Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Somber Anniversary

This day every year gives me pause. In 1968, I was a little girl and I got up in the morning to tell my daddy good-bye before he left for work. That was the last time I ever saw him. He died later that night on a dark, lonely road near Simi Valley, CA. His funeral was on December 24th. That event, of course, changed my life forever.

I often wonder what might have been. Would we have stayed in Santa Barbara? Would my parents have had more children? Would they both still be alive today enjoying their grandchildren? Would I have found the gospel?

I don't know the answers to these questions. What I do know is that I have the gospel in my life. I feel so blessed each day to know that my Redeemer lives, and because He lives, so does my father. And my mother. My grandparents. Friends. I may not be able to see those that I've loved and lost with my mortal eyes, but they are not far from me. Some days, I've felt them so close I could almost reach out and touch them.

As I consider the tragic events as of late, especially at Sandy Hook Elementary School, my heart aches for all those who have lost loved ones to such violent acts. But I know that they can be reunited one day. I know that their loved ones are not gone forever. Because the Savior lives, so do their precious loved ones. And through the Savior, they can find some peace and some comfort.

I will never stop missing my father, or my family members that have died. There will always be a hole in my heart for each one, but I can feel comfort knowing that they are in a better place and that the bonds of family do not end with death. I don't think you ever get over losing a loved one, but with time you learn to live with it.

The Savior said in John 14:27, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

May we all find some peace and comfort, especially those in Connecticut.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Aura is $.99 This Week

In celebration of the release of my newest novel, Aura, it's on sale for $.99 at Amazon for the Kindle.

If you'd like to read it but don't own a Kindle, you can download the free app from Amazon that allows you to read Kindle books on your computer. Go here to download that app.

If you prefer to read print books (and who doesn't love how a real book feels in your hands?) Aura is now available in a print version.

I sincerely appreciate your help and support in spreading the word about Aura. Word-of-mouth is THE best and most effective way to advertise a book. So, thank you to all of you who have read it and recommended it. And, thank you to those of you who have posted reviews.

Being an author is like walking around naked. You bare your soul because each book is an extension of who you are, what you believe, and how you view the world. Yes, the stories are fictional, but the way each author tells his or her story is very personal and based on his or her life's experiences. Every time I publish a book, it's like sending my child out to the world to be judged. It's exciting and stressful at the same time. Sometimes, I think it'd be easier to be a brain surgeon. Or a rocket scientist. And yet, I can't not do it. I can't not write the stories in my head that are begging to be released.

Thank you again for your support!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Aura is FREE Today and Tomorrow

Aura is FREE today and tomorrow on Amazon. Here is the link to get it. Tell your friends!

I hope you enjoy it. Thanks for your support!

After you read it, if you'd like to post a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads, that'd be awesome.

Happy reading.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Finding New Authors

There are the books everyone has heard about: Twilight, Hunger Games,  Harry Potter. But what about all those books written by people you’ve never heard of? Some of them are treasures, just waiting to be found, and that’s what this blog hop is all about: the books you might not have heard about, but that you might end up loving.

I was tagged by Julie Coulter Bellon. You can learn more about Julie on her website or her blog, and  where you can then connect with her on Twitter, and even Pinterest. 
Here’s a little info about my current project:
1: What is the working title of your book? Aura
2: Where did the idea come from for the book? I knew a guy in high school who claimed to be a warlock and that he'd gotten his powers from his dad. I asked myself, what if the son didn't want to be like his dad and what if it were demons and what if a girl had enough power to fight the demons and what if her power came from her virtuous choices.
3: What genre does your book fall under? Young Adult Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? The villain: Cillian Murphy (Scarecrow in Batman Begins), Melinda: Julianne Moore. I actually found photos of each of my characters, including the main character, Crystal, but they aren't famous actors.
5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? Everything in Crystal Scott's life finally seems perfect--until a powerful demon thirsts for her Light.
6: Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? I have self-published this book after having three novels traditionally published.
7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? Over a year (in my defense, I have 10 kids).
8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? I'd say my book is a mix between the TV show Supernatural and Twilight (without the vampires).

9: Who or What inspired you to write this book? Young girls who don't see themselves as being powerful. I wanted to empower young girls and help them realize that they have strength.
10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? Crystal's power to fight the demons comes from her virtuous choices--her power is directly tied to her choices, including her choice to remain a virgin.
Here are links to some great books I've read this year:
The Reluctant Bachelorette by Rachael Renee Anderson
The Kindling by Braden Bell
Checkin' It Twice by various LDS authors
On Little Wings by Regina Sirois

Check them out! You might find some new authors you love!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

"Checkin' It Twice" Book Review

From the back cover:

Can Santa learn a lesson from the Savior?
Can a foreign exchange student help you see Christmas a little more clearly?
Do things really look better from a distance?
And just how many holiday ornaments does one woman need?

Get in the Christmas Spirit with Volume 2 of award-winning stories from LDS Publisher's 2010 and 2011 Christmas Story Contests! Sixteen short stories from popular LDS authors to help you remember the reason for the season!


Featuring LDS Authors:

Amie Borst • A Soldier’s Christmas
Angie Lofthouse • Broken Things
Brenda J. Anderson • Milkshakes and Mittens
Brian C. Ricks • Third Strike Christmas
Gussie Fick • Substitute Santa
Janice Sperry • Slushballs
Jennifer Carson Shelton • With Wondering Awe
Jennifer Ricks • Christmas Stash
Jennifer Ricks • The Two Hundred Forty-fourth Ornament
Kasey Eyre • Gifts from Jesus
LeeAnn Setzer • Christmas Bus
LisaAnn Turner • The Real Magic
Michael Young • Checkin’ It Twice
Rob Smales • Fishing Buddy
Teresa G. Osgood • Foreign Exchange
Weston Elliott • Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh
 
My Review:
 
I really enjoyed this compilation with stories that range from humorous to touching. This is a perfect book to read with your family--you can read one story each night as Christmas nears.
 
I was particularly touched by the story "With Wondering Awe" by Jennifer Carson Shelton. When I was four-year-old little girl, my dad left for work on December 19th. I never saw him again because he died in a car accident that night on his way home from work. His funeral was December 24th. Needless to say, Christmas was very different that year and in subsequent years. It's been four decades since that dark, sad night, but every year I remember my dad and I can't help but be a little sad for all the Christmases over the years that we've missed. 
 
The character in this story, "With Wondering Awe" has a similar experience, except it's her sister. when the story begins she is still mourning the loss of her sister a year before and she doesn't want to enjoy Christmas without her sister. By the end of the story, she realizes that her sister wants her to be happy and to go on living. It reminds me of what the pastor says in Courageous when he tells the main character, a mourning father, to stop being mad about what time he wouldn't have with his daughter and to be thankful for all the time he did have with her.
 
I was also touched by the story, "A Soldier's Christmas" by Amie Borst. It reminded me of my mother and how she must have felt when my father died. In this story, a young mother must face the death of her husband. I loved the poem in the story. It made me all teary.
 
Both of these stories really touched my heart, but I enjoyed all of them. I recommend you read this book next to a roaring fire while sipping some hot chocolate. It's a wonderful compilation from very talented writers.
 
 
Right now there's a Bonus Goodies package available for anyone who purchases a print copy before December 15th.  Just send a copy of your Amazon receipt to citbonus@rosehavenpublishing.net

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Aura, Chapter 1, Part 2

She reluctantly walked down the hall toward their bedroom. He rushed into the kitchen and emptied his pockets of the money he'd cashed out earlier from their bank account. Rummaging through a drawer, he found a piece of paper and pen and scribbled a note to the landlord. He didn't want any loose ends when they left—no trail that could lead back to them. Not if he hoped to protect his wife and unborn child from the monster who had once been his best friend.

He slammed his fist against the counter. Why hadn't he noticed it sooner? The muscles in his neck constricted. All he'd wanted to do was provide for his growing family by working for a legitimate business. He shook his head at his stupidity and misplaced trust.

