Dec 22, 2009

An Open Window

I heard a story at work today that gave me the chills and wanted to share it with you. 

A young mother had just moved into a third floor apartment in San Francisco.  The apartment had just been sprayed for bugs, so the windows were open to ventilate it.  The mother went into her bedroom and her 16 month old son, Matthew, followed closely behind.  She retrieved something from the room, glancing out the open window at the concrete below.  She then walked out, urging the toddler to follow her.  After taking a couple steps outside the bedroom, she heard a sound and turned around.  Seeing the little boy had not followed, she went back inside to find him.  When he was nowhere in sight, she rushed to the window and looking out, saw his tiny form lying on the windshield of a truck below.  She screamed to her husband who hurried to find her.  Looking through the window, they saw him moving and rushed down to help him.  The baby only had two small cuts on his face, but other than that was perfectly fine.

That in itself is a touching story, but later that day, the young mother was talking to her grandmother about the incident.  The grandmother's eyes filled with tears as she said, "I didn't know why, but when I was in the temple this morning, I put Matthew's name on the prayer roll."

Is it a coincidence that a truck that was not there moments before appeared at just the right time? 

Or that a loving grandmother was inspired to leave Matthew's name on the prayer role in the temple?

I don't think so.

This week we had a young friend die from the Swine Flu.  Dennis was a healthy young man in his early 20's.  I cannot say that I understand why Matthew's life was spared, yet Dennis's was not.  What I do know is that we are all children of a loving Heavenly Father.  He is ever present in our lives and is aware of our struggles and heartache as well as our triumphs and joys.  The holiday season is the perfect time to turn our lives over to Him, knowing that if we live as He wants us to, whether our lives are spared or taken, we will ultimately be happy.

Take a moment today to hug those you love, and remember that among the hustle and bustle of last minute holiday preparations, the people and relationships in your life are the most important thing.

Dec 15, 2009

Bah Humbug!

This picture shows how I feel about the holidays this year. Although it is cute, and made me smile. I definitely have a shortage of the Christmas spirit. It's probably because my kids aren't going to be with me for Christmas. They are spending their vacation in Florida with their dad.

My husband and I are going to be in Idaho with his family for Christmas. I'm really looking forward to going, and hope the change of scenery will keep my mind off the fact that it's my first Christmas ever without my kids. Anyway, because nobody will be here, and honestly, because I'm just plain too tired, we haven't decorated for Christmas.

I've been wondering why, when I have so much to be grateful for, I'm feeling sorry for myself. Sunday I just didn't want to go to church. Do any of you ever feel like that? I know I need to go, and always feel better when I do, but I came home after Sacrament anyway.

Well, this is rambling without a point, so I'll just finish by including this song by Josh Groban. I found it yesterday on Laurie Lewis' blog and it gave me a small lift in spirits. I hope it does the same for you.


Dec 14, 2009

Blog Tour: Dawn's Early Light by L.C. Lewis

I was excited when I learned that I'd get to read and review Dawn's Early Light, Volume Three in the Free Men and Dreamers series by L.C. Lewis. I was a bit concerned about starting on volume three, but after I started reading it, I realized I was familiar with these characters. I previously read volume one Dark Sky at Dawn and loved it.

Lewis is an amazing writer! She crafts words in a way that draw you into the setting of the story. Characterization is definitely one of her strong points. The feelings of her characters are so well described that you feel as though you are there with them, watching them experience the various things that happen to them throughout the story. Dawn's Early Light, although a continuation of Lewis' previous stories, is also a stand alone novel. But I promise, once you read it, you'll want to read the others as well.

From the back cover:

In the spring of 1814, a temporary calm settles along the Patuxent. While the British Navy skulks in the Chesapeake Bay, the Willows families and their neighbors enjoy a brief season of peace.

That is until Napoleon is subdued. Britain's navy re-enters the Patuxent and now prepares to loose her triumphant European conquerors on America, even as peace negotiations commence in Belgium. But weeks of relentless British attacks along the waterfront soften the will of the American militia and citizenry, leaving the voracious British military confident that victory is within their grasp. And their primary target? Washington.

While attentions turn to the defense of the Capital, Sebastian Dupree and his band of mercenaries strike the Willows. Not everyone survives, despite former enemies becoming allies, fighting side-by-side with the Willows' freed slaves to defend their homes and families.

Mere miles away, the Capital lies in peril, its defense now resting primarily upon citizen soldiers like Jed Pearson, and a most unlikely naval force--Commodore Joshua Barney's rag-tag fleet of barges called the Chesepeak flotilla--and the courage of Markus O'Malley and the other men who built it.

But Britain's house is also divided over the war, and as the cost mounts in blood and money, rifts widen in her families and government, wearying the mind of the Earl of Whittington and threatening to destroy Arthur Ramsey.

Experience the pain and passion of five families--American, slave and British--as they endure three of the darkest days in American history--the week Washington burned.

I also got a chance to inteview Laurie. She's a delightful person and I hope you enjoy reading her responses as well. I'm also giving away a copy of Laurie's book, so leave a comment for a chance to win.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I always loved to write. My first published work was a poem titled “Time” which appeared in the local paper. But I think the moment I “felt” like a writer came during my junior year in high school when a creative writing teacher praised my work. Her interest in me was personal and caring. She actually seemed invested in me. After that I dared enter an essay contest which I won. Though I didn’t pursue a writing career at that time, I tucked those little benchmark moments away and nurtured that ambition for years.

Is your book based on a personal experience?
My first book, “Unspoken” (2004), encompassed many personal experiences and themes that are very tender to me. My current release, “Dawn’s Early Light,” is from my Free Men and Dreamers historical series set during the War of 1812. My ancestors lived in Maryland during that period. The men were in the militia and their families lived through many of the events I’m illustrating. In that way, the story is very personal to me. On a larger scale, stories of Founding Fathers and patriotism are themes that move me deeply.

How long did it take you to write the book?

It’s difficult to separate the research and writing time for one book since the research thread flows through the whole series. I began the groundwork for the project in 2003. Work specifically for “Dawn’s Early Light” began in March of 2008, and the last of the edits occurred in October of 2009, so about eighteen months. Whew! I’m glad I didn’t stop to realize that before!

What books or authors have most influenced your writing?

I love the way Nicholas Sparks can develop storylines that tug at the heart, but Jane Austin’s language style and depictions of nineteenth century morays greatly influenced my books.

What can we look for next? What current projects are you working on?

If “Dawn’s Early Light” is well-received, then book four will be titled either “The Morning Breaks” and will tell the story of the Battle of Baltimore, the real Star Spangled Banner story, and it will take us through America’s recovery and up to the First Vision.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

The hardest thing for me is maintaining a balance between the history and the fiction. Some people want more of one, less of the other. It’s impossible to please everyone, but I can get completely lost while researching old obscure records and books. I have a wonderful editor who pulls me out of the dust and tells me, “No one else will care about that but you.” Most of the time, she’s right.

Do you have any advice for other authors?
I still feel too new at this to feel worthy of giving other people advice, but I try to tell budding authors just to get started and make a beginning. Load up on all the technical classes you can to hone your language and grammar skills. Read a broad variety of books so you can be exposed to many styles and lots of beautiful vocabulary. Find a skilled critique partner who will give you hard, educated feedback, and then be brave about listening to it. But mostly I’d say, go with your gut. If you love to read, then you probably know what works, so write well and critique often.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Most of my free time is invested in people. I try to have a weekly date with my mom, and I spend as much time as I can with dear friends and my sweet family. My husband travels to military bases for his work, and I enjoy going with him as much as possible so I can snoop amongst the old forts.

