Saturday, April 16, 2016

It's Spring Again


Yikes! It's cold outside. A year ago today I posted a spring series of pictures with all of my early flowers covered in snow. I thought I'd try for better pictures this year, but most of my flowers and blossoms look a bit bedraggled from the storms we've had the past few days. I should have taken pictures early in the week. But here goes:
 
 

The bleeding hearts are just beginning to bloom.
 


The phlox are doing great. 

 

The birdhouse has no occupants, but my granddaughter keeps checking.
 

 

More phlox and a few tulips. 

My gardens have acquired a few new creatures this year. The horse was a Christmas present from my youngest granddaughter. My son gave me the rattlesnake for my birthday. And my husband picked out the owl with a little help from another granddaughter in hopes it might scare away some of the huge flock of pesky doves that hang around our neighborhood, cooing and pooping on the swing.
 


 

Ah-h spring. I love flowers and can hardly wait for warmer days so I can dig out the grass and weeds that have crept in and plant summer flowers. I didn't take any pictures of my husband's garden. Not much is showing there yet since he plants vegetables, but how I love new potatoes and veggies straight from the garden. Can you tell I've had enough winter for this year?



Saturday, February 27, 2016

OVERDUE BLOG


I'm not sure how February passed so quickly. I composed dozens of blogs in my head during the past month, but none of them made their way to my computer. Perhaps because they were mostly on my discouragement over the sorry cast of candidates vying for President of this country. Let's see, what I've learned from those deplorable televised debates. We have for candidates a notorious liar, a socialist, a couple with god complexes, a Bolshevik Revolutionary wannabe, a few johnny one-notes, a horde of two-year-olds, a few hypocrites, a couple who suffer from stage fright and moderators who know even less about debating than the candidates, or else they're playing the drama card. Since when is the winner of a debate the one who shouts the loudest? Since when do we choose a president by who is the most dramatic debater? Some real background, policy, views, and plans for the future would be nice. It would also be nice if we could wipe the slate clean and just start over.
 

Okay, onto another annoyance. I just read (well, I haven't finished it and I'm not sure if I will) a book riddled with misused words. The writer uses "souls" when referring to the bottoms of his shoes, then waste for waist, convenient for convenience, passed for past, and do for due. I just hope the book is one of those review copies sent out to reviewers ahead of the final edit. Some publishers make clear whether a copy sent to a reviewer is an advance copy or the final product; others don't. The author of this book also uses so much jargon/foreign language, it's difficult to make sense of what is happening. 

Then there's taxes. It has taken me all month to get my taxes ready to turn over to my accountant. I keep good records which may be my problem. I keep everything! Wading through it and eliminating duplicate documentation is time consuming.
 
There have been some fun highlights too, which consumed time (and sometimes money), but were more enjoyable than politics, taxes, or poorly written books. Our microwave oven died and since our other appliances were twenty years old, we decided to replace them all so they would match. Two weeks were occupied in shopping and installation, but it's fun to have new appliances. Our five-year-old granddaughter thinks the best part is playing with the box the new dishwasher came in.
 
 

We attended a family wedding---another positive. The bride and groom looked happy and the wedding and reception were lovely, but the bride's young nephew and niece almost stole the show.

 
 


Ah-h a box of books just arrived in today's mail! As you know, I read a lot since I review LDS fiction for Meridian Magazine (My latest review column) This past week I also read my daughter Janice Sperry's middle grade reader manuscript which she will soon submit to a publisher and which I loved. I also agreed to two book signings- Celebrating Sisterhood- Seagull Book and Ladies' Night-Deseret Book. Details later. I'll be signing By the River and Three Little Words. Of course if anyone wants me to, I'll sign any of my other books as well whether you buy them that day or bring them from home.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

YEAR END BLOG

Wow! I can't believe it has been so long since I last blogged. December got a little crazy. There were a lot of Christmas books to read for my Meridian column, my brother and his daughter came to visit for a few days, a couple of doctor appointments (my ulcer decided to act up), grandchildren's programs and recitals to attend, shopping, a couple of book signings, a few dinners and parties, four family birthdays and our wedding anniversary, picking up a grandchild from pre-school, cards to address, a Relief Society lesson to prepare, days serving at the temple, a baptism, etc. etc. Somehow blogging got pushed to the bottom of my "to do" list.