Pam's footsteps interrupted his thoughts as she neared the kitchen. He finished the note telling the landlord they were leaving and wouldn't be coming back. He tucked it under a cup with enough bills to cover the remainder of the lease and turned to Pam. She stood in the doorway, wearing a solemn expression, dressed in a grey sweatshirt and jeans with a brown suitcase in hand.

"I packed as much of our stuff as I could." She tried to smile, but it didn't reach her eyes. Matt sensed her misgivings. How would he ever explain this to her?

"Good." He took the suitcase.

She stood firm. "I want you to tell me what's going on and why we're leaving in the middle of the night."

"We don't have much time—"

She crinkled her forehead. "What does that mean?"

"It means we need to go." He reached his hand out for hers but she didn't reciprocate.

"I don't understand what's happening."

Matt stepped close to her and ran his hand down her arm, grasping her hand in his. "I know this all sounds confusing and crazy, but I need you to trust me. Please. I'll try to explain everything after we leave." His eyes pleaded with her, hoping she wouldn't ask any more questions or weaken his resolve.

"You're acting so erratic. You're scaring me."

Matt set the suitcase down and pulled her to him, losing himself in the familiar strawberry scent of her hair. He wished things were different. But they weren't. All he could do now was run—run fast and run far, without looking back. Their lives depended on it. He stepped back and gazed deeply into Pam's eyes. "We have to go before they realize that I've left."

"But—"

"Our lives are in danger."

Pam's eyes widened. "Danger?"

Matt nodded. "Yes. Let's go."

"Where are we going?" A tear snaked down her cheek. "What are we going to do?"

"Disappear."
 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Aura, Chapter 1, Part 1

The brisk late-night air wound itself around Matt's neck while the house keys shook in his hand. He glanced over his left shoulder. Over his right. His heart thundered against his ribs. He scanned the neighborhood. Nothing out of the ordinary—but nothing was as it seemed. Never would be again. He wiped perspiration from his forehead and drew in a breath.

In one swift movement, he opened the creaky front door to the rental house, stepped inside, and closed the door. He locked the door and rested his head against it for a moment before turning around. With three strides he was standing next to the couch, where his wife lay sleeping, bathed in the glow of the television. He knelt next to the couch and attempted to calm his breathing while he watched the rhythmic rise and fall of her chest. So peaceful. Relaxed. Unaware.

He tugged on her arm, trying to rouse her. "Pam, honey, wake up."

Her eyelids fluttered open. He took several breaths, hoping to settle his raging heartbeat.

"Matt? What's wrong?" She lifted herself on one elbow and pushed a few strands of her long, blonde hair from her face. "You look terrified."

He didn't want to panic her or scare her. But he had no choice. "We need to leave."

She cleared her throat. "What are you talking about?"

"We can't stay here anymore." It sounded crazy and unreasonable—even to him.

Pam raised her eyebrows. "Why? You aren't making any sense."

"I can't explain right now." He raked his fingers through his hair, a stone of sadness in his stomach.

Pam sat up and adjusted her flannel nightgown.

Her pale face forced him to focus on her. "Feeling nauseated?"

She nodded and placed her hand on her belly. "All day and night. Whoever named it morning sickness got it wrong." She leaned her head over the small white trashcan next to the couch.

"I'm sorry you're sick. But we have to go. Now." Matt stood and crossed over to the window. He parted the curtains and searched the street. Had anyone followed him? The clock on the wall mocked him with its constant tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock.

"What are you doing?" Pam asked, wiping at her mouth.

He turned to face her. "I was offered a promotion."

"That's great—"

"No. It's not great." He licked his parched lips. "Not great at all." A shudder rippled down his back.

Images. Bits of conversations. Paperwork. It all made sense now.

"Why not?" She tilted her head and peered at him.

"The company isn't what it seems. Nothing is as it seems." He stepped over to the couch and reached his hand out for hers, pulling her up.

"You're shaking." She placed her soft, warm hand over his. "What's going on?" Her eyes searched his.

"We need to get out of here. Tonight."

Pam stared at him, the fear and confusion apparent in her blue eyes.

"Please," he said. "Go to our bedroom and grab whatever you can. There isn't much time." He let go of her hand and turned back to the window again, looking urgently from side to side. A siren sounded in the distance, and several dogs barked in concert. The scene seemed ordinary enough, but he knew better.

"But—"

He faced her. "Pam, please. Hurry."


Come back tomorrow for Part 2.

Friday, November 16, 2012

He Said His Part

I have been working and working with my youngest son on his speech. We have a fantastic speech therapist and he has progressed so much in the last few months. I'm so thankful that he knows the sounds of almost every letter of the alphabet and is trying new sound combinations every day. Since the flash cards I'm using to help him with his speech have both a picture and the word on them, he is learning to read as well. By the end of the week, he can not only say, but also read, most of the words we've been working on. We also review cards so he can remember the words from previous weeks, and he is still able to read them. Yay!

He was assigned a short part for the children's program at church. And he did it. He actually did it. All the words, "I choose to follow" and then he held up a picture of our prophet, Thomas S. Monson, for the whole congregation. And he said all four words together without me prompting him. I was thrilled. My husband and my sister both had tears in their eyes. Such a simple thing, but yet so huge.

We've been working really hard and to see some progress is wonderful. I never knew what went into learning to speak. I took it all for granted with my other 9 kids--they started talking (and most have never stopped to even take a breath) and I never thought much of it. Working with my son has taught me to be grateful for even the smallest things.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

All Fall Down by Julie Bellon

From the back cover:

Ring around the rosy, a pocket full of posies, ashes, ashes we all fall down . . .

That simple rhyme turns negotiator Claire Michaels’ current hostage situation into an international incident. Claire just wants to help get everyone out safely, but as the crisis escalates she realizes she’s dealing with an al-Qaeda operative who has the means to become another bin Laden---with the potential to attack America. Claire has her own personal reasons for wanting to stop al-Qaeda, but time is slipping away as negotiations break down. Can she overcome her scars of the past in order to get the hostage out alive and possibly stop an assault on U.S. national security?

Navy SEAL Rafe Kelly is on leave to recover from a knee injury he suffered during his tour in Afghanistan and he doesn’t expect to be fighting terrorists on his home turf. But when he is taken hostage and his brother is kidnapped, Rafe teams up with a hostage negotiator in order to stay alive and get his brother back. The terrorist is always one step ahead of them, however, and the situation quickly turns from desperate to deadly. Will Rafe be able to save himself and his country without anyone he loves getting caught in the crossfire?
My review:
 
Multi-published author, Julie Bellon, has written another great international suspense!
 
If you enjoy suspense, romance, and twists and turns, then you'll enjoy All Fall Down. Bellon is masterful at writing suspense. From the first page until the last, and I mean the very last (because there is a twist I didn't expect and I actually said out loud, "Are you serious? How can this get any worse?") it is a roller coaster.
 
The book starts with a hostage situation--I will never sing "Ring Around the Rosy" again without thinking about this book--and turns into an international suspense with lots of surprises.
 
I really liked the natural romance that developed, and I especially enjoyed some tender scenes.
 
I also liked how realistic the setting felt. Bellon must have traveled to these remote areas to be able to make it feel so authentic.
 
The characters are well-developed and the story is exciting. I recommend this book--just don't read it at night because you might stay up too late reading it!
 
You can learn more about Julie Bellon and all of her other published books here.
 
I did receive a review copy of this book, but it in no way influenced my review. My opinion is my own.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Which Cover?

I need your help. Which cover do you like best? These are all rough mock-ups--I'm looking for the general idea you like best. Fonts can be changed easily. Please ignore the watermarks--I haven't purchased any of the images yet. 

And if you don't like any of the covers, please say so. You can answer in the comment section. Thank you!! I really appreciate your help!