Any last words you want the reader to know?
These were great questions, Kimberly. Thanks! I’d just love for your readers to pick up a copy and let me know what they think. I LOVE reader feedback and I read and answer every letter and email. I good letter really helps the work move along. So thank you to everyone for allowing me to prattle on.

Where can your books be purchased?

Seagull Books, Deseret Books, and most other LDS stores have it in stock now. And it’s also available online. I won’t be holding many signings before Christmas, but personalized copies are available through bookstores near my hometown. They’ll ship them anywhere. Merry Christmas!
You can learn more about Laurie and her books at her blog and website.
Product Details
Paperback: 338 pages
Publisher: BookSurge Publishing (November 13, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1439254753
ISBN-13: 978-1439254752
Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.8 inches

Dec 7, 2009

Becoming Aware

I don't talk much about my job because I need to protect the privacy of my clients, however, I think I've talked about what I do. I'm a transcriptionist at Brigham Young University. I provide real-time transcripts for deaf students. It's a super fun job. I get to attend class and be a pseudo-student. I get all of the knowledge, but none of the homework.

Today I attended a biology class. Because it's the end of the semester, the professor was trying to sum up the course. We watched several videos put out by the LDS church humanitarian department. They detailed ways that the Church has given humanitarian aid throughout the world.

The video that touched me the most was the Hunger Project in Ethiopia. I heard some startling statistics:

-The world population is 6.4 billion people and over 842 million suffer from hunger.
-1.2 billion people live on less than $1 per day.
-One child dies from hunger and malnutrition every five seconds.


The LDS Church sent 34 containers of Atmit--a porridge, made of oat flour, sugar, powdered milk, and a vitamin/mineral mix to feed thousands of starving children. The video showed people lining up to get a small cupful of the porridge. Mothers tried to give their starving children to Americans, begging them to care for them.

It's not that I didn't know people were starving. It just hadn't touched me in quite that way before. I've had times in my life where my family has struggled financially, but even during the leanest of times, we are very blessed.

In the words of the professor, "You're being educated at an institution that is not just about Provo, Utah. I want you to see how meaningful biology is to the world. Sitting in front of me are people that are going to solve the world crises. You will be part of the solution."

It's my hope that I can be part of that solution. There's no better time than the Christmas season to reach out to those in need. Even if you don't know someone who is starving, I'm sure you know someone who is grieving, hurting, or lonely. Take some time during the holidays to look around you and become aware of what you can give--if nothing else, give a listening ear, a spontaneous hug, or a friendly smile. There is much good to be done.

"Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Matthew 25:40

Dec 1, 2009

Blog Tour: The Ball's in her court by Heather Justesen

I was invited to participate in a critique group after I attended my first LDStorymaker's conference. It has immeasurably blessed my life by helping me develop my writing talent and giving me some much needed friends at a difficult time. Heather Justesen is a member of that group, and a very dear friend.

I was very excited to read and review Heather's new book, The Ball's in Her Court, because she wrote it before joining the critique group. I've actually read the sequel, currently titled, Rebound, and promise that Heather's fans are in for a treat. It comes out this summer and is every bit as romantic as its predecessor.

About the book:

She's got a great job, a loving group of family and friends and basketball skills like you wouldn't believe, but Denise DeWalt's life is far from perfect, and she's about to come face-to-face with a past she hoped to leave behind forever.

Twenty-six-year-old Denise thinks she's come to terms with her childhood in the foster care system, but when her old nightmares return, Denise realizes that she must deal with her past once and for all if she ever wants to move on to a brighter future with Rich, the only man who can see past her former life. As Denise's search leads her closer and closer to the one person she hoped she'd never have to face again, she begins to realize that her future depends on just one person--herself.

This emotional and inspirational love story proves that life is full of unexpected twists and turns--especially when it comes to facing your demons, fighting for love, and finding happiness for the future.

My Review:

My opinion may be a bit biased because Heather is one of my good friends, but she is honestly one of the most talented writers I know. She has a command of the english language that allows her to describe in detail the scenes in her book. I was drawn into Heather's story from the very beginning. She does a great job giving just enough information to make you want to know what happens next so you can't put her book down.

This is also a great book for teen readers. It has "just enough" romance and although the storyline includes sensitive topics, they are handled very appropriately. In fact, when I brought the book home, it disappeared off my desk. I found my daughter up late one night reading it. Her comment was, "Your friend is an awesome writer!"

Heather's personal experience as a foster parent adds depth and true emotion to this story. But it's not all sadness and despair. Also included is plenty of tension, humor, and tender, sweet romance. The ending is satisfying and inspiring. It reminded me that there is nothing in life that can't be overcome.

The Ball's in Her Court is definitely going on our shelf of books to keep. I'm happy to be associated with Heather and look forward to many books from her in the years to come.

Heather is holding an awesome week of giveaways on her blog. Check it out! There are tons of great prizes.

Also, to learn more about Heather you can visit her website.

Here's the book trailer for The Ball's in Her Court.



Product Details
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Cedar Fort, Inc.; 1st edition (October 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1599552345
ISBN-13: 978-1599552347
Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 0.8 inches

Coming Soon . . .


Nov 27, 2009

Giving Thanks

It's hard to believe that Thanksgiving has come and gone. Last Thanksgiving was my first as a single parent and my children spent the holiday with their dad--I spent it crying. Although I still had much to be thankful for, I felt as though my life was over.

For years, I'd poured my heart into a marriage that was doomed from the start. Making the decision to leave was the hardest thing I've ever done and at this point last year, I still wasn't sure I'd made the right choice. I felt like I'd traded one set of problems for another, and being without my family on Thanksgiving brought all those feelings flooding to the surface.

2009 was fraught with many difficulties, some of my own choosing and others imposed upon me by others, but through it all, I saw many evidences of my Heavenly Father's love for me.

Now, only a year later, I'm happier than I ever thought possible. So, what changed? Many, many things, but the most eventful is that I met the love and my life and got remarried. Scott is absolutely amazing. I've been a fan of romance novels for as long as I can remember, but I've always had the opinion that the male heros in those novels were nothing more than the ideal, but highly unrealistic, man created from a woman's imagination. But, now I know there really are men like that in the world, and I found one.

Scott treats my children as though they were his own, and I've never felt more loved and cherished. Scott accepts and loves me exactly as I am. He is much more than a husband and partner in this life. He's my best friend and I wouldn't want to experience eternity without him.




So this year, I'm thankful for my Heavenly Father who loves and blesses me in spite of my mistakes. Getting Scott and I together was not an easy feat, but I know that He had a hand in it, and I will be forever grateful. So thank you, Heavenly Father, and thank you, Scott. With these two amazing men by my side, I know I can handle anything life throws my way.

Nov 24, 2009

Blog Tour: An Angel on Main Street by Kathi Oram Peterson

I was excited when I was asked to read and review Kathi Oram Peterson's newest book, An Angel on Main Street. I've always loved short, simple Christmas stories that are an easy read, but which help me get into the true spirit of the season. An Angel on Main Street did not disappoint.

From back of book:

Micah Connors promised his mother he would be good in their new town. But with Christmas only three days away, being escorted home by the sheriff does not bode well. Can the towering officer be trusted not to tell what happened? Perhaps the ramshackle stable that has appeared on Main Street will sidetrack him from spilling the day’s events — or maybe his interest in Micah’s widowed mother will do the trick.

