Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Heavenly Spark

Many of those in our midst have endured trials this past year. Some heart-wrenching, some less so. I have sorrowed with you and prayed for you and learned from your steady examples of faith. To you I give this quote from Washington Irving. I read that it is the quote taped to Stephanie Nielson's refrigerator to give her strength through her dark days of recovery. (She is the fellow Arizonan who was badly burned over most of her body in a plane crash over a year ago. Read her inspiring blog here.)

"There is in every true woman's heart a spark of heavenly fire which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity, but which kindles up and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity."

To you who are the heroes in your own lives, may God bless you and yours in the coming year.

Happy New Year!

[Post originally published at 12/15/09]

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


I know I've been neglecting you, but, please stay tuned. I will be back soon and with the chance to win prizes...yes, that's prizes with an "s" on the end!!! And all because I care about you.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Catching Fire

A good friend is one who loans you their copy of Catching Fire when they find out you are number bajillion in the library hold queue and they know you have been in withdrawals ever since coming to the end of Hunger Games and discovering it's not the end, but only the beginning of a series, and even though you were rather late in jumping on the Hunger Games bandwagon, there was still several months to wait until Book Two would be released. Said friend has not even read Catching Fire herself, but still loaned it to me, probably because I am obsessed, and because she purchased the book, but recklessly decided not to read it till Book Three was released, thus sparing herself the agony (of which I am now experiencing) of waiting so long to find out what happens next.

That is my definition of a friend.

Thanks, Peggy. I owe you.

And in case you're wondering...Book Two is every bit as intense and wonderful as the first. I loved it!

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Ball's in Her Court by Heather Justesen

I know, I know. Another book review, but it is the Christmas season and you need gift ideas, right?

She's got a great job, a loving group of family and friends, and basketball skills like you wouldn't believe, but Denise DeWalt's life is far from perfect, and she's about to come face-to-face with a past she hoped to leave behind forever.

Twenty-six-year-old Denise thinks she's come to terms with her childhood in the foster care system, but when her old nightmares return, Denise realizes that she must deal with her past once and for all if she ever wants to move on to a brighter future with Rich, the only man who can see past her former life. As Denise's search leads her closer and closer to the one person she hoped she'd never have to face again, she begins to realize that her future depends on just one person--herself.

This emotional and inspirational love story proves that life is full of unexpected twists and turns--especially when it comes
to facing your demons, fighting for love, and finding happiness for the future.

I'm excited that Author Heather has consented to my rambly interview questions. Welcome, Author Heather. Hmmm...that sounds good together. I bet she would agree.

ME: Do you ever read your back-of-the-book blurb thingy in a deep, dramatic tone like they do on TV… ”She’s got a great job, a loving group of family and friends, and basketball skills you wouldn’t believe…” Like when your husband’s in the shower you could sneak up and go, “Twenty-six-year-old Denise thinks she’s come to terms with her childhood in the foster care system, but when her old nightmare returns…” or it could be your answering machine message, “This emotional and inspirational love story proves that life is full of unexpected twists and turns…”

HJ: Although I've read the backliner many times already, I admit, I never thought of reading it into my answering machine message. I am really pleased with the copy my editor wrote for it, though. [So, the official term is "backliner" and not "back-of-the-book-blurb thingy"? Aspiring authors take note. I do like the answering machine idea for you, Heather... "She's got a great job, a loving group of family and friends, and basketball skills you wouldn't believe... Pick up "The Ball's in Her Court and read it today. And if you'd like to leave a message for Author Heather, do so after the beep. Beeeeeeeeeeep...]

ME: Your main character, Denise, has much to deal with in her past. I don’t want to make light of the foster care system. I assume your experience with foster children was the catalyst for this story? Did you use any of those experiences in the story or a combination of them? Or was this story born more out of research?

HJ: Actually, I started writing the story before we ever had any placements, while I was researching adoption issues before our licensing was done. My experience with the foster kids did, of course, color the way I wrote the story in later versions, but most of the adoption stuff came from research I did online in preparation for fostering. The adoption forums on were extremely helpful.

ME: There are good lessons (Readers, note the discussion questions at the back of the book) for everyone to learn from your book and not just those acquainted with the foster care system. Besides just being an entertaining read, what do you hope a reader takes away from this book?

HJ: There are several themes in the story, among them, Denise's issues with accepting that the atonement really did apply to her, and her fears of taking risk (we all have to take risks once in a while--if I hadn't risked rejection, this book would never have been published). I also am a strong believer in the importance of family--however it may have been formed. I hope this book teaches all of these things without coming across preachy because they are just part of our everyday lives, things we all have to deal with. [I'm grateful I don't have to deal with Denise's cleaning obsession--I'll stick to my C-OCD--Chocolate-Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.]

ME: But I digress... Give me one random sentence from your book, no context.

HJ: "You keep saying that, but I never get a real reason why." [Now that sounds like an actual quote from my husband. Does he get any kind of royalty for that, I wonder? You can get back to me on that.]

ME: What other works do you have in progress?

HJ: "Rebound," the spin off to this one about the roommate Lily is coming out in May, and I have another book about Lily's sister Shelly (whom we get to know in Rebound) in serious revision. Besides that, I have a couple of unrelated books in various forms of editing and hope to submit one in the next few weeks. I always have more projects than time on my hands. [The Ball's in Her Court/Rebound--I love it when the titles of a series are related. It's so Twilighty-New Moony-Eclipsy-and whatever the 4th one was-y of you! Hunger Games/Catching Fire--not so much.]]

