Thursday, December 26, 2013

My Most Embarrassing Moment as an Author

Back in September, my husband and I discovered a fabulous new hiking trail. The trail followed a little stream up a steep hill studded with yellow flowers and wild raspberries. We enjoyed our hike so much that we planned to go back the next week.

As the time for our next hike rolled around, we noticed that the sky was a little gray. The closer we got to the mountains, the darker the sky grew. Admitting defeat, my husband suggested we go to a bookstore instead of going on a hike. "Okay," I said, "but I'm not going to sign any of my books when we're there. This is only for fun." (Not that people run up to me in bookstores asking me to sign books. I just sign the books on the shelf because some people prefer their books signed.)

We spent a few minutes wandering around, perusing the aisles. Then, fatefully, I decided to take a bathroom break. Bear in mind that I'd dressed for the stormy weather. I wore several layers and apparently had a difficult time putting them all back together.

As I walked out of the restroom, the bookstore clerk pointed behind me. "You have . . . toilet paper." I looked behind me to see a thirty-foot stripe of toilet paper following me through the store. Yep, that's me, the author with toilet paper. Only, thank goodness, no one knew I was an author.

Another woman standing nearby commented, "Oh, I was wondering what that was."

I walked back through the store, gathering toilet paper as I went and depositing the entire armful in the trash on my way out of the store. To my relief, I discovered the end of the roll stuck underneath the sweater I wore around my waist . . . not somewhere else. Phew.

Needless to say, I have not been back to that bookstore. I don't trust their toilet paper. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Christmas Break Reading Program for kids

I had every intention of writing something inspirational and mushy about Christmas. Then I remembered my kids are going to be home for two weeks, and if I don't do something to prevent it, they'll watch TV and play video games more than I care to admit. I found myself wondering why there isn't a library reading program for Christmas break or spring break or Martin Luther King day. My kids read a lot more when they have incentives. Then it dawned on me--I could do my own Christmas break reading program. So, here it is, in case you want to copy. I posted this on my refrigerator :

Mom’s First Annual
Christmas Break Reading Program

To get a prize, you must read a book on your reading level, and it must be a length that you and Mom agree is long enough (at least 100 pages for the older kids.)

You get a prize each time you read a book.

1st book – Microwave Popcorn package

2nd book—Package of gum

3rd book--$1

4th book—New Year’s Eve noisemaker

5th book--pizza

Our program starts the minute school lets out tomorrow, and two of my children have already picked out their books. Yay! They don't seem to care that most of the prizes are pretty cheap.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Sense and Sensibility: A Latter-day Tale Due August 2014

This week I signed a contract for Sense and Sensibility: A Latter-day Tale. It's my favorite of the Latter-day Tales series so far, and I am having so much fun writing the last few chapters. It's due this coming August 2014.

I wanted to celebrate with one of my favorite Studio C videos, which features none other than Jane Austen:

Of course, I disagree that Jane Austen always used the same plot. There's at least one character who doesn't get the guy she wants. Can you guess who I'm thinking of?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Gifts from Jane Austen's Time

As I've said before, Christmas wasn't such a big deal for people back when Jane Austen was alive. Michaelmas was the big holiday. Jane would probably be more likely to give a gift on Michaelmas (September 29) than on Christmas.

What kinds of gifts would Jane have given or received?

She would have given gifts of food to the poor, as Emma and Mr. Knightley did in Emma.

Perhaps, she would have given flowers as Brandon and Willoughby did in Sense and Sensibility.

This was Jane Austen's ring.

 If she had an admirer, she might have received a piece of jewelry like Fanny received from Henry Crawford in Mansfield Park.

Or maybe, if her admirer were extravagant, she might have received a musical instrument like the pianoforte Jane receives in Emma. Her female characters sometimes gave gifts of drawings, needlework, and other crafts.

An article from the Jane Austen Society of North America's Summer 2012 newsletter suggests a few more possibilities if you wish to give an authentic Regency Era gift. It lists companies that have been in operation since Jane Austen's time.

We can buy Twinings tea and Yardley soap at our local shops just as Jane Austen would have.

 For quite a bit more money, you can buy a Wedgwood tea set like the one Jane's brother owned, or Spode china, which also existed in Austen's time.

What do you think Jane Austen would think of the gift-giving practices of our time?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Emma's Gingerbread Men

"And I had but one penny in the world, thou should'st have it to buy gingerbread"--William Shakespeare

I've always had a thing for gingerbread men. Maybe it's because it's so fun to decide which part to eat first--the head to put him out of his misery? A foot to prolong the agony? A left arm?

