Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas is upon us. Through the eyes of a child this magical time of year is filled with wonder and awe. I can't help but think of those who are near and dear to me and realize how very blessed I am.

Last year a dear friend of mine asked me to sit down and watch the Christmas DVD she had of David Archuleta. She said he had a beautiful singing voice. Truth be told, Edith had a huge crush on him. Of course, many do, but Edith was 97. Her crush was so cute. She had pictures of him on her wall. And she was actually able to meet him last year on her birthday. I regret that I didn't sit down and watch the DVD with Edith. She passed away shortly after Christmas. When I came upon this clip on youtube, I knew I had to share it with you. Edith was right, he does have a beautiful singing voice.

In case you don't have the time to watch the above video, here's David Archuleta singing Silent Night. It's absolutely spin-tingling.

I'm taking next week off from blogging. I wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!!!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

For the Love of Christmas Trains

When I saw the new picturebook by President Thomas S. Monson, it brought back a ton of Christmas memories.

When I was a child, my father would put a train around the bottom of our Christmas tree. I remember watching it go around and around. My mother had a blue parakeet and that little bird loved hitching a ride on the train as it zoomed around. Sometimes the bird would get off in back of the tree and then hop on when the train came around again.

Many years later when we could afford it, my husband bought a train to put around our tree. We wanted our children to have the memory of a Christmas train.

Sorry the picture isn't very good, but the train was going fast. The thing is, Hubby and I had no idea what fun a Christmas train would be for our grandsons. They love it.

I snapped this picture yesterday as Jonathan watched the train. He eventually laid down on the carpet and watched it until he almost fell asleep. So cute!

 Oh, and about the picturebook . . . it's a keeper. The story is wonderful for young boys and learning the lesson of sharing and giving. It's a great Christmas gift.

Do you like trains around your Christmas tree?


Friday, December 14, 2012

Seven Miracles That Saved America (picturebook)

Walking through my friendly neighborhood book store, I was drawn to a new picturebook. This is not your ordinary picturebook. No. The story of this book was actually taken from the full-length nonfiction book by the same title but condensed for a picturebook.

This is very difficult to do. Believe me, I know. I've written several children's concept picturebooks and also biography books. To take big concepts and reduce them to a picturebook format takes time and patience. But done right, the rewards can be amazing as it is in this beautiful picturebook.

I've read a lot of Chris Stewart's novels and he never ceases to amaze me. I also read the other novel Chris wrote with his brother, Ted, titled Seven Tipping Points That Saved the World, which I highly recommend. So I had great expectations for this picturebook.

My expectations were met. Seven Miracles That Saved America will become a cherished family possession. The reader learns about amazing miracles that shaped America: discovering the new world, the courageous people of Jamestown, a summer fog, the constitution, Gettysburg, Midway, and how important a fraction of an inch was for President Reagan. You really need to read these stories for I certainly haven't done them justice in a few sentences.

The paintings in this book are breathtaking. Ben Sowards, the artist, said in his notes: "When I read Chris and Ted Stewart's passionate case for American exceptionalism in their original Seven Miracles That Saved America, I knew there needed to be a way to share that message of heritage, courage, and responsibility with my children. It is my hope that this adaptation will allow us to create a visual foundation for the many questions and conversation that will follow."

Sowards paintings delivered what was in his heart.

I highly recommend this book. It would make a wonderful Christmas gift, and believe me, it will become a family treasure.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Gingerbread Houses

Yesterday, Jonathan and I made gingerbread men for Christmas.

We had so much fun!!!

Of course, Jon ate most of the decorations and licked the icing from the beaters, but that's what little boys are supposed to do, right?

Why did I make them so early? Time gets away from me this time of year, so I usually start making cookies early and freezing them until the big day.

Speaking of gingerbread . . . Saturday night Canyon Creek Care Center, which is where our branch resides, had a gingerbread house auction. I took a ton of pictures and thought I'd share them with you. If you're planning to make a gingerbread house for the holidays, one of these might inspire you.

There were many more than these, but the flash on my camera was acting up.

This almost inspired me to make one, but after the gingerbread men, I'm good.

Which house was your favorite?

Do you make a gingerbread house, gingerbread men, or both for the holidays? 

