Monday, November 29, 2010

A Salute to Orthadontia

Orthodontics Phase I:
Age: 5 years
Concern: Severe cross bite and narrow upper jaw creating a 'duck bill' protrution of her front teeth.
Plan: Series of permanent appliances and removable retainers that will widen the upper jaw and help correct the cross bite in hopes of avoiding jaw surgery later on.
Cost: $1800.00

Orthodontics Phase II:
Age: 7 years
Concern: Continued cross bite but, also, widening the upper jaw has created spacing that needs to be addressed in order for perminent teeth to come in properly.
Plan: Braces on top teeth, continued permanent appliance in upper jaw.
Cost: $2200.00

Orthodontics Phase III:
Age: 9 years
Concerns: While the upper jaw has shown significant improvement and most spacing issues are resolved, potential surgery is still probable. Spacing also needs to be retained until all perminant teeth are in place. Perminant teeth that have grown in so far are HUGE, needing more space than previously expected.
Plan: A new series of perminent retainers that will hold the spacing in place while perminent teeth come in and continue widening the jaw to allow room for the teeth.
Cost: $1600.00

Orthodontics Phase IV:
Age: 13 years
Concerns: Perminent teeth are in and jaw has widened nicely, but teeth are not straight and alignment between top and bottom teeth is not matching up. Surgery is still a possibility.
Plan: Full braces on top and bottom teeth with continual rubber band placements that will hopefully forgo surgery to expand upper jaw with plates, screws and implants.
Cost: $4,000.00

But results like this...


Monday, November 22, 2010

Check out the Cover for Blackberry Crumble

Shauna Gibby at Deseret Book never ceases to amaze me. She's come up with yet another fabulous cover and I couldn't wait to share it! Blackberry Crumble will hit stores in March of 2011.

“Modern Miss Marple: A Magnet for Murder?”
by Jane Seeley, feature reporter, The Denver Post

Local “celebrity” Sadie Hoffmiller has been involved in a number of unfortunate situations that have taken her to crime scenes from London, England, to Miami, Florida, and even in her own backyard of Garrison, Colorado. But is she truly an unwitting bystander in all these investigations? Or is she something more? Is she, perhaps, even the cause . . . ?
The word is out about Sadie Hoffmiller’s amateur detective work, but it’s not the kind of publicity Sadie wants. When Jane’s article threatens Sadie’s reputation in the community, she accepts her first investigation-for-hire and travels to Portland, Oregon—if only to give herself some space from her whispering neighbors. And from Pete, who's sending her mixed signals about their budding relationship.
Sadie hopes the Portland air will clear her head, and she is eager to get to work for May Sanderson, who has suspicions about her father’s untimely death. Putting her detective skills to the test, Sadie delves into a complicated past that includes a business partnership that didn’t end well, several unsavory family secrets, and more than a few motives for murder.
Sadie is afraid she might crumble under the pressure, but in a new place with new recipes, she finds herself more determined than ever to uncover the answers buried in scandal, insatiable appetites, and pure and simple greed.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Thou Shalt Not Procrastinate the Cleaning of your Raingutters

It rained on Saturday.  A lot. I came home from running errands and noticed the rain was running over the edge of the gutters on the front of the house. I came in, and told Lee we should clean those out soon. He agreed, then we both agreed on how bad we hated cleaning out the rain gutters. The day continued, the rain continued off and on, the rain gutter issue was forgotten.

Until Sunday night.

Or Monday morning, if you want to be picky. 12:40 Monday morning, to be exact. Yes, we were asleep at the time. Our 14 year old came bursting into our room to tell us that her room was flooding. We grabbed our robes and dashed downstairs to find a rather pretty waterfall cascading from the base of her window. Behind the glass was abut 8 inches of not so pretty water quickly building up in the window well. We got dressed in record time and Lee took to the gutters to try and clean out the clog that was sending the water over the side of the gutter and into the window well. By default of not wanting to stand on a ladder in the middle of the night in the rain, I was given the job of bailing the window well out.

I honestly can't quite find another life experience equal to jumping into a foot of water in the middle of the night with buckets of water raining down on you from above. It was a full three minutes before I could breath without gasping with shock each time I exhaled--by that time things started to numb. But they never numbed entirely. While I was hoisting buckets of water out of the window well, Lee was gasping from above me where he had to take the downspout off of the gutter, which meant all the water, leaves, and dead bugs came directly into his face, but it diverted the water from the window well. He tried to knock out the clog while the water assaulted him, and then had to put the downspout and gutter back together. Meanwhile, inside, my sister Cindy was shop-vacing the water while Madison used towels to try and soak up even more.

It was about 15 minutes before the window well was empty--then Lee and I sloshed around the house in our now 20 pound Levi's, finding two more downspouts clogged. The window wells closest to them weren't filled to the glass yet, but we're on their way. within about 25 minutes, we were done with the ominous task and came inside, soaking wet and shaking from the cold. The hot shower helped. The hot cocoa helped even more, but I didn't sleep well because I couldn't seem to get warm.

It was an adventure, to say the least, but as I've reflected back on it I found several "tender mercies" that may have made all the difference between an adventure and a disaster:

  • Lee's been working nights for months, but he wasn't working Monday night.
  • Of all our children, Madison is our lightest sleeper. Had it been one of the other kids, they likely wouldn't have heard the water for quite some time, if at all.
  • We had been painting Madi's room earlier in the week and she'd only been sleeping in there for the last few nights. Had she not been sleeping in her room, it would have gone on all night or until it broke the window, and we'd have likely had two other rooms flood because we didn't remedy those other clogs.
  • When Madi moved back into her room, she put her bed on the far side of the room instead of under the window where it used to be. Had it been under the window, it would have soaked up the water which would have been difficult, if not impossible, to get out of the mattress.
  • My sister, Cindy, has been staying with us and was able to help clean up.
  • While it was raining and cold, it wasn't as cold as it could have been in late October.
  • Cindy had been using the shop-vac at her new apartment, but brought it back that evening after having had it there for several days.
  • Cindy knew how to use the shop vac.

Beyond all that, the fact remains, that had we cleaned out the gutters as we were supposed to (we haven't cleaned them out for two years) or even when I'd thought about doing it, this wouldn't have happened in the first place. We can all say, now, however that we have officially learned that cleaning out rain gutters on a Saturday afternoon is a far better experience than cleaning them out in a rainstorm at night in late October.

Funny how life teaches you things like that.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Whitney Award Rules Change

**Please feel free to post this on your blog AND be sure to nominate your favorite books by LDS Authors published in 2010!

A major change has come to the Whitney Awards! By unanimous vote, the Whitney Committee has elected to allow nominees to win in any category for which they are nominated. The previous rule, which allowed books to win in only one category, gave the second place finisher in genre categories the top prize if the first place novel won an overall award.   
For example, if Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford had the strength to win top honors in multiple categories, such as Best Novel, Best Novel by a New Author, and Best Genre Novel, it would be allowed to take the prize for all three rather than allowing the award in lesser categories go to the second or even third place winner in that category. This new award system provides greater recognition for truly outstanding books that merit such.
“Originally, we wanted to give as many great LDS authors a chance to win as possible,” said Whitney committee member Crystal Liechty. “But we feel like we’ve had enough exposure at this point so that there’s no need to prevent a book from sweeping every category it’s in if that’s what the voters want.”
The Whitneys are an awards program for novels by LDS authors. Elder Orson F. Whitney, an early apostle in the LDS church, prophesied “We will yet have Miltons and Shakespeares of our own.” Since we have that as our goal, we feel that we should also honor those authors who excel and continually raise the bar.       
"Allowing novels to win multiple categories follows the precedence of other nationally recognized award programs, such as The Academy Awards,” said Josi Kilpack, Whitney Awards President. “We’re excited about this change and the continuing excellence in writing that The Whitney Awards both supports and cultivates.”
The Whitney Awards honor novels in the following categories: General Fiction, Romance, Suspense/Mystery, Speculative Fiction, Youth Fiction, Historical, Best Novel of the Year, and Best Novel by a New Author. Novels can be nominated by any reader (via this website or by mail), and nominees are voted on by an academy of industry professionals, including authors, publishers, bookstore owners, distributors, critics, and others. For more information on the Whitney Awards or to nominate a book, visit

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Review Contest Winners!

Wow, you guys, thank you SO much for the amazing reviews! A total of 59 reviews or mentions went out as part of this contest, and I just can't thank you enough. Word of mouth is the most trusted form of advertising, especially in a day and age where advertising is everywhere. Thank you for sharing those words in a variety of mediums.