Emma makes gingerbread men for a Christmas party in Emma: A Latter-day Tale, so I wanted to share my mom's recipe for gingerbread people. It's made with molasses and honey for those who don't like a heavy molasses taste. If you like the molasses taste, go ahead and substitute molasses for the honey. My mom adapted this recipe from one she got years ago in Colonial Williamsburg. Here it is:


Mix together the following in a large bowl:
1/3 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup molasses 
3/4 cup honey
2/3 cup water

Mix together in a medium-size bowl :
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. cinnamon
7 cups flour

Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. 

Heat oven to 350.  Roll dough 1/3 inch thick on floured surface.  Cut with floured cookie cutters.  Place on lightly greased cookie sheet.  Bake 8-10 minutes.  

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

How Gratitude Helps Me Sleep

The weirdest thing happened after my youngest child started sleeping through the night. I found out I couldn’t sleep through the night. I’d wake up around three a.m. with all sorts of things to think and worry about. Those of you who do this know what I’m talking about. Usually, I would wake up the next morning and think, “Why did I spend an hour last night worrying about that?”

Gradually, I came to acknowledge that I have a slight case of anxiety. It never bothers me during the day—only at three a.m.. I’ve talked to doctors and specialists who recommended different approaches. I tried journaling and supplements. Nothing made that big of a difference.

Then, one day, I read a magazine article about improving your sleep. The article cited a study that showed that people who kept a gratitude journal slept better than those who didn’t. Study participants wrote down five things for which they were grateful before they went to sleep. I thought, “Hey, it can’t hurt to try.”

I have now been keeping a gratitude journal for six months. Most nights I write down five things for which I’m grateful. It hasn’t been a miracle solution, but it has significantly improved my sleep. When I wake up at three a.m. now, I’m much less likely to stay awake worrying. Keeping a gratitude journal has also helped me to feel more optimistic about life in general.

 Here's what I've learned about keeping a gratitude journal:

  • You have to write it down. For some reason, the process of writing makes it work better than just talking or praying about it. 
  • It works better if I come up with an original list each day. 
  •  I must write just before I go to sleep. 
It’s so simple, but it's made a huge difference for me. How has gratitude helped you in your life?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Why I Write Clean Romance

What is clean romance? I guess everyone has their own definition, but for me it means romance I could recommend to anyone--including my daughter, my mother-in-law, and the young women I know at church.

For most of my life, I underestimated the power of romance novels. I certainly never saw myself writing one. When I did get an idea to write a romance, I resisted the urge to write. I didn’t want to be a “romance writer.” But the idea wouldn’t leave my head, so I wrote it just for fun. As I wrote, I began to see how important clean romance is. I experienced the difficulty of finding clean romance writers to be my role models. There aren’t all that many of us. At the same time, I watched teenage girls devouring chick lit. Some of them read more than a book a day. I saw adult women carrying stacks of romance novels from the library. Whether or not I liked it, romance was influencing the world around me. That’s when I decided that if I have anything to do with it, romance will be a voice for virtue. Think about it: more than any other type of literature, clean romance exemplifies the values of chastity and self-control. It teaches young women to see themselves as more than objects.

Some say that if romance is clean you are not doing it right. In contrast, I believe the most beautiful love stories are about quirky characters who maintain high moral standards. One aspect of Jane Austen novels that intrigues me is her brilliant heroines.  One of my favorite characters is Elizabeth Bennet. I love her wit and the message that intelligent, witty women can gain much more in life than those who throw themselves at men and devalue themselves. Elizabeth’s strength captivates Mr. Darcy so much that when he describes his feelings for her he says, “In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” No passion is missing in this novel. If anything, writing clean romance forces the authors to think even harder of how to articulate the feelings of their characters.

So my questions for you are:
Who is your favorite clean romance heroine?
What is it about the story that captivates you?
And what is your favorite line in the book?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Fast and Easy Yeast Bread

Here is a recipe my husband loves to make. (Knowing how much he hates cooking, that's saying something.) It's pretty fool-proof.  Thank you to my friend Kathy for sharing this with us.


4 cups very warm water                              
4 tsp salt                                                
3-4 Tbsp oil                      
 8-10 cups flour (You can use up to two cups whole wheat flour.)
 8 Tbsp. sugar or honey
2 1/2 Tbsp yeast

Dissolve yeast and 1 Tbsp sugar in 1 cup of water.

