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Thursday, 27 September 2007

Praying for a Stronger Back

This has been one of those weeks we wish we could erase from memory, and yet we know we will never forget.

On Monday we received word that my sister's mother-in-law was losing her fight with cancer. Her two year struggle with breast cancer ended late Tuesday afternoon. I didn't know her well, but whenever I did have the opportunity to be around her, I couldn't help but notice how gentle and loving she was to everyone. She was the heart of her family and now they must learn to carry on without her. She will be missed by all who felt her influence.

Earlier this afternoon, my two and a half month old nephew passed away in his sleep. My husband and I rushed to answer another sister's frantic call, but it was too late to help him. The EMT's worked diligently on his tiny body, but he had already gone home to be cradled in his Heavenly Father's loving arms.

As family all over the country is informed and the ward members pull together, everyone asks what they can do. And really, there is so little. I watched my younger sister kneel over her son's limp body and beg for him to come back and I couldn't imagine losing a child of my own. The pain she is going through must be nearly unbearable. This young family has struggled under an incredibly trying year, and we wonder how they will cope with this newest trial.

I keep thinking of one of my favorite sayings. "Don't pray for a lighter burden; pray for a stronger back." I can be with her. I can sit with her and wrap my arms around her when life is too hard for her to bear. Maybe when she prays for her "stronger back", I can be part of her answer. And until the pain recedes a little, my prayers for both families will be constant. We will always hold for Marilyn and sweet baby Jonah, a special place in our hearts.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Fall Into Reading

I have signed up to participate in the Fall Into Reading Challenge over at Callapidder Days. The Summer Reading Thing was fun and got me reading a few things I normally wouldn't have picked up. This time my list is long, but I tend to read lots and read fast. I will also probably read more books than I have listed. (My book club will add a few as well.) I will certainly have to focus better than I did in the summer and do better at reading what is on the list first so I don't get behind.
  1. A Gift of Ice - James Dashner
  2. New Moon - Stephenie Meyer *
  3. Trouble in Palmyra - Rob Ficiur
  4. The Foundling - Georgette Heyer
  5. Ghost of a Chance - Kerry Blair *
  6. Grave Secrets - Marlene Austin*
  7. My Not-So-Fairy-Tale Life - Julie Wright *
  8. The Englisher - Beverly Lewis*
  9. Kids are Worth It - Barbara Coloroso
  10. Waltzing to a Different Strummer - Tom Plummer
  11. Infinite Atonement - Tad R. Callister
  12. The Princes of Ireland - Edward Rutherford
  13. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austin
  14. Tom Finder - Martine Leavitt *
  15. Austenland - Shannon Hale *
  16. Eclipse - Stephenie Meyer *

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

I Can't Wait for October

No, I am not looking forward to the weather getting colder or impending snowstorms, but I just keep thinking that October might slow down a little. (I know, who am I kidding?) It seems like this September has been crazier than in the past. Maybe it is always this busy, but I am trying to get more writing done, so I am very conscious of how little time I really get to spend on it.

Yesterday morning, it occurred to me that my youngest daughter's tenth birthday is coming up. I caught her just before she headed out the door to school and asked her if she knew what next Monday was. She didn't. Usually by this time, I have a few birthday presents purchased, we have made birthday party plans, and it is all she can think about. But, we have just been too busy.

So I keep trying to think what sort of things I can give up to buy myself a little more time. In the last six months, I have turned on the t.v. less and less. Now I hardly ever watch it, so that isn't the problem. I've contemplated giving up housework, but the health department is never a welcome visitor. Exercise is another activity I could do without, but the truth is I don't do enough of it and I am actually trying to do more. When I look at everything in a day, it seems like I just need a few extra hours.

I have thought about getting up earlier or staying up later. The only problem is that I already have to drag my poor tired bones out of bed way too early every day. And if I stay up later, it is just that much harder to move in the morning.

So I guess I will look forward to a new month and do what all writers have to do. Carve those blocks of precious writing time from the day whenever I find them. I can learn to do things in smaller chunks of time. And most of all, I can enjoy the life I have and be grateful for family and other things that keep me so busy. If I didn't have all the distractions, what would I have to write about, anyway?

Summer Reading Thing Recap

I had a great time reading this summer and reading other people's book reviews. I'm looking forward to starting the next one.