Thanks, Heather!!! It's been fun getting to know you better. I've seen you from afar (LDS Storymakers) and hoped to someday bask in your authorly glow. This has been a little glimmer, so thank you!

For those twice-checking their Christmas lists, The Ball’s In Her Court is available at Deseret Book, and Also check out Heather Justesen’s blog for more of Author Heather.

[And for more of me, just wait till after the holidays. I plan on eating lots and lots of fudge.:D]

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Trail of Storms by Marsha Ward

After her sister suffers a brutal attack, Jessie Bingham and her family flee post-Civil War Virginia and undertake a perilous trek to New Mexico Territory. When Jessie hears that her former sweetheart, James Owen, has taken a wife, she accepts Ned Heizer's marriage proposal on the condition they wait to wed until the end of the journey. But then Jessie encounters James again . . . and he isn't married now!

In her third novel about the Owen family, award-winning author Marsha Ward reunites Jessie Bingham and James Owen in a bewildering tangle of values, emotions and high adventure.

I did not write that. It's like the official blurb on the back of her book. That's why it sounds all official and intense, and, well, better than something I could've written. It makes you want to read the book doesn't it? My husband read the first two and really enjoyed them, and I have it on good authority that this third one is finding it's way under the Christmas tree (Shhh...).

I personally can't wait to read all three of them one after the other. And then I get to blog about them and interview Marsha and ask her all sorts of fun, authorly questions that might not be official at all.

But I will strive for intense.

Find Marsha Ward and her book in these places:

Also check out her book trailer on the side bar.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

An Angel on Main Street by Kathi Oram Peterson

Put another log on the fire and crank up the old phonograph with Frank Sinatra Christmas tunes (personally I have IL DIVO Christmas on as I blog today) and prepare yourself for a Christmas tale that's both warm and chilly at the same time.

Oh, and hot chocolate. you'll want hot chocolate.

Kathi Oram Peterson's charming An Angel on Main Street tells the story of Micah Connors, a boy coming of age as he struggles to stay on the straight and narrow to please his mother, be an attentive brother to his ill sister, and, also, the man of the house following the death of his father. All of these roles are challenged by his choices and the choices of others. And the snow and cold of a frigid Idaho winter. When a crude structure appears in the middle of town and parts of a nativity scene are added nightly in secret, this becomes Micah's focus. Can he save his sister and make everything right again by discovering the stable's secret before the baby Jesus appears?

Okay, I'm tearing up just reliving it. Gotta say, I love a good Christmas tale. Gracious Author Kathi consented to an interview. I hope she doesn't mind being KOP, you know, for Kathi Oram Peterson. I see it done in the AZ Republic and it makes me seem all professional-like. The ME is me cause I just wanna be me, okay? My comments are in brackets. [I'm a blogger, I can't help but comment.]

ME: You grew up in Idaho and you really nailed the setting for the book. Have you considered offering a coupon for hot chocolate with each book purchase? Maybe toss in a few marshmallows? Seriously, it was COLD in this book. I'm talking BITTER. I live in AZ, so yes, I’m pretty wimpy, but brrrrr… (There’s a question in there somewhere, maybe you can give me a comment about the setting and growing up in Rigby.)

KOP: Oh, I never thought of offering a coupon for hot chocolate, but for every book I sign I give a snowflake ornamant. [Okay, Kathi, adding cold to colder.] Yep it's cold in Idaho. There was one winter from November to March that it didn't get above freezing and most of the time it was below zero. We had to leave a small drip of water going in the bathroom to keep the pipes from freezing. Too late for the hot chocolate. How about instead people can enter my An Angel in Your Life contest where they write about an experience where someone was an angel in their life. Email it to me ( The winner will receive a $25 gift certificate to either Seagull Book or Deseret Book and so will their angel. [Now that's definitely a hot deal!]

ME: Is this story based on a story from your family history?

KOP: I grew up in a small town in the fifties, so I knew what it was like. My father owned a store on Main Street and we lived in the apartment above, so I knew what that was like, too. My father worked part-time for the police department. And my mother had a heart attack while washing my hair for a dance recital. She nearly died. I remember how scared I was that I'd never see her again. I used all of those experiences to mold this story.

ME: What is the population of Rigby, Idaho? Has it changed at all over the last 50 years?

KOP: I'm not sure what the population was back then, but there are fewer people there now. They built a freeway that bypasses the town. In many ways it has more of a small town flavor to it now than it did in the fifties. Geez, fifty years ago makes me feel so old... [Sorry, didn't mean to reference the age thing.]

ME: I’m one of those people who loves a tender Christmas story and like to read at least one new one each holiday season. Are you? It must be a thrill to have your own published in this genre.

KOP: Oh I'm a sucker for a good Christmas story. I have several on my list. And to think I have a Christmas book on store shelves among them is very surreal. I went to a signing last Saturday and there was my book next to Glenn Beck's new picture book, The Christmas Sweater. Who would have thought? [That is cool. I must say, I read Beck's book last Christmas and his story's got nothing on yours. Though, I should have put on a sweater to read yours!]

