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Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Finding Rose Blog Tour

From Walnut Springs Press:
It's blog tour time for Whitney Nominee
Finding Rose by Stephanie Humphreys
.

We're excited because we've got some fabulous reviewers on board,
not to mention that we'll be giving away THREE copies!
The tour runs from November 22-December 3.



Want to win a copy of Finding Rose? It's easy. Check out the fabulous reviews and leave a comment letting us know why you're excited to read Finding Rose. Remember to include your email address. If you tweet about the blog tour, or post about it on your blog or Facebook, leave the link in the comments section, and you'll receive an additional entry.

****
Will Rose honor her father's last wish?

Rose stood and dropped her father's hand. "You're tired, Papa." She pulled the quilt over his thin shoulders and kissed him on the cheek.

"Think about what I said." He gently squeezed her hand. "I wish you would consider giving Miles a chance."

"Miles! I wish Sean had never brought him here. He's so serious. In all the time he's been here, he's hardly ever smiled. . . . He annoys me and I wish he would go home." Still, Rose couldn't help but think of his gentleness when he cared for her father.

On his deathbed, Rose Sterling's father asks her to consider Miles Crandall as a suitor. Then Rose is sent to live with an uncle in Spring Creek, Montana, far from her carefree life with her family in Utah. Miles is
returning to his hometown of Spring Creek to set up a medical practice, so Rose is certain her being sent there is a setup. Yet Miles doesn't seem interested in her, and after Rose falls ill in Montana, he seems content to act as her physician and friend. When Rose captures the attention of Miles's younger, flamboyant brother as well as the town sheriff, Miles retreats even further from any attempt at courtship.

How can Rose honor her father's last wish if Miles doesn¹t even try to court her? Will she have the courage to put her heart on the line and fight for the one she really loves?

November 22
Tristi Pinkston--Tristi Pinkston

November 23
Alison Palmer--Tangled Words andDreams

November 24
Taffy Lovell--Taffy's Writing

November 29
Jenn Wilks--Jenn Wilks
Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen--TheWrite Blocks

November 30
Amanda Thomson--Maybe Mandi

December 1
Sheila Staley--Why Not?Because I Said So

December 2
Valerie Ipson--Valerie Ipson

December 3
Christine Bryant--DayDreamer

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Lest We Forget

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old,

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
-Laurence Binyon
 
 Lest we forget.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Win a Book

For a chance to win Finding Rose and other books, check out Kathy's blog. She host many contests and writes  a lot of book reviews. It's fun to look around her site.

Okay, back to Nano. . .

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Just Checking In

I won't be around too much for the next month. That's right, I've gone crazy and signed up for NaNoWriMo again. This year will be a little tougher for me because I took on a temporary position at the school a few weeks ago. I'll be working until Christmas with a special needs girl. She is a sweet girl, but by the time I get home, I just want to veg in front of the t.v. or stick my nose in a good book.

My project is the next book about Rose and her family. I don't have a title yet, but I do know where I want the story to go. Now I just need to stretch out the hours in the day and figure out how to work into the wee hours of the morning and still be able to stay awake at school. Should be fun.

Did I mention that Christmas is less than two months away? And my oldest daughter is trying to get her application for university filled out, but she needs my help to figure out some citizenship stuff? And the cultural arts group I am vice-president of has decided to get started on our spring play early this year? So like I said, I won't be around much this month, but come December I'll have so much to tell you. See you then. . .

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Make Friends Monday

First of all, I'm quite aware that it isn't actually Monday, but I really am running about a week and a half behind, so here we go. Tristi started a feature on her blog where she highlights some of her blogging friends every Monday. It is a great way meet new people and learn a few interesting things about them. She mentioned me here. Tristi is a wonderful person and friend. I met her several years ago at a writer's conference and have always been impressed with her great attitude. She is a wonderful person who always cheers the rest of us on.  Here is a little more about Tristi:

Tristi Pinkston has been blogging since 2006.  On her main blog, (http://www.tristipinkston.blogspot.com) she covers everything from writing tips and the life of a published author to kid funnies, spiritual thoughts, and embarrassing moments.  She also has a weight loss blog, one for writing challenges, another for her fictional characters … and she lost count of how many others she has.  You can find the links for them on her sidebar.
Tristi is the author of five published novels and a whole kit ‘n caboodle of unpublished novels.  Right now she’s focusing on cozy mysteries, although she has written historical fiction in the past and plans to write more in that genre.  She works as a freelance editor, online writing instructor, and a virtual book tour coordinator.  She loves taking long naps, being charmingly annoying, and watching good movies.  She’s a Mormon, a homeschooler, a Cubmaster, and most of the time, a headless chicken.

If you've never met her, pop on over to her blog. If you do know her, head on over and say hi, she would love to have you.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Just Wait Until You See Amazing


Yesterday I played the piano for my daughter when she sang in church. She has had a sore throat and cold over the last week, and as we were practicing Saturday night she was concerned that her voice would crack and she wouldn’t do as well as she usually does. Still, she was confident that she would do fine. Her vocal teacher told her that she already has “very good” down pat and now she has to work on being amazing. But even if she has a less than stellar performance, as long as she puts in her best effort, the audience will still love “very good”.

How often do we do something well, but won’t share with others because it isn’t amazing? When working on a manuscript, I can edit for months and still feel like the words just aren’t cooperating with me. The temptation to hide it in a drawer and never let anyone see it is always there, yet I know that letting the story molder away in a corner defeats the purpose. I write for others. There is nothing more satisfying than hearing something that flowed from my pen has touched someone’s life and got them thinking. That hidden away manuscript doesn’t help anyone, especially me.

I often have to bite my tongue when someone tells me about a scene in my book that they particularly loved. So often the first thoughts in my mind are how I could make it better, because let’s face it, nothing is perfect. When I step back and think about the comments I’ve received, I realize that the stories I tell can touch people’s lives despite their imperfections.

It’s like my daughter’s singing. To most of us, her voice is amazing – clear, sweet, strong. Yet she hears the word that didn’t come out exactly right or the note that didn’t get held as long as she wanted.  Despite still having much to learn about the voice and how to use it, she always brings a wonderful spirit into the room when she shares her talent. The rest of us wish we could sing as beautifully.

It’s interesting being imperfect. There is always something new to learn, a different technique to try, a mistake to fix, and a new skill level to reach for. I think if I wrote the perfect book every time, the process would lose something and become boring. For me, part of the joy is the learning I do along the way. I keep reminding myself, if our audiences love our “very good,” just wait until they see amazing!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Catching Up

Life has been so hectic and doesn't seem to be settling down. Here is the abbreviated version:

1. Canadian Thanksgiving was this week. We had a lovely dinner with lots of extended family at our home. Everyone contributed so there wasn't too much work for anyone. Great food and great company made for a wonderful evening.

2. My mother and step-father are staying with us for a few days. They are visiting from Arizona and have been with us a week. I haven't seen my mom in two years. Arizona is such a long distance, so it is hard for us to get down there and hard for them to get up here. We've been having a great time visiting, although my work is really falling behind.

3. We've had to hire a tutor for one of the children. When it became obvious that extra help was needed we made the decision to spend the money even though we didn't know where it would come from. Less than twenty-four hours later, I received a phone call from the school offering me a two month position, filling in for someone who is taking medical leave. It is definitely one of those tender mercies. I'm so grateful to know He watches over our needs.

4. NaNoWriMo is coming up quickly. With the new job and everything else I have to work on, I'm not sure I'll be signing up, but I haven't entirely ruled out the possibility yet.

5. My oldest daughter informed me the other day that there is a formal dance coming up at the school. Out school usually holds one formal dance during the year, but in the last few years I've noticed they are planning more and more. Of course this means that she needs to find a dress. Because she is a difficult size to find and the local shopping is incredibly limited, I have some sewing to do. It'll be fun if I can just get her to decide what she wants.

6. My office is almost finished and as soon as I put the final touches in, I'll post pictures. I'm very happy with how it turned out, although the project did remind me that I don't really enjoy painting. I'd much rather do my creating with words or with a needle and thread.

