About Me

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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.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Hurray for Prizes! (Take Two)

I promised I'd be back to host my friend Tristi's month long giveaway a second day, and here we are. So.... hop over to her blog and find out how to enter to totally awesome prizes compliments of me! This time you can win copies of my two novels. (They're great stuff, I promise.)

Remember, you can read the first to chapters of the two novels here.

Good luck!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Hurray for Prizes!

Today is my day to host my friend Tristi's month long giveaway. So.... hop over to her blog and find out how to enter to win mucho prizes compliments of me! Translation: win my Primary books (yes, all 9of them).

Later in the month you'll have a chance to win my novels. Remember, you can read the first to chapters of the two novels here.


Good luck!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sun Tunnels and Secrets by Carole Thayne Warburton

Have you ever wondered what the Golden Girls would have been like if they were LDS? That’s exactly what I thought of when I met “the sisters” in Sun Tunnels and Secrets by Carole Thayne Warburton. When I’m old and grey I want to wear purple, with a red hat that doesn’t go, and be just like LaRue, Mabel and Norma.

They actually reminded me a bit of my own grandmother before she passed. She didn’t want anybody sticking their nose in her business, kept her own secrets and wasn’t exactly playing with a full deck. (but that was okay, because cards were the tool of Satan and she wouldn’t be caught dead admitting that she had *any* much less having a few missing) J I just wanted to hug them.

There’s a lot going on in Sun Tunnels and Secrets. If you’ve ever lived in a small town you’ll know how hard it is to keep a secret in one, much less a series of them that come together in a tangle of coincidences. All I can say is it’s the type of thing that can only be pulled off in a place like Grouse Creek. I mean, you’ve got dead bodies on the side of the road, secret loves, secret children, secret cookie recipes and a dozen other things all wrapped up in a pretty book package. It was a fun, multilayered read.

Did I have any grumbles while reading? Well, there were times, especially at the beginning, when the information offered seemed a little heavy-handed. Not necessarily the dreaded “info dump” just a little obvious in places, just enough to distract me from the story but not enough to make me want to stop reading.

Pluses? As I’ve mentioned, I’m totally in love with the characters Carole Thayne Warburton created in the three sisters. I’m also itching to go see the Sun Tunnels for myself (after all, I’m not a Utah-ite so I didn’t even know they existed. I also enjoyed the touches of historical insight.

Who would I recommend Sun Tunnels and Secrets to? Hmmm. I think this one will appeal most to the older reader. It’s a pretty light read, but I don’t see the teen/early twenty crowd getting into it. Although, I can see a few of them wondering where their “Tony” is. . . .Also, anyone who’s been on the with the “widow patrol” at church. Great job, Carole!

It'sblog tour time for
Filled with zanny and loveable characters,family secrets, and of course mystery, Sun Tunnels and Secrets will appeal to every reader.We are giving away THREE copies. One lucky GRAND PRIZEWINNER will win a beautiful pot by Carole (who's also atalented potter)!Blog tour runs from December 1st--December 9th.

Want to win a copy ofSun Tunnels and Secrets? It's easy.
1. Visit the fabulous reviews and leave a comment letting us know whyyou're excited to read Sun Tunnels.Remember to include your email address.
2. If you tweet about the blog tour, or post about it on your blog orfacebook, leave the link in the comments section and you'll receive anadditional entry.
On a trip to the Sun Tunnels in the Utah desert, Norma and her sisters finda body on the side of the road. But this awful discovery turns out to bethe least of their problems. Norma's husband just passed on, and she learnshe kept a secret from her for sixty years. LaRue is keeping a secret fromNorma. The sisters' young friend Tony is keeping a secret about his famousfather, and Tony's mother is keeping a secret of her own. Tony is secretlyin love with his friend Kelli, who recently escaped from a polygamist cult.And who is the mysterious young car thief with whom Norma feels a specialconnection? Everything converges in Grouse Creek at the Fourth of Julycelebration. Will secrets prove everyone's undoing?
November 30Alison Palmer--Tangled Wordsand Dreams
December 1Braden Bell--Braden'sBlog
December 2Danyelle Ferguson--Queen of theClan
December 3Jewel Adams--Jewel's BestGems
December 6Tristi Pinkston--*TrisitPinkston
December 7Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen--TheWrite Blocks
December 8Diony George--Diony George
December 9Marsha Ward--Writer in thePines

Monday, November 29, 2010

Merry Month of Miracles

My dear friend Tristi Pinkston is beginning a wild "Merry Month of Miracles" on December 1st. You definitly need to go check out the rules on her blog because there is prize awesomeness happening every single day in December.


This is one you need to get in on. Plus, little ol' me will be sponsering the prizes on December 11th, so don't miss that day for sure. Ah-hem. :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Price of Gold- First Chapter

