Thursday, May 28, 2009

Lu Ann Staheli Interview

Lu Ann Staheli is a fellow LDStorymaker member. Recently I met her at our conference. I'm so happy she agreed to do an interview on my blog.

Enjoy!

Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Yes, from the time I was a child, I said I was going to grow up to be a writer. Unfortunately my mother said something that made me set aside my dream for too long. I know she had my best interest in mind, but she told me, “You’ll never make a living as a writer,” so instead, I majored in English Education at Indiana University. If only she were here now to see the success I have had in both careers, I think she would be doubly proud.

Tell us about your new book.
When Hearts Conjoin is the true story of the Herrin family, along with their daughters Kendra and Maliyah who were born conjoined in 2002. These two little girls won the hearts of people all around the world, and helped bring their parents back together from the brink of divorce. Their separation surgery was the first of its kind, and Maliyah’s kidney transplant was a second gift of love from her mother.
Tell us about your other books.
Most of my previous publications have been in the realm of educational publishing, including Books, Books and More Books: A Parent’s Guide to Adolescent Literature and an invitational chapter in Teaching Ideas for 7-12 English Language Arts. I have written several middle grade/young adult novels that I am shopping, and I have several other works in various stages of writing, but the next book to be published will likely be another non-fiction biography. I’m currently working with Alan Osmond, David Osmond, and Jim Karol on each of their biographies. I also have two screenplays that have been optioned.
What inspires you and motivates you to write the very most?
Since much of my writing has been non-fiction, I often find myself writing about topics that I’m already passionate about—especially when it comes to education and literacy issues. But I also love a good story. That’s where the fiction and biographies come to me. I find situations, memories, or conflicts that I think would come together into a good tale and I find myself in the middle of writing it in my head before I ever get to the computer.
Is there an established writer you admire and emulate in your writing? Do you have a writing mentor?
I’ve had many mentors through the years—Carol Lynch Williams, John H Ritter, Joan Bauer, and the members of my writer’s critique group—Heather Moore, Annette Lyon, J. Scott Savage, Michele Holmes, and Rob Wells. I wrote my first novel—Leona and Me, Helen Marie—after reading Gary Paulsen’s Harris and Me. His was based on events from his own childhood. Mine was based on those from my mother. The book is about growing up in Southern Indiana in the 1920s, and as a native-Hoosier author, I’ve been thinking lately that if there were an author I’d like to be most like it would be Richard Peck, who also sets many of his books in those same familiar settings.
Location and life experience can sprinkle their influence in your writing. Tell us about where you grew up and a little about where you live now - city? Suburb? Country? Farm? If you could live anywhere you want to live, where would that be? Well, as I said, I’m originally from Indiana, a small town named Alexandria. Three of my novels are set in the Hoosier state. I was the youngest of four children, and the last one living at home since I was in the third grade because they were all much older than I am. I was raised in a Kodak box at my parent’s camera store, literally! If most of my friends from high school had any idea about all the places I’ve gone and things I’ve done since I left home, they would be amazed. Although I live in Spanish Fork, Utah now, I still call Alex home. My husband and I own several rental properties there, along with the home my grandparents lived in while my dad was a kid. As for living somewhere else, I’m one of those people who hates to move, so I’ll probably stay right where I’m at now for a good long time, although my husband and I have talked about moving to Los Angeles—the place I dreamed about living as a new college graduate—and the place he often works. How would I ever make it to critique though if I lived that far away?
Bring us into your home and set the scene for us when you are writing. What does it look like? On the couch, laptop, desk? Music? Lighting, handwriting?
I most often work in an office at home that is way too messy (my summer cleaning project, actually). Messy is what you get when you keep adding new kids into a family and the office becomes the dumping ground for stuff you don’t quite know what to do with, I guess. A few months ago, we set up a reading room where I keep my laptop, and I sometimes write there as well. When I’m teaching school, I’ll often write at the same time as my students and then send the files home to add everything into my hard drive on the desktop.
Do you watch television or movies? If so, what are your favorites? Do they inspire your writing?
I used to be addicted to television, but I honestly don’t watch much anymore. I did enjoy The Celebrity Apprentice this year, and I used to watch American Idol, but not after David Osmond was eliminated. One of my favorite shows was Clean Sweep because it inspired me to clean out junk—the kick in the pants I need right now for this office! I do enjoy movies, and since I’m writing scripts, rentals and going to the theater are both tax write-offs for me. I’m working on a film treatment for a comedy that I envision starring Donny Osmond and William Shatner, so I’ve watched several comedies the past few months. I usually go to at least one new release a month. Last week I saw Star Trek, not only to see how they revamped it, but because my husband worked on the Utah crew who filmed the beauty shots on Vulcan. We plan to see Angels & Demons sometime this week as well.
How has being published changed your life?
It’s been interesting to see how people view me a little differently as a writer now that my name is on the front cover of a book. I’ve been writing for years, and I have a following in my newspaper columns for the Spanish Fork Press, but when I tell people I’m a writer, the first question is always, “What’s the name of your book?” Now I can tell them, and they seem more satisfied than when I said I was a newspaper columnist. Now that I have one book actually out I think I’m also a little hungrier to see the next one, and the next. I’ve not been afraid to take on more challenging projects, and I’m ready to try some new venues and niche markets that I might not have been interested in before. I still hope to see my novels published, and I’ve even started one for the LDS market.
Do you have any book signings, tours or special events planned to promote your book that readers might be interested in attending?
If so, when and where? Also tell about your blog and website. Richard Paul Evans hosted an incredible book launch and media party for us the last week of April, and I’ve spoken at a couple of conferences since then as well. Right now my next scheduled presentation is in September at the League of Utah Writers Round-Up, but I’m hoping to add a few more things onto my calendar soon. Juggling writing, book promotion, and teaching school has been an interesting experience and there does come a point in time in which one simply has to sleep! I have two blogs that might be of the most interest to your readers: www. LuAnnsLibrary.blogspot.com is where you’ll find my general musing about writing, life, education, etc. and http://www.luannsbookreview.blogspot.com/ is where I post author interviews and book reviews. My website is in desperate need of an overhaul—another summer project—but if you’d like to follow my progress on that one, the site is http://www.luannstaheli.com/.
Thanks for giving me this opportunity to talk about myself and my book. Copies can be ordered online at http://www.utahtwins.com/. Royalties from the book go into a trust fund for Kendra and Maliyah’s medical expenses.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Treasure Hunt

