Author Archives: Bonnie Dodge

Why Writing Conferences are Important to Your Mental Health

Earlier this spring, my writing partner and I discussed attending the Idaho Writers Rendezvous in Boise presented by the Idaho Writers Guild. We knew the basics, money was tight, and it meant being away from home for three days, not to mention away from our writing routines. With so many excuses, it was easy to talk ourselves into staying home. But we knew it was important to network, so we made time in our schedules and went.

We’re glad we did. We both had hit a brick wall in writing. We were buried in work—the editing, the marketing, and revisions. Every day was a grind—responding to emails, putting out fires, scheduling book signings, and trying to make time to write. Under the strain of the daily routine, we found ourselves in an agonizing rut. We were writing, but we weren’t having fun.

You’re smiling now because you know writing is work. Hard work, and not every day is a picnic. But it should be, right? At least some part of the day should make you glad you’re a writer, or why are you doing it?

That’s where our heads were when we attended the IWG conference this spring. We must have been in the right space at the right time because two of the presenters helped us reset our brains. Highly successful writers, Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith, opened our eyes and reminded us why we chose to be in this business. My partner had an aha moment when she discovered it was okay to write as fast as she does. She had self-talked herself into thinking she had to slow down to be normal, and she wasn’t enjoying the process. It went against her natural drive. I learned it was okay to let go of the “shoulds.” I was reminded that the only should I needed to listen to was the should that makes my writing better. Our two-hour trip home was electrified as we discussed these affirmations and formulated new projects. We felt free to let go of the expectations and enjoy writing again.

Maybe you’re on the fence about attending an up-coming conference. Maybe it would be easier to stay home. But while you’re deciding, don’t forget to look at the things you might learn; some things that may even surprise you.

-Bonnie Dodge


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Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

Beginning writers always want to know Where do you get your ideas? The answer is simple. Everywhere. I once read that by the time you reach age forty, you have enough life experience to write stories for the rest of your life, and I believe this is true. What you need to learn is how to mine that information and turn it into something interesting. Start thinking like a writer. Start asking the questions. What is he doing? Why? Will the results be good or bad? What’s going to happen next? What if?

Recently I spent the better part of a week in another state. It started with a long plane ride and ended with an even longer layover in Salt Lake City. I could have whined and paced. I could have stuffed my frustration with Big Macs. Instead, the writer in me came home with a suitcase full of ideas that may or may not turn into interesting stories.

For instance.

On the puddle-jumper taking me from Twin Falls to Salt Lake City, I sat beside a man on his way to a dairy convention. He talked the entire time, and I learned that he was an Idaho transplant. So I wondered. What inspired him to move to southern Idaho? How did that impact family he left behind? Was he happy with his decision? Okay, the answers to these questions might be simple, but what if . . . he was the black sheep of the family and had a dark secret that kept threatening to come out. What if he changed his identify and moved to an obscure farming community several states away and met someone he couldn’t forget? What if he didn’t mean to fall in love? What if he didn’t mean to settle down or raise cattle, to which he had a deathly allergy, but there he was? The story possibilities are endless.


I was crossing a busy street in downtown Minneapolis. There was no park nearby. A small dog darted across the road and I watched it sniff its way down the block and around the corner. Where was the dog’s owner? What was the spotted dog doing in the middle of a busy street? What if the dog’s name was Sparky and he was having his own marvelous city adventure?


On the way home I had a six-hour layover in Salt Lake City. That gave me lots of time to sit and watch people. As a writer, the first thing I notice is what other people are reading. Which book, what author? Why? What if the man sitting beside me is a serial killer and he is reading a book called Clancy has a Gun? Why is the lady across the isle reading Alice in Wonderland?  Is she planning a tea party with her granddaughter when she reaches her destination? Or the punk kid with his iPad. Is he reading or playing a game? What and why?

It’s really that simple. Story ideas are everywhere. All you have to do is sit back, observe, and ask What If? and Why?