Chapter 1

Met looked down at the silver knife in front of him, swallowing hard to push back the bile rising in his throat. He couldn’t do this.
He couldn’t, but he had to. This one horrid act meant the difference between life and death for him.
Just a few miles away there was a twenty-first century world with thousands of people going about their normal lives. They had no idea the things of Met's world could even exist. Met loved his life, but right now he wished he could be one of those normal people.
A breeze stirred the linen around his groin. That tiny sensation was enough to remind him of the traditional garb he was wearing, and the ritual that must be completed. Coming back out of his sickening fears, he glanced at the hooded bird on his arm and then out at the faces of his family. He nodded. The falcon’s grip on Met’s flesh was loosening. It was almost time.
The sour taste came back again in a forceful wave of regret. She was his favorite. He’d trained Paniwi himself. The beautiful falcon had been his almost constant companion for the last two years. He always knew this would be the end of things, tried not to get attached; but it couldn’t be helped. She was a beautiful bird.
Met watched the sea of faces out of the corner of his eye as he gently lifted Paniwi from her favorite perch on Met’s arm and laid her down on the stone altar. Her training, and the sedative that had almost taken full effect, would not let her get up. She would wait patiently and unknowingly for her fate.
The whole process made him weak and nauseous. He prayed with all his heart that things could go differently, but he knew that was an empty prayer the gods would ignore. This was a centuries old tradition. If he didn’t complete it, he would die. He could already feel the heaviness of his limbs and the restriction of his chest. His pulse was slowing as his heart began to harden.
His thirteenth birthday was only 24 hours ago, but the change in his blood was already well on its way to completion. If his body did not change and adapt to the thicker, more precious blood, it would kill him in a matter of days: much faster than his death would come otherwise.
The air began to pulse gently as the others started to shift their forms.
He began quietly reciting the prayer, whispering it to Paniwi’s ka. Though the others would hear, it was for her that Met prayed. He thanked her for her devotion, for her life and beautiful qualities. Then he encouraged her soul to speed its way back to the presence of Horus, carrying his vows of servitude with her.
After a short pause, he took a breath and began the next part of the incantation, his voice cracking with emotion as he pled with her for the precious gift he needed. Though he could not yet hear them, he knew the animal minds all around him now melded together to add their voices to the prayer. Met asked for the gift of her essence, her knowledge and skills as a hunter, her wisdom of the animal world, for her connection to the gods, and most importantly, for her form.
The world seemed silent, waiting, as his sob pierced through the air and his knife slit Paniwi’s throat.
His limbs that were once heavy were now on fire. The royal blood inside him thickened more quickly now and every cell in his body screamed in protest, both for the golden blood’s invasion and for the changes they were now being forced to make to accommodate it.
His vision went black, leaving only the memory of the bloody, broken form on the altar. His legs gave into the fierce pressure, buckling underneath him. Met dropped the knife and slipped out of consciousness.
When his vision returned, it was different. His, but not the sight he had known for the first thirteen years of his life. It was sharper, the edges of everything more crisp, colorful, and defined. It was weird. It seemed more focused, but his line of sight had suddenly grown much wider, like his vision suddenly switched from full screen to wide screen format. Met’s new eyes were extremely sensitive to any movement, making every little leaf that shifted in the wind flick suddenly into focus in the forefront of his sight before being dismissed as unimportant.
It was different, but then so was he. He flexed his new wings a little wider, searching for a current that would pull him up and away from the sacred clearing.
Everything still hurt. He was stiff and felt clumsy, but Paniwi’s gift had been given and received. Met’s new form knew its purpose. Tiny portions of his mind began processing the world in ways that were foreign to the old Met, but very familiar to the new Met. He loved the feel of the wind, the newness of the world.
He sent another silent prayer toward Paniwi’s ka, now in her language rather than the language of his forefathers, expressing gratitude for her sacrifice. He would feel the sorrow of her loss for a long time. But he would honor her gift and his heritage with everything that he now was, as his clan had done since the first pharaohs ruled Egypt.
With that promise he let his weary body drift toward earth, coming back down as night descended around him. Met would need to remain in this form for several days before his body could tolerate another transformation. He would still need time to heal, but the pain would fade and soon he would be able to shift between his two forms at will.
He landed on the corner of the family’s food table, directly across from the banquet prepared for their gods, and watched as the members of his clan filed past him on their way toward the food. Most had already shifted back to their human form, but there were still many other shapes present. Each one performed a swift kneeling bow in greeting; honoring his passage into the realm of the gods and also the god Horus who accepted Met as his son and servant.
Man and beast swirled together in a strange dance. There were humans dressed in cotton robes and wraps mingling with birds, cats, baboons, crocodiles, cows, jackals, wolves and many other creatures which most of the world would never see outside of a zoo. This was Met’s world—a place of mythical fantasy that was all too real. It was a life that very few could even imagine, much less know anything about. This life was a secret trust his family kept quietly enfolded in a world that was only partly theirs. This realm was very much out of place in the 21st century.
This was Met’s family.
He watched with weary falcon eyes until the exhaustion and lingering pain became too much. He drifted into an uneasy sleep while the rest of the clan continued to celebrate.
Want to read more? The Price of Gold is available on Amazon.com and as an e-book.

The Prodigal Son- First Chapter

Chapter 1
15 Years Ago

Sarah wiped her eyes as tears began to blur her vision. It had been one of those days when her life just seemed all wrong. She wasn’t sure how much more whining three-year-old and colicky baby she could take.
The problems and tension started the night before, with a fight, actually. She couldn’t remember now how the argument started, but it hadn’t fizzled out until almost two o’clock in the morning, when Jordan silently took his pillow and headed for the couch. Sarah slammed the bedroom door in response and glared at it until retrieving Adam from his crib to be fed at three. She’d calmed down enough by then to lie down and snuggle close, falling asleep while he nursed.
Now, the day that started badly was just getting worse. The sound of breaking glass brought her running to the kitchen to find jam smeared all over the cabinets and counter from Michael’s adventure while she was occupied feeding Adam. The shattered jar and its contents added to the chaos in the middle of the carpeted kitchen floor, and in her mind. Sarah had no idea how she was supposed to get it cleaned up. If she didn’t, their landlord was not going to be happy. But really—who in their right mind would put industrial carpeting in a kitchen in the first place?
Adam promptly threw up all over her as she jostled him a bit too hard while yelling at Michael for making the sticky mess.
Everyone was crying when the phone rang, and Jordan informed her that he would be home late. His voice was cold and he hadn’t even bothered to ask how her day was going before adding to her difficulties. More than anything right now, she could use a listening ear while she vented about her frustrations, but he couldn’t even be counted on to come home and help her at the end of the day.
In desperation, Sarah looked around at the mess in the kitchen and the mess she’d made of her family. She didn’t know where to begin, and she didn’t think she had the energy. After a sleepless night and a lousy day, she’d had enough. Sarah threw a sweatshirt over the wet puke stain on her shirt, put jackets on the boys, and ran from the house. She just wanted to escape.
Now here she was, still crying. Adam also still cried from his place on her hip as she stood and watched Michael run from one end of the playground to the other. At least he was happier again.
Sarah missed Utah—she missed her friends, her sisters, and her mother, who always seemed to put moments like these in perspective. It had been extremely hard on her to move to Arizona eight months ago. She wanted to support Jordan as he began his new job, but leaving her family behind had been difficult. They supported her, eased her burdens, and helped her remember why her roles as a wife, and especially as a mother, were so important.
She loved her children—she did. But she couldn’t help wondering why they tested that love to the limits every day. Sarah wiped away another tear and mentally scolded herself for her attitude. Maybe they aren’t pushing limits, she thought. Maybe they were just normal and she wasn’t cut out to be a mother. She wished she could run away and leave the jam-covered kitchen and her children behind. Even for just a day.
Her gaze wandered while she was feeling sorry for herself. Now, Sarah looked back up to see Michael shrieking with glee as he rocketed down the slide. He landed with such force that his knees buckled out from under him. His head went back, smacking the edge of the metal slide with a loud ka-chunk. In the instant it took Sarah to register what she was seeing, blood began to pour from the back of Michael’s head. It formed a wet, gruesome mess as it spread and mixed with the sand where he lay crumpled at the base of the slide.
Screaming Michael’s name, Sarah hastily set a still-distraught Adam in his stroller and joined the throng of panicked mothers running toward her disoriented son. Someone had the presence of mind to call the paramedics as Sarah frantically pressed Adam’s spit rag to the back of Michael’s head.
The experience began to feel like a dreamy blur. It could have been just minutes, but the tension made it feel like hours. After the paramedics arrived and assured her Michael would be all right, she stood and looked at her surroundings again. Something filled her with unease.
Time warped again, creating an eternity of dread as she began to comprehend what was still wrong with her world.
Adam was no longer crying, and his stroller was gone.
Her vision began to blur all over again, darker than ever, and she heard herself scream his name. It was silly, really. He was only four months old. How is he supposed to answer me? Yet, what else could she do? He had to be somewhere—he couldn’t just be gone. A baby couldn’t just go off on his own, so Sarah needed him to answer.
She began to go through all the possible scenarios.
Maybe his stroller rolled.
Maybe one of the paramedics or other mothers bumped it when they were running to help with Michael.
Maybe someone noticed Adam crying and was trying to comfort him.
“Adam!” she yelled again. Sarah’s thoughts changed to more terrifying possibilities that caused her voice to choke as she forced the word through one more time. “Adam!”
He can’t be gone! I’ll never forgive myself if something happens to him.
Sarah continued to look around, her eyes becoming wild with panic, the questions still jumbling up in her mind. Where can he be?
If someone did bump the stroller, where would it roll? If it did roll, why can’t I see it off in the distance? This is Arizona, for heaven’s sake—there aren’t that many trees and bushes to hide behind!
She began to run with weak legs and heavy feet. She stumbled over the slightest change in terrain, feeling sluggish and clumsy. Her thoughts became more urgent. Not fast enough. She wasn’t moving fast enough to reach him, wherever he was. Where is he?
Sarah circled the play area, calling Adam’s name, stopping other mothers she thought she recognized from the slide incident.
“Did you see my baby? Did you see a stroller? I left it right there!”
She tried to think, to give some details, to find some sort of answer. The other mothers gathered around, asking what they could do to help. She couldn’t think straight. She couldn’t remember what Adam was wearing. Had she even changed him out of his sleeper that morning? She wasn’t sure.
She pressed through the crowd of women and continued circling the park, asking everyone she met. “A baby, blond hair, gray eyes, he was crying . . . .”
Some of the women remembered the stroller; some hadn’t even noticed it. No one knew where it went. Other people were looking now, asking questions, calling his name, but Sarah hardly noticed. Adam was hers, her responsibility, and she’d lost him. She had to find him.
Desperate now, she looked in every cubbyhole and tiny crevasse—behind the slide, by the swings, in the tire obstacle course, the trench worn around the merry-go-round, the picnic tables, and the park benches. Sarah circled the playground several times, then her gaze fell on the walking trail. It was the only area of the park with trees. There were pockets of shade along the path. Maybe someone took him there. With a burst of energy that seemed to come directly from her breaking heart, she made a beeline for the trail. No longer thinking clearly at all, her brain chanted ‘find him’ in rhythm with every footfall.
Find him.
Find him.
Find him.
The mantra continued as she raced down the path. Reality didn’t hit again until she realized she was back where she had started.
Her lungs were on fire. She was hoarse from yelling. She was exhausted from the shame she felt asking strangers, over and over again, to help her find her most precious possession. Her muscles trembled. Her tears blurred her vision. Her body betrayed her. She should be able to see him, call him, run to him, reach him, gather him in her arms, and wake up from this nightmare.
Why is this happening to me? Am I such a terrible mother that my child would be taken from me like this? Is God punishing me?
Dear Heavenly Father, I didn’t mean it! I’m so sorry I wished I didn’t have them. Please, please bring Adam back to me!
Suddenly, a thought broke through her panic. Two children. She had two children. For the second time that day, she’d abandoned one in order to help the other. Twice in one day, she’d managed to turn her back on what mattered to her most. An irresistible urge to gather Michael up in her arms overtook Sarah’s already taxed emotions. She needed to get back to him—she had to keep him with her. She had to find Adam, but she shouldn’t have left Michael alone with the paramedics to do it. Additional panic welled up inside her as she rushed back to the playground. What if she’d already been gone too long? What if Michael wasn’t there anymore, either? What if she’d lost them both in one fateful afternoon of wishing?
Relief washed over her as she rounded the corner of the walking trail and saw a confused Michael still sitting with one of the paramedics. She gathered him in her arms and sobbed uncontrollably as the first police officer approached her.