7. So far the reports I've been getting on Finding Rose have been positive. I'm getting many requests for the second book.

8. And that all leads back to the writing. The next story is almost entirely plotted. I have a little research to finish up and then I'll get it all on paper. I'm excited about the story and some new characters who have taken up residence in my mind.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Winning Mr. Wrong by Marie Higgins

"Will an internet list help Charley win her man?
Whoever said the quest for love wasn't comical never met Charlene Randall. Charley is looking for a man who wants to start a family, a man who will take her to the temple. Problem is, she has never dated a man for longer than three months. When she reads an internet article called "Ten Ways to Win Your Man," she decides to try it on her new coworker, Maxwell Harrington. Max was her crush in high school, but the superstar sports anchorman doesn't even remember her.
Enter ladies' man Damien Giovianni, Charley's handsome neighbor, who agrees to help her win Max over. What follows is a hilarious tale of mishaps and misunderstandings where Charley learns that what she really needs may be right in front of her." from deseretbook.com

Marie Higgin's novel, Winning Mr. Wrong, is a fun read. Charley is likeable and her efforts to win the heart of the sports anchorman left me smiling. I found all the characters intersting and the twists in the story kept me guessing about how the book would end. Higgin's writing was engaging and I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a good romance.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Why I Write

I wrote the following essay for "Get to Know You Monday" on the Walnut Springs blog. It seemed to capture all the reasons I keep staring at a computer screen trying to make the story in my head make sense on paper. 
"I write because I made up my mind years ago that I would be published someday. Books have always been one of my favourite things. As a child I read all the time. When I was about five years old, I realized that all the books on the library shelves had to be written by someone. I decided then and there that someday I would have my name on the cover of a book and my story would fill the pages inside. 
I write to express myself. As a teenager, writing was a way for me to cope with all the confusing emotions that accompany high school. Most of that writing was poetry filled with teen angst but that poetry phase taught me how to use words wisely to be able to get the most power out of them. 

I write for the thrill of discovering the plot and becoming acquainted with the characters. I am not one of those writers who has endless story ideas fighting to be told, but I have enough and when I sit to start something new, there is always an idea that begs for attention. Once a story idea takes centre stage, I can’t put it away until it is done. 

I write for my children. I want them to see that their mother takes her talents seriously and that they, too, can accomplish anything they set their minds to. I also want to tell stories that they can read and that don’t have to be censored. I want them to see that a good story can be told without challenging the moral standards we have in our home.

There have been days when I try to talk myself out of being a writer. The reasons are varied, but it is an argument I never win. That urge to write is too strong. There is an inner voice that tells me to write, that assures me it is what I am supposed to do. The short answer is that I am compelled to write. It is what I do and I can’t imagine life without a story to tell."

That pretty much sums it up, although after a long discussion about the new book I'm working on, my husband came up with one more reason. He pointed out that I like to be in control of things. That is why, for example, I like to be in charge of events rather than be one of the helpers. As he listened to me make things happen in my stories, he came to the conclusion that I like to write because I can control every aspect of my characters' lives. It's a good theory. I'm not sure how true it is as I often lose the battle when I try to get characters to follow certain paths and instead they lead me on a merry chase through uncharted territory. I think I write because I have to know what the ending is. Discovering the story is where the fun lies. And even though I do love to be in control, nine times out of ten, the story just happens.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Chocolate Roses by Joan Sowards


"Janie Rose Whitaker's world revolved around her chocolate shop until Roger Wentworth and his young daughter moved into the apartment across from Janie's. Anyone would think Roger fit the mold of the "perfect" guy, but soon Janie discovers secrets that could keep them apart forever. Though she resists getting involved in Roger's complicated life, they are drawn further into a bittersweet relationship.

You will laugh, cry, and crave chocolate as you read this LDS paraody of the classic novel Jane Eyre."

Joan Sowards book Chocolate Roses is a fun, modern re-telling of Jane Eyre. Though the story line mirrors the original in some ways, this new version is lighter in tone. It addresses some serious issues, but Sowards does this with skill and sensitivity. The main character, Jane, is likeble, especially because she isn't written as a perfect, beautiful heroine. She also has a dream job, owning her own chocolate shop. I think she is someone many readers will be able to relate to. I only wish the romance had been built up a little more, but then I'm a romantic at heart. Chocolate Roses will have you searching out a little chocolate to eat while you keep guessing at the ending. I enjoyed this book and hope Joan has more stories up her sleeves.


Tuesday, 14 September 2010

The Snowball Effect

My daughter just had to make my morning and inform me that the forecast was calling for snow on Sunday. It's just one more thing to remind me that summer really seems to be over. I had all sorts of marvellous plans for the two months of summer vacation, but as usual, the time passed and I had to keep chopping projects off my list. I just dream too big and forget how long most things take to do. Even though many of my planned activities didn't happen, other things took their place.

Last spring the shower stall in our downstairs bathroom finally fell apart for good. It has been threatening this for a long time, but when the door fell off this time, we knew it couldn't be fixed. Since we were tearing things apart anyway, I decided it was time to paint and decorate. For those of you who have been in my house, this is not something I normally do. Choosing a paint colour scares me to death. I don't like spending money on home decor when I could spend the same money on food. Most of our house is filled with hand me downs and cast-off furniture that only kind of matches if you squint and use your imagination.

So the kids who share that bathroom gave me their input, and the only colour they could agree on was red. Let me just say that I am not a huge fan of red. I don't wear it and I don't put it in my house. But this is the room they use and we started coming up with a plan. We picked a colour and bought the paint. Then I went to Idaho for a week. When I called home, my husband told me he had finished the first coat. "It looks like dried blood," he said. My daughter got on the phone and reassured me that it really was beautiful. I decided to believe her because the dried blood image was just too disturbing. When I returned home last Saturday I went downstairs to have a look. It is much brighter than I had originally imagined, but my daughter was right. It is quite pretty.

Another project that distracted me from other things is the office. We have one room that serves as an office for my husband and me and also as a guest bedroom. There is a built in bunk bed, several bookshelves and two tables we use as desks. A few weeks ago, my uncle offered me a desk he wanted to get rid of. It is one of the monstrous old teacher's desks that has to be forty years old. It is solid wood and in great shape. I'd been dreaming of a desk with drawers to replace the table, but the problem was the colour. The blond wood just didn't inspire me. So I decided to clean it up and paint it white. A set of new drawer pulls and the desk looks like new. Of course, I couldn't put my shiny new desk in my sad beige office, so another painting project was born. Now everything needs to come out of the office so we can finish that project.

We work on these when we can, but Sunday my mother called to tell us she will be coming for two weeks in October. I guess that will be the added motivation to finish these chores that keep snowballing and get the house put back together. Sadly, I didn't take any before pictures, but I'll be sure to post pictures of the finished rooms.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Free Book Friday

For a chance to win Finding Rose, head on over to the Walnut Springs Press blog. Each week they highlight one of their authors. On Monday they interviewed me, on Wednesday they posted the first chapter of Finding Rose, and today they are holding a contest to give away one copy of the book. Good luck!

Monday, 6 September 2010

2010 Whitney Award Eligible Book List

*This is just reposted from earlier in the year. There are so many books on the list and it's great to see it grow every year.