Bonnie Dodge

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Filed under Archives 2015, story ideas

Checklist for writers

January is a month for new beginnings. While everyone is setting goals and making resolutions, I have a few of my own I’d like to share. Years of writers’ conferences, workshops, and book signings have taught me what to do as well as what not to do as I try to present myself as a professional writer.

  • Professional writers listen and observe. At workshops, they don’t talk unless they are the keynote speaker. They respect the presenter even if they think they know more than the speaker. They don’t hog the time or offer their opinions unless they are specifically asked.
  • Dress appropriately. Professional writers don’t show up in pajamas even if they write most of their books in pjs. They pay special attention to their appearance and put their best self forward. They brush their teeth, comb their hair and wear clean conservative clothes at presentations and book signings.
  • Be courteous. At book fairs, professional writers don’t shout out, “Hey you, buy my book.” Nor do they interrupt other authors talking about their own books by saying, “Hey, I’m a writer too.” Or “Hey, I take credit cards.” They wait their turn and are considerate.
  • Don’t gossip or complain. Professional writers are mindful of what they say in public. They don’t gossip or burn bridges. They know that the writer they pan today may be the best-selling author they’d like a back cover blurb from tomorrow. They know that the writer they berate may be the person they may have to chair a committee with some day.
  • Be on time. Professional writers realize that time is a precious commodity. They don’t make others wait. They call when they know they are going to be late and stick to schedules, no matter what.
  • Continue to learn. Professional writers know that writing is an ever-changing industry and that what worked five years ago isn’t going to work today. They read, study, and attend meetings and conferences to stay current in their industry.
  • Don’t brag. Professional writers check their egos at the door. They realize that everyone has an opinion or something to boast about. They don’t pontificate or shove their personal opinions on others.
  • Be dependable. Professional writers keep their promises. If they sign on to do something, they do it. They are honest and reliable. They finish what they start.
  • Exercise self-control. Professional writers control their emotions. They realize that writing is a subjective career. They know how to handle rejection. They don’t shout or scream in public if their feelings are hurt, or if they have a problem with another writer. They settle disputes privately with discretion.
  • Be present and give your all. Professional writers believe in themselves and write even when the writing is going badly. They believe in the process and they always do their best, knowing that their audience deserves only the best.

And lastly, professional writers know the difference between work and play, and count themselves blessed that they get to do something they love every day. As you begin the New Year, put your best foot forward. Be professional and enjoy the journey.

-Bonnie Dodge

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Book Signing at Twin Falls Center for the Arts


Thank you Magic Valley. We had a great time at the Book and Arts Fair this weekend!

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Filed under Archives 2014, events

Limited Edition Just in time for Christmas


What child wouldn’t want to read about being a daredevil and accomplishing their dreams? This limited edition package includes an 8 inch Billie Doll, a Follow Your Dream Bookmark, and the 219 page book, Billie Neville Takes a Leap, ISBN 978-0-69220-884-7. This would make a perfect gift for the young reader in your home. Cost is $30, which includes sales tax and shipping & handling. Quantities are limited so don’t delay. You can order here.

Ten-year-old Billie wants to be a daredevil, just like her hero Evel Knievel. She also wants a best friend. Riding “the best bike in the whole world,” Billie’s desperate to enter a bike jumping contest with three boys named The Meanies and show them her cool skills. When Evel comes to town to jump the Snake River Canyon, Billie learns she has to be a friend to make friends and that not all heroes have to soar over canyons.

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Call for stories and recipes


Do you have a favorite recipe handed down through generations? One with a story behind it?
We’re seeking recipes and the stories behind them for a new Snake River Plain series anthology. The stories may be fiction, non-fiction, poetry or essays related to the recipe. The anthology is planned to be released in time for Mother’s Day 2015. Contributing authors will receive one free book and the opportunity to offer ebook specials to their family and friends from time to time. Submission deadline is February 28, 2015.

This will be a collection of great Idaho recipes and stories. This is your opportunity to share your family’s favorite recipe with others as well as see some of your work in print.