Want to read more? The Prodigal Son is available on Amazon.com and as an e-book.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Finding Rose: An LDS Novel by Stephanie Humphreys

This past week I had the pleasure of reading Finding Rose by Stephanie Humphreys and it was definitely a pleasure. (Isn't the cover pretty?) I’ve been in a bit of a rut lately, or maybe too distracted is the right way to put it. Books have had a hard time really sticking with me. I enjoy them as always, but don’t experience regret or distraction (as I normally would) when I have to put them down and take care of something else. For whatever reason, I’m glad to report Finding Rose was a refreshing change for me.

Finding Rose is a simple romance: a feel good story with enough “stuff” thrown into the plot that I didn’t feel overwhelmed by mush. Yes, the plot was a little transparent, following a standard romance formula; even the subplots were fairly predictable to me. But somehow this wasn’t a bad thing. Finding Rose was sweet, simple, straight forward and exactly what the doctor ordered. It even had a cozy-by-the-winter-fire kind of feel to it. You know- there are summer reads, and there are winter reads. This is a definite snuggle under the covers and take a mini vacation from reality book. It’s worth the few hours it takes to read.

Down sides? Well, it is predictable and it is a romance. It worked for me, but if you’re looking for real stick with you fiction, this may not may the right title for you.

Plus sides? I liked the historical element of Finding Rose. It wasn’t a typical pioneer’s crossing the plains story. Fast forward a few years to a different type of migration. This novel touches on the years immediately surrounding 1900. The historical elements are very light. There are brief looks at what was happening within the LDS Church and the world around. It’s not a history lesson for that sake alone, it’s simply a fun backdrop to the love story.

Need something to help you escape for a few hours this holiday season? Finding Rose by Stephanie Humphreys just might be the answer.

From the back cover:
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 father¹s last wish if Miles doesn't 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?

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.

November 22
Tristi Pinkston--Tristi Pinkston

November 23
Alison Palmer--Tangled Words and

November 24
Taffy Lovell--Taffy's Writing

November 29
Jenn Wilks--Jenn Wilks
Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen--The
Write 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--Day

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Road Less Traveled

Did you miss me? I didn’t realize how long I’d been gone until I came to write this update. Never fear, I’ll be back soon.

Today I’ll try to spill my guts about the road less traveled. As most of you know, I’m a free-thinking, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of gal. Sometimes that’s good, sometimes not so much, but I’m okay with that.

For the past couple of years I’ve had to be much more careful about how and why I spend my time on different things. My reasons for doing or not doing something usually don’t make much sense to those outside of my brain, but I thought I might actually try to explain this divergence from normality.

See, I’ve decided to self-publish a couple of books.

When someone tells you, “I’m a writer.” What kinds of things automatically come to mind? Odds are, it’s whatever types of books and authors you like to read. If you don’t like literature you might even experience a nasty taste in your mouth. When people hear I’m a writer, their next question is usually, “What do you write?”

They get very confused by my standard answers. “Nothing you’d ever willingly read.” Or “It depends on the day of the week.”

You kind of expect “I’m a writer” to equal “I write best-selling novels”. It kind of gives the rest of us a bad rap, you know? I, for one, have absolutely no aspirations toward fame and fortune. I just know what I’m good at.

I have a sweet friend who has known me for years. She knows what I do for a living. But, when I announced my first book contract for a *novel* (which later had to be cancelled) she was giddy and very supportive, but her words kind of had me rolling my eyes- “I know an author!” FYI I’ve been working as successful freelance writer for over 10 years. So, in the eyes of the general public you aren’t really an author until they find your book on the shelves of the Wal-Mart. No wonder so many aspiring authors give up. No one wants to take what you do as serious work until after you’ve shared your nonexistent royalty check with them.