The story is a YA urban fantasy about a teenage girl who discovers she has enough Light to battle a nasty demon.

 
#1 Girl with Aura

 
#2 Light Burst 
 


#3 Light in Palms



#4 Hands Holding Light

 
 
#5 None of the Above

Friday, October 19, 2012

I'm Not Voting for Mitt Romney Because He's Mormon

That's right. I'm not voting for Mitt Romney because he's Mormon.

I've been going through an edit for my latest book and I think I should punctuate that sentence like this: I'm not voting for Mitt Romney, because he's Mormon. But that feels like it gives my intention a different meaning.

What I mean is that I'm not voting for him just because he's Mormon. I'm voting for him, because I think he is the best man for the job. Period.

He most closely represents my values and what I believe needs to be fixed in this economy. He's said his emphasis will be on jobs. He plans to create jobs through stimulating small business growth. I think that's key. I don't want more government jobs created, I want to see small businesses thrive and grow and hire more workers. I want to see the public sector shrink and the private sector grow.

I also think he understands that we can't spend out way out of debt and we have to rein in the out-of-control spending. I can't have something just because I want it. I have to be able to pay for it and if I write a check that has no money to back it, I go to jail. Why is our government exempt from this? Why do we keep borrowing money from China? At this rate, China will never have to invade us, they'll own us outright.

I don't like Obamacare. I don't think the government should be running, or even be involved in, our healthcare. In my experience, anything run by the government is inefficient and costly. Have you ever had to ask the IRS a question, or worse, deal with the IRS on an issue? It's a nightmare. And everyone has a different answer. The IRS is a perfect example of the government's inability to run an efficient organization. And we want to let it run our healthcare? Make decisions about our health? No thanks. Obamacare will run us into even more debt--how much is a trillion anyway?

Welfare and unemployment are other examples of inefficient and costly programs. I have an extended family member who took advantage of welfare for years. Perfectly healthy and able-bodied, but lived off welfare and spent the money on drugs. As did all of his friends. And unemployment? I know a young man who lost his job then collected unemployment so he could stay home and play video games. He took advantage of the system. these are not isolated cases, either.

I agree that people sometimes need help. But the way the government does it is wrong. If someone needs money to pay bills, let them work in exchange for that help. And make that help temporary, not a way of life. Give people a hand up, not a handout. I love the saying, "Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach him to fish and he eats for a lifetime." We need to teach people to fish!

And, here's something that irks me. I see people accuse republicans of being greedy and having no compassion. That blanket statement is wrong. First of all, anyone can be greedy, and greed isn't limited to money. People can be just as greedy with their time. I think there's greed in both parties. I also believe there's compassion in both parties. Some of the most compassionate people I know, are also conservative republicans. People who consistently donate time and money to help others. People who throw together a dinner at a moment's notice or donate clothing to a needy family or share garden vegetable or who will just sit and spend time with someone who needs it.

Mitt Romney has been accused of being greedy, of only being interested in making money. And yet he's donated millions and millions of dollars to charity, not to mention the time he's spent over his lifetime serving others. I'd venture to say that Mitt Romney had donated more money than many, if not most, president and even celebrities (people whose monthly earning are more than most people's yearly earnings). I don't think he can be accused of being greedy or not being compassionate.

I also like that he can work with opposing viewpoints. He understands how to balance a budget, how to run a successful business (you can't spend your way out of debt), and he embraces the Constitution.

So, yes, I'm not voting for Mitt Romney because he's Mormon, I'm voting for him because he is the best man for the job.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Back Cover Copy: Help!

I need some help. I've been working on a young adult urban fantasy, Aura, for what seems like for-ev-er. I think it's finally nearing full completion and I need to get the back cover copy ready. The back copy is meant to entice readers and make them want to read the book.

Here it is:


After moving from one city to the next all of her life, Crystal Scott finally feels like she belongs in Silver City, Colorado. She has the lead in the high school play, a best friend, and a gorgeous boyfriend. With her senior prom only a few days away, everything is perfect--or so she thinks. 

Because nothing is as it seems.

Vincent Crandall, the human host for a demon with an insatiable thirst for power, learns that Crystal possesses an extraordinary aura with enough Light to stop him and his plan to rule Silver City, and eventually the world. Vincent sends in operatives from his demon army to destroy Crystal's aura on prom night and she is suddenly thrust into an on-going battle with demons. When Vincent kidnaps her parents, Crystal must learn to control the power within her—a power directly linked to her virtuous choices—before he kills her parents and harnesses her Light for himself.

What do you think? Would it make you want to read this book? Does it grab you? How can I improve it?

Feel free to shred it.

Thanks for your help and your support!
 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Our Economic Reality

The Obama administration has successfully closed down over 30 coal-fired power plants. One of the plants affected is in my area. As a result, some peeople have lost their jobs. We have a few power plants in the area.

My husband has worked for the coal mine that feeds these power plants for 23 years. It has been a wonderful job. Very secure with great benefits. In fact, our insurance provides for services that my son needs as a result of his Down syndrome. We have been very blessed and have not had to worry about insurance or medical care and we have been able to provide for our large family.

Unfortunately, if re-elected, President Obama has earmarked 120 more coal-fired power plants to shut down, including all of the plants in our area. That will effectively shut down the coal mining operation. These companies employ thousands of people in the area, not to mention all of the support businesses they support. Once the plants close, the mine will close and so will the vendors and suppliers that service these companies. A loss of that many jobs will have a drastic effect on a relatively small economy here. People will lose their homes. The housing market will crash. People will move which will mean less students at schools which will result in teachers losing their jobs, doctors and dentists losing patients, restaurants and stores losing customers. In a domino effect, businesses will be affected in a negative way.

And so will we. We have lived in this area for 23 years. We built our current home 18 years ago and have continued to invest in it and in our property. We have raised our kids here and we have been involved in the community. And it may all be at risk.

These power plants supply electricity to large cities, including Los Angeles. If these plants close, those in LA and other cities will pay higher prices for electricity as well as experience brown outs when there isn't enough power to go around. The fact is, right now we do not have enough resources to supply power without these coal-fired power plants.

While green power is a worthy goal, it is one that cannot be accomplished overnight. I'm not sure what the Obama administration plans to do to replace the power currently supplied by these power plants. Or what will happen to all of us affected by the closures. I don't think it's wise to close all of these plants, especially without a plan to replace the demand for power.

I'm all for cleaner energy. But we need to use wisdom in implementing it. We need to realize it takes time to create alternative power. And we need to consider the economic effects when an industry is targeted like this.

We all lose with President Obama's plan to close these plants. And that's our economic reality.


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Why I'm Mormon

One morning, when I was four-years-old, I  awoke earlier than usual and said goodbye to my daddy when he left for work. It was six days before Christmas and that was the last time I ever saw him. He died in a car accident that night. A few years later, I went to bed and woke up the next morning to find that my mother had passed away during the night. My sister and I went to live with my mother's parents who raised us to adulthood..

As a young child, I was left with some very deep questions. "Where were my parents?" "Would I ever see them again?" "What happens when we die?"

Before my mother's death, she'd investigated many religions looking for her own answers including the Hindu and Buddhist beliefs and Unity Church. While at Unity Church one Sunday, I asked about Jesus. I wanted to know more about him and who he was. I was told he was everywhere. "In my hair," I asked.

"Oh, yes," the lady said.

"What about in my fingernail?"

"Yes, he's there too."

Well, I looked at my fingernails and clearly, Jesus was not in them.. Her answer made no sense to me. Though I'd had very little religious training at this point, I did pray. And when I prayed at night in my room, I envisioned a man with a white robe with bare feet, listening to me. In fact, when I concluded my prayers, I quickly opened my eyes each time because I was sure I'd catch Jesus in the room with me. I was certain that Jesus and God, were separate people, real people with bodies. Like I said, I had no real religious teachings. My parents were not religious at all. We'd never gone to church before my father's death  that I can remember. Yet, I was certain that the answers to my questions from the lady at the Unity Church didn't jive with what I knew in my heart.

