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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.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Could You Ever Walk Away?

Have you noticed how quiet this blog has been lately? Yup, me too. I feel bad about it, I really do, but every time I try to figure out what to post I come up blank.

That’s pretty much the problem with all of my writing recently. And by recently I mean the past, um three years? That’s just a guess. In reality it feels like a lifetime. I used to love writing. I couldn’t wait to get to my computer every day and spew out all the thing that had been circling around in my head since the last time I’d been able to sit down and write. I loved the challenge of even the most mundane assignment. Now, not so much.

Without going in to great detail suffice it to say that things have changed for me over the past few years. A bunch of little things combined with a few big things have caused a big part of me to “die” so to speak. It’s just not there anymore. I can’t access a big part of who I used to be. At first I just mourned the loss and tried to push through it. It didn’t really work. Everything creative that I’ve tried to do has been awful. Beyond the normal awful for a first draft stage. I’ve procrastinated every nonfiction and technical assignment until it couldn’t be put off any longer then felt that I wasn’t exactly putting my heart, or most of my mind, into what came out on the page for those assignments either. It wasn’t my best work.

I thought maybe I was taking on too much. I’ve whittled away most of my clients and stopped looking for new assignments, giving myself permission to write just because I want to write. It hasn’t worked. In the last few months I’ve been trying to find new ways to stimulate the creative side of my brain: visiting museums, taking art/craft classes, picking up my sewing supplies. Nope. So far that hasn’t worked either.

I don’t feel like a writer any more. I just feel empty. Is a writer still a writer if they can’t write? If I’m not a writer who am I?

Could you ever walk away?

Friday, April 29, 2011

Gluten-Free Cooking Made Easy by Susan Bell

What happens when you give six women/families with gluten allergies copies of Gluten-Free Cooking Made Easy: Delicious Recipes for Everyone border= by Susan Bell? Six very happy tummies.

Compliments of Walnut Springs, my friends and I were able to taste-test this new cookbook and I have to say with great pleasure that the cookbook was a resounding success! Hurray Susan Bell and Walnut Springs Press!

So let’s get right to the point. The food was yummy, we found a few typos and slip ups in the ingredient lists, but on the whole we were extremely pleased with the recipes and the resulting fabulous dishes. Hands down winners? The Best Waffles and the Angel Food Cake. Mmmmmmmmm. For people who normally have to go without or eat cardboard, need I say more?

What else is there to like? It isn’t just baked goods. (Okay, I know my description above kind of sounded that way, but I promise it’s full of a variety of great dishes.) If we had to tear ourselves away from the bread products, the stir fry, fajitias, cheesy halibut, creamy ramono chicken, taco soup, sweet pear pork chops and chicken pasta salad also got happy nods of approval.

Gluten-Free Cooking Made Easy: Delicious Recipes for Everyone border= is a great introduction to the weird world of gluten-free living. The food is wonderful and fairly easy to make. Having a resource like this can make things a little less discouraging. One woman used it as a reference to go through all her “old” family favorites and figure out how to easily adjust them for her daughter-in-law’s diet restrictions. Another just simply threw out all of her old cookbooks she was selectively sifting through and proclaimed Gluten-Free Cooking Made Easy: Delicious Recipes for Everyone border= to be the only cookbook she needs or uses. It really can feed the whole family without the bread-tolerant members even noticing a difference. Heck, my autistic son gobbled down the chocolate chip cookies without blinking and believe me, it’s very hard to pull one over on him!

I have to admit when I first looked through the recipes I was a little discouraged. The ingredient lists to duplicate a wheat flour can feel a little daunting. I’m a very lazy cook, so it might not bother (and didn’t seem to) anyone else. What I’ve found though, is the recipes are usually simple enough outside of the ingredients that I can kind of do a “make a mix” approach with the flour ingredients. I simply measure twice, cook one set of ingredients and the other set of ingredients in a Ziploc bag so it’s a little easier the next time I’m craving that awesome angel food cake. Did I mention we really liked the angel food cake? And the waffles? And the zucchini muffins? And the blueberry muffins? And the rice bread?