"We would love to get some more official nominees for the Whitney awards so as to overwhelm our judges with books to read--if you have an eligible book, or love someone who does, feel free to drum up some votes! If you've read some great books by LDS authors, don't be stingy--tell us about it!"
                   -Josi Kilpack-

I'm really excited to add my own book to the list. I've been wanting to do this for so long. I know this isn't the only list available, but I like to keep my own. Hopefully someone else benefits from this too.
  1. Abramson, Traci Hunter - Backlash
  2. Abramson, Traci Hunter - Crossfire
  3. Adams, T. Lynn - Tombs of Terror
  4. Anderson, Donald - Hanging by the Thread
  5. Anderson, Nancy and Carroll Hofeling Morris - Leaning Into the Curves
  6. Anderson, Rachael Renee -Luck of the Draw
  7. Ashley, Amanda - Everlasting Desire
  8. Ashley, Amanda - Everlasting Kiss
  9. Autry, Clover - Chase the Wind
  10. Averett, Stacy - The Bridge
  11. Bateman, Marlene - Light on Fire Island
  12. Beck, Glenn - The Overton Window
  13. Bell, Braden - The Road Show
  14. Bell, Michelle Ashman - Hometown Girl: The Butterfly Box #2
  15. Bell, Michele Ashman - Summer in Paris
  16. Bellon, Julie Coulter - Dangerous Connections
  17. Berry, Julie - Secondhand Charm
  18. Bice, Prudence - The Widower's Wife 
  19. Black, Stephanie - Cold as Ice
  20. Blackhurst, Deanne - Turning Hearts
  21. Borrowman, Jerry - Life and Death at Hoover Dam
  22. Buck, Alicia - Flecks of Gold
  23. Bunderson, M. R. - The Mark
  24. Chadwick, Linda - The Conterfeit Convert
  25. Christensen, Rachelle J. - Wrong Number
  26. Clarke, Linda Weaver - Anasazi Intrigue: The Adventures of John and Julia Evans
  27. Clarke, Linda Weaver - Mayan Intrigue
  28. Cole, Frank L. - Hashbrown Winters and the Mashimoto Madness
  29. Cole, Frank L. - Hashbrown Winters and the Phantom of Pordunce
  30. Condie, Allyson Braithwaite - Being Sixteen
  31. Corpany, Susan Law - Lucky Change
  32. Correia, Larry - Monster Hunter Vendetta
  33. Culmone, Claudia - Harbor's End
  34. Dashner, James - The Blade of Shattered Hope: The 13th Reality #3
  35. Dashner, James - The Scorch Trials
  36. Daybell, Chad - The Keys of the Kingdom: Standing in Holy Places #4
  37. Dayley, Susan - Redemption
  38. Eden, Sarah M. - Courting Miss Lancaster
  39. Evans, Richard Paul - Promise Me
  40. Evens, Richard Paul - The Walk
  41. Gallacher, Marcie and Kerri Robinson - Abide with Me: The Banner is Unfurled #4
  42. Gashler, Stephan - The Bent Sword
  43. George, Jessica Day - Princess of Glass
  44. Giles, D.N. - The Sharp Edge of a Knife
  45. Grant, K.C. - Abish: Daughter of God
  46. Green, Betsy Brannon - Murder by Design
  47. Grey, Sandra - Trespass
  48. Gunderson, Phyllis - The Jaguar Prophecies
  49. Fechner, Maggie - Growing Up Gracie
  50. Feehan, Christine - Water Bound
  51. Feehan, Christine - Wild Fire 
  52. Fitzpatrick, Becca -  Crescendo
  53. Fraley, Daron D. - The Thorn: The Chronicles of Gan Book 1
  54. Guymon, Shannon - The Broken Road
  55. Harrison, Mettie Ivie - The Princess and the Snowbird
  56. Hatch, Donna - The Guise of a Gentleman
  57. Hatch, Donna - Queen in Exile
  58. Hawkes, Jaclyn M. - Journey of Honor 
  59. Heimerdinger, Chris - Sorcerers and Seers
  60. Heiner, Tamara Hart - Perilous
  61. Hickman, Tracy - Song of the Dragon
  62. Higgins, Marie - Winning Mr. Wrong
  63. Hoover, Karen E. - The Sapphire Flute
  64. Housley, Bill - Into the Dark: Escape of the Nomad
  65. Humphreys, Stephanie - Finding Rose
  66. Jackson, Trudi - Souls of Valor
  67. Job, Kimberly - I'll Know You by Heart
  68. Justesen, Heather - Rebound
  69. Kent, Steven L. - The Clone Empire
  70. Kilpack, Josi S. - Devil's Food Cake
  71. Kilpack, Josi S. - Key Lime Pie
  72. Klinger, Erin - Between the Lines
  73. Kurland, Lynn - A Tapestry of Spells
  74. Kurland, Lynn - One Enchanted Evening
  75. Landon, Kristen - The Limit
  76. Laurens, Jennifer - Absolution
  77. Lewid, L.C. - Oh, Say Can You See? (Free Men and Dreamers #4)
  78. Lewis, Laurie C. - Awakening Avery
  79. Lightender, J.A. - Forbidden Portals: The Quicksilver Project
  80. Lyon, Annette - Band of Sisters
  81. Lyon, Jack - The Abraham Enigma
  82. Mangum, Lisa - The Golden Spiral
  83. Matthews, Jean Holbrook - Escape to Zion 
  84. McPheters, Mike - Cartels and Combinations
  85. Monson, Marianne - The Water is Wide
  86. Moore, H.B. - Alma the Younger
  87. Mull, Brandon - Fablehaven 5: Keys to the Demon Prison
  88. Nawyn, Lori - My Gift to You
  89. Neff, Kristoffer - No Place to Hide
  90. Newell, Neil K. with William J. Hamblin - The Book of Malchus
  91. Novak, Brenda - Body Heat 
  92. Novak, Brenda - Killer Heat
  93. Novak, Brenda - White Heat
  94. Nunes, Rachel Ann - Imprints
  95. Owens, Dixie - Becoming Kate
  96. Owen, James A. - The Dragon's Apprentice
  97. Perry, Anne - The Sheen on the Silk
  98. Pike, Aprilynne - Spells
  99. Pinkston, Tristi - Secret Sisters
  100. Poulson, Clair M. - Deadline 
  101. Roulstone, Tom - Reluctant Soldier, Reluctant Saint
  102. Pratt, Sheralyn - City of Angels
  103. Rallison - My Double Life
  104. Sanderson, Brandon - The Way of Kings 
  105. Sanderson, Brandon and Robert Jordan - The Towers of Midnight (Wheel of Time #13)
  106. Savage, Jeffrey S. - A Time to Die
  107. Savage, Jeffrey S. - The Fourth Nephite
  108. Sears, Gale - The Silence of God 
  109. Skye, Obert - Choke
  110. Sowards, Joan - Chocolate Roses
  111. Stansfield, Anita - A Far, Far Better Place: Dickens Inn #2
  112. Stansfield, Anita - A Loving Heart: Dickens Inn #3
  113. Stansfield, Anita - Every Graceful Fancy
  114. Stansfield, Anita - Tranquil Light: Dickens Inn #4
  115. Stringham, Jean - The Hoarders
  116. Thackeray, Christine - Lipstick Wars 
  117. Thayne, RaeAnne - A Cold Creek Baby
  118. Thayne, RaeAnne - A Cold Creek Secret
  119. Thompson, Michelle - Taming the Wind
  120. Udall, Brady - The Lonely Polygamist 
  121. Warburton, Carol Thayne - A Question of Trust
  122. Warburton, Carol Thayne - False Pretenses
  123. Warburton, Carol Thayne - The Legend of Shannonderry
  124. Watkins, Elizabeth W. - The Bishop's Bride: The Honeymoon's Over
  125. Weis, Margaret and Tracy Hickman - Secret of the Dragon: Dragonships of Vindras #2
  126. Wells, Dan - Mr. Monster
  127. West, David J. - Heroes of the Fallen
  128. Westover, Steve - Defensive Tactics
  129. Weyland, Jack - Cameron Meets Madison Again
  130. Weyland, Jack - It All Started with Autumn Jones
  131. White, Kiersten - Paranormalcy
  132. Wilhite, Becca - My Ridiculous, Romantic Obsessions
  133. Williams, Carol Lynch - Glimpse
  134. Wright, Jason F. - The Cross Gardener
  135. Wright, Jason F. - The Seventeen Second Miracle
  136. Wright, Julie - Cross My Heart
  137. Young, Michael D. - The Canticle Kingdom