Welcome to Our “Summer Treasure Hunt: Dig for Clues and Win” Contest!





Some friends and I have put together an exciting contest to kick off your summer! Beginning June 1st, we will be giving away a prize a day. That’s right: 30 days, 30 treasures! There should be something for everyone: romance, mystery, historical, contemporary, and young adult fiction; children’s picture books; a variety of non-fiction; and just to liven things up even more, we’ve included a few exciting non-book prizes: a free 30 page manuscript edit, for you aspiring authors out there; an e-bay gift certificate; and a gift-certificate for a Vinyl Expressions Quote.

How can you win one of these fabulous prizes?

Follow the rules below:SUMMER TREASURE HUNT RULES: You can send in an entry for each day’s prize, or only for those prizes that strike your fancy. The rules are simple:
(1) Go to the website or blog indicated for each day, find the answer to the question for that day, then email the answer with your name and mailing address to jdipastena@yahoo.com.
(2) Please send a separate entry for each day and type the day you are entering in the subject line. (Such as: June Treasure Hunt, Day 1; June Treasure Hunt, Day 2, etc).
(3) Deadline for each day: Midnight PST
(4) The winner will be contacted and announced on the day following the deadline. You do not have to wait until the designated day to enter. You can start sending in your entries right now, or begin entering at any point along the way. And check back here each day between June 2nd- July 1st to read the names of the winners. If you have any questions, feel free to email Joyce DiPastena at jdipastena@yahoo.com.

And now…let the treasure hunt begin!

June 1
SPONSOR: Aubrey Mace
PRIZE:autographed copy of my new YA fiction book, My Fairy Grandmother.
QUESTION: What is the title of my upcoming book to be released Fall 2009?
WEBSITE/BLOG: www.aubreymace.comOPEN TO INTERNATIONAL ENTRIESWINNER:

June 2
SPONSOR: Rachel Rager
PRIZE: By Love or By Sea, romance, autographed copy
QUESTION: What question does the stranger ask Alice?
(Hint: Read excerpt of By Love or By Sea on the “Reading Room” page.)
WEBSITE/BLOG: http://www.rachelrager.com/
USA ENTRIES ONLYWINNER:

June 3
SPONSOR: Josi S. Kilpack
PRIZE: An autographed copy of culinary mystery Lemon Tart OR a pre- ordered copy of English Trifle (release date is August 2009)
QUESTION: How many original recipes are included in the culinary mystery, Lemon Tart? (Hint: click on “Lemon Tart” tab on website)
WEBSITE/BLOG: http://www.josiskilpack.comusa/
ENRIES ONLYWINNER:

June 4
SPONSOR: Cindy R. Williams
PRIZE: Arizona Glyph Award Finalist: Chase McKay Didn’t Get Up Today Children’s snuggle, giggle picture book. Autographed by the author and the real Chase McKay.
QUESTION: What is the name of the dragon book Cindy is completing?
WEBSITE/BLOG: http://www.cindyrwilliams.com/
OPEN TO INTERNATIONAL ENTRIES
WINNER:

June 5
SPONSOR: Kersten Campbell
PRIZE: Autographed Copy of the Motherhood humor book: Confessions of a Completely (In)Sane Mother
QUESTION: What does the dog beg for when he escapes into the neighbor's house in the book Confessions of a Completely Insane Mother? (hint: if they click on the book they'll find the answer)
WEBSITE/BLOG: http://www.kerstencampbell.com/
OPEN TO INTERNATIONAL ENTRIES
WINNER:

June 6
SPONSOR: Lara Niedemeyer
PRIZE: $20 gift certificate towards merchandise and shipping at my store—8pizza on eBay
QUESTION: What is the lowest priced item and what is the highest priced item listed in 8pizza’s store? (Hint: use the “Sort By” feature).
WEBSITE/BLOG: http://stores.shop.ebay.com/8pizza
USA ENTRIES ONLY
WINNER:

June 7
Sponsor's name: Kathi Oram Peterson
Prize: Autographed copy of The Forgotten Warrior, YA Inspirational Time travel
Question: Who is Tarik?
WEBSITE/BLOG: http://www.kathiorampeterson.com/
USA ENTRIES ONLY
WINNER:

June 8
SPONSOR: Donna Hatch
PRIZE: Autographed copy of paperback of the Regency Romance, The Stranger She Married
QUESTION: What is Cole accused of doing?
WEBSITE/BLOG: www.donnahatch.net (Hint: read the excerpt under “Bookshelf” tab for The Stranger She Married)
OPEN TO INTERNATIONAL ENTRIES: IN THE CASE OF AN INTERNATIONAL WINNER, AN E-BOOK VERSION OF THE STRANGER SHE MARRIED WILL BE AWARDED
WINNER:

June 9
SPONSOR: Diony George
PRIZE: Autographed copy of Torn Apart, a fictional novel based on a true story. "If it could happen to Alyson, it could happen to anyone..."
QUESTION: What TV station interviewed Diony about her book? (Hint watch video for the answer)
WEBSITE/BLOG: http:// diony-george.blogspot.com
USA ENTRIES ONLY
WINNER:

June 10
SPONSOR: Tina Scott
PRIZE: autographed copy of Coyote's Grand Adventure - children's picture book
QUESTION: What did Coyote always dream of doing? (Hint: Look under “Library” tab)WEBSITE/BLOG: http://tinascott.net/
OPEN TO INTERNATIONAL ENTRIES
WINNER:

June 11
SPONSOR: Cindy Beck
PRIZE: Winner's choice of one of the following anthologies featuring Cindy's stories (autographed copy): My Dad is My Hero, Cup of Comfort for Breast Cancer Survivors, or Cup of Comfort for Horse Lovers.
QUESTION: What was the name of my horse? (Hint: You can find the answer by going to the website and clicking on the button marked "Books."
WEBSITE/BLOG: http://www.bythebecks.com/
USA ENTRIES ONLY
WINNER:

June 12
SPONSOR: Valerie Ipson
PRIZE: $15 gift certificate and free shipping for a Vinyl Expressions’ Vinyl Lettering quote (check out http:// vinylsignsanddesigns.blogspot.com for examples of prize)
QUESTION: What is Valerie’s personal writing quote? (Hint: see quotes in right sidebar under “OUT OF THE MOUTHS OF WRITERLY PEOPLE: Valerie’s “personal quote” means just that…her very own quote!)
WEBSITE/BLOG: http://valerieipson.blogspot.com/USA ENTRIES ONLY
WINNER:

June 13
SPONSOR: Joyce DiPastena
PRIZE: 2007 Whitney Award Finalist: Loyalty’s Web, medieval romance, autographed by author
QUESTION: What is Heléne’s prayer when Gunthar brushes her cheek with his thumb? (Hint: Click on “Excerpt” tab on website)
WEBSITE/BLOG: http://www.joyce-dipastena.com/
OPEN TO INTERNATIONAL ENTRIES: IN THE CASE OF AN INTERNATIONAL WINNER, A $20 AMAZON.COM E-CERTIFICATE WILL BE AWARDED TOWARDS THE PURCHASE OF A COPY OF LOYALTY’S WEB
WINNER:

June 14
SPONSOR: Joan Sowards
PRIZE: LDS Word Puzzles
QUESTION: What is Bednar?
WEBSITE: http://joansowards.com/node/110
USA ENTRIES ONLY
WINNER:

June 15
SPONSOR: Anne Bradshaw
PRIZE: Autographed copy of Please, No Zits! & Other Short Stories for LDS Youth, but non-LDS will enjoy it, too! - YA genre (12 upward)
QUESTION: What does author Jeffrey S. Savage say about Please, No Zits? (Hint: scroll down right sidebar on blog)
WEBSITE/BLOG: http://annebradshaw.blogspot.com/
USA ENTRIES ONLY
WINNER:

June 16
SPONSOR: Laurie LC Lewis
PRIZE: an autographed copy of BOOK ONE of her Free Men and Dreamers series, Dark Sky at Dawn.
QUESTION: What current political situation has caused a verse of the Star Spangled Banner to be nearly forgotten? (Hint: click on “news” link on website)
WEBSITE: http://www.laurielclewis.com/
OPEN TO INTERNATIONAL ENTRIES: IN THE CASE OF AN INTERNATIONAL WINNER, A $25 AMAZON.COM E-CERTIFICATE WILL BE AWARDED TOWARDS THE PURCHASE OF A COPY OF DARK SKY AT DAWN.
WINNER:

June 17
SPONSOR: Jaimey Grant
PRIZE: FREE download of the eBook of your choice (Betrayal, Spellbound, Heartless, or Redemption)
QUESTION: What was the title of the very first Regency romance that Jaimey wrote from beginning to end? (Hint: Check out the post titled: "My Mind : What a Twisted Place to Live")WEBSITE/BLOG: http://www.jaimeygrant.blogspot.com/
OPEN TO INTERNATIONAL ENTRIES
WINNER:

June 18
SPONSOR: Danyelle Ferguson
PRIZE: Free 30 page edit of your manuscript ($30 value)
QUESTION: How does Danyelle's business card describe her? (Hint: check right sidebar on blog)WEBSITE/BLOG: http://queenoftheclan.blogspot.com/
OPEN TO INTERNATIONAL ENTRIES: Danyelle says: “If they live in the USA, I will print their 30 pages, hand edit, then mail back. If they live outside the USA, I will edit the .doc file and email back.”
WINNER:

June 19
SPONSOR: Walnut Springs Press
PRIZE: I Can't Believe It's Food Storage by Crystal Godfrey (non- fiction)
QUESTION: What is the most recent new release listed on our blog? (Hint: check out post for April 13, 2009)
WEBSITE/BLOG: http://walnutspringspress.blogspot.com/
USA ENTRIES ONLY
WINNER:

June 20
SPONSOR: Caroline Gregory and Shawnette Nielson
PRIZE: Puppy Stew, Children’s Picture book. Finalist for Foreward Book Of The Year award. (NOTE: If you would like an autographed copy, please note that in your entry)
QUESTION: “In order to stay warm, what do you wear underneath your shoes?” (Hint: look under the “Witchisms” tab on website)
WEBSITE/BLOG: http://puppystew.net/
OPEN TO INTERNATIONAL ENTRIES
WINNER:

June 21
SPONSOR: Marion Webb-De Sisto.
PRIZE: An autographed copy of her ground-breaking book, Crystal Skulls.
QUESTION: Does this book explore ancient crystal skulls or contemporary ones? {Hint: Take a look at “Books” in the main menu)
WEBSITE/BLOG: http://www.marionwebb-desisto.com/
OPEN TO INTERNATIONAL ENTRIES
WINNER:

June 22
SPONSOR: Inglestone Publishing
PRIZE: Autographed copy of Counting the Cost by Liz Adair
QUESTION: What is the name of the main male character in Counting the Cost?WEBSITE/BLOG: http://www.inglestonepublishing.com/
USA ENTRIES ONLY
WINNER:

June 23
SPONSOR: Cecily Markland/Inglestone Publishing
PRIZE: Autographed copy of children’s picture book, If I Made a Bug, by Cecily Markland
QUESTION: Who is the illustrator of If I Made a Bug? (Hint: the “bookstore” tab)WEBSITE/BLOG: http://www.inglestonepublishing.com/
USA ENTRIES ONLY
WINNER:

June 24
SPONSOR'S NAME: . Jacquie Rogers
PRIZE: Faery Special Romances (YA novel)Autographed in USA, not autographed elsewhere.
QUESTION: Why does our family support Neurofibromatosis research? (Hint: Click on “Neurofibromatosis research” link and read Mercedes Rice’s story)
WEBISTE: http://www.jacquierogers.com/faerysr.html
OPEN TO INTERNATIONAL ENTRIES: WINNER LIVING IN A COUNTRY NOT DIRECTLY SERVED BY AN ONLINE BOOKSTORE WILL RECEIVE A PDF COPY.
WINNER:

June 25
SPONSOR: Terry Deighton
PRIZE: Cup of Comfort for New Mothers (non-fiction, anthology)
QUESTION: Name any two titles from the Cup of Comfort series. (Hint: Look in the store.)WEBSITE/BLOG: http://www.cupofcomfort.com/
USA ENTRIES ONLY
WINNER:

June 26
SPONSOR: Leatherwood Press
PRIZE: Messiah: The Little-known Story of Handel’s Beloved Oratorio, by Tim Slover
QUESTION: Who was the art designer for Messiah: The Little Known Story of Handel’s Beloved Oratorio? (Hint: see post for May 15, 2009)
WEBSITE/BLOG: http://jdp-news.blogspot.com/
USA ENTRIES ONLY
WINNER:

June 27
SPONSOR: Dawson Publishing
PRIZE: Copy of The No Cussing Club by McKay Hatch
QUESTION: How many members of the No Cussing Club are there to date
WEBSITE: http://www.nocussing.com/
USA ENTRIES ONLY
WINNER:

June 28
SPONSOR: Nicole Zoltack
PRIZE: Woman of Honor (fantasy romance ebook)
QUESTION: What color is Caelan's eyes?
WEBSITE/BLOG: http://nicolezoltack.blogspot.com/
OPEN TO INTERNATIONAL ENTRIES
WINNER:

June 29
SPONSOR: Sarah M. Eden
PRIZE: An autographed copy of the Sarah M. Eden Regency romance of your choice
QUESTION: "Name all 7 Jonquil brothers." (Hint: check out "The Jonquil Brothers Series" tab)WEBSITE/BLOG: http://www.sarahmeden.com/
USA ENTRIES ONLY
WINNER:

June 30
SPONSOR: Marsha Ward
PRIZE: LDStorymakers Writing Secrets
QUESTION: Who is Rulon? (Hint: Click on “Man from Shenandoah” under “Novels” link on website)
WEBSITE/BLOG: http://marshaward.com/
USA ENTRIES ONLY
WINNER:

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Life's Battles


“… Black shining eyes stared out from red-painted faces. The foul, bitter aura of hate swam around us. Their muscles, drenched with sweat, flexed to battle ready. An eerie quiet held both armies captive for an instant, and then we collided with blood-curdling yells, the clang of metal meeting metal and the desperate gasp of lives being taken.
Boy against man.
Man against boy.
Numb to pain, I moved instinctively, dodging a blade and swinging my sword at my attackers. Smoke stole the air. Breathing became an effort.
Time ceased to be.
Reason ceased to be.
And then the battle grew worse.”
(Copyright © 2009 Kathi Oram Peterson)


This scene takes place in chapter two of my book, The Forgotten Warrior. It is in the point of view of Tarik, a stripling warrior as he fights in the battle for Judea. Last week on my blog I wrote about the Battle of Judea, so I won’t go into detail here. I’ll just say that this was the first battle the stripling warriors were engaged in. They had been running for two days previously and had never been in battle before, yet they were brave and courageous as they tried to make a stand and fill in for their fathers. And as the story goes, not one of the stripling warriors died. They were wounded, but none were killed.

In juxtaposition to this scene is Syd’s story. Her mother is battling cancer. As the second chapter unfolds we learn that her mother undergoes surgery and her future looks very bleak.

Both incidences─Tarik’s battle and Syd’s mother battling cancer─have something in common, life hangs in the balance. Syd feels as though she is going to war for her mother, she is struggling to preserve her family and the life she knows. Tarik feels the same way. He, too, is fighting to preserve not only his family, but his country and his freedom.

There are so many battles to fight in this life. Just growing up is a challenge, but when tragedy strikes, such as war or cancer, it seems as though things are insurmountable.
How do we cope?
How do we know that the battle is worth fighting?
I’d love to hear from you and what you think.

