Thursday, August 28, 2008

Summer Book Trek

The Summer Book Trek is coming to an end. It's officially over this weekend and since I'll be out of town I'm doing my wrap-up post now. The trek has been fun and I enjoyed reading the reviews by other participants. LDS Publisher has asked all of us who participated in the trek to answer a few questions, so here's her questions and my answers.

1. How many fiction books by LDS authors did you read? 24

2. Did you read more than you would have read if you hadn't participated in this book trek? no

3. Did the reviews posted by other participants influence which titles you read? How? Their reviews didn't influence which titles I read, but I was interested to discover what other readers liked and disliked in the books they reviewed.

4. Did the Whitney awards influence which titles you read? How? Not the previous winners; I've already read all of those, but knowing the next awards are coming up, I was conscious of which books I felt merited being nominated.

5. Did the many, many virtual blog tours that happened this summer influence which titles you read? How? I'm a little reluctant to answer this one because I really didn't like the blog tours. I read so many on the same books, I was sick of the books before I got to read them.

6. Did you finish all the books you had planned to read? If not why? No, I didn't finish them all, some because I never actually got the books, some because I didn't like them well enough to finish, and some I'm still working on.

7. Did you discover any new authors whom you now love? Yes, but I'm not going to name names. I also rediscovered an old favorite, but I didn't find time to review On a Whim by Lisa McKendrick mostly because it's YA and I don't usually review YA.

8. Did you nominate any of the books you read for Whitney awards? Sure did! I found quite a few potential Whitney winners.

9. Would you beinterested in another LDS themed reading challenge either this winter, or next summer? Yes, definitely.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Commitment and Rebellion

Two words have been running through my mind today, commitment and rebellion. I find it incongruous that people so often rebel against the very beliefs they profess they are committed to uphold. I see it in politics and I’m sure you do too, such as those who claim loyalty to one party or the other, but dismiss that party’s platform. Or they support a particular candidate in spite of that candidates support for actions considered immoral or offensive by the so-called supporter. I know the arguments—that’s politics; we aren’t going to find a party or candidate we see eye-to-eye with on every point. But I wonder do we support parties and candidates in spite of what they stand for or because of what they stand for? Are we committed to party affiliation or are we committed to ideals and standards? Change is the big buzzword this election season, but I wonder how many see “change” as merely rebellion and if it is rebellion, are we looking for a change that brings us closer to our ideals and commitments or will any change do, even one that moves us farther from our commitments to God and country?

Working in the temple the past few months, I’ve noticed some silly little rebellions that leave me wondering “what’s the point?” We’ve been asked to wear our “Sunday Best” when we attend the temple; women should be attired in skirts or dresses. Still women appear in slacks. No one is going to embarrass these women by demanding they go home and change and some handicapped women have little choice, but most women who are active enough in the Church to have a recommend know the directive and are simply being rebellious by wearing slacks anyway. You can argue that you have pants that are just as dressy as a dress and that may be true, but in our culture wearing a skirt with hose and appropriate shoes is considered a statement of respect. There’s nothing doctrinal behind this request, but it seems to me that if we’re committed to temple attendance, we should make every effort to be as respectful as possible in our dress and demeanor.

Commitment and rebellion are among the first lessons a child learns in life. There’s a bonding between parent and child that is one of the firmest commitments we ever make in most family relationships. And most of us are well aware of how quickly a toddler learns to say “no” and begins his search for independence that often continues and may even accelerate through his teen years. Here’s where these two words get tricky. We need to understand and help our children understand that commitment isn’t to be given lightly, but once given, it carries certain obligations. Likewise we need to understand that independence and rebellion don’t mean the same thing. Rebellion simply to dispute authority, to be different, or to destroy what matters to others is a selfish power trip. Rebellion against that which is evil, detrimental to society, or contrary to those things we hold sacred is part of our commitment to God.

Lack of commitment is often cited as one of our time period’s greatest faults. Am I the only one who sees this as part of Satan’s rebellion against God’s plan? Imagine a world where no one is committed to serve God, honor their country, keep marriage vows, or nurture their children. No wonder Church leaders ask us to make wise commitments and to be careful concerning rebellion.

