Updates

Status: Releasing Entranced on February 17!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

zoom-zoom

One time as I was driving home from Sam's Club, I got stuck behind a dump truck. Not just me, either, but a big line of cars got stuck behind this guy. Unfortunately, we were on a two-lane highway. The speed limit might have been 50 mph, but we couldn't go any faster that the dump truck in front of us going 25 mph.

While inconvenient, there was nothing that could be done about it. The dump truck needed the road. He couldn't go any faster (I assume). We simply had to slow down and crawl along behind him.

But what about those other times? Those times when you are happily zipping along at the POSTED 40 mph, and a car pulls out in front of you doing 35 mph? Um, hello. Speed limit is 40.


Disclaimer: I do not advocate speeding. I don't speed. Ever. The last time I urged someone to go faster than the speed limit was when my mom was driving me to the hospital to give birth to my second son. ah, what a fun day.

Back to the issue at hand. Perhaps it is because I don't speed that I like to take advantage of every legal fastness I can. My husband and I got in a huge argument about this a few weeks ago. He's one of those absent-minded drivers. He drives what he wants, not paying attention, whether that's ten below or ten above the speed limit. He said people have the right to drive slower than the speed limit.

Sure, of course they do! As long as they do it in the right lane. The right lane being the right lane.

I'm a respectful driver. I won't tailgate you. I won't yell at you. I'll simply go around you. But if I can't get around you because John Doe in the right lane is also going 5 miles below the speed limit, I'm going to be exasperated.

After all--don't I have the right to go the speed limit???

Friday, April 29, 2011

Y did I sign up 4 this?

I'm sitting here trying to think of a blog post that starts with Y and my mind is drawing a blank. No, it just doesn't want to think.

I could write something about Yesterday...or about Yelling at my kids...or about Your favorite things.

I could writer about the color Yellow and my brother's bright shirt...or about querying Yet again...

But all of these topics require too much thought, and I'm brain-lazy. This A-Z blogfest has been extremely beneficial for me. Here's what I've learned:

I don't want to blog every day.

It's been fun, it's been great, we're almost done, but my mind is on blog overload. I can't wait to go back to blogging three times a week.

To those of you still going strong and with gusto, you have my utmost admiration. I don't know how you manage. I'm going to go take a nap now and get my brain juices going again.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

X-citing Review

Yeah, I'm cheating, right? Oh well. I started with X.

Every time I think about the review Publisher's Weekly gave my book White as Snow, I get giddy and excited inside. In the beginning, there is so little payback as an author. I really needed this confidence boost.

Here's what Publisher's Weekly says about my book:

"This retelling of a classic fairy tale features Branca, the 16-year-old princess of Irena, who feels overwhelmed by her position as heir to the throne. As Branca ponders her future as Queen and her duties to the nation, her stepmother Cinthia is busy devising ways to kill the young princess and establish her son as the new heir. Shedding her guise as the perfect parent, Cinthia uses magic to enslave the mind of the head groomsman, hypnotizing him to kill Branca. But Branca escapes through Cinthia's magic mirror, using its powers to travel into the past. There, she becomes a surrogate mother to seven orphan boys and falls in love with a man who is betrothed to another woman. But even living in the past, Branca's life is in danger when Cinithia sends people and evil magic spells through the mirror to destroy her stepdaughter. Though this novel doesn't break new ground, it does add something different to the genre of twisted fairy tales, combining time travel with romance and magic. There is enough action to keep the plot moving and skillfully developed characters with understandable motivations and reactions add to the depth of the story."


I just love that review. It makes me feel so good, I'm flying high! Sure, it's not about Perilous, the YA novel I just got published. But if I'm a good writer, I'm a good writer. This week I feel successful, and I'm happy about that.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Workout Mode

I know there are some people who love the pain and physical stress of working out. Other people (like me) have to focus on something to get through that work out. Not only that, but I have to get myself hyped up for it every day. ("Yes! Feel those love handles! They're gonna burn, baby burn! Today's the day!")

I make it a habit to get to the gym. I usually go three days a week for two hours each. I love my work out. I'm not the same without it. (Since I don't have a car this week and I'm going out of town next week, I'm seriously missing my gym.) But some classes (like spinning), no matter how many times I go, I still dread it. I still have to talk myself into it. I feel so great afterward, yet it is hard to get myself there.
So I prepare a mental place to go every time I work out. It's my own personal retreat, and I look forward to being there. My exercise is the time when I can go there and nobody can bother me. For me, it's my writing. I go to a scene in my book, something I've just written or something that's coming up, and I explore it. I watch it over and over again. It distracts me and makes me feel like I'm doing something worthwhile. And it holds my attention.

