teach themselves that the computer is for videogames, or it’s for checking email, or it’s for chatting on Facebook. So when they sit down to the keyboard, by force of habit they immediately begin playing.

But what if you trained yourself to make writing your habit? What if you tried something like this:

1) Close your eyes and think about something that excites you. Perhaps it’s the idea of getting your first novel published, or maybe it’s an award you’ve won, or just the joy that will come when you complete your novel.

Think about it, and let the excitement build for 15 seconds.

2) Now, sit at your computer, open the file to your work in progress. Do not do anything else. Instead, open your WIP and write one paragraph.

3) When you’re done with that paragraph, get up from your computer and walk around the room for a moment, thinking about what you might want to do with your work in progress.

4) Repeat step 1, thinking about something that excites you, and letting the excitement sweep through you.

5) Now write another paragraph. Make it beautiful.

6) When you’re done, get up from your computer for a few minutes and think about what you will write next.

7) Repeat steps one through three ten times. By the time that you have done it a few times, you will have begun training yourself so that when you sit down, you will become excited at the prospect of writing, and you will immediately open your work in progress.

This of course is a form of self-hypnosis. We do so many things out of habit—things like putting on our clothes, eating, driving. If you work in a factory, you probably don’t much think about the repetitive tasks that you’re doing. You quite literally may find yourself doing them in your sleep, dreaming about them.

Well, I’m convinced that writing is much the same way. When I go on a writing retreat, I choose to go to places where I don’t have internet access or a phone. All that I can do with my computer is write. Without any distractions, I find that all of my computer time quickly gets focused on writing, and as a result, I can do tremendous things. So what if I train myself to avoid the distractions, to simply focus on what I really want to do most?

Give it a try. It really isn’t hard. You don’t need to be resolute at all.

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Only two days left until we end the our sale on writing workshops over on MyStoryDoctor.com. So, if you are interested, now is your last chance to act.

One of my friends, Mette Harrison, has a book launch happening in Salt Lake City, Utah, January 2nd, at The King's English Bookshop, for her book The Bishop's Wife

In the predominantly Mormon city of Draper, Utah, some seemingly perfect families have deadly secrets.

Linda Wallheim is a devout Mormon, the mother of five boys and the wife of a bishop. But Linda is increasingly troubled by her church’s structure and secrecy, especially as a disturbing situation takes shape in her ward. One cold winter night, a young wife and mother named Carrie Helm disappears, leaving behind everything she owns. Carrie’s husband, Jared, claims his wife has always been unstable and that she has abandoned the family, but Linda doesn’t trust him. As Linda snoops in the Helm family’s circumstances, she becomes convinced that Jared has murdered his wife and painted himself as a wronged husband.

Linda’s husband asks her not to get involved in the unfolding family saga. But Linda has become obsessed with Carrie’s fate, and with the well-being of her vulnerable young daughter. She cannot let the matter rest until she finds out the truth. Is she wrong to go against her husband, the bishop, when her inner convictions are so strong?

Inspired by a chilling true crime and written by a practicing Mormon, The Bishop’s Wife is both a fascinating look at the lives of modern Mormons as well as a grim and cunningly twisted mystery.

“The Bishop’s Wife has good reason to draw a large readership. It places heavy emphasis on domestic abuse and on the question of how dangerous fire-breathing extremists really are. The man who inveighs against women as whores and sinners may or may not be anything worse than a crank. The man who speaks sanctimoniously of them may be much worse... That’s why Ms. Harrison’s Linda is such a welcome character: In her role as Sister Wallheim, she encourages women to speak freely, at least to her, and to escape the shame that has burdened some of them since childhood."
—Janet Maslin, The New York Times

"Harrison makes her adult debut with a stunning contemporary mystery set in Mormon country... [She] easily transports readers into a world most will find as unfamiliar as a foreign country."
—Publishers Weekly, STARRED Review

"The mystery surrounding Carrie drives the plot, but Linda herself is the most compelling thing about young adult author Harrison’s debut adult mystery about a world she knows well."
—Booklist, STARRED Review

"Adds twists aplenty to an insider's look at a religion replete with its own mysteries."
—Kirkus Reviews

 
The book launch party will include a Jello salad contest judged by authors Shannon Hale and Matthew Kirby.

UTAH SCHOOL TEACHER CHARGED WITH PLAGIARISM, CYBER-BULLYING

In perhaps the most shocking case of plagiarism I’ve ever heard of, an elementary school teacher in Utah has been named in a lawsuit for allegedly plagiarizing the work of other authors, adding porn to the stories, and then using false identities (called “sock puppets”) to threaten and attack those who uncovered her schemes.