  1. How many total books did you read? Were you surprised by that number? I read a total of 10 ½ from my list but I also read a bunch of others not on my list, and to be honest, I didn’t keep track of the others. I was surprised at how hard it was to stick with a pre-made list because I tend to read whatever strikes my fancy at the moment.
  2. How do you feel about what you read? I enjoyed everything, even though a few took me longer than I thought they would to get through.
  3. Which was your favorite book, and why? I don’t think I had a favorite. I liked them all for different reasons.
  4. Which was your least favorite, and why? I think I would have to say The Life of Pi. In the end I enjoyed the book, but I found it the first part of the book very hard to get into.
  5. What about your stretch book? Did you find that you enjoyed it after all? Are you planning to read more of that genre/author? The stretch book for me was No One Can Take Your Place. It was a great book and I learned lots from it, but I do have a hard time getting into non-fiction. Of course I will read more like this, but probably not very often.
  6. Did you discover a new author that you're excited about?
    Michelle Paige Holmes (Counting Stars) I enjoyed this book so much I have been recommending it to everyone. I can’t wait for her next one.
  7. What did you learn about yourself through this reading experience? Was this fun? Do you want to continue (if so, sign up for Katrina's Fall Into Reading challenge.) I already know that I am addicted to books, but this taught me that I am not very good at deciding in advance what I want to read. I read as the mood strikes me. I also learned that I really should read more non-fiction. This was a fun way to encourage myself to try some different things and to really think about what the book was about as I wrote reviews. I will continue this type of reading challenge.

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Inspiration

I had my weekend all planned. It included lots of writing and catching up on my BIAM word count. Now if you look at my sidebar, you will notice that the number hasn't gone up at all - not even a little bit. This is rather discouraging to me, but there is a reason.

Friday morning we were getting ready for the day when my husband stops what he is doing and says, "We need to go to Montana." There is a story behind this. My step-dad had a stroke in August. Because he was in the hospital so long and then needed my mom home to care for him, they both lost their jobs. Mom looked locally, but couldn't find anything. Through lots of prayer and inspiration, she finally did find a job, but it is in Arizona. Last week, they decided to take it and make the move this coming Wednesday. So here is my mom, trying to pack up the house and get everything ready to go, and doing most of the work by herself because my step-dad can't be much help right now.

So my husband wakes up Friday morning and says we need to go to Montana. He had to arrange get off work early, we had to wait for the kids to get home from school and arrange for our church responsibilities to be taken care of, but we finally left late in the afternoon and got to Mom's at midnight. Saturday was spent packing and organizing, then today we went to sacrament meeting with them and made the long drive home.

Certainly not what I was planning to do this weekend, and I don't think I will ever catch up on this particular BIAM. On the other hand, as tired as we are, the packing is almost done. She just has to take care of the last bits and pieces before the ward members come on Tuesday night to help load up the truck. She never could have done it by herself. What a blessing inspiration is. This whole experience has been wonderful to watch. It is especially amazing to watch the faith of my step-dad who has only been a member of the church for a little over a year. The great thing is, we were there for them, and I was able to see my mom before they leave for Arizona.

And even though I didn't work on my BIAM, I did write for a bit while we were driving and got halfway through a short story that has been swimming around in my brain. I think that the break from the BIAM and the chance to think without having to write, is actually going to help my story, as I take it in a whole new direction. This weekend just reminded me how much we rely on the Lord for everything. I can't imagine life without inspiration.

Thursday, 20 September 2007

To Outline or Not to Outline

I have done a lot of writing in my life - everything from letters and journal entries to essays, poems, and short stories. Last year I began my first novel length work and finished the last revisions this month. When I started Tristi's BIAM challenge, I thought I had it pretty much under control. Of course life always throws in extra things when I make myself a deadline. Or maybe I just notice all the extra things more when I am trying to focus on one project. But even when I take away all those distractions, I keep hitting a wall with this latest project.

The book I am working on is an idea I have been thinking about since last year. I put it aside because I wanted to get the other novel done first. Usually those ideas I am not ready for get written in a notebook and put away. This time I took the idea and worked on it whenever I needed a break from the other project. By the time I started the BIAM,I had the second idea almost completely outlined. So I thought I was that much ahead of the game.

I think I may have been wrong. You see, I have never outlined to this extent before. Even in college, I would usually write what I wanted to say, make a good copy and hand it in. (I hope my kids aren't reading this.) This whole outlining thing seems to have slowed me down. Maybe it is because I feel like I have already told the story. Part of what slows me down is that I feel tied to the outline. In some ways that is good because I know when I finish this one, there will be fewer plot holes that I have to fill in. On the other hand I have lost the freedom to let my mind go and follow wherever the characters are going to take me.

So as I trudge my way through this story, I will have to decide if outlining to the extent I did actually works for me. Is the time spent outlining and then trying twice as hard to get the story to flow worth it? I will keep at this project. I still think it is a good story. But when I get to the next one, I will need to seriously ponder the question, to outline or not to outline?

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

No One Can Take Your Place by Sheri Dew


"The Lord knows who we are, where we are, what our mission is, and what we need in order to accomplish that mission. Not only has He known us for a long, long time, He has loved us for a long, long time. We are here now because we are supposed to be here now. No one else can have the influence or do the good that we were prepared and foreordained to have and do. No one else can fulfill our individual missions." - Sheri Dew

This is another of my Summer Reading Thing books. It took me awhile to get through this one because I don't often enjoy reading non-fiction and have a hard time staying interested. Sheri Dew wrote a beautiful book that reminds us who we are and what we are here to do. In the first section she reminds us where we came from and who we are. In the second, she tells us of some of our responsibilities such as making right choices and living with integrity. In the third section, she talks about how we have a responsibility to be leaders. By far my favorite chapter was the last one. "No one can do what you were sent here to do," she reminds us.

I would say this book pushed me a bit because I really had to work to get through it. But it was worth the read and I will definitely make the time to read more of her books.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

The Preacher's Daughter by Beverly Lewis

"The Preacher's Daughter begins a remarkable journey of heartache and homespun delight--a series readers will find impossible to forget. Paradise, Pennsylvania, is likened to a little slice of heaven on earth...but for Annie Zook--the preacher's eldest daughter--it seems like a dead-end street. She is expected to join the Amish church, but at 20 she is "still deciding." Because of the strict rules that guide the Plain community, she must continually squelch her artistic passion, although it has become her solace. In her signature style, with character depth and unexpected plot twists, beloved novelist Beverly Lewis once again opens the door to the world of the Amish." (From - http://www.christianbook.com/)

The principle the book really emphasizes for me is the power of free agency and consequences. It makes me grateful to have the opportunity to choose my own path in life. In the book Annie is given the opportunity to choose her own path, but each choice means she must give up something dear to her-her art or her family. She cannot have both.I love reading novels about the Amish community and this was no exception. I find Beverly Lewis's writing style engaging. She develops her characters well and you begin to feel like you know them. Reading about the way the Amish people approach life and family is interesting and helps me to look at my own religious community with more appreciation. I can't wait to read the rest of the books in this series to find out what happens to Annie.Another book I would recommend written my Beverly Lewis is Just Like Mama. This is a children's picture book that I found utterly charming. It is a beautiful story to read to your children.

Monday, 17 September 2007

Middle Names

I always knew that not having a middle name would be a problem someday. My dad didn’t believe girls needed a middle name. He figured we could just use our maiden name when we got married. So I don’t have a middle name and neither do any of my sisters, although we almost talked him into giving the youngest sister one, and some of us still call her by that name. And truth is, all my names are so long that I don’t use my maiden name as middle name either.

So now I’ve been tagged by ajoy over at Autumn Ables with a middle name tag. I am supposed to come up with something that describes me for each letter of my middle name. So I figure I have three options.

I could make up a middle name. I have given a lot of thought to that over the years, and I'm not sure what name I would pick. I heard once that my mom wanted to give me the middle name of Ann. Not sure I'm an Ann. Or there is always the option of using my maiden name. Again, each of my names are so long, I don't usually go there. The last option is doing what I have always done and go without one. I have gotten quite used to filling out the "middle name" space on forms with a dash.

So what does that dash say about me? I think it means I am a woman of mystery. No one really knows what goes on in my head. But if I absolutely had to describe myself, I think I would use the following words: Talented, Honest, Odd, Mommy, Soft-hearted,
Organized, Nice.

I pass this tag onto Mandi. Have fun.

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Helping the Little Guy

Today I was responsible for sharing time. Our junior and senior primary was combined, so I had about 35 children ranging from three years old to eleven years old. The topic had to do with serving others and I had to come up with a way to present the lesson so that it would appeal to every age group and allow all of them to understand what I was trying to teach.

I got a stack of pictures from the library that showed different acts of service-from writing letters to a missionary, to Christmas caroling. We read John 13:34-35 and discussed a little about why and how we serve. Then I divided the children into different sized groups, gave them a picture, and told them not to show anyone else. They were to act out the service depicted in the picture for the rest of the primary. The other children would try to guess what the service was.

It went really well, but that is not why I am telling you this. What I loved to watch was the interaction between the kids. When I divided the groups up, I paired eleven year olds with three year olds. I didn't allow the children to stay in their class groups. It was wonderful to watch an older girl help one of the youngest girls in the primary act out reading the scriptures to each other, or seeing the cooperation between four children of different ages as they acted out a family gardening together. I don't think the older children realized that they were serving the younger children as they helped them and taught them. (And I wasn't quick enough on my feet to point that out to them.) And it is so fun to see how the little ones really look up to their more experienced counterparts.

This made me think of my experience as I have become more involved with the writing community in the last year. I am just a little person on the totem pole with big ambitions. I look up to all the authors who are one their way to making it, or who have already made it. It constantly amazes me how friendly everyone is and how willing people are to help out those of us at the bottom.

I met some wonderful people at the LDStorymaker's conference who I still keep in touch with, and I have "met" some more online, who give me encouragement everyday. So when I feel like the little three year old in primary, who is a little nervous to be a part of the group, I look up to the older more experienced people around me and know that when I do make it they will be cheering me on, and somewhere there will be another little person looking for the helping hand that I will have to offer. The circle continues and I love it.

Friday, 14 September 2007

Burning the Midnight Oil

Someone commented on how late I always post. It seems to be around midnight most days. Yes, I am also up at 6:30 every morning so the days get really long. I have well meaning friends and family members that suggest I get more sleep, and believe me, bed sounds really good most nights around 11:00 pm. (I know, that is still late to most people, but I am such a night person.) If I could figure out how to put more hours in a day, I certainly would go to bed earlier. For me it comes down to priorities.

There are so many things that have to be done each day. And despite all my good intentions of getting the writing done during daylight hours, it never seems to happen. First there are all the family responsibilities. Now midnight wouldn't be such an issue if I didn't have to get up so early to get a daughter to early morning seminary and kids to school. We also try to eat breakfast together as much as possible. Then there is the dinner hour, homework, housework, and all the other things that go with raising a family.

There are also work responsibilities. As much as I dream about being a best-selling author someday and supporting myself with writing, I am very much not there yet. So I can't quit my day job. Some days I have children arriving at 7:30 am, and by 8:30 I often have up to six extra kids demanding my attention. Now I insist on a quiet time during the early afternoon, so I can often get in a little writing time then, but I'm lucky if I get even an hour.

Just those two things take up every hour of a normal day. Start adding in church callings, school council meetings, and all the other little things that come up in a week. I have become very good at knowing my limits and in the last year I have almost perfected the art of saying "no" when I need to. But still, there are very few spare minutes to be had.

Tonight I finally sat down at the computer at 9:20 pm. We had our annual ward corn bust to go to, which took up some good writing hours, but it was a good time. They organized a chili cook-off, served corn on the cob, and had games for the kids. It is always good to mingle with ward members and get to know them better. But here I am sitting at the computer, and midnight is creeping up on me again.

My husband looks at the calendar and notes that this latest BIAM challenge will be over in early October. Then I remind him that NaNoWriMo starts in November and there is an online writer's conference that I will be participating in happening the second week of October. So we all just get used to mom being up till midnight most nights.

It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes: "Winners look for ways things can be done. Losers look for ways they can't." (unknown). I think of this every time life throws something else in my day. I have decided to be a successful writer. To do this I actually have to write. Writing is important to me, but I can't neglect the other things demanding my attention. So until the kids grow up, and until I don't have to work anymore, I'll see you here around midnight.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Whitney Book Lists reminder

Have a look at the Whitney Awards Eligible book list. I updated it yesterday, and it has really grown, with almost 90 books on it now.

The Dashner Dude

I was wondering what to write today, and happened to wander over to James Dashner's blog, The Dashner Dude. He has been posting the interesting journey he took to publication. Instead of the continuing story, today I found the opportunity to win a free book. Well, I love anything free, and my son loves James' books.