Mix all dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

Add remaining water and oil to the yeast mixture. Make a hole in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour the yeast mixture into the hole. Mix into a soft dough.

Let the dough stand 15 minutes.

Knead well.  Put into 4 greased loaf pans.

Let raise 30 minutes.

Bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes.


Monday, October 21, 2013

Road Tripping with My Teens

This is my eleven-year-old enjoying the geology building on the USU campus
Last weekend, I took three teens and my eleven-year-old on a whirlwind tour of colleges. My daughter, who's a senior, brought her best friend, and planned the whole thing. My son, a junior, only came along because his dad told him he needed to shop for colleges the same way you shop for cars.

While the teens took the guided tours, my eleven-year-old and I did our own informal tours, which always included a taste of the ice cream and a perusal of the library. I really didn't expect that my eleven-year-old would enjoy the trip so much. But he kept telling me how excited he is about going to college. He took pictures until his camera battery ran out. I've included some of his pictures, so you too can see why college is so cool.

My daughter, not surprisingly, completely approved of my skipping the tour. (It's "so lame" when parents go on the tour.) I got to hear about the tours afterward in the car. Most of the descriptions compared the general attractiveness of the tour guides and the amount of free swag each college gave them. The best swag included T-shirts, folders of information, water bottles, and pens. One university, which shall remain unnamed, only gave them one folder of information to share among the three of them.

My mother-in-law kindly watched the younger kids and gave us some of her points for a free hotel stay. After eight hours of driving on Friday, I decided I'd relax in the hotel tub while the kids watched a movie. I tried to ignore the screaming while I soaked, hoping it wasn't actually coming from our room. (Surely, I could leave a few teens unsupervised.) Well, it turned out that the hotel staff had cleaned the air conditioning units and released eight wasps into our room. The staff gave us another room . . . which also contained wasps. Darn! So my son and I killed wasps, and I got to sleep next to the air conditioning unit.

It was a learning experience for all of us. My daughter and her friend learned that they really didn't want to go to some of the colleges where they'd planned to apply. They also found one that they liked a lot more than they'd thought. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


Have you ever heard of the composer Paul Dukas? Neither had I. Dukas was so self-critical that he destroyed most of his compositions. The score I heard last week only partially survived. Another composer had written parts so the music could be played as originally intended. Feeling that Dukas was a kindred spirit to many of us authors, I listened with interest and liked what I heard. How sad that he’d destroyed so many of his other works!

Norman Vincent Peale, the author of The Power of Positive Thinking, also struggled with self-criticism. He threw the entire manuscript to The Power of Positive Thinking into the garbage. His wife rescued it from destruction. What a waste that would have been! Because he published that book, millions of people have learned to think more positively and blessed others’ lives because of it.

My latest issue of  The Humanities at BYU shared the account of  the
African American singer Sarah Vaughan:

Frank Sinatra, always the one for colorful descriptions, said “[she is] a singer who sings so good, I want to cut my wrist with a dull knife and let her sing me to death.” But despite her achingly beautiful voice, she suffered from persistent racism much of her life. On tour, she had difficulty finding hotels or restaurants that would allow a black woman. She later said, “They’re memories not easily erased, and at the time, I was ready to quit show business.” But instead, she transformed the pain and humiliation into a voice like warm honey poured over the soul.”

Discouragement seems to be a common thread in the life of artists. As I talk to writers who haven’t yet published their works, they often tell me they’ve been working on a book for years. Often they haven’t let anyone read it.

I suppose we could say we’re being humble when we keep our talents to ourselves. We tell ourselves we wouldn’t want to bother anyone with our inferior work. But I’ve come to look at it in another way. If God gave us talents, why aren’t we sharing them? Art has the power to bless others’ lives.  Maybe instead of feeling that it would be self-centered to share our work, we should feel that it’s selfish NOT to share our work. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Most Fun Boys Can Have with a Romance Novel

Today my boys have transformed a discarded PDF of my novel into knight helmets
and pterodactyls. It kept them quiet today while we were watching our church conference on TV. It's also saved me the trouble of having to create a Halloween costume for my seven-year-old, who wants to be a Knight for Halloween.

This one looks like a ninja helmet to me, but the boys say it's a sallet helmet.

I couldn't figure out how to take this picture without my feet getting into it.