I'll admit I wrote a few blogs in my head, but they're mostly about politics and unprintable. How both major parties could come up with such losers for frontrunners is beyond me--but I promised myself I wouldn't go into that.

The Christmas bustle that swamped December was worth it. I heard from friends from long ago, family I rarely see or hear from, and had a warm and wonderful Christmas Eve with all of my children, their spouses, and the grandchildren present. Our oldest grandson married a lovely young woman a few years ago from another country. Her mother and little brother spent Christmas Eve with us also and have become part of our family since they have no other family in America. Of course there was plenty of good food and presents galore. There was plenty of noise and confusion too, but it was wonderful to all gather together. I also received a sweet note from a young woman who used to spend Christmas Eve with us when she was a little girl.

When the grandchildren were small we started a tradition of taking a picture on the staircase of them all in their new Christmas pajamas. They all still love having the picture taken, but most no longer change to pajamas nor do they smile for the camera.  Instead I think they try to outdo each other to see who can be the silliest. My pictures didn't turn out great this year, but I'll attach a few anyway.

I'll also close this blog with a wish for a healthy, happy, safe New Year for all of you.

  Before the unwrapping began.

 The nativity cast assembles.

  A whole lot of silliness.
 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Julie Bellon reviewed my new book By The  River for Meridian Magazine today.  I thought I would share it with all of you:
 
 
Jennie Hansen fans have been anxiously awaiting her new release and By the River does not disappoint. Kira Paxton is a woman small of stature, but big in heart. She wants to fall in love, be independent from her smothering family, and live a full life. All of those dreams are set on a collision course, however, after she makes the grisly discovery of a young woman’s body near her running trail. 
Her screams bring Ford Kettering to the scene of the crime and from that moment on he tries to help Kira heal from her horrifying experience. She could fall in love with him, but when the young victim’s identity is released, Ford is listed as a person of interest because he was her high school teacher.  The budding relationship between Ford and Kira is a strong pull throughout the story, and readers will enjoy experiencing it with them through all the ups and downs.  Readers will also relate to Kira’s family problems as she tries to transition from the role of sheltered daughter to independent woman and the difficulties that come along with that.  When Kira’s condo is vandalized and an attempt is made on her life, she clings to independence, but also allows those around her to help keep her safe. From all appearances, Kira has become a loose end to the killer and, despite everyone’s best efforts, he is drawing closer. She will have to use all her wits to stay alive through this story that has more twists than a switchback road with hairpin turns at every corner.
 
By the River has all the shivers and thrills you’d expect from a Jennie Hansen suspense novel.  The reader is kept guessing until the very end who the killer is and if Kira will survive not only physically, but emotionally. Ford is a relatable character, fighting for his own innocence and for what he might have with Kira. He definitely lives up to the slogan, “Ford Tough.” The other “character” that is a standout is Jasper the dog. Jasper is a scene-stealer who will win your heart with his fondness for shoes, canals, and mischief of any kind, but who also proves dogs can be a man–or woman’s–best friend. This is a quick read because readers will not be able to put it down–and you’ll never look at running trails quite the same way again.
 
Jennie is an accomplished writer with over two dozen published novels to her name.  She writes in several different genres including romantic suspense, mystery, historical, and western and most of her titles can be found in LDS bookstores or on Kindle. 
 
By the River by Jennie Hansen published by Covenant Communications, softcover, $14.99, available on Kindle $10.49
Julie Coulter Bellon is the author of more than a dozen romantic suspense novels. Julie offers writing and publishing tips as well as her take on life on her blog ldswritermom.blogspot.com You can also find out about all her upcoming projects at her website juliebellon.com

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Holidays and Events Jumble

I can't believe it has been a month since I last blogged. In about an hour the neighborhood kids will start trick or treating and I'm having a hard time starting reviews for my Christmas column. Even though I've made a big start on my Christmas shopping and in my office the stack of new Christmas books to review this year is growing, I just can't think Christmas yet. (If anyone reading this has a new Christmas book or pamphlet that hasn't already been sent to me, please send a review copy quickly as this column runs shortly after Thanksgiving.)

My new book By the River is supposed to be released Monday and I'll be at the Salt Lake County Book Event signing copies next Saturday afternoon from one to five.  Please come say hello and I'd love to sign any books you've purchased previously as well as my new book which will be available to purchase at the Event.