Few people ever commit the crime of plagiarism. It’s too easy to detect. Those who are caught generally just try to slink quietly away, perhaps to try again later. But in this bizarre case, it takes a darker twist.

Vs.

The accused, a woman named Tiffanie Rushton describes herself as a Utah school teacher who has worked for the Davis County School District for 20 years, where she supervises elementary children, primarily in the third and fourth grades. She seems attractive and innocent, but online she takes on a bewildering array of dark identities.

As we reported three weeks ago, bestselling romance author Rachel Ann Nunes recently discovered that someone operating under an alias had taken one of her christian romance novels and revised it, adding pornographic elements, and was planning to release it online under the pseudonym Sam Taylor Mullens.

But when Rachel tried to get a copy of the suspicious work, she immediately found herself bombarded by a barrage of implausible lies as, under different identities, Tiffanie Rushton alternately claimed that a) the novel had been the product of her writing group, b) a man who was the coauthor had asked her to do it before he died in a car wreck, c) she was the coauthor of the work because she was the niece to Nunes and had given her the ideas, and so on.

When Nunes didn’t buy those excuses, Tiffanie Rushton began to attack Nunes using her different hidden identities. First Rushton accused Nunes of being the offending party and threatened to report her to her aunt, the CEO of Nunes’s publisher. Then Rushton threatened a blogger that she suspected would turn over evidence of her plagiarism. Then Rushton began attacking Nunes herself, writing blistering reviews of her work online on Goodreads and Amazon.com in an attempt to discredit Nunes and ruin her career.

When I suggested to Nunes that we start a GoFundMe campaign in an attempt to uncover the real name of her attacker, Rushton went to the GoFundMe site. Using various aliases, she tried to dissuade other authors from supporting Nunes by claiming that the campaign was a fraudulent attempt to get money, and in one case she said that Nunes was overreacting to another writer who only wanted to “settle the matter quietly.”

Now, let me be clear about this. This isn’t an attack on an indie author. Real authors come up with their own story ideas and slave over their work. I respect that. What Rushton did was something different. In one online chat, Rushton described herself by saying simply, “I write smut.”

There is nothing illegal in writing smut, of course, but it is illegal to steal someone else’s work and then pass it off as your own. It is illegal to cyberbully. It is illegal to create false identities to promote your own work. It is illegal to try to destroy the careers of your victims.

Oh, and while investigating, researchers found that Nunes isn’t the only victim of plagiarism here. There is an earlier novel. And under her aliases, Rushton is currently out soliciting new authors, asking them to send copies of their work for her to "review."

Rushton has dozens of identities. Maybe you’ll recognize some of them as your own online “friends”:

Update: names have been removed by request.

Please do not send your works to her. In fact, you should be leery of anyone who goes online and solicits your novels. Ask yourself, “What will they be using them for?” So who is Tiffanie Rushton? Allegedly, under one identity she describes herself as a heroic Mormon woman who teaches disadvantaged Indian children and only writes porn by night. Yet using another identity she appears to be a bigot who disparages Mormons in general and says, “I’m glad I’m not one.” In one identity she is a teacher who tells children not to copy other’s work and not to bully. Using other identities, she’s a writer’s nightmare.

Having worked as a prison guard with a number of sociopaths, I think I know exactly what she is.

Rachel Ann Nunes has asked that you not attack or harass Tiffanie Rushton in any way.

But if you think that it is important to hold plagiarists, cyberbullies, and liars who use false advertising accountable, the best thing that you can do is to help support Rachel in her stand against plagiarism. Here is the site that is set up for this purpose. (You will notice that you can also learn more about the incident at this site.) http://www.gofundme.com/StandingAgainstPlagiarism

Please be aware that this funding campaign is mostly a symbolic gesture. We don’t know if any monies will ever be recovered. But personally, I think that this is an important step to take in order to crack down on this kind of criminal behavior.

Here’s another excellent article on the topic: http://johndopp.com/plagiarism-sam-taylor-mullens-busted/

I’d write more, but I’m on my way to the Salt Lake Comic Con this weekend. If you happen to be in the area, we will be having a special panel Saturday afternoon at the convention. The panel, “Authors Against Plagiarism and Theft,” will feature several New York Times Bestsellers; author participating include Margaret Weis, Brandon Mull, Tracy Hickman, Richard Paul Evans, Kevin J. Anderson, and myself. We will be passing around a donation jar to fund Nunes's cause for this event.

Dave In The News!

Dave was in the news today. KUTV, a Salt Lake City-based television station, ran a spot on him in the evening news. You can find the video here: