Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wednesday Waaaa-nt...

Rhymes with raaaant...

So I came home a week or two ago from a lovely Spain vacation refreshed, renewed, rejuvenated.

Well, in theory, anyway.

I complained to my sister about trying to get back into the swing of things after my trip. I said "When you don't cook and clean for 12 days..." and she finished with, " changes you."

That's it. In a nutshell.

Now can I rant (to myself) a moment about my novel and its lack of being finished? Yeah, that novel. The one that should have been sitting on an editor's desk yesterday (of last year) because I keep hearing stories in the news that match the subject of my book and yet its not done. Last night, my husband and I were watching CNN (the horrific bullying story that has hit the fan) and he said, "You would be interviewed on CNN if your book was published."

(Basically, as of right now, the blurb on my book would read It's a lot of words all together in a row.)

I think I just need a good dose of cooking and cleaning and I'll be back to normal.

As for the novel... I'm on a strict no sleeping, no eating, no breathing, no reading (that last one will be difficult) till it is DONE! No exercising either because, well, that's been consuming so much of my time of late. (J/K ;D)

[Other actual rants have been edited out of this blog. It was theraputic to express them, but I'm better now.]

Monday, March 29, 2010

Illuminations of the Heart by Joyce Dipastena

WARNING: THIS BLOG IS A BLATANT RERUN! This week a group of bloggers are all buzzing about Joyce's book, so easy enough for me to run my review and interview from last fall. Read it again for the very first time!

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!

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!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

SURVEY QUESTION for the well-cultured and/or well-traveled

While in Barcelona, Spain we viewed the spectacular Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia, more simply known as La Sagrada Familia (The Sacred Family). Did I say it is spectacular? It is. You come up the stairs from the Metro to street level and there it is in all of its jaw-dropping wonder.

Its history, too, is facinating--just the fact that the first stone was laid in 1882 and a completion date of 2041 is expected. (At least according to the guidebook, though a postcard we bought stated 2025.) The architect Gaudi (who died in 1926) referred to it as "the last great sanctuary for Christendom." The guide book states: "Its spindle-shaped towers represent the apostles, the evangelists, the Virgin Mary, and Jesus Christ. The latter of these is the tallest, though not as tall as the nearby hill of Montjuic, for Gaudi believed that his work should not surpass that of God."

Now here's the thing...the guidebook makes some pretty huge claims about this structure. It says "it is the most popular sight in Barcelona." Fine. "It is also the most awesome--in the truest, jaw-dropping sense of the word." Okay, I agree with that. "It will stop you in your tracks." Yes. Yes, it did. But then it says this: "It is not an understatement to say that this is the most famous building in the world."


I personally had never heard of this structure until seeing it mentioned in the guidebook. There's the Taj Mahal, Buckingham Palace, the Salt Lake City Temple :D, all those other famous ones I won't mention here, but this brings me to my question...

Have you heard of this building? Before you see the photo of it below, do you know of the La Sagrada Familia? Leave a comment and let me know.

Sadly, the picture doesn't do it justice.

[Quotes taken from SPAIN by Moon Handbooks]

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The best idea ever!

I saw this recently in the London airport...a vending machine filled with books. Awesome!

Right next to it was the Ben & Jerry's vending machine.

A novel + some Chunky Monkey = Heaven

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Get your Spain fix

When we arrived at Sky Harbor airport to fly to Spain (well, fly to Chicago, then London, then Spain) my husband said, "We better take a picture so we can blog about this."

I love him.

Go to to check out the photos and commentary!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sorry--no blogging, I've been busy

Torre de Oro, Sevilla Spain

Plaza de Espana, Sevilla Spain

The Cathedral--third largest in the world, Sevilla Spain

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Time to jet...

It's going to be an adventure.
I'll keep you posted!

Sightings at the recent ANWA Conference & Book Signing

Authors Joyce DiPastena and Donna Hatch
happy to talk about their books!

Children's Author Cindy Williams with something important to say.

Author Janette Rallison lending a listening ear.

Excited Karen E. Hoover with her new book
The Sapphire Flute--
set to be released in 2 weeks!!!

Peon writers begging for photo ops with
famous author Aprilynne Pike.

If you're on the ANWA board you may have to do things like this...

...but you also get to do things like this...
dinner with presenters after the conference!
(some skipped out before photo op)

And cake. Yummy chocolate cake!

Thanks to all who planned, presented, attended.
It was an amazing day!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Courting Miss Lancaster

Another great offering from the prolific and cute Sarah M. Eden, author of Regency romance.

Harry Windover adores blonde, green-eyed Athena Lancaster, but alas, a penniless man like himself has no hope of winning a young noblewoman's hand. To add insult to injury, Athena's brother-in-law and guardian, the Duke of Kielder, has asked Harry to assist Athena in finding the gentleman of her dreams. But the lovesick Harry is cunning as well: as the weeks pass, he introduces Athena to suitors who are horrifically boring, alarmingly attached to their mothers, downright rude, astoundingly self-absorbed, and utterly ridiculous.

Athena can't comprehend why she is having so little success meeting eligible and acceptable gentlemen. Indeed, her circle of admirers couldn't be less admirable--nothing like the loyal, gentle friend she's found in Harry.
But how long can Harry's scheme be hidden? And what will Athena do when she uncovers Harry's deception?

If I don't win the book here, then I will definitely be going here for purchasing information. Can't wait to have Sarah as a guest on my blog...once I read the book. Be watching for that.

And a note about blog contests and winning. I'm really on a streak here. I've won several books, I've lost count, but one more arrived today. I won a photo image on a cake that I need to find an occasion for, I've won a gym bag, and just yesterday was informed I won the Targus laptop backpack in Sue's contest I talked about in my last post. Could I have just won the Compag Mini Notebook?...well, that would have been nice.

But be afraid all you blog contest enterers, be very afraid!


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