Saturday, October 31, 2009


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


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.