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

The Fourth Nephite by Jeffrey S. Savage

"Kaleo Steele is starting to cut seminary and hang out with some new “friends”; in fact, he’s not even sure what he believes any more. When his seminary teacher finds him at the wrong place at the wrong time, Kaleo is in jeopardy of missing his high school team’s regional football game—a game where college scouts will be coming to see him play. But his seminary teacher realizes that much more than a game is at stake, and sends him on a soul-searching quest.
Guided by Ladan, a mysterious old blind man, Kaleo pushes through a battered wooden door only to find himself in Palmyra, New York, in the fall of 1827. Soon he is caught up in a battle between treasure seekers—led by Allaster Blackburn, a necromancer hired to steal the gold plates—and the young prophet Joseph Smith, who is sworn to keep them safe. In his quest to find a key that will send him back to his own time, Kaleo will have to decide what to believe. Before it’s too late." (from Deseretbook.com)

Jeffrey Savage has once again written an action packed adventure that will appeal to both young and old. I especially loved the characters in this book. Kaleo is easy to relate to, as a young man teetering on the edge. He has his doubts about religion and isn't planning on serving a mission, but he hasn't done anything wrong. . .yet. I also liked the portrayal of Joseph Smith and his family. Savage shows them as real people who enjoyed life but were also busy trying to protect the plates and live their religion despite the animosity it created in their community. The historical details were interesting and woven in skillfully so they didn't overwhelm the story but provided the perfect backdrop for it. Kaleo overcomes his doubts about Joseph Smith, not because of heavy preaching, but by just watching Joseph interact with his family and others. My favorite character, in a creepy way, was Allaster Blackburn. Savage always writes great villains and this one was no exception. From the way he looked to the way he spoke, this character gave me chills.

This is a fun book and one that teenagers, as well as their parents, will enjoy. I'm looking forward to the next book.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Goodreads Giveaway

For chance to win a copy of Finding Rose, head on over to Goodreads. My publisher is giving away three copies between now and September 24th. The link is on my sidebar. Good luck!

Friday, 20 August 2010

INFF

One of my favorite blogs is written by Sarah Eden, author of Courting Miss Lancaster, and Seeking Persephone. She does a fun weekly interview called I Need Friends Friday. I look forward to reading it every week and was sad when she almost discontinued it this summer. But it's back and this week she is interviewing me. So head on over to Sarah's blog and I'll cross my fingers and hope I didn't embarrass myself too much. See you there.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Shhh. . .You're in the Library

As a kid, my favorite place was the library - some things never change. I read so fast that I went there at least once a week and sometimes more. The librarian became my friend and books my portal to anywhere more exciting than our little town. The best years were those when we lived close enough that I could go on my own without waiting for my mom to take me. I can still remember my mother and the librarian and any other adult within range telling us to be quiet in the library. I used to tell my own little ones to remember that it was a quiet place where people went to read and study and that they should use their library voices.

I've noticed a difference in the last few years. Our small-town library is largely unchanged. It's still a quiet place were whispering seems natural, but the main branch in the city is quite different. They have added a coffee shop, computers where people access the internet and even televisions where people can pop in a movie. Patrons sit at tables and carry on conversations in a normal speaking voices, and one day I got to listen to a very interesting, one-sided cell-phone call. I suppose you could say I was eavesdropping, but he spoke loud enough I couldn't help but over-hear, and of course my imagination started filling in the other side of the story. It will probably make it into one of my books someday.

It doesn't really bother me, but I do find it interesting. I see fewer people just sitting and reading a book than I used to. Now everyone is plugged in somehow and it has become more of a social gathering place. Personally, I prefer my little-small town library where the librarians greet me by name and often put books aside if they think I'd like them. And overall, it is still a quiet place where I can escape and be surrounded by the printed word. As far as I'm concerned, it doesn't get much better than that.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Huge Contest

If you would like a chance to win Finding Rose or one of eighteen other prizes, head on over to Goodreads. The prizes are all donated my members of the Clean Romances group. For those of you who aren't familiar with Goodreads, it is a great site that helps you keep track of books you've read or want to read. You can rate the books you read and read reviews on books you are interested. Like other social networking sites, you can build a list of friends and see what they are reading and what they recommend. It's one of my favorite places on the internet. If you aren't a member of the site, sign up and then join the Clean Romances group. On the Clean Romances page scroll down until you see a thread called Contests and Giveaways. You can enter there. You can enter until 11:59 on August 31. Good luck.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Finding Rose Update

So we finally made it to Utah. When I knew we were coming for sure, I set up a meeting with my publisher so I could actually see who I had been working with. I expected a nice sit down to talk about marketing and other things. One of the first things they said to me was that they had an opening to do an author signing at the LDSBA trade show. Was I interested? So I guess Thursday morning I will be there signing books from 11:00-12:00. They are planning to have copies of the book there and I should be able to take some home. Once they shocked me with that, we had a nice talk and they answered many of my questions.

Thursday morning will be the first time I will be able to see my own book and actually hold it in my hands. I've read blogs other authors who watch for the delivery truck with their books and get to open the box like a Christmas present. I think I would almost prefer a little privacy. Do you think it would be weird if I shed a few tears the first time I see the book? I'll try to refrain, but this is something I've always wanted to do and it all seems a little surreal at this point. I guess when I get that first copy, I can't pretend it is all a dream any more.

They did say the bookstores should be able to have copies of Finding Rose on their book shelves in two to three weeks. I'm so excited. It will be available at Deseret Book, Amazon, and your independent LDS bookstores.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Another Contest

I should really write a blog posting, but it is 12:30 a.m., I'm on vacation and not getting enough sleep, and I just finished proofing Finding Rose and sending it back to the publisher. Honestly, I don't think I have enough brain power available at this moment to write a blog. I'm actually lucky to be spelling anything correctly. Before I forget, though, I did want to mention Sarah Eden's blog.

Sarah posts the most interesting and fun interviews on Fridays. She calls this I Need Friends Friday (INFF). I look forward to this every week, but a few weeks ago, Sarah announced that she had run out of volunteers to interview and was considering doing away with INFF unless people stepped up and volunteered to be interviewed. There must have been others besides myself begging her to keep INFF.

Now she is holding a contest to celebrate the return of INFF. If you go to her blog and leave a comment, you will be entered to win a prize. Oh, and I'll be interviewed by her on August 20th. Hope to see you there.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

4-Year Extravaganza Contest

I should have posted this a week ago, but the last week has been absolutely insane. Annette Lyon is celebrating her 4-year blog anniversary by holding a contest, and Finding Rose is one of the prizes! You only have until Friday to enter, so don't wait. Here is a list of all the prizes:

1) CHOCOLATE!
Kim is generously donating a delicious Canadian chocolate pack to one winner. (That alone is worth entering, no? Oh, yeah.)

2) Eyes Like Mine
A signed copy of Julie Wright's latest novel, a recent Whitney Award finalist.

3) All the Stars in Heaven
A signed copy of Michele Paige Holmes's latest, also a Whitney finalist this year. (Her previous book won the Whitney for Best Romance. She has yet to publish a book that isn't at least a
finalist.)

4) Alma the Younger
A signed copy of the newest release by 2-time Whitney winner H. B. Moore.

5) A Spiral-bound Notebook and a Pen
The notebook has a totally cool cover (a blueish/grayish door with a brass doorknob and lock). Quote on the front says: Unlock your mind: read. Winner also gets a pen to go with the notebook. It has cute polka dots and the words: Don't bug me; I'm writing.

6) A Mouse Pad
Features a stack of books and the famous Groucho Marx quote: "Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read."

7) A T-shirt
White, with a row of cute houses on it and a quote below them: "A house without books is like a room without windows."

8) A custom piece of jewelry from Bangles, Beads, N' Bobbles.
Visit their Facebook page or Etsy shop to get an idea of the fun stuff to choose from. Since the winner's prize will be created custom-made, they'll have to plan on about 2 weeks so Sandra, the brain behind the magic, can make the piece and ship it.

9) Finding Rose
A signed copy of Stephanie Humphrey's debut romance novel from Walnut Springs.
 

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Finding Rose Cover

I finally received a picture of my cover. It is beautiful and the picture really does look like the character. Amy did a great job. Finding Rose should be out this summer. I can't wait.