My mind is still on Halloween, a recent sibling reunion in Idaho, and Birthdays.  Our son, daughter-in-law, and our youngest granddaughter took my husband and I to lunch today to celebrate both my husband's and my birthdays which happen to fall just a few days apart. Yesterday our four-year-old granddaughter came for a few hours.  She was still playing in the leaves and planning costumes. The three-year-old dressed today as Mickey Mouse and the four-year-old tells me she's a 50's girl, though playing in the leaves she looked like a little pumpkin.


 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

It's done!

My summer has been dominated by a long awaited makeover of our kitchen. We didn't change our appliances, most aren't terribly old, but we put new tile on the floor, added granite counter tops, had interior shudders installed, and welcomed counter-top to cupboard backsplash. Here are a few pictures I snapped of the finished project:

 Counter top and backsplash
 

More countertop and backsplash
 

 
Shudders and granite sink (Not a great picture-too dark)
 

 
Breakfast nook shudders

 
I tried for an overall shot- didn't work out too well
 

 
tile floor and new counter tops
 

 
counter tops, floor, sink, shutters, and a glimpse of backsplash
 
 
The whole project took longer than expected, two and a half months. We had a few glitches--one of the workmen sawed through our security alarm and we had to have it replaced. Special orders took longer than expected. We worked with Ogden's for most of the project and they were terrific! R.C. Willey pulled off a miracle in replacing the casters on our dining room chairs, both the plumber and the man who did the backsplash did exceptional work and the overall cost came in pretty close to what we expected. I'm happy with it and especially happy to finally have it done.
 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

MY NEW COVER

This is going to be short and sweet!  I now have a cover for By The River, due to be released in November.  That's just a little over a month away! Here goes: Ta dah!

 
 
Also for those of you who think I've stopped blogging, I apologize.  I've been kind of busy lately with the edits on both books, remodeling my kitchen (should be finished Friday. Then I'll post pictures), trying to keep up with my garden, and tending my four-year-old granddaughter.
 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

THREE LITTLE WORDS

Yay! I have two releases scheduled within the next six months.  My novel By the River is scheduled for November and the compilation of three love stories which will include my novella Rescuing Bailey is set for January. The other two writers who are joining me in this endeavor are Aubrey Mace and K. C. Grant.

Having just read a couple of romance novels, attended two family weddings, celebrated our fiftieth wedding anniversary, will attend a party for a brother's fiftieth anniversary this weekend, and finished the edit of Rescuing Bailey, I've been thinking about weddings more than usual. Then recently I sat at lunch with a group of friends and the conversation turned to weddings.  No, not more of that wedding stuff. One of my friends remarked, "Something goes wrong at every wedding no matter how hard everyone tries to make it perfect." Her comments brought on a flurry of stories of personal disasters.

One said her mother took over her wedding and wouldn't let her have any invitations to send to her friends. Her mother insisted it was her party and she was paying for it, so she was only going to invite her (the mother's) friends. The bride knew very few of the guests at her reception.

At one wedding the bride's mother wanted to make the wedding cake. She arrived late for the wedding with undecorated cake layers and a big bowl of icing. She said she just hadn't had time to finish it.

When I got married my parents and most of my family didn't make it to the wedding or open house afterward because a blizzard caused the highway patrol to close the road and they couldn't get through. I didn't have a cake because my mother made it and was planning to bring it with them. So my one brother who lived in the same city I did rushed out to buy cookies and lemonade.

At my older sister's wedding, mothers of both the bride and groom sat with a broken leg propped on a chair in front of them.

A large ceramic vase full of flowers was positioned too close to the father of the groom at a recent wedding reception. As he turned to embrace a guest, the vase went flying to shatter all over the area where the reception line had formed.

We followed the snowplow from our house to a brother's wedding in Montana that was four hours late due to the roads being impassable. (My family really should learn to avoid winter weddings.)

We survived the weddings of all five of our children and that of a grandson. Each one was an adventure. Working at the Oquirrh Mountain Temple, I see a lot of brides which is fun. I often see and meet their mothers, attendants, and other family and friends. I can truthfully say most bridal parties laugh off the forgotten recommends, missing rings, impatient photographers, squashed bouquets, awkward attempts at humor by well-meaning guests, and ignore some of the more absurd attendants' dresses. Most couples see only each other and the beautiful ceremony.

Someone once said those who focus on the details and mishaps of the wedding will never be as  happy as those who enter into marriage only seeing each other. Those who are unaware or laugh off the mishaps are destined for a much happier marriage than those who bemoan the quirks that "ruined" their marriage. This is as true in novels as in real life; the best romances are those that focus on the relationship instead of on exotic settings, fabulous wardrobes, or detailed graphics. After all it's Three Little Words that really matter and that's to be the title of our compilation.  