The last thing Dawn Connors needs is to hear her son is in trouble. She has enough to worry about with her husband gone and her daughter, Annie, ill. Even though Micah has told his sister the rustic structure in the middle of town is simply part of the town’s holiday decorations, Annie is sure that unseen angels are building the crude stable — which means baby Jesus is coming, and he can make her better.

Terrified that his little sister might die, Micah vows to find the baby Jesus for Annie, even if it is only a plastic doll. But as Micah gets nearer to his goal he finds angels are closer than he ever would have believed.


Here is the book trailer:



I really enjoyed reading An Angel on Main Street. Peterson is very good at characterization. I loved Micah. He was a typical young boy, getting into mischief, but trying so hard to be good. I enjoyed his antics as well as his internal struggles, and most of all, his desire to help his sick little sister and not disappoint his mother. However, I would have liked to see more of Micah's mother's feelings. She was facing a very difficult situation as a single mother, an approaching holiday, and the very real possibility of losing a child. I didn't see enough of her emotion and thought it would have added some depth to the story.

An Angel on Main Street is a typical Christmas story including, a young boy, his sick little sister, a small town, angels, and even a manger, yet Peterson puts these elements together in a refreshing new way. It's a heartwarming story that is perfect for the whole family, and I highly recommend it.

Kathi is holding a contest called, "An Angel in Your Life." The contest runs from now until December 15th. Anyone can enter by simply emailing Kathi at kathiorampeterson@yahoo.com and writing about an experience you have had with someone who became an angel in your life. The winner will be announced on Kathi's blog. A gift certificate from either Seagull Book or Deseret Book will be given to the winner and an "Angel" in his/her life. This contest celebrates the selfless, kind acts performed daily, many times unnoticed.

Kathi says, "If you are like me, many people have helped you through times of trouble. Let's face it, life is tough and the small acts of kindness shown to us by others needs to be remembered and celebrated especially during the holidays. Christmas brings out the best in people and I wanted to give others the opportunity to thank those who have touched their lives in a profound way. Hopefully this contest will remind us of the angels in our lives."

Product Details
Paperback: 99 pages
Publisher: Covenant Communications Inc; 1st edition (October 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1598117211
ISBN-13: 978-1598117219
Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.9 x 0.4 inches

My Book Launch Party is Scheduled!

Join Valor Publishing as we throw an Author Lollapalooza that you won't want to miss.

March 16th, marks the day that Valor will launch six of its new books and authors Michele Ashman Bell, Tristi Pinkston, Alison Palmer, Karen Hoover, Daron Fraley and Kimberly Job will all be in attendance.

We'll start with a mini-concert from Shaun "Hammer Hands" Barrowes. And then we'll move on to the main event!

Michele's "Summer in Paris" is sure to delight YA readers with romance and laughter. (Young Adult)

Tristi's "Secret Sisters" will leave you in stitches as you dive into seniors taking on the mob, and believe me, hilarity ensues! (Comedic Mystery)

Alison's "The Prodigal Son" takes on the more serious subject of a teenager involved in drugs and cutting himself. He is returned to his birth mother and the challenges are only beginning. (General Fiction)

Karen's "The Sapphire Flute" takes us into the world of magic and shapeshifting. The first book in the Wolfchild Saga we watch as two teenagers take on enemies beyond imagination in an effort to save their world. (YA Fantasy)

Daron's "The Thorn" takes us to another world at war as the believers keep an eye on the prophecies of a savior being born on a different world far away. (Speculative Fiction)

Kimberly's "I'll Know You By Heart" is romance at its finest. Kimberly introduces us to a battered woman who frees herself from her abusive husband only to find love with the father of the little girl she babysits. Suspenseful and equally heart-wrenching and heart-warming at the exact same time.

(Read more about the books at http://www.valorpublishinggroup.com/books.php)

So join us and meet the authors, listen to Shaun Barrowes, mingle with other authors, munch on refreshments and just enjoy yourselves! It's all about making reading fun, fun, fun!

Date: Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Time: 6:00pm - 8:30pm
Location: Barnes & Noble Booksellers
Street: 6 North Rio Grande Street
City/Town: Salt Lake City, UT

Nov 10, 2009

Heather Justesen Blog Tour

My amazing friend, and fellow critique group member, Heather Justesen's first book, The Ball's in Her Court has been released. I'll be participating in her blog tour later this month. Until then, here's a little about the book:

She's got a great job, a loving group of family and friends and basketball skills like you wouldn't believe, but Denise DeWalt's life is far from perfect, and she's about to come face-to-face with a past she hoped to leave behind forever.

Twenty-six-year-old Denise thinks she's come to terms with her childhood in the foster care system, but when her old nightmares return, Denise realizes that she must deal with her past once and for all if she ever wants to move on to a brighter future with Rich, the only man who can see past her former life. As Denise's search leads her closer and closer to the one person she hoped she'd never have to face again, she begins to realize that her future depends on just one person--herself.

This emotional and inspirational love story proves that life is full of unexpected twists and turns--especially when it comes to facing your demons, fighting for love, and finding happiness for the future.

Heather will be holding lots of fun contests and giveaways throughout the month. To find out more, please visit her blog. You can also learn more about her book by following her blog tour. The dates and locations are listed below:


November 6: Michelle Ashman Bell
November 9: Nichole Giles
November 10: Cami Checkets will post on both her fitness blog and her book blog
November 11: Danyelle Ferguson reviewed the book here, but will also do an interview
November 12: Keith Fisher
November 14: Janet K. Jensen
November 16: Aubrey Mace
November 17: Interview with Anne Bradshaw
November 18: Jewel Adams
November 20: Joyce DiPastena
November 21: Teri Rodeman
November 23: Valerie Ipson
November 24: Rachel Rager
November 25: Laura Bingham
November 27: Rachelle Christensen
November 28: Sheila Staley
November 30: Lisa Bennett
December 1: Kimberly Job
December 2: Alison Palmer
December 3: Molly Edwards
December 4: Connie Hall
December 18: Kathi Oram Peterson

Oct 17, 2009

My Thoughts are with you . . .

I was shocked when I heard that a friend of ours, Naki Maile, had passed away unexpectedly. He was only 32 years old and leaves behind his beloved wife, Abby, and six beautiful girls.

Have you ever seen a family that just seems to have it all--an amazing marriage, darling children, a burning testimony of the gospel? Well, that's the Mailes. They live their life quietly, not realizing the impact they have on those around them, yet it's there all the same. The evidence of their deep love for one another, the beautiful music they create, the family traditions they share, and their sweet tenderness with their children, among many other things are an inspiring example to all.


Abby and Naki and their sweet family have made an indelible impact on my life that will not ever be forgotten.

A bank account has been set up for much needed donations for the Maile family. You can go to any Wells Fargo and donate to the account under the "Naki Maile Family." A website where you can donate through paypal has also been set up: http://www.nakifamily.com/.

My thoughts are with you, Abby.

Oct 15, 2009

Blog Tour: Am I Not a Man? The Dred Scott Story by Mark Shurtleff

I was very excited when I found out I’d have the opportunity to review an advanced reader’s copy of Utah Attorney General, Mark Shurtleff’s new book, Am I Not a Man? The Dred Scott Story. Valor Publishing has done a fabulous job of promoting this book and I wanted to see if all the hype and excitement about it was warranted.

About the book:

An illiterate slave, Dred Scott trusted in an all-white, slave-owning jury to declare him free. But after briefly experiencing the glory of freedom and manhood, a new state Supreme Court ordered the cold steel of the shackles to be closed again around his wrists and ankles. Falling to his knees, Dred cried, "Ain't I a man?" Dred answered his own question by rising and taking his fight to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Dred ultimately lost his epic battle when the Chief Justice declared that a black man was so inferior that he had "no rights a white man was bound to respect."

