Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 Highlights

My son was sealed to his sweet wife in the Oquirrh Mountain Temple in September. What an amazing experience to watch him pledge himself to his wife and the Lord for eternity. It's hard to even find the words to express my gratitude. Definitely a parent "payday."

I survived all the wedding preparations, including all the house projects we had to finish before the open house. I had no idea how much work was involved in preparing for a wedding, and this was for a son. I'm sure I have no idea what's involved in planning a wedding for a daughter (hopefully I won't find out for a while). I breathed a huge sigh of relief when it was all over.

I lost 30 lbs before my son's wedding. I'd been struggling with this extra weight for a few years and was really happy to finally get rid of it. Now if only I can keep it off.

My daughter just finished her Associate's degree at Snow College. I'm really proud of her for sticking it out and for figuring out how to pay for it herself. She's grown tremendously. She was also the featured artist at Snow for a week.

Another daughter graduated from high school. She performed in two plays, The Curious Savage and The Clearing during her senior year and I was blown away by her talent and her ability to make me believe she was truly the characters she was playing. Both of these plays made me teary. She was awesome.

Another daughter was inducted into the National Art Honor Society and she has just been cast as a lead in her high school's production of Noises Off. She received her driver's license--I'm not sure that's necessarily a highlight :).

Another son received his Life Scout rank and is close to earning his Eagle. He also received his Duty to God for Deacon and is now a Teacher in the Aaronic Priesthood.

Another son was baptized. His service was so sweet and we all felt the Spirit. His biggest accomplishment for 2009 is that his front teeth are finally growing in.

My other kids have been busy developing talents and working hard in school. While I love watching my kids perform and develop talents, my greatest joy comes from seeing them choose to keep the commandments. My most important goal is to have an eternal family and when I can see us, as a family, make progress toward that goal it makes me sooooo happy. In a world where it is so easy to make bad choices and temptation lurks around every corner, I am so grateful when each of us makes good choices. I don't want any empty chairs . . .

My youngest son has Down syndrome. I've been thrilled to see his progress this year. He has learned and developed so much. He has such a fun personality and makes us laugh all the time. I'm so grateful Heavenly Father chose me to be his mother. If I'd known then (when he was born) what I know now, I wouldn't have worried a bit about raising a child with DS. It's a great experience and I look forward to seeing him grow and develop even more this next year.

My LDS romance, Altared Plans, was published by Cedar Fort in June. It's loosely based on my courtship with my husband and I've loved receiving comments from readers who've enjoyed it. It's currently in a contest for the cover at LDS Publisher.

We've had our share of trials in 2009 but I'd rather focus on the good things and the progress we've made. Heavenly Father has blessed me so much and I'm so thankful for my wonderful family and for the gospel. No matter how bleak things may look, the gospel of Jesus Christ offers us hope and I'm grateful for that.

May we all have a wonderful 2010!

(PS If you've read any great books by LDS authors be sure to nominate them at The deadline is December 31st).

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Real Meaning of Christmas

Through the mouths of babes . . .

Merry Christmas.

Amidst all the excitement, may w all take a few moments to ponder the meaning of His birth so long ago and do our part to make the world a better place.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Cover Contest

LDS Publisher is sponsoring a contest for the best covers of books by LDS authors. I was thrilled to see Altared Plans included as one of the finalists in the romance category because there are so many great covers out there.

Of course, I had nothing to do with the cover. Authors have virtually no say in cover design, but I love the cover because I think it communicates her disappointment and frustration at what happens in the first chapter. I also love the pink highlights and think the cover tells the reader exactly what is contained inside--a bride who doesn't get exactly what she thinks she'll get (she gets even better).

There are seven genres represented in the contest, each with five covers to consider. Go on over and vote for the ones you like the best, even if it isn't Altared Plans because the more votes, the better. You can also leave comments as to why you did or did not like certain covers.

LDS Publisher Cover Contest.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bomb Threat

Yesterday, my daughter was evacuated from the high school because of a bomb threat. A middle school, college, and courthouse were also evacuated and all the other schools in the district were placed on a soft lockdown.

An anonymous caller notified a 911 operator of the threat and said the bombs were set to go off within 4 hours. The school district, police department, sheriff's department, college, and other assorted agencies spent the afternoon sweeping the schools and courthouse. School was canceled and the courthouse was closed for the rest of the day. Each target was cleared by 4:00 in the afternoon.

It was a hoax. All of that manpower was a waste of time so someone could play a trick on the city. Kids' classes were disrupted, the college's finals were delayed, and parents experienced anxiety for several hours just so someone could get his kicks at everyone else's expense.

There's something wrong with that. Since when did a violent threat become funny? Since when did sending an entire city on a wild goose chase become enjoyable? This person needs to be caught and punished for all of the trauma he caused yesterday. He needs to be held accountable and pay restitution to all of the agencies that spent money because of his warped sense of humor.