A friend sent me this video that shows a bear thrown into a life and death situation and how he escapes. Are these animals symbolic of our lives? You be the judge.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Liz Adair Interview

I met Liz Adair online. She is a fellow LDSStorymaker. And I was fortunate to meet her in person at the last conference, though it was only for a minute. I wished we'd had more time to chat. I was very excited when she graciously agreed to do an interview on my blog.
Enjoy!

Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I think so, but the wish expressed itself in stories and letters rather than in a spoken goal that I worked toward. You know the saying about there are three kinds of people: those who watch things happen, those who make things happen, and those who don’t know anything happened? That’s me. Clueless. I had this yen to write, but didn’t know how to do something about it. The end result was that I began writing seriously when I was almost fifty years old.
Tell us a little bit about your new book.
It’s called Counting the Cost, and it’s based on family history. In fact, the pictures on the front are photos of the people whose lives are shadowed in the book: my Uncle Curtis (Heck Benham in the book) and the woman he married. Set in the depression, it’s about a New Mexico cowboy and a socialite from back east who fall in love, and marry. Their disparate backgrounds, along with some unwise choices, make for a bumpy road, and it is only when tragedy strikes that what is truly important becomes apparent. It’s a lot different from my first four novels. The book is available at Amazon.com or from the publisher at http://www.inglestonepublishing.com/

Tell us about your other books.
My first three were part of the Spider Latham mystery series: The Lodger, After Goliath, and Snakewater Affair. The hero is Spider Latham, a fellow who worked as a millwright for twenty-five years before the mines closed and left him and most of the county unemployed. Feeling lucky to be offered the job of deputy sheriff, he takes it and must solve any mysteries without benefit of forensics because the county can’t afford much more than gas and oil for his cruiser. The Spider Latham books are out of print, but they can be bought used on line. My next book, The Mist of Quarry Harbor is a romance/intrigue. It’s set in Phoenix and the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington and tells the story of Cassie Van Cleeve, a young woman who marries a charismatic stranger and then must travel far away to discover who he really is. This book is available at Deseret Book’s online store at http://deseretbook.com/store/product/4736270 The book I’m proudest of—besides Counting the Cost—is Lucy Shook’s Letters from Afghanistan. My mother lived in Afghanistan from 1965 to 1970, and while there, she ran a small hotel/restaurant for the Agency for International Development (AID). She had fifteen Afghan men who worked for her, and she became very involved in their lives and wrote long, descriptive letters home about her adventures. My daughters and I edited her letters and published this book, and revenues from book sales help fund microloans for poor women in Bolivia. You can learn about the book at http://www.lettersfromafghanistan.com/ and find a link there that will take you to the web site for Serving Women Across Nations (SWAN), http://www.swanforhumanity.org/ .
What inspires you and motivates you to write the very most?
Do you know, I don’t think I can answer that. I write because I must. I’ve always been that way. As I go through old boxes of keepsakes, I’m constantly finding letters I wrote long ago—rambling, involved sagas—that never got mailed. I think communication with a friend wasn’t as important as putting words, any words, on paper.
Is there an established writer you admire and emulate in your writing? Do you have a writing mentor?
I don’t read a lot of contemporary fiction. In fact, I don’t read much fiction at all, because I have no will power. When I begin a story, everything else in my life goes on hold until I finish, so I limit myself to nonfiction, mostly. However, when I used to read fiction, I loved Georgette Heyer for her dialog. I appreciated C. S. Forester’s hero, Horatio Hornblower, because he was so human. I’m a Tony Hillerman fan, too. My mysteries have been compared to his, which I take as a great compliment.
Location and life experience can sprinkle their influence in your writing. Tell us about where you grew up and a little about where you live now - city? Suburb? Country? Farm?
I was born in the Southwest, and spent a lot of my childhood there, and I think that has had an influence on my work. Most of my books are set in the high desert, though I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest for the last thirty-odd years. I write about small town people, because, aside from six years in the Los Angeles area, I’ve lived in small towns and villages all my life. We moved to this area so we could have a small hobby farm and ended up in an ungainly-looking house that had a huge barn. We milked cows and raised pigs, chickens, horses and burros. We put up hay, and I made butter and cheese and canned anything that grew. What a great way to raise a family! I still smile when I think about it. If you could live anywhere you want to live, where would that be? Right where I am. We’ve downsized now and moved to the edge of a small town. The flood plain is a block away, so it’ll always be open to the south of us, to the river and the hills beyond. It’s quiet and peaceful, and I have grandkids nearby. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Bring us into your home and set the scene for us when you are writing. What does it look like? On the couch, laptop, desk? Music? Lighting, handwriting?
Bring you into my home? Are you kidding? I don’t know if you remember the comedienne Phyllis Diller, but she used to say that she cleans her oven when it gets down to where she can only bake one cupcake at a time. My office is like that, and I’d be embarrassed to have anyone come in and see it. Even my husband avoids the area, afraid he’ll get lost amid the crumpled up paper and stacks of books. However, I do have a system, and I can usually find any document I need.
Do you watch television or movies? If so, what are your favorites? Do they inspire your writing?
Currently, I’m a fan of Dancing with the Stars, American Idol and Castle. I watch The Closer when it comes on, and Sunday night we always watch Sixty Minutes and then Masterpiece, and we’ll often catch American Experience. That’s about the extent of TV. I’m pretty selective about the movies I watch. I read reviews and then try to remember them when the DVD comes out. I think the last movie I watched in a theatre was Master and Commander. TV and movies are completely entertainment. They don’t inspire me, but I find that as I become a better writer, I’m much more critical of the writing on TV and in the movies.
How has being published changed your life?
Not much. Writer is at least fifth down on the list of how I define myself: Child of God, Wife, Mother, and Member of Construction Management Team all come before Published Writer. Maybe there are a couple others stuck in before writer, too. Young Women’s Advisor and Choir Director? Probably.
Do you have any book signings, tours or special events planned to promote your book that readers might be interested in attending? If so, when and where? Also tell about your blog and website.
I’d like to talk about a special event where I’ll be handing out lunches. It’s on June 6 in Sedro Woolley, Washington. It’s a charity Century Ride to raise money for microloans to poor women in Bolivia. A Century Ride is a non-competitive 100 miles. This one runs a fairly flat course along the beautiful Skagit River and then out to Padilla Bay on the sea. There’s also a 60 mile ride and a 10 mile family fun ride. Go to http://www.blastfromthepastcentury.org/ to find out about it. As far as a special event to promote my new book, we’re in the middle of one right now. Because Counting the Cost is based on my cowboy Uncle’s life, we’re sponsoring a Roundup of Memories contest. It’s a win-win situation for everyone who enters, because even if you don’t win one of the prizes, you will have written down a memory for your posterity. Go to my blog at http://www.sezlizadair.blogspot.com/ to read about the contest.
Thanks, Liz! You're an extraordinary woman!