ME: Give me one random sentence from your book, no context.

KOP: "If meat keeps disappearin' I'll have to fry up some of those alley cats you're so fond of." This is fun. How about a few more? "Annie Bananie, you've got to get better." AND "Snowflakes fluttered around me as my heart hammered against my ribs 'til I thought my chest would burst." [Whew, thanks! Three for the price of one! I do love that meat quote. Might look nice in vinyl lettering on my kitchen wall.]

ME: Kathi has also previously published a novel titled “The Forgotten Warrior.” Tell us about it.

KOP: The protagonist is a sixteen-year-old girl with a black belt in karate. She is going through a crisis in her life and just when she thinks it can't get worse she is thrown back in time to Helaman and the stripling warriors. She teaches the warriors a few karate moves and goes with them to battle against the mighty Lamanite army. There's a little romance, some battles (using the historic battles in the Book of Mormon) and a cliffhanger ending. I loved writing this book. There were days as I worked that the characters seemed to write the story without me. [Karate and romance with some stripling warriors. Kathi, please, you're killing me. I'll have to find that book.]

That's it folks, the fun is over. Thank you to my new author friend and illustrious interviewee for your time and for being accepting of my questions. I'm a little slow on the interview uptake and didn't get questions emailed till late last night.

Go to Kathi's website here for information on purchasing her book. As they say, it makes a great Christmas gift!

Endnote: Hot chocolate may not be enough. Get the book, then on the way home stop for a Snuggie. You know what I'm talking about. "Available now in hot new colors at retailers everywhere." --quote from actual TV commercial.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Practical Guide for Completing a Novel

Turn over the "WELCOME" mat, hiding the sentiment.

Ignore the dishes.

Laugh in the face of laundry. Ha, ha, ha!

Let the Sunday papers pile up unread.

Overlook the Barbies that have taken up permanent residence on the dining room table.

Bathing? Overrated.

When the school calls to say another parent is needed to go on the class field trip, say, "Sorry, I'm working today."

Never, ever, EVER turn this on...


And now back to my WIP!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Novel Update

My story does not hold water. Why? Because there are tons of holes in it. (You should have seen that one coming.)

I've come up with a plan, though. This month I am going to guess where the holes are and try to fill them. I say "guess" because have you ever tried to write a novel? I just can't picture the whole of it--ha! it's a pun. In some vague, misty, romantic way I can, but not how every single word of every single chapter fits together to form the beautiful, flowing narrative I aspire to. I can't clearly see the big picture and it Makes. Me. Crazy.

So back to my plan..I write, write, write, then at the end of the month I take all my chapters and smush (a writer's term) them together like a play-do ball into one gigantic, multi-colored mass. Then I, and other hapless readers, will devour it from start to finish. That's the only way to get a grasp on it, I think.

I feel I'm at that point. I've got 26 chapters and well over 50,000 words at last tally, so what else is a writer to do but SMUSH?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Of One Heart by Valerie J. Steimle

My writer friend Valerie Steimle has recently published a book for and about singles in the LDS Church. She gained her experience first-hand after her husband of 25 years passed away suddenly, leaving her to care for their nine children alone. As you can imagine, she entered a whole new, strange world when faced with being single in a two-parent family church. During the years she was single again, she came in contact with so many singles and would listen to their stories and their struggles. This is what prompted her to write the book.

Valerie says, "Whether by divorce, death of a spouse or never married there are challenges to being single in a predominately married world--challenges most people don't realize until they are single themselves."

The book includes tips for singles, those with friends who are single, and church leaders who have single members within their jurisdiction. That about covers all of us, I think.

Here's the link to purchase at

Check out Valerie's other books about the family on her website at

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

An interesting thing happened on my way to becoming an author...

I was asked yesterday if I would be a judge in a writing contest. I won't reveal which one, because I wouldn't want to be inundated with gifts, luxury cruises, and Hershey's Extra Creamy Milk Chocolate Toffee and Almond Nuggets, all in an effort to persuade my vote. That would just be wrong...wouldn't it? (Not even just one measly bag of nuggets? *BIG SIGH*)

Anyway, it gave me pause. (Kind of like the mention of Hershey's Extra Creamy Milk Chocolate Toffee and Almond Nuggets just did.) And then I laughed. It reminded me of all those years ago when I had my very first ever item published in the newspaper. Because I could string a few words together in a somewhat coherent (and humorous, I hasten to add) manner and a newspaper was willing to publish it and pay me 10 bucks, suddenly I was an expert of sorts. Never mind that I didn't have another thing published for, like, forever. People just seemed to be impressed with even this one minor success.

They also seemed to think I knew the ins and outs of writing.

My son's 2nd grade teacher saw the article and asked if I would come once a week to teach Creative Writing to the class. And I was actually asked to judge an elementary school Reflections writing contest. I guess it turned out alright. No anarchy in the streets over the winners chosen.

No chocolate-covered bribery attempted either.

Darn it.

[this bit of nonsense is also appearing today at]

Sunday, November 1, 2009

This is me in November...

Of course, I'll be using a keyboard instead of a pen, but it seems a bit dreamier and much more romantic to pretend to be Anne Hathaway pretending to be Jane Austen, doesn't it?

Storybook Wedding

And they lived happily forever after...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Apparently a disclaimer about my disclaimer is in order...

