You’ve Changed by Tristi Pinkston

Back when I was first published (yes, check out the picture of me … little baby author Tristi) I had one main goal.

You see, when I got my contract, a friend of my mother’s said to me, “I hope you don’t change now that you’re going to be published. An author lives in our ward, and as soon as she got published, she became totally different. She won’t give us the time of day anymore.”

Other people said pretty much the same thing. “I hope that when you’re rich and famous, you’ll still have time for us.” “Well, it was nice knowing you.” “You’ll be different now, I guess.”

These comments all really bothered me. Why would getting a publishing contract mean that I would change? Why couldn’t I be a published author and still be myself—wasn’t there a way to be both? And so I set a goal, the main goal I mentioned in the first paragraph: I was not going to change. I would always be me.

My plan seemed to work. No matter how many book signings I did or classes I presented or book clubs I did, I was careful that I was always myself. I never put on any airs or acted stuck up or pretended to know stuff I didn’t know. I didn’t name-drop … even though I actually know some really amazing, highly famous people … and I tried to stay pretty low-key about some of the awesome experiences I had. I didn’t want people to look at me and say, “She’s changed. She got published and now she’s a totally different person.” I was going to fight that tooth and nail.

But then I realized something. I had changed.

I was more confident.

I was more educated.

I was more outgoing.

I was finding new talents to share.

I was becoming an expert in my field.

I was funnier.

I was more popular.

I was learning how to respect myself more.

I was making money. (Not a lot, but some. Still working on that.)

I was sought after.

I was viewed as a mentor.

I was stronger mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Oh, no. I broke my promise … I had promised not to change, and then I went and did it.

Tristi2When I look at who I was back then and who I am today, I can’t say that I regret breaking that promise. The fundamentals of who I am have not changed. I’m still friendly and approachable and helpful and as cute as a button, but I’m also wiser and stronger and more able to hold my own. I have learned so much, and everything I’ve learned has shaped me. I’m a far, far better person than I was ten years ago.

And have I lost friends along the way? I’m sorry to say that I have. Some didn’t realize that I wasn’t going to dump them and they dumped me first, thinking they’d take it upon themselves. And some, even though I rarely even mentioned my writing, felt that I talked about it too much and thought I was bragging. What I’ve come to realize is this—the people who said “Don’t change” were really saying “Don’t leave us behind. Um, no, we aren’t going to pursue our own dreams—that’s too hard—so you stay back here with us so we can be more comfortable.”

I don’t like to think about the relationships that were left behind—it makes me sad. But a real friendship, a real relationship, doesn’t punish you for growing as a person, and I learned that the hard way.

Being an author does change you, whether you want it to or not. Every experience you have in life should change you—that’s what life is for. If your life isn’t changing you, you aren’t living it right. We should not leave this planet the same people we were as when we stepped on it. We should be stronger. We should be smarter. We should be more compassionate, more aware, more giving.

I like who I am now. I know I’m not everyone’s cup of tea—a little Tristi goes a long way—but I’m proud of the progress I’ve made. I still have a lot to do—weaknesses I want to turn into strengths, character flaws I’m not too crazy about—and, unfortunately, I know that growth will hurt. That’s just part of it. But what it all boils down to is this—I’ve changed. I’ve changed for the better, for the smarter, for the wiser, and no one should ask you to stay the same either.

Experiences that don’t change you aren’t worth having.


Tristi Pinkston is the author of seventeen (and counting!) published books, including the Secret Sisters mystery series. In addition to being a prolific author, Tristi also provides a variety of author services, including editing and online writing instruction. You can visit her at or her website at

Scrivener is On Sale at Amazon

I almost never endorse a product like this but… Scrivener is on sale at half price from Amazon right now.

The PC/Windows version is $20.00. (Update 4/25: Currently unavailable; don’t know if they’ll authorize more. Update 4/27: Available again.)

The Mac version is $22.50. (Update 4/25: Still available.)

I’m not sure if it’s on sale at other places, nor do I know how long the sale will last. But if you’ve been thinking about it, now might be the time to get it.

If you’re not ready to make the purchasing decision right now, I’ve heard that NaNoWriMo winners (hit the 50,000 word mark) can get Scrivener at a reduced price. Scrivener also offers a 30-day free trial.

Scrivener is a software program that lots and lots of authors love. I have heard a few people say that they couldn’t get the hang of it—but those same people have trouble with the basics of Word, as well. So I think it’s a general level of tech competency in those cases and not so much the actual software.

Want to see screen shots of what it does? Click this.

In my opinion, the best aftermarket book for how to use Scrivener is Scrivener for Dummies, available in both paperback and Kindle.

Readers, chime in. Are you a Scrivener user? Do you love it? Hate it? Give us specifics in the comments section.


Not Just Writing, but Creation by Michaelbrent Collings

Another apology—this time to Michaelbrent Collings for a delayed post this month. Totally my fault!

There are several reasons we write. For personal satisfaction, as a way of making sense of the world around us. We write to create emotions in others, to teach lessons that will (hopefully) make the world a better place.

We also write (perhaps most important) as a way of creating community.