So, this post has two parts--part 1 is where I list who won the contest! I put each persons name into according to how many points they had. So, Stephanie S. had 18 entries, Alice had 10, etc. I then ran the list one time to mix it all up, and then ran it four more times. I did made the executive decision to not let anyone win more than once, which was lucky for three of the winners since Jordan McCollum had a very, very lucky day :-)

Part 2 is where I will answer some of the questions posed in the comments. If you already know everything about me (Heather B) or are just tired of hearing from me you don't have to read that part.

Thanks to EVERYONE who played, honestly, I could never do what you guys can do and I appreciate your help very much.

And here we go...

Part 1--Winners.

*If you are a winner, please e-mail me at with your mailing address. If you won books, I also need to know who you want them signed to!

Chocolate Cook Book:     Jordan McCollum

Key Lime Pie and Sunkist Fruit Chews:       Stephanie Skidmore

Key Lime Pie:      Karlene Browning

Lincoln Wheat Ear Pennies:       Alice

Congrats, Ladies, I hope you all enjoy the prizes very much, especially Alice :-)

Part 2:

Martha--When it comes to books like Gone With the Wind, shelving it and watching the movie is perfectly acceptable. Same with any Star Wars or Jurassic Park book, or anything by the Bronte Sisters. That's why we have those movies, to save us the agony of the words :-)  (Okay, that's not true for everyone--Jane Eyre is probably someone's favorite book but, honestly, I can't do it and as long as I don't read the book I'll never know if the movie was worse :-) Oh, and I LOVE my Prius and am tickled you thought of me when you saw those super-smart old people pull up :-)

Mable--As of right now there are 8 books planned for the series. Blackberry Crumble (Portland) will be book 5, to be followed by Pumpkin Roll (Boston), Banana Split (Hawaii), and then Wedding Cake (Garrison...probably) to finish it up. After the books are done (they are scheduled to finish up in Fall 2012) we'll be putting together Sadie's Little Black Recipe Book with all the recipes from all the books.

Wendy--No one else's opinion matters :-) So glad you're enjoying the books, thanks for spreading the word!

Don--I did enter you for having done your blog contest (shhhh, don't tell anyone)

Heather B--I did give you all those points--well earned! The most awesome part of me is the awesome people I can count as friends. Thanks.

Pam--I'm so glad you like Sadie, who's your friend who said she was obnoxious, I'll egg their house! Kidding, of course, I know Sadie isn't everyone's favorite character but I'm always glad to hear
when someone likes her enough to see what she's gotten herself into this time. As to To Have or To Hold, that's one of my favorite stories. I had challenged myself to use a rather timeless plot structure from Regency romances (marriage of convenience) and make it modern. I was a bit surprised when it morphed into Andrew's story the way it did, even more surprised to have written a conversion story (which I had sworn I would never do) but I loved the end result and am so glad you did too. Keep up the writing and submitting and analyzation of this market--it's worth it, I swear.

Barbara--Is everything okay? Being out of commission is a big deal, I hope you're okay. Key Lime Pie should be on shelf at all LDS bookstores, as well as most online stores. I hope you can track down a copy.

Brittany--I certainly don't mind having you write them down. In the future, I do have the recipes on a PDF you can download from my website think I need to post something about it in my sidebar, I feel horribly guilty when I hear people have risked hand cramps to transcribe but I'm definitely flattered to hear it!

Kim--thank you for being my token Canadian! It's important to be diverse and you feel that for me :-) And Sadie things you're pretty amazing too.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I NEED REVIEWS! a blog contest

It's that time again, the time of year when Josi begs and pleads for happy words about her books to infiltrate the literary worlds and woo fair readers into hypnotic credit-card-swiping moods of grand effusement and joy.

What? Effusement isn't a word says my spell check. Then a pox; a pox on such dictionaries that don't recognize such feedudulement of vocabularic variousness! (incidentally, vocabularic does seem to be a word.)

Alas, I do not simply beg for help without the understanding of reciprocation and therefore the current contest is thus:

  • Contest runs from 8/31/10-9/7/10
  • Points are only awarded for nice things said during the dates noted above
  • For each point you earn, you get entered in to what will be a random drawing done on Hence, if you have 509 points, your name is entered 509 times and you can egg my house if you don't win. 
*Points are earned in the following ways:
  • Mention me or any of my books in a positive way in your facebook status
  • Mention me or any of my books in a positive way in your twitter update
  • Retweet someone else's positive mention in their twitter update
  • Blog about me or any of my books in a positive way (you can copy and paste this blog contest post if you would like)
  • Leave an online review on any of the following sites for any of my books (you can use the same review on multiple sites)

Once you have earned your points, come back here and leave a comment on this blog with how many points you earned and a brief description of how you earned them. (remember where liars go if you are tempted to exaggerate). You will be subsequently entered into the contest once for each point earned.

Prizes are as follows:

Grand Prize: An autographed copy of Annette Lyon's Chocolate Cookbook (will be sent when the book is released in October 2010)
Second Prize: An autographed copy of any one of my books AND a bag of Sunkist Fruit Chews because they are so yummy and don't melt like Pretzel M & M's which I don't dare send in the mail.
Third Prize: An autographed copy of any one of my books.
Fourth Place: THIS because I think the world is a better place when everyone who wants a collection of wheat ear pennies has that opportunity.

Keep in mind I can send prizes to someone else in case there is someone you really need to kiss up to right now :-) Christmas is coming, whose naughty list are you on?

PS--you get double points for any reviews left for Key Lime Pie :-)

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Coming Soon--Key Lime Pie!!

Here's a sneak peek of Key Lime Pie:

When Sadie Hoffmiller's new friend, Eric Burton, receives word that his missing daughter's body may have been found in Florida, he immediately packs his bags. Sadie is determined to stay home and prove to everyone that she is not a busybody. But when she senses Eric is hiding something, Sadie is compelled to take action. Before she knows it, she's in the heart of Miami, trying to piece together a trail that might just give Eric the answers he's so desperately searching for. In the process, Sadie finds herself in the company of some colorful characters and some good ol' southern cooking. But despite the drama and intrigue, all Sadie really wants is to go home ... as soon as she does just one more thing.

    Includes eight new mouthwatering recipes, tested and approved by the official bakers of Sadie's Test Kitchen.
    Stay tuned for info about the launch party!

    Tuesday, May 25, 2010

    36 Years of Wisdom...Sorta

    Tomorrow I turn thirty-six years old. Wow. I could be termed in my 'late thirties' although I'll hang out in the mid-thirties for another couple of years.  I think I've stated before that I don't mind aging. I mean, I don't like to LOOK old, but I'm happy with how I look so that isn't an issue and I still feel like I'm catching up with myself due to the fact that I have simply always felt old. The whole process is helped by the fact that there is no one time in my life I can look back on and say "Gosh, I wish I were able to do that again." Maybe a day here and there, but I can't think of a single block of time (meaning months) that I want to repeat. However, I'm a firm believer in age equating with wisdom and therefore I get smarter every year! And, seeing as how I am so very wise I am going to impart 36 of my best advice:

    1--Do not leave laundry in the washer for a week.
    2--Peanut Butter should have child proof lids.
    3--I will always hate my hair no matter how good I think it looks that particular day.
    4--You can learn from your mistakes or make them again--you choose.
    5--Most talents are discovered after the age of 20.
    6--Everyone has demons.
    7--Some people's demons hate you.
    8--People with demons who hate you are better avoided.
    9--Prayer is your opportunity to try to help people with demons who hate you and are better avoided.
    10--My demons hate some people and have caused them lots of pain.
    11--Sometimes it feels impossible to make things better.
    12--Prayer is good.
    13--Cheesecake is also good.
    14--Prayer and cheesecake together is practically celestial.
    15--Philosophies are much easier to think about then to execute.
    16--Most of my philosopies rise up to bite me in the butt.
    17--Some people just are not happy for other people's success.
    18--Kids really do come with their own personalities.
    19--Sometimes complaining about something really does make you feel better.
    20--There is no sin in leaving the kids home when you go on couple vacations.
    21--The future is far more interesting than the past.
    22--Family is awesome, but just because they are family doesn't mean that their demons don't hate you.
    23--It is possible to love someone and yet want nothing to do with them. Healthy sometimes even.
    24--Time really does move faster as you get older.
    25--Metabolisms really do slow down as you get older.
    26--Typically it's easier to remember the stupid things you do than the cool stuff.
    27--Didactic ponification is of the gods.
    28--For every person who's impressed when you use big words there's someone else rolling their eyes.
    29--Forgiveness doesn't really make sense until someone forgives you when they didn't have to.
    30--Looking for ways to deal with your own demons is a worthy pursuit that might take a lifetime.
    31--Parenthood is a priceless look into the heart of God.
    32--There will always be someone smarter, prettier, funnier, more talented, and more generous than you.
    33--Just because someone else might be better, doesn't mean that YOU won't be a better self for working toward the same goal.
    34--Nothing feels as good as being kind.
    35--It's fun to be a girl.
    36--Bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people but good things also happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people and there really isn't anyone out to get us, just trying to teach us a thing or twelve.

