Thursday, April 29, 2010


I attended a session at the LDStorymakers Conference presented by Rachel Ann Nunes about writing women's fiction. A point she made, which is applicable to any genre, is how important it is to read. And, not just read in the genre in which you write, but to read all across genres and get a feel for what works and what doesn't. Reading other books not only give us a feel for what's in the market, but also allows us to learn from other authors.

I used to read for pleasure. Not anymore. In fact, I find myself "rewriting" books that I read, thinking about how I might have characterized differently, used different dialogue, or used different words or sentence structures. I also find myself awed by what authors accomplish in the books I read. I love to be surprised when I read something unexpected. I love to read lyrical passages. I love to see how other authors make characters feel real or describe something so well I can see, feel, or taste it. This only happens through reading other books.

I wish I had more time to read because I see so many books I want to read. I've found that if I use my time wisely I can still read a number of books. One of my favorite books is The Hunger Games. I thought about that story even when I wasn't reading it and I still catch myself wondering what will happen to Katniss and Peeta. I also learned a lot from the author, Suzanne Collins, in how she weaved such a fantastical yet realistic story.

I love to read LDS fiction and I think we have so many talented authors in this market. The level of LDS fiction is rising every year. I bought way too many books at the conference last weekend, but I'm so excited to read each one. I'll keep you updated on my reviews.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Fantastic Conference

I attended the LDStorymakers 2010 Conference on Friday and Saturday. It was spectacular. I love this time of year when I can hang out with other writers who "get it" and don't think I should be committed to an insane asylum because I have voices in my head :). What a fabulous weekend.

If you write, you should make plans to attend the conference in 2011 because it's well worth the time, effort, and money. The classes were amazing, the keynote speaker, Dave Farland (Wolverston) was so inspiring, and the atmosphere couldn't be beat. The energy was palpable. The excitement and enthusiasm was incredible and it was wonderful being around such supportive people.

I helped with registration and with the pitches with Kirk Shaw from Covenant. I also taught a class on writing short stories. I hope it was helpful. I'll be uploading the template I use to write short stories on my website so if you're interested, check it out. I didn't have a large class but I'm hoping that those who attended came  away with something useful. I love to teach so it was a fun experience for me.

I also had a meeting with Krista Marino, an acquisitions editor for Delacorte Press. She gave me some valuable feedback on my chapter book, Gabby's Secret. I enjoyed meeting her and learning from her.

I'll be blogging about the classes I attended so check back.

I loved. loved. loved the conference.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Amazing Young Man with Down Syndrome

My son sent me this link to an article about a young man with Down syndrome who attend Utah Valley University. It brought tears to my eyes. This is what I want for my son: no limits. I want him to have the same opportunities as any other young man or woman.

Here's the article. So inspirational and so hopeful!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Author Interview: Donna Hatch

Today my interview is with Donna Hatch, a talented author and wonderful person.

Hi, Donna, tell us about your release, The Guise of a Gentleman, Book Two of the Rogue Hearts Series.

Okay, here’s my backcover blurb: The widowed Elise is a perfect English lady living within the confines of society for the sake of her impressionable young son. Her quiet world is shattered when she meets the impulsive and scandalous Jared Amesbury. His roguish charm awakens her yearning for freedom and adventure. But his irrepressible grin and sea-green eyes hide a secret.

A gentleman by day, a pirate by night, Jared accepts one last assignment before he can be truly free. Elise gives him hope that he, too, can find love and belonging. His hopes are crushed when his best laid plans go awry and Elise is dragged into his world of violence and deceit. She may not survive the revelation of Jared’s past…or still love him when the truth is revealed.

The cover is gorgeous! Can you tell us a little about how covers come into being? Do you have input into the process?

Most publishers don't let the authors have any input, but I was lucky -- mine does. I filled out a questionnaire with character descriptions and a concept of what I'd pictured. The finished result was very close to what I'd imagined, although the clothing isn’t exactly Regency, but I like it very much.

What are you working on now?

I'm finalizing the edits on book 3 of the Rogue Heart's Series which isn't titled yet. (Gulp.) Each book is a stand-alone book, about a different brother of the Amesbury family, and the family members wander in and out of each other's books. I’m also starting a new Teen/Young Adult paranormal.

You have a bunch of kiddos, how do you find time to write? How do you balance family with writing?

Yes, with 6 children, making time to write is very challenging. I do much of my writing at night after they are in bed, or during nap time, but when I'm on a roll, I write instead of unimportant things like fix dinner. I haven't dusted since last Christmas and I gave up scrap booking. All my children are in school now, so now I can write after they all leave for school, until I have to go to work every afternoon, so that really cuts into my writing. However, I'm very focused, (or obsessed) so I keep at it at odd times of the day. And night. Sometimes insomnia is a good thing.