Think about it: not only is our world defined by stories, but who we are as a people is defined by stories. We aren’t members of the USA because we live in a certain geographical area—there are plenty of people all over the world who define themselves that way. It’s not determined by laws, either—huge debates in the news give plenty of air time to people who are here “illegally” yet who stolidly insist they, too, are “Americans.”

So what is it?

The stories.

An “American” is someone who knows the story of the American Revolution. Of the Civil War.  Of Washington chopping down the cherry tree and Lincoln writing the Gettysburg Address on the back of an envelope. Neither of those last stories is true, but that doesn’t matter. Truth is less important than the binding capacity the stories have.

Another example: say you—like every other person in the known universe—went to see the final Harry Potter movie at midnight opening night. You got there six hours ahead of time so you could get a good seat. And while you’re sitting there, waiting for the movie to start, a middle-aged guy with a comb-over and a T-shirt that’s a bit too small for him whips around and says, “Do you think Harry will die in the movie?” And that’s the signal for a conversation to start. And it does.

Now, change venues. You’re in the local fast food place. Waiting in line for lunch. And suddenly the middle-aged guy in front of you whips around and says without preamble, “Do you like seasoned curly fries or the regular kind?”

This is the part where you very reasonably start edging toward an exit and perhaps put “911” on your cell phone’s speed dial.

Same guy. Same you. What was the difference? The difference was that in the first example you were sharing a story. You were, for the moment at least, members of the same community, of the same tribe. And we do not fear members of our community. We understand them. And it isn’t because they’re the same as us—there’s plenty of diversity and strangeness within every community. But the more stories people share in common, the closer their bond and the greater their trust. That’s what makes a “BFF”—just a bunch of shared stories.

So writers are in a place of sublime power and responsibility. Writers create the communities that others will cling to, they create the frameworks that the world at large will hang on as reference points for who they will treat as “friends” (i.e., fellow believers of their stories) and “enemies” (i.e., those who follow or believe other stories… or none at all). It stands to us, then, to create communities that are not merely joined in pursuit of “fun” or “escapism,” but in pursuit of those enobling properties that allow the human race to rise above itself and become more than it is.

Writers are the dreamers. And dreaming is and always has been the first step in the great act of creation. We create words. We create worlds. We create context, and in so doing we create community.

Without stories, every man is and always must be an island. But writers tie those islands together and create great continents—even empires—of meaning… and hope.


Michaelbrent Collings has written numerous bestselling novels, including his latest YA fantasy Billy: Seeker of Powers.  His wife and mommy think he is a can that is chock-full of awesome sauce.  Check him out at or

Pen Names Anyone? by Rebecca Talley

LDSP Note: I can’t believe I forgot to post Rebecca’s guest blog last week! Soooo sorry. And it’s a good one too. Enjoy!

There seems to be two camps on pen names. Those who think an author should use his/her real name no matter what he/she writes and the other camp that believes when an author switches genres, he/she should have a different name distinguishing each genre.

I’ve published three novels for the LDS market. My current book is a young adult urban fantasy targeted at the national market. It has no LDS content or characters so I’m wondering if I should publish it under a pen name.

I’ve spent years trying to develop an online presence with my blog and website. I’ve made a lot of Facebook friends and have Twitter followers. It boggles my mind to think about replicating that with a whole new persona. And then trying to keep up with both “people” with my social networks—makes me exhausted just thinking about it.

On the other hand, would a reader who expected an LDS novel from me be upset with a book that’s about a teenage girl who fights demons?

Other authors have used pen names. Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb, J.K. Rowling, Sierra St. James/C.J. Hill/Janette Rallison, Jeff Savage/J. Scott Savage, to name a few. They’ve all been successful with their pen names and it doesn’t seem to be an issue that people know these authors use pen names.

It makes sense to separate different genres under different author names. Readers would then know that even if this is the same author, books written under one name will be thrillers, while under a different name the books will be romantic comedies.

When I first started writing, the advice was to stick with one genre (thus removing the reason for needing a pen name) and build up a readership in that genre. (As an aside, I’ve noticed in my experience that while LDS fiction may be a genre, there are many sub-genres within it, and romance seems to be very popular). That advice is great, IF you want to keep writing in one genre. For me, I have to write the story that’s burning inside me. If all my stories were romance, that’d be one thing, but so far that hasn’t been true. Forcing myself to write another romance to build up my readership in that genre (since it’s very popular) would take the joy out of writing. Since I have the attention span of a three-year-old (which is why I teach the Sunbeams), I have to write what is inside my head trying to claw its way out.

So, what do you think? Should authors who write different genres use pen names for each genre?


Rebecca Talley grew up in Santa Barbara, CA. She now lives in rural CO on a small ranch with a dog, a spoiled horse, too many cats, and a herd of goats. She and her husband, Del, are the proud parents of ten multi-talented and wildly-creative children. Rebecca is the author of a children’s picture book “Grasshopper Pie” (WindRiver 2003), three novels, “Heaven Scent” (CFI 2008), “Altared Plans” (CFI 2009), and “The Upside of Down” (CFI 2011), and numerous magazine stories and articles. You can visit her blog at