Hungry yet? Yep, me too. So, if you’ll excuse me I haven’t gotten a chance to try the brownie recipe yet and I can hear it calling to me.

Friday, March 18, 2011

StarScout Rising: First Trail by Gary Darby

When I first received StarScout Rising: First Trail by Gary Darby I have to admit my thoughts went along the lines of “boy, that’s a thick book” and “jeepers, that’s a creepy cover”. It took me a while to get over my intimidation to find out it was a pretty decent book.
Here’s a little bit about the book from Amazon:
From the last frontier, Space. A must-have, out of this world adventure! Star Scout Rising, First Trail by Gary Darby is a thoughtful, awe-inspiring, and spine-tingling Sci-Fi mystery that follows a young man named Del Baldura during his quest for knowledge, truth, and discovery in the distant future of human and alien kind. This story has it all superb background, surprises, mystery, love, futuristic technological possibilities, bizarre life forms, and a hero trying to make sense of his duty and loyalty, his current leadership responsibilities, and his search for truth about part of his and his family's history. Volume One of a three volume set, Darby hits a grand-slam with this first novel. Smart and thought provoking. Volume Two due out in 2011.

There’s plenty of action and high-interest intrigue in this book. There were moments that made me giggle and others that made me bit my nails. I also liked the mix of characters—old and young, male and female. I liked the way the friends stuck up for each other and stayed together even when it would have been easy to go a different road. Better than that, I liked that the story was clean and unabrasive. There were none of those "icky" bits that you wonder why they really needed to be there in the first place. This is one book you won’t have to worry about handing over to your Sci-Fi loving teen.

What didn’t I like? Eh, there were a lot of different character and subplots going on. I sometimes had trouble keeping it all straight and didn’t get as much closer at the end as I would have liked (yes, even for a series). I should also mention the editing could have been better, but it wasn’t completely distracting. Unless it’s bad enough to hinder my reading I don’t judge a story by how clean the copy ended up being.

I don’t know that you could get a reluctant boy reader to pick StarScout Rising: First Trail up since it is so thick, but I ‘m betting you could hand it to any teen boy who openly enjoys Sci-Fi and not see him for a couple of days as he hides under his covers reading. Hurray for clean reads which cater to teen boys!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Have You Heard?

The Whitney Award Finalists have been announced. That means the 35 "best books" by LDS Authors for the year 2010 have been decided.

Whether you qualify to vote on the best of the best, I'd encourage you to find spots in your reading time to include these books. There are some amazing titles on the list.

Don't believe me? Check out the finalists for yourself!


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Meg's Melody by Kaylee Baldwin

Meg's Melody' by Kaylee Baldwin is a sweet and satisfying romance. However, it wasn’t a “fluff” story either. Yes, we know who will ultimately end up together, but the journey to get there has more substance than, “Do you like me? Check yes or no,” types of details.

Meg seems to have the worst luck in men. She seems to attract the ones who don’t want to treat her very well, and worse, she begins to believe that’s all she should expect. Is it any wonder she has a hard time recognizing a good man, and the potential for a beautiful, uplifting relationship when it comes along?

I could understand exactly where she was coming from, and I think most young readers will be able to as well. The situation she finds herself in is a common one. Sometimes it felt like she was overcoming her problems a little too easily, but mostly the accomplishments were appropriate and believable.

I highly recommend Meg's Melody' for the older teen/young adult scene who are beginning to take a closer look at what they’d like in a future mate. This book offers some non-confrontational food for thought wrapped up in an engaging love story package.

Kaylee is running a contest! Whomever comments a the review post on any of the blogs in the tour, will be entered into a drawing to win a copy of Meg's Melody.

January 10th
Shanda at LDSWBR

January 11th
Tristi Pinkston

January 12th
Jolene Perry

January 13th
Shaunna Gonzales

January 15th
Taffy Lowell

January 17th
Heather at Fire and Ice

January 18th
Marsha Ward

January 19th
Alison Palmer

January 20th
I am a Reader Not a Writer

Rebecca Talley
January 21st

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Peasant Queen by Cheri Chesley

After what felt like a slow start in the first few chapters, I had a great time reading The Peasant Queen by Cheri Chesley.