I figured it was a hoax, but I'm very thankful the school district and community took it seriously enough to make sure my daughter was protected just in case.

I can only hope they apprehend this guy and prosecute him.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dawn's Early Light by L.C. Lewis

This third volume of LC Lewis’s War of 1812 historical fiction epic, Free Men and Dreamers, covers the British offensive against Washington D.C.

Once Napoleon is subdued, and despite the commencement of peace negotiations, Britain unleashes her triumphant European conquerors on America. And their primary target? Washington.

While attentions turn to the defense of the Capital, mercenaries threaten the Winding Willows and White Oak plantations, forcing enemies to become allies, fighting side-by-side with freed slaves to defend their homes and families.

Mere miles away, the Capital’s defense now rests predominantly upon citizen soldiers and a most unlikely naval force—a rag-tag fleet called the Chesapeake flotilla—and the men who built it. But Britain’s house is also divided over the war, as the cost mounts in blood and money.

Experience the pain and passion of five families—American, slave and British—as they endure the three darkest days of American history—the week when Washington burned.

L.C. Lewis sent me a copy of her neweset book to review. While reading Dawn's Early Light, I was struck with the vast amount of knowledge the author has and how she wove that into the story so seamlessly. I love to read historical fiction because I can enjoy a fascinating story as well as "accidentally" learn important information. I learned many things about this time period and felt like I was experiencing it.

I liked that she included both sides, the American and the British, and how Lewis created a captivating story. I'm glad she included Joseph Smith and his family because it helped me to think about them in a different way.

I also found myself drawn to her amazing use of language. She introduced me to new words and images and much of her writing felt poetic.

I did have a hard time keeping track of all of the characters and was glad she included a "who's who" list for me to check. I did have to check back here and there to get back into the groove of particular threads.

This is a wonderful book, especially if you enjoy U.S. history. You can learn more about L.C. Lewis here and you can purchase a copy of Dawn's Early Light here.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Reckoning by Tanya Parker Mills

RT: Welcome, Tanya. Tell me about your book, The Reckoning.

Tanya: It takes place in my own childhood in Baghdad, Iraq (and my father's undercover work in that country), as well as the approaching war. My book was self-published in September of 2008, was a finalist in two categories for the Whitney Award, and won the 2009 Indie Book Award for Multicultural Fiction.

RT: Wow, that’s fabulous. Go ahead and give me the blurb:

Tanya: When journalist Theresa Fuller is captured inside Iraq in August 2002, and imprisoned by Iraq's secret police, visions of her childhood in Baghdad begin to haunt her. Tormented by the relentless Colonel Badr, she only finds relief in her growing attraction to Tariq al-Awali, the Iraqi captain who took charge of her capture. Before American bombs begin to fall, Theresa must find a way to escape the cruelty of an oppressive regime and save those she cares for most.

RT: It sounds so intriguing! Who are your main characters?

Tanya: American journalist, Theresa Fuller; her Canadian cameraman, Peter; and their Iraqi captor, Captain Tariq al-Awali.

RT: That’s quite a cast of characters. In what ways do you think you are like them?

Tanya: I'm like Theresa in terms of sharing a childhood in Baghdad and having epilepsy...also her affinity for solitude; I'm not much like Peter; and, as for Tariq, I also have an appreciation for other cultures besides my own.

RT: In what ways are you different?

Tanya: I'm not questioning my faith in God, as Theresa does; I'm not superstitious like Peter; and I like to think I would never have worked for Iraq's secret police as Tariq did, regardless of the circumstances.

RT: What is your favorite scene in the book?

Tanya: Towards the end, when Tariq's grandfather stands up to the bad guy, Colonel Badr.

RT: After you wrote the book, how long did it take you to get it published?

Tanya: Five years...I came close to getting a traditional publisher once, but it fell through, so I finally decided to publish it myself.

RT: Where can we purchase a copy of your book?

Tanya: You can purchase The Reckoning at, and an eBook version is also available on Kindle. Unfortunately, it's not available in bookstores...yet.

RT: Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

Tanya: You can get a lot of information off of my website at (including my photo, a link to my book trailer, a description of my book, The Reckoning, and an author bio). I also have a blog called Seized by Words which I try to update weekly.

RT: Great! Thanks so much for joining me today!

Monday, December 7, 2009

We Reap What We Sow

I am a firm believer in, "What goes around, comes around." I experienced this very thing over the weekend.

In the spirit of the season, remember that what we give of ourselves is much more powerful and meaningful than gifts we buy at the store.

Enjoy this video, it brought tears to my eyes.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Review of Altared Plans by Jennie Hansen

I was thrilled to receive this review from Jennie Hansen. She posted it on Meridian Magazine.

If you'd like to read it, here's the link to Meridian Magazine. It's the second review.

I hope you are all having a wonderful Christmas season and enjoying all the festivities.