Sunday, July 27, 2008

Twin Falls Temple is Spectacular!

Twin Falls Temple front view.
I'm sitting in front of a fountain at the front of the temple.

We toured the new Twin Falls Temple on July 25. It is beautiful and the lightest, airiest of all of the temple we've seen so far. The tours were set up in a highly organized manner and we enjoyed every minute of it. It's much smaller than the Jordan River Temple where we serve. I was really impressed with the beautiful wood and stone. Just seeing the three-wall mural painted by Leon Parsons was worth the whole trip. Go see it if you can. It depicts the nearby Shoshone Falls, the South Mountains, the Snake River Canyon, and the wildlife natural to that area. After the tour we took a few pictures. Here's one I quite like that someone volunteered to take of me, my husband, my sister, and her husband in front of the temple.

I also had a booksigning at Crowleys in the mall. I met some delightful people and had a great time. That's a really nice little bookstore and one I really recommend. Since my new book won't be out until October, I really appreciated all of you who brought in older books for me to sign and gave me a chance to meet you and talk with you.

Two of my brothers, both of my sisters, and their spouses all went to dinner with my husband and me before my signing. It was fun and great to be with them again. Saturday my sisters and their husbands took us out to dinner at a Mexican restaurant in Buhl. Fantastic food and service even if our waitress spoke almost no English.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


My Twin Falls booksigning is set for 7-8 p.m. at Crowleys Bookstore on Friday, July 25. That's in the mall overlooking the Snake River Canyon. Come see me. My new book isn't out yet, but there'll be plenty of older ones. You can even bring ones you already own or I'll sign a bookmark for you. Most of all I just like to meet people and have a chance to talk.

I'm excited to tour the new Twin Falls Temple which I'll do earlier that day. My niece who was in one of the first tour groups was really impressed.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Not my favorite thing

So far I've deleted approximately 6000 words from The Ruby. Only about 40,000 to go. I hear from listeners all the time who state their preferance for unabridged audio, but unfortunately sales on audio books aren't high enough to justify paying a reader and technicians for the extra time and supplies that go into an unabridged CD book. We're getting close, so maybe next time around, but on a book as long as this one, the powers-that-be said they couldn't justify the higher production cost. Did I tell you, I really, really hate condensing? Only another writer who has gone through the condensing process can truly understand how hard it is to throw away words we so recently labored over to make just right. My husband is wonderful when I'm condensing, he takes over everything he can to leave me free to work---and throw a tantrum or two. It's not easy deciding what is not essential. Afterall, I wouldn't have put it in my manuscript in the first place if it wasn't essential.

I've met some lovely people at the temple. Some I knew at other times and places. Some recognized me by my name tag and the awful pictures in the backs of my books. And some are just delightful people I hadn't met before.

I'm a little sad and introspective today. My son and daughter-in-law have had a black Lab since shortly after they got married. He's been one of those pets that holds a special place in the hearts of all my family. He was never just a dog, but a distinct personality in his own right. He's worn a costume and gone trick or treating with my grandchildren. He captured my garden ornament squirrels and hid them under the deck one year, but left my other critters alone. He loved to sit with his head in my son's lap to watch Jazz basketball games and he loved long walks through Wheeler Farm. He visited me whenever my son and his wife took vacations or business trips. He's fought a three month battle with cancer and today the cancer won. My five-year-old grandson assures me that when our family gets to heaven, Augie will come running to meet us because he's an angel doggie now.

Have you had the experience of driving past a place you once knew very well then didn't see for a long time? Today I drove past the church where all but one of my children were blessed as infants. It's an old Army chapel that later became a Catholic Church, then was remodeled as an LDS church. Now it belongs to a Catholic Vietnamese congregation and it looks the best it ever has. They've remodeled it again, changed the windows dramatically, and installed beautiful landscaping. Somehow it makes me feel good to see that old building where my testimony grew, where I held my first leadership positions, and where I saw my children take some of their first spiritual steps cared for so well and receiving the respect it rightfully deserves.

