Tuesday, December 22, 2009


I can't believe it--the shopping is done and the presents are wrapped. I even sent out
Christmas cards. Of course there are still meal preparations, neighborhood gifts to deliver, some shirts to iron, and a few phone calls to make, but basically, I'm ready. I'm not ultra efficient; I just have an early deadline. You see, there won't be time for shopping and wrapping and all of those things tomorrow. I have the most important Christmas preparations to do when I arise in the morning. It's my day to serve all day in the temple. Wednesday is my day to concentrate on serving the Lord. There couldn't possibly be a better way to prepare for Christmas.


I love the beautiful rich language of the nativity story in the King James version of St. Luke. Reading it was part of my Christmas lesson at Primary Sunday and it will be part of our Christmas Eve family celebration Thursday night. My younger grandchildren will dress up like angels and shepherds, one of my two granddaughters will cradle a doll as Mary, and Joseph will be a grandson who hasn't had a turn for a few years. As our family shares the beautiful story of our Savior's birth and share this Christmas celebration, we will draw closer to each other and to Christ whose birth we celebrate.


Merry Christmas from me to all of you. May you share in the joy and warmth of this wondrous season.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

AND THE WINNER IS . . . . . .

TRIBES is the winner of a Christmas book. Please let me know by Friday which book you would like along with your mailing address. Send it to bhansen22 at msn dot com.

The prize for the last half of December contest will be a little different. The winner will get the audio (CD) version of High Country by me or your choice of any of the books not chosen by earlier winners this year.

This seems to be my year for attending Christmas concerts. First there was the Christmas Orange concert with Marshall MacDonald. I loved it, but there wasn't much leg room between seats. Then we went to the Tabernacle Choir Concert with Natalie Cole and David McCullough. Fabulous! Then we were given tickets to the Messiah performance at Salt Lake Community College South. It was different. I barely recognized a couple of the numbers and the rest not at all. The songs were all jazzed up and sung as Southern gospel songs. This Sunday, a granddaughter is singing in her ward's Christmas program in the morning, then our own will be presented by the choir in the afternoon. Every time I get in the car or turn on the radio at home, there's Christmas music. I'm not complaining. I'm hearing it better than I ever have before.

Something happened a year and half ago, to me a small miracle, and I suddenly started hearing sounds I'd never heard before and I could even tolerate being in the same room as a violin. I've always been tone deaf and unable to hear in the upper ranges. Suddenly I discovered street lights chirp, birds outside my office window sing, and dozens of other small sounds I had been oblivious to. Along with this has come a new awareness of music. It's kind of fun to hear songs I once studied so intensely in order to appreciate them at all, now sounding so glorious.

I loved Christmas music even when I didn't hear it well. I especially like Silent Night and O Holy Night. I think Handel's Messiah, not the jazzed up version, is beautiful. I'm enjoying some of the lighter songs too like Little Drummer Boy. I think the music of Christmas brings the many facets of the season together. Through the pop songs we share the fun and magic, through the spiritual hymns our souls are touched bringing us closer to understanding this greatest of all gifts, the birth of our Savior.

We're all so busy, but take a moment to consider the small miracles in your life or share the ways Christmas touches you.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

OH THAT CHRISTMAS LETTER!

Love them or hate them, Christmas letters are a part of Christmas. Personally I love getting them, even if it's just a couple of lines scrawled on the bottom of the card. Some say they're brag fests, others are "woe is me." Most, fortunately, are a great way to catch up on what is happening in the lives of people we care about. I love the inclusion of photos too. Some are original, some are poetic, some touch the heart, and some are just plain funny. We've all seen the Elf Me cards on line, which are cute and often funny. One of my daughters posted her Christmas letter online this year which I found amusing. You can take a peek at it here http://keepingupwiththehansens.blogspot.com/ , but I think the funniest one I ever received came from a niece and it was a little late. It read:



Merry Christmas from the Chandlers!

If, by chance, this card is late
Just credit it to Chandler fate!

We ordered the photos in November's third week
And, as our luck would have it, there was a tweek:

"The machine broke down" the printer guy said,
They had to get a new one. Guess the old one was dead!

Then they lost our order, failing our trust
And our pictures sat around collecting dust!

Then they called to say that the cards with our faces
Had all been delivered to the wrong places!

I demanded my money, or some compensation
And they just smiled and gave the poor explanation
That there was nothing they could do.

The boss was gone, and they were alone
And they tried to call, but his wife wasn't home.

So, they offered to print our letter for free
And include a picture of another family!


I accepted their offer; what else could I do?
I had to get this card off to you!

Hence the happiest of holidays is our Christmas wish
To you from the Chandlers, and these guys with the fish!

Oh well, our pictures finally came. Happy Valentine's Day!


Last night my husband and I and my cousin and her husband attended the Mormon Tabernacle Choir performance with Natalie Cole and David McCullough. It was fantastic. I was particularly impressed with the organ solo by Richard Elliott. Talk about multi-tasking! We planned to eat at the Lion House before the performance, but the line was so long that after an hour wait, we gave up and hurried to the conference center for the performance. The line didn't look so bad after the performance so we tried again. Success this time and we had a delicious late dinner. We planned a liesurely stroll through temple square to see the lights after the performance, but the sidewalk was so slippery and the temperature so cold, we didn't linger.

This contest ends Tuesday. The winner will get a Christmas book (see earlier post listing prize books). If you've already left a comment on an earlier post or signed up as a follower, you're already entered in the drawing. You can enter again and improve your chances of being a winner by commenting on this post.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A WRITING PET PEEVE

Books, plays, and movies have a lot in common. There's a whole different world that opens up on stage or in the pages of a book. Most people read, attend the theatre, or go to a movie to escape for a time into a fantasy world, to discover something new, or to see the ordinary from a different perspective.

I can't imagine attending a play where all of the action takes place off stage and only the emotional reaction of the major character is shown to the audience. Yet I just read a book like that. I usually read several books a week, but I struggled through this one for nearly three weeks. I kept telling myself it had to get better. Afterall, the author is a well-known and popular writer. It didn't get better and I felt cheated.

Most writers leave some of the action off stage, especially less important transitional material, but I suspect most readers want and expect something to actually happen before their eyes. Info dumps are a form of off-camera action and most readers are quite adamantly opposed to this devise. I suspect most readers are equally annoyed as was I, when they get only the reaction and not the action.

Of course action novel fans expect to see something happen, but what about character fans? Am I wrong to think these readers expect to see growth and change in the characters rather than just be told that the experience caused a change?

Writing a book is a lot like staging a play or producing a movie. Each scene is plotted out with a goal or objective the point-of-view character is trying to achieve. We see the steps he or she takes to achieve the goal. Usually a disaster occurrs to prevent achieving the goal or the goal is reached and the result isn't as expected. Then comes the sequel portion of the scene. There is a reaction, followed by the formulation of a new plan or goal. The story falls flat if the reader sees only the zooming ahead to achieve goals and it falls even flatter if the audience only glimpses reactions without any of the action. If the writer can visualize the story and allow the reader to see it unfold, the story will be much stronger and far more rewarding than the book I just finished. Remember to show---not tell. Put the action on the stage.

I'd love to hear other readers views on showing vs. telling, reaction without action, or any other peeves readers find objectionable. The current contest ends next Tuesday. Comments on my blogs on the V-Formation also count in this contest.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Book Signings

I'll be signing at the West Jordan Seagull Book store on Dec. 5 from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. Then I'll be at the Family Center in Taylorsville from 2 to 4 p.m. Come see me!