Dred died not knowing that his undying courage led directly to the election of President Abraham Lincoln and the emancipation proclamation.

Dred Scott's inspiring and compelling true story of adventure, courage, love, hatred, and friendship parallels the history of this nation from the long night of slavery to the narrow crack in the door that would ultimately lead to freedom and equality for all men.

As a writer myself, knowing how hard it is to get published, I wondered if Mark Shurtleff was just getting a book published because of who he was, rather than because he was a talented writer. I was pleasantly surprised.

Shurtleff draws the reader into the lives of his characters from the beginning pages of the book. I felt as if I were standing on the street observing the heart-wrenching scene when Dred Scott finds out he is no longer a free man. The setting of the book feels very authentic due to Shurtleff’s remarkable use of the vernacular of the time period. As I read, this made the characters come alive, as if I could hear their voices in my head.

This book is a heart-wrenching story about one of the most famous legal battles in U.S. History. It recounts the life of Dred Scott, a slave who sued for his freedom. The result was the Dred Scott vs. Stanford decision where the Supreme Court ruled that people of African descent were not considered to be U.S. Citizens under the Constitution. However, the story is about much more than a legal case. It details the journey of Scott’s longing to become a free man.

Am I not a Man? The Dred Scott Story, is not a light read. It’s definitely not just a fluffy story to escape reality for a few moments. In fact, this book made my own reality and difficulties seem small in comparison. It opened my eyes to the hardship and suffering that human beings in our, so-called, free nation had to suffer because of the color of their skin.

I highly recommend this book. Any time you can find a book that is entertaining, inspiring, and educational at the same time, it is definitely worth reading. Shurtleff’s book is being released November 3rd. Valor has planned an amazing launch party that evening from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the following location:

Barnes & Noble Booksellers
The Gateway
6 North Rio Grande Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84101

You can purchase a copy of the book online at Amazon.

Price: $24.95
Publisher: Valor Publishing Group, LLC (November 3, 2009)
Fiction: Historical Novel
Binding: Hardbound
Pages: 534
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1-935546-00-9

Oct 4, 2009

Author Interview - Rachel Rager

I recently had the opportunity to interview Rachel Rager, author of By Love or By Sea. She's a very talented writer and it was fun to get to know her better.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
~Oh, let’s see. Probably a couple years after I started writing, and I’ve now been writing for nearly seven years. I’ve never had any formal training in writing and I feel weird bragging about myself. But I think I can almost comfortably now say that I’m a writer. However, I don’t know that I really consider myself an author yet. Although my daughter does and tells everyone she knows!

Is your book based on a personal experience?
~Not really. I was writing my second story and was in the shower one day when I came up with the idea for By Love or By Sea. (By Love or By Sea is the third story I wrote. The first and second are prequels to By Love or By Sea.)I wrote down some notes and when I was done with the one I was working on, I began By Love or By Sea. It wasn’t until I was partway done that I decided to use piracy. Of course, then I sat in front of the computer every day for an entire month trying to figure out a way to solve the problem I’d created! All lot of research came into play!

I guess I should fess up to one little secret. Caleb Newman was inspired by my little brother. Though my brother is quite different than Caleb, he has a similar build and attitude. My brother once dropped a plant in his bedroom, spilling soil all over the carpet while he was talking on the phone to a girl he didn’t particularly care for. And, not wanting my mother to hang him for making a mess on the carpet, but not knowing how to get off the phone with the girl, he decided to vacuum up the mess while on the phone! That made me laugh so hard and it just felt like something Caleb would do (if he lived in today’s world!) So, there you have it!

How long did it take you to write the book?
~I think it took me six months to write By Love or by Sea. Of course, that doesn’t include the editing!

What books or authors have most influenced your writing?
~There were a couple authors growing up that I loved! But the author who has influenced my writing the most is Marcia Lynn McClure. Shortly after my first daughter was born, my mother-in-law gave me A Heavenly Surrender by Marcia Lynn McClure to read. I loved it and eagerly searched out more of Marcia’s books. At the time, she only had three in print, but I devoured them!Then one night I had a dream and when I woke up, I decided to try and write it down. Did I imagine anything might come of it? Of course not. I didn’t even know if I’d have the patience to sit and write all those words! Still, I eagerly wrote down an outline and then timidly told my husband. I will always remember the doubtful look on his face as he said, “Well…I guess if you really want to.” I told no one else! Instead I wrote. After a month of typing during my daughter’s naps and while my husband was in classes, I finished. And it was terrible! But I had done what I set out to do. So I edited and submitted it. (Only then did I tell my mother, who was floored by my revelation.)Needless to say, my first attempt was rejected, but I persisted. I kept rewriting, editing, and even began writing another book. I also broadened my horizons and read tons of books. With each rewrite or book I read, I learned more and more. Finally, after five years, I had written five stories. I submitted my third story and finally got a contract with Cedar Fort, Inc. Six years (almost to the month) after I started writing, I accomplished another goal and held a copy of my book in my hands.

What can we look for next? What current projects are you working on?
~ I’m polishing up one with a working title of A Dress to the Heart. Ivy Lewis is both provider and nurturer for her seven younger siblings. Plain and poor, she works as an apprentice to a seamstress, yearning for scholastic knowledge and finding her true love. Her social standing places her as an outcast among many, namely the arrogant Eleanora Key, who can’t seem to torture Ivy enough. And like Miss Key, Ivy has her eye set on Lord Sterling Bennett; the contrast lying in that she can never hope to capture his attention, let alone aspire to gain his admiration.


When Ivy meets a mysterious man on the road, Mr. Alan, her entire world shifts. She is no longer invisible to the world. Amid trying to care for her ill mother and her siblings, she finds herself kidnapped, courted by two wealthy men, and demoralized by Eleanora Key. Through it all, she learns her worth as a woman and the importance of maintaining the values she’s always believed in. But she must discover the secrets of Mr. Alan before it is too late.


I’m also doing some rewrites on The Tiger, Unleashed, and A Cold Heart which is a historical romance based at Platte Bridge Station just outside of Casper, Wyoming. I’m also considering writing a book about Betsy Winter’s journey. I have heard so many things about her. Everyone just loves her! So, I’m thinking about that. I have probably a dozen stories in my head and no time to put them on paper. So I hope that you will see many more books from me in the future!

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
~I have never been able spell. Thank goodness for spell-check! Also, I have a real hard time showing the action instead of telling about it. But I like to think that I’m getting better!

Do you have any advice for other authors?
~Don’t give up! This is not an easy thing to do. If you truly want to be an author, keep at it. Read all that you can and learn from it. If you write in a certain genre, read all about that genre and lots of stories that are in that genre. Then use what you learn in your writing. Talk with other authors. Get a support system and don’t give up! Don’t let rejection get you down. And make sure you make it fun!

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
~I mostly like to read! Since I feel I owe my start to Marcia Lynn McClure, it’s obvious I love anything by her. I thoroughly enjoy books by Jaimey Grant and Joyce DiPastena, along with just about any clean romance novel. I don’t get into science fiction or fantasy much but I love Maria V. Snyder’s books who wrote Poison Study. (She’s somewhere in the middle of those two while being completely separate.) But one of my all time favorites is The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. That was the only book I read in high school or junior high and it remains one of my all time favorites.