In March I had the opportunity to attend the LDStorymakers conference in Utah. There was a bookstore set up where I spent way too much money, of course (I have a real weakness for books - what can I say?) When I travel I always bring something home for the kids. I had already found something for each of the girls, but I couldn't find anything for my son. Well, in this bookstore I found James Dashner's book, A Door in the Woods.

I confess I had never heard of him, but the book looked interesting and I though my son might like it. I purchased it and then went in search of the author. When I found him, he kindly signed the book for me and we visited for a few minutes. I can't wait to get down to the conference next year so he can sign the rest of the series for me. (If I had known how much my son would like the books, I would have bought them all.) I got him the second book for his birthday, and he bought the third with money he earned this summer. Now the books have to be good if a thirteen year old wants to spend money on them instead of candy and video games.

I am looking forward to reading more on his new blog, and my son and I are both looking forward to buying book four so we can finish the series. He also has a cool website with great creepy music that is worth checking out. His newest book, The 13th Reality, will be released next March.

Creativity

"The man who follows the crowd, will usually get no further than the crowd. The man who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever been before.

Creativity in living is not without its attendant difficulties, for peculiarity breeds contempt. And the unfortunate thing about being ahead of your time is that when people finally realize you were right, they'll say it was obvious all along.

You have two choices in life: you can dissolve into the mainstream, or you can be distinct. To be distinct, you must be different. To be different, you must strive to be what no one else but you can be . . ."

Alan Ashley-Pitt

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

What Do You Read and Why?

"What do you read and why do you read it?

It has been reported that less and less people are reading. Over on Murderati they've talked about letting your characters say and do whatever they want, even if it's intensely graphic. This is what writers have been doing. So, is this why you read less or does it have nothing to do with it?"
Candace Salima asked this question of those of us who belong to LDS blogs. First, I have to say that if I read less than I used to, it is mainly a time issue. That said, I do find it much harder to find good books, and I tend to put more and more books down after a chapter or two.

As a teenager, I loved books by Victoria Holt, Phyllis A. Whitney, Mary Higgins Clark, and Robin Cook. They always provided a great suspenseful story as well as the right dose of romance. Over the last several years, the trend I have noticed in similar books is that there is more bad language, more violence and explicit sex. I personally don't find any of this adds to the story. I always remember being told as a kid that people who resorted to using bad language and talking of crude things, weren't smart enough to think of a better way speak. I understand the argument that there are people in the world who speak that way and do those things. But I have also read books where you get the feeling of the character and worldly things happening without being graphic about it.


In the last two years, I have started reading less fiction published by the big publishing houses, and more LDS and Christian fiction. When I turned to these options, I found I was still getting great stories without all the bad language and graphic scenes that make me throw the book away. So I don't read less, I read different. I refuse to read books with bad language or graphic scenes. I don't think any story is good enough to make me sacrifice my standards. And there is a lot out there that is worth my time.

Monday, 10 September 2007

BIAM

I am joining Tristi Pinkston for her book in a month challenge. We started today, and I am a little behind already. I am working on a book that I outlined last spring. The first chapter is already written, but it took me longer to get back into the story than I thought it would. I spent a lot of my writing time reading over the outline and the first chapter, trying to get a feel for the story again. The interest is still there and it is a story I want to tell. Tonight I got in 350 words. Since the laundry is now done, family home evening has been held for the week, and I have refreshed my memory of where the story is going, the rest of the week should go a little better.

I did get the list of eligible books for the Whitney Awards updated today. There are 67 books on the list and I am sure there are more out to be added. There is a link on the sidebar that takes you right to the list. I hope everyone is doing a little extra reading and then nominating their favorite books. I am impressed with the variety out there, and wish I had the time to read them all.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

Starting Seminary

No, not me. I am much too old for that. But my daughter enters grade nine this year and also begins the wonderful world of seminary. Tonight we went to a fireside together to start off the seminary year. The seminary teacher gave a sample lesson to show us how seminary classes run these days. Things have changed since I attended so many years ago.

No more silly filmstrips or funny videos. (We watched one of those funny videos in sharing time a few weeks ago, and the kids thought it was hilarious). The lesson he taught tonight really delved into the gospel and made all of us think. He taught Moses 1. He reminded us that we are children of God. We were cared for and loved by God, and even now he knows each of us individually. He is aware of our concerns and trials. He knows what we need. Even more importantly, he knows who we are and what we can become. We have the seeds of divinity within us. How comforting to know that I have a Father in Heaven who wants me to be happy. When I think of how I feel about my own children-how much I worry about them and want more than anything to see them happy-I begin to get a glimpse of how our Heavenly Father feels about us.