Monday, November 30, 2009

TWO WINNERS And a new contest begins




Two grandsons came to play today and while they were here they picked the winners for both contests. The winner of a copy of Stolen Christmas is Elizabeth Morgan. The winner of my regular contest is Jolynn Reads. Please send me your snail mail addresses to bhansen22 at msn dot com and JoLynn, please include a wish list of at least five (more is better)LDS novels you would like and if I have any of the books on your list one of them will be your prize. Winners must notify me by Friday or another winner will be chosen.
A new contest begins today and in keeping with the season, the prize will be a Christmas book.
Choose from the Christmas Jars by Jason Wright, The Christmas Box Miracle by Richard Paul Evans, Christmas by the Book by Beverly King, Christmas for a Dollar (booklet size) by Gale Sears, The Spirit of Christmas by Jennie Hansen, Betsy Brannon Green and Michele Ashman Bell, Santa Maybe by Aubrey Mace, or Mysterious Ways by B.J. Rowley.
Christmas isn't Christmas without stories. I about wore out my mother's copies of The Bird's Christmas Carol and The Little Matchgirl while I was growing up and I've found some new favorites in this year's new releases---read my December column on Meridian which will be coming out soon. There are some really great new releases this year. I also found through the years that there are a few Christmas stories I distinctly dislike like Dicken's Christmas Carol.
This contest will center around Christmas stories. Write a paragraph or two about your most loved or most disliked Christmas stories. If you don't have a specific favorite, tell us what kind of Christmas stories you like or which kinds most annoy you. And please don't list the nativity story from Luke, that is most people's favorite including mine, but I want to hear about your favorite fiction stories. (I particularly like the picture book When Jesus Was Born in Bethlehem which is the scriptural account illustrated with beautiful paintings by Joseph Brickey.) So think about it, and let me know how you feel about fiction Christmas stories. The contest begins now and ends December 15th at noon.

Monday, November 23, 2009

SIGNINGS

I'll be signing my new book Shudder at the Redwood Seagull Book Store this coming Friday, November 28 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Then at 2 p.m. until 4 p.m., I'll be at the Brickyard Seagull Book Store. Please come say hello.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Two Contests at Once


There's a contest currently running on this blog to win a book (winner's choice) that I reviewed on Meridian sometime during the past couple of years, but today I am starting another contest to run concurrently with that contest. The prize for the new contest will be a copy of Stolen Christmas, a collection of short stories written for LDS Publisher's Christmas writing contest. The stories are all original and range from touching to humorous. Some of the authors are well-known and some have never before been published.


Here's the backliner blurb:


By LDS Publisher, Roger Bonner, Don Carey, Laura Craner, Joyce DiPastena, Sara M. Eden, L.T. Elliot, Gussie Fick, Melanie Goldmund, M. Gray, Taegyn Hutchinson, Angie Lofthouse, Lori Nawyn, Tristi Pinkston, Brian C. Ricks, Sandra Sorenson, Janice Sperry, Christine Thackeray


What happens when you're so poor you have to steal your Christmas presents? Have you ever taken a punch in the face as your Christmas gift to the girl you love? Or saved Christmas while hunting were-weevils?


These award-winning Christmas stories are the best of the best from the LDS Publishers Story Contests. From Christmases past, to present, to future; from sweet and inspirational, and delightful - there's a story for everyone in this eclectic collection.



Why am I sponsoring this contest/give away? I didn't write any of the stories, I never read any of them before they appeared on LDS Publisher, but you see, some of the writers are friends. And most importantly one of the writers is my youngest daughter. I won't tell you which one.

The book isn't available through the usual bookstores, but is available through Amazon.com or through LDS Publisher, though I suppose most bookstores will order the book for you if you prefer to go through your local book dealer.


Here's how the contest works: Make a comment on this blog concerning Stolen Christmas, a Christmas observation or memory, or congratulate the authors of this book (ten words or more). On November 30th I'll draw a name from all of those who submitted comments and announce the winner. Only those who make comments will be eligible for this prize.


Everyone who enters this contest will be entered in my regular contest as well. Those eligible for the regular contest will be all those who comment on any of my blogs between Nov. 15 and 30th, everyone who signs up as a follower to this blog, and all of those who enter to win Stolen Christmas. Multiple entries are not only okay, but encouraged.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Thanksgiving Contest

Before we get involved with the gimmee of Christmas, it's time to stop and acknowledge that even in a difficult time, we have much to be grateful for. Too often we tend to get caught up in those things we need or want and fail to express gratitude for those things we already have.

There are a lot of things wrong with our country and some of our country's leaders, but rather than dwelling on faults and shortcomings, we should be grateful for this land which is rich in beauty, resources, and a form of government that allows us to express our disappointments, receive as much education as we are willing to work for, worship as we see fit, and where each person has individual worth. In recognizing the blessings and privileges the free world enjoys, we should acknowledge the God who gave these blessings to us and show our gratitude by respecting Him, by caring for that which we have, and by protecting the God-given right to liberty.

Abraham Lincoln expressed it well when he said, "We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in number, wealth, and power as no other Nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success we have become too self-suffricient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God who made us.

"It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended power, to confess our . . . sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness."

Most Americans, Western Europeans, and many people in other parts of the world if asked what they are grateful for will respond with the large scale items such as life, family, friends, food, shelter, country, freedom, faith in God, and overlook the many small blessings in their lives. We should be grateful for these things and we should express our gratitude to God, but there are many smaller blessings which we tend to think we earned or have a right to without ever acknowledging God's hand in these things or even the hands and minds of our fellow human beings who brought these small blessings into our lives. James E. Faust said, "One of the evils of our time is taking for granted so many of the things we enjoy."

That brings me to the question I wish to ask for the second half of November contest. Think about the things you enjoy, both the large and small. Have you ever stopped to express gratitude for those things? Sometimes just pausing to look around your immediate surroundings, we can discover a surprising number of things for which to be thankful. I am thankful for the big things I mentioned earlier, but I have a long list of small blessings I'm glad are part of my life. On my list of things I am thankful for is my computer instead of using a pen or typewriter as I did early in my career, I'm grateful for a plentiful supply of books, I deeply appreciate indoor plumbing, pencils with erasers, breathmints, a telephone at my fingertips that enables me to stay in touch with loved ones, central heating, good drinking water, a full pantry, Oreos, a dependable car, the birds who visit our backyard, the Oquirrh Mountain Temple, my editor, eyeglasses, and so many other things great and small. Now it's your turn to look around you and name some of the large and small things you are grateful for.

Your prize? The winner can send me a wish list of five or more LDS novels he or she would like and I'll send you one of them or come as close as possible to matching one of your selections.

HEIDI WINS

Heidi is the winner of the current contest. Please send me your mailing address and a list of at least five books on your wish list. If I have them, I'll choose one from your list to send to you. Contact me at bhansen 22 at msn dot com.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

NEW DEADLINE

Yes, the first contest of the month for November is supposed to end at noon today, but since today is Sunday I am extending the deadline to noon Monday the sixteenth.

Yesterday we got several inches of snow and our yard and our neighborhood look like a white wonderland. It's beautiful, but I'm not ready for winter to begin. My cousin and her husband from Alaska are visiting with us for awhile and they say the snow makes them homesick. Though I have wonderful memories of playing in the snow while growing up; playing fox and geese, ice skating, toboggan runs, trying to keep up with a dog sled, snowmen, forts and snowball fights, etc., I can't say that I experience any sense of homesickness for snow. I enjoy its beauty and love the way it covers up the ugly browness of late fall, but city traffic and snow are no fun. I don't particularly like wearing a heavy coat or boots either.

The birds that come to our yard all year around are a pleasure to watch, but there's something special about watching them swoop from the trees to the feeders and back during winter. By the way, the big hawk that poached on the birds around our bird feeders last year is back. He's beautiful and hawks have to eat too, but it saddens me each time he kills one of the littler birds.

Each time a car passes on our street, I hear the crunch of ice, and I'm thankful for central heating, a warm bed, and books to read while curled in my favorite chair before the fireplace. The first heavy snowfall of the year brings mixed feelings. I feel sad that summer is over and my flowers are gone, yet I feel a pleasant urge to turn to cozy things like hot chile, warm cocoa topped with whipped cream, baked squash sizzling with melted butter, thick clam chowder, flannel pajamas, a fire in the fireplace, and pulling the comforter up to my chin when I crawl in bed.