Thus began my search. I wanted to know where my deceased parents were. I knew their bodies were in the cemetery that overlooks the ocean in Santa Barbara, but I didn't think that was it. I felt like they were actually somewhere else. Somewhere that I couldn't see.

One day, we drove past a large white building and I asked my grandmother about the building. She told me it was a Mormon Church and that she was a Mormon. I'd been living with her for some time and we hadn't ever been to church so I asked her if we could go.

The next Sunday, my sister, my grandma, and I all attended church at that big white building.

And you know what? When I asked the hard questions about my parents, these people had answers. Real answers. Answers that felt right in my little-girl heart. Answers that made sense to me.

My parents' mortal bodies are in that cemetery, but their spirits are not. Spirits do not die. Of this, I am sure. Many experiences in my life have proven this. There have been times when I knew my mother was so close, I could almost reach out and touch her. Times when others who have died have been near enough for me to feel their presence. Life does not end with death. And if it does not end with death, it cannot begin with birth. We are eternal beings.

For every hard question I've posed over the years, I can find answers.  The teachings and beliefs, based on the gospel of Jesus Christ, taught by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints make sense to me. They resonate with me. And, most importantly, I've prayed and received my own answers from God.

I have a firm testimony that Jesus Christ is my Savior and Redeemer. That he once lived on this earth with a mortal body and took upon himself my sins and suffered for them before he was crucified on a cross. I know that he rose that third day and was resurrected. And because he was, so will my parents. Just as Jesus saw his disciples and those he loved after he was resurrected, I will see my parents and those I've loved and lost over the years. Because Jesus then returned to live with His Father, I may also return to live with Him.

I am Mormon because in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have found the answers. I have found peace and joy in living the gospel. My life has had its share of trials, but through them all, I have had comfort and peace from my Heavenly Father who knows me, loves me, and cares what happens to me.

That's why I am Mormon.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Kindling by Braden Bell

From the back cover:

Loud shrieks sliced the air, followed by the smell of burning cloth. Conner looked over in time to see Geoffrey jumping up and down, yelling and shrieking. Smoke poured from the seat of his shorts while blue and yellow sparks snap-crackle-and-popped all around the heater.


All thirteen-year-old Connor Dell wants to do is pass pre-algebra, play lacrosse, and possibly kiss Melanie Stephens. He didn’t mean to set anyone’s gym shorts on fire or make school lunches explode. But now that the strange powers inside him have been ignited, Connor’s normal teenage life is about to go up in flames!

***

Homework? Of course. Crushes? Sure. But who knew seventh grade included superpowers?

LOVE this book! Great story filled with plenty of humor, realistic characters, and a great battle scene. Bell has an incredible imagination that he's used to create an unforgettable story about three friends who discover they have powers. Powers they will need to use to defeat some pretty nasty bad guys.

The story is entertaining  from start to finish and Bell's beautiful writing style makes for a smooth read. I highly recommend this book to anyone, kids and adults. It's funny, poignant, clean, imaginative. I really enjoyed the characters, all of them. They each have distinctive voices. I love the relationships between them as well.

And I love the message that good truimphs over evil. It's subtly and naturally woven into the story.

You can watch book trailers here: http://youtu.be/2_tokouvPUM, http://youtu.be/JznT4wGkfUc, http://youtu.be/cDNxWvZua7Q

You can learn more about the author at www.bradenbell.com.

You can purchase The Kindling at Amazon.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Comments Hurt

My 13-year-old daughter loves theater. She also loves basketball. She's played basketball through the years, but opted to do theater last year. During the summer she decided she wanted to play basketball this year. Her best friends also play basketball and they hoped to make the same team. We moms had already talked about sharing rides and doing the basketball season together. Last week, she went to open gym at our local elementary school to practice. She hadn't played for a while and wanted to get in some practice. Another mom very kindly offered to feed her dinner and take her to open gym with her daughter. When my daughter got home I asked her how open gym was. She said a father that was there with his daughter and his daughter both told her she should stick with theater and forget about basketball. The result? She decided she won't be playing basketball this year. Why do parents say things like this? To a 13-year-old. Even if it's true, keep your mouth shut. Comments like this only serve to hurt a kid's self-confidence. Being 13 is hard enough. Listening to rude comments from peers is hard enough. But from an adult? She was already self-conscious about playing and this comment shredded her. She's actually a pretty good player. She's tall and was often the high scorer when she played two years ago. And she loves to play. But now, even though I've told her that father was wrong and she shouldn't listen to him, it doesn't matter. She's not going to play.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Day in the Life

When my son was born and then diagnosed with Down syndrome I was worried he'd be a blob. So wrong. So, so wrong. Last week he decided it would be fun to shove a toy in the drain of the bathroom sink. And then turn the water on. Yep, water overflowed the sink and there was about an inch of water on the floor. We ended up removing the entire drain to take the toy out and replacing it with a new drain. While we were at our speech therapy appointment, the therapist left her phone on the table. My son quickly got into her text messaging and sent texts to her friends. I'd meant to warn her not to ever leave her phone within his grasp because he's an electronics whiz. (His favorite is to call 911, so I was relieved he hadn't done that). Yesterday, I took some leftovers out to our dog. When I came back to the house, my son had locked me out of our glass door (and all the other doors were locked). He stood there, grinning and laughing. I asked him to open the door. No way. Begged him. Not a chance. Bribed him with a treat. No dice. Told him he was in trouble. He simply laughed and left me fuming on the front porch. Thankfully, one of my other kids was inside and finally let me in after about ten minutes of standing there. Last night, I had to go to town to take my older son to repair his braces. We stopped at Walmart to get a few things. I called home. Who picked up the phone? My youngest son. He proceeded to "talk" to me. I asked him to take the phone to someone else. He said no. I begged him. Not a chance. Bribed him with a treat. No dice. Told him he was in trouble. Again, he laughed and kept going on and on in gibberish. I finally hung up. A blob? Not even close. Just a day in the life with my son.

Friday, September 7, 2012

First Football Game: Cheerleading

Tonight is our high school's first football game and my daughter's first game as a cheerleader. She's very excited. She's wanted to be a cheerleader since she was a little girl. Some years ago, she made outfits for her sister and her and made up cheers when one of my sons was in soccer and they'd cheer at all of his games. She even initiated a cheerleading club at her elementary school. I'm thrilled she's now a cheerleader because she's always wanted to do it. She started practices during the summer. She was sure to ask the coach what days they'd practice when school started so I could make her orthodontist appointment and it wouldn't conflict with practice. The coach said Wednesdays and Thursdays, although that wasn't set in stone. Since our orthodontist lives in Mexico for one week each month, and he's very busy, we have to schedule out appointments 6-8 weeks in advance. I scheduled her appointment (and my older son's) on a Monday as well as a speech therapy evaluation for my youngest son (I like to schedule as much as I can on the same day so I don't have to go to town as often since it's 30 minutes away). What happened? The coach decided to change practices to Mondays and Thursdays. A huge conflict with the orthodontist appointment. My daughter let the coach know she'd miss that practice and why. The coach seemed fine with it. Yesterday, my daughter found out she'll be benched for a quarter tonight because she missed that practice. Color me not happy. I don't think it's fair that she asked in advance about the practice schedule, I scheduled her appointment so it wouldn't conflict, and then the coach changed the practice days and now my daughter will be benched. I'm still very excited about the game, well, not the game exactly, but watching my daughter do her cheers. She wore her uniform to school today and looked so cute. I can't wait to see her tonight.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Pen Name?