Last time I blogged about cutting out extra things in life so that I, as a person inclined to write, could have time to write. I mentioned TV, but should have also mentioned exercise--certainly no time for that. Not really, my lack of consistent exercise has nothing to do with my writing career, in fact, sitting at the computer for long hours probably increases greatly the need for exercise-related activity before the blood just pools in my feet and my brain cells along with it. Okay, wait (weight? Eek!---no pun intended), I did not intend for this to turn into a blog about exercise because I might feel like I need to go do some. Back to my disclaimer about the disclaimer...

In my last post I "disclaimed" that I am glued to the tube when a season of Amazing Race is on. Apparently that is not true because I became aware last evening that the show is already 4 episodes in and I was clueless. That's the problem with not watching network television. You don't see the previews for the upcoming shows. This isn't the first time this has happened, so can someone just please give me a heads up next time?

Thank you.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

While You Were Watching TV I Wrote a Book

I am lost when it comes to Lost. I'm fuzzy about Grey's Anatomy. House is just a structure I live in. I have an office, but I've never seen The Office. I don't idolize American Idol. I've had my fill of Dr. Phil. So You Think You Can Dance? No, I don't. And Oprah? Hmmm...can't come up with something snappy for that one, so I'll stop now!

In life there are choices and many of these choices are not compatible. For example, lots of TV-viewing is not compatible with writing a finished novel. Neither is reading stacks upon stacks of other people's books, for that matter, so I'm not picking on TV-watchers. (I just thought it was a clever title. And you know me, I'm all about the cleverness. :])

Anyway, I guess I'm just lamenting again my own lack of finishing. I was asked to do a book review on my blog for a book other than the ones I'm doing for Walnut Springs Publishing. I was thrilled to be asked. I explained to my husband how I review for them, then they remember me and review for me someday, but he was unfazed. "They review what?" he asks. " book," I meekly reply because I know what he is getting at. "Ah, the book you're not writing because you are reading and reviewing for them."

Point taken.

Whatever is keeping you (and me) from accomplishing our goals and dreams--in whatever area of life, we should let those things go. No, I am not advocating cutting out personal hygiene and the proper care and feeding of your children, and I'm still going to blog book reviews, but I'm not going to find out How I Met Your Mother or spend time with Two and a Half Men. I'm really not bothered that the new Fall schedule passes me by yet another year because I already have Heroes. I'm dedicating my book to one of them...when it's finished.

[Disclaimer: I am glued to the tube when a season of Amazing Race is on. I'm not totally TV-challenged.]

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

It makes me want to hurl...

...the book. What did you think I meant?

I just want to get it out in the open... I hate it when an author brings the couple together finally near the end of the story, but then one of them dies. I'm telling you, this is not what people read romances for. Authors please note: Need! Happy! Ending! I threw one such book across the room. (Apologies to the library for that. Good thing I didn't see the movie--it's hard to throw a theater.)

Yesterday, author of actual books and blogger for Cedar Fort, Jaime Theler, listed 10 pet peeves she has as a reader. (Check them out here, I'm sure you'll agree with her on all counts!)

Anyway, it reminded me of my recent lament after starting a new book and being confronted with awkward writing:

Since becoming a writer, am I ruined as a reader?

I LOOOOOOOVE to read. I've been an avid reader my entire life. See picture of me avidly reading?

But now a writer's eye has joined my reader's eye as I peruse the pages of my latest book selection. I don't just enter the story, I notice how that story is structured and the precise words chosen to tell it.

It's making me crazy! It goes beyond pet peeves to just plain being critical (in a proper, literary, critiquing kind of way, of course.;D). Sure, the sentence may be grammatically correct, but it doesn't sound right, it doesn't flow. Did the author ever read it aloud and really hear it...? These are the kind of comments I make to my husband who is required under our marriage contract to listen patiently to at least two rants per week from his wife (that's in the Utah law books somewhere). He just gets this look that is very easy to read: "So how many books have you published?")

So back to pet peeves...I guess awkward writing that sounds like the author did not read it aloud to hear how it flows is one of my major pet peeves.

What are yours?

And if you don't like this blog post, probably wise to refrain from throwing your computer. Just saying.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Put me out of my misery...

Okay, I'm not really 4th in the library queue to read this...

While on the library site I happened to notice that the "book" I had on hold was really the CD recording version.

Oh, no. That will not do.

I jumped out of that queue into the actual-hardback-book queue and I'm at #71. Oh, and my hold? It expires June 12th of 2010. JUNE 12TH??? I may not get this till June 12th? People, this is serious.

Must. Read. Noooooooooooooow...

Monday, September 14, 2009

I Wish I'd Written That

I am part of the fellowship of the unashamed. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made; I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I won't look back, let up, slow down, or be still.

My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, and my future is secure. I'm finished and done with low living, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tinted visions, worldly talking, cheap giving, and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need preeminence, positions, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don't have to be right, first, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk with patience, am lifted up in prayer, and labor with power. My face is set, my goal is heaven. My road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions few, my guide is reliable, my mission is clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, divided or delayed.

I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the adversary, negotiate at the table with the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

I won't give up, shut up, or let up until I have stayed up, stored up, and paid up for the case of Christ. I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till He stops me and when He returns for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me.