Here's one last chance to enter this contest. Tell me about your favorite winter thing.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

THANKS TO ALL AMERICAN and ALLIED VETERANS


I don't really have time to blog right now, but I can't bear for this day to go by without acknowledging all of the men and women who have ever served our country in a military uniform. You offered your life for freedom and many of you paid the price. Many of you were left with lingering mental or physical disabilities. Many of you came home, unheralded and quietly took up your posts as fathers, husbands, neighbors, and friends. Others still stand today between us and those who would rob the world of democracy. May God bless you all.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sisters of the Heart


It was more than a ladies night out; it was an overnight retreat complete with goodies, no kids, and an almost all-night gab fest. Last Friday and Saturday the women in my ward visited a huge lodge near Park City for this annual event. Now if this sounds like something more appropriate for a bunch of teenage girls, let me assure you it felt a bit like harking back to those teenage years, but the women in my ward decided some years back that there was a need to revisit the overnighters of their youth. They even invited the seventeen-year-olds to join them. It has proved to be a great way to ease the younger women into Relief Society, give kids and daddies (or grandparents) some bonding time, and generally enhance the close sisterhood among themselves.
It's the sisterhood among women I wish to speak about. Our guest speaker Saturday morning was Cheri Crane, author of The Fine Print and the Kate series. She spoke of "sisters of the heart." Those are the strong, enduring relationships between women who support and strengthen each other and never tear down, injure, or make each other look foolish. This is the kind of relationship we all have need of in our lives.
There's an uncomfortable amount of darkness and gloom in this world both in real life and in fiction. (This topic is being discussed on Six LDS Writers and a Frog) Is it our uneasy and often corrupt political environment, wars, drugs, pornography, abdication of parental responsibility, a lessening of morals or a combination of unpleasant factors that is creating this lack of optimism and light in the world and in modern literature? And is literature less real if it lightens the heart and brings hope?
It is my personal belief that the absence of hope is the definition of Satin's realm. I also think that along with strong families, there has never been a time when the bonds of sisterhood are more needed. Raising strong, faithful families is not easy in today's dark and negative environment. But with a sister of the heart, a strong, positive friend, the burden is lightened. I think, too, that friendships between women are another area where women can set strong examples for their children, demonstrating that love and service to each other, are stronger criteria for friendship than the superficial values such as popularity which are often mistaken for friendship.
By the standards of many, LDS fiction is often considered unrealistic because of happy endings, uplifting scenes, and its general air of hope. I believe hopelessness and despair are the devil's tools, therefore, I like stories that end with hope and optimism. I don't mean the sappy, silly 'they lived happily ever after' fairytale ending, but the ones where the characters have discovered their inner strength, have grown and stretched, and are stronger and more ready to tackle whatever future obstacles they may encounter.
Is my belief in "sisters of the heart" a reality or one of those naive believes critics throw at LDS fiction? Is hope as great a reality as despair? Is fiction less real if the characters meet loss, grief, betrayal, or injustice by growing stronger rather than revengeful? I guess I'm asking what makes fiction real for you?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Family Album

My younger granddaughter and a few friends. I have two granddaughters but the other one missed all the fun since she had to stay home with the flu.





The five-year-olds. It's hard to get a picture of them both smiling at the same time. My oldest grandson and youngest grandaughter. Aren't they a lovely pair?



My oldest daughter and her family. Her middle son ducked out of the picture, but he left a stand-in.










This is my son. Handsome fellow, don't you think?
I noticed everyone else was posting Halloween pictures on their blogs this morning, so I decided to do the same. Our family, except those with the flu met at my son's house and cooked hobo dinners in his firepit, ate way too much, some of the little ones went trick or treating, and we watched the Utah/Wyoming game and mostly talked and laughed a lot and enjoyed my daughter-in-law's fun decorations.
The first November Contest to win a free book is now officially open. I loved your comments about Halloween and favorite suspense books during the last contest. This time I'm asking for comments about memorable family experiences. The winner will have the choice of sending me a list of possible books he/she would like to win or letting me choose a surprise book for you. All you need to do to enter is post a comment on any of my blogs between now and November 15th and/or sign on as a follower of this blog. Good luck all.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

HALLOWEEN WINNER

Lisa (LISA AND RANDY)you won! Congratulations. Please send me your mailing address and a list of books for me to choose from for your second prize. Your signed copy of Shudder and one other book will be on their way to you as soon as I hear from you.

Have a happy Halloween everyone and I will start the next contest Monday.

Monday, October 26, 2009

What a Weekend!

The weekend was great, busy but great. Since our younger sister is undergoing her second marathon chemo treatment, our other sister and her husband came down for the weekend. The six day chemo treatment is over, but it is followed by two weeks of treatments I won't go into because it's confusing and makes no sense to anyone but the insurance company.

Our cousin from Alaska and her husband came for dinner and a visit Friday. It was so fun to get reaquainted with someone we were very close to when we were children, but had only seen once before as an adult. We've stayed in touch through letters and emails in the intervening years, but how fun it was to sit down at the table together and really talk. I cooked dinner and it turned out pretty well. I'm not a bad cook, but it's a challenge to prepare foods my husband who has Celiac can eat and that still tastes good (normal) to everyone else. My cousin and her husband will be staying with us for a few weeks later this year while he undergoes some medical treatments.

Saturday night, an accomodating restaurant in the downtown area, let us have a corner of their dining room to ourselves so that my sister could go out to dinner with us and not worry about exposure to others who might be less than well while her immune system is wiped out.

Saturday morning a five-year-old grandson came to visit while his mom and dad kept an appointment. We built a race track from the table leaves and had Hot Wheels races down our stairway. There's nothing like laughing with a five-year-old!

I talked to three of my daughters and my son on the phone during the weekend. No big deal; we keep in close touch with our children. I read emails from relatives that don't live nearby. So what made the weekend so great? Family. The newspapers and Internet are filled everyday with the cruelty of family members to other family members, of abuse, abandonment, and even murder within families. How grateful I am for the closeness of my family that spans generations and long distances. Writing about dysfunctional families often leads to exciting, thought provoking stories, but I'm glad I've been blessed with a family filled with love and respect for one another.

Since Shudder was released a few weeks ago, I've received a lot of questions from readers about my knowledge of abuse and I've tried to explain how someone like me is touched by abuse when the victim is a dear friend, someone I work with, or someone dear to another family member. I've received several emails from women, too, who have said they were abused, some stayed and regret it, others said they never regretted escaping to a new life, but never stopped looking over their shoulders.

In our busy lives, I am convinced that the best defense against abuse is strong families, close friendships, and showing personal concern for those around us.

This is the last week for this month's second contest. Remember the prize is a signed copy of Shudder and one other LDS suspense novel. Respond with a thoughtful comment to this blog or to any blog I've written since October 15th and/or become a follower of this blog and your name will be in the drawing Halloween Day.

Friday, October 16, 2009


I freely admit it, I'm not a fan of Halloween. I've never seen the point of celebrating creepy stuff. Perhaps if I'd grown up trick or treating like most American children, I'd feel differently, but I didn't. My mother was adamant that none of her children would go out begging, so we didn't. Except once; she let me trick or treat for UNICEF. That year when I was twelve a large group of us went out with UNICEF jars and ID badges to collect money for poor children in foreign countries. To my surprise, but not to anyone else's, most households gave us treats as well as handfuls of change.



Trick or treaters only came to our rural house on rare occasions when I was a child and my most memorable memories of this quasi holiday are associated with teenagers attempting to get past our dog to tip over our outhouse and of my brothers collecting the green pumpkins and squash from our garden to carve into fearsome faces. These they planted atop fence posts along our long lane. Using some kind of gas to create wicks which flickered when they were lit, they created an awesome scary approach to our home

.





Hmm, I remember one other Halloween event from my childhood. The school held a carnival and I spent my precious few coins on a caramel apple. I took a bite and lost a tooth.

I allowed my children when they were little to trick or treat, sewed costumes, and passed out treats at the door like all of the other moms. Actually my husband usually passed out the treats and I accompanied the kids on their foray around the block. The first year I let my two preschoolers trick or treat, I naively let them knock on every door. That ended when a completely nude man answered the door at one house. My four-year-old daughter didn't notice. She was just upset because I hustled her away before she got to say "trick or treat" or collect any candy. Her more observant two-year-old brother informed me that the man's mommy should make him put on his clothes.


Over the years various malls and businesses have sponsored trick or treat, churches and community groups often hold "trick or trunk", and schools have held carnivals to keep the children safe from predators, careless drivers, and extreme weather on Halloween night, Supposedly these events make the annual candy fest safer for children, keeps them in out of the cold, and make the evening less expensive for suburban households. These efforts aren't entirely successful since most children just do both.

I won't go into spooky houses and I don't like mean practical jokes, frightening movies and other such means teenagers and adults use to celebrate(?) the gruesome side of Halloween other than to say--not for me.