What about you? Where do you go (mentally) when you work out? (And remember, those of you who like grunting and focusing on the seconds ticking by while you enjoy the burning in your muscles, I'm not talking to you.)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Victory

The semi-finalists for ABNA 2011 were announced today.

My YA fantasy novel, White as Snow, made the cut.

It's not over, not by a long shot, but this is as far as I hoped to make it. Out of 10,000 entries, my novel has made it to the top 100. That's the top 1%, and that makes me feel pretty good. I feel validated, if you know what I mean.

Even if I don't make the next cut, I have more confidence in my novel now. I feel like many other people have also found merit in my writing.

If you want to check it out, here's a link:

Monday, April 25, 2011

Under the Weather

I didn't get a lot of sleep last night, thanks to the thunder and lightning scaring my children witless.

I seem to be having some allergy issues. My tongue and throat are swollen and scratchy and have been since Thursday.

The laundry room flooded and the cardboard kitty-litter box exploded.

I don't have a car this week. While I remembered to get the carseats out, I forgot to remove the stroller. We are seriously homebound.

Excuse me while I go write. I think then I'll feel more motivated and on top of things.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Trying the Stock Your Library Blogfest again!

I'm going to keep this up over the weekend...didn't get a lot of people yesterday!

Today's the day to request books that you want to see in your library!

If you haven't signed up for the blogfest, not a problem! See the grand list here, add yourself, and check out what other books we are putting in our libraries!

I recently read two excellent books that are not in my library. The first is Cross My Heart by Julie Wright. This is a fun, lighthearted romance with not just a love triangle, but a love quadrangle! It was funny and emotional, making me laugh and making me cry. LOVED it. ASIN: B0046CFDAK

The second is Wrong Number by Rachelle Christensen.
This thriller-type novel captured my attention on page 1, and by page 5, I was hooked. Like, can't-stop-thinking-about-it hooked. The stakes are high, characters we care about are dying or in danger, and it's easy to read. ISBN-10: 1599553643

Now that you've selected a book or two that your library doesn't have, go to your library's webpage and request it. Most have an online form you can fill out. If your library doesn't (like mine), you can call and request it. Or walk in and request it, as I am going to do. It is, of course, helpful if you provide the ISBN, but not required (most of the time).

These books I read that I've chosen are simply excellent, and it would be a shame if more people don't have access to them! Do the books you like a simple favor, and ask your library to stock them!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Rain!

It's raining. Lots of thunder and lightening and a great big rainstorm.

I love it.

I simply love spring, and all the crazy showers that come with it. Not so much a fan of tornadoes, but I think the hills in my little town of Bella Vista make it harder for the tornadoes to get grounding. So far they just go around us.

Hope you are having a wet spring!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Querky People

No, I didn't misspell "querky." I'd actually like that to say "jerky" people, but today's letter is Q, so querky it is.

Let me start with a story about a disgruntled, middle-aged man wearing a maroon t-shirt and a baseball cap. He's at the grocery store, doing his shopping, and turns onto an aisle with a young mom pushing a cart. In the top part of the cart sits a baby carrier, complete with a content little brown-eyed girl. The mom is looking back and forth between her grocery list and the items on the shelf while pushing her cart. Two little boys are running circles around her, giggling and playing.

This man tries to ignore them until the little boys start touching the price tags, pretending like they are gathering tickets for a train ride. Now they are not merely loud, they are annoying. He clears his throat, but the mom is busy putting something in her cart. He says, "Um..." and she looks over. Heaving a sigh, she says, "Boys! Why are you touching things!" and drags them back to the cart.

Well, he thinks it's pretty obvious why they're touching things, so he says, "Because no one's watching them."

The mom looks at him and says, "I'm grocery shopping with three kids. It's hard to keep an eye on them all at once."

Not my problem, he thinks. I just want to shop in peace. "That's your job," he tells her smartly. She signed up for this, after all. No one forced her to have three kids.

She takes the two boys and plops them on top of the food in the back of the cart. To the older one, she says, "Tell that mean old man you're sorry for being in his way."

"Sorry," the little boy says, and she pushes them to another aisle.

Good, the disgruntled man thinks. At least they won't bother anyone else.

End of story.

Now, here's the other part of that story. I didn't really call the man mean and old, though I sure wanted to. I did see it as a good time to teach my children that there are unhappy people in the world, and their goal is to make other people unhappy.

