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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.

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?)