Submission Guidelines:

 1) The following word limits will be considered: For fiction, nonfiction, essays and poetry – a story up to 500 words. Recipes are not included in the word count.

 2) You may submit more than one recipe. There is no entry fee. You retain all rights and may republish your story and recipe after the book has been released.

 3) Preference will be given to Idaho writers and/or recipes relating to Idaho.

 4) Use standard manuscript format—double-spaced, 12pt serif font Times, Times New Roman, or Courier New with one-inch margins. Poetry may be single-spaced. Please incorporate your submission into the body of an email or attach entry as a PDF file. No other attachments will be opened.

 5) Include your name, address, email address, phone number and word count with your submission.

 6) Submission deadline is February 28, 2015. We plan to release the anthology in the spring of 2015. Please send submissions to Please put the words “recipe anthology submission” in the subject line. We will accept email entries only. You can submit your entry here.

 7) If your story is accepted, you will receive one printed copy of the book and special ebook offers for your family and friends.

For inspiration check out Dixie Reale’s story and recipe Celebrate harvest bounty with fresh fruit printed in the Ag Weekly on August 29, 2009.

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Filed under announcements, Archives 2014, recipes

Thank You, Magic Valley!

What a great day signing books at Barnes & Noble. Thank you Magic Valley, we enjoyed talking books and writing with you today. ❤


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National Novel Writing Month is Here

Tomorrow marks the beginning of NaNoWriMo. If you’ve been thinking about participating but you’re procrastinating, let me offer some advice based on my own experience.

First, if you’re unfamiliar with “Nano,” National Novel Writing Month is a fun, fast approach to novel writing. The goal is to finish 50,000 words in one month. That means beginning November 1 and ending midnight, November 30, you have 30 days to write 50,000 words. Whoa, that’s ambitious, and yes, it is doable. You can learn all about Nano here.

November is typically a busy month for me, but then, what month isn’t busy? With holidays and preparing for Christmas, who wants to add one more thing to the calendar? It’s daunting to commitment to writing 1666 words a day. But that’s how books get written, one word at a time.

I’ve participated in Nano several times, and here’s what I’ve learned. Nano taught me how to increase my word count on a consistent basis. Compare it to exercise. You have an hour to walk four miles. You have an hour to write one thousand words. Get ready, get set. Go. There is no time to stop and research. There is no time to look up misspelled words. There is no time to stare into the refrigerator or talk on the phone. There is only time to write.

I’m a little bit OCD and the perfectionist in me wants everything perfect before I write the next page of my story. Nano taught me to keep going, to type XXXX if I am stumped or lost. Nano taught me to ignore the misspelled words or the out of sequence scenes and to just keep writing. It becomes a form of free-writing that results in words to edit instead of a blank piece of paper staring back at me at the end of the day.

Nano taught me to kill Ms. Snarky Editor and banish Ms. Holy Perfectionist. They aren’t allowed into the room until December. By silencing them, I was able to complete my novel in thirty days. Yes, the manuscript was rough. Yes, there were plenty of misspelled words and lots of XXXs that needed to be addressed. But instead of having one chapter or half of a manuscript, I had a complete book ready for revision and edits. That book became Waiting, published by Booktrope this fall.

If you’re still procrastinating, or on the fence, why not give Nano a try? You might surprise yourself. You might actually write a book.

-Bonnie Dodge

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Filed under Archives 2014, NaNoWriMo

We Have a Winner

We had so much fun at the 1000 Springs Art Festival. Dena Gubler of Jerome won this amazing basket of books just by stopping by and entering our free raffle. A great big thanks to everyone who attended the festival.




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Filed under announcements, Archives 2014

Thank you, Morningside Elementary!


Today we stopped by Morningside Elementary in Twin Falls and presented the Principal, Steven Hoy, a copy of our book, Billie Neville Takes a Leap. Billie attended Morningside in 1974, the year Evel Knievel attempted to jump the Snake River Canyon. Thank you, Morningside Elementary for letting us wander your halls. You have a great school.

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Filed under Archives 2014, kid's books