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Warriors and Syd

(Copyright © 2009 Kathi Oram Peterson)

“…No more would we run and hide.
No more would we look over our shoulders and wonder when they would attack.
I did not fear death.
God would deliver me.
God would deliver us.”

This is part of the opening scene in my book, The Forgotten Warrior. At this point the reader doesn’t know who is thinking this, but as you read further into the book you learn it is a stripling warrior named Tarik and he is running toward the Battle of Judea.

I’ve often wondered how the people of Judea felt. Their city had been taken away from them and they’d been fighting for so long. They were war weary and desperate when out of the mists stepped a band of very young men, boys really, lead by Captain Helaman.

How would you feel after weeks of war to see these boys willing to fight for you and your loved ones?

As a mother, I would stand in awe at the courage and faith of not only the stripling warriors, but of their fathers and mothers letting them go to war and their leader Captain Helaman, who led them.

The Battle of Judea only succeeded because of the stripling warriors. At first the inexperienced warriors were used as bait to tease the bulk of the Lamanite army out of the city. The Lamanites chased after the warriors for two days. On the morning of the third day they stopped their pursuit. Helaman didn’t know why, but he feared the worst. So he asked the warriors what they would like to do. In his letter to Moroni he reported. “… they said unto me: Father, behold our God is with us, and he will not suffer that we should fall; then let us go forth; we would not slay our brethren if they would let us alone; therefore let us go, lest they should overpower the army of Antipus.”

These young warriors were not as much afraid for themselves as they were for Captain Antipus and his men, whose job it was to attack the Lamanites from behind. Imagine the pride in Helaman’s heart as he listened to his warrior sons. So they turned about and engaged in battle. It was as the warriors feared. The Lamanites were fighting Antipus and his army. Sadly Antipus was slain, but with the help of the stripling warriors the city of Judea was restored to the Nephites.

So what are the similarities of the stripling warriors call to action and the karate move Sydney Morgan put on Colin Staker in the first chapter in my book?

Keep in mind, Syd was only five feet five inches and Colin was a football player. If you were to see the two of them standing side by side, of course, the first impression would be the football player could easily take care of the girl. However, Syd had been taught by her mother the fine art of karate. So how did she knock him to the ground? She grabbed Colin’s wrist with her right hand and jabbed his elbow with her left hand. This surprising action caught him off balance and he flipped to the ground. Such a little thing…yet a mighty response.

How is Sydney's actions similar to the warriors?

Tell me the story within the story here. How did the stripling warriors' faith guide them? How does Syd's? Or does she act on faith? Does Tarik and Syd have anything in common? I’ll use the best analogy to further this discussion in my next blog about the warriors, so don't be shy.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Corinne Humphrey Interview

Corinne Humphrey is a multi-talent woman. She's a fantastic writer who has had articles in various national publications; she's a wonderful cook, who can make delicious food not only in her home, but on a mountain peak; and she's an awesome artist with a tender heart. Her book The Tao of Rudy has gained national attention, earned various awards and has influenced many children. I've gone to her home for plot parties, played golf with her, and have watched her career soar. I thought you would enjoy getting to know my good friend.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?
No, but I always liked art and I used to beg my parents to let me go to art school.

Tell us a little bit about your book.
The Tao of Rudy was totally inspired by a down-and-out shelter mutt I adopted. I was in the middle of a painting class when I got him, and I also was influenced by a Canadian Artist, Sheila Norgate, who had an exhibit called “Beaks and Muzzles” just birds and dogs. The Tao of Rudy features bold, whimsical illustrations paired with Rudy’s sage canine commentary on life, love and making your way in the world. “It Doesn’t Matter What Kind of Dog You Are;” “You Can Create the Life You Want;” “Find a Hero” and “Let Yourself Be Loved!” are just some of this mixed-breed’s messages that appeal to children and adults.

Tell us about Rudy. What’s his daily routine?
We have a nice routine, especially now that I’m working mostly from home. We get up early, and he goes out while I make the coffee and turn on the classical music (usually piano solos recorded by a friend of mine). He then waits patiently by the coffee machine and then we crawl back in bed for a half hour-45 minutes of meditation, music and gazing at the mountains. He gets petted a lot. I usually work on the computer for a few hours, then we take a nice hike before running errands, going to the bank where he gets doggy biscuits when he makes deposits, mailing off books, etc. I work again in the afternoon, and he naps, or now that the weather is warming up, we’ll sit on the patio for afternoon tea, before getting back to work. I like to paint in the afternoon. I write for PR clients (my bread and butter) in the evenings after dinner while he naps some more or keeps watch over the street from the front deck. Some days we’ll get a second walk in, or twice a month, Rudy and I go to obedience training.