My July reviews were posted on Meridian Thursday. You can read them there or go to my web page and look under reviews. I'd love to hear from any of you who read my reviews. Of course I love to hear from you anyway whether you comment on my blog, any of my books, or if you have LDS Fiction oriented questions.

I'd better get back to work condensing.

Monday, July 14, 2008

On books and temples

The books I've read this past month for my Meridian review column were all good books. A couple were really exceptional. Look for my reviews on Thursday of this week. It's not often that a mystery novel stumps me, but one did this time.

Julie Bellon is collecting items to send to deployed soldiers as she does signings for her new book. Check her web site (check the sidebar on my blog to access her web page) and if you possibly can please contribute something to her project. I may be biased, but I firmly believe we should all do whatever we can to make our soldiers' lives a little easier.

One of my nieces is living with us for awhile. She's just begun a new job and will find an apartment in a few months, but for now we're enjoying having her here.

I'm still feeling overwhelmed by all I must learn to work in the temple, yet I'm enjoying it. It's neat to arrive at the temple early two mornings a week and attend a preparation meeting with approximately a hundred and twenty women all dressed in white, well groomed, and cheerful. It's not at all like early morning on a job in the private sector. My biggest problem so far has been finding white pantihose I like. Now that nurses don't have to wear white stockings, they're kind of hard to find.

From our bedroom window we can watch (with the help of my husband's binoculars) the construction of the two new temples in the Salt Lake Valley. In a couple of weeks we're going to the open house for the Twin Falls temple. We're quite excited to tour it. While we're in Twin Falls I'll be doing a signing at Crowley's Bookstore in the mall a few blocks from the temple. I'll post the time as soon as I know it.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

One Lost Boy

I review LDS fiction for Meridian Magazine, but this summer I signed up for LDS Publisher's Summer Trek reading program so I'm reading a few books that don't fall into the category I normally review. One such book is One Lost Boy by David Beagley. This is the story of a boy, the author, who until he was six went to the LDS church, attended Primary, and lived a fairly normal life, then his father became involved with a polygamous group. Though his mother was heartbroken over the situation she believed divorce was worse than polygamy and was persuaded to endorse her husband's lifestyle. The older children (there were twelve children altogether) wanted nothing more to do with their father and left home, but the younger children had no choice but to enter a life of drudgery, indoctrination, and hiding from the law. The first wife and children had to move frequently. David's mother ran a day care center out of her home, then a farm, and eventually turned her home into a care center for the elderly, taking on any task to support her family and provide her philandering husband with a monthly check while he spent his time courting and marrying other women. Eventually he had more than fifty children.

In time David and the brother closest to him devised a plan to run away. From the age of sixteen he was on his own. David had been sneaking off to attend the LDS church long before he ran away and after he reached his oldest brother in Arizona he struggled to finish school and go on a mission. Insecurities, a debilitating illness, a Dear John letter, a transfer to a different mission, all proved to be trials of his faith.

Since this book details a real person's search for faith, belonging, and love it is different from a novel. If the story were fiction, there are obvious weaknesses I could point out, but since it is a narrative of a real life, I'll just say that the story held my attention throughout and I was most deeply impressed by observing the growth of David's testimony and the sense that his testimony continued to grow beyond the events of his youth.

Friday, July 4, 2008

On Flags and Patriotism

Yesterday on the way back from the temple, we passed a huge condo complex and several large businesses with hundreds of flags lining their properties and today there are thousands of flags decorating the front yards of private homes. It’s a thrilling sight, one that brings a lump to my throat. Since I was a small child and learned the pledge of allegiance from my older Boy Scout brothers, then had that learning reinforced with a daily recitation of that pledge in school each morning, I’ve loved our flag. Even more I love this country. In recent years the flag has taken on deeper meaning for me and I’ve gained a deeper appreciation for the privileges great and small that are mine because I am an American.