That’s the other thing. Most people assume the ones who do have a book on the shelf at Wal-Mart are rolling in the dough. Another big fat no. It takes a lot to be a full time fiction writer, especially if you have a family to support and that support is dependent on being a reclusive multi-book a year writer and a beloved, active public figure at the same time. I can tell you which one the author prefers and it’s not tied to how pretty their signature is.

Are the stigmas just present between writer and non-writer? No. If anything they’re worse when you’re dealing with a room full of authors. Now the judging gets serious. Sometimes it’s just “She’s an amazing writer. I could never hope to capture a reader the way she does.” Sometimes it’s a lot less kind. I’ll leave those thoughts up to your own imagination. What you do have to understand is that there is a way-things-work method to our madness. We live in a totally different reality than regular 9-5ers, but rest assured, there are still rules.

Self-publishing is one of those strange unwritten rules. The bias is lifting, but the general assumption among many is that if you have to self-publish everyone who “matters” in this business (agents and editors) have pretty much declared that you stink. You’re the black sheep of the book writing family.

So, why have I just announced myself to be the black sheep? It goes back to knowing what I do best. I am a writer. I love the process of taking little tidbits and turning them into beautifully flowing prose (that no one will ever read). I also know how to make money with my writing and it’s not from scrambling to become the next Stephanie Meyer. I’m a nonfiction type of gal. It works for me.

I write fiction for the feelings of joy and reckless abandon that go with it. If I spent all of my time pursuing the normal course of action for a fiction writer, I’d never have time or energy for my family or for the writing assignments that actually pay for my kid’s fencing lessons, dance lessons, gymnastic lessons, “I’m bored” moments, and trips across the country when someone says “Mommmmmmy! Where are you?”

Writing is my joy, but it’s also my business. I’m just lucky enough that I know where to draw the lines. There are things I do for the sheer challenge; there are things I do for the paycheck it brings in. There are also things I do for the joy it brings into my heart. Hence, self-publishing. It allows me to still share the parts of me that bring me the most happiness without turning it into “work”.

Will you totally love my fiction? I don’t honestly know. All I know is I loved writing it and there are a few people out there who will love reading it as well. If you don’t happen to be one of them, I’m good with that too. See how easy going I am?

In the next few days I’ll be putting up information about the two titles. But just in case you won’t be able to sleep a wink tonight without knowing what I’ve been up to, here are the basics.

The Prodigal Son- LDS general fiction (A modern version of the parable addressing a mother’s desperate journey to save a child who doesn’t want to be saved.)

The Price of Gold- YA paranormal fiction (What if the Ancient Egyptian gods were real? What if you were a modern teenage who still carried their golden blood in his veins? What if you had to choose between blood and love?)

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Fourth Nephite by Jefferey S. Savage

We’ve all heard them: the arguments given from many different sources that try to discount or explain away the stories associated with the restoration of the gospel. But, what happens when those rationales and excuses are stemming from your own doubts and fears about your place in the gospel? It happens. Some are blessed with strong, unwavering faith. Some struggle to find a footing in life that makes them feel a part of any spiritual journey.

Where does it happen most? Probably among our teens and young adults. They are turning their whole lives upside down trying to figure out who they want to be and where they fit in the world around them. Entering this stage without a firmly planted testimony can lead to many questions and searches for answers. Some will look in the right places. Some will not. How do we help our youth find their place in Christ’s church, and more importantly how do we help them welcome Him into their hearts and lives? Jeffrey S. Savage seems to have found one way to offer a little support and encouragement in the form of The Fourth Nephite.

Kaleo Steele is just a typical struggling teen finding himself caught up in a life that threatens to carry him away and he’s not really sure that a bad thing. . . .until he gets caught by his seminary teacher. In an effort to cover up his mistakes, rather than any real sense of regret, Kaleo bargins with his teacher and gets sent on a special assignment to redeem himself. It’s a journey that requires Kaleo to decide if he is willing to stand as a witness to the truth of the gospel and the prophetic mission of Joseph Smith.

The Fourth Nephite is not heavily laden with scriptural insights and more “ites” to keep track of than you could manage to save your life. It’s simple, straight forward, and honest in its approach. For this I applaud Mr. Savage. His true intent was not to publish a work that celebrated his in-depth knowledge of the gospel; but rather, to reach out with his own beliefs and personal testimony that Joseph Smith was indeed a prophet of God. It’s just right for his intended YA audience.

While most of the arguments given are ones that a seasoned member of the church would understand in their fullness, I can see the need to answer these types of questions for the younger member, new convert or hesitant investigator. I don’t think The Fourth Nephite would ever be souly responsible for someone’s conversion- and that’s as it should be- but it does offer a more personable view point that may make eternal concepts easier to grasp and take to heart. I think the most accepting audience, and those that it could have the greatest effect on, would be the young teens: ages 11-14-ish.

Okay, go ahead- ask me what I found to whine about this time. Just because I’m a little weird I seemed to be disoriented by the basic plot mechanisms. While I think the cover is beautifully done, between the name and the cover I would have had no idea what the book was actually about had I not flipped it over to the back copy. The cover shows a conglomerate of modern, early church and ancient American information. But I still had trouble getting my mind to resolve what kind of story I would actually find. It was a little disorienting to find my sense of time and place in the story. I kept expecting Kaleo to go visit and travel with the three Nephites in some way or another. That’s not the case. Using the three Nephites in both early church history and as a door to the past from our present world was a clever way to explore how one might go about experiencing history from a firsthand perspective but for some reason it still kept throwing me off.

Weird, huh? I have no excuses. I’m just a flake sometimes.

All in all though, The Fourth Nephite is a valuable piece of literature that I hope finds its way in to the hands of the Kaleos of this world. If you have young teens or pre-teens in your house this is a title that you might consider stuffing in a stocking or two. Thank you, Jeffery S. Savage for your sincere, sweet look into the life of the prophet Joseph Smith. It was refreshing.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Hidden Sun by J. Lloyd Morgan

The Hidden Sun by J Lloyd Morgan is an enjoyable story of a woman facing her destiny for being queen with a difficult decision. As the new queen, she is required to enter into an arranged marriage and the person who has been chosen for her leaves her nervous and uncomfortable. Things have been slightly off in his corner of the kingdom for many years but it is unclear what is really happening. She’s worried for her kingdom and worried for her heart. It’s not bad enough that she is supposed to enter into a marriage she does not want but doing so would require her to put aside the love she feels for a man who has proven himself good and true.

It’s an interesting and compelling journey to take with the characters. I enjoyed my time within The Hidden Sun’s pages very much. And bonus: I loved the naming conventions of many characters. Some people might find them a little cheesy but for me they were plain fun.
So, what did I find to grumble about? The editing could have been better; the copy errors were a bit distracting. And, the story was told from many different perspectives. It was sometimes hard to tell whose head I was in and why. I think I would have preferred a few less characters telling the story.

I could easily recognize that this was a first novel. J. Lloyd Morgan is no stranger to good storytelling, but writing a novel was a new venue for him. It does show a little, but I expect a little of that from most new authors. Mostly, I judge a story on its ability to engross me as opposed to whether or not the author has mastered all the rules of the craft. Heck, I can’t place a comma correctly to save my life, so who am I to judge the polish of another storyteller’s craft? It’s a journey for all of us. I’ll definitely be interested to see what comes of the sequel Mr. Morgan is working on.

