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 wwwpatriciagstevenson.com where they can be ordered.

Thanks, Patricia. Your books sound very intriguing. 


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Are Mormons Christians?

I'm going to get personal with this posting on my blog. As I've watched and listened to some of the political debate on radio and TV, I have noticed an interesting topic has come up. This question has always puzzled me.

Are Mormons Christians?

Because I've been a "Mormon" all of my life, I feel I can address this. First, let me explain the term "Mormon." That is not what we call ourselves. Rather it's a nickname we have acquired through the years because of the Book of Mormon and the prophet named Mormon in that book.

So you may next wonder what we call our Church. Our name is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It's long, but accurate.

 At the center of our religion is Jesus Christ.

Now going back to politics, you may wonder since Mitt Romney--who is running for President of the United States--is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, do Church leaders tell members to vote for him?

Absolutely not!

It is up to each individual member to study the facts about the candidates and after prayerful thought and contemplation vote for the man/woman we believe should be elected.

Many people tend to believe "Mormons" are Republicans. This is not true. Harry Reid, who is the Senate Majority Leader, is a Mormon and a Democrat.

My Church means a great deal to me as I'm sure your religion means a great deal to you. So when the question of "Are Mormons Christians?" keeps coming up, I had to do my part to try and set the record straight. Yes, we are Christians.

If you would like to know more about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints click here.

Here's a wonderful message that addresses this question as well.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Your Story Pitch

Learning to give a good story pitch is vital to prompting and selling your manuscript/book. 
So how long should a pitch for your story be?

How important is the pitch?

And what should be in your pitch?

Length of the pitch . . . 
Obviously you don't have the time it would take for the sands in the hourglass to drop to tell your pitch. You have only a matter of seconds. Yes. Seconds. The pitch for your story shouldn't be longer than a short elevator ride. This is where the term "elevator pitch" comes from.

How important is the pitch?
Your pitch is vital not only in finding an agent/publisher, but also in selling your book to readers. In both situations you don't have a lot of time to do it. For finding an agent or publisher a short pitch is essential, and mainly used in your query letter. Whether they want to see more of your manuscript hinges on your pitch. And after you've made the sell and your book comes out you will use a short pitch when readers ask what your novel is about. Your pitch has to be short, deliver an impact, and make them want to pay cold, hard cash for your novel.

What should be in a pitch? 
A hook, line, and sinker. Really. Start with an opening sentence that grabs. The opening sentence when I pitch River Whispers is, "This is a book about a woman who goes fishing in the Snake River and her hook gets caught on the boot of a dead man." (No pun intended, but I couldn't resist.) For Cold Justice I tell them, "This is the story about a man and woman who have been separated  for years, but have finally come together, except on the night before their wedding, he is kidnapped." This usually hooks them. Next I deliver the line . . . "The woman pieces together that the kidnapper has taken him to Alaska." This is very intriguing because most everyone loves Alaska. Now the sinker . . . "Along the way she discovers secrets she's never knew about her fiance, yet she's willing to sacrifice everything to find him." Hook. Line. And sinker. Three things that are very important in a pitch.

So, pitch me your story and I'll tell you if I'm hooked. :)


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Prayers, Fall, and the Winner

Last Tuesday I told you about the 40 Days of Prayer for our presidential election. I found this great picture on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/iBibleVerses. Please pray for our elections.


 Sunday my daughter and I drove up to Brighton Ski Resort. What a beautiful drive. The fall colors were breathtaking. We hiked up the mountain a little ways, and I took a couple of pictures I thought you might enjoy them.

Days like this make me appreciate God's gift of seasons.

How about you? Where have you seen the beautiful signs of fall?


And now what you've been waiting for . . . the winner of Jody Hedlund's new novel, Unending Devotion, is . . . Amy O'Quinn.

I've informed Jody, and she will be in touch with you.



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