I am a disciple of Jesus Christ.

--Dr. Bob Morehead

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Route by Gale Sears

Okay, so do you pronounce it route like "rowt" or route like "root"? Of course, people pronounce root two different ways, so that doesn't help. Anyway, for the purposes of this blog and so we're all on the same page, lets just say we're pronouncing it "rowt." Okay, I feel better knowing that is out of the way...

Gale Sears' The Route (remember "rowt") tells the story of a 50-ish (gotta love the -ish) woman who delivers meals to the elderly as a volunteer. Along the way, or rather, along the route, she learns about aging and death, but mostly about how to live. The story is told in first person, which is unusual, and admittedly a bit awkward (for me) at first, but then it totally works. You are right there in the front seat with Carol, the main character, carrying the basket of food, knocking doors, learning when to set it on the table or in the fridge, chatting about ex-husbands, and bracing yourself for ornery Viola's rebuke at the end of the line.

Reading this book was a total flashback for me because I volunteered for a semester with Meals on Wheels years ago when I attended Weber State. It was for college credit and they never let me actually drive or go on my own, but I think some of the people Carol met were the same ones I delivered to! :D Plus I had a visiting teaching route for a while in a nursing home. Now those were some wild times! I could write a book about it...

Anyway, the book was a fun ride. (And don't say you didn't know I was going to use that pun.) It made me ponder the age-old (and that pun, too) questions of why some suffer so much more than others and what can we learn from the elderly in our own lives. How will we treat aging parents when they can no longer adequately care for themselves? Carol changes and grows through her experiences and so do we alongside her.

Author Gale was kind enough to answer my intriguing interview questions: (I feel I can call her Author Gale because as you'll read later, I did meet her once in an elevator.)

>This book seems a departure from what you usually write, what got you excited about this particular work?

>>This book was actually written prior to my trilogy, but it was set on the shelf for a couple of years while I worked on other projects. I loved writing this book because I loved the people I served for two years on my meals-on-wheels route.

>Did the book “write itself” because of your personal experience and knowing the real characters the characters were based on?

>>The story did flow for me because I had so much inspiration from the wonderful seniors on my route. There were some real characters in the mix, as well as brave souls and sweethearts. How could you not love a cranky little 85-year-old who dressed in bright pink keds, fishing hats, and flowered dusters, belted by a man's tie? [Note from Blogger Me: You're right, Gale. By the end of the book I did love her.]

>A blurb on the back of your book by Kerry Blair says, “This is a book to read in one sitting...” How does that make you feel knowing a reader might very well read it in one sitting and you labored over it long did you labor, by the way?

>>It took me about 7 months to get the book to a place I liked, and I don't mind at all when people say they read it in one sitting. It's actually a compliment. For me it means that the story was engaging enough to keep their interest.

>Give me one sentence from your book, no context.

>>"Over several months, Ladora has added a ceramic burro, an ugly Norwegian troll, and two more Chia pets to her collection." [Blogger Me: Dibs on the ugly Norwegian troll.]

Gale Sears is already an accomplished author with The Autumn Sky trilogy: Autumn Sky, Until the Dawn, and Upon the Mountains. Christmas for a Dollar, a children's picture book, with illustrations by Ben Sowards, will be released in October. Two books in the same year. Sweet! Now back to the questions...

>What’s your current writing project?

>>Currently I'm working on getting my finished novel published. It is historical fiction and take place in 1917 Russia during the Bolshivek Revolution.I'm also working on another Christmas story for publication in 2010.

>Do you remember me running into you in the elevator at the Marriot last April? I’m kidding—you an author of tons of books, me the author of none. What are the chances you would remember me? But what might someone say to you in an elevator that would be memorable?

>>You're so funny. You have to remember that I'm getting old and I barely remember the Marriot. What were we there for, anyway? [Blogger Me: If my memory serves it was the Storymakers conference. I didn't actually introduce myself, but tried to turn just right so you'd be able to read my name tag. I'm kidding, but I did say something inane...can't remember it either.]

Hmm...something memorable? How about, "Has anyone ever told you that you look just like Sally Fields?" I'd really laugh at that one.

You're kind to compliment me on having written a few books, but it truly doesn't elevate me above anyone. We're all writers together. Each of us has a story to tell: in letters, journals, personal history, magazine articles, short stories, first chapters, novels, poems...the list could go on and on. Working on our craft is the important thing. [Blogger Me: That's what I tell my kids... "Working on the craft, okay? Give me a minute." Maybe I'll put that on a sign on my office door.]

Anyway, thank you Gale Sears for the interview! And for the rest of you, here's how you can get your hands on this book:

Thursday, September 10, 2009

New Blog Route

I have been delinquent in my blog book-reviewing duties--awaiting my big day to review (which is tomorrow) and totally forgetting to make you, the dear blog readers, aware of your opportunity to follow the tour, comment, and win the book. Please forgive me (and you, too Author Gale Sears and Publisher Walnut Springs). Fortunately, there's still plenty of time to get your comments posted so you'll be included in the drawing to win this book.

Actually, I'm calling it a blog route this time around because that is the title of the book...

