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


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 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 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


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


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.