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I'm a writer and library worker who wears many hats. I believe a good book and a good piece of chocolate are the keys to a happy life.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Getting Rid of My Stuff

Okay, so I’m reading one of those “get your life together” books. I read a lot of those and none of them seem to stick, btw. As the book pontificates on stepping back to see how you really perceive and feel about all the stuff in your life, physical, emotional, activities, everything, I think I’ve realized something about myself. Well, it really is something I’m well aware of but I haven’t thought much about it in several years.

It seems that the main reason I get bogged down is because I’m still placing more value on what others think I should value than what I actually do. Does that make sense?

Since it’s the Christmas season, take Christmas card giving as an example. It’s a tradition, it’s a nice thought. But what happens when you sit down to decide who you want to send cards to? You write down all the names that come to mind, then you sit and stare at the list for days, adding names frantically as you think of other people you should acknowledge. You haven’t actually thought about that neighbor that lived by you 12 years ago in ages, but you don’t want her to know that because she sent you a card last year. What about the post man? What about his weekend substitute? What about the garbage men, they certainly deserve your gratitude. See where I’m going with this? Something that started out as a simple way to let people around you know they are loved turns into a bigger nightmare than going to six different stores to find that one special toy. Of course, everyone’s world would be forever shattered if they didn’t get a card from you this year and you don’t want that on your shoulders!

Thus it is with me and my stuff in all its forms.

Case in point #1: I have a large picture of a temple in my basement. It hasn’t matched anything in my d├ęcor for the last two houses (I’ve been in this one 8 years if that tells you anything). But I hang on to it. Why? Well, yes there is the standard, “It might match again some day” thought, but more importantly there is a huge amount of guilt that goes with imagining throwing it out. I mean, it’s the temple! If I throw it away that means I don’t value the temple, right? If I take it to church and try to give it away, will somebody recognize which temple it is and know it’s mine? Then they’ll think I don’t value the temple either! And, heaven forbid the person who gave it to me should ever ask why it isn’t on my wall! (Yes, she does thing like that- frequently)

Case in point #2: I have a sweet friend who is constantly inviting me to do things with her. She knows I don’t get out much and worries about me. What she doesn’t understand is I don’t get out much by choice. My life is very full with the things I will do for my children. My own ideal is a hot bubble bath, a good book, and total silence. I don’t want to go out and play nice, that’s just not me. I turn her down repeatedly, then begin to feel guilty-- thinking she is going to think I don’t like her and I’m rejecting her. So I go and come home with a headache and more tired than when I left. Because I went, she invites me more often. . . . Wouldn’t it be easier if I could explain that I’m not lacking anything and just don’t like socializing, that I won’t think any less of her for not inviting me? Wouldn’t it be easier if she could accept that and not fear that something is terribly wrong with me?

Case in point #3: My home is not full of nice things. It is not immaculate and beautiful. It is over-run with children and the evidence of those children. The clutter books all tell you to get rid of things, have a garage sale, sell them on ebay! I look around my home and fully realize that I’m pushing it by thinking someone at Goodwill would want my stuff. I feel bad. I long for something pretty. Something nice that will stay that way. Logically, I know it won’t. But I want to perceive myself as being worthy and capable of having something nice. I want those who see me, and those I actually let into my home, to think I’ve got it together and I’m a better person because of the way I live my life. So I put my foot down and go in search of that one thing I think I need. In the end I can’t bare to part with the money that “nice” requires, so I compromise. I have a baby grand piano in my living room that is the epitome of this compromise. I got it for $50 and some manual labor moving it. Sounds like a great deal, right? Well, it needed to be refinished, the key tops had been removed in preparation for the previous owner to get new ones, ditto for the peddles. No problem. When we put our minds to it, my husband and I can accomplish almost anything. For $50 we’d finish refinishing it and have something beautiful that both of us value, right? It’s been a year. It’s partly tuned, the rest is still as we got it. Now, instead of something beautiful I have another physical testimony to the fact that I’m a flighty, scatterbrained gal who can’t get it together. I feel bad. . . I get mad. . . I attack something, determined to make it into something I can be proud of. . . it backfires big time. . . I feel bad. Get the picture?

Have you figured out my “ah-hah!” moment yet? I think I’ve discovered the core problem with me and my stuff. My life is ruled by perceptions. Not what I think of myself and my things, but what I think everybody else thinks. Realistically, I may know darn good and well that my child’s Primary teacher isn’t spending all her time wondering why I haven’t taught my child to read better (though I bet she’s still wondering about his proclamation that his parents were married in a jail- which is true, btw). But all it takes is one passing thought like that or even worse, one innocent comment and my mind is in turmoil trying to figure out how to fix other people’s perception of me.