Take a beautiful, intelligent girl from a farm in the middle of nowhere, add a far off kingdom at war with its neighbor and you’ve got the basic plot of a dozen fantasy novels. That said, The Peasant Queen is a romantic fantasy that can definitely hold its own among the most popular of those YA titles.

Krystal is a farm girl whose family has betrothed her to someone who is in no way her equal. In a desperate attempt to figure out how to get out of the marriage she considers running away. But the tables are turned slightly when she’s kidnapped instead. She’s not really sure why she’s there or what will be come of her. The reader isn’t sure either, but the whole attitude with which Krystal faces this unexpected challenge made the whole book for me.

Despite the nature of her arrival in the new kingdom, Krystal is anything but a victim of circumstance. She is a heroine extraordinaire and the kind of girl I’d want my own girls to learn a thing or two from. She’s strong, capable and determined. There’s no damsel in distress in this story and I loved that about it.

Did I have any issues? Eh- I’m one of those that take issue with having a heroine that every male character alive seems to fall in love with. Cheri did a good job of weaving it together in a believable scenario, but I would have been more comfortable if the bad guy’s motivations were more clearly self-love and wanting what he couldn’t have rather than showing actual *love* for her. Yes, it made him more human and all that good writerly stuff, my skeptical mind just didn’t want to buy into it. Sigh.

I’d highly recommend handing The Peasant Queen off to a tween or teen girl in your life. For the good story, but more importantly, for the positive messages about what it can mean to be a woman of strength come what may.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Who's at the Door? by Dan Harrington

I have to say I found Who’s at the Door? by Dan Harrington veeerrrrry interesting. This is a memoir about Dan’s time coming to know the Mormon missionaries and the messages they share. I truly enjoyed his perspective and seeing things from an “outsider’s” point of view. I’m grateful for people like Dan Harrington who have a healthy craving for spirituality as well as an even healthier esteem for religions and their benefits to all walks of life. Who’s at the Door? was well-done, respectful and spiritually uplifting.

I pray every missionary can have a “Dan” experience. There are people out there who are ready to hear the gospel for many different reasons. Not all of those people will end up in the waters of baptism. There are even more people out there who have no interest in learning about our religion and some of them aren’t very nice about it. I hope there are enough good people that our young men meet along the way that treat them with respect, friendship and love even when they are agreeing to disagree.

Who’s at the Door? makes a quick Sunday afternoon read and great food for thought in a Family Home Evening. It’s an interesting look at how what we say and do as we share our beliefs with others affects both ourselves and our friends. We tend to fall into two categories where missionary work is concerned. We’re either very skittish about the whole thing or completely zealous about it. This is a great way to find a happy medium and remember the most important part of missionary work—love, friendship and acceptance for those we talk to.

Who’s at the Door? is one of those books that had me thinking about who I knew that I could recommend it to the minute I finished. That earned it a few extra bonus points as well. Anything I didn’t particularly like? No, surprisingly it didn’t have many whiny complaints from me. I actually would have liked it to be a little longer and go more into some of Dan’s experiences sharing his interest and concerns about the church with others as well as what he learned investigating other churches along the way.

Thank you, Dan, for sharing your insights and beautiful spirituality with the world.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Star Prophecy by Joan Sowards

Have you ever had a “feeling” about something, or known a secret that seems to just bubble up inside of you and take over every part of your life until you see it through? That’s the dilemma Enoch, from The Star ProphecyThe Star Prophecy by Joan Sowards, faces. He knows something with every fiber of his being and is compelled to do something almost everyone around him laughs at him for.

Enoch has heard the prophecies about the coming of the Savior, the signs surrounding His birth. But it’s not enough for Enoch to wait for the prophet’s words to be fulfilled when the Savior will come to visit the Nephites. Enoch is determined to return to Jerusalem to welcome the new born Jesus Christ himself. It’s his life’s dream and he will see it through even if it costs his life.