I actually think that The Hidden Sun’s best quality comes in the form of the moral message woven into the story, mainly: the differences between right and wrong and the long-term consequences of both. While the logical choices of right and wrong may be clear enough, in every situation you’ll find multiple shades of grey that make it hard to see where such choices could lead. Morgan’s approach is to take the stand that wrong choices, even when you feel they have been justified by good reasons, will have far reaching consequences which are rarely good.

The story is engaging and enjoyable, with the added layer of a “moral of the story”, this might be a good choice if you happen to have a teenage child on the verge of life and finding themselves getting a little lost in the mists of life. The truly rebellious element will probably see right through it and recognize the story as an extended lecture. But, those who have a good understanding of the gospel or just find themselves struggling a little will find a great story that lets them see the consequences of someone’s actions from a safe distance. It allows them to look at their own choices with a different perspective.

For this aspect alone, I would recommend The Hidden Sun find a place on your family’s bookshelf. Pick up a copy and see what little messages you can find hidden in it that seem to speak directly to you and your life’s journey.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Trapped by Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen

The first pages of Trapped by Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen caught me by the throat and took several pages to loosen their grip. Who among us hasn’t woken up at one point or another convinced someone was in the house who shouldn’t have been? Ms. Hinrichsen did a great job of turning those feelings in to a believable experience. I was right there with Emi, the description pulled me right in and made me thankful I was reading in public in broad daylight.

What made the book finally loosen its grip on me? Hmmm, I can’t be sure. Perhaps it was the switches in story focus. I’d have a hard time deciding what genre to place Trapped in. The story was an interesting melding of mystery, mystical, adventure, suspense and romance. I knew what to expect from reading the back cover, but I still found myself—not pulled out of the story, necessarily—more like that feeling that something has changed and you have to shift in your seat to compensate for it. I’m sure that doesn’t make any sense, but rest assured when I figured out how to put it all back together again, Trapped did a good job of holding my attention. If you’re a fan of books that weave several elements together, Trapped could be right up your alley.

Trapped has good descriptions that really let you see what you’re reading in your mind’s eye. I liked the twists and turns trying to figure out who the good and bad guys were. I had to second guess myself several times on who Emi should trust and who she shouldn’t. That’s always a nice aspect in a book. I don’t like knowing exactly how things will end from the very beginning when I’m dealing with mystery and suspense.

So, do I have any of my famous sniveling complaints? Truly, the mixed genres didn’t bother me, I like books that can mix things up a little bit. It just took a little getting used to. But, there was one character trait that made Emi Warrin someone I had a hard time relating to. I am a very independent person. Always have been. For me, a 23-year-old girl who pretty much lets her mother dictate and control everything in her life was just not believable. I’m sure there are such people out there, but it was something I found I had no patience for. Every time she stated “I am an adult. . .” I wanted to laugh. She sounded like a five-year-old throwing a tantrum. Had I been in her shoes there would have been extreme rebellion by the time I reached age 15.
If I could put her actual age out of my mind and assume she was just a teenager I had a much better time getting into her head. All in all, I was glad for the time I spent enjoying Trapped by Rhonda Gibb Hinrichsen. Looking for a book that provides a little spice and variety? Give Trapped a try, it just my fit your tastes and be a satisfying read.

On a larger scale, I’m interested to get my hands on Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen’s first title, Missing, to see how it compares. It will be interesting to see what kind of niche Ronda is carving out for herself.

Here’s the back cover blurb and information on the blog tour contest- get yourself a free book!

A Forged Letter, A Golden Vial, An Ancient

style="font-size:100%;">Filled with family secrets, intrigue, and romance
the blog tour
(August 9-August 24) for href="http://www.amazon.com/Trapped-Ronda-Gibb-Hinrichsen/dp/193521764X/ref=
pd_sim_b_3">Trapped by href="http://thewriteblocks.blogspot.com/">Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen will
have it all.

Her expression remained somber, but
excitement crept into her voice. You are the Firstborn She...You must go to
them. You want me to act as bait? Not bait, Emi. A spy. Our Trojan
When Emi Warrin wakes one
night to find a thief in her mother's house, she has no idea the intruder
has planted a trap - a mysterious letter that will change her life forever.
Lured to the Austrian Alps with Daniel, the man she loves, Emi is thrown
into a perilous, mafia-like world of feuding families and a devastating
curse that spans generations. As the Firstborn She - the only firstborn
female in hundreds of years - only Emi can free her family from the curse
that will soon afflict her as well. But for Emi to break the curse, she
must delve into evil designs.
Emi struggles to understand her destiny as the Firstborn She, she learns
that everything isn't as it seems and that all choices have consequences.
Can Emi break the curse before it's too late?

We will be giving away THREE autographed copies!

All you
have to do is leave a comment (along with your email address if it isn't
on your blog profile) and answer the following question.

Which Austrian city would you most like to visit?style="font-weight: bold; color: rgb(255, 102,
102);font-family:arial;font-size:130%;" >

style="font-family:arial;">The more blogs you comment on the more entries
you'll receive.
All comments must be left by midnight MST
on August 27 to be eligible.


August 9
Heather Gardner

August 10
Jewel Adams

August 11
Mary Greathouse
Teri Rodeman

August 12
Lynn Fowlstone
Christine Bryant

August 13
Valerie Ipson
Sheila Stayley

August 16
Deanne Blackhurst

August 17
Connie Hall
C.S. Bezas

August 18
Kimberly Job
Tristi Pinkston

August 19
Karen Hoover
joan-sowards-and.html">Nichole Giles

August 20
Alison Palmer
Jessica Williams

August 23
Joyce DiPastena
Laurie Lewis

Friday, August 13, 2010

Hometown Girl by Michele Ashman Bell

Hometown Girl is the second book in the Butterfly Box series by Michele Ashman Bell. The first book, A Modest Proposal, introduces us to a group of friends as they begin to experience changes in their lives that pull them in different directions. Think Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants without the naughty stuff.

Hometown Girl focuses on the life of Jocelyn—an art teacher who has lost a little of her enthusiasm for life and art. Her grandmother passed away several years ago and left her house to Jocelyn. When she learns that the town’s mayor has declared her grandmother’s home a town eye-sore that needs to be fixed at all costs, Jocelyn’s friends convince her to take a leap of faith and move into the home. Jocelyn is looking for a fresh start, but she’s not really sure she has enough faith in herself to make it happen.

I enjoy the characters embodied in the “butterfly girls” and, specifically, getting to know Jocelyn better in Hometown Girl. I could relate to Jocelyn’s dilemma in moving to a new place. Starting over is never easy and circumstances certainly seemed to be stacking up against her. It was frustrating to experience through her eyes and try to understand what I would do in the same situation. Her responses were realistic and heartfelt. Jocelyn was a very well-rounded and relatable character.