Here are the blogs that have reviewed The Route. Check them out, and be sure to visit me here Friday for my review:

August 24
The Book Nest

August 25
Mormon Hermit Mom's Book Habit

August 26
Boojoos and Aprilcots

August 27
Of Good Report

August 28
Blog the Day Away

August 31
Reading for Sanity

September 1
Lu Ann's Book Review

September 2
*Tristi Pinkston, LDS Author

September 3
Amesbury Reads

September 4
Tangled Words and Dreams

September 7
Labor Day

September 8
Not Entirely British

September 9
Jewel's World

September 10
Rebecca Talley

***September 11***
Of Writerly Things

September 14
Walnut Springs Press

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Page Fright

Do you ever experience page fright?

If you are a writer you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. How often do we let our fears keep us from writing? Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of the dust rising another inch on the furniture if we don't get out the Lemon Pledge Furniture Polish and a dust cloth right now instead of writing. In fact, you shouldn't even be reading this blog...Go! Now! Dust!

On another blog I read about an intriguing book by Ralph Keyes titled The Courage to Write {How Writers Transcend Fear}. It does take courage, doesn't it? Just the putting so much time and effort into a project without knowing if there will be a successful outcome is a risk in and of itself. Then there's the whole opening yourself up for critique and rejection part of it. Definitely not for the faint-of-heart.

The book deals with such topics as overcoming procrastination, dealing with anxiety over what others will think, and, this is a quote from the website, "how writers use obfuscation to soothe writing nerves." (I don't know what obfuscation means, but it sounds kind of like a procedure performed in a doctor's office involving unwarranted growths being removed from the body and not soothing at all.)

One thing Keyes recommends for overcoming fear is "joining a serious writers' group." His words. I had to laugh because after attending last summer's writing retreat with my group, American Night Writer's Association, one could question our seriousness. Of course, in the sense that he is speaking of, we are serious. Serious about writing and supporting each other in this risk-taking endeavor. I know that if it wasn't for ANWA I might have been content to write newspaper articles, church programs, and my kid's English essays (KIDDING!), never having the courage to take the plunge into novel-writing.

So stare down that blank page and show him/her whose boss. Turn your fears into positive energy that flows right onto the computer screen.

And I'll go look up obfuscation...

[this post is also playing at]

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Good Book News All Around

Loved this...

Happy to be in the library queue at only #4 to read this...

Then I found out in a blog contest I won this ...

If that wasn't enough I attended my writer's group meeting where awesomeness abounds. The ladies in my group are the best and so encouraging and supportive. They like what I write, so that's a bonus. I shared a part of what is currently chapter 10 where my main character is really discouraged and feeling sorry for herself and goes to the office to talk to the assisstant principal but he can't help her and blah, blah, blah. I know, thrilling isn't it? Now you can't wait to read my story. Someday you'll be blogging/bragging that you're #4 in the queue to read it and ha, ha to everyone else.

Anyway, today Tamara's lesson focused on the negative reasons we tell ourselves that we can't write. I wrote three: 1)I don't have time, 2)If I get started, I'll just have to stop, and 3)I don't know where I'm going next in the story. Next we had to switch our excuses around into a motto that will help us get past these blocks. So to combat numbers 1 and 2, my motto is 5 MINUTES IS 5 MINUTES. This means that even in small snippets of time (okay, so I've never seen a BIG snippet. If there were BIG snippets, I'd be writing in them and my novel would be done by now!) some writing progress can be made. The motto to combat number 3 is DIRECTION COMES AFTER YOU START MOVING. How can I be inspired if I don't sit down to write?

One fellow writer said her big block was the need to clean house. Funny, I didn't think of that one.

When I shared my mottos with my husband he said how about this: GET IT DONE BY SEPTEMBER 31! He acknowledges there are not 31 days in September, but the message is clear, so I'll just go back to my keyboard and wave my magic story wand...

And when I am truly all done I'm going to read Kersten's book Confessions of a Completely Insane Mother. Because I'll need it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Writing: An Emotional, Chocolate-charged Journey

Last evening I attended a writer's and illustrator's panel held at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, AZ. Janette Rallison, a member of my writing group and author extraordinaire, participated, as well as four other panelists, who if I named I would then feel obligated to link up their websites and blogsites so you could see who they are and the work they have done, and, well, frankly, that would just take time, and I have paused in the middle of reworking chapter 20 of my novel to write this blog and am in no frame of mind to pause further, though I will take a breath right now.

I enjoy these kinds of author events, or any kind, really, even though it requires sitting through questions like, "I have a folder of all these story ideas, which one do I choose?" How should they know? And for the 28,000th time, NO. Editors do not like it if you send in text and illustrations together. How many times did they address that last night? (I don't know, but my eye's starting to twitch) Fine, there may be special situations for those that are already established illustrators..., but AHHH...!

Okay, I'm better now.

I just like being in that setting...authors who know of what they speak, me gleaning, gleaning, gleaning...and dreaming, dreaming, dreaming. I like being at Changing Hands surrounded by books with their beautiful, shining, beckoning covers that call to shoppers to part with their cash. Maybe someday people will part with cash for my book(s). If they want to get on the waiting list at the library that's fine, too, or wait till it comes out in paperback, I understand.

I'll admit I was a tad emotional as I drove away last night, thinking of how I love my story and my main character and the world I'm creating and I can't wait to be able to share it and for people to read it and love to read it like I have always loved to read other people's books and so I had to stop and buy some chocolate.