Do I want to get rid of the things that are weighing me down? Yes, but it begins much deeper than whether or not I have a picture of the temple that I haven’t used in years.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Dawn's Early Light by L.C. Lewis


Some months ago I had the privilege of sitting in on a class taught by L.C. (Laurie) Lewis on her methods for creating historical fiction. What an eye opener! I sat in awe as she talked with shining eyes about spread sheets and file folders and how to get on the good side of your historians and experts. At one point in the class, I believe it was after she mentioned that her research and world building stage lasts at least a year, the woman next to me slumped her seat and sighed, “Man, that’s a lot of work.”

I just smiled and nodded toward Laurie, “She warned you, you can’t write historical fiction if you don’t absolutely love it.”

I knew L.C. Lewis loved what she did. I saw the passion for her subject matter, but it was a thrill to see the physical evidence of that love in book form.

I’m not an avid historical fiction reader. I have to be teased into it by a topic that intrigues me. This time it was not only topic but the writer’s excitement for the subject that convinced me to give it a try. I knew from meeting and learning from Laurie that I could expect a well-researched and enthusiastic story. Laurie has a flair for description and conveying difficult emotions. It was a pleasure to read Dawn’s Early Light.

Covering a portion of the War of 1812, it’s one of a very few fictional accounts of these events. I enjoyed the unique perspective and “Ah! So that’s how it happened,” moments. Reading Dawn’s Early Light was an enlightening experience that I think almost anyone can find pleasure in. For me, the most important message of the story wasn’t actually about the war. While that is very important, the thing that stuck with me the most was a bit of council given by a tutor near the end of the book.

“In some instances, the truth depends on who’s telling the story . . . on whose point of view you’re hearing.”

To me, that’s something very important to remember and one of the things I admire about Laurie’s account. All perspectives are given and it becomes very clear that everyone has feelings, beliefs, desires for the future that need to be respected even when we don’t necessarily agree.

Thank goodness for character lists, though. As with most historical fiction, there are usually more than a few players and it was difficult for my tiny brain to keep them all straight, as well as who was real and who was fictional until I really got into the story. I liked that Laurie put this info right up front where I could easily refer to it as I read. Of all the characters presented, I grew most attached to Hannah. She grabbed my heart and I could most clearly understand her role in the book and those events in history that many women would have faced.

Dawn’s Early Light is the third and final installment of the Free Men and Dreamers series but it stands very well on its own if you haven’t read the first two books. Fair warning, though: once you become involved with the characters, you will want to go back and catch the rest of their story.

During her blog tour to introduce Dawn’s Early Light, L.C. Lewis is giving away several different prizes to those who comment on the reviews and interviews. Not only autographed copies of Dawn’s Early Light, but also a unique, handcrafted silver "Liberty" necklace made by Sterling Obsessions. So, check all the sites and comment often! The names will be gathered on December 18th for the drawing.

You can also read the first three chapters at http://www.laurielclewis.com/books.html

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Prodigal Son Launch Party

Just in case you didn't get to see the Facebook announcement. (And because I'm completely excited and want you to come party with me) ;)

Join Valor Publishing as we throw an Author Lollapalooza that you won't want to miss.

March 16th, marks the day that Valor will launch six of its new books and authors Michele Ashman Bell, Tristi Pinkston, Alison Palmer, Karen Hoover, Daron Fraley and Kimberly Job will all be in attendance.

We'll start with a mini-concert from Shaun "Hammer Hands" Barrowes. (www.shaunbarrowes.com)

And then we'll move on to the main event!

Michele's "Summer in Paris" is sure to delight YA readers with romance and laughter. (Young Adult)

Tristi's "Secret Sisters" will leave you in stitches as you dive into seniors taking on the mob, and believe me, hilarity ensues! (Comedic Mystery)

Alison's "The Prodigal Son" takes on the more serious subject of a teenager involved in drugs and cutting himself. He is returned to his birth mother and the challenges are only beginning. (General Fiction)

Karen's "The Sapphire Flute" takes us into the world of magic and shapeshifting. The first book in the Wolfchild Saga we watch as two teenagers take on enemies beyond imagination in an effort to save their world. (YA Fantasy)

Daron's "The Thorn" takes us to another world at war as the believers keep an eye on the prophecies of a savior being born on a different world far away. (Speculative Fiction)

Kimberly's "I'll Know You By Heart" is romance at its finest. Kimberly introduces us to a battered woman who frees herself from her abusive husband only to find love with the father of the little girl she babysits. Suspenseful and equally heart-wrenching and heart-warming at the exact same time.

