Friday, July 31, 2009


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


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


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


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


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.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


My little sister arrived in this life without any hair. When she finally got some, it was so wispy and white, it was hard to see. Our dad kept both her hair and mine in short Dutch cuts, but hers broke, spiked, and stood out at odd angles, which was strange because I was the one who chewed on my hair if it got long enough to put it in my mouth. When she was six and lost a few teeth we teased her about being our little jack-o-lantern. We both dreamed of long, glorious golden curls like our cousin who had ringlets that fell in immaculate order to her waist. We hated our straight, pale, spider-web hair. In our make-believe games we always had long gorgeous manes of curly hair.

When my sister was in the first grade she was given a part in the school play as a ballerina though she’d never had a single dancing lesson. I don’t remember whether she danced, sang, or had lines to speak; I only remember how in awe I was of how beautiful she looked in that pink ruffled tutu and with her straw-like hair in curls. She was the prettiest girl in the school.

As teenagers we used to spend a lot of time swimming in a large canal (the farmers in the area boasted that it was large enough to turn a bus around in it). The canal ran through our farm and at a place where various head gates allowed water to run into smaller ditches and canals a large pool formed. That was where we and most of the local kids congregated to swim. My hair was long then and an elastic band kept it in a pony tail and out of my eyes while I swam. My sister’s hair wasn’t long enough for a pony tail and when it was wet it fell around her face in unflattering strings. A friend with a convertible often took us and a few friends to the drive-in movie after a long hot day of thinning beets that culminated in a plunge in the canal. Later when my sister would see her reflection in the mirror before we crawled into bed, the sight of her wind-dried hair filled her with despair.

She was the first to invest in a curling iron. I was sure the thing would burn her hair or leave it kinked and nasty looking. But after I saw the lovely curls she painstakingly created, I decided I needed a curling iron too. Though she’s younger than I am, she was far more adventurous than me, when it came to experimenting with make-up, perms and new hairstyles, or fashions. Her hair darkened to blonde before mine did and suddenly she had great hairstyles and I was left with plain and boring.

As a busy young mother and avid swimmer, my sister’s hairstyles tended toward the practical with her blonde hair kept in short, boyish styles though she continued to seek professional cuts and styles.

One morning two weeks ago my sister announced that she’d just gotten the best haircut she’d ever had. That afternoon she got a telephone call that changed everything.

Today she is back to no hair. The heavy chemo treatment for her acute leukemia caused it to fall out in thick clumps and a nurse just finished shaving off what was left so that it won’t annoy her any longer.

Hair seems like a silly thing to think or write about when she is so terribly ill and there’s so much more than her hair at stake. Yet hair symbolizes in a way the relationship between us. We share so many memories that are unlike those shared with anyone else, we argued and competed yet knew no one else would ever stand up for us the way the other would, we admired and applauded each other’s achievements, we cried together over disappointments small and large, we grieved together over lost loved ones, and we knew each other’s secrets.

With my sister I learned to swim, to stand up for myself, to give-in gracefully, the thrill of a good book shared, to shop but always save enough for a hamburger and fries, the scariest experiences can be borne if they’re shared, kittens are for cuddling, New Year’s Eve babysitters should demand double pay, flowers make life beautiful, and friends are to be treasured. She taught me that a sister is a necessity and if the biological ones aren’t available, then make sisters out of friends and daughters.

It may seem odd, but when I look at her today, I don’t see blotched, red and swollen skin, a bald head, and a profusion of tubes. I see a little girl in a pink ballerina dress with a pile of golden curls atop her head, I see a giggling mermaid, I see a jack-o-lantern smile. I see my sister.