Monday, August 31, 2009

Mustang Jo

I am so fortunate to have a sister and very fortunate to have a sister like Mustang Jo. (Her name is Josephine Lynn. For me she's Jo, but for many others she is Mustang Jo because of her love of horses.) There's about seven years between us in age. I remember growing up and always tagging along behind her. She was the coach for my young women's softball team when I was a girl. She did a darn good job, too. I played third base. Not very well, I might add, but she'd never tell me that.

We're not at all alike. She took after our father: Italian complexion, dark hair and brown eyes. I took after our mother: Swedish complexion, light hair and blue eyes. She loves fishing on a river, riding on cattle drives and trucking across the nation in a semi-truck. I've fished the river once maybe twice, have gone on one cattle drive, and I've sat in the passenger seat of a semi-truck. I've done all this with my sister by my side.

Let's talk about fishing ... I remember Jo asking Mom and me to go fish the Snake River with her in a canoe. Sounded like a wonderful adventure. That is until we started carrying the canoe to the water. We had to scale several barbed wire fences and walk across the railroad tracks. The canoe was heavy and was easiest to manage upside down over our heads, so we could hold it with both hands. I remember as we were walking down the railroad tracks I said, it's a good thing trains don't use this track much. We all laughed. We finally launched the boat in the river just as a freight train zoomed past. All three of us turned pale and gulped.
The cattle drive ...You have to realize, I'm a city gal, scared to death of horses let alone a charging bull. Wanting to give flavor to one of my books, I asked my sister if I could go on a cattle drive with her. Jo gave me a small mustang to ride named Dusty. The horse and I were quite the pair. I'm fairly tall and to see this tall woman on a short horse was a funny scene, but that was okay. Dusty was gentle and sort of took my directions. The first morning we discovered one of the bull's had wandered off, but not too far. We knew where he was for he bellowed like he had a sore tooth or something. Jo climbed on her horse and told me to ride mine to the corral and open the gate so she could herd the bull in. Well, in haste I'd put the saddle on Dusty and because I was in a hurry (the bull had Jo in his sights and was bellowing while kicking dirt in the air) I didn't tighten the cinch properly. When I tried to get on my horse, the saddle on foot I hustled over to the corral gate leading Dusty behind me. Had a devil of a time opening the gate, but finally accomplished the task all the while watching the bull charging after my sister, but at least the ornery beast followed her into the corral. Once he was with the other cattle his interest in Jo vanished.

And the semi-truck...Jo gave me a tour of a semi she was driving for her son. Sadly I have never gone on a trip with her.

My sister has adventure in her soul and she has a gift. She's a cattle whisperer. Really! She has developed a way of herding cattle that is low-stress for the animals. If a rancher uses her method his cattle will weigh more which will mean more money in the long run. Ranchers all over the mountain west have asked her to teach them how she does it. Her company is called Rocky Mountain Range Riders. A year ago Jo was featured in the magazine Stock Dog. Her low-stress herding technique was highlighted and the writer even included Jo's dog, Pepper. You'd love Pepper. She's a great cattle dog. To watch Jo and Pepper work cattle is like watching Charles Russell paint the old west.

It was my sister's birthday Saturday. I called to wish her a happy day, but got her answering machine. I don't know where she was...and yet I do. She had to be out on the range on her horse with Pepper following close behind. I hope she reads this and knows how much I love and admire her.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Linda Weaver Clarke Interview

I hope you enjoy this interview with Linda Weaver Clarke. I didn't realize until I interviewed her, that Linda was from Idaho. As most of my friends know, I'm from Idaho as well.

Linda is not only an author, but she is also involved with the Family Legacy Workshops and tours around the country giving lectures. Her interview gives a peek into her life and novels.

Tell us a little about the Family Legacy Workshops and how you became involved.
I became interested in teaching this Family Legacy Workshop when I found out how much fun it was to write my ancestors stories. Their experiences were intriguing to me. I teach people how to take their family history or their own autobiography and turn it into interesting stories. It’s important to teach our children their heritage. Each of us has a story from our ancestors to tell. If these stories are unwritten, then they’ll be lost forever. To read samples of my ancestor’s stories, you can visit my website at I was once asked to teach a bunch of troubled teenagers. At first I was nervous, wondering if they would appreciate what I was going to teach them. After they piled into class, it was as noisy as any teenage class could be. Then the teacher stood and introduced me. When I walked to the front of the class, the room became instantly quiet as they all watched and listened to what I had to say. I was so impressed with their attitude about learning and how well they listened. Afterward, one teenager came up to me and gave me a hug that made the whole thing worthwhile. I’ll never forget what an awesome experience I had that day and the love I felt for each of those students.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I’ve always loved writing but never expected to be an author. In my wildest dreams, I wouldn’t have guessed that I would be having these experiences in my later life, after raising my children. This was a new experience to me and I even surprised myself.

Tell us about your books.
“A Family Saga in Bear Lake, Idaho” is a five-book series but they can be read separately. Each book has its own plot. “David and the Bear Lake Monster” is the fourth in this series. I love inserting real experiences into my novels. It brings a story to life. To me, the experiences of my family and ancestors have always intrigued me.