I've tried to think of other motivations of this man to be so rude. Here's what I've come up with:

1) He thinks I'm contributing to overpopulation because I've surpassed the national average of 2.5 kids, and that makes him angry.

2) He thinks I'm 18 and an irresponsible mother with no right to be out in public with all 3 kids.

3) His wife left him and took their children and now he feels jealous every time he sees kids.

4) He hates kids.

5) He can only see out of one eye and the kids were blocking his view of the groceries with his good eye, which really disturbed him.

6) He thinks children should be seen and not heard.

7) He made his wife do all the grocery shopping with the children because he hates it when they touch things on the shelves.

I'm out of ideas. Thoughts? Why do you think this poor man was so ornery?

And if you haven't done so already, sign up for my Stock your library blogfest!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Preteens and Perilous

When I wrote Perilous, I was definitely aiming at the young adult crowd, ages 14-18. As time went on, we widened that crowd to include the new adult group, and even some more adventurous, young-at-heart adults. For the most part, we've been successful at satisfying this audience.

What I didn't expect was to catch the preteen crowd.

Perilous is a thriller and has some subject matter in it that is a bit mature. It's nothing over the top or graphic, and since I was a preteen when I conceived the novel, it's not unimaginable to think that other preteens would enjoy it. I guess I just thought they would be too frightened to give it a chance or something.

Turns out it's right up their alley.

Two weeks ago I gave a presentation at the local public library. One twelve-year-old girl was there, enthusiastically talking about her favorite parts in the novel, anxiously asking for information about the sequel. She loved the book. Another 13-year-old in California gobbled my book up. I've had several local preteens tell me that their moms came in at night and took the book from them because they weren't going to bed.

That is such an awesome response.

And not from a preteen, but a new adult, I got this email yesterday from someone who saw me mention my book on a friend's facebook page (go facebook!):  "I ended up buying the kindle version of Perilous, and read it all. Haha. I've usually just stuck with mostly fantasy books in the past, but, I think you've opened up a new genre for me! :) I really enjoyed it. Proof being it's finals week at BYU and I took the time to finish it. I'm excited for the next book!"

Trying to launch a writing career is hard. At times is discouraging and I'd rather just eat cookies. But then I get responses like this. I'll go a month with nothing, and then several in a day. Like yesterday. And it reminds me that my goal isn't to reach everyone, but to reach some people.

Not that reaching everyone wouldn't be nice...but that will have to wait a few years.

And if you haven't signed up for my library blogfest, do so here.

Monday, April 18, 2011

One Word for me

I watched a movie the other day that talked about describing things in one word. I've heard this before. Maybe in a book I read, where the character wanted to figure out what her word was. I can't remember.

But I'm thinking about it for me. I think my one word changes from day to day, but today my word is

INTENSE.

It's kind of like passionate, but different. I'm an intense person. I just sweated my guts out in a two-hour work out because I want to get the most out of my time. When it's lunch time with the kiddos, I'm extremely focused and intense as I coordinate three different mouths who want to eat at the same time. Not to mention my own!

I don't think I'm a serious person at all, but I can be. When I'm working on an assignment, or housework, or a deadline, I'm intense.

What's your word?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Next Scene: At the Mall

This scene I actually cut before I submitted Perilous to the publisher. It's a great scene that shows Jaci interacting with her best friend, Callie. I love the character development here, but it didn't do too much to push the story forward. It's a lot of 'tell' and not so much 'show,' so I cut it and decided to 'show' this information by weaving it slowly into the novel.


