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...


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