    Thanks for all the birthday wishes, it's been a long, somewhat dreadful, insecure, whirlwind, and yet essentially good year. :-)

    Sunday, May 09, 2010

    Things Mom Would Never Say

    "How on earth can you see the TV from way back there?"

    "Yeah, I used to skip school a lot too."

    "Just leave all the lights on, it makes the house look more cheery!"

    "Let me smell that shirt...yeah, it's good for another week."

    "Go ahead and keep that stray dog, honey, I'll be glad to feed and walk him everyday."

    "Well, if timmy's mom says it's okay that's good enough for me."

    "the curfew is just a general time to shoot for. It's not like I'm trying to run a prison or something."

    "I don't have a tissue, just use your sleeve."

    "Don't bother wearing a jacket, the wind chill is bound to improve."

    And, last but not least (and the only one I can take credit for.)

    "Anything you want honey, I only care about your instant gratification."

    Happy Mother's day, I hope it was a good one.

    Friday, May 07, 2010

    Review: Women of the Book of Mormon by Heather Moore

    I remember, years ago, realizing that only three women were mentioned by name in the Book of Mormon. Sariah, Abish, and Isabelle. One is the wife of a prophet, one is a servant, and the third is a hooker. All these amazing stories are told, but it seemed that women played such a small role in those events. My semi-feminist heart took exception to this because part of my journey on this earth has been a continual quest for proof that I mattered. It is a testimony to my belief that I do matter when I see that other women did too. It's why I love the story of Esther and Ruth and Naomi from the Old Testiment--they mattered enough to have their stories told and continue to be my favorite stories. I want to be inspired by strong women, I want to see myself in them, and I need that reminder that having trials does not mean I've done something wrong.

    A few years ago I came to what was, for me, a rather amazing discovery in regard to the righteousness=ease debate that always takes place in my mind. I can only hope others of you have had the same battle play out "But I read my scriptures every day this week and a kid still pooped in the tub?" or "I paid my tithing, how can I be out of money?" but I realized that the GREAT people from the scriptures didn't have it easy. The great women were no exception.

    Mary, the mother of Christ, was labeled an adulteress, her life spared by her betrothed who married her despite the fact that she was pregnant months before the wedding. She fled to Egypt when her young son's life was threatened, then back again when things were safe. She was married to a carpenter and lived a simple life. She lost God's son during Passover for three days and 20 years later watched her oldest child, the son of God, tortured to death. Ruth was widowed as a young woman living in a foreign land. She had learned too much about her husband's culture and religion to find peace with her own people and lived in poverty, caring for her mother in law, until she married Boaz. Esther was one wife of many to a king who nearly destroyed her people. The wife of Nephi watched her husband be beaten, bound, and nearly killed by his brother's more than once. She bore children in the desert even though she'd been raised with ease. Once they finally arrived in the Promised land, they had to flee in the night and find somewhere else. Yet, these women could be called 'choice'. They had huge responsibility, often times the responsibility of nations and generations, placed upon their shoulders and within their wombs--it was a hard journey. Their righteousness did not equal ease, so why do I assume mine should?

    I came to this realization, but it still bothered me that their stories were usually sidelines. I want to know them because I am one of them--a woman with great responsibility. I want to see how they succeeded and learn from them. But how do I do that when their stories are not available except in snippets?

    Thus enter Heather Moore's book, Women of the Book of Mormon. As I said there are only three women mentioned by name who lived during the course of time covered by the Book of Mormon. However, there are other women mentioned--like Eve and Mary--and others referenced, like the Daughter of Jared. Heather found them all, and then she hunted for details. The result is a beautifully written account of their stories, put into context with the cultures they lived within. Heather has combed articles and other books, then compiled the information in a format that is easy to read and focuses on those elements that helps me know these women better than I ever have. When I heard about the book I was excited at the prospect, when I read it I was humbled by many things. Chief among them was the realization that these women were a product of their culture just like I am. They did not live in my time, therefore they had far less by way of rights and opportunity. This was huge to me because it wasn't that the prophets were ignoring them when they wrote the scriptures, it was that they were bound by the time in which they lived. I guess you could say that none of them, men or women, knew any better. But these women were important, which is why there is any mention of them at all. Heather brings them to life, puts meat on the bones of who they were and how they lived. After gaining an understanding of their cultures, I went from wondering why so little was written to realizing how much was written. We have whole sermons that we don't read in the Book of Mormon, but Mormon took the time to tell us of Sariah's heart ache and of the brother of Jared's daughters treachery. Now, Heather Moore has taken the time to tell us the rest of their stories.

    In the process of reading this book I was edified by my role in the lives of my family. A lot of what I do is background and foundational--but it matters. Both for their growth and mine. I can't wait until I need to give a lesson where I can pull this information from her book. I can't wait until my daughters ask why there is so little mention of women in the Book of Mormon. This book is a powerful witness to the fact that life is hard for everyone--that is how we become strong, it is how we learn to carry the yoke of being a daughter of God.

    You can find this book wherever LDS books are sold, specifically at DESERET BOOK ONLINE. Also, Heather will be signing with me at the South Jordan Seagull (11573 So. Main District Drive, South Jordan) tomorrow, May 8th--just in time for Mother's day :-)

    Monday, May 03, 2010

    The Hug Factor

    In the early months of marriage I came back from grocery shopping and brought all the grocery bags into the kitchen and commenced to put them away in the appropriate cupboards. About 3 bags into this, Lee came in and started helping me. He put the cereal on top of the fridge, put the vanilla in the cup cupboard, cheese in the vegetable drawer, and found a spot between the canned corn and beans for a bag of chocolate chips. I stopped him and showed him how we had a baking cupboard for baking items, a deli drawer for cheese, and a whole cabinet for cereal. He nodded and then commenced to put the mustard on the shelf (not the door) of the fridge and the powdered sugar on top of the fridge where the cereal had been moments earlier. This was my KITCHEN, MY space, with all of MY things and I went just a little psycho wife. I told him to stop helping me, that he was messing it all up and that I would rather do it myself than spend ten minutes trying to find my paprika when I next made deviled eggs. He put up his hands in surrender and said "Fine, I won't help."

    At the time I thanked him for this since I didn't want his help. Well, fast forward 17 years and four kids--unloading groceries is MY job. I now get 18 bags minimum when I go grocery shopping. Like many things that started out organized, putting stuff away is now a dash to the finish because I'm usually late for something. A few years ago as I'm 20 minutes into unloading groceries while Lee is on the couch I asked him to help me. He eyed me carefully. "You WANT me to help put away groceries? Are you sure?"

    And thus here I am facing another lesson of stating ones opinions too strongly, without having adequate basis for having formed that opinion. Which brings me to hugs.

    I will attempt to say the rest of this as non-creepy as possible. It won't be easy.

    A couple years ago there was a debate on LDStorymakers about hugs. I don't remember who brought it up or why but I pulled out my soap box and stated my opinion loudly and with fervor. I didn't like hugs. I didn't like feeling obligated to have such a physical exchange. It made me uncomfortable, I worried there was a sexual connotation to it with certain men, and seemed insincere when everyone just hugs everyone for any reason. I waited for people to line up behind me agreeing with my stance "non-huggers unite!" A few people admitted that they could take hugs or leave them, others said some people overdid it, but none of them were as anti-hug as I was. I've no doubt I came across as rather neurotic and it got me wondering about that very thing. What was so difficult about a  hug? Why was it hard for me?

    Ah, the romantic notion of going back in time and burning that soap box.