Jaci arrived at the mall in smiles, trying not to let her argument with Seth dampen her mood. She spotted her friends in front of the food court, waiting just inside the first set of doors.
            Adiós, Mamá,” she said, opening the car door and sliding her legs out.
            Her mom didn’t answer; she was too busy yelling at César in the back seat.
            Jaci closed the door to the Toyota without a second look and ran toward the mall.
            Callie pushed the doors open and met her halfway across the parking lot, barreling into her and almost knocking her over in a huge hug. “Thanks for coming, Jaci. It wasn’t the same without you.”
            “I didn’t know you were coming to the mall.” Jaci hooked her arm through Callie’s, and they started back to the building. Of all the girls, she felt closest to Callie.
            “We didn’t know either,” Callie laughed. “Amanda wanted to go guy-hunting.”
            Jaci narrowed her eyes. “Should’ve known.” That was nothing new. She sighed. She saw Callie glance at her and she quickly put a smile on her face. “What’ve you guys done so far?”
            “Not much. Amanda wanted to look at engagement rings, so we went to Sear’s because it’s closest to the food court. Then she opened the Emergency Exit and set off an alarm.”
            Jaci tried to laugh, but she just wasn’t in the mood.
         “Come on!” Amanda howled, poking her head out the entrance door. “I’m hungry!”
            Callie slowed down a bit as they crossed the parking lot. “What’s wrong? Didn’t you want to come?” She adjusted her glasses.
            Leave it to Callie to know something wasn’t right. “Of course. It has nothing to do with you. I got in a fight with Seth, is all.”
            Callie arched a thin, penciled eyebrow. Her face softened as it always did when Seth was mentioned. “Again?”
            Jaci nodded, her brow knit. “He’s been different ever since he graduated from high school. College made it worse. And then he met that Cindy—” She gritted her teeth, and Callie nodded, pursing her lips. “Well, he just treats me like a kid now. We don’t even get along anymore.”
            “It’ll pass,” Callie soothed as they reached the mall entrance. “You’re not a little kid, and he’ll realize that soon enough.”  
            Jaci gave her arm a squeeze. “I meant to mention your birthday to him. Maybe now that you’re fifteen…”
            Callie shook her head. “Seth doesn’t care. I’m just barely older than Sara, in his eyes. My little brother is more excited about it than Seth would be, I guarantee it.” She glanced at Sara and Amanda. “At least we have siblings to celebrate and fight with.”
            “Yeah.” Jaci grunted, following her glance. Both Sara and Amanda were the only kids in their families. “That’s why I’m complaining to you, not Sara. It bothers her that she doesn’t know if she had a brother or sister.”
            “Well, from how she said it, she’s lucky she knows she’s adopted. Her parents tried to keep it from her.”
            “That would so bug me. She doesn’t even know anything about her parents. Elizabeth said they died in an accident, but Sara doesn’t know if she can believe her.”
            Callie shook her head. “How sad. If they hadn’t tried to conceal the adoption from her, maybe she could trust them.”
            They fell silent, and Jaci reflected on what she knew of Sara’s adoption. Elizabeth and Greg, Sara’s adoptive parents, had admitted to the adoption only when Sara found an adoption paper underneath her birth certificate in her baby book. Sara loved the Yadles, but she was furious to find out that she’d been adopted when she was a year old. Greg and Elizabeth couldn’t understand why she cared. It frustrated Sara because she didn’t know anything about her history. If the Yadles knew, they pretended not to. All Sara knew was what the adoption paper said: she’d been born Sara Collins in a small town in New York.
            That had been just a few months ago, and the drama had quite consumed the little group of friends for some time.

Friday, April 15, 2011

More on Sabbithry Persad

Remember that awesome book I showed you on Wednesday about kids and the environment? (If you don't, click here for a refresher.)

Well, I know you want to know more about that author. Like why she's passionate about the environment and what made her decide to reach out to kids about it. So, just for you, just to satisfy your curiosity, here's a little mini-interview, ala Elana Johnson style.


The Twitter version: tell us about your book in 140 characters or less:

Tiana shares with her class what she learned about recycling while trying to catch her dog Bubbles, who ran after the recycling truck. (You have six characters left to RT (smiles)).

Whoo, this girl knows her Twitter! :)

What else are you working on? Secrets? Inside scoops? Give us the juicy stuff!

While on this virtual book tour, I’m currently working on the second book, which will be about reusing. The first completed edits are done, and I have to say I’m enjoying the second story and the production process even more. I’m currently at the illustration stage with the new book, working with a new illustrator. The thumbnails have been laid out, and in the next few weeks, I’ll hopefully see the full sketches. When the drawings are finished, there’ll be some more edits, but if I tell you everything, I’ll have to eliminate you (smiles).

I'm excited about this series. I think every parent should be interested in such an entertaining, informative, and interactive medium to introduce their kids to environmental awareness.

About THE AUTHOR (Sabbithry Persad):

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Actually, when I was younger, I really wanted to be a singer and a concert pianist, but since I really couldn’t hold a note, singing or otherwise I decided to do something else (smiles). During the same time, writing was important to me, though. It was therapeutic. I wrote short poems and stories, and sometimes song lyrics. Although I really enjoyed writing when the writing mood struck me, I didn’t plan on being a writer per se. Instead, writing has always been a part of my life.

At least you smile a lot. I'm sure that's helped in the writing process.
 
What made you decide to go that “extra step” and seek publication?