My grandson left for school this morning lugging a huge bag of candy to share with his classmates--it's the last day of school before a three week break for his year-around track so his class is celebrating Halloween early, minus costumes. His joy and excitement got me thinking about the mixed feelings I have toward this day. I like the fun small children have wearing costumes and collecting treats, but I don't like being scared or scaring others. Because most things remind me of books in some way I compared this to a really good suspense novel and a gory horror book. I like the first with all of its excitement and the urge I feel to read it straight through, but abhor the ones that paint disgusting pictures in my mind and leave me feeling a little sick. I like the uplift on finishing a suspense novel and feel a kind of pride for the human ingenuity the characters exhibited in working out a solution. Horror books just leave me depressed and disgusted.
I was a little surprised to see my new book, Shudder, classified as suspense. Yes, it is suspenseful, but I intended it to stress the social problem of date and spousal abuse. I hope readers will find it covers both areas. During this contest period which will end on Halloween, please comment on anything Halloween related or on any LDS suspense novel you have particularly enjoyed. The winner will receive a signed copy of Shudder and another suspense novel of my choosing (though feel free if you are the winner to give me a list of suspense novels you would like and if I have it, it's yours).

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Kelsi Rose is the Winner

Kelsi Rose has just won a copy of my new book Shudder. Please contact me before next Friday to give me your mailing address. contact me at bhansen 22 at msn dot com. The next contest will begin tomorrow, Friday,and I will blog tomorrow to let you know more details. Today was my second consecutive day serving in the temple and, as usual by Thursday night, I'm brain dead.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

LAST CHANCE

The current contest closes as soon as I get home from the temple tomorrow (Thursday.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Deer Hunt

I did something this weekend I haven't done for a very long time. I visited a deer camp. Mind you, I didn't stay the whole weekend, just a few hours, but it was a good reminder of why I don't go deer hunting. Never mind that I don't like venison. I swore at a very young age that when I grew up I'd make enough money that I could always eat beef and never have to touch venison. Some enthusiasts are going to say I just never had it cooked right. Wrong. I've eaten venison cooked by the best and I still don't like it. Elk, buffalo, and sundry other wild game are just fine, but venison--yuck.

Anyway my eating preferences aren't the point. What is the point is that I don't like late fall camping. I don't get huddling around a stinking, smoking fire wrapped in a heavy coat reading when I could be comfortably seated in a recliner, enjoying central heating, to read that same book. We were a considerable distance above Sun Valley and it was 17 above zero that morning. Patches of snow decorated the lower slopes and the mountain peaks sported a heavy coat of the white stuff. Dark clouds hung overhead and the deciduous trees were stripped of their leaves and color, the grass was brown and trampled by the earlier hordes of summer campers. The pines looked dark and ominous and even the stream, which was beautiful, appeared cold and unwelcoming with its bits of jagged ice at the edge of quiet eddies.
Now lest you get the impression I'm not an outdoor enthusiast, let me assure you I've always loved mountains and forests. There's no scenic spot I prefer to those filled with trees, mountains streams, and wildlife in either summer or winter. It's just that bleak period when summer is done, but winter hasn't quite arrived that I find unappealing. I don't even oppose hunting though I prefer fishing.

So why did I go? My sister was there. She'll be back in Utah before this week is over undergoing yet another round of heavy chemo---six straight days of it. I wanted to see her where she's the happiest. She and her husband love to camp year around so they had planned their usual opening day campout with their son and grandsons. The boys had been up since five tramping all over the mountains with their rifles while my sister and her husband sat in camp by the fire. They used to hunt too, but now my brother-in-law does his hunting with a camera and she isn't strong enough to hike that arduous terrain.

The boys came back into camp mid-afternoon without a deer, but didn't seem the least disappointed and began immediately making plans to go out again later after their blisters were doctored and their stomachs filled. They knew right where to look for my sister's first aid kit and her generous supply of snacks. They lamented the absence of hot chocolate. It seems one of the boys left the chocolate canister sitting out the night before. A fox found it and carried it a short distance from camp where he tore it open and pigged out on its contents. They laughed with their mother/grandmother over their failure to keep a camp rule to put everything away.

I'm glad I went. It was good to spend some unstructured time with both of my sisters. We took a short hike and I imagined how beautiful that spot would be in summer. And I saw something more. My sister was smiling and happy. She's been through so much pain and sickness and she has more ahead of her, but that day her furry hat given to her by a cousin to cover her bald head, her sparkling eyes, her rosy cheeks, and the stories and laughter she shared with her family proclaimed that life is good and worth fighting for. It was clear that getting a deer really wasn't the point of that deer camp at all.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Conference Weekend

Ladies Night at the Layton Hills Mall Deseret Book on Saturday was a lot of fun. My only complaint is that my new book, Shudder, didn't make it from the warehouse to the store in time for the signing, but I had a good time meeting people and signing my older books. Some of you were there and it was a highlight of the evening to put your faces and names together. Here are a few pictures taken that night.

l to r: Lisa Mangum, Josi Kilpack, me (Jennie Hansen), Linda Garner.




Me with Amy Miller and her son.


Me again with Lisa Bennett and her daughters.



Conference touched my heart and left me spiritually rejuvenated. I came away feeling a desire to love more, to draw my family closer, and to avoid anger. I felt my testimony strengthened by the power of those shared. I don't remember anyone speaking about food storage; which left me wondering if perhaps those who haven't gotten that message are too late. I did hear a call for sharing, kindness, and love which are certainly necessary components of family preparedness. I cheered for the areas getting new temples. I consider the Oquirrh Mountain Temple a major blessing to the people in my area and rejoice that others will be receiving the same blessing. I would like to hear what touched you about this conference.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Prize Time Again

And the winner is Melanie Goldman--again! You know the routine, send me your mom's address again along with a wish list. Since Melanie lives in Germany I can't mail her prize directly to her so her mom gets to read it first and save it for when Melanie makes her next trip to the USA.


Okay the prizes for this month's two contests will be signed copies of my own new book Shudder, which should begin showing up in bookstores this weekend. It arrived at the warehouse Tuesday afternoon. I already posted the backliner a few weeks ago. I'll award one prize for the first through fifteenth of October and the second for the last half of October. Each comment on one of my blogs during that time period will count as an entry and each follower will automatically be included in the drawing. That means the same person can be entered several times.


One of the major themes in Shudder is friendship. I feel strongly about the importance of friends, both the casual friends because we work together, are neighbors, or some such common link, but I think there's a deeper level of friendship each person, especially women need. This kind of friendship endures and as the old proverb says, "A friend loveth at all times." I've been privileged to have this kind of friends and I think most of you have too. There's the one who brought me a loaf of hot bread on my birthday, the one who continued writing to me more than forty years after we last saw each other, the one who laughed and cried with me while raising our children, the one who . . . Tell me about one of your best friends and why you love this person.

Monday, September 28, 2009

WHAT KIND OF BLOOM ARE YOU?

I ache all over. The weatherman is predicting a thirty degree drop in temperature by midweek around here along with rain, so I've been working on winterizing my garden. Plants that were lovely flowers such a short time ago are now spent and scraggly. They have to be cut down. Tree branches need trimmed, bulbs are waiting to be planted, and all of my flower beds are in need of a good protective winter coat of mulch. I'm not complaining. I like to garden, but I ache.

Summer is gone and winter is almost upon us, but there are a few hardy flowers in my garden just coming into their own. I've always had a soft spot for Chrysanthemums, not just because of their lovely appearance, but they are my birth flower, and they provide a last splash of color before fall turns to drab browns. I like, too, the way they burst into color just when all of the other flowers have given up.

In many ways I've always seen a similarity between flowers and people. Some people burst forth with all the freshness and enthusiasm of spring. They seem to always be ready for new things. Some people are more sedate and take some growing before they blossom. Some, like roses, bloom early, then stick around through the heat of summer, steady and dependable. Some, like the chrysanthemum, take their time and really don't come into their own until toward the end of their season. Some folks, like the coreopsis, thrive with little attention. Others are more like begonias and can't take too much heat. There are even some people like my fall crocuses. They send forth a few tentative leaves in the spring, then completely disappear all summer, only to burst forth with huge showy blossoms as a surprise right out of the dirt in the fall.
In a moment of whimsy, I've speculated about what kind of flower I might be. I don't think the big showy Dahlia is my style and I'm certainly not a delicate orchid. I considered the persistent dandelion, but I'm probably just a plain old morning glory complete with my moments of pretty blue flowers, even an occasional pink one, a vine that hangs on for dear life through storms, and a tendency to keep coming back. How about you? If you were a flower, what would you be?