My three published novels have been for the LDS market with LDS characters and LDS story lines. My current book, Aura, is not targeted at the LDS market. No LDS characters, no LDS situations. Nothing at all LDS. The story is clean, but it is not LDS. It is about a teenage girl who discovers she has the power to fight demons. That power is directly related to virtuous choices she's made (not cheating, not lying to her parents, doing things for others, etc) including being a virgin. Because she's made these choices, she has a great deal of Light. Enough Light to pose a threat to a nasty demon. The story has demons, explores evil, but does not glorify it, and examines the effect of good vs evil. Since my other books are for the LDS market and this one is a young adult urban fantasy targeted to the national market, I wonder if I should use a pen name for publication? Pros: A pen name would allow me to separate my LDS books from this one, would make it so readers wouldn't be confused and expect an LDS story but get something very different, and would allow me to write more stories for the national market under the new name and establish a new presence. Cons: I've worked hard to establish an online presence as Rebecca Talley. All of my online networks are through Rebecca Talley. I don't want to ignore the fact that I've published other books. It might seem like I'm trying to hide who I am, which I'm not. Trying to establish an online presence for the pen name would take a lot of time and take time away from writing. What do you think? Do you expect an LDS-themed story from me? Would it bother you to see that I'm writing an urban fantasy? Please, let me know what you think. Thank you for your help!

Friday, August 31, 2012

New Genre: Rural Fantasy

I was thinking about genres yesterday. My current project is a YA urban fantasy so I was thinking about what makes it an urban fantasy. I live in a very rural area (one church building and a gas station make up our "town"). I was driving into the city to pick up my daughter from cheerleading practice and glanced across the rural scenery on my way. Suddenly I had an idea. What if I created a whole new genre and named it rural fantasy? What if this new genre was about scarecrows possessed by demons or ghosts inhabiting the cornfields? What if barns actually housed vampires and witches ran the local farm co-op? And that hound dog, what if it was really a werehound? I think I could really make a go of this new genre. What do you think?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Role Models

I haven't read much about Paul Ryan and I hadn't heard him speak until last night. I really enjoyed his speech. What impressed me the most was the tribute he paid to his parents. My favorite quote was, "My mom is my role model." What a great thing. Not only that his mom was worthy of being a role model, but that he chose her as his. It says much about him and the importance of family in his life.

Who are our role models? Are they celebrities? Politicians? Teachers? Leaders of our churches? Fictional characters? The Savior?

I think it's important to ask ourselves this question: Whose life do we emulate? The answer will influence us more than we think.

The flip-side of that question is are we living a life worth emulating by our children? By someone else? Do we set an example of being honest, trustworthy, and trying to do the right thing?

I remember an ad years ago. It showed a little boy and his dad walking along a country road. The dad threw a rock and so did the son. The dad did a few more things and so did his son. Then the dad lit up a cigarette and the caption was, "Like father, like son." There's also a song by Rodney Atkins, "Watching You," about how the little boy wants to be exactly like his dad. There's an old saying, "I can't hear what you're telling me because your example is too loud." Are we the kind of role models we should be? Do we model the kind of behavior that we should? Our kids as well as others are watching us. All the time. I can only hope that my kids will be able to say of me, as Paul Ryan said of his mother, that I was their role model. And it will be a good thing.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Crossing the Line

I read an article yesterday about a little boy who is deaf. He communicates using sign language. Apparently, when he was enrolled in school the school officials felt like the sign that he uses for his name resembles a gun.

Huh?

Yes, that's right. They think the sign for his name looks like a gun so they've asked the parents to change the sign that he's been using for his name.

This is beyond ridiculous. Asking a child who has already experienced the fact that he's different because he must use his hands to communicate to now change that sign to accommodate an overactive fear is callous and cruel.

I admit that the world today is different from the one I grew up in. While I was in school we had no school shootings. People could go to the movies without worrying about being shot. Violence has definitely escalated over the years and more and more people are using lethal force for no reason. However, even amidst all of this, have we lost our common sense? Are we so saturated with fear that we're willing to take something away from a small child simply because it *might* resemble a gun?

How far are we willing to go? Will we no longer be allowed to point because it might look like a gun?

Some years ago, we had a similar overreaction. A few kids were sent home from school because they'd drawn a picture of a gun. A picture. 

I have lots of kids in school and I absolutely want them to be safe. I expect school officials to do their due diligence in keeping students safe. If there's something amiss then I expect school officials to take care of it properly. A few years ago, a student brandished a knife on the bus. I know the kid and he was just showing off. He wasn't threatening anyone, but still he had a knife and we have very specific rules against bringing knives to school. It was a huge ordeal that included police, sheriffs, locking down all the schools and keeping the buses there for hours. It was very scary during the incident because no one was telling us exactly what was happening. In this instance, I believe the school officials acted with due diligence.

But, asking a kid to change the way he signs his name? That's just ridiculous and completely over-the-top. I hope that in this violent world we can still keep some common sense about us and realize that something like this is unnecessary. And hurtful.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Polluted with Pride


Pollution is a hot political keyword. Politicians and activists like to talk about all the different types of pollution we have in this world--groundwater, ocean, air. People complain about the brown haze over the horizon, the effect of plastic bags that pollute the ocean, and groundwater that's being polluted by oil and gas wells.

Pollution is a dirty word. It conjures up images of grease and grime. I remember an oil spill when I lived in CA and how it affected the birds. I remember seeing images of birds covered in tar and how that oil spill had killed so much sea-life.

In my own experience, we clean along a stretch of our highway twice a year. I've seen plenty of pollution: beer bottles, beer cans, liquor bottles, cigarette butts, fast food bags and wrappers, diapers, trash. People toss it out their windows without a thought of how that will affect the environment and who will eventually have to clean up after them.

No matter how you slice it, pollution is a bad thing.

Pride can also be, and many times it is, a bad thing. I believe it's acceptable to be proud of your children for making good choices or to be proud of them for receiving a good grade after studying for a test or to be proud of them for playing a piano piece they practiced or performing in a play. But, pride can take other forms that make it undesirable. There are obvious definitions of pride: thinking you are better than someone else, not being willing to listen to others because you think you are right, taking pride in your possessions, thinking you are smarter than God, etc. There are also other ways of being prideful, like being rebellious or considering yourself better because you have a higher education or thinking that commandments don't apply to you.

When you combine pride with pollution it's a powerful image. Being polluted with pride puts it in perspective. Am I polluted with pride? Do I let my pride get in the way of serving others or allowing them to serve me? Do I allow my pride to prevent me from experiencing things? Do I miss out on opportunities because of my pride?

Pride can pollute us if we aren't careful. It can canker our souls and make us miss out on important life experiences. It can separate us from our loved ones and from God.

I'm going to try to not let my pride pollute me. I don't want to be like one of those birds in the oil spill and be covered with the grime of pride. I think the best way to prevent myself from becoming polluted with pride is to be grateful, to remember that everything I have and everything I am comes from God. I need to have a grateful heart every day. In having that gratitude, I hope I will be able to avoid being polluted with pride.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Back to School Blues

Why is it that the summer just whizzes past every year? I look so forward to summer so I can hang out with my kids.

We went to the pool several times this summer. Every time we go to the outdoor pool it makes me think of "The Sandlot." If you've seen that movie, I love the scene where they go to the pool and one of the boys plots to get a kiss from the beautiful, and much older, lifeguard so he pretends to drown in the pool. While she gives him mouth-to-mouth he kisses her. She then kicks him and his buddies out of the pool. "The Sandlot" is such a summer movie and we watch it every year.

I love hanging out at the pool because it reminds me of being a little girl. I grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and when we weren't at the beach we were at a pool. I spent the entire summer in a swimsuit. I loved the smell of chlorine on my skin because it meant I'd been swimming in the pool. I love swimming, I love being outside, and I love summer.

The best thing about summer, though, is having my kids home. I love hanging out with my kids. During the school year I feel like I hardly even get to see them. The oldest ones leave before 6:00 am and the rest leave at 6:40 am and most of them aren't home until after 5:00 pm. Then there's all the activities during the school year like cheerleading, Scouts, piano, basketball, theater. Summer is my time to just be with them and I'm always sad when they go back to school. I can't believe how fast time goes by. I spend all the time I can with my kids and I still feel like I don't get enough time with them.