I think I'll go sneak a gingerbread man out of the freezer. ;)


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Jumping for Joy!!!

So I'm jumping for joy.

My editor let me know that my publisher has accepted my next romantic suspense. Yipee!!!

 I'm always on pins and needles after I send a manuscript in. Oh, I keep busy working on other stories, but in the back of my mind I worry and wonder.

If all goes well Wanted, my new novel, is scheduled for release in September of 2013. Also the title may change, but the story will stay the same. I'll tell you more about the book as the release date nears, but for right now . . . I'm jumping for joy.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tuesday's Tip: Count Your Blessings

With the so much going on for the holidays, deadlines to keep, shopping to do, and such, I've been feeling a bit overwhelmed. I hate it when I feel this way.

Last night I received an email that made me upset. And it wasn't really that email that upset me, but an accumulation of all the little things that had been building up inside that finally had me saying, "Why am I doing this?"

Hubby sat down beside me and tried to make me feel better. As he spoke, I was reminded of a song in the movie, White Christmas. You know the one about counting your blessings instead of sheep. Believe it or not, counting your blessings not only helps you fall to sleep, but they also make you feel a lot better when you're feeling blue.

So my tip for today is count your blessings. You'll be surprised how many you really have and how fortunate you truly are.

What do you do when you're feeling down?

Okay, speaking of sheep I remembered something I saw on youtube years ago and thought you might get a kick out of it. If you're feeling blue this will make you smile.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Elevator Pitch

Photo by Dirk Anger
Years ago I went to a writers conference in New York City. The experience was amazing. Hundreds of writers were taking classes, meeting with editors and agents, and in general learning more about their craft and how to sell their stories.

At the time I had a New York agent, whom I'd never met. This was my chance to see her face-to-face. She had me meet her at her room and walk with her to her next appointment. And guess what? As we got on the elevator she asked me what I was working on next. Talk about uncanny! There I was giving my agent an "elevator pitch" (a shortened pitch about your story) in an elevator. I tell you this because, yes it does happen. AND it can happen to you, so you should be prepared.

I thought I'd share with you what I do to craft an "elevator pitch" on a manuscript I'm trying to sell.

1) Pull out the one page synopsis of your story. (If you haven't written one, do it. You're going to need it. In fact do several. For each book I generally have an 8 to 10 page synopsis, a 4 to 5 page synopsis, and a one-page, single-spaced synopsis. Why so many? I use the 8 to 10 page synopsis to help me write my manuscript. It has the bare bones. The 4 to 5 page synopsis helps me streamline the story for my editor, and the one page synopsis helps agents/editors/the art department/promotion and etc.) Now that you have your one page synopsis in hand read through it and look for the three things that makes your story tick: characters, plot, and what is unique.

2) Now that you know the 3 main things think of what would make your reader/agent/editor want to learn more about your book. Work on the opening sentence--the  hook--of your pitch. It can be a question or a sentence, but it should always have a hook.

For example here's the pitch I used for The Stone Traveler--It's about a sixteen-year-old boy who has been struggling with life when he is given a stone that sends him back through time to Samuel the Lamanite's daughter.

Here's an example of the pitch I used for An Angel on Main Street--It's about an eleven-year-old boy, who finds a Nativity being build in the center of town, but no one knows who is building. 

Here's a pitch for my manuscript, Chasing the Star--Have you ever wondered what it would have been like to be have been in Rome when Christ was born or to have been one of the shepherds when the heavens filled with angels proclaiming Christ's birth? 

3) Once you feel good about the opening sentence/question, work on making the next sentence an element of surprise that shows how your story is unique.
For example, the next sentence in my pitch for The Stone Traveler is--I don't know if Samuel the Lamanite had a daughter, but in my book he does, and she's on a mission to find her father. (Samuel the Lamanite was a prophet in the Book of Mormon. Many of my readers know about this prophet and when I tell them this they always smile and are eager to learn more about my book).

For An Angel on Main Street--He tells his sick little sister about the Nativity and she tells him she knows who is building it. (This always peaks people's interest and makes them want to know more.)