I came away from the meeting with a daughter who is more excited than ever to learn the gospel. She is willing to get up for early morning classes and get there on her own, even when the temperature drops to -30 C. I caught the vision as well. It almost makes me wish I was fourteen again.

Friday, 7 September 2007

Finding Your Passion

Over the last two years I have given a lot of thought about where my life is going. I am a mother to three beautiful children. I love them dearly, but they don't need the constant attention and care they did when they were younger. I have a wonderful husband, but let's face it, he is pretty self-sufficient. I have my responsibilities in the church and responsibilities to my extended family. But more and more, I began thinking about what I wanted for me. I often prayed about where my life should go next. Every time I gave it any serious thought, my mind would clear except for one sentence. "You are supposed to write." So in the last year I have started to give a lot of attention to my passion - writing.

I have always loved the written word. I remember when I was a little girl and my parents would try to spell the things they didn't want me to know about. It didn't work very well for them because I could always follow the conversation. They couldn't leave anything around the house, because I would read it. As soon as I figured out how to hold a pencil, I started writing. As a child, I wrote a lot of poems and stories for my younger brothers and sisters. And I always said I would someday write a book.

So someday is here. I wrote a book. Now I have to reach for the next rung on the ladder and actually publish a book. But when I look back at the little girl I was, I wonder why it took me so long to get to this point. I went from writing everyday, to never writing at all. I guess life has a way of taking our dreams and pushing them aside.

But we are told in the scriptures that there is a time and a season for everything. I spent many years just trying to keep my head above water - working two jobs and being a single mom will do that to a person. Even now that I am married to a wonderful man and my kids are getting a little older, life still tries to push the dream aside. Sometimes I feel like I am in the bottom of a deep well, trying to get to the top, but people keep throwing things down at me and I have to deal with them before I can climb out to where I want to be.

I've been thinking about this because I have two younger sisters who have both talked to me in the last few weeks about finding their passion. One of my sisters just sent her youngest child to kindergarten and is now realizing that she has some time to herself. She went out and bought art supplies to pick up a talent she had before she was married. My other sister just had her fourth child and asks me sometimes, "How do you find your passion? I don't even think I know who I am anymore." We mothers tend to do this to ourselves. We devote our lives to our children and families at the cost of our own dreams and aspirations.

We have talked about this many times. I always tell them, "Learn everything you can about anything that interests you. Think about the things you loved as a kid and a young adult. Take the time to find yourself. And when the time is right, things will fall into place for you to pursue your dreams. Find your passion, pursue your goal, and set your sights upon the stars. God gave us talents and abilities. It is up to us to find out what they are and build upon them."

Meanwhile, I have found my passion. This whole business of writing is exciting to me. It feels like something I was meant to do. I have stopped wishing I were better at other things, because this is who I am. And now when people ask me what I do, I lift my head high and tell them, "I am a wife, a mother, and a writer."

House of Secrets by Jeffrey S. Savage

Shandra Covington is a petite reporter who inherits her grandmother's house after her "Gam" dies. Shandra thought the house had been sold years earlier and when she returns, she finds everything in the house - nothing has been sold or moved. It looks like someone left abruptly and maybe the dead body in the upstairs bedroom might be part of the reason why. When she goes to the law for help, things start escalating, until Shandra's own life is in danger. Everyone seems to have their own agenda and Shandra isn't sure who to trust in a town that protects its secrets.

This book kept me guessing with every page. Each time I thought I had figured out where the story was going, a new twist showed up, but in the end, everything made sense. And if you like cliff-hangers, this book ends with the perfect lead in to the next book in the series. I look forward to reading more about Shandra Covington and whatever else Jeff Savage writes.

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Other Writing

Once again I have procrastinated something I have known about for over 10 months. I was assigned the task of writing the sacrament meeting presentation for our ward. Now I could have started in January, but I didn't. I wanted a chance to get into the theme for the year. Time rolled on, and here we are in September. I'm into the theme, but so far nothing is on paper. Our presentation is at the end of October, but I need to get the parts out to the children soon.