My son says the grocery bag makes him look like a Lego Knight.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Book Recommendation: Awakening

Christy Dorrity's new title for young adults just came out, so I wanted to share. If you like to read clean paranormal, you'll want to check it out.

About the Book

. . . because some Celtic stories won’t be contained in myth.

A little magic has always run in sixteen-year-old McKayla McCleery's family—at least that’s what she’s been told. McKayla’s eccentric Aunt Avril travels the world as a psychic for the FBI, and her mother can make amazing delicacies out of the most basic of ingredients. But McKayla doesn't think for a second that the magic is real—it’s just good storytelling. Besides, McKayla doesn’t need magic. She recently moved to beautiful Star Valley, Wyoming, and already she has a best friend, a solo in her upcoming ballet recital—and the gorgeous guy in her physics class keeps looking her way.

When an unexpected fascination with Irish dance leads McKayla to seek instruction from the mute, crippled janitor at her high school, she learns that her family is not the only one with unexplained abilities. After Aunt Avril comes to Star Valley in pursuit of a supernatural killer, people begin disappearing, and the lives of those McKayla holds most dear are threatened.

When the janitor reveals that an ancient curse, known as a geis, has awakened deadly powers that defy explanation, McKayla is forced to come to terms with what is real and what is fantasy. A thrilling debut novel based in Celtic mythology, Awakening is a gripping young adult fantasy rife with magic, romance, and mystery.

Awakening (The Geis, #1)

Praise for Awakening

"AWAKENING is a wonder and a delight. Christy Dorrity is a talent to watch."
~David Farland, New York Times bestselling author of Nightingale

"I thoroughly enjoyed AWAKENING, a captivating and unique debut novel that creatively integrates Irish dance."
~ CHRIS NAISH, Riverdance member and Creative Director of Fusion Fighters Irish dancers.
About the Author

Christy Dorrity lives in the mountains with her husband, five children, and a cocker spaniel. She grew up on a trout ranch in Star Valley, Wyoming, and is the author of The Geis series for young adults, and The Book Blogger’s Cookbooks. Christy is a champion Irish dancer and when she’s not reading or writing, she’s probably trying out a new recipe in the kitchen.

Purchase Awakening by Christy Dorrity:

Purchase Kindle Book Purchase Nook Book 

Monday, September 23, 2013

How I Find Time to Write

My writing desk

People are always asking me how I find time to write. To tell the truth, I haven't always been the ideal example of writing time management. Part of the reason is that I have six kids. It took me five years to write my first published novel. My second took two years. I'm getting faster, though, thanks to a few tricks I've learned. Here they are in a nutshell:

Avoid the Internet 
I write on a really old laptop. It has no internet access. Before I switched to the laptop, it seemed that every time I got stuck in a scene, I'd go check Facebook or my e-mail or my blog or something else.

I have an appointment every weekday with my laptop. I write in the morning before my kids get up. I also write at the library twice a week for a few hours.

Before I write, I try to figure out what's going to happen in the next scene. It's best if I brainstorm the next scene the day before I write it. This gives my mind a chance to work while I'm doing other things.

Stay Positive
It's a common problem among writers, even published writers, that a bad review or critique experience can kill the desire to write. Reviews are important, but I avoid reading each and every review. I have to focus first on how much I love to write. My objective is to write a book I'd want to read.

Write Horrible Drafts
I'm a perfectionist. I love editing and making my writing as perfect as possible. But if I try to write my first draft as perfectly as possible, it takes me forever. Instead, I force myself to write a lot, and some of my writing actually ends up being good. Later, I can delete what's terrible and keep what works. (In case you're wondering, my last two novels had at least twenty drafts.)

Write Down All Ideas Immediately
I keep a pad of paper and pen handy to write down ideas. Below is a picture of the pen I keep beside my bed at night. It lights up so I can write in the dark. I always carry paper in my purse, and if I know I'll have to wait somewhere for a long time, I bring my laptop.

Reading great books helps me to be a better writer, but it's hard to find the time to read as much as I'd like. Also, once I start a book, I have a hard time putting it down. My solution is to listen to audiobooks as I drive and work around the house. That way, I get in my reading time, and I look forward to doing the dishes.

How do you find time for the things you love to do?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Meet Some Authors

Photo by Heather Zahn Gardner
I'm so excited for this Saturday! From 6-8:00 pm, Josi Kilpack, Sarah Eden, Camron Wright, Mandi Slack, and I will be signing books together at Barnes & Noble at 330 E University Parkway in Orem, UT. Come on over if you can. And, as if you need any other motivation, I'll have some of Emma's favorite treats--Dove dark chocolates--to share.