For Chasing the Star it's a little different because I started with a question so my next line gives information about characters and plot--This is the story about a brother and sister who after a tragic accident killed their parents were each given a stone that sent them back in time when Christ was born, except the sister ends up with a Roman soldier and the brother finds himself with a shepherd family in Bethlehem.

4) This is the wrap up for an "elevator pitch". If you're pitching to an agent/editor the wrap up should show them that you know how to finish a book, but if you are pitching to a reader don't give away key information.  

For The Stone Traveler:
Agent/editor--The boy joins her in her quest, they are captured by King Jacob, thrown into prison, and strapped to a sacrificial altar when a violent storm erupts. This is when Christ was crucified and the earth was thrown into upheaval. The boy and Samuel the Lamanite's daughter escape and through the course of the rest of the story they learn about the atonement of Christ.
Reader--The boy joins her in her quest, they are captured by King Jacob, thrown into prison, and strapped to a sacrificial altar when a violent storm erupts. I'm not going to tell  you the rest. (This always hooks them) But know that this happens at the time Christ was crucified.

For An Angel on Main Street:
Agent/editor--He asks who she thinks it is and his sister tells him an angel is building it and when the baby Jesus comes he'll make her better. The boy doesn't believe in angels, but this starts him on a mission to find the Nativity builder and bring the baby Jesus to his sister. Along the way he learns angels are closer than he thinks. And with celestial guidance, he is able to find the one person who can save his sister.
Reader--He asks who she thinks it is and his sister tells him an angel is building it and when the baby Jesus comes he'll make her better. The boy doesn't believe in angels, but this starts him on a mission to find the Nativity builder and bring the baby Jesus to his sister. Along the way he learns angels are closer than he thinks.

For Chasing the Star:
Agent/editor--The sister meets Augustus Caesar, witnesses a chariot race, and after running for her life finds there is hope in finding her brother when she sees the star of Bethlehem. Unable to speak, the brother can't remember what happened to his parents, but after hearing the angels sing and racing to see the Christ child his memory returns. As he lays eyes on the infant he is at peace. His sister chases after the star to find her brother. Along the way, she meets the wise men, King Herod, and is given a choice to stay or go home with her brother.
Reader--The sister meets Augustus Caesar, witnesses a chariot race, and after running for her life finds there is hope in finding her brother when she sees the star of Bethlehem. Unable to speak, the brother can't remember what happened to his parents, but after hearing the angels sing and going to see the Christ child, his memory returns but doesn't know if he dares to be in Jesus's presence. Meanwhile his sister races to find her brother.

You may have noticed that for the reader not as much information has been given. And that the added information I'd give to an agent/editor could also be told to a reader. But here's the deal . . . most prospective readers don't stand still very long when an author is telling them about a novel. I don't know if it's because they are nervous, or just don't have the time or what. Some will most likely walk away after the first few sentences leave your mouth.  If I'm impressed to tell them more, I do. But it's good to have a shortened version. If the hook of your pitch has done the job, many times after the writer leaves, a prospective reader will come back and read the back cover blurb of the book. It's true. I've seen it happen time after time.

Elevator pitches need to be short, hook the person you're trying to sell your story to, and also leave them with a yearning to know more. For an agent/editor it also needs to let them know that you know what you're doing and that the story resolves.

Have you written an elevator pitch? What did you find most difficult? Do you have a tip that will help others?


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thanksgiving Fun

I hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving.

My holiday was filled with family and tradition. My brother, his wife, and son came to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family. We had such a great time. We had a wonderful feast on Thanksgiving Day thanks to the many people who helped with the dinner, then we went to the movies (a tradition started years ago during the Harry Potter craze), and then on Friday and Saturday we went Christmas shopping.

A highlight was Saturday night when we went downtown to Temple Square. That's where we are in the picture above. Everyone was there except my son and my brother's son. My brother and his wife took the picture. What a wonderful time and great way to kick of the Christmas season. I couldn't figure out what the white spot under by daughter's chin was, but then I thought of the necklace she was wearing. It really caught the light. Makes me wonder if it might have magical powers of some kind.

Hmm, sounds like the the beginning of a great book--a necklace with magical powers.

How was your Thanksgiving? Do you have traditions you enjoy during the holidays?