From the back cover:

Most people laugh when they hear of Enoch's dream of returning to Jerusalem to find the infant Messiah. Even Enoch's future father-in-law mocks him when he asks for a postponement of his long-awaited wedding to his beloved Rebekah. A few take Enoch seriously - the shipbuilder Omnihah, Enoch's teacher David, and the prophet Nephi.

Five years before, a Lamanite named Samuel had stood on the wall of Zarahemla and prophesied that "five years more cometh" and the Christ would be born in Jerusalem. Time is running out! Enoch knows he must set sail across the great waters in search of his dream - to see the face of the Messiah.

What an amazing tale of faith and love for the Savior. Joining Enoch on his journey of faith was a beautiful experience. Though the ending was fairly obvious to me from the beginning, I thoroughly enjoyed the reading ride it took to get there. Oh, and I love the cover, too. Don't you?

Any whiny moments? A couple of places where I felt the story “jumped” ahead, rather than flowing through a smooth transition to the next scene. Not anything negative, just moments where I found my brain saying, “wait, I wasn’t done here yet,” or “what? Did I miss something?” I guess I just wanted a little more to the story.

Yes, The Star Prophecyhas a Christmas theme but it isn’t overwhelmingly or sappily (yes, I’ve decided that’s a word) so. It’s just a beautiful story that you’ll find appropriate for any Sunday afternoon, Christmas season or not. This is one that will appeal to young and old alike. Thanks, Joan Sowards, for bringing this tale to life.

The adventure begins with the blog tour
The Star
by Joan Sowards

We will be giving away THREE copies of The Star

It's easy to enter.
1. Visit the fabulous reviews and leave a comment letting us know why
you're excited to read The Star
. Remember to include your email address.
2. 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.

Good Luck! Entries close at midnight (MST) on January 28.

January 10
I Am A Reader, Not A

January 11
Totally Tina

January 12
Peggy Urry

January 13
Tangled Words and Dreams

January 14
Kaylee Baldwin

January 17
Of Writerly Things

January 18
Writers Mirror

January 19
Bonnie Gets a Say

January 20
The Blessing of Family

January 21
Anna del C. Dye's Blog
Renee S. Clark

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

One More Chance

If you are still looking to get your hands on one of my novels, you can pop over to my friend Karlene's blog and enter to win one. Tons of other cool prizes offered today but that's the catch- you only have until midnight to get entered so go! go! go!

Remember, you can read the first chapter of both novels here.


Happy blogaversary Karlene!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Winning Mr. Wrong by Marie Higgins

Well, Winning Mr. Wrong by Marie Higgins was a cute little book. Don’t expect any deep thought, only a light romance with a couple of giggles thrown in for fun.

Charley seems to be very unlucky in love. Try as she may, she doesn’t appear to be able to get a guy to stick with her for more than a few months. Sometimes she blames them, sometimes she blames herself. But one thing is clear: she needs to change her approach to love if she wants cupid’s arrow to stick forever.

Enter Max and Damien. Max is an old high school crush who seems perfect for Charley. Damien is the typical playboy next door neighbor: Italian and very cute but very much not what Charley is looking for. Funny how he always shows up and saves the day though. . . .

When Charley runs across an internet article on how to get a guy to like you, she’s all for it and knows just the target. Max will be head-over-heels in love with her before he even knows what hit him. Probably literally.

So what’s this magical “get your man” advice? It involves:

Dark chocolates
Hard-to-find gifts
A night on the town
Tall buildings
Funny movies
Mending his clothes
Surprise intimacy
Great memories, and
I love you in a note

Now, I must admit, I rolled my eyes when I saw the list. Maybe it would actually work, maybe not, but I’m not exactly married to the typical male so it seemed a little out there to me. You’ll have to judge that for yourself.

How was the actual story line? Light and fluffy-the way a good romantic comedy should be. It was an okay read for me, but I suspect if I handed it to my almost 17yo the house would rock with giggles. That’s actually who I’m going to recommend Winning Mr. Wrong for. To me it really spoke to those teenage angst years of wanting to catch a certain guy’s eye only to find out he wasn’t such a good catch anyway, and learning who you really are before you can really be part of a solid relationship.