I’d written a couple of technical books before that had been published by corporate companies, but they weren’t really for general public consumption. After I completed the technical books, I realized a dormant dream had awakened in me. Then several years later, when I wrote Where Do Recyclable Materials Go? for my niece and nephew, the journey became a passion and I worked really hard to fulfill the dream.

Quick! You’ve been chosen to be a contestant on Survivor. What luxury item do you take?

A toothbrush! 

She knows what a luxury item is!

Tell us something about yourself we don’t know.

I love good action and sci-fi movies.

And the most important of all: vanilla or chocolate (yes, Elana, I deviated. I mean, bacon? Really?)?

Vanilla!

Well, and on that strange different opinion, we'll end the interview! Thanks for the deeper look, Sabbithry!

Is this book in your library? Do you want it to be? Check out my library blogfest here!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Library Campaign

I'm going to try my hand at a blogfest.

I've never held one before, but I want to try. This is the "Stock your Library" blogfest, and here's the plan:

We've all gone to the library before looking for a certain book, only to be frustrated because they don't have it, right? Well, libraries have so many books that they want to buy. Maybe that one book wasn't a priority. Or maybe they don't even know you want it. Maybe it's your book, and the library doesn't even know it exists!

Here's how you can help. On Friday, April 22, 2011, we will each send a purchase request to our local library of a book we want to see stocked on the shelves. Most of the time, this can be done on your library's website, so you don't even have to go anywhere. You'll want to check before hand that your library doesn't already have this book, of course. Easy, right?

There's more! Sign up for the blogfest to share with everyone else what book you requested and WHY. Then look around at everyone else's requests. Maybe there will be another book you want to request that your library purchase!

That's still not enough for you? You can DONATE a book to your local library! Don't wait for them to buy it, give it to them! Then tell us about it!

Want to play? Just sign up below! And tell all your friends about this campaign. Let's see with how many purchase requests we can inundate our local libraries!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Kids and the Environment

When I was in the fourth grade, my elementary school put on a "Save the Trees" program. Us kids wrote the program, designed it, planned it, and put it on for our parents. I really got into it. One boy's dad made bumper stickers, and I went out to my parents' van, cleaned it off, and put that sticker on. I really cared about recycling and conserving water and all that stuff.

For about a month, anyway.

Years later, in college, I took an Environmental Biology class, and once again became interested in doing something for the environment. There are little steps we can all take every day, and they make big differences.

But once again, when my class ended, so did my enthusiasm.

So what can we do to create that enthusiasm in children, and make it last?

The author Sabbithry Persad just might have the answer.

I was fortunate enough to get a copy of a book in the Garbology series, called Where do Recyclable Materials Go? I read this took to my 5yo and 2yo. It's written in a way to intrigue younger children, while full of factual, fascinating information for older children. This is the sort of tool that can help interest children in the environment, answer their questions, and keep their interest with future books and new adventures/information.

You can find out more about the book at Garbology Kids,  or you can just buy the book from Amazon.


And since this is her fantastic blog tour, Sabbithry is holding a book, tote, and tee giveaway! Click here to enter the contest.

I mean, we all agree our world is important, right? And we want to join in on making it an enduring place. But sometimes it can seem so daunting just to get started. This will help. What a great way to mold the minds of future caretakers of planet Earth.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Joining the LDS Writer Blogfest: "Waiting on the Road to Damascus"

When I was a teenager, there was a church song that I simply adored. It's called, "On the Way to Emmaus," and speaks about when Christ was resurrected and appeared to the apostles. I love the lyrics. "And our hearts burned within us." Anyway, the song compares our search for the Holy Spirit to the same search the early apostles of the church had.

Almost two weeks ago, during the LDS Church General Conference, President Uchtdorf gave a talk that made me think of the song. Maybe it's because he referred to Damascus, which sounds similar to Emmaus.

Saul, a persecutor of Christians, was on the road to Damascus when a light struck him and gave him a certain knowledge of his wrongs. I suppose there are some who wait on the figurative road to Damascus, expecting at any moment to "see the light." President Uchtdorft said oftentimes we "remain waiting for the Christ to be given to [us] like a magnificent Carl Bloch painting—to remove once and for all [our] doubts and fears."

It's time to stop waiting. Those of us with children know we don't hand something to our children that they can, and should, get for themselves. They must learn and discover things for themselves. Each of us has something individually that prevents us from moving to our greatest potential. It could be doubt, selfishness, fear, anything at all. He encourages all of us to "not wait too long on our road to Damascus. Instead, let us courageously move forward in faith, hope, and charity, and we will be blessed with the light [...] of true discipleship."