Thursday I'll post a writing tip on "the elevator pitch." What is that? Stop by Thursday and I'll explain what it is and how you can get one. ;) 


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

This is a busy week at my house. We have family coming for the holiday, visits to friends, and, of course, the big Thanksgiving feast.

But mostly it's a time of being grateful for family, friends, and country.

One movie that we enjoy watching this time of year is Friendly Persuasion. It's reminds us of simpler times, but also how important our values are to us.

Here's a trailer of the movie. If you get the chance check it out.

 I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Harbinger by Jonathan Cahn - Book Review

I just finished reading The Harbinger  by Jonathan Cahn.

On one level I'm blow away by Cahn's ability to write such a compelling fictional novel that is grounded on the scripture reference of Isaiah 9:10. He threads the story with events that happened to ancient Israel paralleled with events that has happened to America both in our history and modern day.

On another level I'm left wondering. The reader must remember this is a work of fiction, but when fiction becomes laced with facts the lines become blurry. Is that a bad thing? What do you think?

What I liked . . . this book was a compelling story that I could hardly put down. It's about a writer who is pitching a story to a publisher. That's it. So where's the action? Where's the conflict? It's in flashback and comes to light as the writer tells the publisher. It's very tricky to make a story interesting and not confusing for the reader when flashbacks make up the bulk of a novel. But Cahn's writing is clear and he does a wonderful job of keeping tension and conflict high.

You may ask, so what is the story the writer pitched? It's about an ancient mystery revolving around Isaiah 9:10 and holds the secret of America's future. The protagonist encounters a man he calls "the prophet" who sends the protagonist on a type of scavenger hunt seeking out hidden meanings behind different harbingers. I became caught up in the story and eager to learn the meaning behind each harbinger. I was always surprised.

What I didn't like . . . Cahn uses talking heads a lot. This must have been a deliberate choice on his part so the focus of the reader stayed on the plot and meaning behind the book. I don't mind it every once in a while, but then it becomes annoying because I want to see the characters talking and what they're doing. I think an opportunity to more fully flesh out the characters was lost. Also sometimes the conversations between the writer and publisher, and "the prophet" and the protagonist was frustrating and seemed to go in circles. There were times I just wanted them to say what they meant. But, of course, what's the fun in that? A good writer will sometimes frustrate the reader on purpose.

Overall, I measure a book on how much I think about it after I've finished reading it. Believe me, the story of The Harbinger stays with you for a long time. Did it blur the lines between fact and fiction and is that a bad thing? You be the judge. Do your homework and find what is fact and what is fiction.You may not agree with some of the thought provoking issues that Cahn raises, but that you're thinking about them and learning more is a good thing.

About the author: Jonathan Cahn is well known for deep study of the Scriptures and actually leads the Hope of the World ministries while also leading the Jerusalem Center/Beth Israel, which is made up of people of all backgrounds Jews and Gentiles alike. He is a Messianic Jewish believer.

 I bought my copy of this book and reviewed it because I felt the subject important.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Snow . . . We Have It!!!

Winter arrived on my back porch last Friday. I love the first snowfall of the winter. Everything looks calm and white. It's magical.

 Every year when the first snowfall happens I pull out my Carpenter's Christmas CD and play it. The music reminds me of happy times during the holidays.

Hubby wasn't too thrilled because he had to shovel snow, but I think even he appreciated the snow blanket covering the landscape with winter beauty.

Because I want you to enjoy it too I took the picture above . . .

 and I'm even going to give you a little music from the Carpenters.

Do you like the first snowfall of the winter? Does it stir up memories for you?


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Ginger Sprinkle Sour Cream Pumpkin Pie--oh my!

Yep. That's my version of Ginger Sprinkle Sour Cream Pumpkin Pie.

As promised here's my version of this yummy recipe. So you know T means tablespoon and t means teaspoon. I just wanted to be clear and draw your attention the difference. Okay, let's dive in.

The gingersnap crust:
 1 1/2 cups of gingersnaps
2 T. sugar
1/2 t. ground ginger
4 T. unsalted melted butter
pinch of salt

Put gingersnaps in the food processor along with sugar, ginger and salt. Process until fine. Put crumbs in a bowl and mix in the melted butter. Once mixed, press it into a pie plate. Bake 10 minutes at 350.