Any last words you want the reader to know?
~Cake tastes better straight out of the pan with a fork! Oh, wait. I mean… Hmm. I love hearing from people who enjoy my work! And I love being a mom!

Oct 1, 2009

Blog Tour: By Love or By Sea -- Rachel Rager

Today I am reviewing "By Love or By Sea", the newest romance novel by Rachel Rager.

From the back cover of the book:

Alice Lind Frank never forgot the boy she loved when she was just six years old, even after he was lost at sea. Now a young woman, Alice has found happiness in living and working with her grandparents, and in the affections of Clarence Hielott, the wealthy shipyard owner who intends to make Alice his bride.

When a ragged sailor appears in town, Alice is reminded of the young boy who once held her heart. Upon learning that the sailor is in fact her childhood love, Caleb, she finds herself falling for him again.

But Clarence refuses to let this ghost from the past destroy his plans for the future. He exposes the secrets of Caleb's past, and Alice realizes that the boy she once knew is a man with a dark history. Soon Caleb and Clarence are locked in a fierce competition for Alice's heart.

A critical eye:

"By Love or By Sea" is a fun, light read. It's the kind of book I enjoy reading when I want an evening to myself to escape reality. The plot was well-paced, flowed smoothly, and had a gratifying ending.

As a writer myself, I always read things from a writers perspective. Because I am always learning more about the writing craft, I tend to notice things in books that I am working on myself.

Rachel Rager is a very talented author. Her characterization is unique, and her descriptions very vivid. Early in the book I felt as if I knew the main characters and it was easy to place myself in the setting of the story.

However, I felt the book was somewhat hard to get into, but after a few chapters, it definitely held my attention. At first, I was unsure how old the main characters were or what time period the story took place.

Overall, "By Love or By Sea" was an entertaining read and I would recommend it to anyone interested in clean, sweet romances. I look forward to future books by Rachel. If you'd like to know more about Rachel, visit her blog or website. I'll also be posting an interview with her in the next couple of days. Her book can be purchased from Cedar Fort, or online from Amazon.

For more reviews, see other blogs participating in this tour:

September 28 - Jaimey Grant
September 29 - Kaylee Baldwin
September 30 - Cindy Beck
October 2 - Alison Palmer
October 3 - Joann Arnold
October 5 - Rebecca Talley
October 6 - Anna Arnett
October 7 - Heather Justensen
October 8 - Rachelle Christensen
October 9 - Joyce DiPastena


Title: By Love or By Sea
Author: Rachel Rager
Website: http://www.rachelrager.com/
Blog: http://rachelrager.blogspot.com/
Genre: Fiction/Romance/Historical
Publisher: Cedar Fort, Inc
ISBN: 978-1-59955-221-7
Format: Trade Paperback, 206 pages

Aug 16, 2009

wedding stuff!

I'm writing this from Anaheim, California where Scott and I have spent the last week on our Honeymoon. I know it sounds cheesy, but it's been the best week of my life. We were talking last night at Disneyland while waiting for the fireworks show about how our married life thus far is even better than either of us had imagined.

So, what's the difference? Love. Silly and cliche? Maybe. But, true nonetheless. I love Scott with all my heart. He loves and accepts me for exactly who I am, yet inspires me to want to be better. I have never been more loved, pampered, and taken care of in my whole life. I am grateful for every second we have to spend together and look forward to eternity with him by my side.

Now, for the details. :)

We got married in my parents backyard. It was a beautiful, intimate setting with just a few close family members. Here's a picture of our new combined family of ten children (Hunter, Scott's oldest, is missing from the photo.)


And here's one with our parents.


After the ceremony we went to a park where my very good friend, Keith Fisher and his wife Wendy, had prepared an amazing Dutch oven meal for us which included pineapple glazed ham, corn on the cob, cheesy potatoes, and baked beans, and homemade rootbeer. It was absolutely amazing and everybody loved it! We can't thank him enough.


My oldest son, John, brought me this flower off his piece of cake. I thought it was a very sweet gesture and was touched by his thoughtfulness.


Scott and I left that night for Las Vegas, arriving in the wee hours of the morning. We spent a couple of days there and then drove to Anaheim. It's been a full week; Disneyland, swimming, shopping, good food, late nights watching movies or in the hot tub under the stars--but most of all just loving and enjoying one another. It's a week I'll never forget.

Aug 8, 2009

Exciting Book Available for Pre-order

Utah State Attorney General Mark Shurtleff’s ground-breaking new novel, “Am I Not A Man: The Dred Scott Story” is now available for preorder at a reduced price.

An illiterate slave, Dred Scott trusted in an all-white, slave-owning jury to declare him free. But after briefly experiencing the glory of freedom and manhood, a new state Supreme Court ordered the cold steel of the shackles to be closed again around his wrists and ankles. Falling to his knees, Dred cried, "Ain't I a man?" Dred answered his own question by rising and taking his fight to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Dred ultimately lost his epic battle when the Chief Justice declared that a black man was so inferior that he had "no rights a white man was bound to respect."

Dred died not knowing that his undying courage led directly to the election of President Abraham Lincoln and the emancipation proclamation.

Dred Scott's inspiring and compelling true story of adventure, courage, love, hatred, and friendship parallels the history of this nation from the long night of slavery to the narrow crack in the door that would ultimately lead to freedom and equality for all men.

You can order your sale-priced, signed and numbered limited edition copy of “Am I Not a Man” by visiting http://www.valorpublishinggroup.com/ before Labor Day. There are only 5,000 copies of this special edition being printed and once they’re gone, they’re gone … and the sale price ends on Labor Day. You can request that Mark personalize your inscription, and your book will be mailed to you before the stores even get their copies. For more information, visit http://www.valorpublishinggroup.com/

The Complete Novel Plotting Workbook - Weston Elliot

I’ve wanted to write ever since I was a little girl. It was always one of those lofty goals I thought I’d accomplish sometime in the future. A little over a year ago, my friend, Keith Fisher, was talking to me about writing. He told me he’s been writing for several years and has something like thirteen completed manuscripts. I was in awe and told him I’d considered trying to write something “someday.” He persuaded me to start writing.

Through his encouragement and a group of writing friends, I now have my first novel coming out in March of 2010. It’s all very exciting and a little overwhelming. When I first started writing, I had no idea how daunting a task it would be. I had all these ideas floating around in my head with no semblance of order. I eventually got them down on paper, but not without a lot of sweat, toil, and TONS of rewrites.

While writing my first book, I heard about a lot of different methods people used for plotting. I tried out a few, but nothing was exactly what I wanted. I recently ran across an amazing tool that I wish I’d known about then. Weston Elliot has recently compiled "The Complete Novel Plotting Workbook" and it is totally awesome!

It includes everything you could possibly imagine to plot a novel from beginning to end. When all the pages are filled in, it becomes a comprehensive outline you can use to complete a novel. Besides all the amazing information found in this resource, I love the way she has put it together. It is bound with three locking rings which allows you to take away pages you don’t want, add in extra pages, maps, photos, sketches, or anything you want. While writing my book, I wrote notes in multiple notebooks, scraps of paper, receipts, napkins—you get the picture. It is such a valuable tool to have all of this information in one place. The workbook is 5 ½ x 8 inches so it is small enough to take with you anywhere.

The workbook is a comprehensive resource including the following sections:
- World Building
- Character Sketches
- Plot & Conflict
- Chronology
- Chapter Outline
- Progress Tracking
- Submission Record

Elliott also gives instructions at the beginning of each topic which includes basic writing tips. Throughout the workbook, inspirational quotes from famous authors are incorporated to give you a little boost anytime you need it.

