Monday, August 31, 2009

Altared Plans, Chapter One, Part 1

For the next several days, I'm going to post a few pages each day of the first chapter of my LDS romance, Altared Plans. Enjoy!


Her wedding day. A day she’d never forget. A perfect day that would begin her perfect life with her perfect husband. It couldn’t be anything but perfect because that’s how she’d planned it.

Caitlyn grabbed her hand mirror. She tucked a wisp of her dark blond hair behind her ear as she examined her makeup for the hundredth time. The hum of the engine was the only sound in the car.

“You look beautiful,” her mom said as she turned from the front seat of the car to look at Caitlyn. “The temple isn’t too far away; are you getting nervous?”

“Kind of. But, I don’t know why. After all, I’ve been planning this day for so long and everything is falling into place.” A smile spread across her face, lighting up her eyes. “By this afternoon, I’ll be Caitlyn Haggerty.” She couldn’t help but feel the joy as it bubbled to the surface. Soon Justin would be her husband and she wanted nothing more than to spend her life, and all of eternity, loving him.

“I’m glad it all worked out for you,” her younger sister said with a shrug.
Caitlyn jerked her head back and gave Lindsay an incredulous look. “Did you think it wouldn’t?”

“I figured you’d meet another guy while you were at BYU. I didn’t think you’d actually wait for him.” Lindsay snatched a tube of lip gloss from Caitlyn’s makeup bag.


Lindsay shrugged again.

“No way. Justin is the only one for me. Has been since high school. I can’t imagine my life without him.” She paused. “And, after today, I won’t have to. We’ll be married and all my dreams will come true.” A vision of Justin’s smiling face with his sky-blue eyes and blond, wavy hair flashed across her mind.

“So,” Lindsay said as she applied the lip gloss, “where’s he been for the last few days?”

“Huh?” Caitlyn blinked her eyes a few times.

“He didn’t even come over for Christmas dinner.”

“Your point?”

“Shouldn’t your fiancĂ© have eaten Christmas dinner with you?”

“He wanted to spend time with his family. He’s sweet like that. And then he went down to Newport Beach to see an old companion. You know, bachelor stuff.”

“Isn’t that kind of weird?”

“No. Not at all. We’ll have plenty of Christmases together. I think it’s fine he wanted to spend time with his family and with Troy.” It was fine. Just because they didn’t spend Christmas together like she’d hoped didn’t mean anything. They’d be sealed today and have the rest of their lives and eternity to be together. It wasn’t weird. Caitlyn assured herself that Lindsay was still a teenager and she didn’t understand such things.

“Whatever you say. I—“

“Let’s not talk about it anymore. It’s my wedding day and I only want happy thoughts.” She gazed at herself in the mirror and recalled their first date when Justin had tried to teach her to surf. She kept falling off the board into the cool ocean water, sometimes even slipping below the surface. She could almost taste the salt on her lips.

When he placed his arms around her to help steady her on the board, her skin tingled, and it wasn’t because she was cold. She closed her eyes and immersed herself in memories of Justin’s embrace.

“Cait . . . Cait . . . Cait?” Lindsay intruded on her daydream.


“Mom asked if you double-checked everything before we left the house.”

Caitlyn did a mental tally of the contents of the trunk. “The garment bag with my dress and veil. My shoes—“

“You’re sure,” her mother asked.

“Yes. The photographer will be in the courtyard so he can capture us as soon as we come out of the temple, right?”

“That’s what he said when I called yesterday,” her mother answered.

“I think everything is all in place then,” Caitlyn said, happiness enveloping her.

“As long as Justin shows up.” Lindsay let out a laugh.

Caitlyn gave her a look. “Ha. Ha.”

“I still don’t agree with the rules about your Mormon temples. A father should be able to see his daughter’s wedding,” her dad said over his shoulder, his voice stern.

“Dad, we’ve already discussed this a thousand times.”

“I don’t understand why the Episcopal Church where your mom and I were married wasn’t an option. All Saints by the Sea is a beautiful building right near the ocean and all of our family could’ve attended.”

“Because I want to be sealed for eternity. I don’t want to marry Justin for this life—“


“Robert,” her mom interrupted. She squeezed his arm, “Please, not today. Cait’s made her decision and this is her day. Let’s not ruin it with another argument.”

“You’ll be able to see the ceremony,” her father said to her mother. “It isn’t right. A church shouldn’t separate families on a day like today.”

A few moments of silence followed. Her dad finally said, “I’m sorry, Caitie. You know how much I love you. I’m disappointed, that’s all. I’ve looked forward to your wedding day ever since I first held you in my arms.”

Caitlyn reached up and patted her dad’s shoulder. “I know, but this is the right thing for me to do. I’ll see you as soon as we come out. You’ll be the first one I hug.”

