Peering into . . .

the inner workings of Alison Miller Woods

LDStorymakers Writing Conference May 12, 2014

 I just returned from the best weekend! I was at an amazing conference – LDStorymakers.

I learned so much – I will be sharing some things in the coming weeks- and had a great time hanging out with other crazy people that love writing!

Publication Primer Group

 This is my ‘Publication Primer’ group. It is a type of intensive critique group with a published author as a mentor. We lucked out and had two wonderful author/instructors: Renee Collins and Tyler Jolley. I had a great time meeting the other writers in my group and reading the beginnings to their stories. 




Yay for writing buddies! These are some of the amazing people I have met through the chatroom. We meet in there and brainstorm, chat, or sprint (set a time limit and see how much writing/editing/whatever we can finish in that time and then check back in). It was really fun to hang out with them in person. 

It is also one of the very few pictures I took at the conference. I always think ‘Oh, I will get my picture taken with the authors that I fangirl’ and then I get there and don’t even ask for a photo while they sign my books. Maybe someday I will remember/dare pull out the camera :D.


One thing I always do at these conferences. . . buy books. Seriously. I saved my Christmas monies.

To give you an idea of my. . . problem (I don’t have a problem!):

This is a picture of my ‘to read’ bookcase in my room. Keep in mind that it only shows the front layer, there is another set of books behind the ones you can see. That doesn’t count the pile in the library I still need to read either, or the ebooks. *sigh*

To read

So, what do I do?


new shiny books

I bring home a literal bag of new (signed!) books.

They followed me home! Honest 🙂

But really, how can you resist a new book? What I need now, is time to read!


What books/movies/hobbies do you like to look forward to?




Lessons Learned in a Slot Canyon April 14, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alison @ 10:16 am
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This is what exhausted looks like. With a hat.


This weekend I was able to hike a slot canyon (two actually).

This is one of those ‘bucket list’ type things for me. I have always been fascinated by the canyons but have never had the opportunity to try them.

We went to Ding and Dang canyons. They are in the San Rafael Swell area in Utah. Not too far from Goblin Valley. 

What? You haven’t heard of Goblin Valley? – You really need to watch Galaxy Quest. Besides being really funny, there is a scene on an alien planet with a rock monster. The amazing rock formations they are running through are Goblin Valley. Anyway. . .

There were a few things I learned — “life lessons” I’m going to call them– while on this trip through these canyons. 


#1: If you are out of shape, slow and steady does NOT win the race. Slow and steady makes you dead tired. 

Each time I would catch up to the rest of the (more athletically-inclined) group at the rest spot, it was time to move on. *sigh*. 

BUT, while it doesn’t win the race, it does finish it. One step at a time.IMG_0163_adj




#2: Sometimes, what may seem like the easiest way down can get you really, really stuck.

It is sometimes tempting to take that easier path that slopes to the right. The path that looks smooth and gentle. However, when you scrabble down the pile of rocks in front of you, you can see where that ‘easy’ path really goes. It goes to a giant pile of boulders that don’t have a way out. 

Sometimes the easy way out – just isn’t. 




#3 Some obstacles will take a group effort to get through.

Seriously. Sometimes we can help.  Sometimes we need to accept help.














 #4 I can do really hard things. 



 Honestly. Really really hard things. Like – go on without me I will just die right here- hard things.

This last image? It is hard to get the scale to it. But, when I stood in the water at the far end (right underneath what is appropriately called a chokestone) the water went to the middle of my thighs. Oh sure, there were people in our group that could totally spider crawl across this whole thing. They didn’t get wet. But you know– I was pretty proud I made it through.

I am also super grateful to all of those who went with us and made sure we all made it. Thanks!


Seriously. You can’t even imagine the crazy.


Thrift Store Romance March 10, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alison @ 12:01 am
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Squatters shirt

What is a romantic gesture to you?

Let me tell you a story:

When I was in my early twenties, I had a favorite shirt.  It was long-sleeved, heavy cotton, and a fabulous green. 

(secret: I would much rather wear a long-sleeved t-shirt and jeans than anything else) It was from a local brewery pub that has great food. And while I don’t drink a drop, I loved the pun on the front: “Good for what Ales you.” 

Hysterical!  (secret #2: I have always been a sucker for a good pun. Totally my dad’s fault.)

Well, I had a friend that “borrowed” that shirt. And while I’m sure that friend returned it. . . eventually, it ended up disappearing. (sad face)

So now, jump ahead X amount of years. 

I came home from work, really late at night. Everything was dark and silent. (not so secret: it is never silent here)  I tiptoed through the house as to not wake the kidlings. My husband sleepily whispered hello and said that he had gotten me something. I was puzzled and went out to our living room to look in the plastic bag he told me about. 

In that bag was the very shirt I had lost all those years ago. He had seen it at the thrift store and bought it for me. (Fine. Probably not the same EXACT one, but close enough. It was the same shirt- sheesh.)

I was honestly surprised by the tears that I was immediately blinking away.

Such a romantic gesture. 

It wasn’t extravagant or expensive (5 bucks actually).

It wasn’t something that I had been hinting about wanting for a long time. (although those are nice too. . .)

It was something that my best friend saw, remembered me telling him a LONG time ago that it had been my favorite, and brought me ‘just because.’

That, is romance to me. Knowing what would make the other person happy and surprising them with it.

So, a question for you: How do you define a romantic gesture? Or what is romance to you?


Growing, Learning, Stretching- September 26, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alison @ 6:50 pm
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Sometimes it is hard to learn something new.

Difficult because you have to acknowledge how far you still may have to travel. (Like looking at a map at the beginning of your trip)
But it can also be really, really cool.

I am currently working on my second book. And I am learning to use a program called Scrivener. It is pretty cool. I haven’t learned to use all the features yet, but I do really like that all my research notes, images, and outline scribbles can all be kept together with my manuscript. Fun stuff-


This is a good example of learning something new, that isn’t too scary.

Other times, learning something new can be scary because it takes a leap of faith. It can be hard to share the things you create with others because you don’t know how they will react. It takes a leap of faith.

However, if we are willing to listen to the responses, we may grow and improve.

It is a lesson I am still trying to learn.

The contest I entered for the League of Utah writers sends back your entry with the judge’s notes on them.

Scary? Yes. But also an awesome chance to learn!

So it was fun to see all the positive comments like “Good voice here”, or “Good view into her thoughts here.”

I can learn from those, I can see what I did right and try to use that method again.

But, I also loved to see the comments like this: “You need a bigger hook here.  You can achieve this by slowing down and showing us the setting and the characters.  Describe the important things in this scene” and “Good idea to establish the bond here, but I would also like to see a bigger hook and maybe some foreshadowing of the next chapter.”

Those comments teach me new skills that I need to learn to improve my storytelling craft.

These are exciting things – it makes me want to jump back into my story and examine all the pieces it needs to convey the story in my head.

What other things do we learn that may be scary at first?



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