Friday, March 29, 2013

My Heart is Happy Because He Lives

Though I think about the Savior every day, I particularly think of the crucifixion during this time of year. I don't like to dwell on all that he suffered in Gethsemane--it hurts my heart. I cannot fathom the pain that he endured in the Garden--enough pain that he bled from every pore. And it wasn't just the pain from sins, but every type of suffering imaginable. I have no idea how He did that, only that He did.

And he didn't have to. He had the power to stop it. He had the power to strike down all those who were mocking Him and torturing Him. He didn't have to lay down His life, He chose to. He made a conscious choice to give His life for each of us because He loves us.

And what He asks of us in return is to keep His commandments. If we truly love him, we will. "If ye love me, keep my commandments." (John 14:15) After all that He has sacrificed for us, it seems a small thing to try to keep His commandments, especially when the reward for so doing is eternal life.

For me, Easter is much more about the resurrection, that He lives. And because He lives, my parents live. My grandparents live. My family and friends who've passed through the veil all live. We may be separated for a time here in mortality, but because of Christ's atoning sacrifice, we can be together again for all of eternity. That makes my heart happy.

I had very little time to know my parents in mortality and if I thought that was all there is, I'd be distraught. I'm so thankful to know that death does not end relationships and that I will have the opportunity to know my parents some day. If I can overcome my weaknesses and faults and lay my sins at His feet, I can live with the Savior for eternity.

I am eternally grateful for Christ's sacrifice on a very personal level. I know that He lives. I know that He is my Savior and Redeemer. I hope to be more like Him. To forgive as He did. To love as He did. To live as He did.

May we all have a wonderful Easter and remember all that the Savior has done for us.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

My Son is Reading

Any of you who know me, know that my youngest son has Down syndrome. I have been homeschooling him this year in hopes of preparing him to enter school next year.

I have taught all of my children to read. I homeschool them for kindergarten so that I can make sure they learn to read. I believe that reading is the most important academic skill they can have because if they can read, then the whole world is open to them.

For most of my kids, I have used the Spalding method, which is a phonics-based program. I also used Hooked on Phonics for some of my kids. I believe phonics-based approaches give kids the tools to decipher words and think it is the best way to teach kids to read.

Then I started teaching my youngest son. Everything I knew, or thought I knew, went out the window. I had to start from scratch and figure out how to best teach him to read. I read a lot of articles and books that said I needed to use sight words with him. So I made up flashcards with familiar words. We did that for a while, but it seemed like he needed more.

So I went back to teaching him the sounds of each letter. We do sound cards each day and he has been sounding out words now when we read. He has also learned many sight words. He still struggles with how to say the words, but he knows them.

One day, I suddenly had the idea to take the Hooked on Phonics books that I've used and make a flashcard for each word in the book beginning with book #1. I say the word and have him pick out the flashcard. I also say a sentence from the book and then have him find the corresponding words on the flashcards and lay them out into a sentence. It's working really well. He is not only recognizing the sight words, but he's also sounding out words using his knowledge of the sounds of the letters, which means he's improving his verbal skills.

The other day, we read Brown Bear, Brown Bear. I was astonished, and excited, when he started reading the book. I read the first part and he read the second part on each page. And he actually read it verbally. Yay!!!

So I know that he's beginning to read and, even better, he is saying words and using his verbal skills. It's been a long time coming, but I am so thankful to see this progress.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Writing Process

I've been involved with a writing challenge this month. So far, I've written over 34,000 words on a new novel since March 1st. Woo hoo!!

This novel will be women's fiction and will center around things that I'm most passionate about. If you know me very well, you may be able to guess what this book will be about. Any guesses?

What's been great about this challenge, besides writing so many words, is learning more about my writing process. I've been keeping track in an Excel spreadsheet of the date, time, and word count. I've learned that I have averaged about 1500 words an hour. I'm starting to slow down now because I'm almost to the end of the story, but I've kept up that pace pretty consistently. I'm more prolific in the afternoon, 12:00-2:00, than any other time of day.