I'll also be signing on Sept 28 from 9-11 am at the Taylorsville Family Center Seagull Bookstore, 5720 S. Redwood RD, Taylorsville, UT.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Book Review for "Fight for You"

Misty Moncur's first book, Daughter of Helaman, was a Whitney Award finalist in the historical fiction category. Fight for You is its sequel. The books are LDS fiction, based on the Stripling Warriors in the Book of Mormon. They tell the story of Keturah, who joins the army of Helaman. She is the only woman in the army, which presents her with many challenges, not the least of which is her tangled love life. Here's the summary.

In Fight for You, Keturah is in Judea building fortifications. The work is hard, and the other soldiers don’t think she can pull her weight. Her brothers are becoming strangers, and Zeke’s jealousy is getting worse—because Keturah is falling in love with the wrong warrior.

But she’s not about to let cruel pranks and hurt feelings keep her from doing what she knows to be right. Keturah will do whatever it takes to protect her religion, her freedom, her peace, and her family. But in a camp of two thousand boys, the most important thing she has to protect is her heart.

I really liked Keturah. She's spunky and independent. She fights to get into the all-male army, but once she's there, she doesn't leave behind her feminine side. I like that she plays the role of healer, that she likes to cook for the men, and that she practices the traditionally female arts. I also like that she's learned methods to fight men stronger than she is.

Her best friend growing up, Zeke, is also the man her family intends for her to marry. She feels a bond to him, but she has also learned to love another man, Gideon, who taught her to fight. Gideon has his own issues, though. He plans on being a career soldier, which won't leave much room for a wife. I loved these two strong characters and the tension between them. The romance is not resolved in this book--another sequel is in the works--but the ending definitely gives the reader an idea of where things are headed.

Though many of the details are fictional, the book gave me a chance to think more deeply about events in the Book of Mormon. I liked imagining the details of some of the battles, the layout of the cities, and how the soldiers might have interacted with each other. The author's knowledge of Native American culture and tradition also made the book more interesting to me.

Author Bio:

Misty Moncur wanted to be Indiana Jones when she grew up. Instead, she became an author and has her adventures at home. In her jammies. With her imagination. And pens that she keeps running dry.

Misty lives in a marsh near a very salty lake in Utah with her husband and children, where they cuddle up in the evenings and read their Kindles. Well, she does anyway.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Day I Became A Bad Mom

It really wasn’t my fault. It was Danny Kaye’s. How, you’re wondering, could some dead actor get me accused of child abuse? It all started with the movie, Court Jester. My husband had had enough of the kids watching the usual drivel on PBS. He wanted us to watch something with substance, something that would acquaint our children with a classic from the history of film. So we watched Court Jester.

My kids learned from the movie all right. They learned that if they wanted to be royalty, they had to have a special birthmark--a purple pimpernel—on their backsides. My daughter, who was three at the time, used a purple marker on her brother’s bum to make sure everyone would know he was a prince. I didn’t think much of it. So my son had purple scribbles on his behind? At least he was culturally enlightened. Over the course of a few baths, the marks disappeared.

The policeman showed up a few days later. Being almost six feet tall myself, I’m not easily intimidated. But this policeman was so large, peering through our front window, that I called my husband to answer the door while I retreated to the bathroom to change another diaper. My son, who was two at the time, had undiagnosed gluten intolerance. As parents, we were constantly trying to figure out what was causing the abnormal number of messy diapers. No sooner had I gotten to the bathroom than my husband told me the policeman wanted to talk to me.

Back at the front door, the officer explained that someone had reported me for child abuse because of the bruises on my son’s back. “Oh,” I said. “You mean the marker.” I told him the purple pimpernel story, and he said he’d need to look at my son to verify my account. The problem was that my husband was taking much longer to change the diaper than usual. I’m sure the officer must have wondered if we were stalling as I ran back and forth between him and the bathroom, checking to see if my son was ready to be put on display. Finally, my husband declared that my son needed a bath, and I, in exasperation, told the officer he could come look at our little boy standing naked and unbruised in the tub. “He’s definitely not abused,” the officer said—perhaps the most beautiful words I’ve ever heard in our bathroom.