The filling:
1 15oz can of pumpkin puree
1 c sour cream
1 c sugar
1 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. grated nutmeg (I like to grate my own)
1/4 t. ground ginger
1/4 t. ground cloves
3 eggs beaten
1 t. vanilla

Mix pumpkin puree, sour cream, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves until smooth. Then add the eggs and vanilla and whisk them into the other ingredients. Pour this wonderful goop on your previously-baked gingersnap crust and put the whole thing back into the 350 oven for 45 minutes. But check it often toward the end because it might set up a little before. It all depends on your oven and if it cooks fast or slow. Mine cooks fast so that's why I'm warning you. Once the pie is out, cool it completely before adding the topping.

The topping:
1 1/2 c heavy cream (my fav)
3/4 c powdered sugar (interesting, but believe me it works)
1/2 c sour cream

Whip the cream a little, then add the sugar and whip until peaks form, and then add the sour cream. When you have stiff peaks--and your pie is completely cooled--top your heavenly pie with this to-die-for topping. What really makes this pop is once you're done sprinkle the cream with chopped crystallized ginger. Oh my stars! If you like ginger, sour cream, and pumpkin this is the dessert for you.

(Hint: buy your crystallized ginger in bulk. I found a small bottle of already chopped crystallized ginger in the grocery store, but they wanted $12.00 for a small bottle. Yikes! I drove to my nearest Whole Foods Store and bought a half a pound for 99 cents. That's a huge savings and I was able to use all the crystallized ginger I wanted. I'm just saying...)


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Please Vote!!!

I was going to post about a delicious creamy pumpkin pie recipe, however, I looked at the calendar and realized we are only a few days away from election day.

This election is the most important election in my lifetime. And believe me, I'm old enough to have seen a lot of elections. But not long enough to remember days of voting like this drawing. This sketch is of a New York polling place long ago, but after the devastating hurricane that hit New York, they may be voting like this again.

Please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please vote!!!

I'm just saying it's vitally important. And make sure to double check your ballot. Some early voters have reported trouble with the machines. They have voted for one candidate, but when they reviewed it, the machine had marked the other candidate. SOOOOO double check.

I remember how excited I was to vote the very first time. I had to work that day, so I went after 5:00. The line went out the door, and it seemed to take forever, but what an honor and privilege it was to cast my ballot for the person I believed would be the best president.

Do you remember the first time you voted in a presidential election? 

 I won't post on Tuesday, November 6th (voting day). But Thursday I'll post about that yummy creamy pumpkin pie. The recipe is a keeper.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Date with Captain Hook

My thoughts and prayer are with the victims of Hurricane Sandy today. I wish them a speedy recovery. I lived through the Teton Dam disaster, so I understand what they are going through, yet every event has it's own challenges. God bless them.

Tomorrow is Halloween, and I have a date with Captain Hook.

I'm so thrilled he said yes. How did I score such a wonderful time?

It wasn't easy.  First I took him out yesterday to Gardner's Mill and bought him a sugar cookie slathered with icing.

Next we happened upon a green witch (they are the worst kind).
I convinced her to put a spell on him.

He almost got away, but alas, I think the spell took because look at him now.

Isn't he the cutest?

We're going to the Canyon Creek Care Center tomorrow at 1:00 to Trick or Treat.

I wish you all a very safe and Happy Halloween.

Who do you have a date with for Halloween?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Standing for Something by Gordon B. Hinckley

No nation can be greater than the strength of its individual homes or the virtue of its people. Sadly, many today would say ours is a nation in crisis. Families are splintering around us, our children are becoming alienated from their great cultural heritage, and our leaders seem increasingly out of touch.

This is the opening cover blurb for this wonderful book written over twelve years ago and it applies just as much today as it did back then.

I bought this book shortly after it was released and read it from cover to cover. That was years ago. As I've watched the political debates and have heard each candidate make claims that the other guy is not telling the truth, I've thought of this book.  

Standing for Something: 10 Neglected Virtues That Will Heal Our Hearts and Homes by Gordon B. Hinckley was released in 2000. At the time the book was published Gordon B. Hinckley was the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He passed away in 2008, but his legacy as  a prophet and writer lives on.  