By the way, the current contest ends in two days.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Celebrating Sisterhood Signings

Celebrating Sisterhood is coming up this Saturday. It's a fun time to be in a Seagull Book Store. Here's a schedule of locations where various writers will be signing:

American Fork Seagull Matthew Brown - Pillar of Light 10-12 , Stephanie Black – Methods of Madness 12:00-2:00, Michele Paige Holmes – All the Stars in Heaven & Counting Stars 12:00-2:00

Centerville Seagull Gales Sears – Christmas for a Dollar 10:00-12:00, Michele Bell – A Modest Proposal 12:00-2:00

Provo Eastbay Seagull Clair Poulson – Dead Wrong – 10:00-12:00, Donald Smurthwaite – Boxmaker’s Son – 12:00-2:00

Idaho Falls Seagull Gerald Hansen – Sacred Walls – 10:00-1:00

West Jordan Seagull Julie Wright – Eyes Like Mine – 10:00-12:00, Val Chadwick Bagley – Book of Mormon Bingo & Book of Mormon Art Kit – 12:30-2:00, Gary & Joy Lundberg – Love that Lasts – 12:30-2:00

Redwood Seagull Val Chadwick Bagley – Book of Mormon Bingo & Book of Mormon Art Kit – 10:00-12:00 , Jennie Hansen – High Country & Wild Card (possibly Shudder if it comes in soon enough) – 10:00-12:00, Mary Jane Woodger – For Single Saints – 12:00-2:00 , Hank Smith – Real Life – 12:00-2:00

Spanish Fork Seagull Deanna Buxton – Worldwide Ward Christmas Cookbook & Worldwide Ward Cookbook – 10:00-12:00 , Clair Poulson – Dead Wrong – 12:30-2:00

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Don't Worry; Be Happy

During the past week I haven't gotten much done as far as writing goes. That's okay; I'm sort of between books right now anyway. I have a book coming out in a couple of weeks, Shudder. There's not much I can do on it now, but hope readers and reviewers will like it. I think most writers, me included, are a bit nervous during the time a book is completely out of our hands, but not in bookstores yet.

I've also submitted a manuscript I've been working on for a year, but haven't heard yet whether it's a yes or no. That's another waiting time that makes me a bit nervous.

My column for Meridian has been turned in, but didn't run Thursday so I'm assuming it will run this Thursday. This happens several times a year, but each time I worry about it until the column is actually posted.

I have a speaking engagement next Wednesday.

I haven't started another book yet. I decided I needed a little break since life has been pretty hectic for me the past few years and I've had enough to worry about---my son-in-law who was wounded in Iraq, my father's and brother's deaths, a daughter's breast cancer, another daughter's swine flu and three bouts of pneumonia, my sister's acute leukemia, and so on. I know worrying about things I can do nothing about is a non-productive exercise. I blame it on my ancestors; I come from a long line of worriers.

The problem is; I think I've forgotten how to relax. I rush through every task, constantly feel guilty because I'm not writing, and have difficulty settling down to read or carry on a conversation.

For the past few days I've been picking up my grandson whose mom is ill and taking him with me to pick up another grandson from kindergarten who is normally picked up from school by the daughter who is ill. The cousins are just four and a half months apart in age, but one is in school and one isn't. Watching them together today reminded me of how important it is to enjoy life, but we don't have to all do it the same way.

Brandon is Mister Congeniality. Everyone is a friend and the more physical the game the better he likes it. He painted in class today and that was "awesome." He eats every bite of lunch I put before him, then puts his dishes in the sink, and washes his face. He doesn't have time to cuddle, needs a volume switch, and is on the go every minute. He also likes to figure out things for himself and is an avid fan of action video games.

Calton is slightly younger, but taller and he can read. He daydreams through lunch and never notices that his face and hands are sticky. He's a little fearful of climbing the gate or balancing on a wall, but he'll follow if his cousin leads the way. He likes to snuggle up to read a book and thrives on the more academic video games. He has a million questions about everything.
Surprisingly these two have a great time together and seem to fall into making up games where they each excel in his own way and both have a great time.

I think that like these two little boys, I need to laugh more, try new things more, and sometimes just live for the moment. I'll never be completely cured of worrying, but I don't really want to stop caring about family and friends. The boys' game today evolved into a rolling down the stairs competition. I'm not ready to go that far, but I'm going out to dinner tonight with friends we've never gone out with before and I just sent off a check to hold a reservation at the May ranch for a week next summer. It's time to rediscover fishing.

Friday, September 18, 2009

SIGNINGS!

I'll be signing books for Celebrating Sisterhood at the Redwood Seagull Book Store September 26 from ten a.m. until noon. It's doubtful my new book will be available, but please drop by and say hello. Celebrating Sisterhood is always fun!

I'll also be signing at Deseret Book's Ladies' Night in Layton on October 3 from six until eight. Hopefully my book, Shudder, will arrive by then. Layton Mall Deseret Book is a great place to be while the men are at General Priesthood meeting on conference weekend. I'd love to see any of you that can come.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

New Contest

Instead of offering a specific book to the winner of this contest, I'm going to add seven more books to those I've mentioned before as possible prizes for the winner. These seven books were all Whitney finalists for 2008. Again the winner won't be locked into selecting a specific book, but can give me a list of five or more books on his/her wish list and if possible I'll send one of those books. Bear in mind that I'll keep 2009 books that are likely to be Whitney contenders until after the Whitney presentation next spring.
Here are the seven:

Taking Chances by Shannon Guymon---a light-hearted romance that begins with the heroine, a light hearted, wealthy free spirit, inheriting her great grandmother's home in Alpine, Utah. Of course she moves next door to an attractive man who is mourning his fiancé's death and is the object of a little too much attention by way too many ladies.

Servant to a King by Sariah Wilson---Take one familiar Book of Mormon story and spice it up with a romance between Ammon and the daughter of a Lamanite King.

Abinidi by HB Moore---Another fictionalized account of a familiar Book of Mormon story. What if Abinadi was a young man, deeply in love, who faced King Noah's court and certain death?

Ruby by Jennie Hansen (me)---This is the story of the daughter of one of the mobbers who forced the saints from Nauvoo. Finding staying at home impossible, she sets out with her brother for the gold fields and discovers more than gold.

The Reckoning by Tanya Parker Mills---a remarkable story of a female reporter captured in Iraq and the power of the human spirit.

Fields of Home by Rachel Ann Nunes---When her son's father returns from the past and Mercedes learns they were tricked and lied to all those years ago when she thought he'd abandoned her, she faces serious questions concerning her marriage, her future, and her relationship with her son.

Keeping Keller by Tracy Winegar---at a time when a mentally handicapped child was considered an embarrassment and such children were sent to psychiatric hospitals, one couple decides to keep their child along with all of the complications he brings into their lives.

Some of you already have all of the Whitney finalists from last year, but those who missed out on any of these are welcome to select one as your prize if you win. All you need to do to be eligible to win a free book is make a comment concerning the Whitney Awards program on this blog and or become a follower to this blog. One more thing, though I have no way to check up on this, select one or more 2009 novels by LDS authors and nominate it/them for a Whitney. You can only nominate a particular book once, but you can nominate as many books as you like. Here's the nominating address: http://www.whitneyawards.com/nominations.php There's also a link on the lower right side of my blog page where you can click and nominate any time.

ANOTHER WINNER

My five-year-old grandson decided to help me draw a winner for the September-1 free book contest. He wanted the names in a trick-or-treat pumpkin so that's how we did it. Jackie you are the winner! Congratulations. Please contact me at bhansen22 at msn dot com to give me your mailing address and a list of at least five LDS novels on your wish list. If I have one of the books and it's not a likely contender for this year's Whitney awards, I'll send it to you. Please contact me before the end of this week.

A new contest will start tomorrow.

Friday, September 11, 2009

IN MEMORY



Every November some newscaster asks, "Where were you when President Kennedy was shot?" And I always think of my advanced college grammar class. A student burst through the door, shouting the news with tears running down her cheeks. We all made a dive for the library where there were television sets. This morning I awoke to almost the same question, "Where were you when terrorist hijackers guided planes into the twin towers in New York on this day eight years ago?"
That morning I was rushing around, getting ready for work, when one of my daughters called to tell me to turn on the TV. She was nearly hysterical because her soldier husband was on assignment in the middle east. Like most of the world I watched as the Pentagon was hit and the Pennsylvania heroes took matters into their own hands. I cried and sometimes I just stared at the television screen in numb shock, unable to understand how anyone could be so devoid of human compassion as to slaughter innocent people in such a senseless way.