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

WHEW! WHAT A MONTH!

Several people have asked if I've been having health problems again since it has been three weeks since my last blog. Actually I'm doing fine; life has just been a little crazy. My husband and I decided it was time to do some major work on our kitchen; granite counter tops, new flooring, shutters, back splash, cupboard hardware. It's been exciting and still is; we're not finished yet. It's time consuming too.  I'll post pictures when it's finished. 

In the middle of our renovation project I got the edit back for By the River, my next book which is scheduled to be released in November. Even though it didn't require a lot of rewriting, it still took a great deal of time to go through it thoroughly, but I got it turned in. (By the way, I'll be participating in Salt Lake County Library's Local Authors Event on November 7 and I'm hoping By the River will be available by then). 

Along with preparing and teaching a Relief Society lesson, attending a grandson's soccer games, a holiday, and all of the usual trivia of life, these two projects have consumed time I might have otherwise spent blogging. And guess what! The edit for the novella I wrote for one of those compilations of three novellas arrived this afternoon!  

My novella edit for Rescuing Bailey is due August 13th and our kitchen project is supposed to be finished around the first of September. August is shaping up to be a lot like July so if my blogs are few and far between for a little while it's not permanent, I'm not sick, and I promise to do better in the fall.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

OUR NATION'S BIRTHDAY


As a teenager, the Fourth of July included parades since I played in the marching band. Later as a mother it still included parades where my daughters played and marched or carried flags. And what would the Fourth be without a picnic and fireworks? Many of my Fourths also included fishing and stories about family members who served in various branches of the military. Above all it was a family day, in essence a small piece of what the historic events of 1776 were all about, a time when father, mother, and their offspring could enjoy the fruits of the sacrifices made for them so long ago. 

It was a novel concept back then that people might govern themselves; that matters of religion, education, employment, and self defense rightly belong to the individual. In order to prevent the kind of tyranny they had so narrowly escaped, those founding fathers drew up a constitution that called for an overall government limited to certain responsibilities. The remaining rights were to be restricted to the states in order to keep government as close to the people as possible. Such long time emblems of tyranny as a monarchy, state religion, and the education of only the wealthy were rejected. Opportunity, equality, and freedom became the new mantra of our ancestors who offered their lives in exchange for a new way of doing things. Farmers and shopkeepers became soldiers who suffered and many died for this dream. In the intervening years many other good men and women have died on battlefields around the world where they fought to preserve freedom and the simple red, white, and blue flag under which the revolutionaries fought has grown to include fifty stars. 

With the passage of time, freedom grew to include those who came here against their will and those fleeing poverty and a lack of opportunity elsewhere.  On the way there have been injustices; the Mormons were ordered exterminated by a narrow-minded governor, some areas denied black people the right to vote, Western states were ordered to stop allowing women to vote, some Hispanic transient workers have been denied payment for their hard manual labor and deported instead, Chinese railroad workers were often treated badly, Japanese families were incarcerated. There are, and likely always will be, some low-minded people who will continue to persecute those they consider beneath them, but real Americans revel in the success of anyone who works for it. 

The past week has been troubling for many Americans whether they support non-traditional marriage or not. There is great concern over the usurpation of state rights by the Supreme Court and serious, justifiable concerns about freedom of religion, parental rights, children's rights, divorce laws, and the legality of other potential matrimonial combinations. Most of these concerns could and should have been worked out without the drastic interference of a few unelected individuals. This is what legislatures are for. The hateful, insulting rhetoric being flung about by both sides of the controversy certainly isn't helpful either. Social changes brought about by majority consensus have proved to work better than those forced on people by edict. It will be a challenge and likely involve many contentious years to work out this issue. It's easy to say this doesn't concern me, but in fact it concerns all of us, and we all need to be involved in working out solutions that are fair to all Americans. Let's not let this issue be the one that destroys "justice for all" or the "freedom to worship according to the dictates of our own consciences." 

I'll be cheering at a parade, eat yummy food, and fly the stars and stripes this Fourth. I hope you will too. America is still worth celebrating. And just one more thing, a slogan I learned as a teenager, "Don't go forth with a fifth on the Fourth, or you might not be around to go forth on the fifth."