    Following this debate some people from LDStorymakers no longer hugged me when we got together--well, except Julie Wright because she didn't buy my defense. There were a few times when every other person is hugging and I'm shaking hands. They weren't being mean, and I knew this, they were simply respecting my loudy-stated wishes. But it felt weird. I hadn't realized certain benefits of hugging until I was getting less and less of it. The most awkward moment was after I'd been with someone, maybe for lunch and we're saying goodbye. It becomes a weight shifting "Well, okay, I'll see you later." That just feels weird. There were times I was REALLY glad to see someone, or REALLY grateful for something hey did and found myself unsure of how to show that. I missed the power of a hug and didn't know how to get it any other way. And it made me look at myself in regard to all kinds of affection which takes us to some deep seated emotional issues I'll keep off the blog :-)

    Anyway, I stood by my pronouncement, and I hugged people but didn't seek it out and wondered if I was really screwed up. Then, last fall, Julie Wright and I went on the book tour. Now, if you've spent any time with Julie you know she is a bundle of energy and just makes people feel good. I've had the chance to spend lots of time with Julie over the last several years, but never this much time all at once. From the get-go I was well aware of my hug issues. People go out of their way to come to signings, do I hug them? Have they heard I don't hug? Will they be offended if I don't hug them? If I do hug them will they assume I'm being insincere? There were people I hugged automatically, without thinking about it at all, but someone else would have me wondering what I should do. Julie, of course, had none of these thoughts. She hugged everyone. I had a moment or two in the beginning of thinking, what if people don't like being hugged? She's forcing them to hug against their wishes!

    But guess what. I didn't see one person flinch, pull away, or seem the least bit ill at ease. And Julie hugged hundreds people on that tour. Instead of flinching and teeth gritting, I saw people literally melt when Julie embraced them. At least two women literally held on to her and it made me wonder when the last time was that someone had hugged them. After she greeted people this way, things were different. Pretenses dropped, we heard people's stories, they opened up about who they were, what they struggled with, and they bought Julie's books like crazy. To summarize it, I saw all these people connect to her. I hugged too, but it was watching Julie and the people she embraced that changed something in the way I viewed a good ol' hug. There was power in it and because Julie sincerely cared about these people, the hugs weren't weird, no one was uncomfortable and good things happened. Was my problem that I didn't care about people? No. Was I being arrogant or germ-o-phobic? No, I just didn't know how to do it very well. So, I started practicing and hugging in the right situation. Instead of telling myself my personal space was being invaded I just enjoyed the closeness (I know, quickly descending into creepy. I'm done)

    At the LDStorymakers conference last week L.T. Elliot came up to me--for the record, she is one of the best huggers around, you know she's absolutely sincere in her regard and I swear she transfers energy through some cosmic force. She said "I know you're not a hugger, but..." And I felt so embarrassed. Not because she'd said it, but because I had told the world that I didn't want or need such basic affection. I made her give me a hug and told her I was converted. She laughed and said she was glad and she went on her way. The thing is, I don't remember telling her I wasn't a hugger. I don't know where she got it. Granted, I might have told her, but what if I didn't and it was just one of those things that spread. It could be a conspiracy that's might be all my fault!

    So, now I find myself in a very weird position. I told people I didn't like hugs, I avoided them, and now I find that, like Julie said, people need to be touched in ways like that. People like me need it, even if we felt sure we didn't. And yet, hugging still doesn't come naturally for me. I way overthink it, worry that people won't want me to hug them, worry that they know I've stated my dislike and therefore won't know how to accept it from me. Will they think I'm faking it? Will they they pull away? After people read this I'll worry that they think I hug them so that they'll buy my books.

    But either way, here I am, raw with confession, squirmy in my seat for both having stated my original opinions and now going back on them. I don't think I'll ever be Julie, but I'm growing in this one part of my life, I guess. And growth is uncomfortable sometimes.

    Tuesday, April 27, 2010

    2010 LDStorymakers Conference my POV

    It's Tuesday already? So not fair. Honestly I could have done another two days easy. So, here is my recap--I ask in advance that you forgive me for not linking--it takes too long and I've already spent a couple hours at work catching up with the e-mail that piled up (disclaimer: I don't get paid and I'm sleeping with my boss so I can take such liberties. I do not recommend that you take advantage of your employer in this way--or that you sleep with him for privileges unless you are legally and lawfully married to him/her.)

    Before leaving home I set up a treasure hunt for Breanna (also called Jeanie on this blog, but since she's on facebook and linked to me I decided the pseudonym wasn't necessary any more) It was her 16th birthday that day and although we celebrated the night before and she was okay with my not being there, I felt aweful and thus the treasure hunt made me feel much better about myself. That's what it's all about, right? After setting it up I headed to Salt Lake where I picked up a case of books and headed to the airport. I picked up Nephele Tempest (prounounced Neffalee--not that I said it right all weekend, grrr) and we spent the next few hours touring Salt Lake. We went to Saltaire marina (thank you Wikipedia for teaching me all about Saltaire so I could sound like I knew my landmarks) and then we went to lunch with Lisa Mangum at The Garden and had deep fried pickles. Not bad. After that we toured Temple Square, then headed for Provo.

    After getting early check-in (thank you Marriott!) I ran some errands, got checked into the hotel, helped put together syllabus binders and then went to dinner with Nephele Tempest (agent Knight agency), Laura Rennert (agent Andrea Brown), Krista Marino (editor Delacort), Annette Lyon, Heather Moore, Julie Wright (three of my favorite people in the world), Marion Jensen, Jeff Savage, and James Dashner. We went to Tucanos--a low-carb girls dream restaurant! and had a great time getting to know one another. After that it was back to the hotel, chat time with Heather and Annette who were my roomies for the evening and to bed.

    Friday started at 5:30 since I helped with registration and then bootcamp. My bootcamp table was the bomb! Jewel Allen, Melanie Jacobsen and Kim Coats were gals I knew before--Sadie Starling was new to me, but fit right in. What wonderful women and wonderful writers. We weren't able to find Sadie for the picture but she is there in spirit I'm sure. :-) After bootcamp the conference began. I was the chairperson for the agents and editors so I stressed about that, taught a class on Book Launch parties and thwarted Dan Wells and Howard Taylor's attempts to hijack me--phew--after that I manned 'doors' for the pitches, caught part of a class here and there and got to hug lots of people. I had the chance to explain my spiritual philosophy to one very talented writer I deeply admire--she knows who she is--and it put me in a reflective mood that I needed, perhaps more than she did. Thank you for that, we all need those reminders and I was grateful for the chance to reflect on my own beliefs of why I do what I do.

    Friday night was full of great conversation and camaraderie and just added to the high I'd been on all day. I worried I wouldn't sleep well that night, but I slept like a rock--apparently 14 hours straight of high energy takes it's toll. The next day was bootcamp again at 7:00 and then more pitches and another class, this one on Characterization where I told a particular story about myself that has been bugging me every since. Sigh. I talk too much. Anyway, I think it went pretty well and when it was over I was back to pitches again. When the pitches finally came to an end I had the chance to sit in on the entire agent/editor panel, which was awesome and the only class I was in for its entirety, and then it was time to break the party up and get ready for the Whitneys.

    I had already come to the realization that it was not my year. You think I'm being all noble, but I'm not. I was up against some amazing writers and even though I hadn't read any of my competitors books (on purpose) I know them and their writing and am just glad that no one publishes the ranking so I can PRETEND I came in second :-) Now, let me say I WANTED to win, I really, really did, but I'm also a realist and had thoroughly enjoyed being a finalist amid such fabulous talent. Stephanie Black earned that award and I was perhaps the first one to applaud for her. If you didn't see the Mormon times article on the award gala, you should check it out HERE. The picture of Stephanie is priceless.

    The rest of the evening was wonderful. I was at a table with Brandon Mull, Lisa Mangum, Gerald Lund and his wife Lynn, and Chris Schobinger and his wife Jennifer. It was very cool to tell Elder Lund what an impact his books have had on me, specifically The Kingdom and the Crown series to which I attribute 75% of my understanding of the New Testiment. The speeches and acheivement tributes were amazing--reminding me of how powerful words can be and what a gift it is to serve by teaching, both through books and actually teaching skills and craft. I left feeling even more uplifted and validated in the area I've chosen to invest to much of my life within.

    I got home around 11:30 that night to find 3 of the 4 kids had waited up for me. They'd made a sign that said "Congratulations, you ALMOST won the Whitney!" It was awesome and so good to be home, hugging my kids, and remembering the OTHER great blessings I have in my life.

    All in all it was a wonderful, fabulous weekend. A few other hightlights?

    Hugs from Laura Elliot--she gives the best hugs ever and is just such a ray of sunshine in my life.

    Luisa Perkins sharing with me her excitement to have had her manuscript requested. I laughed because she was telling me how the book was a dark, dark, dark YA thriller, and I couldn't get past the strand of pearls around her neck and little black dress she was wearing. That's what we call irony :-) But I was touched that she shared that with me--I admire her very much.

    Kim Vanderhorst brought me Canadian candybars, which no longer exist. They were DIVINE and I was just so touched to be one of the people she thought of as she got ready to come to the confernece. I feel very out of touch with some of my favorite blog-writer-friends and was glad that she still has warm feelings toward me. And, it was Canadian chocolate, I mean THAT is love.