I've also learned that I can write more when I've thought about the story prior to sitting down and working. If I have a general feel for what I want to write, the story practically writes itself. I did spend the month of February doing a lot of pre-writing and writing scenes on index cards, so that's helped me a lot. I'm a planner.

Currently, most of this draft is dialogue. I "hear" my stories much more than I see them. I tend to write my first drafts in dialogue. That's helpful to me in a few ways: I can make sure the dialogue is moving the story forward, I can (hopefully) avoid info dumps in the description/narrative, and I can get a real feel for my characters by what they say and how they say it.

I've learned a lot through this challenge and by the end of the month I hope to have a working rough draft. After all, I can fix a terrible first draft, but I can't fix a blank page.

What is your writing process?

Saturday, March 23, 2013

40 Days with the Savior by Connie Sokol

Back Cover:

Do you desire a more Christ-centered Easter? You’ll experience a more fulfilling Easter season with these positive and inspiring devotionals on the Savior.

For forty days, enjoy a daily scripture and personal insight on a character trait of Jesus Christ, and how it applies to everyday living. Learn more of who He was, what He taught, and how it can bless your life.

“Connie Sokol’s new book, “40 Days with the Savior”, is just the little push I needed to feel the Savior’s presence in my daily life. Using personal stories, scriptural accounts, and meaningful insights, she helps readers draws closer to Jesus Christ and become a more Christ-centered person. I loved her daily nuggets of wisdom that prompt a change in behavior.” --Jodi Marie Robinson Author of “Women of Virtue”

"Connie Sokol, the queen of simple yet effective, has done it again. What a great resource for quick, daily things that we can do to draw closer to the Savior. This easily fits into our busy lives, reminding us of what matters most." --Peggy Urry President-elect, American Night Writers Association

“Connie Sokol has thoughtfully shared fresh insights to well know scriptural phrases. The simple inspirations in 40 Days with the Savior are enlightening and empowering. This is an easy way to draw closer to Jesus Christ throughout the Easter season and during the rest of the year. After reading this book I feel my burdens are lighter.” --Margaret Turley Author of "Save the Child" Administrator Writers Unite to Fight Cancer “

I LOVED this book! Connie brings these scriptures home with real, everyday moments. I can savor these bite-size gems throughout my busy day with little ones. The teachings are powerful, and her added insights brought them home for me in a new way." --Amy Chandler Founder, My Story Matters

My review:

What a wonderful book. I LOVED it! It's is not only uplifting, but so inspirational. Simple but yet so powerful. It helped me to rethink some things in my life and to see some things differently. I love the probing question at the end of each chapter. I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone who wants to come to know the Savior better and who wants to make his/her life more in harmony with the teachings of the Savior.

Definitely 5 stars!!!

You can enter the $25 giveaway:
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Thursday, March 21, 2013

World Down Syndrome Day

Today is World Down Syndrome Day because it is the 21st day of the third month: 3/21, which recognizes the third replication of genetic material on the 21st chromosome.

I've seen lots of photos and posts on Facebook. What I love about the photos is the diversity of the people who live with DS. They have different skin colors, hair colors, eye colors. Different hairstyles and clothing styles. And I think that's the point. People with DS may share a common condition, but that doesn't make them the same. They have likes and dislikes, weaknesses and strengths, talents, dreams, wishes. Just like you. Just like me.

They are more like you and me than not. Yes, they are different in some ways, but is different bad?

My son has a distinct personality. He loves SpongeBob. He loves to jump on the trampoline, run around the house, and play baseball. He loves to play on the iPad. He doesn't like our big, black dog and he doesn't like to draw or paint or do art projects very much. He'll eat most anything, but loves ice cream. He'd eat ice cream for all three meals if I let him. He loves pudding, apple sauce, and string cheese.

He can recite the ABCs, is beginning to read simple books, and can make sentences out of words on index cards. He has a great memory and has a ton of energy all the time. He loves Dr. Seuss books and we read them over and over and over again.

He doesn't use speech much yet, but he can communicate whatever he wants just through facial expressions. pointing, and pantomiming. He uses signs occasionally.