My great grandmother, Sarah Eckersley Robinson, was my inspiration for this book. I wanted to use her experiences for my heroine to bring some reality into my story. As a child, she lost her hearing but she never let her deafness stop her from living life to its fullness. I took a lot of her experiences from her biography and gave them to my heroine to bring some reality into my story. Sarah was known as one of the most graceful dancers in town. She was known for gliding across the floor with ease, with just a touch of her partner’s hand. Sarah had such agility and gracefulness while swimming, that people actually threw coins in the water so they could watch her dive after them. Once an intruder hid in her bedroom under her bed, thinking he could take advantage of her since she was deaf. He must have thought she was an easy victim but was sadly mistaken. She swatted him out from under her bed with a broom, and all the way out of the house, and down the street for a couple blocks, whacking him as she ran. What a courageous woman! Because of my admiration for my great grandmother, I named my character “Sarah.”

Now you may wonder about the Bear Lake Monster and how it fits into my story. Is it fiction or non-fiction? Well, my book is considered historical fiction so I decided to add some parts of history that may sound incredible to you but actually happened.

The mystery of the Bear Lake Monster has been an exciting part of Idaho history ever since the early pioneers arrived in 1863. The legend of the Bear Lake Monster made life a little more exciting for the pioneers. Some people claimed to have seen it and gave descriptions of it. The monster’s eyes were flaming red and its ears stuck out from the sides of its skinny head. Its body was long, resembling a gigantic alligator, and it could swim faster than a galloping horse. Of course, it only came out in the evening or at dusk.

Throughout the years, no one has ever disproved the Bear Lake Monster. A bunch of scientists tried to discredit the monster and said it was a huge codfish that was shipped in from the East but could not prove this theory. Does the Bear Lake Monster exist? Whatever conclusion is drawn, the legend still lives on and brings a great deal of mystery and excitement to the community.

What is my book about? It’s about deep-rooted legends, long family traditions, and a few mysterious events! David quickly becomes one with the town and its folk and wonders why they believe in this Bear Lake Monster. It just has to be a myth. While visiting the Roberts family, he finds himself entranced with one very special lady and ends up defending her honor several times. Sarah isn’t like the average woman. This beautiful and dainty lady has a disability that no one seems to notice. He finds out that Sarah has gone through more trials than the average person. She teaches him the importance of not dwelling on the past and how to love life. After a few teases, tricks, and mischievous deeds, David begins to overcome his troubles, but will it be too late? Will he lose the one woman he adores? And how about the Bear Lake Monster? Does it really exist?

What inspires you and motivates you to write the very most?
Whenever I see a story unfold in my mind, then it’s hard to keep me away from my computer. I long to make those characters come to life. After developing my characters, I can’t wait to see what happens next. I use an outline, of course, but sometimes my characters do things I didn’t expect and I’m amazed.

Is there an established writer you admire and emulate in your writing? Do you have a writing mentor?
There are several writers that I admire who write historical fiction but I usually try to develop my own techniques, although we can always learn from others.

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 among the rolling hills of southern Idaho. I was a country girl, raised on a farm. I was free and unfettered, and felt there was no better place to live than on a farm. Oh, yes! Life experiences do influence our writing. In fact, “Jenny’s Dream” was inspired by events that happened to me in my youth. I now live in a small town in southern Utah among colorful red mountains and red soil. It was a complete change to leave my green landscape and move to the desert, but I do love it. If I had to choose another place to live, I don’t know where that would be. I would probably end up back on the farm again.

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 have a small desk with a laptop. It’s easier to tote around than a regular computer. I have a picture window in my room that brings in plenty of light. Sometimes I’ll go outside and sit on our swing and bring my laptop with me or take a paper and pencil to write. It’s easier to concentrate if I don’t have music and the sounds of nature don’t seem to distract me too much.

Do you watch television or movies? If so, what are your favorites? Do they inspire your writing? Usually movies won’t inspire my writing but I absolutely love musicals. They’re fun to watch and listen to.

How has being published changed your life?
Wow! That’s a powerful question. It’s changed my life immensely. I now go on Book Tours, teach workshops at libraries throughout the U.S., and I’m being interviewed by radio and TV stations. That’s a real change, if you ask me.

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.
You can go to my website and click on “Upcoming Events.” That tells where I’ll be next. My blog is You can also read an excerpt from each of my books at

Monday, August 24, 2009

Oram Family Reunion

I love family reunions. The Oram family gets together every other year, plays games, cooks dutch oven dinners, and talks around the campfire. This year our gathering place was Bryce Canyon. We camped near Pine Lake.

My husband, son, daughter and I stayed in a tent. My married daughter and her husband were in a camp trailer (smart move). I'm not a big fan of camping, but I love to be with my family, so I toughed it out. However, we arrived to the site in the pouring rain. I'm very grateful that my daughter, Tricia, and son, Ben, went a day early and set up the tent and cooking pavilion.