Monday, 12 July 2010

My Tough Girls

I had the opportunity to go to Young Women's camp last week. To be honest, it wasn't something I looked forward to. I had been called to work with the girls only a month before camp, so I wasn't involved with the planning, but the other leaders kept talking about how it would be a survivor experience, at the girl's request. On top of that, I knew I would struggle with my allergies.

The Laurel's (the 16-17 year-olds) left on Wednesday to canoe the river. As a mother, I was a little concerned because they had so little experience. Every time they planned a practise trip, it had to be cancelled because of the very wet spring we had. The rivers were always too high, and they were lucky the one they ended up going on had dropped low enough for them to go. I sent my oldest daughter of and trusted that two of the men going with them had enough experience to bring them all in safely.

The rest of the girls and leaders met Thursday morning. We loaded up our gear and headed out to the campsite. When we arrived, I was glad to see the older girls and they were certainly glad to see us. My daughter started crying when she saw me and gave me a huge hug. She didn't look so good. Her face was a little swollen and her eyes were puffy and red. She told us how they had had quiet the adventure on the river, and almost every member of their group had been dumped from a canoe at least once. At one point, she ended up in the water and got tangled up in a tree branch. It held her under water a little longer than was comfortable, but she realized that if she stopped fighting it, she might float free. It worked, but left her quite shaken.

I realized quickly that the red face was more than the result of a few tears. Over the next 24 hours it continued to swell and become more painful for her. I suggested several times that I take her home so we could get medical attention for it, but she refused and insisted on sticking it out. We gave her antihistamines and watched her closely.

The first thing the girls had to do was set up camp. They had planned on building their own shelter and the leaders weren't supposed to help. The also had to dig a latrine and set up a food preparation area. It took them some time, but they worked together well and accomplished the tasks. The other big activity they had was their version of the amazing race. They were given maps and directions, then they had to use a compass to follow the map and get to each station. At every stop there were certain tasks they had to do - fire starting, whittling, first aid, making a travois and transporting a team member, and identifying edible and non-edible plants. There was also a difficult obstacle course just after lunch. It was a hot day and the activity took a lot out of them, but they did it. Of course, when all that was over, they were grateful for all the free time when they could just play in the river.

I was so proud of my girls. My youngest felt a little out of place. It was her first camp and she has a hard time relating with the other girls there, but she never complained. She kept a smile on her face and went out of her way to encourage others and cheer people up. As for my oldest daughter, I have rarely seen such strength of character. I would have quit long before she did. Instead of moaning about how difficult things were, she kept asking how the others were doing and trying to help them out. She worked hard even when some of the other girls didn't want to. Saturday morning, she finally agreed that a trip to the nearest emergency room would be in order. While I finished getting things ready to go, she busied herself helping another leader do some work around camp. And through it all, she smiled and kept a positive attitude. I don't think I could have done the same.

By the time we got home, the pain finally got to her. Her smile faded and she just wanted to sleep all afternoon. The medication seems to be working slowly and we made another trip to the doctor today. He thinks she reacted to the sun and possibly the sunscreen. The swelling is starting to go down, although she is still quite red. She looks like she has two black eyes (well, really red and purple eyes). The hardest part for her is realizing that she will have to be careful when out in the sun. I told her she'll just have to make hats part of her own personal style, although she thinks she'll look dumb. She things I'm just being a silly mother when I tell her that she will always be beautiful.

In the end, I was very proud of all the girls at camp. It was wonderful to be with a group that got along, worked well together and didn't have any little fights during the time we were there. They were strong and I hope they all learned that they can do hard things. As for my own daughters, I hope I can live up to their example. They are amazing girls who teach me everyday. I'm just thankful I get to be their mother.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

O Canada!

Happy Canada Day!

Parade
Candy thrown from the floats
Spirit of Alberta Marching band
Bagpipes
Family
Beautiful weather
Long afternoon nap
New website up and running
Light dinner
Yummy dessert
Watching a movie with the kids
Fireworks 

. . .add together and mix and you get a marvellous Canada Day!



Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Oh What Do You Do in the Summertime?

I`m trying to figure out how to motivate children for the summer. Sometimes I wish I lived on a farm so there would be chores for the kids to do all day. Instead I have to be creative about getting them to do something valuable with their time. Nothing drives me more crazy than having kids sit in the house all summer long with nothing to do.

The girls are excited to sign up for a summer music camp. They will get the opportunity to work with some professional musicians and even do some recording in a studio. My oldest daughter has an amazing voice and will be taking more lessons in the fall. This will give her an opportunity to try some new things. My youngest daughter also has a beautiful voice and she likes to play the guitar. It should be lots of fun for them.

All the kids talk about working on their stories this summer. They like to joke about how funny it would be if, someday, we all hit the New York Times bestseller list all at the same time. Dreams are good.

What I need to figure out is how to keep the sixteen year old busy. Given the option, he would play the computer all day or lay on the couch and read a book. A little of each is fine, but when he spends the entire day doing either one of those, he sure gets grumpy. So far I`ve come up with quite the list of things to keep him occupied, none of which inspire any excitement in him. It would be nice if he would get a job, but until he gets his driver`s license, there aren`t a lot of options around town. He would have to drive to the city like his sister does. He has been delivering papers for two years, but that is done by 7:00 a.m. That leaves a lot of hours to fill.

It is kind of sad for me to watch kids now. I remember when I was their age, I couldn`t wait until the chores were finished so I could go out and do things with my friends. We swam at the pool just about every day, we went for long bike rides, and wrote and put on plays. It sure is a different world now. I rarely see kids around town during the summer and can only guess that most of them are spending time just like my teenagers. It does make me glad that summer vacation is only eight weeks long. Much longer would be torture for all of us. I wonder what sort of things my grandkids will do to keep themselves busy?

Monday, 21 June 2010

Reaching the Goal

Ever since I first realized that someone had to write all the stories on my bookshelf, I have wanted to be one of those people. Funny how some dreams get put aside and almost forgotten, but they pop up every so often and beg to have some attention. About eleven years ago I began writing again. I finally realized that if I kept putting it off, it would never happen. Something else would always take priority if I let it.

I learned the craft slowly. Sometimes I wasn`t sure exactly what I should write. For a few years, I penned articles for the local newspaper and discovered quickly that, although I could write a good article my heart just wasn`t in it. After dabbling in short stories, I moved on to novels and found the type of story telling I really love. There is something so satisfying about being able to develop an interesting cast of characters, a great setting and an intriging plot.

Of course, writing for myself is fine, but there is always the hope that someone else will see the value in my work. Well, Walnut Springs Press believes in me and is publishing my first novel. It should be  released sometime this summer, although I don't have any specific dates. Right now, even the title is up in the air.

It feels like it has been such a long wait, but I know this is just the beginning. I have many things to learn and many more stories to tell. Reaching the goal of being published is just the first step on the ladder. I`m just getting started and I can`t wait to see what life holds for me in the next eleven years.

*****

Rose Sterling doesn’t take life or her religion seriously, but when her father dies her carefree world is turned upside down and she is forced to grow up. While her mother and brother prepare to immigrate to Alberta, she is sent to live with family in Montana, where the comfort of her Utah home is far away and Mormons are viewed with suspicion. Rose is sure the year ahead of her will be miserable and lonely, but the unexpected attentions of three men force her to make difficult decisions regarding her future. What she finds in Montana teaches her the value of love and the strength of her own beliefs.


Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Playing Catch Up

Despite all my best intentions to be more consistent with my blogging, I have fallen more behind than ever. You would think with everything going on in my life, I would have lots to say. Instead, most of my brain power is just spent in trying to keep up.

Since February I have been involved with a play the Cultural Arts Society put on. My two oldest children were involved and the youngest was just jealous because she wasn't old enough to try out. Because I am on the board of directors, the question wasn't "Do you want to help?" but "Which job do you want?" Whenever I am given that choice, I pick costumes because I can do it in my own time rather than during scheduled practises.  The kids all looked great during the performances and they did a fantastic job with the play. By the time the final week rolled around, we were all sick of the whole thing, but the next week we were already talking about what play they might choose to do next year. 