If we want to come closer to Christ, we must do our part. And then our hearts will burn within us and we will know him. We will recognize him.



link to President Uchtdorf's talk


Annette Lyon: “Desire”
Annie Cechini: “The
Spirit of Revelation”

Ben Spendlove: “The Atonement
Covers All Pain”

Chantele Sedgwick: “LDS
Women Are Incredible!”

Charity Bradford: “LDS Women
Are Incredible!”

Jackee Alston: “The Eternal
Blessings of Marriage”

Jenilyn Tolley: “What Manner
of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be?”

Jennifer McFadden:
“Establishing a Christ-Centered Home”

Jessie Oliveros:
“Establishing a Christ-Centered Home”

Jolene Perry: “It’s
Conference Once Again”

Jordan McCollum: “What Manner of Men
and Women Ought Ye to Be?”

Kasey Tross: “Guided
by the Holy Spirit”

Kayeleen Hamblin: “Become
as a Little Child”

Kelly Bryson: “The Atonement
Covers All Pain”

Krista Van Dolzer: “Opportunities
to Do Good”

Melanie Stanford: “What
Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be?”

Michelle Merrill: “The
Eternal Blessings of Marriage”

Myrna Foster: “Opportunities to
Do Good”

Nisa Swineford: “Desire”
Sallee Mathews:
“The Eternal Blessings of Marriage”

Sierra Gardner: “The Atonement Covers
All Pain”

The Writing Lair: “Waiting
on the Road to Damascus”

Monday, April 11, 2011

I'm a slacker mom

When my first child was a newborn, I took him to Walmart to get something. I remember pulling my precious, sleeping baby out of the car at the same time that the woman across from us was loading her screaming 4yo into her car. He dragged his feet, and she yelled at him. She spanked his bum and yelled some more before chucking him into the car. I clutched my baby to me and wanted to cry that she could display such anger toward her sweet little person.

If only I could see the future. Well, I've been initiated. I am that mother.

Children are enigmas. When they pat my face and give me kisses and hugs and tell me they love me, my whole body fills with warmth and happiness. And then a second later they are screaming, whining, hitting, hurting the cat, painting their clothes, and spilling their food everywhere.

Everyone one of them wants something, and they all want it NOW. I can't keep up.

I love naptime and bedtime. I can't get them  into their beds quick enough after a meal. I breathe a wonderful sigh of relief when they are all silent and sleeping.

I wish I was more patient. I wish I was the kind of mom with lots of crafts, songs, and goodies. I admire those that are. For me, there's always room for improvement.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

How do you choose what book to buy?

When I was younger (like, elementary school), I'd flip through the Scholastic Book order-form and choose books based on the summary. Same with the book fair and the library. On towards junior high and high school, like most teens, I loved going to the mall. But invariably, I spent all my time in the bookstore. Trying to decide which book to buy. (I didn't start caring about fashion and clothes until, um, college. Did I just admit that?)

One of the worst things I ever did was join a book club. I'm sure this works great for some people, but me, well, you can't judge a book by its cover, or its jacket. I had so many books that were just unreadable. Awful! I hate buying a book only to discover that you can't stand it!

After that I began borrowing heavily from roommates and the library. Isn't it great when you find an author you love? Then you can just buy their books at leisure, confidant that you'll enjoy everything they write.

Now I don't buy books unless they've been recommended to me. Sure, I can look at a book review, but opinions are so varied. It's when friends of mine who have enjoyed what I enjoy and like what I like say, "This book is awesome!" that I decide to buy it. I'll admit, it's hard to venture out and try new writers. At least for me. The feeling of disappointment when the book doesn't hold up to its promises dampers any adventurous-book-shopping plans I may have had for the future.

That's why I'm realizing how important it is to do things like blog tours and goodreads. If my friend's blog says the book is great, I'm 100% more likely to look at the book than if the blog said nothing. (Seriously. And sometimes it takes seven of such blogs before I add the book to my shopping list.)

What are your shopping habits? Do you buy spontaneously? Or go to the store with a book in mind? Or both? When my book comes out, are you going to buy it based on a pretty cover and nice summary, or because all of your friends recommend it? (Just wondering who I'm going to have to bribe here...)

Friday, April 8, 2011

God is not in this

I recently watched an excellent documentary about the tensions between the Jews and the Muslims in Jerusalem. It's called "Promises," and I highly recommend it for intellectual watching.