The introduction is titled The Secularization of America. Here's the small blurb under the title: If we are to continue to have the freedoms that came of the inspiration of the Almighty to our Founding Fathers, we must return to the God who is their true Author.  

Right away you know where this book is heading. President Hinckley then gives the groundwork for his book and why he wrote it, which is his great love for people around the world, his love for America, and his hope that we will stand up for what we know is right.

Part One of the book is about ten virtues: love, honesty, morality, civility, learning, forgiveness and mercy, thrift and industry, gratitude, optimism, and faith. There is a chapter for each where he explains the virtue and how to apply it in your life.

Part Two is about the guardians of virtue: marriage, the family, and moral leadership. He talks about how we can save our nation by saving our homes.

This book is a how-to guide for not only leading a noble life, but for building a stronger nation. I love these two sentences towards the end of the book.

No nation can rise above the strength of its homes or the virtue of its people. The time has come for good people everywhere to demonstrate that they stand for something--something that is virtuous and clean and worthwhile.

I highly recommend this book. I keep it in a place of honor in my home and I think once you read it you will, too.

I bought this book and reviewed it because I liked it.


Monday, October 22, 2012

I have many fond memories of school and was fortunate to have some wonderful teachers.

My high school English teacher encouraged me to write. Another high school teacher taught me how to type (on something very old . . . a typewriter). Both of these skills have served me very well.

But I also had some teachers who weren't very good. In fact, some could have cared less. I know that's not a politically correct thing to say, but it's true. And if we're not honest how are we ever going to correct the problems many schools have?

I was reminded of the good and bad teachers I've had in my life when I saw the movie Won't Back Down. I was prepared for the usually Hollywood movie, but was I surprised. I felt this film did a wonderful job of showing the good and the bad of our educational system.

It was honest! Which was very refreshing.

This movie gave me hope that our schools can and will get better. But it won't be easy. And it will take a lot of work.

Now I've told you nothing of the story line, so let me leave you with the trailer.

I highly recommend this movie. But you"d better hurry if you want to see it. It's already been pulled from many theaters, and it was only released a month ago.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Book Review: Cowards by Glenn Beck

I'm still working on my goal of reading 12 nonfiction books this year. I'm behind, but hopeful that I can make it by the end of the year. I just finished reading Glenn Beck's new book, Cowards: What Politicians, Radicals, and the Media Refuse to Say. I think it's fitting that I finished this book in October, a time when we like to be frightened.

Beck covers quite a range of topics. I won't list them all, but a few that really intrigued me were his thoughts on economic terrorism (remember I read the novel Secret Weapons and it covered this), the media, the Islamist agenda, and education. Beck has a way of making a bold statement that can be shocking, but then he continues giving you information and facts that he's found to back up his claims.

In regards to economic terrorism, he states that this is a very real threat. He tells how economic warfare is nothing new and gives citations where it has happened over the years. He also goes into "short selling" and "naked shorting" and how these practices, if in the wrong hands, can be extremely dangerous to our economy. He tells about BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China), a group of countries that may be only too happy to see the dollar crash.

I was pretty upset after reading this chapter and actually had to go do something to get my mind off it. But intrigued by Beck's thoughts I was drawn back to the book to see what he had to say about the media.

I'm sure you've heard this before, that most of the press is bias and left leaning, especially the "main stream media." As a writer, I pretty much know that a writer can nudge a story toward his/her way of thinking just by the words they choose. But I always thought that professional journalists were trained to leave their bias at the door when it came to writing hard news (not opinion). However, more and more I find myself asking questions that those professionals don't. Important questions. And I'm baffled as to why they don't ask. Do they not realize they're not being thorough? Do they not realize how unprofessional it is to inject their opinion in a hard news story? Beck answered my questions. "The people who work for the main stream media think they are fair. They think they can measure fairness with a stopwatch. But the problem lies with them not understanding how real people in real communities live their lives." This answer made sense, so I continued to read.

The chapter devoted to Islamic terrorism not only deals with the Arab Spring, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the caliphate, but also gives hope. I loved how Beck ended this section . . . "Muslims who support the U.S. Constitution and love their country are the natural allies of all free Americans, . . . We cannot turn out backs on them."