[today's post also appearing at]

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Illuminations of the Heart by Joyce DiPastena

Okay, so it's the exact same blog post title as the last one, but since today is the day I am presenting my review and author interview of Illuminations, I feel the title fits. (Now I don't know if author Joyce calls her book by its nickname, but after reading 145,000+ words of it, I feel the book and I have become fairly comfortable with each other.)

First, can I say, Joyce DiPastena knows her medieval stuff. She majored in it in college no less, receiving a degree from the University of Arizona. She is true to the time frame throughout her story, introducing the reader to terms like "crenellated," "portcullis," and "primogeniture." You may have thought "mail" was something that showed up in a box outside your home or on your computer, as in You've got it but no, it's "a flexible armor made of small, overlapping metal rings." (I got that from a glossary in the back of the book.)

Illuminations of the Heart, a historical romance set in the late 12th century, tells the story of Siriol de Calendri who is directed by her deceased brother's will to travel to France where a friend will oversee her marriage to a proper suitor. The friend is Triston de Brielle. "Ah, Triston," you say, because you have read Joyce's first book, Loyalty's Web. Yes, it's that Triston. His story continues, but with major emotional conflict on his part because Siri looks just like his former wife Clothilde. Remember how beautiful she was? Well, Siri has the same "curse" and it forces the castle and French countryside into a frenzy as only beauty can. If you haven't read Loyalty's Web, then why?

I highly recommend it...I would loan you my copy, but my daughter in Utah has it. The two books have much in common, but you do not have to read the first before the second. Illuminations is more of a spin-off than a sequel. It takes the character Triston and brings him a new story. In fact, I asked the author about this.

Lowly blog poster, Me: Which came first, Siri and the idea for her story or Triston and the need to create something new for him?

Amazing author, Joyce: Triston came first. I knew and had grown to love him from Loyalty's Web, and wanted to find a way to give him a happier ending than I had at the end of that book. And I knew that to do that, he needed a woman who would be the very opposite of his first wife. Thus Siri was born. Why I chose to make his first wife's "total opposite" look exactly like his first wife is one of those little quirks of being a writer that I really can't explain. I don't know what made me do it. Maybe I thought poor Triston hadn't been tortured enough in Loyalty's Web and wanted to torture him a little more? The bitterer the beginning, the sweeter the ending? Something like that? [Sounds good to me, Joyce.]

I personally have not read a lot of medieval romances, I'm busy trying to keep up with my own real-life, modern-day romance (with my husband, not my novel), but the writing in the book is so well-done and there's a lot of twisty-turny events that kept me turning the pages. There are questions to be answered...why would Siri agree to marry that one guy (I won't reveal...) and why is Triston's son so afraid of him? How will the politics discussed in the story be resolved? Why can't these medieval characters be more careful around stairs? And above all, why are the moat waters "roiling?" (Page 17 of the book.) Just kidding about that. All the moat waters I've seen have been roiling, it's just what they do.

Here's more of my Q & A with Joyce...

>What’s the best part of being a published author?

The most current "best thing" was being re-discovered by an old college roommate after 30 years of silence between us. She just wandered into a Deseret Book last week and discovered my books on the shelf, found my email address in my bio, and shot me an email. Now mind you, this wasn't just any roommate. This was the all time BEST roommate I ever had in college! So that was definitely a treat, and we might never have re-found each other if I hadn't written and published a book. But ask me again in a week or so, and I might have a brand new answer for you.

>What did you do to celebrate the new book being published?

It all seemed to happen in a bit of a rush. My book got pushed two months UP in the schedule, so we were really scrambling all of a sudden to get it to press. Then it took nearly another month to actually start appearing in the bookstores, and quite frankly, since my family and close friends all live pretty far away, my celebration was pretty low key. I did hold a "book release party" on my blog earlier this month, where I gave away a prize an hour, 8 prizes in all, all tied somehow to the theme of "Illuminations." [Oh, so she does call it by its nickname] So I guess you could say I celebrated with some online friends, and I don't know about them, but I, personally, had a really great time! *See note below for info on how you can still get in on some prize action.

>How can such great, well-written stories come out of Kearny, AZ? (Joyce is from Kearny, the story is not set there) Okay, that one’s rhetorical. Does anyone really know where Kearny is when you tell them where you are from? You don’t have to answer that either.

I don't mind answering. LOL! Yes, actually, there are people who know where Kearny is when I tell them where I'm from. Not a lot, but more than I expect. I don't know how great my stories are, but this is a good, loving little town. I was richly blessed by growing up here, and am still blessed by the wonderful, hardworking, compassionate people I still associate with here every day. And if I can give something back to this town that has given me so much by having "Kearny" attached to my name as an author, then I feel humbled and honored to do so. [Good I'm wondering if I can say that about Amarillo, Texas when my book is published.]

>What’s your secret to being a finisher…writing a novel through to the end?

What's the answer to finishing anything? Just keep plugging away. Even on those days when you don't feel like plugging. ESPECIALLY on those days when you don't feel like plugging. I'm a very slow writer, but it eventually adds up. My favorite "writing scripture" is, "Out of small things proceeds that which is great." (D&C 64:33) It's another version of "bird by bird" (see my--as in me, the blogger--post here for an explanation of this reference) or "word by word." That's how stories are constructed, one little word at a time. I know if I just keep typing those little words long enough, eventually I'll wind up with another novel-length book.