Read Part 2 of Chapter One

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ted Kennedy

I have never, ever agreed with Ted Kennedy's politics. In fact, I have never agreed with any of the Kennedys or their agendas. I wasn't born when JFK was assassinated and I've never been mesmerized by that or "Camelot." I think the press glamorized the Kennedy family, making them bigger-than-life, and never held them to the same moral compass as others have been held to.

I also found it ironic that Ted Kennedy was working so hard to pass healthcare legislation that would more than likely deny care to the elderly who suffer from a brain tumor. He was elderly when he was diagnosed and was receiving top-notch medical care that in the healthcare bill wouldn't be available to citizens under the same circumstances.

I have never supported his social agenda and believe that the bills he sponsored, co-sponsored, and many that he signed were, and still are, detrimental to our country.

Having said all of that, I do feel sadness for his family at his passing. No matter how we might disagree with someone else, he still has family and friends that love him and will miss him. And, we are all children of God.

I send my sympathies and hope his family will feel comforted as they mourn his passing.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Conference Edition of the Ensign

At out last Stake Conference the stake president challenged us to read the entire General Conference edition of the Ensign before our next conference in September. I decided to take on the challenge.

What a wonderful experience. We watch all the sessions of conference but sometimes it's hard to really focus on the talks with all my kids and their chattering. Reading these talks has really helped me focus on the messages and feel the Spirit. I look forward to reading a message each day and I've found that I feel closer to the Spirit.

I'm constantly amazed at the messages and how they all seem to apply to me. It's hard to even describe how I feel now that I've been reading the messages. I know it's one of those, "Well, duh," kind of things, but for me reading the conference edition has changed my life.

This morning I read, "Be of Good Cheer," by President Monson. What a wonderful talk and so perfect for these tumultuous times. He shared a story about a woman who had to leave Prussia after WWII. Her husband was killed in the war and she had to take her small family 1000 miles for their protection. By the time she finally reached her destination, she'd buried each of her children, using only a tablespoon, or her hands, to dig the graves. She was at the point of starvation. Yet, instead of complaining, she bore a strong testimony of eternal families and how she looked forward to reuniting with her husband and her children. She was still full of love and good cheer. Wow. Could I be like that? I don't know. What an amazing woman and what tremendous faith. The next time I want to complain (which I do far too frequently), I'm going to remember her story.

I would encourage everyone to read and ponder the talks.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

End-of-the-Summer Giveaways

I also blog with some great Cedar Fort authors over at Writing Fortress. Right now we're sponsoring a big giveaway. If you're interested in winning a copy of my book, Altared Plans, or any of the other fantastic books go visit our blog, leave a comment, and you'll be entered to win. Who wouldn't want to win a free book? Check it out!!

I actually saw my book on the shelf at the BYU Bookstore--it gave me little happy chills all over. I went to a Seagull Bookstore and didn't see it so I asked the saleslady about it. She said they had two copies but had sold them, one of which she bought. She said there have been requests for it. Again, I had the happy little chills. Deseret Book is still deciding if it wants to carry it. I'm crossing my fingers DB will carry it, otherwise it'll be hard to sell very many copies.

I love, love, love writing, but the promotion part isn't quite as much fun. I always feel funny trying to promote my book because I feel like I'm saying, "Hey, I'm super cool and so is my book. You should spend your hard-earned money on it instead of something you really need, like food." Totally out of my comfort zone. Unfortunately, in this day and age of publishing, especially in the LDS market, authors are expected to do most, if not all, of the promotion. What's hard for me is that I don't have the power to put my book in the catalog or place it in the best spot on a shelf at the bookstore. I'm very limited. Thankfully, I've had some awesome people post amazing reviews on their blogs.

If you're interested, here are some links for some of the reviews:

My Life in a Laptop
Why Not? Because I Said So
Rachel Rager
Writing Fortress
Tristi's Picks
JoAnn Arnold

I'll post more reviews later. If you've bought my book: THANK YOU!! I hope you enjoyed it! Thanks for your support!!

Monday, August 10, 2009

My Weight Loss Goal

My name is Rebecca Talley and I'm a chocaholic.

I'm also an ice creamaholic.

In high school I was on the bigger side and was ridiculed for my "jello butt" (shhhh, don't tell my kids I just used the bu-word).

After my first baby, I dropped a lot of weight. I guess my metabolism changed when I started breastfeeding. I'd gain weight with each pregnancy and then it'd fall off after the birth until baby #8. I had to work at losing the weight after that birth. Baby #9 and the impending 40 age mark both seemed to do me in as far as weight. I never lost all the weight after #9, though I did lose the weight I gained with #10.

After #10 I still had the weight from #9 to lose and thought I would. I was sorely disappointed when I found that I had not only not lost the weight but had packed on 20 more lbs.