What is the coolest thing about being a published author?

Justifying my writing obsession!

What has surprised you about being a published author?

How excited my friends and family were for me. I knew they'd be supportive, but I had no idea how they'd rally around me and help me promote it like they have. My niece even set up a fan page for fans of The Stranger She Married!

What do you like to do when you aren't writing?

I love to read more than almost anything else. And I love music; I sing, play the harp, and am the choir director for church. I also like to swim, water ski, snow ski, and dance. I have absolutely no hand-eye coordination, so I don’t play any team sports and sports worldwide thank me for it. And, sappy as it sounds, I love to spend time with my husband, talking, walking, playing racquetball, or just cuddling.

If money were no object would you prefer domestic help or would you cook and clean yourself?

Are you kidding me? I’d LOVE to give the job of cooking and cleaning to someone else! Can I have them do the laundry, too?

If you could go back in time, with whom would you like to spend a day?

I’d love to spend the day with Jane Austen, not only because she was so witty and clever, but I’d love to clear up a few historical mysteries about that time period. And I’d probably want more than just a day.

If you could trade places with one person, who would it be?

Hmmmm, how about Hugh Jackman’s love interest? (Just kidding, honey) Actually, I’d love to be Julia Quinn, or Candice Hern – you know someone who is already a best-selling Regency Author. Not that I’d want them to take my place with my husband…

Have you been told you look like someone famous?

Oh, yeah, I’m a dead ringer for Faith Hill. Ahem. Okay, not really. Actually no one has ever said I look like someone famous. But in the morning with my frizzy hair sticking out in all directions, I greatly resemble Medusa. Good thing I’ve never turned anyone to stone!

Where can we find your book?

The Guise of a Gentleman by Donna Hatch is available at, Amazon, and all Barnes & Noble Locations (some stores may have to order it for you, but that costs the same as if it were on the shelf)

Tell us about your contest:

Okay, now how to win your free copy (and you have four chances if you do all four):

1. Leave a comment in this blog, then send me an email at and put “free book” in the subject line

2. Follow my blog, then send me an email at, telling me you're now following me and put "free book" in the subject line

3. Friend me on Facebook, (!/profile.php?ref=profile&id=1053967713) then send me an email at, telling me you're now my friend on Facebook and put "free book" in the subject line

4. go to my website  and then find out what is the name of the hero, then send me an email at, telling me the answer to the question and put "free book" in the subject line

Remember, for each thing you do, you have another chance to win. Good Luck!!!

Thank you for visiting today.

Thanks for having me!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Announcing . . .

My daughter is engaged. Woo hoo!! They plan to be sealed in the Manti Temple in August. We're all very excited. We love her fiance. He's such a good kid--strong testimony, hard worker, kind, fun, treats her like a queen, exactly the kind of young man I wanted her to find. I'm thrilled for her!

I'm also a little sad that she'll leave the nucleus-stage of my family and enter the stage when she will  create her own. Yes, this is what I've raised her for. I want her to create her own eternal family. I want her to experience the joy of marriage and celebrate each life that they'll create for their own family. But, I didn't know the time would pass so fast or come so soon. I've spent the majority of my life focused on my husband and children. I enjoy them and love to be around them. We always have so much fun together.

I knew everything would change when my son got married--we'd add another daughter to our family and they'd begin their life together, but I'd already let him go to serve his mission. I'd already adjusted to his absence from the family for two years. I absolutely love his wife and I'm so glad he married her.

Now, it's time to let my daughter go to start the next stage of her life. I'm so happy for her. I know this is the right choice for her. I'm proud of her for waiting for the right kind of young man and for setting her goal to marry in the temple and sticking to it. I guess I just didn't think it'd happen so fast.

I'm thinking I'll have a full and busy summer ahead of me, but it's all good. I'm excited to go dress shopping, though I'm sure I may shed a few tears.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Interview with author Tristi Pinkston

I'm so excited!! Tristi Pinkston, a talented, amazing writer and an all-around great person, has stopped by my blog to talk about her new book, Secret Sisters, a fun, humorous mystery novel.

Hey, Tristi, tanks for stopping by. I have a few questions for you.

I love answering questions, especially about my books. Fire away.

Can you describe what a cozy mystery is and how your book, Secret Sisters, differs from the norm?

A cozy mystery features a quirky main character who finds herself solving a crime. I say “herself” because it’s definitely a women’s genre, although men do read them as well. Generally speaking, the story starts with the discovery of a crime and ends with the solution. It's called a "cozy" because it's pretty clean, the violence is kept to a minimum, and there's a fair amount of humor.

“Secret Sisters” varies from the traditional mystery formula in that it’s entirely character-driven. It is a cozy mystery, but the real story comes in watching the characters interact with each other. I could put my three main characters out on a desert island with nothing to do, and we’d have a wonderful time just listening to them talk. The mystery is fun, but it’s just the gas in the engine. The characters are the vehicle. That’s unusual for the mystery genre.