What inspires you and motivates you to write the very most?
It’s fun! Rudy just makes me think of fun ideas, and if I’m wasting time on the couch, he’ll poke me, then go lie in the studio/office. Sometimes, it takes a couple times before I get the hint. He’ll follow me in there, and once I’m finally engaged in painting or packaging books or working on the computer, he’ll go off to bed. Each little success, whether it’s a interview, a book sale or the excitement of a new idea, feeds my energy and determination.
Is there an established writer you admire and emulate in your writing? Do you have a writing mentor?
I have been blessed to be included in some great writing groups over the years, but I don’t have a mentor. I’ve attended some great conferences, especially the annual Children’s Authors & Illustrators Conference at BYU, and that really pushed me to the finish line. Todd Parr, the author/illustrator of 12+ children’s books, really inspired me because he wasn’t a trained artist either, and he finally ignored the naysayers and focused on what he liked to do. He now has a Saturday TV show in addition to his books.

Location and life experience can sprinkle their influence in your writing. Tell us about where you grew up and a little about where you live now - city? Suburb? Country? Farm? If you could live anywhere you want to live, where would that be? I grew up in southwestern VA, in a small town with four stoplights. There was a war memorial, the Dogwood Café, some banks, churches, High’s Ice Cream Shoppe and Cundiff’s Drug Store where we’d hang out after school and eat French fries loaded with ketchup. My parents loved to travel, and every year we loaded up the station wagon, hitched up the little Apache tent trailer and went on big road trips across the country. Mom and Dad loved history, so we spent a lot of time visiting Civil War Battlefields and museums, and by the time I was a senior, I’d been to 46 states and most of the National Parks. .I attended college at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA with the original plan of getting a degree in Marine Biology and French so I could join Jacques Cousteau and his team. Unfortunately, I couldn’t pass chemistry to save my life, and I get seasick just looking at movies of the ocean, so I changed course and ended up with a Sociology degree. Immediately after graduation, I landed a job as flight attendant for Delta Airlines, and after initial training in Atlanta, I moved to Boston. I traveled like a fiend for 25 years for work and on vacations. That’s when I started doing freelance writing and photography, and I would [do this during] my layovers according to my photo agents’ requests. It was a great synergy, and I loved the constant movement and stimulation. I got tired of Boston winters and moved to San Diego, followed by other moves to Palo Alto, CA, Lake Tahoe and back to San Diego, before settling in Park City, Utah. I’ve never lived anywhere this long (11 years), and I like the small town atmosphere but with a level of sophistication that my home town lacked. The long winters are getting to me, so it would be nice to spend a couple of months in a warm beach town. Rudy’s never seen the ocean, so that would be fun. Some day I hope to live in Europe—Paris or northern Italy—or possibly Buenos Aires.

Bring us into your home and set the scene for us when you are writing and painting. What does it look like? On the couch, laptop, desk? Music? Lighting, handwriting?
I have an office/studio with a big, western-facing window that looks out at the mountains where I have my easel, bookshelves and a makeshift desk made of a board resting on two file cabinets. I use a laptop, but don’t really ever tote it anywhere. If I am working on longer pieces like novel or essays, I like to sit in cafes and write longhand, then eventually type it into the computer when I start editing and rewriting.

Do you watch television or movies? If so, what are your favorites? Do they inspire your writing?
I’d never owned a TV as an adult, but a friend forced one on me. J Without cable I only get three channels, and still I feel like I waste a lot of time watching stupid cop shows, so, no, TV does not inspire me at all. I love movies—particularly classic oldies, foreign films and some Sundance films. I like romantic comedies, clever thrillers or movies that have rich characters and fine cinematography.

How has having a book published changed your life?
The whole process has made me giggle, and it helped me transition away from the airlines and into a vocation that brings me joy. It has brought a lot of magic and new friendships into my life. Self-publishing The Tao of Rudy has also given me courage to trust my instincts and follow my dreams, and it has led to other things like motivational speaking and teaching after-school art/bookmaking classes to kids and teens for the Arts-Kids organization. It has allowed me to reach out and inspire children to create the lives they want.

Do you have any book signings, tours or special events planned to promote your book that readers might be interested in attending?
If so, when and where? Also tell about your blog and website. The Tao of Rudy is one of ten finalists for “Book of the Year Award” so I’m hoping to do a booksigning at BookExpo America at the end of May in New York City. Locally, I will be participating in the Children’s Book Festival on Saturday, May 16 at the main Salt Lake Library at 12:30 p.m.
Thanks for the wonderful interview, Corinne.
Check out Rudy's website: http://www.thetaoofrudy.com/

I'm going to try something different. For those who post comment for this interview I will hold a drawing. The winner will receive a "Look Outside Yourself" post card brought you to by Rudy and Corinne.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Karate Girl

For those of you who have read my book, The Forgotten Warrior, you know that karate plays a major role. Sydney Morgan, a sixteen-year-0ld girl with a black belt in karate, finds herself flung back in time to Captain Helaman and his stripling warriors during the Lamanite/Nephite war.

Years ago as I tried to find a publisher for my book one comment a misguided editor gave me was he didn't think a girl could beat a Lamanite warrior. My reaction, he obviously doesn't know the fine art of karate. Thank goodness I found a publisher who knew better.