What matters most is that he's happy. And we are so happy to have him in our family. He is such a light. I am so thankful he has been part of my family for seven years. I look forward to watching him grow and learn. I know he will do great things with his life and I am celebrating World Down Syndrome Day in my little part of the world.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Poison Me by Cami Checketts

Poison Me by Cami Checketts

Jake Merrill was raised by his grandmother, Ruby, and her hilarious friends. After a suspicious death at the retirement home where Ruby lives, she enlists Jake and Chanel, the beautiful activities director, to help her find the killer.

But secrets Ruby has kept for decades threaten her family and the man she’s always loved but could never have. Chanel’s unstable ex-boyfriend, a presumably dead relative, and vicious criminals add to the confusion. Time is running out as Jake, Chanel, and Ruby desperately search for clues to solve the murders and fight to save those they love.

Praise for Poison Me

Poison Me made me laugh out loud and thoroughly enjoy myself. I wish I had a friend like Ruby! Snappy dialogue, romance, and a strong sense of family made this book well worth reading.

Rachel Ann Nunes, bestselling author of Line of Fire and Before I Say Goodbye

Cami's Writing Schedule:

Things are pretty crazy with four boys (five if you include the really big one), church callings, sports, etc. so I have to let go of my retentiveness and not worry if I don’t have a writing schedule. Most weekdays I get a couple of hours while the 2yo naps, but he’s fighting harder and harder to stay awake (any suggestions for keeping them napping until their five would be wonderful) and I feel too guilty writing when my boys are awake/home. So the only consistent writing time I have is after ten o’clock at night, making it harder and harder to get out of bed at six a.m. I have to keep reminding myself that someday these little cuties will be grown and enjoying them right now is more important than any writing goal.

Author Cami Checketts

Cami is a part-time author, part-time exercise consultant, part-time housekeeper, full-time wife, and overtime mother of four adorable boys. Sleep and relaxation are fond memories. She's never been happier.
A portion of the proceeds from Cami's books will be donated to The Child Family Support Center. For more information on this worthy cause, please go to

Book Blog
Fitness Blog

Blog Tour Giveaway
$50 doTERRA Oil basket and $35 wholesale membership, $50 Kate Ryan Skincare GC, $50 Amazon GC.  Ends 3/30/13

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.
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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Gaze Into Heaven by Marlene Bateman Sullivan

Gaze Into Heaven is a carefully compiled collection of more than 50 near-death experiences that occurred during the early years of the Church. These documented accounts give fascinating glimpses into the Spirit World by those who have actually been there. Besides being filled with stories of insight and inspiration, Gaze Into Heaven has pertinent quotes from latter-day Prophets and other leaders, scriptures, and perceptive commentary. After reading this book, you will never think of life—or death—in the same way.
Most of us have wondered exactly what will happen when we die. What does the Spirit World look like? Will we see departed family members and friends? What do people do there? Do spirits there know what is happening on earth? What did people who had near-death experiences learn from their visit? All of these questions and many more are answered in Gaze Into Heaven. There have been many books written about modern day near-death experiences, but this book is the first to focus solely on those that took place in early church history.
Studying near-death experiences can bless us with a better understanding of this life and increase our knowledge of the life to come. By reading about those who actually entered the spirit world and saw conditions there, we can benefit from the insights they gained and use that information to reevaluate our lives and use our time on earth productively.
How she came up with the title
Some people have asked me how I came up with the book title. It is from a quote by Joseph Smith. It’s a really cool quote, but a bit lengthy, so I’ll shorten it a little.  Joseph Smith said; “All men know that they must die . . . it is important that we should understand the reasons . . . of life and of death, and the designs and purposes of God in our coming into the world . . . and our departure hence. . . It is a subject we ought to study more than any other. . . Could you gaze into heaven five minutes, you would know more than you would by reading all that was ever written on the subject.” Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Period I, vol. 6, (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 9 October, 1843), 50.