In January I decided to cut out chocolate, ice cream, Oreos, and other junk food and lost 8 lbs. But, then I drifted away from that resolve and gained 3 lbs back. In June, my oldest daughters and I decided to try the South Beach diet. On June 8 we started Phase I, also known as the strict phase. SB is essentially cutting out white sugar and white flour and replacing them with vegetables, lean meats, cheese, nonfat milk, beans, and fruits. It isn't very different from the way I'd been eating, sans the junk food.

To date, I've lost 16 lbs on the SB diet and 21 lbs total. My goal is to lose another 15 lbs, for a total of 36 lbs.

I have always exercised. I have many exercise DVDs and videos. My favorites are The Firm and Tae Bo. I'm pretty active chasing my kids around and constantly cleaning the house, but for me, turning 40 seemed to slow my metabolism to zero. The SB diet has seemed to kick up my metabolism and allow me to lose weight I've been hanging onto for years.

Today, I went back on Phase I which consists of vegetables, eggs, beans, lean meat, and cheese because my son is getting married in September and I want to lose as much weight as I can before then. I'm hoping to lose 2-3 lbs by next Monday.

Breakfast: scrambled eggs with cheese, water.
Lunch: salad with ranch dressing, water.
Snack: almonds, string cheese, water

I plan to post a before and after picture when I hit my goal because the before picture is just too embarrassing.

Here's to attaining weight loss goals to enjoy better health and activity.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Am I Not A Man: The Dred Scott Story

Utah State Attorney General Mark Shurtleff’s ground-breaking new novel, Am I Not A Man: The Dred Scott Story is now available for preorder at a reduced price.

An illiterate slave, Dred Scott trusted in an all-white, slave-owning jury to declare him free. But after briefly experiencing the glory of freedom and manhood, a new state Supreme Court ordered the cold steel of the shackles to be closed again around his wrists and ankles. Falling to his knees, Dred cried, "Ain't I a man?" Dred answered his own question by rising and taking his fight to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Dred ultimately lost his epic battle when the Chief Justice declared that a black man was so inferior that he had "no rights a white man was bound to respect."

Dred died not knowing that his undying courage led directly to the election of President Abraham Lincoln and the emancipation proclamation.

Dred Scott's inspiring and compelling true story of adventure, courage, love, hatred, and friendship parallels the history of this nation from the long night of slavery to the narrow crack in the door that would ultimately lead to freedom and equality for all men.

You can order your sale-priced, signed and numbered limited edition copy of Am I Not a Man by visiting Valor Publishing Group before Labor Day. There are only 5,000 copies of this special edition being printed and once they’re gone, they’re gone … and the sale price ends on Labor Day. You can request that Mark personalize your inscription, and your book will be mailed to you before the stores even get their copies. For more information, visit Valor Publishing Group.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

An Outpouring of the Spirit

My oldest daughter has been friends with a young man since they began high school. He's become friends with my other kids (my 5-year-old plans to marry him at some point and tells everyone that they're "dating") and has spent time at our home. He's also friends with other LDS kids and the director of the performing arts group that he and my kids are in is a member of our ward.

We've been waiting for him to commit to baptism and I think he went through at least 13 missionaries before finally decided to get baptized. He made the decision after he heard the talks in sacrament meeting a few weeks ago (my oldest daughter was one of the speakers).

Sunday he was baptized. It was amazing. The Spirit was so strong. The director of the performing arts group (who is also one of our seminary teachers) spoke with such power and the Spirit bore witness of her words. My oldest daughter sang, "When I am Baptized," and I don't think I've ever heard her sing so sweetly and so full of the Spirit. Another young woman in the ward who he's dated also gave an incredible talk about the Holy Ghost and then the Primary kids in the audience were asked, spur of the moment, to sing, "I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus," and one of my younger daughters was asked to sing the second verse as a solo. She did an excellent job.

At the end of the service, unbeknownst to him, all of his friends from the performing arts group, most of whom are not LDS, sang, "I Heard Him Come." It sounded as if angels were singing in a heavenly choir. I can hardly describe the way those kids sang and the feelings that welled up inside of me as I listened to them. Most of these kids live very different lives and most aren't religious, but they came together to support this young man and to show their love for him. We'd be lucky to have friends like these kids.

It was an emotional service and one that will stay with all of us who attended. The Spirit testified that it was right. All whose hearts were open felt that witness. The only word I can think to describe this baptism is: glorious.

Attending this service and witnessing the outpouring of the Spirit reminded me that we are all God's children and how He must rejoice when we come unto Him. How He loves each of us. How He wants all of us to experience the joy that comes from the gospel. And, most importantly, we never know who we might influence. If we stand in judgment of others and their lifestyle choices, we will not be able to influence them or show them the light of the gospel. We never know who is searching for the truth or when we can be an instrument in the Lord's hands unless we learn to listen to the Spirit and love those around us.

I'm truly thankful for this experience. It changed me and will ever be part of me.

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