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


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


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: There's also a link on the lower right side of my blog page where you can click and nominate any time.


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


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


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 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.