Right in the middle of all that busyness, I attended the LDStorymakers conference in Utah. This was my fourth year and as always, it was an amazing experience. I can't believe how much the conference has grown. I remember the first year I went. It was small and perfect for an introvert like me. Now it's like attending a giant family reunion where the family just gets a little bigger every year. I'm already looking forward to next year and hoping that it just might be scheduled at a time when my oldest daughter will be able to come.

My university course has suffered through all this. I'm glad I decided to start with only one since I already had to take an extension on it. Another project came up and I had to make a decision on which took priority. After much discussion with my husband, the school got put aside. I have to hit the books hard now and get those essays written so I can finish the class and sign up for the next one.

With everything going on, I am struggling to get the writing in, but I am constantly working on projects that are stretching my mind in whole new directions. I love how writing keeps my mind active and there is always something new to learn. I only wish there were a few more spare hours to be had. Summer gets closer and I always imagine how I will spend entire days working on the next novel, but in reality, my summer is already booked solid with family vacations, reunions, girls camp and catching up on some sewing for the girls. Honestly though, I seem to work better under pressure. I'm hoping to get another book well on its way in the quiet moments, however rare they are. I'm just glad the kids are old enough to fend for themselves most of the time.

I finally got a calling in the ward after a six month break. They asked me to be the Mia-Maid advisor. I just wondered why they couldn't have called me after girls camp. I went to my first camp meeting last night. At the girls request, they are really roughing it. Sounds scary to me. I don't need showers and running water to camp, but I do have my limits. Hopefully I'll survive. If nothing else, there should be some good fodder for stories. Now just to squeeze out the time to write them all.

Friday, 28 May 2010

The Subtle Difference

Tonight I had the opportunity to attend the school band concert. My children tried to convince me it would be a long, horrible experience full of musical errors and sour notes. They don’t understand that to a mom, every performance is wonderful. The musical selections for the evening revolved around Hollywood and we got to hear songs from Spiderman, Harry Potter, Aladdin, Lord of the Rings, and more. The senior elementary school choir began the evening, followed by the grade six band. I was truly impressed with how well the kids played after only having their instruments for eight months. The evening continued with each grade’s band taking a turn until we reached the high school choir, and the concert band (grades 10, 11, and 12). These groups did an amazing job and finished the evening off with a bang. It was an enjoyable concert.

What I really noticed was how different each level was, and yet how subtle the differences were.  Each grade improved slightly, but if I compared the youngest musicians to the oldest, the difference in skill was amazing. It is neat to see how far they come during the years they spend in band. The youngest kids played well but lacked a some of the finesse the older kids had. They made more mistakes and lacked a little confidence. The older kids had the skill and the ability to play more smoothly, put dynamics into the pieces, and make fewer errors. But they lacked some of the enthusiasm of the younger kids.

It got me thinking about writing. As I’ve been doing some serious editing lately, and when I read things I wrote several years ago, I am amazed at how far I’ve come. The differences between each piece are minor, but when I compare some of the earlier things I wrote with what ends up on the page now, it is gratifying to see the improvement. Even those subtle differences show me that I am still learning and improving my skills. Those day-to-day differences aren’t always noticeable, but they are there. I always tell my kids that as long as you’re learning, then life is good. Every year in band they improve a little more and every time I write, my skills grow. I can’t wait to look back ten years from now and see how far I’ve come. Meanwhile, life is good.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

2009 Whitney Award Winners

Best Romance

Counting the Cost
Liz Adair


Best Mystery/Suspense

Methods of Madness
Stephanie Black


Best Youth Fiction

The Chosen One
Carol Lynch Williams


Best Speculative

Servant of a Dark God
John Brown


Best Historical

The Last Waltz
G.G. Vandagriff


Best General Fiction

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
Jamie Ford


Best Novel by a New Author
(tie)

I am Not a Serial Killer
Dan Wells

Gravity vs. the Girl
Riley Noehren


Lifetime Acheivement Award

Gerald Lund


Outsatnding Achievment Award

Dave Wolverton


Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Secret Sisters by Tristi Pinkston



"Ida Mae Babbitt, president of the Omni 2nd ward Relief Society, didn't mean to become a spy. But when visiting teaching stats are low and she learns that one family under her care is in financial trouble, she'll do whatever it takes to make sure they have what they need. If that includes planting surveillance cameras in their home and watching them from a parked car in the woods, well, isn't that what any caring Relief Society president would do?

With the help of her counselors Arlette and Tansy, Ida Mae soon learns that there's more to the situation than meets the eye. It's all in a day's work for the Relief Society." (from the back of the book)

Tristi Pinkston's new book Secret Sisters is a hilarious tale of a Relief Society presidency that takes the responsiblility of watching over the sisters in their ward a little too seriously. The main character, Ida Mae Babbitt, just wants to take care of people, and when her nephew uses his knowledge of electronic gadgets to help her find out more about the financial problems of a certain family in the ward, Ida Mae and her friends find themselves learning more than they expected. They can't convinice the sheriff to take them seriously and obviously they can't go to the bishop without explaining that they aquired the information through spying. So they take matters into their own hands.

It's interesting how Ida Mae, Arlette, and Tansy justify their actions. What is really funny is when reading the book, I couldn't think of a single Relief Society president who would go to the lengths Ida Mae did to "watch over" the members of her ward, but I could think of several women who wish they could. The story revolves around the characters and their antics. Tristi has developed lovable women who could be your next door neighbors and who you want to know more about. My only complaint about this book was that it was just to short. I can't wait for the second installment in the Secret Sisters series so I can find out what Ida Mae and her friends are up to next.

You can order the book here, and learn more about Tristi here.

I was given a copy of this book for review purposes.


Monday, 12 April 2010

I'll Know You By Heart by Kimberly Job

From the back cover: "The day Stephanie Roberts met Jared Wakefield, she didn't realize they'd met before. Running from an abusive marriage and trying to safeguard her children, she turns to Jared for support, but he needs more from her than she might be capable of giving. With her abusive husband looming in her past, the difficulties they must overcome to be together seem insurmountable.

Is it possible for love to conquer all? I'll Know You By Heart is a timeless romance that explores the possibility that relationships span the entire realm of eternity. A story about abuse, hardship, and betrayal, it is ultimately a story about the healing power of everlasting true love."

I've been looking forward to reading this book since I first read the back cover. Once I got over the eerie coincidence of reading a book about a woman with my name, who is in an abusive marriage, and who has a sister with the same name as one of my sisters, I was drawn into the story. There were moments in the book when I cringed and wondered at some of the choices Stephanie made, but her thoughts as she works through her decisions, seem to acurately describe the emotions and struggles that women go through when they are abused for extensive periods of time.

The story had enough suspense to keep me flipping the pages and cheering for Stephanie and her children, and enough romance to balance out the tension. I half expected the book to be similar to other LDS books I've read where the abusive relationship is glossed over and the abused wife recovers too quickly from her experiences. Instead, Kimberly doesn't shy away from the pain and suffering of her main character. She writes the experiences in a realistic manner and doesn't sugar-coat them in any way.

This is Kimberly Job's first novel and I'll be eagerly watching for her next book. You can purchase I'll Know You By Heart here.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Easter Break Score Card

Just day-to-day stuff:
  • 1 easter picnic with the extended family
  • 6 loads of laundry washed and folded
  • 1 family home evening activity in the city with the kids
  • 6 dinners cooked
  • 1 grocery shopping trip in the city
  • 1 date night in the city
  • 1 blog written
  • 1 migraine
  • 1 sewing room cleaned
  • uncountable hugs given
  • 1 pair of pants hemmed for a neighbor
  • 1 hoodie mended after a run-in with a band saw
  • 0 school work
For the play:
  • 1 play practice attended
  • 6 skirts sewn (with help from my lovely assistants/daughters)
  • 8 pairs of pants sewn
  • 6 vests sewn
  • 3 pirate shirts sewn
  • 6 sashes made
  • 6 eye patches made
  • 1 felt pirate hat sewn complete with blood-red plume
  • 40+ metres of fabric used
And writing/editing:
  • 2 very short hours
Oh well, there's always next week, right?