Do you think your RS presidency spies on people?

Mine, no. They keep a respectful distance but I always know where to find them, if needed.

If we think our RS presidency might be spying on us, what do you recommend we do?

Get some of those sticky glue traps like you can get at the hardware store and place them in your bushes. If they come up to your house to peek through the windows, you’ve got ‘em, and it’s pretty humane.

Great idea! Okay, seriously, where did you come up with the idea for Secret Sisters?

I overheard one lady saying that she felt her home teachers were being too nosy, and it was none of their business if she had her 3-month food storage supply or not. I felt bad for this sister for not understanding the importance of sharing with your ward what your needs might be. In case of an emergency, your leaders should know where the first responders need to go. But then I got to thinking, what if our leaders were too nosy? In fact, what if they were spies? I shared the idea with my husband late one night when we both had the giggles, and we tossed ideas back and forth. The idea to call it “Operation Green Jell-O” came from him.

Ida Mae is such a funny, quirky character. Is she based on anyone you know? How did you make her feel so realistic?

Ida Mae and her friends popped into my head fully formed. They’re not based on anyone I know, except for themselves. They’re realistic because, to me, they are real. They chatter in my head and carry on outrageous conversations all the time. They’re a hoot.

You're right--the whole group is so entertaining. I love their dialogue. Did you know the ending before you started or did the ending surprise you?

I had no clue what was going on when I first started. I had the climax drafted out in my head, but I had no idea how we were going to get there, or what trouble we would be in. I just knew that the climax was going to be dang funny. The rest surprised me along the way.

The problem from the start was, how to keep the clues building up while keeping the police out of it. Once we had solid proof, the police had to take over, and that would be the end of my little ladies’ involvement.

If Ida Mae could give us a piece of advice, what would it be?

Stick to your guns. That’s how she’s lived her entire life.

What's the next book in the series?

The next book is called Ida Mae Rides Again, and it will be released in August of 2010.

Oh, I can't wait. I love your writing style and your humor. Thanks so much for stopping by.

Thank you.

Secret Sisters is such a fun book. I recommend it! Of course, I'm a big fan of Tristi's--you will be, too, if you read her books. To learn more about Tristi Pinkston check out her website. You can also visit her blog.

Purchase Secret Sisters.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Mormon Mishaps by D.N. Giles and C.L. Beck

From the back cover:
Whoever thought sacrament meeting could be so silly?
In Mormon Mishaps and Mischief you'll find a unique collection of hilarious short stories from celebrated LDS authors that turn the spotlight on ordinary members to illuminate the lighter side of Mormondom. Whether it's the annual Primary program or a simple Sunday school prayer, you'll soon find that where two or three are gathered together . . . there's bound to be potential for some humor. Cure your family's Sunday afternoon doldrums with a little dose of mishaps and mischief.

This is a hilarious book. I even have a story that's included in it about my husband's seminary teacher. Both of these authors are funny and they've put together a collection of humorous stories that you'll enjoy reading--and can probably relate to. I recommend it--you'll find yourself laughing right out loud.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

I'm a Slacker

Yep, it's true. I keep meaning to post on my blog and I keep getting sidetracked. I woke up one day and it was March 5th and the next day it was April 5th. The month whizzed past me so fast I didn't even see it go by.

But, I do have good excuses. We took our kids to CA to visit family and then to Disneyland. I grew up in Santa Barbara (I took the photo of SB in my header). My parents both grew up in SB, that's where they met in high school. My dad's family is Italian and Catholic. So, when we went to visit we had a bigh Italian family gathering (picture "My Big, Fat Greek Wedding" as "My Big, Fat Italian Family Party" and you get the idea). It was fabulous. I met cousins I didn't even know I had. My dad's first cousin owns an authentic Italian restaurant and we had a fantastic dinner. Her grandfather, my great-grandfather, immigrated from Italy to CA and was a chef. He cooked for government officials and dignitaries in CA and he made this amazing ravioli dish. So my dad's cousin found his old recipe and cooked those for us. Delicious.

The guest of honor was my 94-year-old grandmother (my father's mother and daughter of the chef). She can't see well (macular degeneration) but she is as much a spitfire as ever. She's full of pep and spunk and still flirts with all the men (including my husband). She was in her glory at this party that reunited parts of the family that had been feuding (we go all out for everything, including fighting). It was great to see so many people there to honor my grandmother and it was a great time visiting with everyone. I loved every minute of it and even took pictures.

What a fantastic family party.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Closer to You by Nick Sales

Nick Sales is extremely talented. He is the younger brother of my daughter-in-law and he's amazing. He sang at the wedding reception. I think he has a very bright future ahead of him.