Quote from a reader
“I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this book! I can't even tell you how grateful I am to you for writing it. My 12 year old nephew died in May and this has been a healing balm to my soul. I can't wait to send a copy to my brother. I have always been afraid to die, but not now. This book has power in its pages.” Alice Gold

From Back Cover
“With this book, Marlene Bateman Sullivan has done a valuable service for Latter-day Saint readers. Previous life-after-death studies published brief extracts from numerous sources and combined them to define spirit-world events and conditions. Returning to those sources, she has compiled many of their complete accounts, which add additional insights that will be enjoyed by many. Well done!”  Duane S. Crowther, author of Life Everlasting—A Definitive Study of Life After Death

Gaze into Heaven is available at Amazon, Deseret Book, and Seagull Book. You can also purchase from bookstores.

You can learn more about Marlene here.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Review of Aura

Thank you to Crazy Four Books for an awesome review. Here's a snippet:

I just keep thinking of the song This Little Light of Mine. Aura was a paranormal Good vs. Evil story. It was a squeaky clean read with an awesome message. I think teenage girls could get a lot out of reading this book!

Crystal was a good girl. Every time she made good choices, her aura shined brighter and brighter. She was caught up in school and not even realizing the extent of things going on around her. You see her choices didn't just impact her but the world as well!

You can read more of the review here as well as an excerpt and an interview.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Kindle Fire Giveaway

Kindle Fire HD Giveaway!

The winner will have the option of receiving a 7" Kindle Fire HD (US Only)

Or $199 Gift Card (International)

Or $199 in Paypal Cash (International)

Sponsoring Authors

The Stone Guardian by Theresa McClinton

Blood Oath (Gabby Girls Adventure, #2)Return of the Dragon Riders: Book Two of the Dragon Stone Saga (Dragon Stone Saga, #2)Hidden HeartA Tale of the Other Kind (Therian, #1)AuraPrison NationFamily Magic (Hayle Coven, #1)The Conduit (Gryphon, #1)Shifting PrideFire Within (Guardian Witch #2)Fall of Sky CityReflectionThe Light of Asteria: Kailmeyra's Last Hope (Kailmeyra, #1)Kiss Me, I'm Irish (Time For Love #1)Grace DollThe Stone GuardianLegend UnleashedInnovera Yakov: The Journey of A Thousand EyesThe GiftedFor What It's WorthForbidden Temptation of a VampireOwlet (Society of Feathers, #1)Cascade Brides: The Complete SeriesTwenty-Five Years Ago TodayAlexander Drake's Extraordinary Pursuit

Giveaway Details
1 winner will receive their choice of a Kindle Fire HD (US Only), $199 Amazon Gift Card or $199 in Paypal Cash (International).
Ends: 3/31/13

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the authors. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Lunar Love Giveaway Hop Winner

Thanks so much to everyone who hopped along with us on this Lunar Love Giveaway Hop. I hope you met some new friends and discovered some new books.

Thank you for entering to win a copy of my book, Aura.

I used to pick the winner.

So, without further ado, the winner of the this hop is . . . . Susan Broughton. Susan, I will contact you to see if you prefer an ebook or a print copy.

Thanks again. Be sure to check back for future hops and contests!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Lunar Love Giveaway Hop

2nd Annual
Lunar Love Giveaway Hop
March 8th to 13th
Hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer & Bookworm Lisa

This hop features books with paranormal, supernatural, science fiction or space travel element or books that have something to do with the moon or have a moon on their cover.

Welcome to the Lunar Love Giveaway Blog Hop. I will be giving away a copy of my YA paranormal, Aura. The winner may choose a print copy or the ebook
"I half-turned to her and shrugged, still processing what I'd seen, or at least what I thought I'd seen, in Ms. Neal's eyes—like they weren't hers. Obviously, they were her eyes, but it looked like she'd plucked them from someone else's head. A dead someone else's head."

In the fight between good and evil, Light is your only weapon.

Crystal Scott finally feels like a normal teenager. She has a lead in the high school play, a best friend, and a gorgeous boyfriend. With prom only a few days away, Crystal’s ordinary life seems perfect.