    Shanda, Hillary, and Sheila with the LDS Women's Book Review podcast. They are phenomenal cheerleaders to have on the side of LDS fiction and I just love the opportunity to spend time with them.

    Becky Clayson took second place in the First Chapter Contest! Becky has been in my writing group for four years and she's very talented but like many of us wonders if she can  compete. Well, she can--I already knew that--but the judges validated that for her and I about shot out of my chair in excitement when they named her book.

    Don Carey--one of Sadie's Test Kitchen Bakers--brought me guava jam! GUAVA! Is that not the coolest? He made it himself and brought it all the way from Texas. He's a class act and I'm glad to know him.

    Stephanie Humphries and Margot Hovely also won and I was so very glad to hear their names announced. I'm sure I forgot some others, my apologies.

    Rooming with Annette Lyon and Heather Moore is, as always, an absolute highlight. I just love those women so much and feel like I just soak up confidence and elegance by being in their presence.

    I'm sure I'm missing many things and many people, forgive me, but know that I"ll remember later and feel like crap for forgetting in the first place so justice will be served. I'm already counting the days until next years conference and hope that if you didn't make it to this years, you'll be able to attend in 2011. It's worth the juggling it takes to get there, I swear it is.

    Friday, April 16, 2010

    Top 10 Favorite Smells

    What does a girl do at 11:00 on a Friday night when she's brain dead from revisions? She blogs of course! The fact is it's spring and with spring comes some of my favorite smells which makes me think of my other favorite smells and the result is, voila, a incredibly inspiring post. Possibly one of my very best. This is not a David Letterman top 10--I'm not nearly that funny--and it's in no particular order.

    1--Smoke. The only kind I don't like is smoke generated by burning food, garbage, or flesh--not good. But burning leaves, sticks, paper, charcoal, fields, and even cigarettes is good stuff. That said, I don't like the smell of smoke in anything but air--not in someones hair or on their breath or in their clothes, but I love the smell of someone smoking a cigarette behind me at a baseball game and especially love the smell of burning weeds or fruit wood trimmings. Mmmmmmm. Love it.

    2--Lilacs. We planted several along the side of the house and the month of May just smells so delicious. I think that's why May is usually my best month for running because all of Willard is just wafting in Lilacs and I can't wait to get out there and soak it up.

    3--Lee. Since I first met him Lee just smells good all the time. He's very mindful of it and always wears cologne, never forgets his deodorant and showers after every time he gets sweaty. I can probably count on two hands the times I've smelled body odor on him and it makes him so very snuggable. I hear people complain about stinky husbands--I feel very sorry for them. Lee is a good smelling man...unless he farts. That's not so good but it doesn't last long cause I run.

    4--Other people's babies. I leave my babies out of this because I hate, hate, hate bathing babies. I don't know why other than it's just such a pain in the butt and so much work. So I would bathe them as little as possible. Only when I hold other people's babies do I realize how good smelling those little blessings can be. I would usually then go wash my kids up, enjoy it for a day or two and then avoid bath time again. I guess that's what comes from being a young, lazy mother. Thank goodness other people do better than me.

    5--Bleach. I love the smell of chlorine bleach. It means clean to me. I only wish I dared clean with it but I haven't figured out how to do that and preserve my clothing. I love doing laundry with bleach because the whole house gets lit up with the scent.

    6--Baking bread. I don't really need to explain this one, do I? I didn't think so.

    7--Rain. This one doesn't really need an explanation either. I love the smell of wet ground and leaves and just the heaviness of the air after a rain storm. It is so relaxing to me.

    8--Books. Do you ever just thumb the pages and inhale? I love the smell of the paper and ink, there's such depth in it, such...history I guess. I have loved my kindle, but I still read paper books for the feel of it in my hand and the smell of it in the air as I get lost in a story.

    9--Mountains. This might go along with the smoke and the rain, but there is just a smell to trees and dirt and bushes that takes the weight off my shoulders. I love to just lay there and soak it in.

    10--Cedar. I know that Cedar repels bugs or something and that's why they line cedar chests with it, but the smell of the cedar is just awesome. I love that every time I open my cedar chest the smell fills the room and I love that the things I put in there come out all scented and wonderful. I wish I had a room made of cedar, I'd just go sit in there all day long.

    There's my top ten, what are yours?

    Friday, April 02, 2010

    Join me for the PEG Write-a-Thon!

    Next Thursday, April 8, 2010, I will be participating in the Precision Editing Group Write-a-Thon. They're inviting writers to show how many words they can write in 4 hours! The person who writes the most words will receive their choice of a $50 gift card OR a 50 page content edit by one of the Precision Editing Group Editors. Another winner will be chosen at random from among all those who participate for a $30 gift card from Amazon.

    Here's how it will work:

    1-The Write-a-thon will officially begin at 6:00 Eastern Daylight Time.

    2-The blog titled "Write-a-Thon Starts Now!" will post at 6:00 EDT--you need to enter your starting time and starting word count in the comment section of the blog.

    3-Write for four hours--set a timer if you need to!

    4-When finished, come back to the PEG blog and put your end time, end word count, and total words written in those 4 hours as another comment on the blog.

    5-All "end time" posts must be posted by 12:15, Pacific Daylight Time (we're giving you 15 minutes to tally your numbers). To calculate how much time YOU will have, based on where you live, go HERE

    6-Please be honest. You are your own time/word keeper and we are trusting that none of our dearly beloved readers would sell their integrity for $50 or 50 pages :-) You must have posted a start comment AND an end comment to be eligible to win.

    7-The winner will be posted on Friday, April 9th here on the PEG blog.

    They'll also be adding up everyone's words to see how many words can be written in a night.

    Feel free to spread the word to other writers (Facebook, Twitter, personal blogs), wherever they may live--send them to the PEG blog, to read up (though it's the same info I've put here.)

    I'm betting I can write 4,000 words :-) I could sure use it in my current WIP!  I'll be writing from 8:00-midnight for my 4 hours--the kids will be fed, I'll have my Coke Zero at my side, and a pile of notes to keep me on track!

    Thursday, April 01, 2010

    A lot can Happen in 17 Years

    • 2 miscarriages
    • 4 rounds of bed rest
    • 4 live births
    • 3 of them were premature births
    • 1 of them resulted in a 1 month NICU stay
    • 5 years (cumulative) of raising Lee's  niece, Lindsy
    • 6 surgeries (3 mine, 2 Lindsy's, and 1 Lee)
    • 3 Grandparents passed away
    • Each of us lost a sibling tragically
    • Lee's parent's moved to Lousiana
    • 3 visits to Lousiana--2 as a family one Lee went himself
    • My parents moved to Milford and back again
    • 5 of my siblings and 1 of Lee's siblings got married
    • Planned and paid for Lindsy's wedding
    • 5 baby blessings (4 of ours, 1 of Lindsy's)
    • 4 children baptized
    • 8 places of residence
    • 13 family members have lived with us at one time or another
    • 4 elderly people lived in our home for paid 24 hour care
    • 2 miserable trips to disneyland
    • 1 awesome trip to Europe
    • 4 fabulous trips to Costa Rica
    • 3 Cruises (two together, one writing one for me)
    • 2 Grandkids, sorta (Lindsy's boys)
    • Built 4 Assisted living Centers
    • Managed 7 Assisted living Centers
    • 65 or so love letters
    • 40 or so chickens
    • 2 dogs
    • 3 cats
    • 2 goats
    • 15 cumulative years of kid's orthidontics
    • 2 5K races
    • Half a dozen fights
    • 3 failed business ventures
    • 12 thriving business ventures
    • 17 cars
    • 1 flood
    • 3 car accidents
    • Thousands of hugs and kisses
    • Every place on the financial spectrum from broke to wealthy
    • 1 college graduation (his)
    • 11 published novels (mine)
    • 80 birthday celebrations
    • 17 christmas mornings together
    • Too many falling outs with family members, most of them recovered from
    • 3 beds (ours, not the kids)
    • 4 painful betrayals from people we loved 
    • About 1,000 jars of canned peaches
    • 6 or so spiritual crisis
    • 6 or so re-conversions
    • 400 or so pounds gained and/or lost
    • 1 deep freezer
    • 1000 utterings (at least) of "What would I do without you?"

    Friday, March 26, 2010

    Set up for Success

    I had a great day yesterday--I did a career presentation at a jr. high school, which is always fun, but in addition to the kids I had a mom and a couple of teachers come into the presentation. The mom, Wendy, will be attending the LDStorymakers conference and I had the chance to chat with her about her writing, which is always inspiring to me. I just love people with passion and hearing about theirs sparks my own.