When our son-in-law was deployed to Iraq the first time we learned that soldiers’ families on their home bases fly a flag in the absent soldier’s honor until he/she returns. We decided to do the same though we’re not on a military base. It became a tangible link to him and a means of showing respect for the sacrifice he and our daughter were making for this country. We did the same during his second deployment.

When a child you love with all your heart puts on his country’s uniform and is somewhere in the midst of a brutal war, parents and other loved ones scramble for ways to show support, to lend encouragement, to provide a glimpse of home, and perhaps furnish a few treats to brighten a homesick soldier’s life and let him know someone back home loves him. A lot of praying happens too. We did all that, even undertook a letter-writing campaign to encourage local and national companies to send treats to our servicemen. (I’ll always buy Little Debbie products because they sent our son-in-law several cases (not individual cartons) of their products just before Christmas which he was able to share with his entire unit.

A trap devised by enemy terrorists to decapitate American soldiers nearly took our son-in-law’s life. Only the fact that he is taller than the trap was set for and the fact that he was wearing heavy armor spared his life, though that was touch-n-go as he was air-lifted to Germany, then a week later on to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C. His recovery has been long and slow and in the process we’ve learned much about soldiers who offered their lives for their country, but whose lives were spared, only to find life vastly changed for them. Visiting Walter Reed we were first impressed by the positive attitude of these wounded warriors and their willingness to learn new ways to do tasks once taken for granted.

We also became acquainted with several organizations that exist for the sole purpose of helping wounded soldiers and their families to make the transition back into their units or back to civilian society. Two groups that have been of great support to our son-in-law, our daughter, and their young son are Operation Second Chance and Warrior Weekend The first provides wounded soldiers with many personal necessities (their clothes, shaving kits, calling cards or cell phones, all personal items are usually still back at their base in Iraq or Afghanistan), places for their families to stay, meet them at the airport to provide transportation to Walter Reed, assist in modification of housing, and help the recovering soldier find jobs or retraining. The second groups provide the means for small groups of 8-10 to enjoy themselves during small vacations to various destination cities, parks, beaches, etc. to relax and be with their families. Both provide an invaluable service and both survive on donations from individuals and companies. To learn more about them or to make a donation go to the above addresses.
Today I look at the flags lining our streets and say thank you to all the men and women who have ever fought for our country; not just those who returned to a hero’s welcome, but to those who gave their life and to those who are fighting to regain their lives. And not to be forgotten are all those wives, children, parents and other loved ones who serve by waiting and praying for their beloved soldiers. And I thank those special Americans, who remember the soldiers with no families and those soldiers who are other people’s sons and daughters. One more thank you to all those Americans who understand that freedom isn’t free, but it is worth whatever price we must pay.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


This is one of those nervous, don't quite know what to expect days. I'm sure you've had a few of those. My husband and I were recently given a new calling to work in the temple and tonight is when we start. I'm excited about this new opportunity, but I find I can't settle to writing, cleaning house, or even reading today. I'm just glad I finished the edits (the major edits) on both of my books scheduled for release in October.

If you've ever been a visiting teacher or if you've moved a few times and been the "new person" in your ward, I think you might enjoy a little book I just finished reading. It's called The Crayon Messages by Christine Thackery. Look for a more complete review in my Meridian column later this month.

I have a long list of books to add to my Summer Trek Reading list, several of which I'm really looking forward to. On a Whim by Lisa McKendrick is really a YA book, but I'll read it anyway and report on it for the contest. Lisa is an author I've followed for a long time and I enjoy her work. I think a few others in my stack are young adult too which I don't review for Meridian but will do brief reviews for the summer reading program. The new books in my stack are: The Lost Verses by Barbara Miller, Spare Change by Aubrey Mace, One Lost Boy, by David Beagley, Waiting for the Light to Change by Annette Haws, Against the Giant by Christy Hardman, Keeping Keller by Tracy Winegar, All's Fair by Julie Bellon, and Flashback, by J. Michael Hunter. Fortunately, most are not really thick books.