Bud, my brother, was in charge and had delegated the reunion to his son, Brad, so of course, Rochelle, Brad's wife, did much of the work. The first night they had a fantastic dutch oven dinner of scones, chicken tenders, salads and three different cobblers. I really think Rochelle is the dutch oven queen of our family. It rained and rained. But we had rain coats and Brad had set up several pavilions to keep us as dry as he could. Despite the damp weather, we didn't go to bed until after 11:00. There's nothing like tumbling into a sleeping bag in the middle of the night with the patter of rain on the tent roof. (Below is a picture of my brother, Bud, Me and our dogs: Buttons and Lizzie)
We awakened the next morning to sunshine. Whew! Several people went fishing. In the afternoon, we had the Oram Olympics. Each family squared off (five families). There were some pretty competitive events: horseshoes, hoola-hoops, water-balloon toss, word search, and the ever competitive licorice passing with your toes. We laughed so hard it was difficult to keep the licorice moving.

Saturday we toured Bryce Canyon. One word describes it...breathtaking!

That night was the big event of the Olympic competition...the dutch oven cook off. Several dishes were in the competition: pork chops and stuffing, shrimp jumbalaya, chili, pot roast, baked ham, potato casserole, three-bean stew, and moose-kisses. The winner didn't even enter the main competition. We voted Rochelle as the winner for cooking in the dutch ovens for almost every meal. (She made the most awesome cream-cheese French Toast for breakfast).

We had a blast. Rochelle passed the buck of our next reunion to my brother, Bill. Can hardly wait.

Below are more pictures. Enjoy!

See you in 2011...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

My Penelopes

For Young Women's last night, I had my Miamaid class over to my house. We ate pizza and watched the movie Penelope. All summer long the girls have been busy going to camp, youth conference, weeding the stake garden, serving spaghetti to the ward, and such, so last night was a kickback night to relax and hopefully learn something.

There were a few scenes in the movie I didn't care for (the stereotypical mean mother, beer drinking and such), but this Hollywood movie had a great inspirational message for young women...actually for young men as well. It's theme targets those who feel as though they don't quite measure up to others. It's about learning to love yourself for who you are. It doesn't matter if you have the snout or ears of a pig, your life is what you make of it. You can stay in your room hiding your flaws from the world, or you can venture out and experience life.

And guess what happens once you take a chance? You might find that your flaws are not as big of a deal as you thought they were. In fact, maybe your flaws are what makes you shine above the crowd.

Because Penelope learns this vital lesson, I told my girls they are Penelopes. They are beautiful young women--as all young women are--who Heavenly Father loves dearly. Accept yourself for who you are and take a chance by working on your dreams. Who knows they could come true. They did for this Penelope.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Angels Among Us

I have to tell you about last Sunday. My young women's group was asked to help with the Sunday service at an assisted living center in Sandy. Sunday service in an assisted living center isn't like a usual church meeting. It is much shorter. There's an opening song and prayer. Then the sacrament is blessed and given, and that is followed by a very short program.

So last Sunday, we had the song and prayer. A couple of boys from a different ward came to bless and pass the sacrament. One little lady had trouble taking the bread, so the young men passing it to her gently took a piece and placed it in her mouth. It touched my heart to see a young man so tender and thoughtful to a frail elderly woman.

The program progressed and the girls gave wonderful talks and then they sang I Am a Child of God in Portuguese (two of our young women are from Portugal and one from Brazil). I came away teary eyed. And I thought about the angels who are among us everyday, doing random acts of kindness. I'm talking about actual people who go out of their way to help others. It made me think of angels among us. You know, people who serve others everyday without thought of compensation or what's in it for them. I'm certain many of you have witnessed such noble acts. I'd love to hear about them.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Youth Conference in Logan

Last Thursday at a Youth Conference in Logan, Utah, I spoke about two of my favorite subjects: the stripling warriors and my book, The Forgotten Warrior. Of course, the focus of my talk was those noble young men who followed Captain Helaman into battle.

We talked about ten character traits of the stripling warriors. Helaman's sons were healthy, smart, loyal, determined, exemplary, patriotic, obedient, courageous, faithful, and they had integrity. For each character trait I gave a case scenario using a contemporary fictional story with two possible endings. I chose a youth for each trait from the audience, who had to chose the ending for the scenario. If they gave the right answer they put on a karate belt. I'm proud to say all ten of the volunteers chose wisely. What good sports!!! The audience was fantastic, especially since midway through my talk the air conditioning quit. I was followed by David Osmond, who sang and spoke to the youth. Yes, David was the Osmond on American Idol last spring.

Below are a few pictures of the conference. I'm also including a video clip of David on ET.


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Stripling Warriors

In honor of the speaking engagement I had this week in Logan where I spoke about my book, The Forgotten Warrior, I thought I'd post a couple of short animated clips about Helaman and his stripling warriors.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Karate Bloopers

Last week I posted a blog on my son's Black Belt Extravaganza. I thought it might be fun to see some karate bloopers to show a few of the obstacles that are overcome on the road to earning that coveted "black belt."


Related Posts with Thumbnails