So, yeah, I sing the "Back to School Blues" every year at this time.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Hiatus from Blogging

I've been absent from blogging for a few months because I've been desperately working on my work-in-progress, Aura. I've been using the little time I have to write to work on Aura and try to finish it.

It's a YA urban fantasy about a girl who fights demons. Of course, there's much more to it than that, but I'm not quite sure what market it fits because while it's about fighting demons, the main character, Crystal, finds the strength to fight those demons from her virtue. Yes, I said her strength is directly tied to her virtue. Not just her virginity, but her choices to be honest, not cheat, and to do the right thing, even when it comes to her boyfriend trying to talk her into sleeping with him. See how it doesn't quite fit into any market? The national market seems to demand YA books about sex while the LDS market doesn't like demons. So there's the rub.

But I'm determined to finish it because it's the story that burns inside me and is yelling at me to get out. I'm currently doing my last (I hope) revision. I don't know if it will find readers, but I cannot not finish it and at least try to find a market for it. I've learned so much about myself during this book that I don't regret a moment of writing it.

I hope that Crystal will speak to young teen readers and that she can share a story that's important. A story about embracing the good to defeat the evil. A story about finding and using that inner Light to combat the evil that is so rampant in the world today. A story about finding your place and making the choice to follow your path.

And that's why I've been so absent from my blog. Not sure anyone noticed, but, just in case, that's what I've been up to.

Oh, and cleaning, organizing, taking kids swimming, camps, laundry, gardening, learning to cope with no water at times (been praying and fasting for rain), unexpected trip to UT, a family death (my husband's uncle) and just trying to enjoy some summertime fun with my kids.

How's your summer?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Women of Strength by Tristi Pinkston

From the back cover:

The need for courageous, faithful women has never been greater than it is today. As we draw nearer to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, we are faced with temptations on every side. But we can prevail as we gain true strength from living the gospel.



In Women of Strength, Tristi Pinkston shares inspiring stories, as well as insightful quotes from Church leaders, to demonstrate the power and influence of righteous women. This book invites women everywhere to deepen their relationship with the Savior, rely on the guidance of the Holy Ghost, and learn what it really means to be strong.

I had the privilege of reading this book and I am very grateful I did. It is an amazing book. I LOVED it.

Tristi writes with courage and conviction and you can feel her strength in the pages of this book. She doesn't try to sugar-coat anything but tells it like it is. As women of God we must be strong and we find that strength in keeping the commandments. We find that strength in turning to Christ instead of the world.

Tristi shares examples and her conversational-style writing makes you feel like she's in the room with you teaching you these concepts. These aren't new concepts, but Tristi helps you see how they apply in your life, right here, right now.

I read the book while traveling to Florida to see my daughter and I'm sure some of the passengers on the plane wondered why I kept tearing up or why I'd say, "Yes, this is exactly how I feel" or "I love this." I kept pointing out passages to my husband and saying, "This one is great."

I highly recommend this book. I think every woman would benefit from reading it whether they are single or married, young or old. I especially loved the chapter on finding strength in talents. I love to write, but sometimes, I feel like I should be cleaning out the basement or organizing the linen closet or scrubbing the baseboards or sewing all the wardrobe for my kids instead of taking time to write and nurture that talent. However, Tristi reminds us that Heavenly Father has given us talents to nurture and to share and we can find strength in the talents He has given us.

Here is the link to Amazon to purchase this book. I think you'll love it as much as I do.

I was given a copy of this book to review, but it did not influence my review. I don't review many books and only post reviews of books I love. This book, I love.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Disney vs Universal

My oldest daughter is participating in the Disney College Program in Orlando, FL until August. We decided to go out to visit her for her birthday a few weeks ago. May is a perfect time to visit. We walked on most rides and compared to other times we have visited Disney World, the crowd was relatively small.

We went to all the parks: Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios. I like each of the parks for different reasons. My favorite rides are Expedition Everest in Animal Kingdom and Rockin' Rollercoaster in Hollywood Studios.

I like Magic Kingdom, but I have to be honest, it doesn't have the same magic for me that Disneyland has. I'm sure it's because I grew up going to Disneyland regularly. I remember back in the day when we had to use tickets to get on the rides and the Matterhorn was the "big" ride. Disneyland makes me feel like a kid again. I have so many memories there and I love it. Magic Kingdom in Orlando is fun, just not as magical for me.

We also went to Universal's Islands of Adventure. Some of the coolest rides ever. LOVED Harry Potter World and I'm not even a Potterite (though my daughter is and she was in heaven--just like a little girl even though she's 23). The ride through the castle is probably the best ride I've ever been on because it makes you part of the world. You are following Harry through a Quidditch game and flying around Hogwarts, then you're in the spider's lair (which squirts water at you). We hardly waited in line, but going through the wait area is so cool because it has so many things featured in the books. AWESOME ride.

I also loved the Spiderman ride for the same reason. You become part of Spiderman's world and the ride is interactive--a bad guy plugs a big cord into the car you're in and it starts shaking, you feel heat when the Goblin throws fiery pumpkin heads, and you're sprinkled with water when the bad water guy comes after you. Of course, at the end Spiderman saves the day. AWESOME ride.

I also loved the roller coasters in Harry Potter World called the Dueling Dragons (I think). Fast, smooth, upside down at times. The front seat is the best spot. There's a blue one and a red one--my favorite was the blue one.

I did not like The Hulk Rollercoaster. Too jerky and each time I rode it, I ended up with a headache.

As for Disney vs. Universal:

Disney wins for atmosphere and ambiance hands down. But Universal wins for awesome rides. I wouldn't go to Universal with really young kids because they'd miss out on a lot of the rides, but for older kids and adults, you just can't beat those Universal rides.

A very fun trip!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Life is Crazy

My life has been crazy lately so I haven't blogged much. Or at all. I'm going to hit a few highlights in my upcoming posts. I attended the LDStorymakers writing conference a few weeks ago. A-ma-zing. Such a great conference. I loved seeing friends, meeting new people, and learning how to improve my writing skills. There's something so exhilarating about being in a room with hundreds of people who talk to themselves, write story ideas on pieces of paper, research how to kill someone with poison, and can carry on a conversation about their characters as if they are real people who live down the street.

This conference just keeps getting better. If you love to write, you definitely want to come to this conference. The classes are exceptional. The venue is great (Marriott Hotel in Provo, UT). The food is yummy. And you just can't beat the company!

I loved being an instructor at bootcamp. The ladies at my table were all so talented. It was a pleasure to work with them and learn from them. I had so much fun and the time just flew by. What a fun way to spend the afternoon talking about stories and characters and how to improve writing skills. Loved it! Bootcamp was definitely one of the highlights for me.

I attended the cover design class by Crystal Liechty and Sandra Tayler--very knowledgeable ladies who taught me a lot. I also enjoyed listening to the keynote speaker, Kevin J. Anderson. I'm an X-Files junkie and was happy to learn he's written a couple of novels for X-Files fans. He spoke about his productivity, which blew me away. That man writes like crazy--5-6 books per year. Wowza. I'd love to do that, but with a husband, so many kids to raise, a house to care for, and other commitments, it's not realistic for me. But it was great listening to him. I also loved hearing from the agents and editors. Holly Root is so bubbly and energetic. I pitched my current WIP to her and she was so fun and encouraging. I learned a lot from listening to their panels.

Great, great conference. So much fun!

You can check out information about the 2012 conference (as well as past conferences) and the 2013 conference dates at www.ldstorymakers.com.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

From the back cover:

When twenty-three-year-old Courtney Beckham, the privileged daughter of a highly successful land developer, is abducted in the mountains near her home, FBI Agent Jason Edwards investigates the ten-million-dollar ransom and turns up more than just a kidnapping crime.