But it was also very troubling. The children interviewed in the film gave their opinions on their neighbors of the other religion. I was shocked at the hatred and blind judgment that emanated from each side. Both sides claimed the other side had wronged them, kicked them off their land and brutally murdered them. Both sides expressed an angry entitlement that they deserved to live on the land and THEY WOULD NOT SHARE.

This absolutely shocked me. Not that they felt they had the right; but that they insisted that the other side could not live there with them.

The most troubling part is that they claimed this in the name of God. Both religions said God wanted this. One boy said that God wanted the other religion destroyed, and if he saw a [...], he would throw a stone or try to kill him. He said that the more [...] that died, the fewer there would be, and the world would be better.

There was one group of children who disagreed. One group who felt that the checkpoints were invasive and that the other religious group had just as much right to live there as they did. They were interested in meeting kids of the other religion and forming friendships, friendships that might some day change the world.

They also were non-practicing [...]. They did not believe in God.

They fight in the name of God, they hate each other in the name of God, they indoctrinate their children to do the same--in the name of God. But I do not believe this is God's will. This is evil, it is destruction on God's children. God is not in this.

I dream of a world where we all live happy lives to old ages. We are all born with this potential. And it is not God who inhibits us from fulfilling it.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Falling Fat and Fruitful Sundays

I'm not fat.

No, really, I'm not. Not by any sense of the word. But I'll admit that I had some weight issues after this last baby. You know the whole, "It takes nine months to lose it" thing? Well, I never believed that. It never took me more than four months.

Until my sweet little girl.

But anyway, my weightloss woes (and successes) are for another post. Or not.

More importantly, you have to watch what you say around your kids. At some point in the past eight months, I must've said something about not wanting a cookie because it would make me fat. I don't know. Can't recall saying it, but I must have. So two days ago, my 5yo son offered me a bite of his cookie. I said, "No thank you, honey."

At which point, my 2yo said in his sweet little boy voice, "Are you going to get flat?"

Um, no. At least, I hope not.

Oh, which just makes me remember something my 5yo said on Sunday. We were at church, listening to the religious talks, and one of the speakers in a prayer said that he hoped we could all "taste the fruits of the Holy Spirit" or something like that. The prayer ends, and my 5yo says, "Are we going to eat fruit?"

That made me laugh.

Children. They're hilarious.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Elevating Families through Writing and Literature

Let's face it: the family is in trouble. Broken homes are less of a statistic and more of a common occurrence. Here are ten problems families face today (taken from providentliving.org).

1) Parenting Issues
2) Marital Issues
3) Divorce
4) Grieving
5) Out-of-Wedlock Pregnancy
6) Emotional and Mental Problems
7) Substance Abuse and Addictions
8) Eating Disorders
9) Stress
10) Pornography

Granted, writing and literature can't cure all of these problems. But they can help. One of my missions with my writing is to help elevate the family. Here's how I plan to do it.

Parenting Issues. No one is given a manual on how to raise a child. Sometimes the problems we have feel so farfetched and unreal that we're certain nobody could relate to us. That's where the right literature can change a parent's outlook. Just realizing that other people go through what we go through, and worse, and make it through it, might help a parent feel more enabled to tackle the next challenge. Not only that, but when we read, we are put behind the eyes of the character. Parents and teenagers can begin to relate better to each other if they read books that share stories similar to theirs. By reading YA literature, parents will see what life is really like for their teens. As long as they are reading to understand, not to censure.

Marital Issues. Marital issues can stem from so many things, from infidelity to financial ruin to emotional issues. But I think one of the biggest hang ups is SELF ESTEEM. It's a big problem for men as well as women, but as I am female, I want to focus on the woman for a moment. There's a lot of truth to the saying that if "Mom ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." It is hugely important for the woman to take some time to reach her own self-fulfillment. When she feels like a whole person without needing to be codependent on her role as wife and mom, she will be a more willing, happier partner in her marriage. (Men, it's probably very similar for you.) Writing is therapeutic. I bet many women could come to know themselves better and know their needs better if they started writing.

Divorce. In general, divorce comes from marital issues gone bad. Therefore, if writing can help out with the marital issues, hopefully divorce will become less prevalent in those families as well.

Grieving. It's fairly obvious how literature and writing help with grieving. Even if it's a fiction book that helps someone laugh or cry or get in touch with their emotions, of if it's taking the time to remember and put those memories somewhere lasting. I think grieving becomes a problem when we refuse to deal with it. We wallow in it, allowing it to take control of our lives. Writing can help us stay in touch with reality and what really matters as we work through our emotions. It can also help us channel our negative feelings into a positive reservoir.