(Read more about the books at http://www.valorpublishinggroup.com/books.php)

Although none of Valor's books are distinctly LDS, the wildly popular LDS Womens Book Review podcast (www.ldswomensbookreview.com) will be broadcasting from the book-launch party. They not only will interview the authors, but will be reviewing readers as well. Please make sure you stop by their table sometime during the party.

So join us and meet the authors, listen to Shaun Barrowes, mingle with other authors, munch on refreshments and just enjoy yourselves! It's all about making reading fun, fun, fun!


Date:
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Time:
6:00pm - 8:30pm
Location:
Barnes & Noble Booksellers
Street:
6 North Rio Grande Street
City/Town:
Salt Lake City, UT

Friday, November 20, 2009

When All Else Fails. . .

Give something away.

I've been at a loss lately, no books to review for the past couple of weeks and nothing totally awesome floating around in my brain begging for me write about it. Sigh.

Soooo. Just to fill the time, I thought I'd do a give away. Know someone who wants a copy of my latest book?

Direct them here. Leave a comment telling me what your favorite Primary song is. December 1st I'll draw a name and send them a copy of Simply Singing Time.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Fun New Stuff from LDStorymakers

Okay, a few quick announcements about some fun stuff from my fabulous friends in LDStorymakers.

There are two new blogs dedicated to books and writing.
The first features the Storymaker authors, their new releases and their wonderful book trailers.
You can find it at http://www.ldstorymakers.blogspot.com

You can also subscribe to the Storymaker's new release newsletter on the Yahoo groups setting, or from LDStorymakers.com

Then, there's the new writing blog at
http://www.ldstorymakerauthors.blogspot.com

This blog will feature a huge variety of LDStorymaker authors (including yours truly) with tips and thoughts on writing, reading, publishing and the world of books in general.

Lastly, registration for the 2010 Writer's Conference will open December 1. They're starting to post some of the awesome guests and other information, with more showing up all the time.
I'm getting really excited, so save you pennies and your time for April 23 and 24, 2010!

I'll even greet you at the registration table. :)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Santa Maybe by Aubrey Mace


I just spent a very pleasant afternoon reading Santa Maybe by Aubrey Mace.

When I saw the back liner, I was completely hooked.

Dear Santa,

I’ve been a good girl this year. (Well . . . pretty good.) I have a nice life and there’s only one thing that I really want-one thing that’s missing. If you happen to have an extra one lying around your work shop, I would really like a husband. I promise to take good care of him.

Love, Abbie

It made me giggle and I prepared myself for some fun. Sure enough, a man shows up under Abbie’s Christmas tree with no memory of who he is, or how he got there.

Okay, it seems silly, but Christmas is all about believing in things that are bigger than life so I had to see how Aubrey would play out this scheme of hers. The answer? Splendidly.

Yes, this is most definitely another romance. Rest assured that I gave myself a healthy dose of books in the spirit of Halloween, so I was ready for Christmas and a little more mush. J My poor brain keeps telling me it shouldn’t be time to think about Christmas, but all the stores I’ve been in recently seem to say that’s not the case. Sigh. How time flies when you have your nose in a good book.

Given my Christmas reluctance, Santa Maybe turned out to be an excellent ice breaker for the season. It was just the right touch of humor, holiday fun, and of course, impossible relationships that end up conquering all. There were no overly sappy, cryptic morals such as “Tis better to give, than receive” and all its various cousins. Yes, it does have a Santa element, so those that are staunchly against holiday books may still be put off, but for the rest of us it’s just plain fun- no strings attached.

I did honestly wish for the Santa element to be explored a little more than it was. That was such a amusing part of the equation. I know it wasn’t really the point, but as I read I could see a hundred possibilities of fun in my head. What can I say? I’m a sucker for types of things. I still believe in fairy tales.

I do have a bone to pick with Aubrey though. Abbie is a baker. We get to read about all the yummy things she’s making, but there’s not a single stinking recipe in the entire book. That, to me, is cruel and unusual punishment. The least Aubrey could have done was tuck one in the back of the book, but, noooooo.

I came away very, very hungry. You’ve been given fair warning- be prepared to feed your inner cupcake monster while reading this one.

Great job, Aubrey! Now I’m torn: is Spare Change my favorite Aubrey Mace title or Santa Maybe? Hmmmmm.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Okay, Now I'm Blushing


My good friend, and historical fiction author, Lauri L.C. Lewis just did me a huge favor by posting a review of my latest title Simply Singing Time.

She's so sweet. :)

Go check it out at
http://laurielclewis.blogspot.com/2009/11/book-nook-review.html
and see why Laurie has me blushing!

Thank you Laurie!