On the other hand, even though the move was hard I wish everyone could find a ward like the one that greeted Jocelyn upon her move. What a beautiful example of how the gospel is supposed to work among its people. Sure, there were quirky people there, too. No ward is without them, but the way the ward members responded to each other and to Jocelyn won a place in my heart.

The romance was realistic and not overwhelming to my practical sensibilities. I'm totally in love with Jack. I didn't really know what to make of him at first, just like Jocelyn, but trying to break through his barriers and figure him out was intriguing and rewarding.

I also loved the way Jocelyn was able to find the strength to conquer her fears, past, present and imagined, to create a new life for herself. Hometown Girl offers a fun, fulfilling sense of hope for the reader.

Any sniveling complaints? Well, Michele threw in a tidbit a little more than half-way through that I found interesting and really wanted to get to the bottom of. It really propelled me into “must read” mode with this story. Sadly, it was just set up for the next books. The story of Jocelyn comes to a satisfying conclusion but there are several other aspects that the reader is left to wonder about. This is a perfectly acceptable technique when writing a series. It gives overall plot themes that pull things together very nicely. I just happen to be a little spoiled and like getting all of my information in one place at one time. Now I have to wait for the next book to find out what happens in other facets of the story. Maybe that's it: maybe I'm just impatient. Oh well.

It’s definitely best to get into this book with the knowledge that it’s part of a series. While Hometown Girl can make a satisfying stand-alone read for you, there is just enough dropped in here and there to make you curious about the back story from A Modest Proposal and just as curious about what will come next. Reading these titles really is a series commitment- you won’t be able to just dip in a toe and walk away. That’s both a good thing and a frustrating thing. Great job, Michele, pulling all of it together and making an intriguing series, but I’m still choosing to whine about having to wait for another book to get some more answers. *Sniff*

Oh, and I have to figure out how to get my hands on a moon flower bush. I love the fun little tidbits I get to learn about it books!
Be sure to pop on over to Michele’s blog and get yourself entered to win a $50 gift card- Woohoo!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Chocolae Roses by Joan Sowards

Mmmmmm, Chocolate Roses by Joan Sowards. Doesn’t the name alone just tempt you to pick it up? It did for me. The sad thing is I’d read the title and drooled over the box of chocolates on the cover several times before I realized this was a modern, LDS version of Jane Eyre. Yes, this little tidbit is printed right there on the cover. Okay, so I never claimed to be the brightest crayon in the box. . .

Anyway, loved this story. Probably more than I loved the original Jane Eyre, just because there was a little more hope and sweetness to the story than the original version. Janie Whitaker is a chocolate artisan. (I’m going to have to try being one of those in the next life. Maybe I missed my calling, it just sounds like fun!) She owns a chocolate shop with her sister. Enter tall, dark, brooding and mysterious stranger, Roger Wentworth. He makes Janie’s day every Tuesday morning by coming in to the shop to make a chocolate purchase. She’s head-over-heels for him and he doesn’t even know she’s alive. The beginning kind of reminded me of the movie “While You Were Sleeping”.

I enjoyed the diversity of characters in the background of the story, they added a fun depth. And, I was serious about the whole chocolate artisan thing. Giving the heroine a job that caught my interest and peppering the story with a few tantalizing details was a sweet surprise for me. Yes, pun intended.

So, what about my famous sniveling complaints? Meh, there were a few places where I thought the writing could have been a little tighter, but it was never enough to distract me from the story. There was also one little back-story loose end that didn’t get tied up as neatly as my idealistic, romantic side would have liked, but it was all good anyway.

Then, there was the totally weird reaction that I had to the font used for the internal headings. I loved it on the cover, but every time I caught that print out of the corner of my eye while I was reading, I’d be unconsciously reaching to try and brush whatever I’d dropped on the page off again. It was a little distracting, so be forewarned: your OCD tendencies just might peek out in the middle of a great read. Either that or I’m just weird. Yep, we all know I’m weird. What can I say?

On the whole it was a very enjoyable story. Are you a fan of Jane Eyre? You’ll like Ms. Soward’s treatment of the story. Had a hard time getting in to Jane Eyre when you were forced to read it in English class? Give Chocolate Roses a try, you just might find it a little more relatable.

Now, to get my greedy little hands on Joan Soward’s first book, Haunt’s Haven. . . .
Here's the news on the book tour!

Love chocolate? Love Jane Eyre?
Then you're going to love the blog tour (July26-August 6) for Chocolate RosesWin either a copy of the book (2 winners) or this fabulous apron created by Joan!
All you have to do is leave a comment (along with your email address if it isn't on your blog profile) and answer the following question. What's your favorite type of chocolate: white, dark, or milk?
The more blogs you comment on themore entries you'll receive. All comments must be left by midnight MST on August 8 to be eligible.
July 26Nichole Giles--Random-ish byNicholeJoyce DiPastena--JDP News
July 27Deanne Blackhurst--Annie SpeaksHer MindTristi Pinkston--*TristiPinkston
July 28Taffy Lovell--Taffy's CandyAlison Palmer--Tangled Wordsand Dreams
July 29Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen--TheWrite BlocksC.S. Bezas--For the Love of theWritten Word July 30Sheila Stayley--Why Not?Because I Said So!LDSWomen's Book Review
August 2Kerry Blair--Now &HereMarsha Ward--Writer in thePines
August 3Kaylee Baldwin--KayleeBaldwinAmy Orton--Amesbury Reads
August 4Anna del C.--Anna del C. Dye's BlogLaurie Lewis--A View fromthe Other Side
August 5Valerie Ipson--Of WriterlyThingsAnna Arnett--Insights and Ramblingsfrom Anna Arnett
August 6Lynn ParsonsDanyelle Ferguson--Queen of the Clan

Chocolate Roses can be purchased from Deseret Book, Amazon, and of course your local LDS bookstore.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Road Show by Braden Bell

Yes, as a youth I was traumatized by many a road show, but somewhere along the way the road shows in my stake stopped. I heard rumors of budget cuts and reducing competition and probably a few other things. I guess I just assumed it was a Church-wide mandate not to do road shows anymore and personally I didn’t think I’d miss them. As far as I know none of the wards I’ve lived in since high school have participated in said activity, so imagine my surprise to find out road shows are alive and well in Utah. (You people just have to be strange, don’t you?) ;)

With visions of my own childhood road show nightmares dancing through my head, I honestly had no idea what to expect from a book by the same name. The cover was beautiful, but I suppose I still assumed it was stupid humor because that was my own experience with those events. But within reading the first few paragraphs I could tell this book wasn’t meant to be light and humorous. Do you remember the old Jack Weyland book The Understudy? The Road Show by Braden Bell had the same sort of feel for me.

Instead of stupid jokes and bad acting I found sincere intents in both the story line and the characters portrayed. With a theme such as “Our Savior’s Love” I came away from my reading experience just as filled as the characters were for their participation experiences. That had a down side though- there was a strong embarrassment factor. I finished, publicly bawling my eyes out, at the kid’s swimming lessons and was completely appalled with my display, but totally in love with this story. That’s a road show I really would have loved to see.