I was relieved for only a few minutes. Then the questions came. Who reported me? Did I look like a child abuser? Did my son’s health problems make him look abused? What if it had been a real bruise? What if I were accused again? Would this be on my permanent record? Child abuse was a heinous crime. How could someone think I was a criminal?

Adding to my confusion was an experience I’d had the week earlier in a public restroom. As I’d stood at the sink, trying to cajole my potty-training daughter into washing her hands, an older woman remarked that if that were her daughter, she would give her a spanking for being so stubborn. On one side, someone thought I was too lenient. On the other, someone thought I was too harsh. It didn’t matter that I subscribed to Parents magazine, read bedtime stories, and cooked vegetables. I’d failed in my efforts to be a good mother. Why should I even try anymore?

For months afterward, I thought of myself as a bad mother. Now, looking back, I don’t see myself that way. I was a good mother caught in the trap of letting others dictate my self-image to me. In truth, the only people who knew what I did as a mother were my children and me. Everyone else had a false image. It was like they were trying to judge a book by a page, or, in the case of the restroom lady, by a sentence.

Eventually, I learned to see myself apart from the opinions of others. Some of the things that helped were:

  • Seeing pictures of myself interacting with my children. It gave me a different perspective to see the love in my eyes as I held my little ones.
  • Accepting the fact that different was okay. I didn't have to be like the soccer mom down the road or the cookie-baking mom or the academic achievement mom. My kids needed me, not the mom down the street.
  • Cultivating gratitude. Instead of noticing what was wrong with my children, I learned to notice what was right. 
  • Listing my achievements. Every year, I listed all the little things I'd accomplished in the last year. This simple exercise, which takes only a few minutes spread over the course of a few days, has helped me remember that I'm accomplishing more than I think.

Now that I've been a mom for seventeen years, I wish I could take all the younger moms out there and give them a little piece of my not caring. I have the experience now to know that the atrocious teacher conference shouldn’t have worried me so much, my daughter eventually got in the habit of washing her hands, and my son’s bad habit of kissing girls in first grade is now a treasured family memory. I’ve also come to realize that my daughter was onto something when she decided to mark herself and my son as royalty.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Looks for the Teens of Tomorrow

The other day, I was talking to my kids about gauge earrings. Things have gotten a little out of hand when teens have to refer to National Geographic magazine to figure out the next trend. I said to my son, "What do you suppose teenagers will do to rebel when you have kids? By then all the ideas will be used up." (And, yes, if you haven't seen them, lip gauges are already making the rounds. I also saw a teen who'd dyed her hair that blue gray color old ladies used to have.)

My son pointed out that all was not lost. There are still a lot of options for teens who want to get attention. Our predictions for teen fashions in the year 2035:

Neck Rings:

Foot Binding:

Teens who go for this look must plan ahead. You have to start by age six.

Klingon Head Ridges:

Carmen Miranda Fruit Hats:


Ballet Fashion:

Queen Elizabeth Foreheads:

I've probably left out a few attention-getting looks. Can you think of any?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Changing Up the Ponytail

My kids have had an exciting summer. My daughter went to Europe with her grandma. The teens have all gone camping multiple times. One got to go on a trip with Grandma to Nauvoo and Missouri. As for me, I've mostly hung out at home, helping everyone pack and unpack. It wasn't until last week when I had a reason to change up my summer ponytail hairstyle.

First, I had an interview with Heather at Fire and Ice. We met in downtown Salt Lake City during a thunderstorm for my photo shoot. Good thing I brought an umbrella. You can click here to read the interview. Here are the pictures she took.

Last week, I got to go to Cedar Fort's dinner for booksellers, along with a bunch of other authors. I always love getting to know authors and readers. During dinner, I sat next to Carla Kelly, who's one of my favorite authors. She gave me this advice about writing while my kids are young: "Sleep faster." Since then, I've been waking up early to write. So far, so good. I've gotten a lot more done this week. I also got to hang out with Annalisa Hall, who wrote a children's book I really want to read to my kids.