The following day as I drove to work, I passed hundreds of American flags lining the streets. They too brought tears to my eyes as I thought of all the people doing such a simple thing as flying a flag to show their support for the victims' families and for our country.

Eight years later, I'm aware of all the snide comments that have been made in publications and on the internet concerning our flag. Some feel flags are silly, old fashioned, and meaningless. Some think that by insulting our flag, they're more clever and informed than the rest of us. And some imagine the flag is a symbol of some kind of tyranny. But to me, the flag stands for those occasions such as that morning eight years ago when we were a united country with our politics and prejudices taking a back seat. The flag stands for the hopes and dreams of every man, woman, and child who believes in freedom. It stands for the men and women, such as my son-in-law and the sons and daughters of friends and family, who stepped forward to protect our land, our homes, and our freedom. It means I can worship God according to my own faith and conscience; it means I can protest against elected officials with whom I disagree, and it means I can own property and follow my own dreams.

Last year while we were visiting Washington DC where my son-in-law was still being treated at Walter Reed, we visited the memorial at the Pentagon. I find myself thinking today of all those who died there that day. Even at the Pentagon, there were small children who died, innocent passengers on the hijacked plane.

With the passage of time, we tend to distance ourselves from that tragic day. Some think it was just New York that was affected, but that isn't true and we need to remember the soldiers, firemen, and airline passengers from all over this country that died or were injured. Not all of the victims were Americans; some were visitors from other lands. In addition to the huge loss of human life there were massive financial repercussions, but perhaps the saddest loss of all is the loss of innocent trust. Curiosity about other beliefs and customs has been replaced with suspicion of differences.
Yet as long as I see the star spangled banner floating in the air, I continue to have hope for a better tomorrow, a belief in the innate goodness of people, and a fervent belief that freedom is worth striving for.
Where were you when you heard of the 9/11 tragedy?

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A Different Choice

I just got home from a football game. Now those who know me well know that me and football just don't go together. But my grandson, Nathan was playing, so what could I do? He's thirteen and this is his first year playing. His older brothers are both cross-country runners--good ones too--but Nathan prefers football to running though football calls for a good amount of running. His team won too, 22-0! He's fast and he could be an excellent runner, but he chose a different sport and is very happy with his choice, bruises and all.

Many times in life we're faced with choices. We can go the way others have gone and be perfectly happy doing so, but there are times when something inside of us chooses a different path and that's fine too. Not all choices are between good and bad. Sometimes we have to choose between two acceptable alternatives and our decision makes all the difference in our life experiences.

I once struggled between becoming a teacher or going into law enforcement. Both are honorable careers, but something inside me said I should write and I became a reporter. Life has also given me ample opportunities to teach in my home, in church callings, and I did a little substitute teaching on both the elementary and collegiate levels. My work as a reporter and my writing careeer have given me a taste of law enforcement, which it turns out is enough in that field for me.

For a year my church calling placed me working with mentally handicapped children where someone compared the shock and surprise a parent experiences when she is expecting a baby and is filled with dreams of the marvelous things that child will accomplish in his/her life then when the child is born, learns the child's mind doesn't function the way she had expected, to a traveler who plans a fantastic vacation in Rome, but when her plane lands discovers she's in Holland instead. They're both beautiful destinations, but there is a definite need for a mind shift.

Life is like that. Some choices are made willingly, even eagerly with an understanding of where that choice will lead, some choices are unexpected and seem to be made for us. Sometimes we look back and wonder where life might have led us if we'd made the other choice. Sometimes we resent the choices thrust upon us. But no matter whether we choose willingly or the choice is thrust upon us, we can always control our attitude toward the place where we currently find ourselves. We can choose to continue onward on the path we're on, we can pick a new direction, and we can choose to be happy on whichever path we find ourselves.

Parents often discover that when a child is grown he/she chooses a life much different from the one they had envisioned for their child. That's where a wise parent accepts the child's agency along with the career choice, college, or mate the child chooses. A black friend told me that when her white fiance announced their engagement to his parents, her future mother-in-law was upset and tried to talk her son out of the marriage until he reminded her that all of his life she had prayed that he would find a worthy companion he could take to the temple and that the woman he'd chosen was worthy and ready to go to the temple. The mother-in-law reflected on this for a moment and decided her son was right. She'd prayed for worthiness, not color, and her prayer was answered. My friend says she and her mother-in-law are the best of friends and both laugh now over the story.

Writers need to remember, too, that their characters must face choices and those choices have consequences. Characters who always make the "right" choices aren't realistic. When a character comes to a crossroad, the writer must study carefully where the different options will lead and which choice a character, if real, would actually make. Even surprise choices, which are often what makes a story unique and memorable, must be in keeping with the personality and convictions of the character making the choice.

We may be surprised to find ourselves in Holland when we were expecting Rome, but that's the way real life happens, so be prepared to enjoy tulips and windmills even if you're expecting something entirely different.

I'd love to hear about choices you made that were different or about a situation you found yourself in, not of your choosing, and how you dealt (or are dealing) with it.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Interview

GG Vandagriff who writes for Meridian magazine and author of The Last Waltz, one of my favorite books published by an LDS author this year, interviewed me last week. The interview is posted on Meridian Magazine http://www.ldsmag.com/books/090904hansen.html this morning.

This post is going to be short this morning because it's cool enough to work outside and it's about time I thinned out the weeds in my flower beds.

Monday, August 31, 2009

SARAH AND TRENT ARE WINNERS

Sarah and Trent are the winners of the second contest for August. Please send me your mailing address and a list of five or more LDS Fiction books you'd like to own, but don't. If I have one of them and it isn't a 2009 strong possibility for a Whitney award, that will be your prize. If none of the books you list are available, I'll ask for a second wish list. Please notify me by Friday.

The first of September contest begins now and will end at noon on September 15. Remember everyone who comments on any of my blogs between now and the fifteenth and/or is a follower on this blog is eligible for the drawing. You can comment on each blog I post and be entered more than once.

Even though many people start a new school year in August, September will always be associated with back to school in my mind. It's also a time when summer comes to an end and the rich colors of fall and a return to regular pastimes occurs. I'm not sure why, but autumn is always my internal "new year."

Every season has its good points, but early fall brings a break from intense summer heat, begins a new routine, and is filled with the most vibrant colors of the year. I think my favorite thing about fall is the food that belongs to the season. The garden is filled with new potatoes and corn, two of my favorites. And peaches! Warm peaches picked from a tree in the backyard, so juicy there's a steady stream down my arms and the faces of my grandchildren. Crisp apples, mellow pears, and fat squash. These are hard to beat. So tell me what does September or early fall mean to you?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

NEW COVER




It may come as a surprise to most people, but authors don’t get a lot of say on either the title or the cover of their books. We wait, nervously chewing our fingernails, to find out what title has been chosen to grace our offerings and what the cover is going to look like. Most of the time I’ve been satisfied with both and a few times my publisher has actually kept my working title for the book’s official title. This time I had nothing to do with either. Shudder fits , but doesn’t even come close to my working title--Until Forever. I didn’t have so much as a hint what the artists were working on for my cover. I wasn’t certain I liked it at first, but it has grown on me. Maybe it’s the eyes; they don’t look scared enough.
Here's the blurb from the back of the book:
Darcy and Clare grew up as best friends, sharing trials and triumphs from preschool through college graduation. Now they're sharing an apartment in Boise, Idaho where Clare just landed a great job and Darcy is pursuing a teaching certificate. There's only one problem: Blaine, Clare's boyfriend. His chauvinistic, know-it-all ways set Darcy's teeth on edge. Darcy vows not to let Blaine ruin her lifelong friendship with Clare, but when Blaine insists on moving in, Darcy suddenly finds herself alone.


The estranged friends forge ahead on seemingly separate paths. Engaged to Blaine, Clare becomes trapped in ugly family politics and vicious treatment from her finace. Darcy finds a temporary home with Karlene, an accident victim seeking live-in help, but a twisted plot soon threatens their safety. Clare's wedding briefly reunites her with Darcy, yet the friends have never been farther apart. And when Clare finds herself in mortal peril and finally calls upon Darcy to help, it might be too late.


I’ll post the first chapter on my web page shortly. My daughter, Janice, is my webmaster and she has pneumonia, so needless to say, I won’t be pressuring her to hurry. The book has almost six weeks until its release date so there’s plenty of time. Until then I'd love to know what you think of the cover.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

and the winner is . . .