Out-of-Wedlock Pregnancy. This is one I hope to target simply by reaching out to teenagers through my novels. Kids know what is what and don't need to be preached to. We need to recognize that children are their own people, and they are independent, breathing entities that are going to make their own decisions. But I want to influence them. I want them to be so touched by my characters and to resonate so much with their lives and decisions that they change their lives. That they reach for something bigger. I want to motivate them to accomplish something greater. My novels are full with what I hope are very subliminal, uplifting messages.

The last five, I don't really have any specific ideas on. But I do know that great literature can inspire anyone, no matter what the issue is. Writing is not a catch-all that will cure every problem. But I do believe it can be targeted to help resolve many of the issues families face today.

Here's to hoping!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Dirty Dishes

Forgive me for not posting today. The maid that I hired in my dreams last year has failed to show up, again. So I must get to the stack of dishes that have been waiting and waiting for her. It seems I am constantly trying to compensate for her inadequacies.

Maybe next time I'll try including a pay scale in the hiring process. And maybe find a person that exists in the real world. After Perilous sales a million copies, which it did in my dreams last night.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Copy-editor on the Prowl

I just accepted my first job as a copy-editor.

It's quite exciting! When I took my first editing class in college, I HATED it. I thought it was so meticulous and mind-numbing! And yet, I did quite well. My professor was also a member of FARMS, (Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies), and he offered me an internship. I turned it down. I could not imagine doing editing for a job.

And then I graduated college, and one couldn't be picky about jobs. There was an editing position available for the BYU-Television magazine, and I needed money. So I applied and got the job. I felt like a total liar for even applying.

Low and behold, I LOVED it.

I don't know what was different between learning about editing and actually doing editing. But it suddenly made me realize an entire different career option. In fact, I didn't even think about writing; I wanted to be an editor.

As I reflect on this, I realize how lucky it is to be able to do both. The perfect set of jobs.

And I am now open for business. I guess I'm a freelance copy-editor. I'm doing line-edits for a small press (yippee!), and I'll post some rates on a tab on the blog, in case anyone else is interested. (If you compare my rates to the going rates, you'll see I'm not very expensive. But that will probably change over the next few months!)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Better luck next year!

My husband ran in a half-marathon today.


I was so excited for him. He came home for his two-day leave, and I had all his stuff ready for him (since he couldn't pick up the registration packet--don't tell anyone I forged his signature on the waiver!). He confessed to having not trained in two weeks, which made me giggle, but he ran track in college. Some things you're just good at.

He told me he wasn't going to try to be competitive. (Right.) The race started at 8am, and he said it would probably take him two hours. I made a plan to leave the house at 9am so we'd have plenty of time to find a place to park and walk over to the finish line.

Well, we barely made it in time. Mark came smoking across that finish line at 9:28am, placing in the top 15. (Exact scores haven't been released yet.) If he was aiming to take two hours, he'll have to try again next year. Because this year he rocked it.

The sweetest thing? We were standing about 200 feet from the finish line. When my 5yo saw Mark, he started cheering and waving. Mark stopped, grabbed his hand, and together they ran across the finish line.

Brought tears to my eyes.

I'm riding high on a borrowed adrenaline rush today, because I didn't run. But my husband and several friends did, and I think you are all AMAZING.

Friday, April 1, 2011

ABNA

So, I'm doing the April A-Z challenge. At least today I am. We'll see if I manage to be consistent about it through the month.

But it's pretty perfect because today my ABNA rank in the Kindle store is 738. Which is pretty good, and I'm pretty proud of it, even though it means pretty much nothing.

Okay, let me back up. I assume that most of you know what ABNA is, right? Amazon Breakthough Novel Award? Well, this is Amazon's 4th year to have the contest that is also sponsored by Penguin, who will award two publishing contracts to two lucky contestants.

I entered my young adult fantasy novel, White as Snow. Let's just say I haven't been eliminated yet. My pitch got me through round one, and my excerpt got me through round two. Now we're in round three. The excerpts are posted on Amazon.com for free download, so it's cool to see how many people are downloading and reading my excerpt. It doesn't increase my chances to move on to round four, but it helps me feel a bit validated.

If you're curious, feel free to download the excerpt here. And while you're at it, I don't mind if you download the Perilous ebook also. If you feel so inclined. (Hint: the link is on my right sidebar.)

Anyone else in ABNA?
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