And today (Wednesday 8/14/13), I'm signing books at the Sandy, UT Costco from noon to 3 pm. I'll be at the West Valley Costco on Friday 8/16/13 from 12-3 pm.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Emma Blog Tour

It's time for the blog tour! Here are the stops:

Tuesday July 30 guest post on advice in Emma and giveaway 

Wednesday July 31

Thursday Aug 1

Friday Aug 2 review, guest post, and giveaway 

Saturday Aug 3

Monday Aug 5 review, guest post, and giveaway 

Tuesday Aug 6

Wednesday Aug 7 guest post and giveaway guest post about Jane Austen

Thursday Aug 8 review, giveaway, and guest post about Jane Austen inspiration

Friday Aug 9 review and giveaway 

Saturday Aug 10  review, giveaway, and interview 

Monday Aug 12 review, interview, giveaway 

Tuesday Aug 13

Wednesday August 14

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Book Review: Penumbras

My son and I had such a fun time reading The Kindling that I jumped at the chance to review the sequel, Penumbras. Both books are about a group of middle school friends who discover they have magical abilities. I know it sounds like Harry Potter, but Braden Bell has built a completely new and original world to inspire the middle-school imagination. His magic centers around light and the battle against darkness. One thing I like about the books is that there are so many life lessons running under the surface. The characters learn about following their impulses to do good and overcoming feelings of insecurity.

While The Kindling is action-packed, Penumbras has a balance of action, romance, and character growth. One of my favorite characters, Dr. Timberi, is absent for the first half of the book. Though I missed him, this also keeps things interesting, as the middle schoolers have to face the powers of darkness on their own.

From the Back Cover:
Conner Dell didn't meant to blow up the school bus.
Or the bathrooms.
In fact, he only wanted to go to sleep and possibly dream about Melanie Stephens.
But explosions had a funny way of happening when Conner and his friends were around.
Conner Dell wants to be good--he really does. But he is terrified that he might be turning into a Darkhand, especially when new powers start to surface. What's worse, the Stalker is following Conner, but no one else seems to be able to see him. The Magi think he might be hallucinating, the guilt of what happened in the Shadowbox keeps weighing on him, and his relationship with Melanie Stephens is complicating things. Even for a Magi, Conner knows his life is anything but normal.

About the Author:

Braden Bell grew up in Farmington, Utah and graduated from Davis High School. He earned bachelor’s and
master’s degrees in theatre from Brigham Young University and a Ph.D. in educational theatre from New York University. He and his wife, Meredith live with their five children on a quiet, wooded lot outside of Nashville, Tennessee, where he teaches theatre and music at a private school. An experienced performer, Braden enjoys singing, acting, reading, gardening, and long walks with the dog.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Diony George: Heaven's Just a Prayer Away

Today I'm sharing a story I enjoyed from Diony George's new book, Heaven is Just a Prayer Away:

Repeatedly through prayer I’ve received wisdom to handle situations in my life I wasn’t dealing well with on my own, especially in my role as a Mother.

My bedroom was quiet, and warm from the afternoon sun, but I didn’t find it comforting as I shut the door behind me. I was exhausted, filled with so much frustration I wanted to scream. I started to cry instead.
My son had lied to me again.

I had tried to do everything I knew how to get him to stop. Nothing worked. Not losing friends, video games or television. Not writing sentences, or doing dishes for a week. And none of the many talks or family home evening lessons we’d had about honesty. My discouragement ran deep and I had run out of ideas. How could I get him to understand the immense value of this principle? How could I believe anything he told me?
I’d prayed about it many times, at least I thought I had, in a general way, but the problem persisted and my discouragement and feelings of helplessness to change it increased.

I knelt down by my bed. The filtered rays of sunshine coming through the bedroom window warmed my back and I started another prayer. I felt tired, sad, and at a loss of where to go next. “Father in Heaven, I don’t know what to do. Please help me…”

I told him all of my concerns until my knees were sore. When I finished, I opened my eyes and grabbed a Kleenex to wipe the tears off my face. I got up and sat on the edge of my bed. Releasing the emotions helped lighten my heavy heart, but I still didn’t know what to do.

It wasn’t long before a thought entered my mind.

Really, Heavenly Father, I questioned. You want me to do that? How can that possibly work? What about the next time and the next time he tells me something?

I was to tell my son I was not going to look back anymore at the times he’d been dishonest, the times he’d covered the truth with excuses or denials. That was over and done with. From then on, I would believe he was telling me the truth. I was going to trust him.

I called my son to my bedroom so we could talk and I told him right then I was drawing a line, separating the past from the future. I watched his eyes grow bigger as he listened. With parted lips, he searched my face.
 “Unless you do or say something to break my trust, I am now giving it to you completely.” Heavenly Father are you sure, I questioned again, feeling afraid.

His answer was a warm feeling of peace.

My son’s eyes watered and he hugged me. “Thanks Mom, I love you.” He turned and left the room.
My tears fell again.