Overall, "The Complete Novel Plotting Workbook" is an amazing tool for novice and seasoned writers alike. I highly recommend it and look forward to using it on my next project. You can get your own copy of the workbook here. I promise you won't be disappointed!

Jul 31, 2009

First Annual Valor Publishing Group Family Picnic

This week my family and I attended the first annual Valor Publishing Group family picnic. I had lots of fun chatting with old friends and making new ones. It was a little scary introducing myself as an author for the first time.

Me and my cute kids! The boys stopped throwing water at each other long enough to pose for this picture.

Candace, BJ, and Tristi, three of the four members of the Valor board.

I feel so lucky to be associated with all the great new Authors at Valor. Keep an eye on them--there are lots of amazing things happening.

Jul 18, 2009

Scrapbooking Giveaway Winners

Thanks to everyone who entered and became followers of my blog! And Congrats to the winners listed below. Send me your mailing address to my email: scrapshack at msn dot com. Thanks for playing.

  • Anne
  • L.T. Elliot
  • Taffy
  • Keith Fisher
  • hellesbelles86

Jul 13, 2009

Summer Time Giveaway

My friend, Danyelle, at Queen of the Clan is doing an awesome summertime giveaway each week. This week I'm giving away a Scrapbooking package worth over $100. For details about how to enter, please see Danyelle's blog.

If you'd like another chance at free scrapbooking supplies, become a follower of my blog. Leave a comment to let me know you are a follower and your name will be entered in a drawing for random scrapbooking supplies. There will be several winners. I will announce them on my blog on Saturday morning.

Jul 12, 2009

A Sacred Ordinance


I had an interesting experience at church today as I sat in the foyer during the last hour of classes. A mother from my ward sat in one of the chairs holding their baby. The father came and brought one of their other children out. I assumed that he was misbehaving in primary and had to come sit with his mom. But one-by-one the father brought the other children out as well.

They all stood reverently in the corner waiting. I watched, curious what they were doing. Another ward's sacrament meeting had started and it was time for the sacrament to be passed. Soon a deacon from that ward came out into the foyer to pass the sacrament. Each member of this family took the sacrament and then as soon as the water had been passed, the parents hugged each of the children and they scattered, going back to their own classes.

I was amazed. Apparently the family had missed taking the sacrament in our ward so had gathered to take it with the ward following ours. I was very impressed at the message those parents were sending their children about the importance of the sacrament. I know often I'm guilty of taking the ordinance of the sacrament too lightly and it was a great reminder of it's sacred nature.

These parents don't know that they profoundly affected me, but they did. Next week when the sacrament is passed, I think I'll look at it a little bit differently than I did today.

Jun 21, 2009

Exciting News!

My first book, I'll Know You by Heart, just got accepted by Valor Publishing Group. It is slated to be released in March 2010. I'm so excited to work with Candace, Tristi, and all the other great people at Valor. I've got a lot of work I need to do on it in the next couple months, but I'm way excited. It almost doesn't feel real.

I've also been debating what name I want to publish under because my other exciting news is that I'm engaged and getting married in August. All of my writing friends know me as Kim Thompson, but I'm planning on publishing under my new name which will be Kimberly Job. So, in the meantime, if you see me listed as Kimberly Job here or at Valor's Website, you'll know why.

May 17, 2009

Why Me?


I received these flowers this week from a close friend. They meant a lot to me after suffering from a personal tragedy. They helped me to realize that I was loved and cared about and the note included told me of Heavenly Father's love and concern for me as well. The circumstance I found myself in caused me to reflect on many things--the power of the atonement, the Savior's love for me, my own personal testimony, and the feelings associated with heartbreak.

My first reaction was, why me? I felt the trial was being forced upon me and I had no choice. I was devastated and didn't understand how the world could go on and the lives of those around me seemed unchanged. Didn't they realize what had happened? Couldn't they see how much I was hurting?

After a full day and night of tears, I felt empty--I didn't know how I could go on. Through much personal reflection, I realized I was more than hurt. I was angry. Following sincere prayer, imploring the Lord to take away the anger, I began to feel a small measure of peace. Although still on the edge of tears the next day, I stayed close to the Lord and focused on being positive and started to feel a little better.

When difficulties arise, it is normal to go through many stages of emotion. In the field of psychology these have been titled, "The Stages of Grief." They are often divided into five stages:

1. Denial -- this stage is a temporary defense to protect you from hurting.

2. Anger-- this stage begins when you realize denial can't continue. Because of anger, you may be difficult to talk to or reason with. It is not uncommon to wonder how life can go on around you as if nothing happened.

3. Bargaining-- this stage includes desperately trying to delay or change the circumstance by imploring to a higher power.

4. Depression-- this stage sets in when you realize the circumstances cannot be changed. Because of this you may become silent, want to be alone, and spend time crying and grieving. This is an important stage of grief that must be processed.

5. Acceptance-- this stage is accompanied by peace and understanding and a desire to make the best of a difficult situation.

These stages apply to anyone suffering from many types of personal loss. All of the steps are not necessarily experienced, nor do they always come in the order listed. It is common to switch back and forth between the steps--returning to one or more of them before working through it. People experiencing grief should not force the process. Grief is highly personal and you should allow yourself the time to feel and then healing will ultimately follow as the stage of "acceptance" is reached.

Everything we experience in this life is for our learning and growth. When tragedy comes our way, we need to ask the question, what would the Lord have me learn?

This life is meant to be a time of careful preparation. We should welcome trials and challenges that humble us and turn our hearts to the Savior. Sustain hope through tragedy and stand firm in difficult times. The things we learn through our trials will help build a foundation of faith that will benefit us in perilous times ahead. Remember the source of power is God, and turn to him.

I feel like I'm at a point in life where a strong wind will blow me over. My initial reaction of "why me," did nothing but make me wallow in my suffering. By changing that question to, "what does the Lord want me to learn" and staying positive, my perspective has been altered. I can see the benefits of the trial I've been forced to bear and I'm determined that at the end of the day, I'll still be standing.
For more ideas on dealing with grief in your own life, view the following articles from LDS.org:

May 13, 2009

Launch Party - Agent in Old Lace


My amazing critique buddy, Tristi Pinkston, has a new book coming out. Please come celebrate with us at her launch party!


Date: Saturday, May 16th

Time: 3-5 p.m.

Place: Provident Book - 661 West State Street, Pleasant Grove


There will be refreshments, prizes, and lots of sales. Bring a friend!


If you're not able to come, and would still like to purchase a copy of the book, you can do so here.


May 5, 2009

The Journey of Motherhood

While sitting at the cemetery a few days ago, I saw a scene that touched me deeply. A young couple sat alone, next to an open grave by a tiny casket which was covered with a delicate spray of flowers. From their reaction, it was evident the couple was grieving. The young father sweetly comforted his wife as her body shook with tears. They sat that way for a long while, then stood and shared an embrace. The man lifted his hand to the woman’s face and wiped away her tears. They clasped hands, then turned and walked to a car parked nearby. He opened her car door and she turned around, taking one last glance over her shoulder at the small casket.

As an outsider looking in, I don’t know their story—if they were husband and wife, if the casket held their newborn baby, or if it was something entirely different. But my heartstrings were pulled. I pictured myself in that situation and imagined how I would feel. Thoughts of the young couple stayed with me through the next couple days. I even drove back by the cemetery and saw the spray of flowers on top of the freshly cut earth, and I felt a deep sense of gratitude for the gospel and the understanding it gives us of life and death. It also caused me to reflect on the privilege it is to be a mother.