* * *
The Ruby is currently in the process of being both printed and recorded. I’m going to be out of town for a few days. When I get back I’ll post the first chapter on my web page.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Winding down day

I made it, but just barely. The additional 4000 words are wiped out and my editor at Meridian acknowledged receipt of my column. You'd think I could lay around and rest today, but it's been one of those catch-up days; three loads of laundry, clean the bathrooms, make reservations for our trip to DC next month, turn zuchinni into bread and cake, and I even spent an hour weeding and dead-heading my garden.
My poor garden has been dreadfully neglected this summer while I've been busy getting The Ruby ready for publication. As I've mentioned before I love gardens, both vegie and flowers. This year the two sort of got combined. My four-year-old grandson is going to have to leave his pumpkin plant behind when his daddy leaves the Army next month so he asked Grandma to plant one for him here. This is the pumpkin plant I planted for him. It looks good now, but between snails and squash bugs it's anyone's guess whether it'll survive until Halloween. I've always wanted a red hibiscus. A friend gave one of my daughters a red one and a white one but didn't tell her which was which. She offered to share and we were hoping she'd get the white and I'd get the red. You guessed it, the one she gave me is white, but I like it anyway.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Life goes crazy

Every once in awhile life seems to get a little overwhelming--at least my life does. I started out the week with the flu, then I got the word from my editor that I had to take another four thousand words out of my audio text for The Ruby. Then too, my Meridian column is due Monday, this weekend is stake conference, and I had two shifts at the temple. Somehow posting to this blog got pushed to the back of the list. I worked my way down to five books left in my "to read for possible reviews stack" and along came the UPS man with another box of books. The new books will have to wait for my September column, but there's several of them I'm really anxious to read. Tops on that list is the long, long awaited volume 4 in The Promised Land series by David Woolley. I won't be able to review all five of the books I already had, and it has been difficult narrowing down to the one I will read and get the review written before Monday is over. One is a reissue and really YA so I'll skip that one, but maybe give it a mention, Two didn't start with enough pazzazz to hold my attention, so they'll have to wait. The other two are romances and I think I'll take the one with a smashing great cover. It seems to be a little more mature than the other one anyway though they'll both be in high demand by romance readers. Come to think of it, a romance will round out nicely the cross section of books you'll find in my column next Thursday.
Okay, now I've made my excuses and I have an hour before I need to start getting ready for the Saturday night conference session, I'll go see if I can get a few chapters read.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I won an award!

Today my Mom (Jennie) won this award from Cheri Crane, so I thought I would post it for all to see. Jennie is supposed to award this to 7 blogs sites that she loves. This is really hard and she may have to take her time in deciding who she should give them to. Check back later for the results.

1. Sharon
2. MaryJo
3. Betsy Green
4. Latter Day Authors
5. Mindy Battraw
6. Janette Rallison
7. Annette Lyon

Monday, August 4, 2008

Ruby Cover

Today I received the cover art for Ruby. It continues the hands theme the artist has used on all of the books in this series. I think this is my favorite. I like the bright red. I finished condensing for the audio format today. Condensing is something I really hate doing and this one was particularly hard because the book is longer than most of my books have been. As soon as I finished, I started right in on proofing the typeset copy which needs to be finished by Friday even though the book won't be released until October. I'll post the first chapter on my web site in a few weeks.

I'm pretty excited about my cover and would love to hear what you think of it.

Friday, August 1, 2008

One of those weeks

You've had one, I'm sure, one of those weeks (months or lives) when minor disasters seem to lurk around every corner. I don't even remember Monday and Tuesday; I was too busy trying to condense my manuscript for the audio version of Ruby. Wednesday, the first day of the week we serve in the temple, my hair dryer died. Just try drying your hair in front of one of those little fans meant to cool small rooms like my office. I won't mention the difficulty I'm having memorizing all the things I have to memorize for this calling and I'm the kid who sailed through school with a photographic memory. The photographic memory retired twenty years before I did and I've had to learn all over how to study, memorize, etc. Then I was up late trying to take more words out of my manuscript.

Thursday, not only was I still without a hairdryer, but my watch ticked its final minute about 5 a.m. and I had to tear over to Walmart to buy something fast and cheap. I tried to file my nails down a bit while wolfing down my breakfast. I came home about five thirty and threw one of those four minute roasts in the microwave for sandwiches and cut up fruit and called it a salad, then raced upstairs to my office to get back to unwriting. My computer had completed the triliogy. It was dead. I spent last evening and until ten thirty this morning trying to decipher some girl in India's garbled English to get it going again. If you're among the senders of the fifty-six emails I skimmed at lightening speed a few minutes ago, rest assured I'll take a better look and send answers one I manage to unwrite about six or seven thousand more words. You may think I'm getting close to the end on this process, but as all those who have ever condensed a novel can tell you, the last 5000 words removed is the hardest and slowest.