Tuesday, January 26, 2010


A number of things have been running through my mind today. First let me tell you about my nephew who is on the board of directors for an orphanage in Haiti. His group is trying very hard to collect tents for their orphans and for other orphanages they are in contact with in that unfortunate country. He's been working around the clock trying to get children who are already in the adoption process out of the country and the adoptions completed to make room for all of the new orphans who need help. These children need shelter and that means tents. Because transportation is a problem, he says it's better to donate money than to try to ship tents. He's urging donations in two ways, 1) the LDS humanitarian effort (donations can be made by marking the Humantarian Aid box on any ward or branch tithes and offerings form and enclosing a check) or 2) donate through Shelter Box at http://www.shelterboxusa.org/. The LDS Humanitarian effort has provided many of the tents the Foyer de Sion orphanage is currently using, but more are needed. One ward in Idaho has been working for a couple of years to make a hundred quilts to donate to a humanitarian cause. They've decided to send their quilts to the Foyer de Sion orphanage and a company that processes fish has agreed to transport the quilts to Miami where my nephew will arrange transportation to Haiti. I have been deeply touched by the generosity of people in this country and other countries who have opened their hearts and wallets to the people of this poor, tragedy stricken nation.

For the past three weeks I've been reading as fast and furiously as possible. I was asked to be one of the judges to help whittle down the Whitney nominees to five finalists in two of the categories. I had already read most of the books in one category and enjoyed the few I hadn't previously read. The other category was much harder because I hadn't read or even heard of most of the nominees. Most are not as well edited as those in the first category either, which made reading them more difficult. But I'm excited to announce I finally finished reading them all. I can easily pick the one I liked best in each category, but placing the rest in numerical order is going to be much harder.

One of my daughters had a serious close brush with death a few days ago. This sudden, unexpected emergency threw my whole family into a tailspin, but it also left me extremely grateful for my children and their closeness to each other. It also reminded me of how a strong, loving ward expresses their love for one of their own. Children were cared for and comforted, blessings given, meals prepared, and messages relayed. The first couple of days family accomplished these things, now we have a hard time finding helpful things to do because the ward is rallying around this little family.

Each day I get a little spiritual thought from LDSNuggets. Today's was a quote by James E. Faust. It particularly struck a chord within me and I decided to pass it on since it is particularly pertinent to the turmoil and trials our world faces at this time and the questions we have concerning the future. "'As we look into the future, we are going to need to be stronger and more responsible for our choices in a world where people “call evil good, and good evil.” We do not choose wisely if we use our agency in opposition to God’s will or to priesthood counsel. Tomorrow’s blessings and opportunities depend on the choices we make today.'"

Saturday, January 16, 2010


JOLYNN READS and SUZANNE PERRY are the winners of a CD copy of High Country or any book I reviewed on Meridian last year that hasn't already been claimed by a previous winner. Send a list of five options (books you would like) and your mailing address to bhansen22 at msn dot com.

For Christmas my son and his wife gave my husband and me a weekend at the Homestead in Midway and this is the weekend we were to go. We had a great time and it is beautiful up there. It is the reason I didn't announce winners yesterday. Last night as we slowly dined on prime rib before a beautiful fireplace, a number of thoughts flitted briefly through my mind.One of those thoughts involved the next contest on this blog. What if the prizes were limited to books that featured snow? When I got home I discovered there aren't many LDS novels set in a snowy backdrop other than Christmas books and the Willie and Martin Handcart tragedies. So here are the books I found that are set in snow.

A train to Potevka by Mike Ramsdell. This is the story of an American intelligence agent who becomes trapped in Eastern Russia and must make his own way out of the country sometime between 1988 and 2002.

Through Deepening Trials by Robert H. Moss, a man who served an LDS mission at Martin's Cove and became deeply entrenched in the story, the location, and the faith of the people who met tragedy there in the late fall of 1856.

Winter fire by Rachel Ann Nunes a touching love story linked to the social issue of foster care.

The Best of Times by Anita Stansfield the beginning of a new series that takes place at a Dickens style bed and breakfast.

There are others, I'm sure.