Friday, 26 March 2010

Women of the Book of Mormon by Heather B. Moore

Explore the lives, circumstances, and choices of women in the Book of Mormon in this uplifting and inspiring volume that illustrates the parallel between the lives of the women of the Book of Mormon and LDS women today. With new insights on practically every page, author Heather B. Moore explores the written and unwritten stories of the prominent women in the Book of Mormon—taking familiar material and providing vivid details about family dynamics, domestic practices, and other aspects of daily life. By applying historical and cultural contexts to the situations of women like Sariah, Abish, Eve, Mary and the faithful mothers of the stripling warriors, you will peek beneath the surface of the scriptural accounts to better understand both the righteous women of the Book of Mormon—and the women who didn’t use their agency wisely. (Taken from the back cover of the book).

Rarely do I find a non-fiction book that really holds my interest so I didn't expect to find this book so engaging, but Moore's writing
held me captive from the first word. She focuses on twelve women mentioned in the Book of Mormon and what their lives may have been like. This book is backed up by extensive research and is full of rich details about everything from what childbirth would have been like to a woman's role in the home and family. It is interesting to read about the lives of these women and compare them to our own.

Each of the twelve chapters begins with a beautiful picture which makes this more than just a reference book. This is a book that can be treasuered and consulted often. Women of the Book of Mormon is a quick read with only 96 pages and would make a lovely Mother's Day gift.

From Women of the Book of Mormon (pg 8): "The women of the Book of Mormon are our sisters, and their stories lie within those sacred pages. Not only can we learn from the messages of their husbands and sons, we can discover how much the Savior loves us through the experiences and enduring faith of these women."

*Heather gave me a copy of this book to review.

Friday, 19 March 2010

A Student Again

I've had a few people ask me to clarify what I meant when I mentioned the university courses I've signed up for. University is something I've been thinking about for years, but the timing just never seemed right.

More years ago than I want to admit to, I started college with big plans. Ever since kindergarten I'd dreamed of being a school teacher, more specifically, an English teacher. But well meaning individuals talked me out of it. They insisted that there was no call for someone with those skills and talked me into elementary education, arguing that it would give me more opportunities. I should have stood my ground, but I was still young and easily swayed by older and more seasoned family members. But after one year of this I knew I couldn't spend the rest of my life with little kids.

The advice I received when I announced I would be changing my major was varied, but most of it focused around the need to be able to be a mom and have a career I could do from home. What can I say, I come from a very traditional family and I still believe that is the best option when possible. I entered the fashion design department and discovered I had skill and talent that I could put to good use. After I finished two years of college, I quit school to be a stay-at-home mother.

The year I spent learning behind a sewing machine has served me well, and I've made countless prom and wedding gowns. Sometimes I enjoy it and sometimes not, but because of the area I live in, it has never brought in the kind of income that can support a family. And even though I figured I would be a working seamstress for the rest of my life, the knowledge that I didn't finish school always bothered me.

Over the last two years I have been thinking more and more about returning to school and getting a long-overdue degree. I've had to convince myself and my husband that it is the right thing to do. One of the biggest reasons I kept coming back to was the uncertainty of our future. Several different things have left us with no retirement savings and we often joke about working as Walmart greeters until we die. I always tell my husband that I am his retirement plan. With twelve years difference in our ages, I should be able to work well after he retires. If I had any sort of training.

I know there are places that probably would hire me, but that nagging desire for a formal education keeps kicking around in the back of my mind. I want that piece of paper to prove that I did it. So this January, I signed up for a correspondence course, just to get started. The long term goal is to get that English degree I originally planned on. At some point I will transfer to the local university and get my teaching degree. By doing correspondence, I should be able to stay home at least until the two oldest leave for their own university experiences. Once I get into the groove of papers and tests again, I'll do more than one course at a time, but for now this one course is reminding me how far away those college days are and how much I need to do to catch up. It feels good to be taking action though. I'm not really sure where this all will take me, but it should be an intresting ride.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Reading and Writing

I have been reading like crazy lately. Out of the 30 books nominated for the Whitney Awards, I've read 22 1/2 but I'll get them all done, I think. It is always amazing to me the variety of books out there and the amount of really good writing. Doing all this reading affects my own writing as I look at the different ways other authors approach a story. It is all part of the learning process. Sometimes I wish the learning process wouldn't take so long, and I could say I did it and I'm published. Compared to some of my author friends, I feel like I am coming to the table very late in the game. But better late than never. Keep watching for me, because I will get there someday. Meanwhile, I have a little more reading to do.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Journal Winner

Oops! I almost forgot about the contest for the journal. Actually, I remembered, I just couldn`t remember when I said I would draw. Okay, that pretty much explains the state of my mind these days. Anyway. . .after using highly scientific methods, I have determined the winner to be:

Taffy

Congratulations Taffy! Send me your email address and I`ll get the journal to you right away.

*****

Besides the noble art of getting things done is the more noble art of leaving things undone.
-Lin Yu Tang

I seem to be excelling at the latter. With so many demands on my time, I have to pick and chose what gets done, and what gets put aside for later. Long gone are the days when I diligently cleaned my house every morning and put a lot of effort into nice meals. The house is still tidy and the family still gets fed, but so much of my energy goes elsewhere, that I often feel a little guilty for not excelling in the art of being a homemaker.

It really is okay though. I have the full support of my husband and my kids who think it is cool to have a writer in the house. The fact that this writer hasn`t been published yet doesn`t seem to matter to them. They are also supportive of my return to school. There is a limit though. I`m trying to cut back on my activities and lighten the load, as much for my benefit as theirs. After all, it is nice to be able to stop and breath once in a while.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Increasing Length?

Even though I'm busier than ever this year, I'm still determined to read as many of the Whitney Award finalists as I can. I consider it a great privilege to be able to vote and I take it seriously. Right now I'm stuck in Undaunted. If I stay up for another 45 minutes or so, I should be able to finish it. The end is kind of dragging for me and I keep wanting to start another book, but I'm trying to be disciplined and read one book at a time. As it stands, I'm about half done the reading list.

Maybe it's because I have so many other things on my plate right now, but I'm convinced that the books (on average) are longer this year than last year. Maybe when life slows down a bit, I'll figure it out - just because I'm a little obsessive like that. Meanwhile, I'm off to go read into the wee hours of the morning. Tomorrow is just a bunch of housecleaning and I don't need to be totally awake for that, right?

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Journals and Bored Teenagers

On Sunday I had the opportunity to teach the Laurel class. The lesson went well if you consider a one-sided discussion a good lesson. My daughter is in that class and she told me later that I kept looking at her. I told her it was because I knew she had the answer - it didn't make her speak up. According it the Young Woman's president, their reaction was fairly standard. At the end of the lesson, I could only think how good it would be to return to Relief Society.

On the way out of the room, the YW's president stopped me and asked if I would be willing to teach a Tuesday night class on journaling to the group. My first question to her was to inquire as to whether I had to keep an active journal to take on the task. She said my name came to mind because I am the only writer she knows and she figured if anyone was going to keep a journal, it would be a writer.I told her to give me a few days to forget about the faraway looks and disinterested stares before and then I'd be happy to do it. It serves me right for thinking I could escape so easily.

I purchased my first journal on my ninth birthday with some money my great-grandmother gave me and the books have slowly been filling up ever since. To be honest, my journals are extensive and there are times when I faithfully wrote for years without missing a day. Now I'm more likely to go years without writing an entry. Since January I have been trying to record something every Sunday. It's nowhere near what I used to do, but it is something.

As I started thinking about journalling, I realized that journals of all sorts are completely integrated into my life. There is my personal journal - like I said, one entry a week. There is also the journal I take with me to church meetings to record impressions and thoughts (and yes, story ideas.) My writer's journal follows me everywhere and is filled with brief descriptions, story starters, newspaper articles that intrigue me and notes about stories in progress. I also have a school journal where I record brief entries about the assignment I'm working on, how I feel about the learning process and notes about things I need to do. There is also a scripture journal with insights and impressions from my study time, my day planner which has all sorts of nuggets about life in it, and the morning pages I write before I do my other work which contain some surprising nuggets of thought. And of course, there is this blog - which, like my personal journal, has been suffering some neglect, but I do intend to give it some loving attention.