Nothing in my life has caused more intense feelings than motherhood. I’ve felt more joy, more sorrow, more laughter, and more tears during my time as a mother than in any other endeavor throughout my life. I laugh when my children laugh, and cry when they cry. I think sometimes I feel their emotions even more intensely than they do. I learn from them each day, and although it is easy to get overwhelmed, it is so important to find joy in the journey.

Motherhood is not easy; it’s an immense responsibility. I remember the awe-inspiring feeling of love I felt when my first baby was born and lay in my arms. As I looked down into her sweet face, I felt an overwhelming sense of responsibility wash over me. It was hard to fathom that this baby had just come from Heaven. She left a Heavenly Father who had high expectations for her, and unbelievably, even more love for her than I felt at that moment. Her presence in my life that day and every day since has made me realize my own potential. It is a privilege to be entrusted with this child. Heavenly Father knew I could love her, teach her, and help her learn and grow so she could return to live with him someday.

Keep in mind there is no perfect way to be a mother. I think we all look around us and see amazing traits in others and wish we were more like them. We usually do this in areas where we're personally lacking. Anytime you compare one of your own weaknesses with someone else’s strength, you are sure to come up short. Don’t do it! Don’t try to mother the perfect way, just do it your way. As mothers, we have to be task-oriented or nothing ever gets done, but it’s okay to lighten up occasionally and take the time to listen, laugh, and play. Never forget that life is meant to be enjoyed. One of my favorite quotes is by the author, Anna Quindlen. She says, “Treasure the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less.”

While motherhood is overwhelming, remember that a caring Father in Heaven loves your children too. He entrusted them to your care because he knew you could do it. He will not leave you alone. If you ask, you will receive inspiration, your burdens will be lighter and you will be able to find joy. So, on this overwhelming journey we call motherhood, don’t forget to include Him in your travels.

Apr 10, 2009

Scrapbooking Spring Sports

I love the feeling of spring in the air. At my house, spring inevitably brings busy schedules because it is the start of the soccer season. Between all the games, practices, carpooling and looking for lost equipment, I can't find any time for scrapbooking. But that doesn't keep me from plotting and planning pages I can create when the lazy days of summer--without all those schedules--come rolling in.

Since I've got soccer on the brain, I thought I'd share some fun ideas about how to create themed pages for all the sports your children play.

The first thing to consider is your photographs. It is important to use the right settings according to the lighting. A bright outdoor soccer game would be photographed differently than a nighttime football game under the stadium lights. Also, think about classic sports shots you can take: The team high-fiving after scoring a goal, the football huddle, the focus on a player's face, the batter sliding into base. Also, don't forget the fans and the quiet moments in sports. One of my favorite layouts is of my family huddled together under blankets and umbrellas watching a game in the rain.

Let's move on to the design of your pages. The first consideration is color. A good idea is to match the colors of your team. Especially if you are creating a themed album for one particular sport, it is fun to see the same colors throughout. Take a look at the wide range of sports-themed papers and products available as well. Many of the major paper companies have developed whole product lines around most major sports. Many have accompanying embellishments to further enhance your design, such as football-shaped charms or stickers.

One approach that is especially fun is to create a layout with the look of a newspaper or magazine cover. Many digital scrapbooking products include pre-made templates for this type of layout, or you can create your own. Younger kids in particular enjoy seeing themselves in that context.

Use these ideas to capture and create team memories. Enjoy the process, but don't get so caught up in saving the memories that you miss your child's first goal or touchdown.

YourLDSneighborhood has added exciting new things to its website. Please drop by and take a look, browse around, check out our vendors, our radio station, our authors, our musicians and more. Check out the Neighborhood.

And while you're there, subscribe to the yourLDSneighborhood Newsletter. In addition to being able to shop in the new virtual neighborhood, the newsletter brings you articles, products, services, resources and interviews from around the world-all with an LDS focus. Look for issues delivered to your email inbox every week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Is it Spring Yet?

Ah, spring! This is the season that so many of us call our favorite and with good reason. Although here in Utah, it still looks and feels like winter. But, I know spring has to be just around the corner. Right? To get in the mood, and hopefully spur Mother Nature on, I thought I'd throw out some spring scrapbooking ideas.

The first thing you might want to think about when it comes to spring scrapbooking layouts is the color choice. Many people opt for soft pastels when it comes to spring pages, but it's also fun to try something a little more bold. Try colors such as turquoise, lime green, and fuschsia. They are bold and bright and just looking at them makes you feel cheerful.

What is going to be your main focal point for your spring scrapbooking layouts? Remember the holidays during spring, like Easter. Easter egg hunts and Easter outfits make great photo opportunities for your spring layouts. Take pictures of your garden, especially the bulbs as they first start to sprout from the ground. Spring layouts can include springtime sports as well.

When scrapbooking Easter page layouts for spring, don't limit yourself to bunnies and baskets. This is a perfect time to scrapbook your faith. Include your feelings about why the gospel is important to you and your feelings about Easter.

Spring brings warmer weather and all those fun activities that go with it. Consider all of the fun things you do when the weather is warmer. They can be great themes or page elements. Since there is no right or wrong way to scrapbook, don't hesitate to get creative and you'll have pages that are as unique as you are!

YourLDSneighborhood has added exciting new things to its website. Please drop by and take a look, browse around, check out our vendors, our radio station, our authors, our musicians and more. Check out the Neighborhood.

And while you're there, subscribe to the yourLDSneighborhood Newsletter. In addition to being able to shop in the new virtual neighborhood, the newsletter brings you articles, products, services, resources and interviews from around the world-all with an LDS focus. Look for issues delivered to your email inbox every week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Apr 3, 2009

Eggs to "Dye" for

I remember the fun of decorating Easter eggs as a child. I'd take out the crayons, dye, paints, markers, pretty much anything that I could think of to color the eggs. My designs were ambitous, and my fingertips ended up dyed for days. We always used the traditional PAAS easter egg kit. It was so exciting to drop the tablets in the water and watch it change color. Today, you can still purchase the PAAS kit, and in even fancier varieties that include stickers, punch-out designs, special markers and crayons, and much more.

Kits are convenient, but you can make your own dye as well. Combine 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of food coloring with 2 teaspoons vinegar in a cup that is deep enough for the eggs. Add water to about the half way point. Gently place the eggs into the cups. Experiment and create new colors by dipping the egg in one color and then another.

There are many fun ways to decorate eggs. There's the traditional solid colored eggs. As a child, we would color on the eggs with crayons before putting them in the dye. The waxy crayon prevents the egg from picking up color and leaves fun patterns behind. You can use this idea to create personalized eggs or to write a special note.

Another idea is to create rubberband designs. Wrap elastic bands around hard cooked eggs, then drop them in food-coloring dye. Remove eggs, pat dry with paper towel and remove rubber bands. The parts of the egg covered with rubber bands will not be colored. Once the rubber bands are removed, you can drop the egg into a different color dye.
To create marbled eggs, in a mug or jar large enough to contain one egg, place 1 tablespoon of oil, 1 tablespoon of vinegar and 1 tablespoon of food coloring. Add enough water to cover egg, stir quickly with a spoon and drop in hard boiled egg. Pull egg out quickly and pat dry with paper towel.

Coloring Easter eggs has long been a family tradition and my children look forward to it every year. Hopefully I've given you some new ideas that will make your Easter egg coloring more fun this year. For more egg decorating ideas check out Family Fun Magazine online.