Though it was extremely cold, I enjoyed walking toward the main building for breakfast this morning and watching several small groups of deer who had wandered onto the resort property.

I'm not a person who ordinarily indulges in winter vacations or activities anymore, but I do enjoy watching wildlife summer or winter. Another writer, one of my favorites, who enjoys the outdoors a great deal is Clare Poulson. His adventure books nearly always include the outdoors and wildlife. So I'm adding all of his books except Relentless to this contest's possible prizes.
Winners will be chosen at the end of the month from those who make comments during the next two weeks on any of my blogs and those who sign up as followers.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Reading Whitneys

I haven't done much blogging this month, I'm mostly avoiding Face Book, and the amount of writing I've done is zilch. I've been busy reading. I'm not reading just anything; I haven't even spent much time with the newspaper. It's the Whitneys. At some insane moment in the past I agreed to be one of those people who reads nominees in an effort to whittle down their numbers to a managable five finalists. And I'm doing this in more than one category. I won't say which categories, but one has some really great nominees and one has . . . well, let me say . . . a few really good ones.

I've made some observations during my reading: 1) copy editing is a lost art at most publishing houses, 2) some writers have more friends than talent, 3) when LDS writers are good, they're really good, 4) realistic dialog improves a story while course, vulgar language detracts, 5) LDS writers run the full gamut from silly, sappy, boring, negative, sloppy research, to funny, realistic, great research, thought provoking, and enlightening. Some write the same old boring drivel over and over and some have keen imaginations and powerful messages to deliver, and 6) sometimes within a single book some writers write brilliantly for awhile and childishly in other sections.

Over the many years I've been writing, I've discovered readers vary as widely as writers do. There are some who like the predictable Barbara Cartland type romance; some will only read novels if they're closely linked to Church history; some consider fictionalized novels loosely based on a scriptural event or time period sacrilegious, some want lowest denominator novels that dwell on Church members weaknesses and shortcomings, complete with raw vocabulary; some want stories that are strictly imaginative with no direct reference to the church---but with the language cleaned up; some don't care whether there's a Church link or not as long as the book is entertaining; some like social issues; some want mystery and adventure, some consider genre fiction beneath them and seek what they consider literary only; some like to mull over a novel for weeks on end, and others prefer quick reads.

Fortunately I like to read and find it interesting to sample so many different styles and topics. So far I've only found one book that was so lacking in appeal that I only read the first sixty pages, then touched briefly on subsequent chapters and read the final one. I liked one I expected to dislike and was bored by one by an author I usually enjoy a great deal. Some are pretty much what I expected, good or bad. I have five and a half books left to go---then there are the new books I need to read and review for my Meridian column and one I agreed to edit for one of my daughters. Perhaps one day, I'll find time to write again.

The winner for the previous contest never claimed her prize, so I will draw two winners this time, one from followers and commenters and one just from commenters.

Friday, January 1, 2010


Ann Moony is the winner of the audio version of High Country or a book of her choice from last year's offerings. Ann please contact me at bhansen22 at msn dot com by Tuesday Jan. 5 to give me your mailing address and to let me know which prize you have selected.

The new contest begins today. Leave a comment at the end of this blog and/or sign up as a follower to be eligible for a drawing to win a free book. Each time you comment on one of my blogs between now and January 15 you will receive another chance to win. Any book I reviewed on Meridian last year, and some from previous years, can be your prize (unless already claimed by a previous winner).

Newspapers, magazines, and television channels are full of year end wrap-ups of the best and worst of 2009, so I propose we do the same for LDS fiction. If anyone wants to do a top and bottom ten, okay, but I'm only going to ask for a top three best. I hope everyone got their Whitney nominations in, if not you're too late. Anyway I think it's safe now to ask which three novels by LDS authors published in 2009 did you enjoy most? I'm also going to ask which LDS novel is your all-time favorite? I seldom agree with anyone else's top ten best or worst dressed, movies, news stories, books, photoes, etc. and I don't expect we'll all agree on the three best LDS novels, but it should be fun to recap which novels left a lasting impact on someone.

And speaking of favorites, this is my favorite photoes taken this Christmas. The little angel is my eight-year-old granddaughter and Mary is my nine-year-old granddaughter.