    After the career day I got to be part of the ribbon cutting for Deseret Book's "Flagship" store in Downtown Salt Lake. I arrived feeling a little awkward, not realizing until I rushed in, heaving due to the run in heels I'd just finished, that it was an open house. I wasn't late and didn't need to risk life and limb to get there. And I didn't recognize anyone. So I started wandering, feeling out of place and telling myself not to. The first person I recognized was Michael McLean. I didn't know him, but I knew who he was. He was talking to a cute blond. I continued browsing. I saw Sheri Dew, but I don't think she knows who I am--Emily Watts does, though, and I chatted with her for a minute. Leigh Dethman is an employee at Deseret Book Corporate who just always seems to be helping me out. I got to chat with her...and then wandered again, wondering if I shouldn't have come. I was feeling like the loser wanna-be kid and wished I'd bribed my husband to come with me. This went on for about fifteen minutes and then I turned a corner just as Micheal McLean (blond-less) adjusted his name tag. He looked at me and asked if it was straight.

    "Um, yeah," I said, not knowing what else to say. He immediately put out his hand and introduced himself. I said I was pleased to meet him and asked how was he doing.

    "For a middle aged clinically depressed type two diabetic, I'm doing great!"

    How do you not laugh at that? He asked about me, had me show him my books, showed me his book/CD (Mission to be Happy--very cute) and essentially removed all my awkwardness, introducing me as his new BFF. I met Grant Neilson from KSL as well as a few Deseret Book (heretofore referred to as DB cause I'm tired of spelling it) employees. Not long after that the 'cute blonde' he'd been talking to approached me. Turned out she was Jaime Lawson with LDS living magazine. She talked to me about a fun project she'd like to do with my Sadie books, and then I completely monopolized her so that I didn't have to be alone again. We got our yummy lunch, I met the rest of the LDS living staff, learned more about Jaime and got to see the ribbon cutting. Michael and I swapped books, I said hi to a few more people and then headed home--glad to have gone, gladder to have had Micheal and Jaime to make it more comfortable for me.

    After a blessed 30 minutes of peace and quiet, the kids came home and the afternoon games begin. I chauffeured and shuffled and wrote checks and dropped off recycling and assigned chores and cleaned the kitchen--typical stuff, then I got to go to the office and have my write nite while Lee held down the fort. My write nite partners, Nancy Campbell Allen and Jen Moore, came as well and I made some progress with my revisions, cleaned up some e-mail folders and toured blogs--I have been horrible on reading other blogs lately, shame on me.

    And after I got home and snuggled into bed I thought about the day and something Micheal had said. He has a blog that he started January 1 2010 where he writes one thing for each day that made him happy. He said that even on tough days there is usually something beautiful or inspiring or kind that he's seen or done. I thought over my day--there were a lot of good things. But the thing that stood out was when I was teaching the career day and going over things writers needed in additon to being able to write. One of those things is confidence. Telling a fourteen year old kid to be confident is kind of like trying to explain the color red to a blind person. Even if they have it, they don't really know they do. And it's something I've struggled with and continue to struggle with all the time. Even if I'm confident in one area, I'm always feeling not-quite-right about several others, and yet I can see the growth within myself. As I looked at those kids and remembered 14 I was a little overwhelmed with all the great things I have in my life--and I realized how essential confidence is to all those things. That was the moment that stood out to me today--both a realization of my own relationship to the topic and the chance to advise these kids on how to find it.

    So, how do we find 'confidence'--well, I have an easy answer. You might even call it simplistic, but it's what worked for me and it's what I look for every time I feel my confidence waning--the key to confidence is by succeeding at something. I'm not saying big things like climbing Everest or learning a foreign language--those things are actually an accumulation of thousands of little successes. I mean little things like walking a mile or learning how to say hello in Italian. Find something you CAN do, and do it. When you achieve it, celebrate it. One way to celebrate is to have a reward for yourself, another one is to find other people who will celebrate with you, a third one is to write it down. If nothing else, post it as your status on facebook--your friends will cheer you on and you'll gain confidence by making note of what you've done well. DON'T get caught up in the "It wasn't enough" or "I should have done THIS" just enjoy what you DID do. Sometimes it's setting a goal and accomplishing it, other times it's just realizing you did something well when the opportunity presented itself. If it is a goal, make sure the end result isn't dependant on someone else, like "I will take first place" or "I will convince my husband to rub my feet" you have limited control over those types of situations, and if you fail, then you can affect your confidence in the negative. Beat your own time, speak nicer to your husband, submit your book (don't set the goal to get it published in 30 days), put on make-up that day, lose five pounds--things in your power. And, again, celebrate!

    Here are my successes from yesterday:
    *I had the right time, day, and location for the career day! YEAH ME!
    *I was on time and my power point worked! YEAH ME!
    *Michael McLean now knows who I am! YEAH ME!
    *I get to do a project with LDS Living! YEAH ME!
    *I got the piles of recycling off my back porch! YEAH ME!
    *I helped KB finish a stupid school project we put off until the last day! YEAH ME!
    *I did a write nite without Coke Zero! YEAH ME!

    So, this morning I went to Michael's blog to see what his happy moment was from yesterday. No, it wasn't meeting me--it was his grandson going poop in the potty for the first time :-)

    Now, what's your "Yeah Me" and what are your ideas on how we can grow our confidence in ourselves?

    Friday, March 12, 2010

    Reflecting on the Year

    A year can be a funny thing. It can seem like an eternity if someone you love is ill, and go by at lightening speed if you forget to sit back and enjoy it now and again. A child can change into a whole new person--go from gurgling to talking, toddling to a full on run. Their hair color can change, they can double in size and go from 6 diapers a day to training pants (well, unless your the world's worst potty trainer, than it takes a little longer than a year).

    Today I came to work, opened the bills, started making phone calls, updated the accounts, requested an insurance certificate, printed some new file labels and created three new vendor files. That's when it hit me--a year ago, I didn't know how to do any of that. A year ago I was getting ready to take over the books for our company which, back then, I still referred to as Lee's company. I was not learning how to apply vendor credits because I wanted to, I was learning how to do it because we were scared to death about what the next few months held for us and our family. We couldn't afford an office manager, and I had the time...sort of.

    So I took a Quickbooks class, and cried at least once a week on the way home. I didn't WANT to do this! It wasn't fair. My youngest was finally in school all day, I could be a real writer, I could keep up on the housework, I could read every day. On March 24th, I went to work and kept crying on the way home; drowning in my own self-pity.

    I resented it for a long time. I didn't know what I was doing, and what I did do wasn't done well. I wouldn't say I'm a perfectionist, I just like to do everything right :-) and numbers have never been my friend. The situation also put me 'in the know' of where things really were. It wasn't good but I realized how much of the burden Lee'd been shouldering on his own, realizing that because I didn't understand how the buisness worked, I didn't have any way of really understanding the issues we were facing. We were involved in a lawsuit, we weren't making any money, we were in disputes with a landlord, and I wasn't very good at my job. It was a heavy load to help carry and I longed to not be so aware.

    For awhile I whined about every little thing I had to do in order to make sure Lee realized this was a sacrifice. We kept waiting for things to turn around...and waited...and waited. In August we had a long discussion about whether the company was even viable to keep going, but we'd put so much into it and we still had the lawsuit to contend with--quitting wasn't an option, and I don't say that in a romantic "Aren't we heroic" kind of way, I mean we really didn't have an option. It was at least paying the legal fees.

    In September a key employee in our Vegas office quit without notice. I cried some more. I thought there was no way we could do this without him. We interviewed and hired a woman we thought would be prefect--she quit after two days. I went to Vegas again. I missed my deadline with my latest book. We called our second choice and I did my best to train her, but held my breath. During training we'd realized that we had a huge number of jobs that hadn't been billed--and the companies had filed bankrupcy since then. We were out $30,000.00 and still had never recieved a paycheck. It was dark, ugly, and really discouraging. I was six weeks past my deadline before I turned in Devil's food cake and I wondered how on earth I was supposed make all this work? It had been 6 months and I was still trying to figure out what I was supposed to do.