And the chapter on education . . . what new can be said about this subject? Plenty. I think this chapter scared me the most because it has to do with our kids. Beck's theory on what we need to do is shocking, but after delivering his belief, he then backs up why he believes what we need to do to reboot our education system. Again, I loved how he ended this chapter . . . "The truth is that our kids love and embrace capitalism perhaps more than any other generation has in our country's history. They just don't know it yet. It's our job to make sure they do." 

Beck ends his book with a look into our future and how exciting and hopeful it can be if we make the right choices in the leadership of our country.

Would I recommend this book to you? Yes. But beware. It's scary, thought-provoking, and may keep you up at nights.

*I bought my copy of this book and reviewed it because I liked it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Can Making Your Bed Help Your Writing?

Do you make your bed every morning?

I know most of us hit the deck running. Kids need breakfast, you need to get going on your day and many times the last thing you think about is making your bed.

There was an especially busy time in my life when I was working and going to college. I'd get up at 5:30 so I'd get out the door by 6:30. Then I'd drive to the university and go to class before going to work. Making my bed was impossible, mainly because Hubby was still in it. We worked out a deal that the last one out of bed had to make it. And guess what? It worked.

During those busy years our bed was always made. Sweet! That was several years ago . . .

Now, I'm not so crunched for time, however, the habit of making the bed has stuck with Hubby and me. Most every morning before we start our day we make the bed. However, there are times (not many) when hubby leaves before I get up and sometimes (not very often) I slip up and the bed isn't made. I've noticed on those days I feel out of kilter. What's the deal with that? No one sees my bed but me and Hubby. What difference does it make if my bed is made or not?

I found the answer in an article in November's Reader's Digest titled: Happy Habit: Make Your Bed! by Jackie Ashton. Check it out if you have the magazine. (I tried to find the article on their online site, but couldn't. It might be too new, since it isn't November as yet.) Ashton quotes Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project as stating that making the bed was the number one most impactful change that people made that inspired happiness.

Ashton also quoted Karen Miller author of Hand Wash Cold and Momma Zen as stating that "The state of your bed is the state of your head."

I've never heard that before. But if the habit of making your bed inspires happiness and if the state of your bed is the state of your head, THEN making the bed sounds like the thing to do.

Hmm, no wonder on days when I don't make the bed I feel off kilter. Sometimes the little things we ignore can make the difference.

But how can making your bed help your writing?

Happy writer who is organized equals plots that make sense and characters who ring true.

Okay, I don't have scientific proof, but it makes sense, doesn't it?

Why don't we give it a try? Let's make it a goal that EVERY morning we'll make our beds and then take note. Were you happier that day? Did you feel more organize? Did making your bed inspire you to do other things? Did making your bed help your writing?

Come on, join the challenge and let's see what happens. What do you think?


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Patricia Stevenson is a mystery author. Recently her agent contacted me about posting a review of her new novel, but when Patricia emailed she asked for an interview. 

I sent her a few questions and below is her response.  

My name is Patricia G. Stevenson and I’m the author of the Professor Del Channing Murder Mystery series. I have three of the series published. The first one, The Dilapidated Man, takes place in San Francisco, California.

The second, The Jezebel Bride in Dallas, Texas.

And the third, The Shamrock Conspiracy in Toronto, Canada.

I will have the fourth in the series, which takes place at a ski-resort north of Vancouver, Canada, out after the first of the year. As this is a series, each book must stand alone and yet the characters must be described in a way that someone starting anywhere within the series will fully know and understand the lead characters who moves from book to book without boring the person who has read the series from the beginning.

As for my personal presence; when I find a new series author that I enjoy, I make sure I get a list of those books which allows me to purchase the books from the first and read the series in written order.

As a hobby, I’ve written all my life. When I began this series I decided that this was the time to share my work. I like to think I can bring a bit of pleasure to my readers by allowing them to escape their stress related worlds for a few hours. I have not given up my day job and work for a premier restaurant. I write on my lunch hour while enjoying delicious food. The beginning writer must come to terms with the fact that no book is for everyone. If someone dislikes your work, chances are several others will love it. My books are marketed through Mystery Books.

As of this time stores in Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah carry the series. I also have a web site where they can be ordered.

Thanks, Patricia. Your books sound very intriguing. 



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