>Give me one random sentence from your book, no context.

"You'll wear yourself out first, dancing away as you are doing." [Note from me, blog poster: Funny, my husband says that to me all the time!]

Well, I'm priviliged to know Joyce personally, but still it has been fun to interview her. THANKS, Joyce! Since this is my first review I haven't established any sort of star rating system, but you are a star in my book!

*Now on to the goodies. This blog tour is all about prizes for you, the dear readers. If you leave comments on my blog and any of the other blogs on the Illuminations tour, you are entered into a drawing to receive a copy of the book. Also, Joyce has graciously donated three $10 dollar online gift certificate for,, and to go towards the purchase of her book. My post of August 5th lists all the blog stops on the tour. Comment on mutiple blogs and be entered multiple times!

Here are all the links you need to read more about the book or the author and to purchase a copy of Illuminations:
The publisher:
Joyce's blog or

And with that my first review is done. I had fun. Hope you did too!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Illuminations of the Heart by Joyce DiPastena

Look what came in the mail!

I opened it to find this!

On August 18th I will blog about Joyce's book as part of her weeks-long blog tour. Scroll down to the August 5th blog post for details. You can actually be entered to win prizes when you leave comments at the different blogs--including gift certificates to purchase the book. Seriously, folks, run, don't walk, to the blog tour nearest you.

This is my very first official book review (I think, anyway, and I'm not going to go back through my blog and check). I plan to include an author interview as well, so that will be awesome. I'll need to come up with some interesting, insightful, and quirky questions for Joyce. Be ready!

Walnut Springs Press selected me to review for them on my blog, so this will be the first of many--the second book is already in the mail--one by Gale Sears.

Such a sweet deal. They send me books, I read them, write about them, they send me another one. Life is too good!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Another Story of a Homecoming

Ready and waiting!

Competing for space with another family waiting for their elder coming from Guatemala.

Still waiting, waiting...

Finally our cute anziano (elder) from Italy emerges!

Happy smiles and tears all around!

First time in 2 1/2 years the family's all together!!! (despite what the picture shows)

A missionary for one more night--release doesn't come till the morning.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Illuminations of the Heart BLOG TOUR

Next week the fun begins as Joyce Dipastena's recent release, Illuminations of the Heart begins its blog-hopping jaunt through the blogosphere. Monday, August 10th through Friday, September 18th (except weekends and Labor Day), you can find daily reviews and the occasional author interview with Joyce herself. And guess what? If you leave a comment, you'll be entered in a drawing for an autographed copy of the book. You can comment on more than one review and thus be entered more than one time. Click here for an exciting blog tour kickoff Joyce is hosting on her own site August 7th. Let's just say, prizes are involved!

Here's the schedule: (Be sure to visit me on my blog August 18th!)
August 10 Mormon Hermit Mom's Book Habit
August 11 Amesbury Reads
August 12 Heather Justesen
August 13 Rachelle's Writing Spot
August 14 Cami's Books and Fit Mommas
August 17 Jewel's World
August 18 Of Writerly Things
August 19 Frespa Fan
August 20 Of Good Report
August 21 Rachel Rager
August 24 Boojoos and Aprilcots
August 25 Musings from an LDS Writing Mom
August 26 Queen of the Clan
August 27 Write Bravely
August 28 Dreams of Quill and Ink
August 31 *Trisit Pinkston
September 1 Vicissitudes
September 2 Tangeled Words and Dreams
September 3 Random-ish by Nichole and LDSwritersBlogck
September 4 SeriouslyŠ and latterdayauthors
September 7 Lu Ann's Book Review
September 9 Reading for Sanity
September 10 Taffy's Candy
September 11 The Write Blocks
September 14 Why Not? Because I Said So! and LDSWomensBookReview
September 15 Ink Splasher
September 16 Romance Old School
September 17 Blog the Day Away
September 18 Walnut Springs Press

Monday, August 3, 2009

Writerly Humor

For a sample of what writers laugh at check out this video on Sarah Eden's website. It will be funnier if you have read the books shown in the video. They are listed at the end.

BTW, Sarah's the very talented author of "Seeking Persphone."

Note: I have tried all kinds of ways to link to Sarah's website so that one click would take you right there, but the linky-link thing refuses to work today. You'll have to do it Look for "What Do You Get When You Ask Me to Present at a Writer's Retreat?"

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

WHAT?...!! It's not "THE END"?

Last weekend I read a book. After being 39th in line on the waiting list at the library for this particular book, my turn had come! Friday evening, barely before closing time, I checked the book out and that night I began to read. I was hooked from the start. It was a pleasure to read such a well-written book. My life for the next 24 hours revolved around this book. I raced to the would it all be resolved? I had to know. As the pages became fewer and fewer, I wondered, how is the author going to be able to do it? How can she tie up all these loose ends to my satisfaction? What can she do in so few pages? She must be a genius.

Well, she is a genius in a way, and only following a general trend in publishing of leading into the all-mighty SEQUEL!

AHHHHHH! I was so angry. I got to the last page and instead of "THE END," it said "END OF BOOK ONE." What??????? No closure? Now I can only HUNGER for more?

The title of the book is fitting...

[Originally posted at]


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