Haikuamy is the name drawn to win two prizes! Gale Sears will send her a copy of The Route and I will send her a book of her choice as soon as she sends me her address and a list of books to choose from.

As usual, the new contest begins now. Instead of announcing particular books as prizes this time, I'm going to focus on choices. Later I'll post some of my views on choices, but to begin this contest I'm just asking readers to post a list of five or six books you don't own, but would like to. They can be old or new, but must be LDS fiction. Please tell us why at least one of those books has caught your fancy.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

EXCUSES

I've never been patient with excuses, but it seems I've done a lot of making excuses this summer for not posting blogs more often. Between my sister's illness and some tight, but necessary writing deadlines, I haven't found much time to blog. The death of my desktop computer hasn't helped either. My editor and I are down to the wire now finishing the edit of Shudder which is to be released October 1. This book is contemporary and part suspense, part romance, and part social issue. As soon as the cover is finalized, I'll post a picture. There's already an early sample of the cover posted on Deseret Book and on Covenant's sites. I won't say this book was fun to write because it made me relive some painful memories some special women shared with me, yet it is a book I've known for a long time that I would write. I don't yet know how many reviewers copies my publisher's marketing department will make available, but if any of my readers post reviews on your blogs and are interested in reviewing Shudder, please let me know and I'll try to get enough copies for you.

I've finished my historical/western WIP and just need to get it submitted. That has kept me busy. With a special on Gerald Lund and his new book, The Undaunted, and my regular review column to prepare this month, I've certainly been challenged. Reviews this month will include two outstanding mysteries. I can already predict Whitney judges in the mystery/suspense category are going to have a difficult time picking a winner. Not only are these two by Josi Killpack and Stephanie Black exceptional, but there have been a few other outstanding ones in this category so far this year. Please get busy and get your nominating votes in.

Now for a reminder. The current contest ends in two days. The winner will receive two books, The Route by Gale Sears and a book from my bookshelf. Submit a list of your choices and if it is available, it's yours. There are two ways to enter the contest, become a follower of my blog and/or comment on any of my blogs posted since the first of August.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

FANTASTIC OR BORING?

If you’ve ever had a friend recommend a book to you, one he or she has gushed over, and found when you tried to read it that it was endless, boring drivel, then welcome to the world of reality. Or perhaps you’ve been on the opposite side, giving a glowing account of a book that made an impact on you, only to find family and friends consider the same book to be ho hum. Fortunate and few are the authors who manage to appeal to a wide cross-section of readers.

People are different and their tastes vary, that’s why we have different genres of fiction. In fact, most people don’t find a single genre appealing throughout their entire life. As I trace my own fiction preferences, I started out being crazy about animal books: The Black Stallion, Old Yeller, The Yearling, My Friend Flicka, Lassie, Tiger! Tiger! From there I jumped to mythology and fairy tales, followed by the usual mystery and adventures of Nancy Drew, Trixie Beldon, The Hardy Boys, and Tarzan. I went through a Perry Mason phase, a Martian Chronicles phase, and a Louis L’Amour phase before falling in love with epic novels such as Exodus, The Big Fisherman, the Delderfields, The Far Pavilions, The Winthrop Woman, and Desiree. For years I loved romances, then moved on to romantic suspense and historical. I now enjoy a broad spectrum of genres, but continue to like books filled with action. Since I review LDS fiction for Meridian Magazine, I’m glad that LDS fiction now comes in so many different genres.

I find something I like in almost every LDS novel I read, though granted, I have to look pretty hard in some. Some books, I don’t care so much for, fail to appeal to me because of personal taste. They might be well-written for their particular genre, but they don’t appeal to me. Other times a book isn’t particularly well written, but the research and basic story are so interesting I like the book anyway.

Some readers enjoy a slow leisurely read while others crave action. Some enjoy stories based primarily on the characters and their thought processes and evolution. Still others are more interested in following a convoluted plot than concerning themselves with the twists and turns going on in the characters’ minds. Fantasy is popular now because it provides total escapism from this world’s problems. Romance is always popular because almost everyone falls in love at some time, or hopes to, and can relate to the emotions and crisis involved in finding a perfect mate. There are those who feel they are learning something as well as being entertained when they read historical novels. Others thrive on the challenge of outwitting the characters in a book (or the author) to solve a mystery.

I’ve served as a judge for quite a few writing contests and I write a review column for an internationally recognized online magazine which are the reasons, I assume, that I’m sometimes asked what makes one book good or successful and another not so good. I can only answer with my own personal criteria. First is something I call personal appeal. The subject matter or premise of the book must be appealing to the reader. Next is packaging. This means a cover that stirs a potential reader’s imagination. Then follows style and accuracy. The first page of a book needs to start where the real story begins, using words that intrigue or capture attention, copy errors must be at a minimum, and font and print size need to be right for the projected audience. The heart and meat of a novel are plot and characters. Readers who find they care nothing for the characters in a novel aren’t likely to finish the book and they won’t recommend it to their friends. If the plot is soft and predictable, the reader has no reason to continue turning pages. A book can be a good book if it accomplishes all this for one person. But unless it accomplishes all this for a large number of readers, most people won’t consider it a success.

Surprise! Surprise! There is no magic formula for writing a perfect super successful novel. Not even J. K. Rowling managed to appeal to everyone. Just as people and their individual tastes vary, so do the imaginations of readers and writers. Some writers’ imaginations are too extreme, too dull, or too repetitive for some readers even if other readers find them just right. Most writers can only aspire to appeal to a large enough group of readers with like imaginations to develop a profitable following.

If someone tells me a book is great, I’ll probably give it a try, but I’m not surprised when I don’t like it as much as they do. And if I sing the praises of a certain book, it’s fun if others agree, but I’m never surprised if it doesn’t strike the same chord in another book lover as it does for me. Sometimes two or more readers discover they like the same book and tell their friends, who like it too, that’s how a book becomes a best seller. So keep sharing with your friends the titles of books you like. You’ll agree on the merits of some and disagree on others, but that’s part of the fun of being able to read.

Tell me about your favorite books, especially the LDS ones. Or share experiences you've had where you and a friend have disagreed on whether a book was really good or really bad. Those who sign up as followers on my blog will be automatically entered in this contest and the winner will receive The Route from author Gale Sears and another book of his/her choosing from my bookshelf.

Friday, July 31, 2009

WINNER ANNOUNCED/NEW CONTEST BEGINS

LYNELLE in Seattle is the winner for the second July contest. CONGRATULATIONS! Please contact me at bhansen22 at msn dot com to let me know which book you would like and to let me know where to send it.



The prize for this month's contest is a new book, The Route by Gale Sears. The winner will also get his or her choice of books from previous contests which haven't yet been claimed. The contest begins now and runs until noon August 15. I enjoyed this book and reviewed it for Meridian. You can read the review here.







Gale said this about her book:



For several years I had the privilege of delivering meals to an interesting contingent of seniors. They had varied backgrounds, temperaments, and ailments, and over the months I grew close to them—even the cranky ones.
They made me laugh and cry: Tom from China with his amazing agility at age 93, Mary with her coke bottle glasses and wicked sense of humor, and Goldie with her ever positive outlook on life. There were many others in my rogue’s gallery, and each gave me a gift. Not a tangible gift (although Tom often gave me Godiva chocolates wrapped carefully in a baggie), but gifts of insight, a proportioned world view, and a whole bunch of fun. While serving them, I came to understand that one day I would put on one of those rumpled suits of old age, and my wise and zany older friends gave me a road map for navigating there more gracefully.

As the years passed I watched them confront challenges and changes. I worried with them over errant children and grandchildren. I shared in their positive perseverance. Then circumstance pulled me off to other commitments and I had to leave my aged chums. I admit, I cried. I knew I would miss them—even scrawny, acerbic Viola, with her footwear of pink Keds, and her body adorned in brightly colored dusters, cinched around the waist with a man’s brown tie.
I mourned for a time as my delivery days came and went, and then I hatched this brilliant idea to write a book about my adventures among these wondrous and wacky older folks; that way I could relive times with them, and relearn the lessons they taught me. So, I wrote The Route. I send this little tome out to the world, hoping that others will come to love my gaggle of seniors as I did.