So after some thought, I guess I am a prolific journal writer. It seems I am surrounded by efforts to leave some sort of record of my thoughts and insights. Some of these attempts are more neglected than others, though which one gets ignored always changes.

Now I need to figure out how to take the obsession I have with the written word and relay some of that to the girls. A simple lecture will leave them all snoring in their seats and if I ask for too many answers to too many questions, the girls are bound to get that blank look as their minds wandering far from the topic at hand.

A few vague concepts are floating around in my head, but I'm looking for ideas. How would you get sixteen and seventeen year old girls enthused about keeping a journal and present it in such a way that they all stay awake?

And since I still have a bunch of handmade journal/scrapbooks I made at Christmas time, lets turn this into a contest. There are several books left, so you may be able to pick the color you like. Everyone who comments with an idea for this presentation will be entered to win. If you mention this on Facebook, Twitter, or your blog you get another entry. I'll draw a name on March 1st.

Friday, 5 February 2010

2009 Whitney Award Finalists

Best Romance

Counting the Cost
Liz Adair

Illuminations of the Heart
Joyce dePastina

All the Stars in Heaven
Michele Paige Holmes

Santa Maybe
Aubery Mace

Previously Engaged
Elodia Strain


Best Mystery/Suspense

Lockdown
Traci Hunter Abramson

Methods of Madness
Stephanie Black

Murder by the Book
Betsy Brannon Green

Lemon Tart
Josi S. Kilpack

Altered State
Gregg Luke


Best Youth Fiction

Princess of the Midnight Ball
Jessica Day George

Fablehaven IV: Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary
James Dashner

My Fair Godmother
Janette Rallison

Bright Blue Miracle
Becca Wilhite

The Chosen One
Carol Lynch Williams


Best Speculative Fiction

Servant of a Dark God
Dan Brown

The Maze Runner
James Dashner

Wings
Aprilynne Pike

Warbreaker
Brandon Sanderson

I am Not a Serial Killer
Dan Wells


Best Historical

Tribunal
Sandra Grey

The Undaunted
Gerald N. Lund

Alma
H.B. Moore

The Last Waltz
G.G. Vandagriff

In the Company of Angels
David Farland


Best General Fiction

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
Jamie Ford

No Going Back
Jonathon Langford

Gravity vs. the Girl
Riley Noehren

The Route
Gale Sears

Eyes Like Mine
Julie Wright


Lifetime Achievment Award

Gerald Lund


Oustanding Achievment Award

Dave Wolverton

Unlike previous years, no finalists are being announced for the two overall awards. Instead, the Whitney Academy can choose from any of the eligible finalists in any category. In other words, all of the novels listed above are still in the running for Best Novel of the Year.

Likewise, any of the above finalists that meet the eligibility requirements for Best Novel by a New Author can be chosen for that award. This year, the eligible books are:

  • Servant of a Dark God, by John Brown
  • Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, by Jamie Ford
  • No Going Back, by Jonathon Langford
  • Gravity vs. The Girl, by Riley Noehren
  • Wings, by Aprilynne Pike
  • I Am Not A Serial Killer, by Dan Wells
  • Bright Blue Miracle, by Becca Wilhite

Monday, 1 February 2010

A Little Busier

Starting today, my son and oldest daughter will be attending practices for a play. I knew my daughter would try out since she loves acting and singing. She was given the biggest part, although she was a little disappointed because it doesn't involve much singing. What really surprised me was my son auditioning.

When he was much younger, he suffered from terrible stage fright. During talks at primary, he would usually start giggling, then become more embarrassed and start crying. I can't count the number of talks I had to finish for him. Yet if you put him in costume, he seemed to be okay. I couldn't imagine how the audition would go, but apparently he was absolutely hilarious.

Anyway, it means we'll be listening to the music at home and helping kids read lines. Then there is the scheduling. My daughter needs to rearrange her schedule at work to accommodate practices. Luckily she has a great employer and this shouldn't be too much of a problem. The directors are also willing to give her a little leeway as well. I told her I would drive her to work on nights when she needs the extra half an hour to keep up with homework.

On top of it all, I am the costume director. Anyone have a few extra pirate costumes for teenagers just hanging in a closet somewhere? The performances will be May 12,13,14 but I want to have the costumes mostly finished by the end of March because April will be crazy with the writer's conference and Easter. As if we don't keep busy enough in our house. Should be a fun busy though.

Friday, 22 January 2010

A Few Tidbits

I've noticed more and more blog posts written point form. Is this because we are all becoming so busy it is easier to list a few things and then move on to something else? Throughout the day I think of the odd thing to write, but I never actually get to sit down and write it. (Notice I am finally sitting down to write a few words and it is almost 12:30 a.m.? Yes I'm just a little crazy and a lot sleep deprived.) So here are a few things running through my head. . .
  • I finally finished half of an assignment for my class. I'll work on the other half tomorrow so I can get it sent off. Who knew I could find summarizing a short essay so difficult? It's probably because I over-think everything and hold myself up to such high standards. Rick keeps telling me not to worry so much about it. Hopefully the school thing will come a little easier as I find my groove.
  • Still working on edits for Finding Rose. It's coming along, but not nearly as fast as I'd like. I did make some good progress today and I'm hoping to be able to get it out to readers soon so I can get it submitted before I head down to the LDStorymakers conference in April.
  • I finally registered for the conference and am so excited to be going again. The night I registered, I just kept laughing to myself. Just one more reason for my husband to think I'm a little off my rocker. I think I look forward to the conference so much it just made me happy to sign up and get the money sent off.
  • Finished a book today that had to be the worst book I've ever read. No I won't tell you the name, but I learned a lot about pacing and story development through this great example of what not to do. I couldn't help rewriting the book in my head as I read it. Sometimes reading something that bad helps me look at my own writing through different eyes. Hopefully I can catch any similar mistakes in my own work and clean them up before submitting.
I really should get to bed. Morning comes early and I'm never ready for it, even when I do get to sleep on time. Maybe I'll dream up a brilliant blog post to make up for the above randomness. Or at least enough material to finish the post I began yesterday. One can always hope, right?

Monday, 18 January 2010

Finding What Works

Ever since I had my first child, my weight has climbed. There have been the odd times when I lose a few pounds, but nothing I tried ever worked long term. Most of the time I give up far too easily and end up heavier than ever. As I watched the number grow, I found myself more worried about my health and even worse, I found my confidence shrinking. At one point I gave up. Why bother trying if every diet plan just made me frustrated and grumpy? Last October I stood on the scale and the number horrified me. I hadn't even been that heavy when I was pregnant. With some good advice from my mother, I decided to give it another try. To date I have lost twenty-one pounds. I'm still working at it but there will be no quitting this time. I think I found what works for me.

Writing is a struggle, too. Mostly it is a time issue. I need to drop something from my schedule - I just haven't figured out what yet. Some of it is a confidence problem. I still see so much of my work as unreadable and wonder why I ever thought I could do this. Those are things I try to improve on daily. The bigger problem is that I am still trying to find what works.

I tend to write by the seat of my pants. I let the story flow from my fingers and just hope it makes sense in the end. It's the same way I used to write high school and college papers - not really a highly recommended method, but somehow I got by. What I've discovered is that I'm not really fond of editing. When the story is told, I want to be done. Of course, letting it all just spill out onto paper leaves a lot of holes that I have to go back and fill in. I can do it, but it just about drives me crazy.

I'm trying to teach myself to outline a little more. But I love to see where the story goes without me over-thinking it. So I need to find the balance of not too much planning, but just enough to leave me with fewer holes in the end. Someday I'll figure it out. Until then I stumble along hoping that I can pull it all together and find the right system for me. I go to conferences, participate in my critique group and read as much as I can. All the little things I pick up here and there help and I can see myself getting better all the time. It's all just part of the lengthy learning process. But if I can improve my eating habits, surely I can improve my writing habits as well. It's all just a matter of finding what works.
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