I have also committed to participate in Tristi Pinkston's BIAM challenge. She has challenged us to start on Sept. 10 and finish on Oct.9. I was planning on starting a new project this month, so this is just a little extra motivation. That starts on Monday, so I have three days to get the program down solid. I love how the outline is already there and wish my story outlines would come to me that clearly. But it will come, it always does. I just hope the BIAM story comes just as easily.

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

I finally finished this book for the Summer Reading Thing. I have avoided reading it for a long time, but decided that this was the year. In the last two months, I have read the book and watched two movie versions. After reading Pride and Prejudice, I can understand why it has stood the test of time. It addresses human nature and the way we treat people. These are issues that never seem to change

I found it interesting to read about the social expectations of the time and how the Bennetts just didn't quite measure up. Again, I looked around me today and wondered how often people are judged according to what they wear, or where they live? Even though it was written almost 200 years ago, many of the problems and attitudes that Elizabeth Bennett faces are still prevalent today. How often do we judge others in error, only to find they become dear to us when we truly understand them?

What I loved about this story was the universal theme. I think in another 200 years, readers will still relate to the story and still be telling their own modern versions. I am looking forward to reading more Jane Austen - as soon as I finish the rest of my summer reading list.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Books Eligible for the Whitney Awards

Okay, here are the titles I have found, or which have been suggested to me so far. I will keep adding to this list as I find more. I am not making any judgment on whether any book is good enough to win a Whitney, or even worth reading. I am just trying to find all the books that are eligible for 2007. Any more suggestions or corrections to this list would be appreciated.

  1. Against an Amber Sky - H.R. Holm
  2. Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians - Brandon Sanderson
  3. Ambushed in Africa - Sian Ann Bessey
  4. As Time Goes By - Jerry Borrowman
  5. At Heaven's Door - Anita Stansfield
  6. At Some Disputed Barricade - Anne Perry
  7. Austenland - Shannon Hale
  8. Backtrack - Betsy Brannon Green
  9. Before the Dawn - Dean Hughes
  10. Beyond the Horizon - Judy C. Olsen
  11. Bishop's Bride, The - Elizabeth W. Watkins
  12. Book of a Thousand Days - Shannon Hale
  13. Boxmaker's Son, The - Donald Smurthwaite
  14. Brother Brigham - D. Michael Martindale
  15. Bullies in the Headlights - Matthew Buckley
  16. Candy Shop War, The - Brandon Mull
  17. Chaos - Jeff Downs
  18. Chosen - Stephen A. Cramer
  19. Cleansing Hunt - Greg Park
  20. Cliff Hanger - Pamela Carrington Reid
  21. Counting Stars - Michele Paige Holmes
  22. Dark Sky at Dawn:Free Men and Dreamers v1. - L.C. Lewis
  23. Dead Sexy - Amanda Ashley
  24. Deep End, The - Traci Hunter Abramson
  25. Delicious Conversation - Jennifer Stewart Griffith
  26. Desires of Our Hearts - Sariah S. Wilson
  27. Don't You Marry the Mormon Boys - Janet Jensen
  28. Dragon Slippers - Jessica Day George
  29. Dragons of the Highlord Skies - Margaret Weis, Tracy Hickman
  30. Eclipse - Stephenie Meyer
  31. Evidence - Clair M. Poulson
  32. Fablehaven: Rise of the Evening Star - Brandon Mull
  33. Final Farewell, The: The Kevin Kirk Chronicles - Patricia Wiles
  34. First Day - Allyson Braithwaite Condie
  35. Flying Home - Rachel Ann Nunes
  36. Forgotten Love - Kara Hunt
  37. Fury and Light by Chris Stewart
  38. Grave Secrets - Marlene Austin
  39. Great Gathering, The - Chad Daybell
  40. Horse Stone House - Harold K. Moon
  41. House Beyond the Hill, The - Michael R. Collings
  42. How to Take the Ex Out of Ex-Boyfriend - Janette Rallison
  43. Hunting Gideon - Jessica Draper
  44. I am Not Wolf - Roger Terry
  45. Icing on the Cake - Elodia Strain
  46. In Search of Heaven:The Barrington Family Saga v1. - Anita Stansfield
  47. independence Club, The - Rachel Ann Nunes
  48. Invasive Procedures - Orson Scott Card, Aaron Johnson
  49. Jack Knife - Virginia Baker
  50. Jesse's Highway - Barbara Miller
  51. Kindred Spirits - Christopher Kimball Bigelow
  52. Land of Inheritance - H.B. Moore
  53. Last Cold Warrior, The - Howard Robinson
  54. Leven Thumps and the Eyes of the Want - Obert Skye
  55. Lights of Mahonri Moriancumer, The - Phyllis Gunderson
  56. Lost Sheep, The - Jeff Call
  57. Makeover of James Orville Wickenbee, The - Anya Bateman
  58. Midnight Whispers - Carol Warburton
  59. Mistborn: The Well of Ascension - Brandon Sanderson
  60. Moon without Magic - Michael O. Tunnell
  61. Night's Touch - Amanda Ashley
  62. Not Forever - Jennifer Carson Shelton.
  63. Notes on a Near-Life Experience - Olivia Birdsall
  64. On the Road to Heaven - Coke Newell
  65. Operative, The - Willard Boyd Gardner
  66. Please, No Zits! - Anne Bradshaw
  67. Professor Winsnicker's Book of Etiquette for Proper Sycophants - Obert Skye
  68. Princess and the Hound, The - Mette Ivie Harrison
  69. Quiet Promise, A - Anita Stansfield
  70. The Refiner's Gift - Sherry Ann Miller
  71. Rescue the Prophet - Rob Ficiur
  72. Return to Christmas - Chris Heimerdinger
  73. Revenge and Redemption - Brad E. Hainsworth
  74. Scottish Legend - Sherry Ann Miller
  75. Secrets in Zarahemla - Sariah S. Wilson
  76. Sheep's Clothing - Josi Kilpack
  77. Silent Patriots, The - JoAnn Arnold
  78. Space Boy, The - Orson Scott Card
  79. Spires of Stone - Annette Lyon
  80. Summer of Truth - Carol Lynn Pearson
  81. Survivors, The- Gregg Luke
  82. Swans Over the Moon - Forrest Aguirre
  83. Tangled Roots - G.G. Vandagriff
  84. Three Tickets to Peoria - Nancy Anderson, Lael Littke, Carroll Hofeling Morris
  85. Topaz, The - Jennie Hansen
  86. Upon the Mountains - Gale Sears
  87. View from the Attic Window, A- Arlene Roberts
  88. War of Gifts, A - Orson Scott Card
  89. Wednesday Letters, The - Jason Wright
  90. Wet Desert - Gary Hansen
  91. When I Fall in Love - Kay Lynn Kurland
  92. When the Bough Breaks - Kay Lynn Mangum
  93. Widow's Revenge - K.L. Fogg
  94. Winning - Bryce Christensen
  95. Wizard of Ooze, The: Ravenspell Series v2. - David Farland
  96. Worldbinder - David Farland