I thought you might enjoy this clip showing a very talented young woman doing a very remarkable kick. You be the judge. Do you think she could beat a Lamanite warrior?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Tristi Pinkston Interview


Tristi Pinkston is a woman of many talents. Not only is she a writer, editor, and internet guru, but she is a loving Mom who homeschools her children. I've only known Tristi since last December and yet I feel as though I've known her for years. She has a talent for putting people at ease and making them feel right at home. Knowing that her new book will shortly be released I asked her to do an interview for my blog so all of you can get to know her as well.

Enjoy!

Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a writer. I wrote my first poem as a small child, my mother raved about it, and it went from there. I grew up knowing exactly what I wanted to be (well, I did go through that “ballerina” stage, but I think all little girls go through that).

Tell us a little about your latest book.
It’s called “Agent in Old Lace” and it’s my first contemporary novel. My main character is Shannon, a financial advisor who learns that her stockbroker boyfriend has been defrauding his clients, her own father included. Her life is in danger with this discovery, and we see her use brains and determination to get out of peril and bring him to justice. Along the way, she works with FBI agent Rick Holden, who is willing to do just about anything to bring this case to closure. And I do mean, just about anything.

What about your other books?
My first novel, “Nothing to Regret,” is the story of the Japanese internment camps during World War II. My character is a young man who is interned with his parents shortly after Pearl Harbor, and then is asked to go on an espionage mission to Japan. Next came “Strength to Endure.” Set during World War II as well, only this time in Germany, it’s the story of Anneliese, a young girl who is torn between her father’s anti-Hitler beliefs and her brother’s pro-Hitler mania. She grows up quickly and has to choose sides, but her choices come with consequences. My third book is called “Season of Sacrifice” and is the true story of the Hole in the Rock pioneers in southern Utah. My great-great-grandfather engineered the passage through the Hole and I had access to family histories which I used to tell his story. This book is the most emotionally rewarding to me, as it ties in with my family history.
What inspires you and motivates you to write the very most?
The little voices in my head that won’t leave me alone … that’s a comical answer but it’s the truth. I have stories floating through my head all the time, and the only way to satisfy them is to write them down. I’m not myself when I’m not writing.

Is there an established writer you admire and emulate in your writing? Do you have a writing mentor?
I can’t say there’s one particular writer I try to emulate, although I must say that Ann Rinaldi is the one who got me started on the path to historical fiction. I enjoy her books so much. I grew up reading Louisa May Alcott, L. M. Montgomery, and Gene Stratton-Porter, so my sentence structure tends to be a little old fashioned. (Hey, it’s my style.) I try to take the best of everything I read and incorporate it into my writing. I’m a voracious reader and I enjoy studying how each author employs the written word in the honing of their craft. I’ve been mentored by all the books I’ve read over the years, culling both good and bad examples for my own use.

Location and life experience can sprinkle their influence in your writing. Tell us about where you grew up and a little about where you live now - City? Suburb? Country? Farm? If you could live anywhere you want to live, where would that be? I grew up all over Utah. My dad was a Xerox technician and got transferred a lot, so we consequently moved a lot. Logan, Hyrum, Provo, Orem, Payson, Pleasant Grove … and a short time spent in Nevada. I currently live in the medium-sized town of Orem. If I could live anywhere, I would stick pretty close to a town – I dislike having to drive long distances to do my shopping – but I would enjoy having a little bit of acreage on the edge of a town, a place where my kids could go outside and run around to their hearts’ content.

Bring us into your home and set the scene for us when you are writing. What does it look like? On the couch, laptop, desk? Music? Lighting, handwriting?
I work at a desk in the corner of my living room, sitting on a yoga ball chair and using an ergonomic keyboard. I have a desktop computer – laptops hurt my hands too much (I have carpal tunnel tendencies which I control with flax seed, vitamin B12, and the aforementioned ergo keyboard). I used to have my desk in my bedroom, which I loved for the quiet, but my kids would start to get into trouble as soon as my back was turned, so now the desk is right in the flow of traffic and they get away with very little.

Do you watch television or movies?
If so, what are your favorites? Do they inspire your writing? I used to watch television, but we shut off our cable about eight months ago and I haven’t missed it. I do enjoy movies, quite a bit, especially period drama pieces. My Netflix queue is pretty long. I do feel inspired by movies I see, just as I do with books I read, conversations I hear, and all that goes on around me.

How has being published changed your life?
In the first place, it’s been a big boost to my self-esteem. It’s very edifying to know that other people enjoy hearing the voices in my head. It has also encouraged my children to follow their own dreams. I definitely spend more time at the computer than I used to, between writing, the freelance editing I do, and also the media reviews. It has also given me an additional something to look forward to every day.

Do you have any book signings, tours or special events planned to promote your book that readers might be interested in attending? If so, when and where? Also tell about your blog and website.
I will be having a launch party for “Agent in Old Lace” at Provident Book in Pleasant Grove on June 6:00 at 3:00 pm. Refreshments will be served, and with each purchase of the book, you’ll get a free sample of the perfume I designed to go along with the book. Provident Book is located at 661 W State Rd, Suite A, Pleasant Grove, UT 84062
(801) 785-0733. My blog is located at http://www.tristipinkston.blogspot.com/ It’s a fun place where I talk about writing and anything else that happens to be on my mind at the moment, so essentially, it’s about a little bit of everything. My website can be found at http://www.tristipinkston.com/ and it’s recently undergone a complete overhaul. I’m really pleased with how it turned out, so go take a look!

Thanks for the interview Tristi!

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