Anything I didn’t like? Well, when I first began reading The Road Show, I wasn’t sure that I was going to like it. The story begins with multiple snippets of the character’s lives, pointing out their difficulties and the areas where their testimony seems to be lacking. Even though the situations were real and poignant, the book itself didn’t really catch my interest until the call to direct the road show was extended. I think I would have preferred to have the character vignettes woven into the actual storyline a little more and have everything set up for me at the beginning a little less.

Still, this is a very powerful story and an even more valuable message. If you’re one who shudders at the mere mention of a road show don’t let the subject matter keep you from reading. This is one road show you’ll not regret spending your time with. You might even learn a few things about yourself along the way. I dare you to read The Road Show without being able to find a portion of yourself in one of the characters.

Need a good read to boost your spirits before buckling down for the dreaded Primary program practices or a renewal of energy for a Young Women’s or other church event? The Road Show just might be what the doctor ordered. This one goes on my “will re-read” and “will recommend” shelf. I’m so glad I picked it up, fears of stupid humor and bad musical numbers notwithstanding.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Advice on Writing

I was introduced to this one today by Christine Bryant. Thanks for a beautiful sentiment.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Writer’s Guilt, or My Little Ah-ha! Moment

There has been a lot of discussion among my friends lately about the guilt that seems to come along with being a writer. For some reason, we seem to be burdened with a warped perception of why we should or should not be allowed to write.

Most, if not all, writers have specific reasons for pursuing the craft. Often, that has something to do with an inspiration, a belief in a God-given talent, a drive to pursue words and mold them into something that will inspire the world around us. Writing is part of who we are. We know we wouldn’t be complete without that part of our personality. Most of the people around us recognize that, too.

Enter the problem. Every time we sit down at the computer, every time we head off to a book signing or conference some little part of our brain pops up and says, “But wait! You left dishes in the sink. The baby was crying and clinging to your leg. You haven’t even thought about dinner yet!” On and on. Why is it that writers are so consumed with the feeling that they are doing something naughty, or being neglectful to our families, being selfish, even wasting time because we don’t have any tangible evidence we can really show people for why we spend hours locked in our offices?

After all, most people struggle with balancing their lives in some manner. They wish they could do this or that better, but nobody begrudges the doctor who has to take a call in the middle of the night- that’s just part of who he or she is. No one says the gardener is completely wasting their time because the deer will likely eat everything any way. No one wonders how the scrapbooker manages to care for her family and still have time for her talent. It’s all give and take, it’s all choices and priorities.

So, why does the writer tend to see their priority, their talent and gift as something that gets in the way of the rest of their life? Partly, I think, because we are driven by that need to write, every day and every chance we get. But, I think there is a bigger reason.

I think it comes back to the core reason we are driven to put things down on paper in the first place: our minds. Our heads are constantly dividing our attention between what is happening around us in real life and what we are trying to get to happen in a different reality that’s no less real to us. The doctor, the golfer, the sewer, the gardener can all put away the tools of their craft and walk away when they’re done. They may think about “Oh I love that paper, I should grab some for the next page I want to do,” or “It’s a beautiful day, wish I could be on the course.” But they are still present in the activities that are actually going on around them. It’s a fleeting notion. They know they’ll get to fulfill their desire at some point, then put it away and meet the other needs of their life.

A writer very rarely sees life this way. Even when we aren’t able to sit down at the computer, the story and words that consume us when we are there don’t get put down when we have to take junior to the soccer game. We carry them right along with us. Some portion of our mind is always fashioning and refashioning a thought we want to catch before we lose it. We look at the world around us and wonder how to fit it into our WIP. We can not take off the words and scenes floating around in our brain and walk away when we’ve finished our hour or whatever. It all goes with us every single moment of the day.

If that’s true, then what happens when we do get the chance to sit down and pour out our hearts on paper? There goes our subconscious again, doing exactly what we’ve trained it to do. Be divided. We are not fully present when we write because we’re not fully present in any situation. We sit down to write, which is what our brain has been wanting to do all day, so now our subconscious has to find something else to process, to mold while we actively work with the writing side of us. So, we end up with a reversal of thoughts. Suddenly, a small portion of us is obsessing over the consequences of feeding our children cold cereal for the fifth night in the row- our lives have now become the backstory we’re re-hashing and trying to get just right.

Make sense?

We sit down and our subconscious makes us feel guilty for being there because it doesn’t recognize a difference between the mental exercises we go through all day long with our writing and the time we spend actually spitting those words out onto the computer screen. It’s all writing and our brain starts to whisper, “Didn’t you already do this today?”
Often we become so caught up in the story that we truly have trouble remembering if we really did anything else that day. We may have challenged the phone company on a bill, gone grocery shopping, helped the teenager with a homework assignment, chatted with a neighbor having marital problems, even remembered to take a shower and get dressed. But, that’s all lost in the fog of figuring out the villain’s motivation for tying Sweet Sue to the railroad tracks. When someone else asks us (or when we ask ourselves) what we did that day we really have no idea, so we’re sure the day was wasted.

Our muse consumes us. It follows us everywhere we go, so we always end up feeling like we’ve neglected something important. We multitask too well. We’re never completely present in whatever we’re doing and we never completely walk away from what we want to be doing. It begins to feel like an addiction, a guilty pleasure that should be hidden or stifled. Oh, we still logically know and understand the inspiration behind our words, but how can we possibly consider ourselves a good mother when we sit back and watch the two-year-old’s tantrum with the gears turning about how we’d put his actions into writing rather than doing what a normal mother would do in that situation. (By the way, I have no idea what a normal mother would do since I’ve never been one of those.)

Do I have a solution for this? Nope. I only claimed to be a writer not a genius. I’d say, practice uni-tasking, becoming fully present in each area of your life, but that wouldn’t do the writer who has to grab his time in 15 minute snatches any good. By the time he gave his brain permission to think about the WIP his time would be up. I don’t have any miraculous solutions, but at least I understand what my problem is a little more. It doesn’t stop me from feeling guilty, but it does help me to put it in perspective. It clears my head just enough to remember what I’ve done and haven’t done, and my true motivations for what things I let in to my life and what things I leave out.

It doesn’t stop the train wreck that is my creative process, but it helps me understand that in reality my family was not in that train wreck. I may have just made a disaster out of my heroine’s life, but that doesn’t mean I’ve made a disaster out of my teenager’s life, no matter how many times she’s inclined to tell me I did. I haven’t destroyed their fragile lives because I was thinking about how to describe a character’s phobia while sitting in little Sally’s parent-teacher conference. I’m just allowing myself to be who I am. Hopefully, that will mean I’ll let them be who they are as well.

Besides, cold cereal is vitamin fortified. If they want something different they know where the fridge and stove are. I’m sure they can figure it out. Odds are it won’t hurt them one bit to do so.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Different Perspectives

Okay, I've been rather a slacker lately, haven't I?

The good news is it's because I have good excuses- family and hard at work on a new book (yeah!). The bad news is, when I get busy and forget to do my bloggy job, I forget about some of the tidbits I want to share with you. Ooops, sorry. :)

Soooo- here's one I'm actually remembering to pass on. I'm sure the other two will occur to me at exactly 3:46 am. . .