Endowed with great Light because of her virtuous choices and her inherent gifts, Crystal’s aura has become visible to those with the ability to see auras. Unfortunately, her power has also attracted the attention of demons intent on destroying all Light.

When Vincent Crandall, the human host for a powerful demon, discovers that Crystal’s Light is strong enough to disrupt the connection between demons and their hosts, he realizes she may be able to sever the connection altogether. Determined to stop her from interfering with his plans to rule the world, he sends operatives to neutralize her.

Crystal is thrust into battle against a demon army she didn’t even know existed. With the help of a mysterious young man and his mother, Crystal must learn to use the power within her before the demons kill her parents and Vincent harnesses her Light for himself.

To enter the giveaway you can:

1. Follow this blog
2. Like my Facebook page
3. Follow me on Twitter: rebeccatalley
4. Join my newsletter
5. Add Aura on Goodreads.

Each one is worth one entry. If you do all five, you have five entries :). I will pick a winner using on February 28th.

Please leave a comment and let me know what you've done or email me: rebecca(AT)rebeccatalley(DOT)com.

Good luck and thanks for hopping with us. Please hop on over to the following blogs for a chance to win some fantastic prizes!

Reviews for Aura

Aura is still on a blog tour. You can follow the schedule here: I Am a Reader Not a Writer.

Today a review was posted on Ever and Ever Sight.

Here's a snippet: This story simply blew me away. I loved everything about it. The story had a huge impact on me. Aura is a book that focus on good versus evil, light versus dark. I enjoy stories like that. Then to make it even better, add a paranormal twist to it. Aura was beautifully written and well thought out. You can read the rest here.

 Another review here: Walking on Bookshelves.

A snippet: "I loved the message this book sends. Choosing to do right over wrong will always give you more peace and "Light" in your life."

 Some days, I love being a writer!

Thank you so much for your support.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Aura Blog Tour

I'm so excited. My blog tour for Aura begins today. Woo hoo!! If you'd like to visit the blogs today here they are:

I Am a Reader Not a Writer (you can see the whole schedule here as well as learn 10 things about me)
Free eBooks Daily (Interview)
A Dream Within A Dream (Excerpt from Aura)
Falling for YA (Spotlight)
Curling Up with a Good Book (Guest Post about my Favorite Character)

You can enter the giveaway for a $25 gift card from Amazon or PayPal cash on any of the blogs. It's easy to enter.

I'll post the stops each day if you'd like to follow along. And if you'd like to leave comments at any of the participating blogs, that'd be awesome!!

Happy Monday and Happy Reading!!

Friday, March 1, 2013

My Name is Frankie

I spent my childhood hiding from my father as much as possible. I learned early on that if I tried to save my mother from a beating, I’d get hit and then my mother would be beaten even more. It was best for both of us if I didn’t get involved. I’d leave the house and go far away, curling up under a tree where I could cry my “alone tears.” Then I’d creep into the house and into bed, grateful to have escaped, but then I’d get beaten in the morning. It was the alcohol. It was always the alcohol. 

Frankie Maio was never expected to amount to much. The oldest son of an alcoholic, it was no surprise when he turned to alcohol as well. Forty-seven years of heavy drinking and drug abuse should have been the end of him ... but Frankie's mother believed in miracles, and that's what Frankie got.

My Name is Frankie is the true story of a hard life, a long road, and the healing hand of a higher power that reached down and changed everything. This book is a memoir co-authored by Frankie Maio and Tristi Pinkston.

"My Name Is Frankie vividly portrays the 47-year struggle of a man dragged down to the lowest level by alcoholism, and the strength and fortitude to rise above his addiction. Frankie Maio and Tristi Pinkston have co-authored a true story which will have you experiencing a gamut of emotion. Be prepared to put the rest of your life on hold, because this is one book you will not put down until the last page has been turned." - Lisa Bennett, reviewer, blogger, and ghostwriter

If you have struggled with addiction, or know someone who has, this book is for you. There is always hope. Purchase My Name is Frankie here for the Kindle. Purchase here for other ebook formats. Learn more here.