    And then, finally, the change began to take place. The new employee was AMAZING. She was diligent and detailed oriented and anything she didn't know, she figured out. As she got settled she took over billing, and found dozens of jobs that hadn't been billed but, unlike the ones I'd found, they still could be billed. We collected on these jobs and found ourselves in the black for the first time in months. The economy, though nothing like it had once been, stablized in Vegas a little bit and we realized that a lot of our competition hadn't made it through the year. We felt horrible for them, knowing what it felt like to lose your business, but it left more of the market share. Our salesman in Vegas never gave up, even when he wasn't pulling any commissions, and he hit the ground running now that there was work again. I didn't have to negotiate extentions on the bills anymore and in January Lee got his first paycheck from the company he'd owned for a year and a half.

    Today he asked me a question about the attorney bill--something I take care of without discussing with him because it raises so many ugly feelings. I told him it wasn't too bad and not to worry about it. He looked at me and said "Gosh, you take really good care of me, don't you?"

    He left to run some errands and I reflected on that statement and realized how much had happened in the last year. I went through my own process of accepting my role, and Lee went through his processes of pushing forward and making this work. But we did it together and it brought us together and while I was given a bird's eye view of the burden he's been lugging around, he got an up front seat to the sacrifices I was making too. I came to understand what he meant when he was venting about something, and he came to understand how necessary my writing time was and worked hard to give it to me because he could see how hard I was working to do my part. My kids have learned a new level of independance and they've learned that they are an essential part of our family. We need them to be responsible, and they've risen to the challenge.

    It's been a hard year, one of the hardest we've faced in our marriage, but we made it! We'll celebrate our 17 year wedding anniversary in a few weeks. I have officially been married to Lee longer than I lived without knowing him. I can see this last year as a gift to us, a means of drawing us together in a common goal and remembering that we are people and partners and parents and really, truly, very best friends.

    Would I wish for the hard things we've trudged through this year? No, and yet maybe I prayed it into life all those times I prayed for the Lord's help in keeping my family strong, in helping me support my husband, and in asking that He help me overcome my weaknesses. Either way, I can look back and be grateful for what I've learned, how I've stretched myself, and where we are now. That is something I'd have never imagined a year ago.

    I was at a bookgroup a few weeks ago, talking about individual gifts we all discover about ourselves throughout our lives. One of the women said "And don't you think it's our trials that lead us to those discoveries?" I had never thought about it like that, but I've pondered on that theory a lot since then. I learned to cook because I was tired of Tuna Helper. I learned to write because I was on bedrest and falling victim to depression and self-pity. I learned patience because I had toddlers that didn't understand things the first time. I learned faith when I had nothing left within myself to push me forward and needed to believe in Him.

    Yes, a year can be an amazing journey, and each time one ends, another is just beginning. I wonder what the next year will hold...

    Monday, March 08, 2010

    Book Review-The Sapphire Flute

    First, I must start out with five reasons I think Karen Hoover is awesome--these are listed in no particular order:

    1--She's a certified massage therapist and OFFERS to give me neck massage when we're together. I honestly think she can 'read' my tension and if she weren't so nice she would force me to sit, but she is nice so she doesn't force me, just talks me into it. It's a really hard sell :-)
    2--Her sons are biological brothers who Karen fostered and then adopted SPECIFICALLY because she and her husband wanted to a) have children b) be part of keeping siblings together. Not only did she build her own family, but she preserved theirs. I can hardly think about it without getting teary.
    3--Karen looks AWESOME in hats. I have definite hattitude envy when I'm around her.
    4--If I could summarize Karen in three words it would be "Dancin' in the Rain." Since I've known Karen she's had a lot of thunderstorms come her way, some complete with tornado sirens and flash flood warnings. She has managed to build herself a very sturdy canoe and will be the first to tell you that thunderstorms suck, but they happen and must be forded. She's an excellent forder and just keeps singin' when the storms wash through.
    5--Karen is a fabulous writer. I was lucky enough to read one of the first drafts of The Sapphire flute a few years ago. I'm a critical reviewer, but Karen weighed out every word of advice I gave her and pushed forward. She is not only talented, but she is passionate, not only about her writing, but about other people's writing too.  She is classy, optimistic, and after years of writing, she is now a Novelist!

    In lieu of a book review, I conducted an interview with one of Karen Hoover's new fans, my fifteen year old daughter we refer to on this blog as Jeanie. By virtue of being my daughter, Jeanie is not your average 15 year old reader. We discuss plot holes, character development and the use of foreshadowing as normal conversation when discussing books. She doesn't like everything she reads and is pretty darn articulate--especially compared to her mother twenty years ago. So, her opinion is one you can trust:

    1) Can you summarize for us the story told in The Sapphire Flute?

        Kayla's life if flying high as she is finally being recognized for who she is and her talents. Striving to be important, Kayla excels in her flutist abilities while hiding her genealogy as everybody comes to adore her. The king has recognized her skill and her values, so he has assigned her a special role. Guardian of the Sapphire Flute.
        Meanwhile, Ember is lost in her feelings. Her stepfather's health has declined so far that he is racked with coughs. Ember's relationship with her mom isn't so great either and whenever Ember asks her mom about her real father she clams up. Odd dreams, lonely nights, and a confusing future dampen her life too. That's when her fate starts to look up.
        Both girls are destined to fight the evil forces of C'Tan with the help of magic but have no idea who each other are. In this upbeat book their lives take huge turns together and are always in sync, despite the miles in between.

    2) Which character did you like, or relate to, the most? Why?

         I could relate to Kayla the best because I share the same love of music and I love how she expresses it.

    3) You've read a lot of fantasy books, how did The Sapphire Flute compare?

      Pretty good, it was always moving so at times it seemed breathless but it sure did keep you turning the pages.

    4) Who would you recommend this book to?

       Anyone who is a sucker for magic this book uses it at its best, giving magic its different colors and characters.

    5) Anything else you would like to say about The Sapphire Flute?

       The characters were fun to follow as they grew in the good times and bad. When I first saw the cover I thought it was a book for younger kids. I also thought the cover was kind of busy, but after I read it it made more sense why it was the way it was. It was a really great book and I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.

    So, there you have it--a first hand account of The Sapphire Flute. Happy Reading!

    Saturday, March 06, 2010

    Finding GOOD LDS Fiction...Enter, LDSpublisher

    If you don't know who LDSpublisher is, well, join the club--most of us don't know who she is. But if you have any interest in LDS fiction--as a reader or a writer--you ought to know what she does, even if you don't know who she is.

    I do know people who know who she really is, but they ain't talkin' and although the curiosity has been intense at times, I've come to realize over the years she's been doin' her thing, that she couldn't do it at all if she were outted. So, I gave up the hunt mostly because if she lost the secrecy of her identity, she probably couldn't do what she does. And what she does is a definitely benefit to the LDS Market.

    Here's what I do know:

    She's female
    She either works for or has worked for a publisher who publishes LDS books
    She tells the truth
    She is passionate about good books
    She watches the national market pretty closely
    She's captain of the LDS market cheerleading team
    She knows when to say nothing at all
    She's a major supporter of The Whitney Awards
    She really, truly, and without apology wants to make LDS fiction better.

    That makes us BFFs, even if I don't know who she is because she and I have a lot in common.

    Over the years since she's been blogging, she's done reviews, contest, lists, groups and, recently, reinvented "Recommended Reads" where she will display the covers or two books she read and liked and recommends. She accepts books to consider, but makes no promises--she'll only recommend books she truly wants to recommend and will not be bullied.  I say that  because I DID NOT bully her into putting Devil's Food Cake up as a recommended read for March. I didn't. I would have, if I'd thought she would give in, but the woman simply doesn't cry uncle and then there would be criminal charges, awkward newspaper articles, and a general black mark on my oh-so-easy-to-get-along-with reputation.

    And the fact that I didn't have to resort to brass knuckles means that she REALLY did like my book! All in all, things are great and I'm honored to hang out on her sidebar for the next month. I'm not the only title there, and, in addition to Recommended Reads, she also has free book contests each month, writing contests a few times a year and all kinds of other reader and writer resources. You should totally check her out. Well worth your time.

    Tuesday, March 02, 2010

    Thanks for the Reviews!

    I had 34 reviews posted at various places last week! Thank you, thank you; it really does make a difference for online sales when people can read other people's thoughts. You guys are awesome...sniff, sniff.

    So, without further ado, here are the winners:


    And I know I said I was doing two winners, but Cheri Chesney posted 13! When she didn't toggle as a winner I was shocked, first off, but since she posted almost half of the reviews, I decided to make her Miss Perfect, now I'm going to sing

    The Little Miss Perfect Pageant, 
    where all your dreams come true. 
    The Little Miss Perfect Pageant
    where the special one is you.

    And Cheri didn't even have to put in fake teeth and get a spray tan for that! But she doesn't get a crown either, so I guess it all evens out in the wash.