 Over the next several months I saw my son change. The first few times I asked if he was sure he was being honest or telling the truth, there was hesitation. Occasionally he changed his answers. As time passed the hesitations disappeared and his responses were strong and firm.

I would never have thought to handle that situation the way I did, on my own. That inspiration and guidance came directly from Heavenly Father as an answer to my prayers. 

Meet the Author:

Diony George is a wife, stay-at-home mom of seven, grandmother of three, motivational speaker, and the author of four books. Through her writing and public speaking she loves helping others draw closer to God. An avid reader whose favorite genre is romantic suspense, Diony also loves to travel, sew, and bake—especially pies and homemade bread. Born and raised in Alaska, she currently resides in Salt Lake City with her husband and family. Mrs. George can be reached through her personal website at

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

July Pictures

My summer has been a little crazier than I'd thought. Is it just me, or does this happen to everyone? I'd imagined all these peaceful moments, relaxing with a book or writing. But those moments only happen twice a week during swim lessons. I'm so glad I signed the kids up.

In between the crazy stuff, we have had a lot of fun. One of the fun things we did was go to the Daughters of Utah Pioneers museum in Salt Lake City. It's been a while since I've been there, and all I remembered was quilts and a stuffed two-headed lamb. So I told the boys they could see a two-headed lamb if they went with me. I had no idea how much they would love that museum. It's like a collection from Ripley's Believe It Or Not. We saw coffin dolls, a baby skull, and a 100-year-old cake, among other things. My oldest son said they had a better collection of swords than the Marine museum in Washington, D.C. Here's a picture of the two-headed lamb (I borrowed the picture from

We have also done a little hiking. A while ago I promised my second son that I'd take him to Donut Falls, so we finally went. Aren't I a great parent? Especially since I made that promise six years ago! It was a fun hike and just the right level of difficulty for our four year old. The picture at the top of the page is from our 4th of July hike. I'll let you in on a little secret we've discovered lately about hiking. Saturday around 5 pm is a great time to start a short hike. It's cooler, and there are more parking spaces.

Last month, we held a court of honor for our oldest son because he got his Eagle scout award. I'm so proud of Luke for all he's accomplished. I was a little nervous about the ceremony, but Luke said he wanted it to be super short. He didn't want to be bored. So all I really had to worry about was invitations and refreshments. Facebook makes invitations much easier. And rootbeer floats made the refreshments easier. 

Between the two of us, my husband and I have gone to four camps this summer. It's fun, but it can be stressful too. Why is it that all the really stressful stuff happens while my husband is out of cell phone range?

Oh, and since I haven't said much about reading or writing, I'll share a book I read last month that was great: My Loving Vigil Keeping, a historical fiction about coal mines by Carla Kelly. How about you? Do you have any good books or fun activities to recommend?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

So I Married an Editor

It all began rather innocently. He took me to a bookstore on our first date. Then he lured me in with his shelf of classic novels. We joked about James Thurber and Jane Austen. He understood me in a way most men didn't. Of course, I married him. I'm very blessed. His editing skills have provided a good income for our family, and it's great to get his advice about the technicalities of writing. There are times, however, when his editorial impulses try my patience. Here's what you should expect if you're going to marry an editor.

My husband has a way of editing my words in his brain so they mean what he wants to hear instead of what I meant. Case in point: one day in the fall, I asked him to "please take care of the leaves in the front yard." I came home later to find he'd chopped down our dying maple tree, the tree I'd been trying to save. This was his explanation: "You asked me to take care of the leaves in the front yard. When I chopped down the tree, I got rid of half of them."

Another drawback is that sometimes editors just can't stop editing. Take the birth of our last child. While my husband should have been photographing our newborn baby, he got distracted by the hospital footprint certificate. There was a mistake on it, and he could not rest until someone knew about it. When he finally took the picture of our baby, wouldn't you know, he included the offending document in the picture?

If you're going to marry an editor, be prepared to have every printed document covered with editing marks. This includes, but is not limited to birthday cards, your grandma's Christmas letter, your child's 100% spelling test, motivational quotes, and wedding invitations from your best friend. And just because you think it's error-free doesn't mean there isn't an extra space, a missing em dash, or--Heaven forbid!--an error in capitalization. That's my man, making the world a better place, one semi-colon at a time.

I have to confess that he's rubbing off on me too. There's a sign in our neighborhood that says, "Sale Your Home." Every time I see it, I itch for a sharpie. How about you? Any editing impulses?