I was grateful to read Suzette Saxton's entry on Query Tracker a bit ago "When You're Weary". It's definitely worth popping over to check out. But, just in case you're feeling lazy and don't make it over there, I particularly want to share the video in her message. Some of you may have seen it before, but I think it's repeatable.

For me at least, the times when I'm doing writing of a spiritual nature I tend to, um, over-stress my desire to get the spirit of the message right. I take the weight of that huge responsibility entirely on myself and forget that it's a two-way street. I have to show up and do my part, but the reader has to show up and do their part as well. If those things are working together then the Lord has promised to do His part by getting the message the reader most needs through. In other words, I can't do it alone but I tend to assume it's all my fault if I don't think things are going right.

Sure, I'll get to shout Ole! once in a while when I see something I've written, but those are the times when the Spirit is doing His job for me, as the writer. I don't really have any part in what my written words will convey through the Spirit to the reader. Will the reader clutch my book to his or her chest and give it an Ole? I don't know, but I'll keep showing up to do my part and try to remember to give credit where credit is due. I never, never write alone unless my pride gets in the way and I assume I'm in control of the whole shabang.

Happy writing and may you have a few Allah/Ole! moments of your own.

Pocket of Guilt by Dora Lee Thompson

A few weeks ago I received an ARC of Pocket of Guilt by Dora Lee Thompson. It was certainly an interesting book to read.

From the back cover:
The Schulz family, all members of the Mormon church, is trying to survive in Germany, during and after WWII.

This book is told from several different viewpoints, with the emphasis being on the children. It’s a tale geared toward the YA reader, especially those who have a particular interest in historical events. I see it being something that would really appeal to the teen boy and an adult audience who favors this genre. Ms. Thompson takes great care to both educate and entertain, then helps the reader sort out the fact from fiction by providing references for her findings (always a plus in historical fiction). The storyline also follows the entire conflict and the years after. It’s not just one tiny segment, it helps the reader put the whole picture together appropriately.

I enjoyed the way she wove the different lives in out of each other. I was impressed that the struggles portrayed were realistic and not rose-colored. It was important to me to note that the dilemmas the families faced were tough, not easy to get out of, and that the right decisions were not always made. I think it’s important to keep things real. We don’t always make the right choice. We may not even know what it is. We do ignore promptings when we are overwhelmed by circumstances. But most importantly, just like the characters in Pocket of Guilt, we all have opportunities to learn from and resolve our mistakes with the Lord’s tender mercies.

Did I have any sniveling complaints with Pocket of Guilt? A couple. I wish that the story could have been tightened up and shortened a little. The size of the book doesn’t seem very intimidating until you open it and look at the print—it’s tiny and the paragraphs tend to be long—not necessarily a good thing if you are dealing with reluctant readers, which most boys are apt to be, or older readers.

Also, I was a tad surprised by the list price of Pocket of Guilt. I think it might cost Ms. Thompson some private sales, which is unfortunate. This is a title that I would suggest lobbying hard for it to be purchased by your local schools and libraries. To me, that’s where the investment will have the greatest return.

Pocket of Guilt has good things to offer and a unique perspective to share, so I’m definitely rooting for it to make it into the hands of those who can most enjoy it. Good luck, Dora Lee Thompson!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Awakening Avery by Laurie Lewis

What a privilege it was to read Awakening Avery by Laurie Lewis. It's the story of a newly widowed woman who needs to learn to find herself again. In the process, she might just learn a thing or two about herself, as well as all the people who become part of her life during that time of re-awakening.

Avery has been fading for years. The death of her husband wasn't exactly unexpected; she'd watched him deteriorate over several years. Still, she has a hard time wrapping her mind around his loss. Her trials have cost more of herself then she realizes until it's pointed out to her. She begins the brave journey of healing- in her own way and her own time.

Laurie Lewis has taken great care with the description in this book. The place settings and the feelings associated with them are vivid and compelling. The characters are complete and like-able as well. George and Teddie are definitely my kind of people. :) In fact, George was partly inspired by Laurie's own father. I'm going to have to try adding kool-aid to my pancakes when my children least expect it.

Awakening Averydoes tend toward a more literary slant than most popular fiction. But literary does not mean boring or haughty, it only means that you are drawn in for love of the characters and the feelings it awakens in you, rather than an overwhelming urge to see what happens next. It's a beautifully written story full of rich language.

Awakening Averywould be a good choice for a few lazy summer days. It carries some beautiful messages of love, forgiveness and family that are great for pondering over a few hot, slow days. I highly recommend spending some time with Avery. Well done, Laurie!

My sidebar has details about the contest Laurie is running during this blog tour- love the necklace! Be sure to follow along and get your entries in. :)

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a Key Lime pie to make. Trust me. It’s all Avery’s fault.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Imprints by Rachel Ann Nunes

I’ve mentioned a few times how excited I was to read Imprints by Rachel Ann Nunes. This has been an interesting project to see Rachel create and nurture into being. She just keeps finding ways to stretch her talent and expand our minds. I’m happy to report that I was wholly satisfied with the experience when I finally got to crack Imprints open.

Imprints takes a slightly different theme than most might be used to seeing in Rachel Ann Nunes’ work. This is the first true women’s paranormal book to be written by Rachel and a first for her publishers Deseret Book and Shadow Mountain. Do not go into this one expecting LDS content- only a good read with good solid writing that anyone, LDS or not, can pick up and appreciate. I think Rachel did an excellent job with the venture and kudos to Deseret Book for being willing to take a chance on this new genre.

Without a doubt the fantasy and paranormal worlds are a big draw for the reader looking for an escape, adventure, a little bit of magic and a little bit of imaginative belief all in one place. That creates quite a challenge for the conscientious reader who doesn’t want to be bombarded by crude language or even cruder actions. Unfortunately many, many mainstream paranormal books feel the need to somehow intertwine sexuality with fantastical abilities. No worries with Imprints. You’ll find a great story, geared toward an adult reader rather than a YA (though they will enjoy it as well) market without all those pesky little elements that can leave you blushing or trying to figure out how to wash out the character’s mouths for them. It’s a good, compelling story that will draw you in and make you feel satisfied and comfortable to be there.

Imprints leads us into the life of Autumn, who is introduced in Eyes of a Stranger, we come to understand her ability to see and feel impressions left behind by others. We get a feel for what it must be like to have a gift that many do not believe in but has the potential to change people’s lives. Autumn is drawn into a mystery surrounding a seemingly benign group of people trying to share loving and communal lives. As Autumn can tell you, things are often very different from what they seem, getting a look inside can be both revealing and confusing. It seems no matter what choice she makes, Autumn is propelled forward into a world that feels familiar and comforting as well as secretive and terrifying. All I can say is hurray for Jake!

Fair warning though: although Imprints stands very well on its own there are enough teasers hidden in the story to make you curious about the back story in Eyes of a Stranger. Sooo, if you haven’t read that one, I’d recommend picking up both and enjoying the full “Autumn” experience. Either way, Imprints goes on my “definitely should read” recommendation shelf. Block off a summer afternoon- you’ll not want to stop once you start.