    So, for those of you who won, please e-mail me you address to and let me know which of my book titles you would like and who you want it signed to. Thank you EVERYONE for the great support. I swear I'll do a blog post about something NOT writing related in the next week or so. 

    Saturday, February 20, 2010

    I Need Your Reviews Contest!

    I'm looking to increase my online reviews for my Sadie Books--Lemon Tart, English Trifle, and, especially, Devil's Food Cake. Reader reviews are one of the best motivating factors in book sales and something I can't do myself--well, I could, but that's kind of classless, isn't it?

    Here's the rules:

    1--Post a 'permanent' online review people will find when searching for a book title through a website. For instance: Goodreads,, Shelfari, Amazon, Deseret Book, Seagull online, Barnes & Noble, Borders, etc. (Not individual blogs or facebook please--I love the mentions, but I'm looking for reviews that are static and will remain linked to the books in a specific database)

    2--The review must be for Lemon Tart, English Trifle, or Devil's Food Cake.

    3--One entry per review (copying and pasting the same review in numerous places totally works)

    4--Any reviews you've done for these books in the month of February count.

    5--Deadline is Midnight February 28th

    6--Leave a comment telling me where you posted reviews--you'll get an entry for each review at each location.

    The Prize is a copy of any one of my books--your choice, signed and shipped to whoever you want. I'll be giving away two books and will randomly draw two name via on March 1st.

    Here are links to some of the sites I'd love reviews on, but feel free to choose others as well.

    Lemon Tart:                                  
    Deseret Book                               
    Seagull Book
    Barnes & Noble

    English Trifle:
    Deseret Book
    Seagull Book
    Barnes & Noble

    Devil's Food Cake
    Deseret Book
    Seagull Book
    Barnes & Noble

    In gathering these links I found out that Lemon Tart and English Trifle both have Kindle editions--so cool!

    Thanks for your help! I appreciate it so very much.

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010

    Look out, I'm on a roll

    So I finished my book yesterday morning and sent it off. I spent all day thinking "Maybe I should have Sadie go to..." or "Ooo, I should fix that scene where..." and then I'd realize I didn't have the book anymore--no more changes for awhile.  The big problem for many writers is that by the time you send the book off, you hate it. Key Lime Pie isn't any different. I'm sure it's the lamest book I've ever written, that my publisher is making faces at it and that in six months I'm going to have to brace myself for "I used to really enjoy Josi's books but something's...happened." However, lame or not, it's done and THAT is something to appreciate.  So, what did I do with my newfound freedom?

    Well, I got my eyebrows threaded, that was cool. I've been wanting to do it for months, since my sister in California told me about the process, claiming you don't breakouts or have to give up a layer of skin. Here's a youtube video about it  it was a very cool process. If you know any stylists who might want to learn how to do it, the lady I went to is going to be doing some training before she moves this summer. I hope, I hope, I hope someone learns how to do it. I liked it way better than waxing.  At the first of the year I decided to reward myself with pampering for every 14 days I wrote for at least an hour, then I got so busy I didn't have time. I've got three saved up, and I used one yesturday, I'll get a pedicure within the next week and a haircut soon to follow. Those will be very happy days!

    And then, after I got home I started digging in to all the projects that have been waiting for me all these weeks (Okay, years.) I reorganized my "gift wrapping" supplies and decided on a new home for them (I've been tripping over bags, tissue paper and ribbon in my closet and bedroom since Christmas) and then I pulled out my vapor steamer and took on The Grout. Yes, it is supposed to be capitalized as it is a fearful foe. Turns out The Grout really isn't black. Who knew?  I spent hours, and 3 nylon and two metal heads, scrubbing, scrubbing, scrubbing, and I only got the kitchen (the photo is of the border into the hallway, proving I have more work to do) but it looks SO nice! And it felt so good to be sweating over something physical. Today I'm going to seal it, so it stays beige for awhile and then I'll be moving on to...The Master Bedroom Closet. Dun, dun, dun.

    I've also put a home organizing book on hold at the library--I'm sure this phase will only last me a couple of weeks, but I'm prepared to take full advantage of this mood to deep clean, organize, and pamper my home in the meantime.

    If you've got any fun little organization tips, I'd love to hear them.

    Friday, February 12, 2010

    Opening NIght Party in Review

    Thank you, thank you to all of you who came to the opening night, it was such a great turn out and I was pleased to only have a couple cakes come back home with me :-)  In case you weren't here, this is the recap:

    First off, yesterday was I-N-S-A-N-E. I'd been up til 3:30 writing at the office, and then up at 6:30. I was sure I'd have time to take a nap. Nope. Being that I am 4 days from a deadline, I finished up a reader evaluation (Thank you Annette!) and then got to work. I finished the frosting, frosted the cakes, and swore as I made about 200 chocolate curls. We were doing a total 9 cakes--I spared you the intermediate photos since my kitchen was far from pretty at that point.

    I tried to make some dark chocolate decorating frosting, to make the cakes look two toneed and super fancy. It looked like wet coal dust and my kids thought it tasted like black licorice. So the triple batch of frosting went in the garbage. BUT, there was no time to cry about it so we carried on. Thank goodness I'd made the actual cakes over the weekend and for my fabulous helpers who came home from school and got to work so I could take a shower and run to piano lessons and a final trip to the store.

    The one benefit of being a little bit late, is that people are waiting. And I wasn't really late, but I was only 5 minutes early, which is late when you're doing an event. But I have to wonder if part of it isn't psychological in that I like having a crowd when I get there. That doesn't say much about my character does it?

    It's overwhelming to me when people come out to these events. I almost feel guilty that they took time to come see me, but I enjoy being able to catch up with everyone that I get over my guilt pretty fast :-) Reflections of Utah set up a whole corner of the store with tables and chairs, which was really fun.

    My good friend Melissa (denim) came, as well as Becki and Ronda (Ronda's new book, Missing, is great, BTW) are part of my writer's group, which has been such a great blessing for me in many ways. They already had the book, but came out just to support me, which was so sweet of them both.   Though not in the picture, my step-sister-in-law came with her little girl, Hannah. Her dad and my mother in law got married just a few months before Lee and I got married and so being as how all of us were grown, and our parents moved to New Orleans a few years after that, we don't see each other much, but it was great to see her and I was touched that they came out. Fellow author Frank Richardson came up from Fruit Heights and it was fun to catch up with him.

    We had a steady stream of people coming throughout the night--my friend Heather B. came and about made me cry when she gave me a hug and told me how proud she was of me. She's been to every opening night party I've had and is always such a great cheerleader and friend. I didn't get a picture of her either :-(  but it was highlight. Lee brought the two little kids toward the end--they get a little ballistic if they're there for too long, and it's always so nice to have them come and be all excited (it helps that I let them both have two pieces of chocolate cake). I had several other people stop in--Anna, Michele, Tiff, Denice, Marion, Tana, Pam, Jodi, Bonnie, Ashlea, McCall, Brenna, Wesley, Kate, Ilean, Leda--and several others.

    Just as the evening was winding down, I got a couple more surprises. First, Julie Wright and Karen Hoover came all the way up from Provo. They'd been at a conference and must have flown out of it as soon as their panel was over in order to get there. Julie is...well, she's my Julie and is always front row to my life and career. And Karen is a solid, inspiring, and oh-so-positive person. I'm so glad to know her and so excited for her book which will be out in 32 days (check back on March 3 for my review--The Sapphire Flute) I did get a photo of them, but it was crappy. My camera isn't so good. So, if anyone has a better copy, please send!

    Then, I look up and this guy walks in. My first thought was "Boy, he looks a lot like Don Carey. That's weird since Don lives in Texas." Then about .8 seconds later I realize it IS Don Carey! Don is a good friend, an inspiriting husband and father, and one of my test kitchen cooks. He just had his first novel accepted for publication and I couldn't be happier for him. Apparently he was up for work this week and so he made the drive from Provo to come be a part of the opening night. Is that not so cool? His mom came with him, and what a sweetheart she is--putting up with Karen, Julie and I and all our book and writer talk. The event was supposed to go til 7:00, but we were there to almost nine just chatting and catching up. It was such a great end to the night.

    I came home and spent an hour making stupid valentines for stupid valentine's day, but that's another blog post so I'll refrain.

    Over all it was a great event--thank you to everyone who came, everyone who sent good vibes, and thought about me last night. I have to say that this whole writing thing has been a remarkable journey for so many reasons. I love the Opening Night parties for many reasons, but one of the best is the reminder I have of how many people I'm connected to in this life of mine. It's a powerful realization, to see just how un-alone I am. The support is priceless; thanks for sharing these moments with me any way you can.