And when Courtney catches a glimpse of the caller ID in her kidnapper’s home, what she sees sends ice through her veins. Even if she escapes her captors, something much more dangerous lies ahead.


From the author who brought you Wrong Number comes another story featuring Agent Jason Edwards that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

You can learn more about Rachelle Christensen here.

Here's a link to the calendar to follow the blog tour.

To celebrate the release of CALLER ID, Rachelle is hosting a contest for a new Ultra Flip Video Camcorder (4GB memory, Records 120 minutes Value $149.99) and other great prizes. You can enter to win between now and April 14, 2012. Winners will be announced and notified April 16, 2012.  For how to enter, click here.

Join the Book Bomb effort taking place Thursday, March 22nd. Click here for details.

You can purchase Caller ID here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

World Down Syndrome Day

Today is World Down Syndrome Day. March 21st. 3/21. Trisomy (3) of the 21st chromosome.

Some things I've learned about Down syndrome:

1. It isn't scary
2. It makes me look at things differently
3. Those with DS still have unique personalities and aren't blobs
4. People with DS have talents
5. People with DS can learn, understand, and remember
6. There's still many misconceptions about DS
7. Those of us who love people with DS just want others to accept them for who they are.
8. People with DS don't want to be cured, they want to be loved and respected
9. People with DS aren't happy all the time, they experience a range of emotions
10. Though there are challenges, it's challenging to raise any child

In a perfect world, we'd recognize that those with DS are not the ones that are handicapped. They are not the ones who have the disability. Those of us without DS are truly the ones with the handicap and disability because too often we let things that don't matter get in the way of what's important. We decide we don't like someone because he/she was unkind to us. We hold grudges. We are judgmental. We have conditional love. We can't see past imperfections. We let pride color our decisions. We are selfish and self-centered. We don't want to be around someone who is different. We are too uptight to enjoy life. We don't laugh enough. We don't hug enough. We don't love enough.

Today, let's celebrate those who have that extra chromosome and realize it isn't a bad thing. People with DS can and do offer wonderful things to our society. We need to be willing to see the person inside instead of being distracted by what's on the outside. I have never met anyone who, after taking the time to know someone with DS, regretted knowing that person. I have never met a parent who wished he/she didn't have his/her child with DS.

Here are a few photos of my son who has his own distinct personality. He is full of love and life. He makes us laugh and brings a joy to our home that's indescribable. I am thankful every day that the Lord chose me to be his mom and only hope I can be the kind of mom he deserves.





Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Today is My Birthday

Yes, today is my birthday. I've had quite a few. Almost 20 more than my mother. 24 more than my father.

Age is a funny thing. In our society women tend to hate growing older. Some even go to great measures to hide their age. When I was a little girl my paternal grandmother would never tell us her age. She refused to give us her birth year. I finally found out and she will be 97 years old this year.

Do I love my graying hair? Not especially. Do I love my wrinkles? Not so much. But they both represent my life. A life that has been filled with so many amazing and profound experiences. A life I wouldn't trade for a younger looking face or streak-free hair.

As I look at my life thus far, I can't help but feel so very blessed. I have a wonderful husband that I love even more now than when I married him. He has seen me at my worst and he still loves me. He picks me up when I am down. He makes me laugh. He is my rock of support and always has an uplifting word for me. He loves our children and has never refused to change diapers, comfort a sick child, do homework and projects even at the last minute. I truly don't deserve him!

I have amazing children, including my wonderful daughter-in-law that I'll claim as my own any day--good, kind, compassionate children who seek to do the right thing. We have so much fun together. My kids have taught me so much over the years--they are far better than I was at their age. They bring me a joy I never knew existed until I had children. I love to watch them develop their talents and I love to see them do the right thing when they have a hard decision. I love each of them with all that I am.

I have a fantastic extended family that loves and supports me. They are the first to help whenever I need it. They are the first to buy my books. They have taught me so much about compassion. I feel so blessed to live near my sister and her family and to watch her kids grow up. I get teary when I hear her kids bear their testimonies and realize what good, good kids they are. I am also blessed to live near my husband's family. I couldn't ask for better in-laws.

I am fortunate to be able to live in a home that's warm in the winter and cool in the summer. A place that's a refuge from the world and provides safety and security when things get crazy. A place where love abounds and no matter what else happens, I know I am loved there.

I have been very blessed to have some books published. I love to write and feel so fortunate that some of my stories have found their way out into the world. Not everyone loves my books, but the notes from readers who have loved them are very precious and priceless to me.

Yes, it's my birthday and I'm sure I have a few new gray hairs and even a few more wrinkles. But I love my life and those hairs and wrinkles are a testament to my life--a life I love.

Thank you to all of you who have wished me a happy birthday. All of you make my life wonderful and add to it. Thank you!!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Write Here in Ephraim Free Writing Conference

You’re invited to: WRITE HERE IN EPHRAIM – 2012

Saturday, April 14 at Snow College in Ephraim, Utah
Free admission - door prizes - published author instruction!

Greenwood Student Center
250 E College Ave. (100 N) Ephraim, Utah
Class descriptions listed after following schedule:

(PLEASE NOTE: some classes are offered twice!)

7:45-8:30 a.m. Registration
8:30 a.m. - 8:45 a.m. Welcome and door prizes
8:50 a.m. – 9:35 a.m.

Philadelphia Room: Greenwood Student Center:
Karen Hoover, Idea Factory- Pt. 1 of 2

Blue Bell Room: Greenwood Student Center:
Abel Keogh, Memoirs

Classroom 204: Lucy Phillips Blg- 2nd floor:
Andrea Pearson, Working on manuscript from start to finish

Classroom 205: Lucy Phillips Blg- 2nd floor:
Rebecca Talley, Show Don’t Tell

Classroom 206: Lucy Phillips Blg- 2nd floor:
Gregg Luke, Suspense

Classroom 207: Lucy Phillips Blg- 2nd floor:
Kathi O. Peterson, How to Grid Your Story

Classroom 216: Lucy Phillips Blg- 2nd floor:
Clint Cox, How a Plumber Wrote a Book

Classroom 217: Lucy Phillips Blg- 2nd floor:
Jenni James, Romance

Classroom 218: Lucy Phillips Blg- 2nd floor:
Ali Cross, How to Write Ninja Style

9:45 a.m. – 10:35 a.m.
Philadelphia Room: Greenwood Student Center:
Karen Hoover, Idea Factory – Pt. 2 of 2

Blue Bell Room: Greenwood Student Center:
Michael Young, Avoid Cliché Like the Plague

Classroom 204: Lucy Phillips Blg- 2nd floor:
Andrea Pearson, Working on manuscript from start to finish

Classroom 205: Lucy Phillips Blg- 2nd floor:
Rebecca Talley, Show, Don’t Tell

Classroom 206: Lucy Phillips Blg- 2nd floor:
Heather Justesen, Plotting

Classroom 207: Lucy Phillips Blg- 2nd floor:
Ronda Gibb Hinrichson, How to Avoid a Series of Unfortunate Pitfalls

Classroom 216: Lucy Phillips Blg- 2nd floor:
Clint Cox, Marketing and Publicity

Classroom 217: Lucy Phillips Blg- 2nd floor:
Rachelle Christensen, Suspense

Classroom 218: Lucy Phillips Blg- 2nd floor:
Ali Cross, How to Find and Develop Your Own Brand

10:45 a.m. – 11:35 a.m.
Philadelphia Room: Greenwood Student Center:
Karen Hoover, pre-writing

Blue Bell Room: Greenwood Student Center:
Joan Sowards, Dressing up your Prose - Figuratively Speaking

Classroom 204: Lucy Phillips Blg- 2nd floor:
Connie Hall, Time Flies

Classroom 205: Lucy Phillips Blg- 2nd floor:
Rebecca Talley, Story in a Sentence

Classroom 206: Lucy Phillips Blg- 2nd floor:
Jewel Adams, Short Stories

Classroom 207: Lucy Phillips Blg- 2nd floor:
Cindy Hogan, Self publishing

Classroom 216: Lucy Phillips Blg- 2nd floor:
Kathryn Jones, Writing Your Book Workshop

Classroom 217: Lucy Phillips Blg- 2nd floor:
Jenni James, Comedy

Classroom 218: Lucy Phillips Blg- 2nd floor:
Angie Lofthouse, Science Fiction/Fantasy

11:45 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.:
Main floor, Greenwood Student Center:
AUTHOR Q&A PANEL: Gregg Luke, Kathi Oram Peterson, Michael Young, Cory Poulson, Joan Sowards, Karen Hoover, Ali Cross, Clint Cox, Angie Lofthouse, Elizabeth Mueller

12:30-1:30 p.m. LUNCH and MASS BOOK SIGNING (bookstore will be set up in commons which is adjacent to college cafeteria.)