Thanks Gale for helping me out at this hectic time.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Apologies

This past month became unexpectedly chaotic for me and I haven't posted as much as I intended. My younger sister has leukemia and has been hospitalized here in Salt Lake for a month. She's had some really bad reactions to some of the medication and I've spent a lot of time at the hospital with her. The rest of my family lives in another state and have come to help when they could. In fact another sister came last weekend to spend time with our sister and to give me a chance to work on the edit for my next book which is due to be released October first. I don't have the cover yet, but I will post it as soon as I get it. The title will be Shudder. This book has been on my mind for many years. I knew I would write it long before I did.

This will be brief. I want to remind everyone that the current contest ends this Friday at noon. Writers of any comments on any of the blogs I've written here or on the V-Formation since July 15th will be eligible for the drawing. I'm adding another chance to win as well. Anyone who links to this blogsite as a follower (on the sidebar) will be added to those who make comments and will get another entry in the drawing.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

DREAMING OF BECOMING A WRITER?

It seems to me that most people can be divided into two groups; starters and finishers. Yes, I’m aware there is another category often termed the “do nothings,” but I’m not going there today. I’m talking about busy people, people who see tasks to perform, people who set out to do things, people who are not adverse to hard work.

My husband is a starter. There are so many things he sees that need doing. He draws plans on graph paper, he makes dozens of trips to Home Depot and Lowes, he reads the online specs on appliances and tools, he sends for patterns, he buys lumber, screws, nails, tools, switch covers, paint, seeds, etc. The problem is there’s still a wall and half to be finished in the basement, one basement room lacks a ceiling, there’s a hole where a bench should be on our deck, wall chips have been spackled but not painted, the fence has been pressure washed, but the painting is only half complete, two barrels meant to hold strawberry plants sit empty. He buys a few items at a time for a project then makes many trips to purchase the other items as he needs them. It’s not that he doesn’t work hard or set great goals. He just has too many projects going at once and he starts new projects before the current one is finished.

I’m a finisher. If I start a project, I want it finished before I tackle the next one. I have a hard time setting down a book I’m reading and I read only one book at a time. I wipe down cupboards and sweep the floor before I consider the dishes done. I hate being interrupted when I’m writing, weeding my garden, or even doing a Sudoku puzzle. Whatever task I set for myself, I want to finish it before I start something else. I make detailed shopping lists and check off each item on the list as I shop, so I won’t have to go back to the store. Unfinished projects annoy me until I get them finished. My problem is getting started. I put off projects until a better time. I plan to begin when I have a large block of time, or when the weather is better. I can’t write until the bed is made, dishes done, and the floor is clean. I find excuses not to begin.

My husband and I probably accomplish more together than we would separately because he pushes me to begin projects I’ve put off and I nag him to finish ones he’s started. We’re neither one entirely successful, but together we do manage to get a lot done.

I’ve been writing most of my life and I’ve met many other writers. As I’ve talked with them, I find writers also fall into these categories. There are those who plan to write a book someday, but who never actually start. And there are Starters who begin one manuscript after another, but never finish one and see it through to publication. Then there are Finishers who have to force themselves to get that first chapter down on paper, then stick with it until they reach that satisfying moment when they can say, “It’s done and sent off to a would-be publisher.”

People frequently ask me where I get my ideas and my writer friends tell me they also hear that question a lot. For me, ideas aren’t hard to find; almost any chance conversation, news story, or something I see will start the ideas flowing. Sitting down and actually putting those first words on paper are the hard parts. For others, starting comes as easily as ideas pop into their heads, but they get another idea and start another story, then another and finishing becomes the problem.

This is where anyone who is serious about becoming a published author needs to take stock; ask yourself whether you’re a starter or a finisher. Once you’ve determined this, it’s time to find a strategy for overcoming your weakness and capitalizing on your strength. Even if a Starter spends all day staring at a blank screen, it is a beginning. Finishers should jot down those brilliant ideas for another book and stick them in a drawer; to be written later. The solution may be as simple as joining a support or critique group and using the other members to keep you on task. Some writers function best by setting goals such as start on such and such a day and time, write two hours, two pages, or whatever each day, or select a designated nagger such as a spouse or editor to report to on a regular basis. If you’re a starter you must find a way to finish or your efforts are in vain. If you’re a strong finisher, then discipline yourself to begin.

The important thing to remember is books that are never started remain idle dreams. Books never finished don’t get published.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

CRYSTAL WINS/NEW CONTEST ANNOUNCED

CRYSTAL WINS! Please contact me at bhansen22 at msn dot com to tell me which book you would like and to give me your mailing address.

NEW CONTEST BEGINS

When I switched from journalism to writing fiction, I never even considered writing for the LDS market until a chance meeting with Darla Isaaksan, the new editor at Covenant, brought about a suggestion that I submit a manuscript I was concerned about to her. It had already been accepted by a New York publisher, but I was uncomfortable with the changes the editor there wanted me to make. In three weeks Darla accepted my manuscript and offered me a far better deal than the national publisher had.

Occasionally I’m asked why I didn’t submit to an LDS publisher first. There were two reasons. First I hadn’t read many LDS novels and hadn’t been impressed with the few I had read. And second there just weren’t many LDS novels being published at that time and the audience for such books was reportedly so small it was almost nonexistent. With my acceptance of a contract with Covenant, I looked around to see who else was writing LDS novels, aimed at the LDS market. I was already aware of Jack Weyland and Susan Evans McCloud, two of the better writers at that time, but both seemed better at short stories than full length novels and their books were aimed at a younger audience than I envisioned reading my work. I read Dean Hughes and Chris Heimerdinger, but again their books were for young readers. Hughes was already known as an excellent national Childrens author. Then I discovered a couple of stand alone books by Gerald Lund. Here was an author who set out to entertain LDS adults.

Soon Lund began his The Work and the Glory Series, Dean Hughes proved he could write engaging adult fiction with Children of the Promise, and Heimerdinger’s Tennis Shoes’ characters matured. Dozens of other LDS fiction writers’ names became familiar and soon almost all LDS fiction readers could choose from a wide array of excellent writers and titles. My first forays into the world of book signings paired me with Chris Heimerdinger or Gerald Lund. I learned a great deal from these two gentleman. Strangely I didn’t even meet Dean Hughes until we were both awarded the 2007 Whitney Lifetime Achievement awards together.

This is the month we honor pioneers so I’m offering books by these fiction pioneers for prizes for the rest of July. Eddie Fantastic was Heimerdinger’s first book with Covenant. In 2008 it was reissued with a great new cover, corrections, and in some cases plot improvements. It could probably lay claim to being the first LDS science fiction novel. After Dean Hughes finished his mega selling series, Children of the Promise and Hearts of the Children, there was a bit of unfinished business as far as his readers were concerned. He promised to someday finish Diane’s Story. He did that with Promises to Keep. Gerald Lund’s The Work and the Glory series revolutionized LDS fiction. The quality of writing has often been criticized, but even critics agree that the series did more than any dry historical account to acquaint our present generation with the events surrounding the Church in those early years. The Steeds became real to millions of people and quotes from the book became part of the popular vernacular of Church members. I have duplicate copies of volumes 5, 6, and 7 and the winner may choose one of those, Eddie Fantastic, or Promises to Keep.

And just in case the winner already has all of these well-known books or would simply like something else, you can choose the book by Linda Higham Thomson based on the musical Saturday’s Warrior, which was a landmark pioneer in LDS stage productions or my own debut novel, Run Away Home.

To be eligible for one of these prizes leave a comment in the comment trail of this blog expressing your views of early LDS fiction, of how you think it has progressed, and share the direction you’d like to see future books take in this market. The contest closes at noon July 31.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

SPECIAL DAY

I have two grandaughters. The youngest one, Alena, was baptized today. She looked like a princess and was bubbling over with excitement. I'm awfully proud of her. Afterward her mom and dad hosted a luncheon in their backyard and all of the cousins had a grand time playing together while the older kids and adults gorged ourselves on potato salad and brownies. I've not blogged much during this contest period. As most of you know my younger sister is extremely ill with acute leukemia and is hospitalized here in Salt Lake. Since I'm the only family she has in Utah, I'm spending as much time as possible with her. This weekend her son and his wife are here so I've had a little more time to write (I'm at 87,000 words now and heading into the wrapup scenes). This is the book that would have been The Diamond if my publisher hadn't decided to end my Bracelet series with just four books and should not to be confused with Shudder which will be released October 1. This month's first contest is also heading into its wrap up. It ends Wednesday, the 15th at noon so there's still time to comment and get your name in the drawing. I'll accept any sustantive comment on fiction, patriotism, or whatever may be on your mind.