YourLDSneighborhood has added exciting new things to its website. Please drop by and take a look, browse around, check out our vendors, our radio station, our authors, our musicians and more. Check out the Neighborhood.

And while you're there, subscribe to the yourLDSneighborhood Newsletter. In addition to being able to shop in the new virtual neighborhood, the newsletter brings you articles, products, services, resources and interviews from around the world-all with an LDS focus. Look for issues delivered to your email inbox every week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Mar 27, 2009

Easter Traditions

Easter is fast approaching. Every time a holiday nears, my thoughts turn to our family traditions and what I can do ahead of time to prepare for the day. Easter is a unique holiday. From my experience, there seems to be a lot of variety in the way families celebrate.

When I was a child, the Easter Bunnny would come and spread candy all over the basement. My brothers and I would stand at the top of the stairs, eyes wide, looking at the candy strewn all over. We'd have to wait for Dad to get downstairs with the camera before we could scramble and fill our baskets with candy. After a mad dash through the house, collecting everything our baskets, hands, and often even our shirts could hold, we sat down and sorted our candy. Even though everyone selfishly gathered the candy, we always divided it equally in the end. I guess it was just the fun of trying to get the most that made us act like crazy people.

Somehow, that tradition has led to our own family tradition of hiding the Easter baskets already full of candy. They've ended up som very interesting places: in the dryer, in closets, under chairs, outside, and even in the shower. Believe me, wet chocolate eggs just don't quite taste the same and the jelly beans stick together.

Easter always mean a new dress for me and a shirt and tie for my brothers. Now we have a large family and it's not economically possible to do that for my other children, but we still take a little bit longer getting ready for church on Easter morning, wanting to look our best.

Some years, we've participated in as Passover feast, which is always around Easter. Brigham Young University does one every year and I strongly recommend going if you ever have the chance. It makes you look at the Passover in a whole new light.

Then, of course, there's the favorite tradition . . . coloring Easter eggs. I've found some fun ideas for coloring eggs that I'll share with you next week, so be sure to check back. I'd love to hear some of your Easter traditions, so please leave comments.

YourLDSneighborhood has added exciting new things to its website. Please drop by and take a look, browse around, check out our vendors, our radio station, our authors, our musicians and more. Check out the Neighborhood.

And while you're there, subscribe to the yourLDSneighborhood Newsletter. In addition to being able to shop in the new virtual neighborhood, the newsletter brings you articles, products, services, resources and interviews from around the world-all with an LDS focus. Look for issues delivered to your email inbox every week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Mar 20, 2009

Low-Cost Digital Photo Printing

Let's face it, scrapbooking can get expensive. I think most of us still enjoy doing some traditional scrapbooking which requires printing your digital pictures to use them on your layout. I've been printing lots of pictures recently, so I've researched some ways to print digital photos inexpensively.

SNAPFISH
Get 30 free 4" x 6" prints when you create a free Snapfish account! Plus, this month you can save up to $15 off your purchase of any photo gift, including books, cards, mugs, and more. Just use one of the coupon codes below at checkout:
To save $5 off purchases of $15 or more, use coupon MARCH1
To save $10 off purchases of $30 or more, use coupon MARCH2
To save $15 off purchases of $40 or more, use coupon MARCH3

Snapfish also gives you professional quality nine-cent prints everday and free online sharing and storage.

SHUTTERFLY
There are many benefits of a free Shutterfly membership. You can securely store your images at full resolution for a lifetime. They are never deleted. You can also turn your favorite memories into professionally bound photo books, create cards and stationary, and even create a free website to share your photos and memory books. You can get 25 free prints when you join.

WALMART
A definite benefit to using Walmart's photo processing is that you can order prints and pick them up in an hour. You can also order the prints and have them delivered to your house or shipped for free to your local Walmart store.

They offer traditional prints starting and nine cents. They also have many items you can add your favorite photos to such as posters, collages, calendars, playing cards, mugs, mousepads, clothing, and more.

These are just three of the many ideas and services available for online digital photo printing. Try them out and let me know if you have a different favorite you like to use so that I can share it on my blog.

YourLDSneighborhood has added exciting new things to its website. Please drop by and take a look, browse around, check out our vendors, our radio station, our authors, our musicians and more. Check out the Neighborhood.

And while you're there, subscribe to the yourLDSneighborhood Newsletter. In addition to being able to shop in the new virtual neighborhood, the newsletter brings you articles, products, services, resources and interviews from around the world-all with an LDS focus. Look for issues delivered to your email inbox every week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Mar 13, 2009

Journal Keeping

Growing up in the Church, I’ve long been taught of the importance of keeping a journal. I know that it’s important to record the details of my life. I’ve found this helps me as I look back and see difficult situations I’ve been able to overcome. I’m hopeful that some day it will benefit future generations as well. I’m far from perfect and I hope others can learn from my mistakes.

I’m in the middle of a new relationship in my life. Last week, I found myself wishing that I had taken time from the beginning to record all the special memories we are making. They are still fresh in my mind and I could probably go back now and record them, but that’s not as good as if I had written them down as they happened.

Then I discovered an amazing thing—my email inbox. I read through all the emails I’ve received from this special person in my life, and realized I do have a record of most of the things we’ve experienced together. I’m grateful for that written evidence of the way our relationship has developed over time and the many amazing things we’ve been through and done together. I’m going to print them out and put them in a scrapbook. Some of them can be embellished by pictures, but even just the written record is priceless.

Don’t overlook your email as a source of precious memories. Especially if you have a loved one far away who you communicate with electronically, it can be a great source of ideas for scrapbooking. I know many families who send family newsletters out monthly which keep them involved in the happenings of their loved ones. These make fun, easy pages with memories that cannot be recreated.

Because of the advent of digital scrapbooking, it is not uncommon to use your computer for scrapbooking, While you are there, remember to check you inbox If you are struggling for new scrapbooking ideas.

YourLDSneighborhood has added exciting new things to its website. Please drop by and take a look, browse around, check out our vendors, our radio station, our authors, our musicians and more. Check out the Neighborhood.

And while you're there, subscribe to the yourLDSneighborhood Newsletter. In addition to being able to shop in the new virtual neighborhood, the newsletter brings you articles, products, services, resources and interviews from around the world-all with an LDS focus. Look for issues delivered to your email inbox every week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Mar 9, 2009

A gift for new Mothers

I was excited to receive my contributor copy of A Cup of Comfort for New Mothers, which includes my short story, Equal to the Task.

There’s a new baby in the house—and it’s not the only one crying. New moms cry happy tears, tired tears, and overwhelmed tears—and that’s when the wisdom, sensitivity, and empathy of women who’ve been there prove invaluable. In this book, you meet fifty mommies who’ve lived and loved through those terribly wonderful first months home with baby. From a first time mom faced with keeping her little miracle safe and happy once daddy goes back to work, to a mother who wonders how she will find time for the newest member of her already sizable family, these moving stories provide the support and reassurance mothers need to enjoy their new role—and their baby—to the fullest!

Here is a short excerpt from my story, Equal to the Task:

"What's wrong? Why isn't she crying?"

A swarm of doctors and nurses were in the delivery room, but no one would tell me anything. As soon as Emily had been delivered just moments before, they'd whisked her to the corner of the room. I lifted my head trying to see what was happening, holding onto a shred of hope. Although I hadn't heard her cry, I thought I'd seen her move. She wouldn't move if she were dead, would she?

To read more of my story, as well as the other amazing stories about new life and love, you can purchase a copy of A Cup of Comfort for New Mothers on Amazon. It is a great gift for any new mom.



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