Monday, 3 September 2007

Zucchini

We had an explosion of zucchini in our garden this year. I am sure I only planted one plant this year, but somehow I have two. I only noticed one and have been pretty good about keeping the zucchini picked while they are still young and small. The other day, I pushed the corn stalks aside to see what I thought was another type of squash (I don't keep very good notes about what I plant where) and found another zucchini plant. This one wasn't as mature as the other one, so there weren't any baseball bat sized squash on there, but some were close.

Now any of you who grow zucchini know how hard it is to give the stuff away. My dad came over today to get a scrap piece of fleece to use as a visual aid for a talk. I told him he could have the fleece only if he would take a zucchini. He said he would love some, but wanted to pick it up later since he was on his way to town. He didn't want to wreck the stuff by having it sit in a hot vehicle all day. I think he forgot that zucchini is indestructible. Meanwhile, it is still sitting on my kitchen counter. How gullible am I? I think I may have do to a zucchini drop and run. He'll never know it was me, right?

Saturday, 1 September 2007

Whitney Book Lists

I know I have mentioned this before. The whole concept of the Whitney Awards is very exciting to me. For years I have read books by LDS authors and wondered why I encounter a dismissive attitude towards LDS fiction it whenever I recommend a book to someone. LDS fiction has come a long way in the last twenty years. and I think it is great that we are finally recognizing the talent within our own LDS culture.

I read all the time and to think that I can nominate my favorite books is rather satisfying. I have picked up several new releases and have even made a nomination. (not telling which one :) So now I am trying to come up with a list of all the books I can find that are eligible for the Whitney Awards for 2007. This is rather time consuming, especially since there are so many LDS authors out there who are not published by the LDS publishers. So I am asking for everyone to list a few books they know of that were released this year. I'll add them to the list I am making and post them on another day.
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