1:30 p.m. -1:45 p.m. door prizes

1:45 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.
Main floor, Greenwood Student Center:
“First Page Shred” panel: Julie Wright, Ronda Hinrichsen, Christine Mehring, Pendragon Inman, Gregg Luke, Andrea Pearson, Kathryn Jones

3:00 p.m. – 3:50 p.m.
Philadelphia Room: Greenwood Student Center:
Christine Mehring, Hero Journey

Blue Bell Room: Greenwood Student Center:
Abel Keogh, Marketing and Publicity

Classroom 204: Lucy Phillips Blg- 2nd floor:
Andrea Pearson, Self Publishing

Classroom 205: Lucy Phillips Blg- 2nd floor:
Julie Wright, Nuts and Bolts

Classroom 206: Lucy Phillips Blg- 2nd floor:
Gregg Luke, Suspense

Classroom 207: Lucy Phillips Blg- 2nd floor:
Pendragon Inman, Story Structure

Classroom 216: Lucy Phillips Blg- 2nd floor:
Kathryn Jones, Conquering your Writing Goliaths, pt. 1 of 2

Classroom 217: Lucy Phillips Blg- 2nd floor:
Rachelle Christensen, Revising

Classroom 218: Lucy Phillips Blg- 2nd floor:
Angie Lofthouse, Finding Time to Write

4:00 p.m. – 4:50 p.m.
Philadelphia Room: Greenwood Student Center:
Christine Mehring, Hero Journey

Blue Bell Room: Greenwood Student Center:
Abel Keogh, Memoirs

Classroom 204: Lucy Phillips Blg- 2nd floor:
Andrea Pearson, Formatting e-books

Classroom 205: Lucy Phillips Blg- 2nd floor:
Julie Wright, Nuts and Bolts

Classroom 206: Lucy Phillips Blg- 2nd floor:
Kathi Oram Peterson, How to Grid your Story

Classroom 207: Lucy Phillips Blg- 2nd floor:
Pendragon Inman, Story Structure

Classroom 216: Lucy Phillips Blg- 2nd floor:
Kathryn Jones, Conquering your Writing Goliaths, pt. 2 of 2

Classroom 217: Lucy Phillips Blg- 2nd floor:
Jenni James, Romance

Classroom 218: Lucy Phillips Blg- 2nd floor:
Angie Lofthouse, Science Fiction/Fantasy

5:00 p.m. – 5:15 p.m. door prizes

5:15 p.m. – 5:45 p.m. LITERACY GAME SHOW

6:00 p.m. pack up and go home smiling!

CLASS DESCRIPTIONS:

AVOID CLICHE LIKE THE PLAGUE - Michael Young
Keep your writing original

CONQUERING YOUR WRITING GIANTS - (2 pt. class) Kathryn Jones
A spiritual Journey Workshop - Do you love to write, but are you afraid to put your manuscripts out there? What can you do to overcome your fears or feelings of inadequacy? What can you do to garner the courage to submit your first piece of writing? What can you do to get published? This spiritual journey workshop will get you to the heart of the matter; your matter. What makes you tick and what it’s going to take for you to master all of your writing fears. Check one possible fear off your list by attending this thought-provoking two-part class.

FORMATTING EBOOKS - Andrea Pearson
Come learn from an eBook-formatting pro! We'll discuss the nuts and bolts of formatting your eBook for the different eReaders, along with talking about which retailers you'll want to upload to directly. Q&A at the end.

FRANKENSTEIN - NUTS AND BOLTS - Julie Wright
Using all the parts to create something that breathes.

HOW TO AVOID A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE PITFALLS - Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen
Learn how to overcome several pitfalls every writer faces on their path to publication.

SHOW, DON'T TELL - Rebecca Talley
Don't tell readers your story, show them. Learn techniques that will invite readers to experience your story instead of just reading it.

STORY IN A SENTENCE - Rebecca Talley
Learn how to boil down your story into one sentence that you can use to not only keep you on target while writing, but also answer the all-important question, "What's your story about?"

HOW TO FIND AND DEVELOP YOUR OWN BRAND - Ali Cross
A step-by-step approach to identifying who you are as a writer and how to use that identity to build an on-line presence.

HOW TO GRID YOUR STORY - Kathi Oram Peterson
Archeologists use grids to help them unearth fossils and other treasures. For the writer, a grid can help keep track of character conflicts and plot your story.

HOW TO WRITE NINJA STYLE - Ali Cross
The way of the ninja as it relates to writing an awesome novel

MARKETING AND PUBLICITY - Abel Keogh
Aside from your mother, no one else cares that you’ve published a book. Unfortunately, most authors don’t know how to successfully sell themselves to the press, bloggers, and readers. Here’s a hint: it has nothing to do with your book. Learn how to create a compelling story that will have the press, bloggers, and others asking for interviews and get great coverage for your books in the process.

MEMOIRS - Abel Keogh
Memoirs are the most personal and powerful form of storytelling. You don’t need a dramatic life experience, crazy parents, or a troubled childhood to write one. Find the extraordinary in the ordinary, create and convey meaning, and share a thought-provoking story that will keep readers engrossed from beginning to end.

PLOTTING - Heather Justesen
Plotting--No plotting style is right for everyone, or even for every book. In this class we'll discuss several different ways to develop a plot so you can find one that works for you.

SELF PUBLISHING - Andrea Pearson
Come learn the ins and outs of how the successful self-published authors did it! We'll examine what others have done to become successful, then we'll go over things such as the pros and cons of self-publishing vs traditional, self-publishing myths, advertising (and understanding the lingo), and marketing/promoting. Q&A at the end.

SHORT STORIES - Jewel Adams
I absolutely adore short stories! I love reading them, as well as creating them. In this creating stories workshop, I will share some fun creative writing ideas and we will talk about why short stories are so popular. By the end of the class, you will be oozing with story ideas!

SUSPENSE - Gregg Luke
We'll cover essential elements in creating nail-biting, page-turning suspense, including characterization, pacing, detailing, anticipation, conflict and resolution, and a few secret tricks of the trade.

WORKING ON MANUSCRIPT FROM START TO FINISH - Andrea Pearson
Find out what you should be doing with your book during every stage of the writing process. We'll cover things such as: when (and when NOT) to edit, what to edit for in each revision, knowing who to use as beta readers and when to have them read, knowing if your book is ready, and other topics. Q&A at the end.

WRITING YOUR BOOK WORKSHOP - Kathryn Jones
Overwhelmed about writing your first book? Each of us has a book within us, and I help you find it! This hands-on workshop takes you through idea, plot, setting, and characterization and gets you started on your first winning paragraph.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Special Announcement

I would've gotten dressed, put on make-up, and fixed my hair if only I'd known this would be posted on the internet. Oh well, the super exciting and fantastic news is worth looking a little shabby. I still get teary when I watch this.